With Halloween on the horizon and National Novel Writing Month hot on its heels, my thoughts have turned to one thing: witchcraft. More specifically, the ways in which the secrets to blogging success are not actually writing secrets at all, but secrets of THE CRAFT. As such I’m delighted to present you with a SUPER MEGA POST this week, as my Halloween Special!
Don’t Freak Out…
I’m not about to bespell you with magic and hex you into oblivion. As many of you know, while I’m a fabulous copywriter by day, I’m also a fearsome fantasy author by night. I know a thing or two about magic. In fact, my main series of Urban Fantasy novels is all about magical women.
Witches, in fact.
Chasing Azrael, the first in this series, is all about a necromancer, and the second and third books, Death Becomes Me and Bespell My Heart (which I’ll be working on next month during NaNo this year), are about a very powerful witch of a different kind.
Witchcraft is kinda my thing.
So it should come as no surprise that I spend a lot of time thinking about magic, and Halloween is my favourite holiday. I simply love Halloween. This year, as I was pondering my blog schedule and a suitably spooky post to write for you all to celebrate the season it struck me that many of the secrets of successful blogging have a lot in common with witchcraft. My own personal brand of blogging – The Divine Blogging Design – is especially attuned to these magical influences, not least because one of the twelve patron goddesses of my signature blogging method is Gaia, the mother goddess, and the goddess many Wiccans pray and witches worship.
As it so happens she’s also the goddess on the cover of the grimoire I’m currently writing in while I work on Bespell My Heart (it’s the purple one you can see in the photos). The coincidence of this hit me when I realised that Gaia is also the patron goddess of today’s blog post, making a post about the link between blogging and witchcraft kinda perfect for both Halloween, and my schedule. (I rotate through the twelve goddesses in a special order which determines my blogging schedule, you can learn all about this by signing up to take part in The Divine Blogging Challenge, which is coming very soon!)
The Divine Blogging Design uses archetypes to determine what kinds of content your ideal client will value most, which topics you should blog about, and in what frequency. It also helps you refine your voice so that it is authentically you, but also speaks directly to your ideal client. There are twelve archetypes, each represented by a goddess (hence the name), one of whom is your patron goddess. Your patron goddess governs the bulk of your blog posts. The subject you write on, tone and intention you have each week is determined by the goddess governing that week. Gaia is but one of these twelve goddesses, and she is not my patron goddess. If she were she would show up on the blog schedule every three weeks and it wouldn’t be much of a coincidence. But since Athena is my patron goddess, and Gaia is one of my secondary goddesses, I only blog in Gaia’s voice once every ten weeks.
And low and behold, the first post she’s ruling over happens the be immediately before Halloween… Spooky.
But there’s more to the notion that blogging secrets are actually witchcraft than one little coincidence…
Secrets to Blogging Success That Are Actually Witchcraft…
#1 Words Have Power
In witchcraft the written and spoken word is a form of power. Words are literal power. Witches uses incantations and chanting to channel magic, through language, to a specific purpose in order to achieve the desired outcome. The majority of witchcraft requires words in one form or another, either as written spells that form a recipe to follow, or as spoken spells, curses, hexes, and incantations. Even non-witches uses curses and harness the magical power of words…
It’s called cursing when we swear for a reason – swear words are considered stronger and more powerful than normal alternatives. They’re even taboo for some people to utter. Just like a witch’s curse.
Invoking the power of a person’s name works for a reason – how often have you ‘full-named’ a child, friend, or loved one, to get their attention, emphasise a point, or put them in their place? Names have power…
Your True Power As A Blogger..
This is the greatest of the secrets to blogging success and it’s so simple: put the right words, in the right order, for the right people, and suddenly you have something magical on your hands.
You must never underestimate the power of words. If you get them right they can do wonders for your business. If you get them wrong, they can not only derail your business but get you in serious trouble, both personally and professionally. The best case scenario of a badly worded blog is that people will think you’re unprofessional, or simply not very good at what you do, and go elsewhere. The worst case scenario is that you will damage your client base and lose existing business, or (in the very worst case scenario), earn a bad reputation.
Words are powerful, do not underestimate them.
I’ll be drawing many comparisons between witchcraft and blogging in this post, but the greatest one of them all is quite simply that they are both referred to by the same name, the same words, because they are both essentially the same thing.
