People blog for many reasons. While some do it to educate and inspire others using their knowledge, skills and experiences, others do to it to share their passion, interests and hobbies with the world. Whichever path you choose, it will connect you with people from across the world who share your vision and goals. On a creative level, it will provide an outlet for your unique abilities, such as writing, content creation and design.
Blogging can be a challenging process, but the results make it a worthwhile endeavour. The challenges could range from having to choose from the thousands of readily available information on the best blogging practices to fear of technology and lack of knowledge regarding the basics of blogging. It could even be a case of inner paralysis, where you cannot seem to move forward with your wonderful ideas.
Yet, blogging as with all other activities, can be turned into a rewarding act of worship with the right intention. It is a powerful tool for dawah and an online pool for sharing valuable educational content and learning resources.
My life in the blogosphere has been filled with many exciting learning experiences as well as some hurdles. Let me share some top tips that helped my transition from a mere blog subscriber to a random blogger and I am now striving to join the ranks of productive bloggers. I hope my tips will facilitate your overall experience and enhance your blogging productivity.
As a productive blogger, your intention, goals, plans and actions should be directed towards success in this world and the next, In sha Allah.
Seven Top Tips for Productive Blogging
1. Define Your Goals
Why are you blogging? What do want to achieve with all of the posts, branding and interactions with audience? Write these goals down before you continue reading.
When you have a target, it is easier to take simple steps towards achieving that goal. You can use a calendar or planner to map out your milestones and then monitor your progress as you move steadily towards the big goals. When such goals are coupled with a great intention, it will serve as a motivation to get things done.
Your intention lays the foundation for the quality of all actions you perform, as made clear in a very popular prophetic narration: ”People will be resurrected (and judged) according to their intentions.” [Ibn Majah]
With a clear and sincere intention, you can prioritise and remain focused on your blogging goals. This can help you reap more rewards as well; each time you renew that intention, it is directed towards attaining productive results.
For the ever purposeful Muslim, all of your blogging activities should be driven by worthy goals. Such goals can be for dawah, educational or entrepreneurial purposes. Your goals will help you create an effective brand — from logo design to colour concept, tagline and content type.
2. Know Your Audience and Plan Appropriately
After you have defined your goals, you must strive to understand the needs of your target audience. Use social media, surveys, emails and discussions to find out what people want or what will help them most. Develop interactive conversations, good listening skills and clear communication techniques to engage your audience.
Although it is your blog, it is not all about you. Cater to your audience using appropriate language, good communication and relevant content type to make connections rather than create barriers. Imagine having a blog that feels like home to the audience and makes them return repeatedly to learn more and connect with your mission. Then you cannot afford to do things in a random fashion. You need to plan and dedicate some effort on your blog so the audience connects with your message.
For example, can you use the same approach for blogging directed at professional Muslims as you would with Muslim teens? Prophet Muhammad was an expert communicator. He was known to be playful with children, while gentle and encouraging towards the youth. He would give advice to people according to their level of understanding. For example, he related with the bedouins in a different manner as he did with his companions.
Create useful content, whether it is articles, webinars, videos, podcasts, apps and live chats, to suit you and your audience. Use a great mix of content for great communication and learning.
3. Build on Passion and Commitment
Now you have your goals and know your audience. Do you simply hope to live happily ever after? It is never that easy in real life, is it? You need commitment to keep writing, interacting and responding to the audience.
Invest wisely in your blog. Use your money, time, connections and passion to make your blogging a success. Block out regular time to create content, network with other bloggers and observe what other productive bloggers are doing or not doing. Always keep the glow of your message and passion clear through these investments.
Blogging with the right intention requires nothing short of excellence, Ihsan, while shunning mediocrity. When you intend to blog, start with Bismillah and do it well, with Itqan. Or would you choose to deliberately under perform in the presence of Allah ? Your blogging should represent Islam clearly in leaving anyone who stumbles upon it in awe and amazement, yet not being surprised since it is the work of a Muslim, whose passion and commitment is driven by correct understanding of Islam.
Sync your intention, goals and actions to Allah’s ever watchful presence; from the way you compose your posts, respond to comments and relate to your audience. Be flexible and find new ways to experiment with ideas. You may ask the audience for feedback and involve them at all stages of your experiments so it remains a two-way interaction.
4. Develop Excellent Writing Skills
On the authority of Abu Ya’la Shaddad bin Aws , that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Muslim]
Whichever language you decide to blog in, make it a duty to practise and gain proficiency in it. Your writing matters as it will allow you to share your message and goals easily with the audience. It is not simply a matter of putting up any kind of writing, but quality writing, so mind your blogging language. Be mindful of your grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and choice of words. Edit your work. If you have someone that can help critique your work, accept the offer so it is reviewed and you receive some feedback.
