Greetings Steemit friends :
With the explosion of interest on Steemit, I've recently received a very significant number of personal messages from new members of the Steemit community seeking advice on how to improve their blog, grow their following, earn more rewards, and be more successful.
Identifying weaknesses and actively seeking help to improve on those weaknesses is in my opinion the best attitude to possess for an upcoming lifestyle blogger. The fact that you give yourself the opportunity to improve is already a step ahead of many other bloggers on the platform.
In this post, I will try to cover what it is that I think makes a lifestyle blog on Steemit successful. It will not be an exhaustive list, but rather a fairly detailed explanation of things that I have done, or observed others do with great success. Therefore, it should not be considered a complete guide but rather a supplement to your journey on Steemit writing a better lifestyle blog and building your reputation / success.
What exactly is lifestyle blogging?
I've only been a lifestyle blogger on Steemit for less than a year, but during this time I have made well over two hundred posts, cataloguing various aspects of my life. What is important to understand is that a lifestyle blogger creates content that is inspired from their personal interests and daily activities. This means that an individuals lifestyle blog will differ from person to person. You are not required nor obligated to blog about a given set of topics, rather, the topics are often highly personalised to the author's interests, location, stage of life and experience.
The important thing is to define your own lifestyle blog and make it unique to you.
Your job is to write about your life in the most interesting way possible that captures the attention of your following.
Here are some tips that I have learned (over time) which will help improve your blog.
Note: As a primarily lifestyle blogger, these tips will be most useful to the lifestyle blogger but can always be applied to all kinds of blogs.
To make one whole, you must have two halves.
When it comes to improving your blog, gaining a following and building a reputation, I like to break it down to two macro objectives.
Improving your content
These are things that you can change or improve upon in your posts. Whether it's formatting, content, photos, or your writing style, any experience if done right can be turned into a very fascinating and engaging blog. It all comes down to your ability to utilise the tools you have to tell your story in a way that captures the reader's attention. The digital era has allowed us to make use of a vast arrays of tools to help us improve almost every aspect of our content. You don't have to be a professional photographer, writer or videographer to produce quality content.
Improving your influence and reputation
Content aside, building a successful blog always requires an accumulation of influence and reputation. Sometimes it can feel extremely disheartening to know that the best of your work is simply not being seen or voted on by very many people. That is something that all of the top authors on this platform has experienced at one point or another. However, there are things you can do to improve your influence and reputation and stand out from the crowd outside of producing quality content and I'll give a few tips on this further down as well.
Have the right attitude
Natural ability is important, but you can go far without it if you have the focus, drive, desire and positive attitude.
By reading this far, you have already demonstrated some traits of having the right attitude.
- Seek advice
- Stay positive
- Strive to be better
- Always look for opportunities to learn
- Don't be afraid to try something new
- Take pride in your body of work.
- Understand exposure doesn't happen over night.
- Fixate on rewards, the expectation will detract you from producing quality content.
- Publish something that you yourself would not read.
- Over exert, some people can write 10 posts a day, others post once every 10 days. Posting too much can lead to burn out.
- Force the issue. This can be applied to many aspects of blogging, but one example would be spamming your post everywhere on Steemit.chat, or asking people directly to vote for your post. Keep your sights on making a good blog then the value will naturally come through.
Improving your content
Do you know what your niche is?
Pick a niche and fill it (or even better, carve out your own)
Ask yourself these questions :
Can you describe what your blog is about in one sentence?
Does your audience know what they're expecting from you by following you?
Do I write about topics that offer my own unique perspective, and not just content that can be found online elsewhere?
People already blog about the things I want to blog about, what can I do differently / better?
What to write about is often the first barrier to entry for the aspiring blogger.
"My life is boring"
"I can't afford to travel and eat at luxury places"
"I don't have an interesting life"
"I'm not good at writing"
These are some of the more common points of contention which all have one thing in common. The assumption that you have nothing of value to add. It is a defeatist attitude and one that is ultimately getting in the way of you making progress on the journey of blogging. @jerrybanfield has made a brilliant video about "What stops us from making millions online and having the life of our dreams?" which largely discusses the barriers that people put in front of themselves, making it difficult for them to take strides forward.
