Let’s face it; you already have a variety of marketing tasks and creative duties to carry out on a daily basis. Is adding one more item to your schedule really going to benefit your music career?
The people I talk to often tell me that the small things make a big difference. They encourage me to make little tweaks to my attitude, mentality and strategy on an ongoing basis.
From that vantage point, it is the little things that matter most. It’s human nature to go looking for the big break or the quantum leap, and though breakthroughs do happen, Rome was not built in a day. Daily, incremental effort is usually the recipe for long-term achievement.
So, what are some of the common challenges associated with blogging and developing consistency around it?
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Overcome the Time Barrier
If you were really streamlined and organized, you’d realize how much wasted time there is in your schedule. You’d realize that you could be a lot more efficient and productive than you are right now.
I remember a time when I was giving roughly 55 hours a week to five different jobs. That didn’t include time spent in transportation (which was significant), rehearsing and performing with three or four bands, and maintaining about the same number of blogs and websites.
You know what I realize now? I still had a fair bit of give in my schedule. I was still sleeping seven to eight hours a night. I still had time to rest on the weekends. I even started a new business around that time.
If you consider 1) communicating with your fans, 2) marketing online and 3) driving search traffic to your website an important activity, then you have to find a way to fit blogging into your schedule, even if it means getting up an hour earlier than you usually do (as CD Baby founder Derek Sivers often suggested).
I’m not talking about stressing yourself out or working until you’ve expended every bit of energy you have. I’m just talking about 60 to 90 minutes of focused effort (one to seven times a week, depending on how often you want to publish new content).
We all run into sticking points in our creativity. If you’re stuck on a problem, do something else. Meditate. Walk. Sketch. Your brain is a wonderful mechanism that works in the background to solve problems while you’re doing other things.
Moreover, reward yourself for your effort. If you make the effort to get up earlier to blog, reward yourself with a 20 minute nap or a tasty smoothie. If you manage to do it for 30 consecutive days, treat yourself to a nice dinner. Come up with a reward system that’s appealing to you.
There was a season in my life when I tried to become an early riser, but I was doing it all wrong. I didn’t rest. I didn’t meditate. I didn’t reward myself. I just stressed out at the thought of having to get up early the next day. If you’re going to commit to a little bit of extra effort in your life, then don’t overdo it. Don’t stress yourself out in the process.
Filter Your Emotions
Hold on a second. Isn’t blogging supposed to be a fun activity?
Well, a lot of the time it is (it can even be addicting). However, when the going gets tough, you can’t count on emotion to carry you through. You’ll have to learn to follow through on commitments (to yourself and to others), even when you don’t particularly feel like it.
This is often challenging as a musician. A creative person tends to feel a lot more intensely. Powerful emotions can sometimes impede and overtake mental capacity. I should know.
Personally, I have had to keep reminding myself that I am human. Artists tend to be perfectionists, so they have the proclivity to think that everything has to be neat and orderly. However, life can get messy. My mentors tell me that success is usually chaotic too. Excellence is a worthy pursuit, but you may have to gently separate perfectionism from your thought process in order to be as prolific as you could be.
Blogging is going to be a long-term project. If you want to see results from your efforts, you will have to become tenacious. Building a music career, in general, is no different.
Develop a Strategy
Success in blogging is going to require a strategy of some sort. If you begin writing without a specific plan, you will likely run out of topics to discuss and strategies to implement, and you may even give up on the process entirely. Aspiring bloggers run into the same issue all the time, so being a musician isn’t going to make matters any easier.
As you seek to develop a meaningful strategy, carefully consider the following.
Set goals: take some time to consider what you want to accomplish with your blogging efforts. You won’t know when you’ve accomplished your goals unless you’ve put them into concrete terms. You are only failing when you’ve actually defined failure. You are only succeeding when you’ve defined success.
Determine your audience: when asked who your audience is, you may simply say that it’s your fans. However, do you really know who your fans are? Do you truly know what interests them? Why should they read your blog if you’re not writing content that caters to their interests? You may discover that there are several different demographics within your fan base (small-town teens, professionals and executives in their 30s, soccer moms, just as an example). It may seem daunting, but it is possible to write content that will appeal to each of these target markets. Moreover, knowing your audience helps you decide on subjects to write about.
Jot down ideas: even if you have strategies in place for coming up with new post ideas, it’s a good idea to keep a running list of ideas that come to you. Inspiration can hit anywhere at any time. In fact, it tends to come when you’re going about your day, doing something completely different. Make sure to capture thoughts as they come to you. You will always need more post topics. Personally, I’ve created a spreadsheet in Google Docs where I store my ideas for the various blogs I write for.
Create a blogging schedule: most blogging platforms allow you to schedule posts in advance of them ever being published. Starting with a month’s worth of content and scheduling it for future dates will help you to avoid overwhelm in the beginning. You will have built up a buffer. Then it’s a matter of consistency. Create new content on a regular basis, and let your followers know when new posts are going to be added to your blog. You also need to figure out how often you’re going to post. Any less than once a month, and the returns will likely be minimal. Any more than three or four posts a week could become overwhelming. Consider mapping out your plan from month to month on a digital or paper editorial calendar (with post titles, posting times, notes, etc.).