Words woven together create magic. Whether it’s in the form of a hex, a helpful lesson, a funny story, or an inspiring tale, those of us who know how to harness the power of words for our own ends are using magic whether we realise it or not. And whether you’re a witch or a wordsmith, that talent is referred to by the same name:
The craft of writing is the most powerful tool at a blogger’s disposal. Practice it, refine it, hone it. You don’t have to be an award-winning author to blog, but the reality is that the better you are with words, the you will be at blogging. It’s that simple. A successful blog requires an accomplished wordsmith. If that’s not you then you have two choices: refine your own writing abilities, or hire someone else to write your blog for you.
Blogging Success Secret: Respect the craft and never underestimate the power of words. Get them right, even if it means learning to become a better writer, or hiring a copywriter.
#2 Pure Intentions
There’s a great deal about witchcraft that comes back to intent. According to magical theory, all forms of magic have an element of karma about them. If your intent is pure, your result will be as you wished it. If you have evil intentions, something will go awry, or you will pay for it further down the line.
This is especially true of love spells.
Most witchcraft and spell guides I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot, research and all that…) agree on the point that casting a spell to draw love to you is a good thing. It opens you up to possibilities and to the arrival of positive things in your life – potentially even a soul mate. But casting a love spell on a specific person is very different. You are effectively forcing that person to love you, against their will, against their natural emotions. That’s a form of mind control, of manipulation, and it’s in no way good. It’s selfish, and will inevitably go wrong.
In short, karma’s a bitch.
Successful blogging depends on pure intentions. If you’re out to make green and nothing else, it shows. If you are constantly trying to sell, sell, sell, you’ll get nowhere. If, on the other hand, you open yourself up to the possibility of working with people, by freely offering content specifically tailored to their needs, without the expectation of anything in return and without forcing the issue, good things will come your way.
No exceptions. No expectations.
The most you will ever ‘charge’ for a blog post is a request to sign up to a mailing list, so that your reader can get more of your lovely free content. And if you’re doing it right, even that comes with a bonus gift. You don’t require people to sign up to read your blog, you request it, and you give them something of value in return.
It’s not about you. It’s about them.
At least, it should be.
If you’re blogging for business then yes, of course your intention is to promote your business. Nobody would expect otherwise, it’s a business blog after all, and there are plenty of hobby blogs out there that have no corporate angle what so ever. If people don’t want to be ‘sold to’ they can go elsewhere. But there are ways of doing things. The golden 80/20 rule tells us that 80% of the content we produce should be freely given, without any expectation of something in return. 20% can be created with the hope that it generates income. One easy way to do this in blogging is to have a membership site. A free blog that is available to all, with a small percentage of content available only to those who pay a membership fee. But this content is PREMIUM. It is SUPERIOR to that which you give away.
And you have to give away a hell of a lot before people will buy into a club. They need to know, like, and trust you first, understand how you work, what you have to offer. They need to have seen, week after week, that you’re worth it. You need to have proven that your intentions are pure, and even when the offer of a product or service is on the table, it’s there with the understanding that if you don’t want it, there’s no problem, you can keep enjoying the free stuff.
Blogging Success Secret: Set your intentions for every blog post you write, for your business, and for your blogging efforts. Ensure those intentions are 100% pure – if they’re not it will come back and bite you on the arse.
#3 Crystal Magic
As well as the need to be pure in your intention when you’re getting your craft on, you also need to be very clear. If you’re even slightly fuzzy you might well find yourself on the wrong end of your own spell.
It’s not enough to have good intentions, you need to have a crystal clear objective.
Crystal magic is often used by Wiccans, pagans, witches, and people who are a little ‘woo woo’. Denise Duffield Thomas, the money manifesting genius behind LuckyBitch.com, and the author of Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, is really into crystals and I love it! Check out her recent Instagram post in which she shows off a rather gorgeous crystal board that she was using to help manifest a money goal she was working on…
I love this! Denise is using crystals here to focus her attention on her goal. She’s written her goal down on paper – setting it, making it very clear, and reinforcing it with the power of words – placed it in the middle of a circle, and surrounded it by crystals to amplify her intentions and really hone her focus.
There’s no way she can look at that grid and not think about the goal at its heart.
