I’m in Taipei, Taiwan now still recovering from jet lag. How do I know I still have jet lag? Every day I wake up around 7:30am wide awake! Back at home, that never happens. I actually enjoy it though. More jet lag for me please.
Taipei is a place close to my heart. I was born in Florida, but shortly after we came back here to live for a couple years. Starting in 2007, I lived here for 1.5 years studying Chinese and just looking to get away from my boring life back at home. I left with here so many unforgettable memories.
I also met a girl, who ended up being my wife.
The last time I came was last year February – April, and this time coming back brought back lots of memories for this blog. Why?
I started this blog, Get Busy Living, in Taipei.
It all happened in the second tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, in the food court. Unusual I know.
I had the domain for years, but it wasn’t until my time in Taipei that I really got serious about blogging and knew what I wanted to write about.
I’ll explain why the food court played such an important role.
Later, I’ll share how I’ve grown this blog from nothing to how you see it today. I get asked all the time about it, though I still feel I have so much to learn. However, I know I’ve done something right if people are asking.
I hope my experience can help many of you are looking to start a blog, or grow you blog in 2012. At the end, there’s a great new course for those looking for further help.
Started in February 2011
Last year when I came for two months, Eleanor was working four days a week at a bookstore called Page One, in Taipei 101.
It’s the centerpiece of Taipei. It’s a must stop for any tourist visiting Taipei. It’s probably my favorite building in the whole world. Every year it has some pretty cool fireworks on New Year’s Eve (Youtube).
The building is mainly used for office space but there are five floor of shops.
When she came to work, I came with her. I wasn’t going to stay at home. That’s too boring!
So what did I do while she worked? I’d go down to the first floor where the massive food court is located.
I love the food courts in Taipei. They’re nicer and cleaner than your typical American mall food court. There is a huge selection of Asian food with some American imports such as Subway, McDonald’s, and Cold Stone.
It’s pretty comfortable down there with lots of lighting and tables. The food court became my office for those two months.
I’d bring my iPad and wireless keyboard. I’d start at 11am and it’d be quiet except for employees getting ready for the lunch rush.
By 12pm, the place would be buzzing with office workers, tourists, locals, and shoppers all eating. I’d stay there until about 12:30pm, then would go upstairs and read books waiting for Eleanor’s lunch break at 1pm.
Then afterwards, she’d go back to work and I’d stay there until 6pm when she got off of work.
That was my schedule four days a week for nearly two months.
I liked working down there. The noise didn’t bother me. It actually energized me. Every time I’d sit right by the Coldstone, which wasn’t smart cause I’d stare at it all the time, however I preferred the tables in that area.
That’s where I began to immerse myself learning everything I could about blogging and took action.
Before I know it, it’s almost been a year and I’m writing a post sharing my tips. It didn’t happen overnight. I started in that food court and I continued that same commitment to learning and improving when I came back home.
Why do we want a blog that matters?
I often get emails asking me how I’ve grown my blog. They want more comments. They want to increase their traffic. They want to make an impact. They have something to say and want people to read it.
Isn’t that why we want comments, retweets, Facebook Likes, and more? We want validation that what we’re producing matters. We want to be recognized for what we enjoy doing.
A blog that matters has true fans. Readers who read everything, leave comments, share your posts, buy your products and are with you every step of the way.
If a blog had 1,000 hits, but no one was around leaving comments, sharing the content, or talking with you, would it make a sound? Does it make it a blog that matters? I don’t think so.
Personally, I’d rather have 100 true fans than a 1000 quiet ones.
Maybe you want a blog that matters to:
- Build a business
- Launch a writing career
- Be an authority in your niche
- Make friends around the world
- Start a movement
Do I have a blog that matters? Only you can answer that for me.
What I do know is that in just a year I’ve found a space where I feel comfortable. I’ve attracted a great community (thank you) and like the direction I’m headed in.
Am I still working to be better? Definitely.
However, I can share with you how I’ve grown my blog since day one. These aren’t the only way. It’s just what I’ve done.
How to Build a Blog that Matters
1. Write epic shit
Without this, the rest won’t matter. The rest will be meaningless. So it’s important to put it first.
