According to Google, about 95% of the readers never reach the second page of the search results, probably that's why it's often called the safest place to hide a dead body. So, when I was looking for reasons to start blogging, I stuck to the reasons mentioned on the first page of the search results.
Here is a list of those 10 reasons encapsulated by the top 10 websites:
I completely agree with the reasons mentioned above, especially because I witnessed some of them after the positive result of my first blog. But, through my short blogging journey, I also learned another reason which plays the most important role in determining whether you will be able to accomplish any of the 10 things listed above.
The Only Reason
Bypassing the suspense in the story, the only reason you should blog is to help others. Now, this might sound cliche but trust me, I will prove it to you by the end of this post why this reason shouldn't be ignored at all.
This is how a blogger's sphere looks like:
Internal Reasons: These are a blogger's internal motives and they can include any of the 10 points shared earlier (and many more). If you scroll back to the points listed above, you will notice that none of them focus on the readers. They're inward looking. Just because I said that they're inward looking doesn't mean you shouldn't focus on them. In fact, you should have a handful of them. They will keep you motivated and help you measure progress.
Blogging Arena: This is the scope i.e. all the topics that the blogger can write about and all the rules he/she follows. It is always advisable to define the scope and not branch out too much. Else, you will dilute your purpose.
External Reasons: These are the outward-looking motives that you, as a blogger, should have. They stem from the pursuit of helping others. Most of the successful blogs have external reasons. They deliver value and aim to address/solve a problem.
Let me show you how these three components can be defined. Always start with an External Reason taking it all the way defining the Internal Reasons.
External Reason: When I was preparing for the MBA entrance exam, I couldn't find non-engineering students studying at the top B-schools to guide me. To bridge this gap, I started blogging. So, my external reason was to help the non-engineers get into their dream institutes by sharing my knowledge with them. In other words, to be the non-engineer that I was looking for during my preparation.
Blogging Arena: Now, since my purpose was to guide the aspirants by sharing knowledge that didn't exist on the web, the scope of my blog got defined as follows:
I will not write about things that are easily accessible on the web. If someone reaches out for such queries, I would be happy to share the links of articles posted by others.
I will share the knowledge that I have gathered through experience or the knowledge which someone has provided to me with the permission to share it with the world.
I will respond to queries on the blog because that is what I was seeking when I was an aspirant.
After setting these boundaries, I defined the topics that I could write about, namely, CAT Preparation, IIM Interviews, Life at an IIM, Internships & Jobs and Inspiring Stories.
Internal Reasons: To be very honest, I discovered my internal reasons only when I started seeing a positive response from the blog visitors. Once I knew that it was helping others, I was in a safe position to determine what my internal goals with the blog should be. I decided to learn the following skills from blogging:
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media Marketing
Google Search Console
That helped me stay focused and resolve conflicts. For example, after activating Google AdSense, my blog started earning revenue. Now, since it wasn't a part of my internal reasons, I decided that whenever my earnings reach a certain threshold, I would offer them as a financial aid to the blog members in need.
Why External Reasons?
External reasons help in a variety of ways:
1. Defining your niche: Let's say you decide to blog on marketing and advertisements. Now, if you only focus on your internal reasons, then you will have a hard time understanding what to write about. Yes, you may pen down some articles by researching from the web, but how helpful will they be to the readers who already have an access to the marketing websites you copied from? If it already exists, what benefit are you accruing by mixing and matching? Why would someone read your blog and not read the ones that already feature on page one of Google Search Results? When you start from the External Reasons, you're compelled to think about it. Continuing the same example, you'd wonder what is something that marketing enthusiasts would need help with, something that they cannot find easily on the web. For example, consider the marketing of college festivals. I don't know if a blog exists about the marketing tactics used by different college societies and clubs. Why not blog about it? It'd help so many members of these clubs who seek inspiration every now and then to promote their websites/pages.
2. Reducing marketing effort: Writing a blog and marketing it side-by-side is a daunting task (I can say that with confidence after having done it for 4 months). In such a setting, if your blog members can contribute in marketing of your blog (without being asked to), wouldn't that be awesome? This is what marketers call Word of Mouth. It's the most trustworthy form of marketing. Let me show you how my previous blog members were my biggest source of marketing :
Now, why would someone talk about you unless you are of help to them? In one of my favourite marketing books called Contagious, the author reveals why people recommend something to others (you must read it if you haven't already). If you find something to be of worth, something that you think is unique, remarkable and worth helping the other, you'd refer it. Just like I referred the book Contagious to you. Let me give you another example: when I was preparing for MBA, I figured that my GK was too poor. Despite trying hard to read newspapers, I couldn't indulge myself in that task. That's when my father texted me about Inshorts. He shared how it was so easy to go through multiple news snippets in no time. Now, think about it: why did he recommend it to me? Was it because Inshorts earns ad revenue (internal reason) or was it because Inshorts shares news articles (blogging arena)? In my opinion, it was the external reason of Inshorts to solve the problem that news readers faced, i.e. inability to go through several news pieces due to time constraint, which made him refer it to me. It was because Inshorts helped him that he wanted to spread word of mouth about it.
3. Increasing content quality: When you keep yourself in your readers' shoes while blogging, you are more likely to research well before you post. I observed this change in me over time while blogging at Non-engineers. Initially, my posts were 1-2 minute reads with barely any internal/external links. When the external reasons got defined better and the readership improved, I decided to make sure that I don't post short articles that add no value. It helped me think holistically because I wanted to answer readers' queries around one topic in one post. This improved my content quality (I can say this with evidence because my organic traffic improved over time).
4. Being emotionally involved: One of the 13 essentials shared by HubSpot for blogging include a point which says, "You should write like you talk." It is only if you keep the other in mind that you'll able to write with emotion. If your only objectives are internally driven, you'll not be able to engage as much as you should. For example, I could stop chatting with my blog visitors at Non-engineers because it doesn't sync with any of my internal reasons. But, I truly believe that an option to interact through the blog has helped the members more than it would have if they were just reading the posts (although, only they can certify if this is true).
5. Finding readers: When you are so involved in thinking about your readers and their problems, you find more avenues to reach out to them. For example, many of Non-engineers' visitors came from Quora & PagalGuy. That's where they were already sharing their concerns and were hoping that someone would revert to them. So, if you have an external focus, you will find ways to reach out to your readers beyond the traditional channels like Facebook and Instagram.
6. Keeping you regular: When I hosted a one week challenge to read 7 books in 7 days on my blog, I realized the power of having accountability partners. They are individuals who keep a check on your regularity and help you achieve your goals. For example, on one of those 7 days, I didn't feel like finishing the book, but just because I knew there were members awaiting a post, I went the extra mile to get it done. Having an external focus will ensure that you write regularly. Internal motives cannot stop you from procrastinating or having a cheat day.
So, if you are an aspiring blogger, the first step for you should be to reverse your thinking hat and begin from the external reasons of blogging. In the next post, I will share some tips on how you can find your external reasons and define the scope of your blogging arena. If you liked this post or found it to be useful, do let me know in the comments because blogging is a fairly new subject for me, I'd appreciate your feedback.
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