5 Tips on Building a Successful Blog with No Experience

Jonathan Malm

This is a Guest Post by Jonathan Malm who writes and speaks about the creative process via his two blogs Faking Creativity and Church Stage Design Ideas.

My stage design blog gets about 8,000 page views every day; but it didn’t start out that way! I began less than two years ago with no blogging experience and very little stage design knowledge.

Imagine that! And yet since launching the blog it’s grown into an incredible fun (and profitable) space on the web. I’ve learned a few things from trial, error, and friends like TentBlogger.

But the success of the site is also based on a few things I happened to do right when I started the blog. Here are 5 things I did right and hopefully a few things that you can apply to your blog today:

A blog about Stage Design? Yup.

1. Find a Unique, Unexplored Niche

When I was redesigning my church’s stage, I found very little help on the web. So I decided to post my stage design on a personal blog and found people were sharing it around the web!

It was getting a lot of response because I found a unique, unexplored niche.

I decided to start blogging about church stage design, not knowing how large the niche was. There are tons of people in every niche on the Internet. You just need to find them.

Note: I believe anyone wanting to become an authority should be a niche blogger.

2. Research Publicly

The easiest topic to blog about is a topic you’re interested in learning about. Once you find that topic, start researching. Post up the result of your research as you get it.

Every time I ran across a resource I posted it on the site or tweeted it. Researching publicly gives you content and is really valuable for your readers.

The fact that I knew very little about stage design was an asset, not a hindrance! Because I knew nothing, I put my research into simple language that fellow newbies could grasp and learn from.

Jeff Goins calls this faking it until you make it.

An incredible and relatively un-tapped niche!

3. Don’t Wait to Start

I had one stage design under my belt when I began the blog. It would have been easy to feel inadequate to tackle a project like that.

But you’ll never feel qualified enough to write a blog about the topic you’re exploring. Once you’re good enough to write about it, you’re probably too busy doing it.

I frequently get stage designs/articles sent to me from geniuses in the stage design field. They’re too busy designing stages to blog about their knowledge. So I do it for them.

4. Find Your Audience

If you’re exploring a new niche with your blog, most of your potential audience won’t know to look for you. That’s why you need to go out and find them.

In my first year of blogging, I subscribed via RSS to a Twitter search for the terms “church stage” and “stage design.” I followed and engaged with every tweep that would fit into the niche my site was reaching.

Find your own Twitter searches at search.twitter.com. Twitter Search lets you specify tons of criteria which makes it easy to reach your potential audience.

5. Share Your Real Estate

Finally, I resourced other people. Rather than write all the content myself, I found people and blogs who were saying what I wanted to say and I asked if I could repost their article and gave them lots of link love.

I was surprised how willing people were to share their knowledge. Most people just want to get the word out. And if you’re helping them do that, you’ll find they become some of your biggest allies.

  • http://www.stevefogg.com Steven Fogg

    Jonathan, congrats on the blog.

    I’ve been blogging like you for a while now and like you just got on with the job of blogging on my marketing and communications blog. I recently swapped to Standard Theme from Typepad, again I’m learning a lot about building a blog from the ground up. (A quick aside the Standard Theme community forums rock! I’ve had some great help from the people there).

    I could of waited to ‘go live’ until everything was absolutely perfect but I think its better to get going and tie up any loose ends along the way.

    Another tip I would add for readers is to give some good advice on other blogs in your niche. People will notice you if you have something good to say.

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      Great tip! There should definitely be a “so what” about each post. :)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i love this steven! great ideas. and thanks for the support about the ST forums!

  • Ryan Card

    Thanks for this post Jonathan M! And thanks for posting it here John S! Ha ha. This has been a very helpful read for me!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      it was a good read, for sure. I like how he entered in a space and rocked it out!

  • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

    Wow these are great tips and a great guest post! I’m going to try #4, the RSS twitter search, cool idea. Thanks!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’ve used this before and it works.

  • http://journeyofiron.co.za Phillip Gibb

    Good points! And a great blog to base it on!! Kudos man :)
    I need to get back to more ridged listening posts like GooReader, twitter search and even google alerts. Looking out for your audience on twitter and facebook (as is) is like watching the world through a pair of binoculars – the wrong way around.

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      Yep…Twitter and Facebook as they are are only good if your audience is your friends. :)

      • http://journeyofiron.co.za Phillip Gibb

        yes, one this I have learned from Facebook and Twitter is that just because you have friends there does not mean they will be waiting in anticipation for you to post something so they can help you share and spread the word of your latest post.
        darn.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          good idea phillip!

  • http://chrisvonada.com chris vonada

    all good advice, thanks for sharing this!!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      glad he did!

