In 2012, I launched a blog called “Do You Like That Song?” (DYLTS is the short version) to gather my favorite songs. That started as a way to share music in another place than my Facebook profile.
More than 8 years later, it’s still active and evolved a lot. This gave me the opportunity to connect with artists from all around the world, being interviewed in The Guardian, playing music at a festival and much more.
I share some of my learnings from these 8 years, that can apply to blogs or personal projects in other areas as well.
1. Define your core purpose
Your project’s core purpose has a central role in everything you do. It will help develop your strategy and make sure you move in the right direction.
When we start, we tend to forget this and replicate what is existing. This may lead to wrong choices and missed opportunities.
With this approach, I developed new projects serving my purpose of making people discover new music. For example, organising offline events where the blog audience can come listen to artists.
2. Remain Consistent
Consistency is key and you’ve already read it several times before. But it’s really what makes a project work. In the fight for attention, you need to create content regularly on the long run. That can be challenging when blogging is a side project, but you can make time for it.
For a blogger, being consistent mainly means publishing content at a regular pace. Having a defined schedule for content is a good way to build habits: a newsletter sent every Monday; a podcast published once a month…
About 2 years ago, I started a weekly Spotify playlist. Every Sunday, I update it with a selection of songs just released. Being consistent allowed me to build a following and get people used to this weekly update.
I receive great feedback from followers and friends who discover new music they like with the playlist. I also received questions when it was not updated during my holidays last summer, which is a good sign of engagement.
3. Build your network from day 1
There are several ways to network. I’m not talking about contacting random people to ask something. I talk about connecting with people in the same area to share and learn, without expecting anything.
With the right approach, it won’t even feel like networking and you’ll build strong relationships on the long term.
A simple example: I send an email to all artists featured on my music blog with the article link. It’s a good way to establish a connection and let them know I appreciate their work.
4. Choose the right platforms
There are many platforms out there, and you need to choose the ones relevant to your project. You’ll probably think about the most popular ones, but also consider about where your audience is. In my case, SoundCloud or Spotify for music. Each sector has its platforms, like Behance for graphic design or Twitch for video games.
Don’t forget the issues happening on social media. Facebook pages get blocked. Instagram has down times. YouTube accounts are removed for copyright issues. You’ll experiment this kind of problems.
To reach your audience and limit your dependency to these channels, also rely on your own mediums. Don’t wait to have problems to develop your website and emails list!
To keep up and differentiate, you need to be aware of new trends: content formats, social media features, new channels…
How to integrate these in your strategy?That’s where experiment is essential. A side project like a blog gives you lots of flexibility to try new things.
So instead of elaborating complex plans and overthink, you can just test your idea. If it works: great! If not: there are no major consequences, you can adjust and try again.
6. Don’t forget your core purpose
Remember the core purpose from point #1?
As your project grows, new opportunities are coming up and that’s great! You’ll have new possibilities like organising contests, partnering with brands, publishing sponsored articles… These can happen earlier than you think, it’s not only for the biggest “influencers”.
These actions are a good way to grow if they don’t compromise your approach. Just remember to check if it serves your core purpose. For example, don’t accept a paid placement that doesn’t fit your editorial line.
7. Ask experts for help
Having your own project requires to deal with several activities: writing, social media, design, video editing… There are many tools and tutorials making this more accessible.
However, this approach has limits and there are things requiring specific expertise. It was the case for me when I wanted to create a logo or customise the blog with CSS code.
8. Talk about your project
Finally, don’t forget to talk about your project around you. When we start, we tend to hide personal projects until they work. But talking about it will actually contribute to their success.
You’ll discover that many people will be willing to support and help. This can bring opportunities like expanding your audience, finding new ideas, getting help to solve a challenge... It also allowed me to have more members in the team!
Hopefully these tips can help you launch and develop your project. An extra one to conclude: if it’s a side project, remember to take it easy. Instead of always wanting more content, more followers, more clicks, it’s good to pause and look back at what you achieved so far.
Do you have other insights you would add to the list?