Which skills do I need to run a successful blog?

Skills needed to run a blogI’ve been writing my Lake District Gems blog for over two years now, and during that time it’s been fascinating to watch it grow. I had many reasons for setting the blog up, one of which was that I didn’t want to be one of those communications consultants who preaches what they’ve never done for themselves. But since then, blogging about the Lake District has become a huge part of my life and I now can’t imagine not doing it!

We tend to talk about ‘writing’ a blog, but in actual fact there are a whole range of skills beyond using the written word that you’ll need if you want to blog successfully. If you have a similar passion to set up a blog, whether to develop your business, your personal brand, a passion or cause, here are some of the areas of expertise you will need to develop or source from a trusted provider (or both):

1. Web hosting and design skills

Only you will know whether you have the time, inclination, technical daring and patience to host and develop a site for yourself or whether you will need someone to develop it for you.

Although it’s easy to set up a basic WordPress or Blogger site, there are good reasons to resist doing so and to instead design a site hosted on your own domain name. You can host your site at yourname.wordpress.com, but should in most cases buy your own independent hosting and install WordPress software from WordPress.org on to your own domain.

WordPress can be difficult to get your head round initially, but learning to use it is well worth the effort. You’ll need basic knowledge of how to use it to create content, even if you get someone to do the actual site design for you.

2. Written skills

You don’t have to be a master of words to write a blog, and forget everything you were taught at school about what makes good writing. Blogs shouldn’t be too formal – ideally you need to write as you would talk to someone, and if the blog is for your business, this doesn’t mean you have to sound unprofessional.

Grammar and spelling is still important. It’s OK to break rules for conversational effect, but don’t confuse this with poor spelling and misuse of apostrophes. If you know these aspects of writing are not your strong point, find someone willing to do a basic proof-check before your blog posts go live on the internet.

If you don’t have the time to produce your own posts for your business blog, it may be appropriate to bring someone in to do them for you. To chat about the possibilities, get in touch.

3. Visual skills and photography

Again, don’t think that you have to have an expensive DSLR camera to produce good photographs. It depends what your subject matter is, but if you know how to use a basic digital camera or smart phone camera well, this may well be sufficient for your needs. If your blog is highly visual, you may like to invest in your own photography skills and equipment, or call on outside help to produce suitable photographic content. I can produce photographic content for your blog – to discuss the options, get in touch.

If your blog is about a subject matter difficult to visualize, it may be that graphics are a more suitable option to illustrate your blog (more and more, that tends to be what I use here at Blooming Good Communications). Use a design package or online resource such as Canva to create graphics that will fit your brand. I create graphics for business blogs, so if you’d like to know more, please get in contact.

4. Research skills

Whether it’s how to deal with a tricky technical question on WordPress or SEO, or researching the content of your next post, you’ll need the skills to hunt out, gather and organise your research on the subject of your blog. It’s best to research thoroughly before starting to write a blog post, as this makes the process easier than stopping repeatedly to look things up – it’s easy to lose flow when you do this.

5. Brainstorming skills

If you’re writing about a subject you’re really passionate about, you’ll see ideas all around you. The trick is to capture the ideas when you have them, often when you’re not actually thinking about the blog at all, and then develop them in your own time into a set of posts.

6. SEO (search engine optimization) skills

It’s no good writing great content if it will never be found. Although search engine criteria are always changing, there are certain ideals you should be working towards with all your content to make sure it will be found now and in the future, whatever changes occur with Google.

The first rule is that your content should be relevant and useful, and a lot of what you naturally write will then work in your favour. There are also many technical elements you need to bear in mind when writing copy, crafting titles and keywording images and videos.

7. Social media skills

Social media is a great way of sharing your content with the world and allowing those who are interested in what you have to say to follow you in future. Social media is always changing, so you need a readiness to always be learning and trying new things. As well as sharing content, you should be building relationships and getting to know others through your social media use.

8. Resilience, adaptability and organisation.

The online world is constantly changing, so whilst all the above skills apply, resilience and adaptability are also skills you’ll really need to draw on. This will help you steer away from the things you find aren’t working, and discover new things that might work better than those you are currently doing.

Organisational skills and resilience are also extremely important for keeping going when blogging week after week can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle.

And the rewards…

If blogging is something you become passionate about, there are few greater feelings than the sense of achievement when you receive a blog comment or social media response – and when you look back on your growing collection of posts! Blogging is a long and difficult process, but if you can stick with it the personal and professional satisfaction you receive in return can be immense.

If you’d like some help in developing your own blog, you might like to invest in a mentoring package with me. Alternatively, if you need help with specific parts of creating your blog such as stock photography or writing posts, please get in touch – I’d be very pleased to discuss the options with you.

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