[Thrilled to have this guest post from Laura Click. Enjoy!]
Three years ago, I would have never dreamed I would run a half marathon. In fact, prior to January 2010, the longest I had ever run in my life was two miles – and that was in high school.
Now, I have three half marathons under my belt and I’m training for my fourth race next month.
Yes, it’s hard. But, it’s incredibly rewarding. Much like blogging.
In fact, long-distance running and blogging have quite a bit in common.
Don’t believe me?
Here are a five ways you can improve your blogging efforts by taking a page from the runner’s training program:
1. Get a training plan.
Runners need a training plan to prepare for a long race. That means determining how many days a week to run and at what distance each time.
Bloggers need this too. Except we call it an editorial calendar.
You need to determine how often you’re going to write a new post to keep your readers satisfied and creative juices flowing. For Stanford, that’s every day. For me, it’s 2-3 times a week.
Whatever the magic number is for you, put it on the calendar and schedule it in. That will make you far less likely to skip out on a post.
2. Get the right gear.
For runners, it’s incredibly important to have the right running shoes. And no, it’s not all about looks. It’s about finding the shoe that best fits your foot and running style to help you perform at your best and prevent injury.
Your blog needs the right kind of gear too.
That means investing in the right theme and plugins that will help your blog perform better. It means optimizing your site so it loads fast and doesn’t keep readers waiting. And, it means designing your blog to improve conversions (i.e. email signups, product purchases or ebook downloads).
Quit hobbling along with a free blog theme on a domain that you don’t own. Your blog deserves better. You’ll thank me later.
3. Find a training group or mentor.
Running with a training group gives me the accountability I need to stay on track and access to people I can ask for questions or advice. This was particularly helpful when I was training for my first half marathon.
As a blogger, you don’t have to go it alone. There are a number of ways you can get help and support to help your blog succeed.
You can join a membership site like the Third Tribe or Exploring Social Media. You can get a Spectacular Blog Review from Stan. Or, you can even hire a marketing consultant to hold your hand and help you every step of the way.
There’s no reason to keep beating your head against the wall with your when there are plenty of resources that can help you make your blog the shining star it deserves to be.
4. Find (and keep) your pace.
One of the biggest challenges for runners is to start the race slowly. If you start too fast, you’ll run out of gas at the end of the race.
Bloggers tend to have this same problem. You get excited and over-zealous and the next thing you know, you started out at a pace that you can’t keep up with.
I encourage bloggers – especially new ones – to start slow. Pick a posting pace you can keep up with. Then, as you get more comfortable, you can always increase your frequency.
Starting slow helps you build up to where you want to be instead of burning yourself out right after you get started.
5. Know when to take breaks.
Believe it or not, most runners hate to take a few days off because they know how hard it is to get back on track with their training when they do.
But, sometimes injury or illness gets in the way. And, if they push through the pain, they’ll make things worse.
While there’s nothing worse than a blogging slump, you also need to know when it’s time to take a break from your blog. If you’re phoning in your posts or you have a crisis in your business or personal life, it’s okay to step back and give yourself room to breathe.
The trick is recognizing the difference between a needed break and laziness.
You Can Do This
Building and sustaining a blog can be scary proposition – just like running my first half marathon. But, when you get the right tools and resources in place, you’ll find the effort easier, more enjoyable and the results will stand for themselves.
So, what are you waiting for?
P.S. If you want to start your blog off at the right pace with a strong group of dedicated readers then consider picking up a copy of “How to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Readers” here.