A defeatist attitude will come across in a blog. The posts will be erratic, and be mostly very unfulfilling and uninspiring. Don't get in the way of yourself. Set yourself free.
Pick topics that you are passionate about, and take an interest in. Think about the conversations you have with your friends about topics you feel strongly about. Identify what it is about you that makes you unique, then channel that into your blogs.
Most successful lifestyle bloggers will trace their origins back to a single niche. For example, food recipes, fashion, travel etc. Sometime later on their journey, they may expand their blog to cover other topics, but what brought them the readership in the first place was their passion for the things they care about the most.
On the contrary, if you only ever blog about a single thing, your followers may start to get bored of your content. More than likely, they want to see you step out of your comfort zone, and start expanding on the range of topics you blog about.
But she already has an awesome travel blog, what else can I do?
Just because others blog about the same things doesn't mean you can't add value in your way, unique to you.
Every single person comes from a different background, different walks of life, and has their own unique lens. It is up to you to offer your unique perspective, and offer compelling angles that others don't.
Put simply, people who live a similar lifestyle to me, can't be bothered to spend the time to document what they get up to. At least not with stories, pictures and video.
- Stick to topics that define who you are and what you like to do
- Offer a unique perspective
- Offer compelling angles that others don't
- Tell the story from your perspective
Can you tell a story with your pictures?
Photos make or break your blog
Instagram take two.
Thanks to instagram, the barrier to taking photos and sharing is a whole lot easier. The proliferation of better and better camera phones means that reasonable quality snaps can be taken without expensive cameras.
Steemit isn't instagram, but it doesn't mean you can't take the lessons learnt from taking decent photos, and then using them in your blog.
I use photos extensively in all of my posts because I believe in engaging and visual story telling. I want people with limited time or limited attention span to be able to enjoy my posts by going through the photos and still getting a large portion of the story.
When it comes to the food, I love to take pictures of each dish individually, and then all together. Yes, this does mean that I usually can't eat until the last dish arrives. A small price to pay.
That will give you an idea of the set of photographs I like to take.
Of course, photos alone can be quite "dry", especially if some explanation or commentary about the pictures isn't supplemented along side. How much you choose to write is up to you, but don't ignore it.
Here are some things that I take into account when taking photos.
- When taking pictures in a restaurant, I always try get a table by the window. This allows for the best natural lighting possible.
- Never take photos into the direction of the light. Do the opposite.
- I like bright vivid colours, so I tend to pick scenery with the most diverse amount of colours
- Use the grid lines on your viewfinder / screen to help frame your shot, and place the subject in the appropriate place.
A simple trick used by photographers is the rule of thirds.
- Take plenty of test shots to get the right composition (angles, lighting, focus, what's in the frame etc.). You will pick and choose the best ones later anyway.
- Take photos from lots of different angles and positions. Top down, bottom up, from the side, the front, the back.
A camera phone doesn't beat a decent camera. And that's why I always have my trusty DSLR with me. I use a Canon 5D MK ii with a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. One thing that I would recommend is learning to take pictures on manual mode. Understand and learn to adjust settings such as ISO, F Stop, Shutter speed and white balance.
Technicality aside, the important point is to use photos to tell your story. Capture the details. Do use examples of good photos on places like instagram for inspiration and try make the photos your own.
Here are some ideas:
- For food, why not try arrange the food in some way. You can be quite creative with how you lay not just the dishes, but the food in the dishes.
- Take cliche pictures but make them your own. How do you make them your own? Put something of importance to you in the picture, or put yourself in the picture.
- Take first person perspectives, for example, a picture of your hand pointing to something in the photo, or a picture of you looking down. (That's why pictures of feet and shoes are so popular!)
- Play around with the F stop to get some really fancy bokeh.
Has your blog got personality?
Writing YOUR story
Do you have personality?
When it comes to writing style, there is a lot of leeway. Each author will have a unique footprint which avid followers will grow accustomed to. Your writing contributes a large part of how people identify with you. This is because there can be a lot of personality picked up through someone's writing.
The best authors will possess personality, to the point that you could read a random excerpt of their writing and know who it is who wrote it. Their style is clearly identifiable, and this will apply to their whole body of work that is their blog.
