Disclosure: This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Just over a decade years ago in November, I started on a writing journey. It was 2005. My oldest daughter was six, my middle daughter was four and my youngest was about one and a half. As if I didn’t have enough to do in my life, I decided to have another baby. This wasn’t a baby in the traditional sense, it was my blog which has, over the years, grown up with my kids. When I first started, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, much the same way you can’t predict how your kids will turn out. And, just like having children, you can never prepare for everything. When you have kids, you will never have enough time, money, patience, sleep…you name it! In much the same way, a blog requires lots of nurturing, new clothes, training and more. But, with lots of care, love, and attention, you can be successful at being a parent of kids and a blog.
My first article was not really anything special. But when I re-read it, I realize that it pretty much reflects the direction my blog would take. I originally set my domain as TechDad.net because I wanted to have both the fact that I was a father and was into technology reflected in the domain. (Later, I changed it to its current domain – HighTechDad.com.) From early on, I ran with the tagline – where technology and fatherhood collide – and that line has stuck. That first article was simple. Titled “Fun!” it merely stated:
So, there it was, a little bit about technology (the launch of the blog and some sort of issue I was having with Microsoft Outlook). The article simply ended with a photo of my youngest daughter. It rounded out technology and parenting.
In full disclosure, this is a Domain.ME sponsored article. But, much like the other articles I have written for Domain.ME (“Online, It’s Really About ‘Me’ So Protect It, #MentorMe” & “How To Achieve ‘Millions’ Through Blogging, It’s NOT What You Think #BizOfBlogging“), it is about something I’m passionate about – blogging. My assignment for this article was to look back at my own beginning of blogging, to provide insights and advice, and to underscore the importance of carving out your own niche online when it comes to blogging.
Write About What Inspires You
When starting out, it’s important to find that passion as well as something you know that you could talk about forever (pro blogger tip #1). It can be incredibly specific where you go in-depth on a particular topic or it could be broader to encompass something more general that you have been following for years. The important word here is “passion” because when you write from the heart, it shows. And frequently, you are never at a loss for words. For me, as I started writing, I realized there were quite a few parenting blogs and quite a few sites which discussed and reviewed technology. But I found there was a gap, specifically around technology within the family environment.
I was living this. With three young daughters and an incessant attraction to technology (so much so, my wife affectionately calls technology, “the other woman”), I decided to develop a personal brand around HighTechDad.
My second article was a follow up to the first – “Printing Fixed” – which presented a positive outcome to a technology issue I was facing. It turns out, many of my “Fix It” and “How To” articles are the most popular on my site. So here is pro blogger tip #2: if you figure out a solution for a problem, write about it and how you overcame the issue. This doesn’t have to be a technical solution. It can be for just about anything. You would be surprised at how many other people may actually be having the same issue and by sharing your solution, you could potentially be helping someone else.
But early on in my technology addiction, I realized (carefully pointed out by my wife) that all of our money was to be allocated towards raising the family. She had put her professional career on hold to raise our three kids, and living in the San Francisco Bay Area meant that all of our money was spent in essentially surviving. So, I had no budget for buy any type of gadget (in fact, this rule persists to this day!).
In order to make an entrance into the consumer electronics world, I needed some help. Luckily, a friend of mine was running a gaming and tech PR firm and he had some clients who “needed some help” in exposing their products more widely. So, he started sending me software and smart phone cases to review. I began balancing my own technology adventures with product reviews. Pro blogger tip #3: don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family and coworkers for help as you get started.
As I plodding along writing what I hoped to be helpful, educational and informative articles, my site slowly began to gain traction. I documented events in my family life, analyzed software (I had a particular affinity for Open Source software mainly because it was free and I was using it a lot), and provided information about a variety of topics. And I experimented. Pro blogger tip #4: don’t be afraid to experiment! Dare to be different and try new approaches to things. Write about things others aren’t discussing or go deeper on topics that you know about that others are only scraping the surface of.
Grow Your Blog Audience by Doing
In order to grow you blog, you need to do a variety of things. And yes, there are many, many articles about this with incredibly great advice. I only recently started reading these in depth. Honestly, when I first started blogging, I just wanted an outlet to express ideas and document events I was encountering. I really didn’t care that much about being the hottest site on the Internet (not that HighTechDad.com was ever a “hot” site). I just wanted that digital journal – it was better than writing a book (something I had wanted to do early on even before blogging and something I still want to do) – blogging was living and interactive. It was a means to connect with people and to potentially help them in some way. In order to grow, I do recommend a few things:
- Amplify your writing through social media (I joined Twitter back in March 2007) – pro blogger tip #5
- Engage with your audience (respond to comments on your writing) – pro blogger tip #6
- Interact with others in your same or similar space – pro blogger tip #7
- Be diligent in writing regularly (just figure out a schedule that works for your lifestyle) – pro blogger tip #8
- Move beyond just words (I started a YouTube channel, I have Flickr and Instagram accounts & I push to Tumblr as well) – pro blogger tip #9
Honestly, I feel a bit odd writing “pro blogger tip” because I don’t view myself as a “pro blogger” – I’m just a dad who enjoys writing. But along with working on your personal brand, getting a good domain that reflects that brand is just as important. Consider using a .ME domain for your personal brand, because when you think about it, personal blogs are about you and your ideas. I encourage you to visit the Domain.ME site to learn some other branding tip when starting your blogging journey.
Having a blended content strategy approach is also important – pro blogger tip #10. In order to cast a wider net to get more readers, it helps to vary the type of content you produce and even tweak or evolve your writing style. Much like anything, the more practice you have, the better you get. I have found some of my audience like lengthy articles while others just want to cut to the facts immediately. Some engage purely with the written form while others enjoy watching a video. Often, I blend the written with video within an article. But these take time to produce so be sure to choose what you are most comfortable with.
As my blog evolved, more opportunities were presented to me. I have been a brand ambassador for various brands, tagged as an “influencer,” participated in events and sponsorships, and received numerous opportunities (see my About page for some of the incredible things I have been lucky to participate in). In fact, my brand and lengthy blogging history have opened many doors for me, including within my professional career. But I believe much of this is because I started early on. Pro blogger tip #11 – don’t wait! If you have an idea, just start running with it. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it will evolve with you. In hindsight, I wish I had actually done more and pushed harder with some things. But there are only 24 hours in a day and you need to be sure to find that work/life balance (and sleep a few hours a day as well). Some people have been able to turn their blogging passion into a professional career.
It’s funny. I think that my blog is starting to hit that cranky teenager stage, much like my own children. While it can exist on its own because there is a lot of content on it, it also still needs nurturing and guidance. Things like optimizing for SEO, creating mobile-ready pages, updating plugins and themes, all go towards its maturity. If it is neglected, it’s behavior will be reflected in in-action. So, my last pro blogger tip (#12) is to continue to pay attention to your blog – feed it new content, give it new clothes, provide new tools to make it successful.
There are plenty of ways you can be successful at blogging – in my opinion, it is quite subjective. Making money is great and having experiences is even better, but without even making an attempt you will never know what your potential could be. My over-arching recommendation? Start blogging now! It’s quite addictive and extremely satisfying. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. While I’m not an expert, I do have some experience and ideas I can recount.
Disclosure: This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions within this article, unless otherwise noted, are my own and are not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: Blogging over the past decade has evolved who I am as a person. It is now part of my being.