If you write content that’s ho-hum, middle of the road, and stale on a consistent basis, you’re not going to have a blog that matters. I’m not trying to be harsh. Just realistic since thousands of blogs are started each day.
Corbett Barr, at Thinktraffic.net, wrote awhile back about writing epic shit (read it if you haven’t). Epic shit creates value. It inspires. Those are the posts that leave a lasting impression. They get the most shares and comments. Those are the posts that people still read a year after you’ve written it. It’s the ones that go viral. It puts you on the map.
They are the ones that you spend the most time on. It’s the ones that give you the most reward afterwards.
Not every post we write is going to be one-of-a-kind epic. We still need to keep a high level though and create posts on a mini-epic level.
How can you find out what’s epic? One way is to go to people’s blog and look at their most popular posts. For my blog, you can see it in my sidebar.
Then don’t copy blatantly, but borrow their format. Corbett Barr did a post called 33 Things I Have Never Told You. It was one of his most popular posts. Since then many have borrowed the format and wrote it on their own blog.
I remember a homework assignment when I was a part of a course with Adam Baker (Man vs. Debt) and Corbett. They said to write a post by borrowing a format from someone’s popular posts.
Since my birthday was approaching, I did a post similar to Adam’s life lessons posts. I called mine 34 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 34 Years.
How did it do? 100 retweets, 176 Likes on Facebook, and 115 comments, including my replies.
That post came just five months after I started my blog. Was I excited? You bet I was!
Roundup posts can be popular as well. My roundup post with 40 bloggers is still my second most popular post. To be honest, I’m shocked. It got lots of views and shares when it came out last summer, but to still be sitting at the second spot is surprising.
I forgot how many hours I spent on it, but I know I worked overtime on that post. It paid off.
Lists posts are always recommended. Posts where you teach something so useful are great as well.
Posts talking about your experiences and lessons learned from it can be epic. My most popular post, My $4,739 Weekend and 11 Lessons To Help You, went totally crazy for me. That post was a huge turning point on this blog.
Without great content, you’re not going to have a blog that matters. If you want your blog to grow fast, find ways to write epic content.
It’s what’s going to keep people coming back and bringing in new fans.
2. Have a nice blog design
If you’re single and serious about meeting new guys or girls, take the time to dress right. If you go to a crowded bar wearing the same clothes you wore while pulling weeds, no one is going to think “Hey I really want to get to know this person!” They’re going to think “Bye bye” before you even open your mouth.
Your blog is the same way. If you want new readers to stick around longer than a few seconds, make your blog look nice.
What’s a bad design? Bad color combinations, busy sidebar, too many ads, things not aligned, things flashing, and a bad looking header to name some.
You don’t need a $1000 custom designed blog either. The beauty of WordPress is that there are so many great free looking themes. I spent hours looking at free themes before deciding which one I wanted.
In the end I decided on a free theme by Thrilling Heroics. Loved it.
Even premium themes out of the box look pretty great. I use the Standard Theme now, which I customized, but John Saddington, the creator of the theme uses it without customization and he’s got a blog that matters and now blogs full time.
Make your blog design so that when someone comes to your blog, it doesn’t scare them away. Simple is so much better, especially when you’re just starting.
Think about your favorite blogs. They all probably have a great design now, but I bet when they started, they started with a simple clean theme.
3. Leave comments
I didn’t say leave comments and get tons of traffic. I never started commenting with the hopes of getting tons of traffic. I still haven’t seen a single comment I left that has done that.
When I started, I left comments to get myself and my blog noticed. I aimed to do it one blogger at a time. But I didn’t ask them to check out my blog in the comment. I left a genuine comment about their post. I left it up to them if they chose to come to my blog.
Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes it happened after my first comment or my tenth.
When no one knows about your blog, leaving comments are a good way to get noticed.
However I prefer quality over quantity. Don’t spam. Five great comments in one day is better than fifty that say “Great post! Enjoyed it!”
It doesn’t have to be long, but make it so they know you’ve read it. You can add to what they wrote, or politely disagree. Sometimes they’ll ask a question at the end of the post to generate comments. Reply to that.