Do not get too comfortable with your present writing skills, instead seek relevant writing platforms and update your skills. It could be a writing challenge with other bloggers, or guest posting and cross posting opportunities. Invest in yourself and your skills will yield you even more productive results. When you sharpen your blade, you can accomplish your actions in a shorter time instead of struggling unnecessarily.
You can also do a voice recording of your writing to hear how the words flow and how meanings may come across to others. Overhaul your writing if necessary, but never settle for mediocrity.
5. Utilise Relevant Skills
In addition to writing text-only articles, you may want to include videos, podcasts and photos. You may also want to change some of your design elements or add new features. All of these actions require different skills set.
You could learn from experts, take courses on areas you need to develop or read and research on your own. You could also hire people from websites such as elance, fiverr and odesk.
Sites such as Udemy provide free and paid courses on a wide range of topics ranging from writing to programming. Ask other bloggers and those in the creative industry for suitable recommendations on which course/ skills you need at your level. Do not get confused about whether to learn SEO, HTML or Photoshop.
Create a progressive learning path to build on those skills. Take inspiration from knowing that the Qur’an was revealed in stages over many years. The companions would memorise the verses methodologically so as to internalise the meanings rather than browse through with speed so they can be praised as huffadh. You have to keep learning and try to internalise each new skill with constant practice. Even if you need outside assistance from time to time before you sharpen those skills, keep up with the practice.
6. Take a Break
Your blog is only a means and not the end itself. Do not get caught up with results and outcomes, while neglecting other areas of your life. Take a break when you need to because your body has a right over you.
Make time to pray, eat, take a nap or walk and interact with others. This will help to rejuvenate your body and creativity as well as reduce burn-out and stress. Remember to take short breaks from a few minutes to hours each day and take longer ones as required.
Take a leaf from the life of the noble Prophet and his companions who made out time for seeking knowledge, their family, earning a living, community service and personal worship.
7. 1,2,3… Start Blogging
Get over your excuses and procrastination and start blogging. Set goals that are achievable, commit to taking daily small steps towards those steps and track your progress. Do not spend all of your time dreaming and imagining what could be – get right down to it. You can adjust things as you go along.
Always refer back to your calendar/planner with the short- and long-term goals when you begin to feel overwhelmed with all that is happening or what is not happening. Adjust your plans and actions towards your goals.
Productive blogging is about:
- Smart work not just busy work
- Flexibility with changes and challenges
- Intentional and focused planning
- Connecting with the audience
- Quality not quantity
- Lifelong learning
- Taking action
- Commitment and dedication
Productive blogging is not about:
- Copying and pasting
- Creating the perfect content
- Your needs alone (‘Me, myself and I’ attitude)
- Quantity or daily postings
- Gaining popularity
- Learning rocket science or nuclear physics
- Get rich-quick schemes
Time for Change
Whether you have been blogging for only a few days, weeks or even months, would you not love to turn your blogging into a productive activity? If you do, then it is time to renew your intention, redefine your blogging goals, reform your blogging habits, revamp your blog and keep up with the right motivation.
Here are 6 questions to get you thinking and directing your actions towards productive blogging:
- What are your blogging goals, short and long term?
- Who is your target audience?
- What do you want your audience to get out of your blog?
- What outlook do you want your blog to project in the blogosphere?
- What investments are you willing to make on your blog, in terms of time, research, collaboration, perseverance and dua?
- In what ways will you stay motivated as you work towards your goals?
It is much easier to write about being a productive blogger than trying to be one in reality. You will face distractions, lack of motivation and fear of technology among other problems, but it can be done. You can feel the fear and still be productive.
After all, your vision as a productive Muslim blogger is beyond awards, huge followings on social media and popularity on the blogosphere. It even transcends this temporary life. You want to use your passion for writing, coaching, listening, mentoring or utilising other life/career skills to educate and inspire others.
You want to call people to the proper understanding and practice of Islam. Or do you not? What better time than now to go all out to make it happen? Do not underestimate yourself and make nothing less than productive blogging your standard.
I love blogging and I am always on the lookout for productive bloggers. I will watch out for you on the blogosphere. Perhaps I can learn a new thing or two from your blogging techniques and educate myself from your blog content. The world needs you, the Ummah is waiting for your content.
What are your thoughts on these tips? Do you use them? What else can you add? Please share below!
About the Author:
Amina Edota is passionately committed to inspiring other young Muslims find opportunities in their lives — to think better, feel better and live better — and also have a better connection with Allah (swt) through those opportunities. With a background in Science and Education, Amina loves to explore ideas and make things happen. Through work and other interests, she has enjoyed interacting closely with people of all age groups from pre-school to seniors.She has also mentored young people from different backgrounds.
Find her at www.YouthlyHub.com for some inspiration on how to embrace the opportunities in your youth.