Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Ten Benefits Of Blogging. Part 1: Benefits 1-5

Benefits of blogging

I’ve been blogging for the past seven months and I enjoy my new hobby very much. It’s not just a hobby and relaxing to write and spot new stories to shout about, it also combines a huge variety of skills that are asked for in many job descriptions these days. 

Blogging can be a great way of showcasing many skills such as web analytics, writing, design, content creation and networking. Blogging helps to either learn these skills, train or hone them to perfection. I've listed the ten most effective and beneficial skills you can develop during blogging, which you should use to your advantage and boost your CV.

1. Planning & Organising Your Blog Content

Your blog needs content which is created through various text forms. An excellent piece needs great preparation. Personally, I don't like writing the same as everyone else, nor do I enjoy reading about what other bloggers had for breakfast. 

That is highly boring and not considered as 'great content' at all. Great content in the blogosphere is usually referred to as an informative piece, reflects your own personality and opinion and possess a high level of engagement for readers. Spotting a story worth talking about on your blog and suitable for your niche requires a careful eye and attention to detail. That's why content creation needs efficient planning and researching.

If you have a lot of inspiration like me you need to schedule your ideas and make a plan. You can write more than one blog post per day, but I would advise you, to not publish more than one each day. Consistent blogging is important to keep your traffic come in regularly, but you can lose readers if they feel they are spammed by your posts. A publishing plan helps to keep an overview of your posts and it also trains your ability to work to deadlines.

Not only do you have to come up regularly with interesting content, but you also have to do research, write and structure it as well as publish your post. In the research part, your facts need to be organised and analysed. If you work on a product review you have to reach out to the brand you'd like to work with and also get your material sorted. Use a journal to write down all your inspirations, ideas and progress and keep the journal with you at all times. 

A lot of bloggers also work with Excel and spreadsheets to keep up with their organisation. You never know when inspiration flows or when you have to overcome a writer's block. I'm using the Fitzgerald ultrabook from the Paperblanks Embellished Manuscript collection *, so I'm never running out of ideas or inspiration.

2. Writing Your Content

The writing process is mostly about gaining, filtering and processing information, but the excellent content is not only the topic you write about, but it is also the linguistic structure that makes a blog visitor read your piece. Everyone has an individual writing style, but every blogger strives to create engaging, easy to read and informative texts, which is achieved through exceptional sentence structure, vocabulary and orthography. No one likes poor grammar or the ignorance of orthography, so make sure your texts have correct spelling and punctuation. Editing and proofreading require a lot of time and a careful eye for spotting mistakes.

3. Editing & Proofreading Your Content

When you've finished your post, check it a couple of times. Its sentence structure needs careful editing. When you're done, leave your post and come back to it a few hours or days later. This will help you to get some distance to the text and spot mistakes easier. Several drafts are needed for a final finish, sometimes up to twenty versions are possible before your post can go online. Blog posts are considered between 500-1000 words in length so hone every single sentence and shorten where possible.

4. Publishing & PR

Once you're happy with your post, you can publish and promote it on your social media accounts. To get the best exposure for your post, consider the time when social media is the busiest. Each platform is used at different peak times and you want to make sure your content is shared at the right time for maximum outreach reach, do you? 

Promote at the right time to get your content noticed and understand how each platform works. Twitter works differently than Facebook or Instagram and vice versa. However, all platforms have one thing in common: you have to put yourself out there. 

Be active, be social, be engaging. Communicate and interact with your audience as much as possible. If you show interest, someone else will, too. In the best-case scenario, your post gets reblogged (copied and published) by another blogger, cited in a blogroll or shared across social media.

Social Media Active Time Chart

Promoting your blog is promoting you as a brand. Hence why it is very important to regularly put yourself out there and get your content recognised. Personal branding takes a while to establish an online profile and it is very time-consuming. Nearly 60% of my time goes into the promotion alone!

There are several RT services on Twitter that help to increase your outreach. UK Blogger RT, UK Bloggers, Female Blogger RT are all reliable services to support your blog promotion. Always include those when possible in your tweets. In case you can't be online when your audience is, use Tweetdeck (a social media managing tool) that will help to schedule your tweets.

Now, let's talk about PR. Most brands have PR agencies or marketing departments. They aim to get their clients into the media and talked about, so they are constantly hunting for great coverage opportunities. Blogs have been very popular and are marketing effective, that's why more and more brands chose to work with bloggers. 

Don't be afraid to get in touch with a brand's PR team. I know many bloggers prefer to wait till they get approached but I think that sometimes you need to put yourself out there, even more, to get recognised. The blogosphere is oversaturated and many PRs are still fairly new to working with bloggers. Get in touch and introduce yourself and your blog. Highlight why you think your blog is a great fit for the brand, including stats and outreach. Ask politely to keep your details in their outreach database for campaigns and future collaborations.

PRs do reply and they either agree to work with you or not. In case they decline they'll keep you in their blogger base for their next promotion. If you are really lucky and you get a sample for review, please stick to the deal and create coverage for the brand. Write an honest piece alongside your own photography and promote your post on your social media channels. Link in the brand for potential RTs. In most cases, the PR team is happy and will consider you for future collaborations.

Another positive side effect in building a relationship with a PR team are invites to press days, blogging events and the privilege to promote exclusive campaigns. Working with brands is great because you network with professionals, plus you can link the brand to your post and when you promote, e.g. on Twitter, chances that the brand RTs your posts are high, which increases your blog visibility.

5. Photography & Video Content For Your Blog

Visuals break up your text and make it pleasant for the eye to read the article. Sometimes a great picture tells more than 1,000 words and engages your audience more than the actual text. We are visual creatures after all :)

Including pictures in your posts requires photography skills. Most people buy professional equipment such as DSLR cameras for great results and clear images. For a long time, I thought that a quality compact camera can do the job, too but since I got my SLR camera I'm more pleased personally with the quality of the pictures. 

After your photoshoot, your pictures have to be edited. Therefore you will learn how to use special picture editing programmes such as the standard one Photoshop or the free online Picmonkey. Keep in mind, that images stand for themselves, so does the text. Select them with special care and make sure that both elements complement each other rather than dominate.

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My new hobby keeps me very busy and occupied which I love. Looking back at my first post until now, I can see improvement in the writing, layout and design, which reflect my personal growth. It is such an inspiring and beneficial hobby, what do you think?

The Ten Benefits of Blogging Part 2 will come later this month.

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time,

*PR Sample

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