Develop a content strategy: this goes back to your target audience. There are other people out there just like your fans. It’s your job to draw them in with your content. Additionally, make a list of subjects you are interested in and write about those.
Utilize These Tactics
Here are some specific tactics both I and other bloggers have found useful. Depending on your overall approach, you may not necessarily find all of these stratagems applicable. Experiment, and find out what works for you.
Warm up: some people find it worthwhile to warm up before they start writing an article that’s going to be published on their blog. You could write in a journal, or you could fire up your word processor and write random blocks of text that only you will see. Whatever your poison, the idea here is to get your creative juices flowing.
Let your personality show through: bring your personality to your writing. Talk about things that you are interested in, and don’t be afraid to show the world who you are.
Create exclusive content: don’t merely rehash what others have already done. Add your perspective and insights to these topics. Try to create unique, original content that can’t be found elsewhere.
Discuss current events: you may find ways to tie in current events or trending topics with your posts. Do so if you can. This helps you to increase the relevancy of your work.
Share interesting stories: as a musician, you will inevitably have funny, interesting, tragic and weird stories to tell. These are great items to share with your fans, because they will feel like they are getting an inside look into who you are.
Share interesting content: you may come across posts, pictures, podcasts and videos that you enjoy (like this post you’re reading right now!). Share these items with your fans, and again, add your own perspective to the issue.
Share progress reports: if you have a new project in the works, there is no better time to be blogging, because you can show your fans what you are up to. However, you don’t have to reveal everything at once. Share a little bit at a time, and build the anticipation and excitement around the project.
Interact with your followers: don’t forget to interact with the people who take the time to engage with you, particularly in the comments section of your blog. This will show that you care about your readers.
Use images: it’s easy to do, but many forget to do it. Add images to your posts. There are many practical reasons for doing this. Posts that you share on social sites will often show pictures within the post. The more interesting the picture, the more likely people are to check out your work. Moreover, images add to the engagement factor. They allow people to draw additional insights from your posts. Make sure to use pictures that you have permission to use. As long as you follow the rules, you can grab photos from sites like Pixabay or stock.xchng that license the use of their photo libraries. Photos will help with your SEO too.
Use SEO tactics: write compelling titles and headlines, use relevant keywords, and write posts with 400 words or more (pages with thinner content are sometimes overlooked by search engines like Google). Tag your images with pertinent keywords as well (using the alt tag).
Guest post: look for opportunities to guest post on other people’s blogs. This will help you to create backlinks to your blog (most people will let you create a short author bio with a link back to your site), and generate additional attention for your work. You can also build some great connections this way.
Use YouTube videos: YouTube is the second most used search engine, and Google owns it. Relevant YouTube videos are showing up in Google search results too. You may find it prudent to create a new post every time you upload a new video, using the same title and embedding the video into the post.
Incorporate multimedia: these days, the web is more than just text and photos (although these elements are still quite important). You can find a variety of infographics, interactive apps, animations, audio files and videos to share with your audience. Not only that, but you can also create them. This allows you to engage with your audience in a variety of different ways.
Share your posts on social media/social bookmarking sites: sharing your posts on social sites will help you to increase traffic to your blog. It will also help your content to be indexed faster by search engines.
Like anything else, you probably won’t figure out your blogging strategy, personality or writing voice overnight. You’ll have to experiment and try different things. You’ll have to grow and evolve, which will happen if you’re diligent about sticking to the process.
Don’t get discouraged if opportunities and results don’t seem forthcoming. Even well-established blogs will sometimes see little immediate return on posts when they are published. They may not get additional feed or mailing list subscribers from every post. They may not see any comments on some pieces of content. This is more or less the nature of the game.
However, the long-term benefits are more or less proven. Sites that have a content marketing strategy often see an increase in traffic over time. An increase in traffic can certainly lead to additional subscribers, sales, awareness, and call-to-action conversions.
Fundamentally, you can’t just publish a post and expect to see instant gratification. This is like throwing a tree branch into the woods. If your posts are well-crafted, they will probably continue to be discovered through search in months and years to come. However, most of the time, you’ll have to work to get your work out there.
Let’s end where we began. Is it really necessary for musicians to blog?
Ultimately, only you can decide.
Trying to blog about your career efforts when nothing is actually going on can be frustrating and fruitless. The irony is that times of apparent stagnancy are the most important times to remain in your fan base’s consciousness. You want to keep the ball rolling, even when it’s not rolling, in a manner of speaking.
It can be challenging to pull a topic out of a hat and manifest an engaging, relevant post. Only persistency will overcome the challenges associated with lack of knowledge and experience. You will have to develop your expertise in different fields over time. You will have to get better at writing. Your first post will not be great. Your 50th post may not be great either. However, you will get better over time.
I can’t imagine not writing, but then again that’s what I do for work these days. Though I am still involved in the music industry, I am not actively pursuing a career in music right now.
I think there are many benefits to developing authority on different subjects and establishing yourself as an expert (which is what blogging can do for you). I think there is a good reason to keep your blog updated and to let your audience know what is going on in your life on a regular basis. Blogging gives you content to share on social media, and it helps drive more traffic to your website too.
I believe those who identify themselves as music entrepreneurs will find the benefit in blogging. I believe those with a creative imagination (which is most, if not all of you) will find interesting, creative and engaging ways of using the platform to their benefit.
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