  • http://www.abetterwayofbusiness.com Ivan Bickett

    Jonathan, I LOVE this post! I’ve already been operating under the principles of researching publicly, don’t wait to start, and share your real estate. This is GREAT confirmation for me, b/c honestly, I’ve just been sort of shooting from the hip. I’ve actually been told NOT to do some of the stuff I’ve done, but it makes sense to me, so I run with it.

    In terms of finding my niche (helping struggling small business owners right the ship), this is something from my heart. I just kept saying to myself through the years, “There’s got to be a better way to do business!” Hence, my “baby” was born.

    And going out and finding my audience is something I’m working on, although I need to get WAY better. I can struggle with some of the new tools, but I’m looking to learn and making connections with folks where they can trade me their knowledge and I’ll trade them mine so we’ll both get better!

    ~Ivan

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      It’s great that you’re looking to receive as much as to give. People can tell when you’re only engaging with them to sell them your website.

  • http://www.charlesspecht.com Charles Specht

    Hey, great article. Very encouraging. I think blogging is a lot like starting a new small business. Most new small businesses fail within the first year, and I think blogging is a lot like that too. Still searching for that niche myself, and I suppose I will now need to scribble “Church Stage Design” off my list. :)

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      I’ve been rocking the “church ideas” theme for a few different blogs. One person suggested I go with ChurchBookKeepingIdeas.com. I don’t think I’ll touch that one if you want to have a go at it. :D

      • http://www.charlesspecht.com Charles Specht

        Hmmm, accounting huh? Not quite sure about that one, but it is interesting to see just how narrow one can get in a niche. I like your ideas. Thanks for the post!

  • http://joshcaza.com Josh Chase

    Great tips, I think the key take away for me was “don’t wait to start” because to often I have a list of topcis and drafts of posts that never get posted because I’m still “perfecting them” as oppose to just never starting with it…

    Great read.

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      Perfectionism kills action. :)

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Thanks for the link. Pretty sure John hated that article, though. ;) I love these points, Jonathan (I agree with all of them) and especially respect your blog Faking Creativity. Keep up the great work!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      hah!

      i love different perspectives… even if I don’t agree with them!

  • http://www.boldbodyfitness.com/ Robert

    Great guest post Jonathan, and thanks so much for sharing these useful tips. I love your idea of finding unique niches instead of finding ones that are completely saturated.

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      There are too many untapped niches in the world for everyone to go after the same niches. :)

  • Aniruddh

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanx for sharing these great tips. I started my blog a couple of weeks back. Right now I am struggling to get to my target audience but hopefully things would get sorted. I believe, #5 would prove to be a life saver for me. Need to lookout for people who would be interested in guest blogging :)

    Cheers

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      Good luck!

  • Craig Allen

    Thanks for sharing a real world example of a great success story!

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      You’re welcome!

  • http://dustn.tv Dustin W. Stout

    Great practical advice! Thanks Jonathan!

  • http://www.blogtrickstream.com BT Stream

    I’m a New blogger with just a little experiences with a PR1 blog :(

    And after it I started my new blog. Going to follow you to be a successful one :D

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      that’s where it starts….!

  • http://veryyang.wordpress.com/ VYang – an eczema blog

    Hi,

    I’m a new blogger and found these tips very useful. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://worshipcentric.com Gregory

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for this posts, it was very timely! Concerning re-posting content from other blogs; do you usual re-post the entire article? If so, how do you avoid your posts getting dinged as duplicate content by search engines?

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      I usually tailored the content my audience. Plus, that wasn’t a major source of content for the blog. I was just adding value to the blogs I was already posting.

  • http://www.overthecubicle.com Brian Sloan

    Loved the point about not waiting to start. I probably researched too long and still felt so unprepared when I took the plunge….still do! But it’s worth it so far!

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      My dad calls it building the ship while we’re sailing. Haha…it’s scary :-P

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Great tips! I particularly liked the idea of public research. I think so often inexperienced bloggers are so desperate to position themselves as experts that they want to present only a very polished front. But everyone’s still learning something. Public research just shows your passion for your niche!

    • http://www.fakingcreativity.com Jonathan Malm

      Yep. It’s a bit humbling when people are correcting your blog at first…but it creates a very honest community. I love it!

  • http://www.aboutfigurines.com Edward Melton

    As a newbie I agree with your list. Just start your blog and keep researching and writing. Build your credibility as your blog grows. I am in my second month so I have a long way to go.

    What I see in the blogosphere is that people spend so much time on the theme they forget about content, directory links, forums, backlinks, and social media. Great looking sites that no one sees are a real problem. It is very frustrating “waiting” for viewers. I suggest spending more time writing.

    My real suggestion is to have 10 posts ready to go before you publish so you always have one or more ready as you work on some other things for your site.