If you truly enjoyed the post, let them know. No blogger gets tired of hearing that.
I know one serial commenter that will remain nameless that used commenting as a way to try and get traffic. You could tell because that person was on every blog it seemed. That person once left a comment on a guest post I did where you could tell 100% he didn’t read the post.
If a post already had thirty comments, this person would reply to the first comment when there was clearly no reason to. Why? To be seen.
When I went to this person’s blog, what did I see? Very little or no comments on their posts. Not many retweets or sharing on posts. All this person cared about was traffic stats and wrote posts showing it. What’s the point of that?
If you want a blog that matters, don’t act in a way that’s going to turn people off.
4. Reply to comments
It’s still one of my favorite things to do. If you’ve left a comment here, you’ve gotten a reply from me.
I like to acknowledge those who left a comment. To me, that person has taken the time to read my post, AND say something about it. I’d hug you if I could.
The plugin ReplyMe makes it easy for them to be notified. They get an e-mail in their inbox and you’re not spamming them.
I think the first place I saw it was Ana’s blog at Traffic Generation Cafe. I thought it was the coolest thing. She’s got a great blog with an engaged community. I’m sure the plugin is a part of it.
If they’ve left a good comment, don’t just fire back a one line standard reply. Personalize it. Continue the conversation. Thank them for their insight. Make them feel like gold for leaving a comment.
Adrienne Smith does a great job of that and now routinely gets 100+ comments each post.
5. Make it easy to share posts
Recently I thanked someone for rewteeting one my posts. She replied by telling me she did because I made it so easy for her to do. That’s the goal!
Don’t make your users hunt for your share buttons. If they can’t find it easily, they just might not share.
I love the Twitter box plugin at the end of my posts. I get asked about that one a lot.
I have a Sharebar on the left side of the post that’s built into the Standard Theme. It follows the user as they read the post.
Make it so simple for readers when they are ready to share with their followers.
6. Show some of your personal side
People not only connect with the content you write, but the person behind the blog. How can they know more about you? Inject a little bit about yourself when it’s relevant.
I’m thankful people seem to like me (or maybe not but they haven’t spoken up) and that’s helped grow my blog I believe.
For example, I talked about the facing fear directly and taking risks out of your comfort zone. My example was my story moving to Taipei to study Chinese, trying to meet new friends, and taking a leap by moving to Sydney for a girl! I used my personal story to make my point.
Amy Clover at Strong Inside and Out recently had a post where she talked about her former life, her OCD, depression, drugs, and her near suicide attempt. However, she’s turned her life around and it has a happy ending. It’s truly a great post with well deserved praise.
She found a way to tell her story, let her readers know more about her, but still focused on her theme of positive and healthy living.
Think about your favorite big blogs out there. I bet you know a little bit about them outside of blogging. You may know a lot more depending on how much they share and how long you’ve been reading. You feel like you could have a cup of coffee or a beer with that blogger.
No doubt it has benefited their blog.
7. Share other people’s content and expect nothing in return
When I first learned how to use Twitter, I read that I should share more than I promote. In other words, I should be retweeting others’ content instead of just saying “Look at mine!” That stuck with me.
When you share someone’s post on Twitter and you have their @name in it, they’ll see it. They’ll appreciate it. They may come look at your blog and return the favor if they see a post that’s worthy of sharing in the future.
You might turn them into a regular reader, a friend, or future business partner. I’ve gotten to know so many people from seeing them retweet my stuff or starting a conversation after seeing me do that for them.
However, don’t share posts expecting they return the favor. Share their post because you really like it.
In the long run, you’ll get back so much more.
8. Build your tribe
Your tribe is like a group of great friends. You not only like their blog, but you like the person behind it.
They’ll be the ones that support you when you need advice. They’ll inspire you. They’ll motivate you.
Your tribe is going to be the one that keep coming back to your blog when you have a new post. They’ll share your content on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. They’ll write a post and link back to your blog. They’ll promote you to their readers.
I value the relationships I’ve built online. It’s beyond just reading their posts. It’s a genuine interest in that person and what they are doing.