Denise is using her crystals to manifest a goal she is working on (manifesting goals is her specialty, so if you’re interested in that you should definitely check out LuckyBitch.com). In witchcraft, crystals are used in much the same way, to focus your intentions and clarify your objectives. Crystals themselves have a magical quality about them: they look magical; they often have great sentimental or monetary value; magical objects are frequently made or decorated with crystals; and they have some fairly amazing scientific properties that will impress you even if you don’t believe in magic. When using them in rituals you select specific crystals based on their attributes. For example, jasper is an earth crystal used in healing magic and for grounding and centering after rituals. It’s also used as a talisman for luck.
What are your objectives?
Just as you must choose the appropriate crystal to focus your intention on a specific goal in witchcraft, you must set your intention with every blog post your write, and clearly define what your objective is for that post. What are you trying to do?
Build your list?
Grow your Instagram following?
A big blogging mistake a lot of people make is to have a list of objectives and a blog, and think that blogging will magically (ahem…pun intended) achieve those objectives. This misconception is unfortunately reinforced by a lot of business coaches and gurus who tout the need to blog weekly and consistently without ever explaining that having a business blog isn’t enough. Just blogging each week isn’t enough. If you’re not being very specific in your intention and objective for each and every post you write, you will never achieve your goals.
You need a master list of blogging objectives, but this should be used as a reference while planning your wider blogging strategy.
One post. One objective. And it has to be crystal clear.
The Difference Between Clear And Fuzzy Objectives
Let’s say one of your objectives is to grow your email list. Blogging once a week won’t grow your list. You might get a trickle, the odd sign up here and there, but your conversion rate will be very low.
You need to have blog posts with content upgrades (associated freebies that people will sign up to access) so the post itself is one giant call to action, and a taste of what your reader will get for free when they sign up.
Having a box at the bottom of each post saying ‘Sign up to my newsletter’ is NOT ensuring your blog is growing your list.
Not even close.
Not even if you have a box that says ‘Sign up for my newsletter and get this free thing’. This is a fuzzy objective. You want your blog, as a whole, to achieve it for you, but you’re not really putting any effort into it. You’re just expecting it to happen. A clear objective sees you using specific posts in a targeted way to action your objective. Different posts can have different objectives: as long as each post has one totally clear goal it will work.
Getting Crystal Clear…
Unless the freebie on offer is directly related to the blog’s specific topic, there’s no guarantee your reader is interested in what you’re giving away. Even if they are interested, there’s no guarantee they’re interested now. We’re fickle creatures with limited attention spans and we’re constantly time poor. It’s hard enough to find the time to read, and will to concentrate on, a blog post about something we need/want right now. Your reader just isn’t going to go the extra mile for something they don’t need/want immediately. What they need/want immediately is what they’re already reading! For that blog post to convert into new signups to your list, both it and the freebie associated with it need to be optimised and incentivised to one very specific topic, with several calls to action:
Sign up for more of this!
Sign up for a cheat sheet that helps you do this!
Sign up to download the amazing thing this blog post has demonstrated!
Sign up to action this blog post right now!
Blogging Success Secret: Ensure you are crystal clear about your objectives for every post you write, and for your blog as a whole. Revisit your objectives regularly, as they may change. Focus your attention on one specific goal for each post.
One thing witches are renowned for are spellbooks filled with potions, curses, the history of witchcraft, the use of various ingredients, hexes and the like.
A grimoire, or Book of Shadows, is partly a spellbook, but it’s so much more than that: it’s the collected knowledge of a witch, as well as her own signature methods of practicing witchcraft. Sure you’ll find its pages packed with the recipes for her favourite spells, hexes, and curses, not all of which will be original, but you’ll also find information on the best herbs to use for each, how to grow them, where to find them, the proper way to conduct certain rituals, diarised accounts of her practice, what worked and what didn’t, and a lot of information gathered from other sources.
No two grimoires are the same.
These aren’t books you walk into a shop and buy, or order on Amazon. They’re specific to the witch that wrote them, containing only things she herself knows and has personally experienced. It will be informed by the knowledge of others, but it is far more than the sum of what she has been taught because she’s poured herself into it. She may share that knowledge with other witches, who can learn from her, but they will also learn from others, and develop their own special brand of magic, their own personal methods, which they will write their own grimoire.
A grimoire is the essence of a witch’s practice of the craft.
Your blog is your grimoire.