As an aspiring lifestyle blogger, it is important that you let your audience quickly pick up your personality through your writing. It is a large part of why they will choose to follow you.
Learning to be an effective writer can take quite some time, especially if you intend to write in English, and English is not your native language.
For me, most of my advanced education was in English, but my mother tongue is Chinese. This can actually work in my favour because it allows me to draw on unusual vocabulary when crossing over the language barrier.
It has also made me more conducive to learning certain aspects of writing from other good authors which I can then integrate into my own.
I spend a great deal of time reading, not just blogs, but books on a wide variety of topics. Following a variety of authors on topics you intend to write about can help boost your vocabulary as well as bolster your writing style. You will more than likely want to start building up a healthy list of adjectives and superlatives to help express how you feel about something with more punch.
Focus on your perspective
When you are attempting to transfer knowledge through your blogs, it's important that you do so through your perspective. If you are informing your readers of information they can find else here on the internet without your own added value, then why would they choose to read your blog?
Obviously spend time researching your content, but make sure that you do not become too focused on just regurgitating content that can be easily found elsewhere. Add value by giving your perspective.
Do give your readers the necessary background information, but supplement with your experience and thoughts.
Not all blogs have to be wordy or dare I say, "formal"
This post aside, most of my blogs are a healthy mixture of pictures, background information, and commentary. You do not need to write essays in lifestyle blogs. Instead, focus on delivering your content in a personal way that readers can identify with.
Imagine telling your friend about an experience you had. That's the kind of tone you're looking for.
Improving your influence and reputation
You can't measure reputation with a number
Although Steemit has an internal reputation system, what really matters is your reputation in the eyes of your readers and the wider platform. It's kind of like a game where a high "level" doesn't really make you a good player. It just means that you "play" alot.
On Steemit, your audience will have their own personal measure of your reputation irrelevant to the number beside your name. And that measure turns out to be more important.
The more "reputable" you are, the more social influence you have. Of course, on Steemit, you also have Steem Power which gives you some level of influence in terms of voting. However, building your real influence, ie. How many people are willing to read what you write and listen to what your opinions are, is something totally different.
Here are some ways you can build your real reputation and real influence.
Engage with your audience
Engage, engage and engage! Engagement is sort of a buzzword on Steemit, often a measure of how 'hot' a post is, or how popular an author is.
Just as leaving a meaningful comment on someone else's blog can make their day, so can replying to a comment on your own post.
I try to engage with every single one of my commenters and I welcome comments. This is because I like to connect with my readers and build a long term relationship. Even leaving a reply of gratitude is better than nothing at all. The fact that a reader has decided to spend that extra bit of effort to comment on your work, means that they are not to be left hanging empty.
Respect the fact that they have taken the time to read your post, and then comment on it.
Acknowledge what they're saying and comment appropriately.
Expand your reach, let your name be seen
Aside from replying to your own posts, it is always good to leave a comment on other people's posts. Especially if you really liked what they wrote. Early on, I set myself goals inspired by @thecryptofiend to make 100 meaningful comments a day. Of course, that's no easy task, but it's better to aim for the stars and land on the moon right?
Comments are a powerful way of creating engagement and discussion. An insightful reply will instigate further discussion. If your insight is considered valuable, people may stumble across your comment and decide to browse your blog to see more.
I have personally followed many authors through seeing and reading comments they've made on other blogs.
Try commenting on trending topics with the most amount of engagement. This is because the most amount of people will have their eyes on these posts, you will have a better chance of someone reading your comment that way.
Other channels you might consider
Steemit.chat is where you'll find a lot of the chatter regarding all things Steemit. Making a regular appearance on there, and participating in discussions is a great way to network.
You can also promote your post in the post promotion channels. Just be aware that some channels have rules, or moderation.
Another chat place becoming quite popular is the Steemit and Golos Discord channel. It's more of the same, except there are more opportunities to voice chat.
Make use of other social media
You might have noticed that at the bottom of your post, you have some quick share links to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Use them. You can take advantage of your existing network on those social platforms to get more views to your post. Not only does it mean that your views per dollar go up, it also creates opportunity for your friends to sign up to Steemit.
Take part in community wide competitions and challenges
There are several long time running competitions on Steemit that welcome all users. It is a great way for people with the same interest to come together and contribute to the system.