How can you build your tribe?
I don’t think it can be forced. It has to develop naturally. Just like relationships offline. Start by reading blogs you enjoy and leaving comments on their post. Send them an email to introduce yourself or thank them for what they do.
Get social on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. If you’re shy, it removes that barrier to starting a conversation.
Slowly, you’ll naturally be drawn to certain people and you’ll start to attract new like-minded people.
If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to get into the inner circle of A-list bloggers. It’s not that they’ll ignore you if you ask for advice, but being on their speed dial, giving you their top advice, or having them constantly share your work is going to be rare. They’ve already got their tribe.
Instead, find someone on the same level as you or just starting. Remember every A-list blogger started just like you and me. In a year or two, your tribe might just be filled with A-list bloggers.
If not, it’ll still be filled with great friends.
9. Always keep learning and improving
The reason I failed in my previous attempts at blogging or anything in fact, was I didn’t have a passion for always learning and improving.
Before, I knew how to get started, and thought that was enough.
In that food court in Taipei, I rediscovered that desire to learn all I could about blogging. This time I would take it seriously. That was key for me. It wasn’t just a fun thing to do on the side.
I listened to so many podcasts from experienced bloggers on Blogcast FM in my car.
I don’t pretend to know everything about blogging. I still have SO much to learn. I’m always looking to improve. I’m obsessed with it, but in a healthy way.
If you truly want a blog that matters, you have to take it seriously and never stop wanting to get better.
Start a Blog That Matters Today
One person I started to follow when I started blogging was Corbett Barr. I know I’ve mentioned him a few times here, but it’s well deserved. His story is he left the miserable corporate world, went on a sabbatical to Mexico, and decided to start blogging even though he had never blogged before.
Now he has two successful blogs with one more heading that way. He has helped clients launch or grow blogs that attract from 10,000 to 100,000+ visitors per month (including Live Your Legend, Man Vs. Debt, Primer Magazine and The Possibility of Today). He makes a full time living doing this.
He’s been helpful with any questions I’ve had along the way.
He’s taken everything he’s learned in three years and with the same strategies he uses for his one-on-one clients created a new course “How to Start a Blog that Matters”.
Who’s this course for?
You have no blog, but want to start.
It’s not about just starting a blog (that’s easy), but starting a blog that could be a huge success.
What if you already have a blog?
It’s up to you how you use this course. You could start a whole new blog from scratch or you could keep your existing content and relaunch.
You could start on a new domain, import your content, and redirect your readers to your new blog. That way you won’t lose any traffic.
Or you could stay at your current domain, do a small redesign, create some epic content, and relaunch with a bang by following the course.
Bottom line: It’s a course you’ll want to take if you want a blog that could make a difference and change your life.
What’s in it?
It’s a 90 day course take gets you to take action in a structured setting.
Here’s everything you get in the course:
- 13 weekly lessons
- 13 weekly step-by-step action plans
- Over 8 hours of video
- Direct access to ask Corbett questions anytime (awesome)
- A 60-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee (he wants you to be 110% satisfied)
- 4 very special bonuses
In 90 days, you will build a solid foundation for your blog. You’ll save hours and hours of time reading and doing the wrong things. After 90 days, you could be ahead of many bloggers who have been around 6-12 months.
Corbett usually charges $6k-$10K working with clients, and uses the same strategies in this course as he does with them. Until 1/20 Midnight PST, it’s only $77. Then it’ll go back to $97, which is still a great investment.
Plus the first 100 people to purchase, will be invited to a live “kick off” webinar with Corbett in two weeks.
I was a member of his last course, The Hustle Project, and enjoyed his teaching style and content. I wouldn’t promote this course if I didn’t believe in what he can deliver.
In a year from now, YOU could have a thriving blog, a business, get paid to write, have friends all over the world, or have tons of true fans thanking you for what you do on your blog.
That would be pretty cool, right?
Whew! That was a lot of information! I hope you’ve found it useful.
What else would you add that helps create a blog that matters?
What makes you a fan of your favorite blogs?
Please share in the comments!