I have taken part in several Open Mic Challenges, Steemit Photo Challenges and acted as a judge for the Culinary Challenge. In doing so, I've had the pleasure of networking with not only the people who run them, but also many of the participants.
In addition, I have taken part in instance competitions run by other others on the platform. For example, the Halloween Costume Contest by Stellebelle (this was my entry).
The attention economy
There are built in mechanisms which allow you to somewhat influence the visibility of your content on the site. The first as everyone is familiar with is upvoting. Of course, upvoting your own post will only ever contribute a very small amount to bringing it up the visibility ladder, but upvoting comments that you like will actually draw attention to you.
It is a way of acknowledging someone else's input to some discussion. And if that person is observant, they will notice your upvote and likely appreciate it more.
Paid Promotions are another way pushing up visibility of your own posts. Some what cheaper than buying a huge amount of Steem Power, you can place your post as highly as you want on the Promoted page and contend with a less congested trending page. I've tried this several times, especially on posts that I just want as many people as I can to see.
Accumulate Steem Power. Building your Steem Power is building your long term vested interest in the platform. The more Steem Power you have, the more you have at stake for the platform to succeed. Your blog and body of work is going to benefit from the success of the platform, and you'll want to have your skin in the game for when that happens. Here is a fantastic blog by @kevinwong on Why you should consider accumulating Steem Power.
Value is a function of time projection
A life as a minnow early on can be quite tough. Little exposure, and small rewards can kill motivation for continuing to contribute. But the value of your time should not be observed on the day to day. Sometimes, it takes a whole life time to gain some real exposure and reward for your work. Hopefully though, you have made an intelligent decision to invest your time into something that is still in it's very early stages. The future is bright, and the best is yet to come.
I suggest reading a post by @dantheman on Building Long Term Value from your Blog. For many who have stuck with Steemit from early on and stuck it out through the valley of death, they are now starting to see real value in building up their following, and making continued contribution to the platform.
Invest your time and money for the long haul
Investing into the platform can be as simple as just putting pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and contributing on a regular basis. In the short term, you may start getting some decent rewards for your work. More importantly, you will start gaining traction on your viewership. This is all at the opportunity cost of time.
In the long run, your time will pay compound dividends as it encapsulates not only the rewards you earn, but also the social capital you have built.
Invest in life experiences
As I briefly mentioned earlier, lifestyle bloggers usually carve out their own niche and build a fair following through that niche.
Life experience is a large part of lifestyle blogging, as such, you'll want to continually build upon your life experiences by trying new things, going to new places, eating new foods, meeting new people. If you blog about new technology, then you'll want to stay at the cutting edge of technology. This all means spending some of that hard earned money in spicing up your life and gaining valuable life experience.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem extra wise for their age?
It's because they've spent a great deal of time experiencing life as much as possible.
Investing in yourself to gain more life experience is never a waste of money, because you'll walk away better informed, more wise, and more experienced.
Invest in better equipment
If you want to take your lifestyle blog to the next level, then eventually you'll want to start thinking about upgrading your gear. The bread and butter equipment for any lifestyle blogger is their camera. Depending on what kind of photography you want to shoot, you may even have to invest in buying a few different kinds of cameras.
My blogging equipment is always expanding, but here is what I currently use.
- iPhone 7 Plus
- GoPro Hero 4 Black
- DJI Osmo Mobile
- DJI Phantom 4 Drone
- Canon 5D MK II
Be the jack of all trades
Over the course of your blogging career, you'll have plenty of challenges to overcome, many of which you will likely have never touched upon before. For instance, Video Editing, Photo Retouching with Photoshop, HTML, Markdown, the list goes on. As a blogger always aspiring to be better, it is always wise to top up and broaden your skill sets to tackle the demand for better and better quality content.
Blogging is like an art, your creativity can be endless. It's quality, subjective. If you continue to challenge yourself along the way, always learning, always striving for betterment, then you are on the right tracks to forging a successful lifestyle blog!
I hope you have found at least some of this article to be helpful.
I may decide to revisit some of these sections in further detail in later posts.
Please up-vote if you liked the post, and of course resteem and follow me for more lifestyle blogs!
Don't forget to leave a comment!