It should be a collection of your unique knowledge, methods, insights, and the culmination of all your expertise. Yes, there will be things you don’t share freely on it, which are held back for paying clients (superior or advanced information, services, and physical products), but those things are just part of a different volume of the same grimoire. Your blog should be completely unique, not a cobbling together of things you’ve stolen from others. It’s personal. That doesn’t mean you need to bare your soul and share every detail of your private life online. You can, and some people do, but it’s not always a good idea.
What it does mean is that your blog needs to be authentic.
It needs to be a distillation of you, your brand, and what you have to offer. Given that, you may wonder how a copywriter can possibly write your blog for you, but here’s the thing: words have power (see #1). If your written accounting of your business is not completely up to snuff, your business will suffer for it. And writing may not be your thing. It may be something you’re disinclined to do, haven’t got the time for, or are unable to do to the standard you need. Words have power. The words associated with your business are particularly powerful.
A copywriter takes all the raw magic you give them and hones it with their own powerful brand of magic to supercharge it, your blog, and your business.
But you don’t need a copywriter to write your blog for you. You’re quite capable of doing it yourself, the question is, do you want to? Do you have time? Are you good enough yet? And if not, do you have the time, inclination, and ability to learn?
Blogging Success Secret: Your blog is a collection of all your expertise, use it to showcase your zone of genius, demonstrate just how good you are, and most importantly, show you are completely unique in what you do – nobody does it quite like you do!
#5 Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones…
Animal bones are often used in witchcraft for a variety of things. They’re used in divination (see #6), in a similar manner to runes and tarot cards. They’re also used in hexes and spell casting to invoke the spirit and power of the animal they come from. They’re used as sacrificial offerings to various deities, and they have an aesthetic appeal that leads to them being used as decorative items – skulls in particular, are very popular. Witches are also generally associated with bones. In Russian folklore, for example, the great witch Baba Yaga lived in a house surrounded by a fence made of bones, and the house was supported by boney chicken legs (if you’re wondering how I know these things, you should read ‘Grave’, a short story of mine published in the fairytale anthology Willow, Weep No More). Bones are also a symbol of death, used to commune with the spirit world.
What does this have to do with blogging success?
Ever heard the phrase ‘make your bones’?
It’s actually a bastardised Americanism for ‘establish one’s bona fides’. In blogging, and in business, you have to make your bona fides.
Bona fide literally means ‘real, genuine, or authentic’, and ‘without the intention to deceive’. We covered the need for pure intentions, but the need for authenticity in business and in blogging is huge. It’s so big it ties into every point in this post related to blogging success.
More than that, the phrase has taken on different connotations since it changed to ‘bones’ rather than ‘bona fides’.
Bones comprise a skeleton, without which the body can’t function. Making your bones, taken literally, means you have to first establish a skeleton before you can stand, walk, run, do anything. Without your skeleton, you’re a puddle of goo on the floor. Consider also that the lack of a backbone is seen to be a very bad thing. If you’re ‘spineless’ you’re weak, you don’t stand for anything, and you can’t stand up for yourself. You don’t know what you’re doing.
A spine of steel, on the other hand, is synonymous with success, power, strength.
What does all this mean?
Your blogging efforts need structure. It’s not enough to simply blog, as we’ve already established you need to set your intention and have a crystal clear objective for every post you write. You also need to have a strong structure in your blogging efforts, a skeleton on which to build everything. Each blog post must be well structured on its own, and must also build into a greater whole that is stronger still. You must be consistent in your efforts, or the structure will be uneven, and you can’t expect to launch a successful business off the back of a blog (or any content marketing strategy), until that structure is in place.
Until it’s well established.
For example, nobody is going to buy into a membership club on a website if there is little existing content on the site to demonstrate the benefits of the membership club, and show what the site is all about. The more authentic you are, the more structured and consistent your blog is, the more people will come to know, like, and trust you, and the stronger your business will become. The more likely they will be to buy into your club (or whatever else you’re offering).
Blogging Success Secret: Make your bones – build a solid foundation for your blog and ensure you are authentic in everything you do online.
(Please don’t worry, no animals or humans perished for the sake of my photographs!)
At first glance it may seem divination – the study of a situation or future question using tools and rituals to gain insight – has little to do with blogging. But many people seek out readings in an effort to better understand their lives. Likewise, witches use divination to guide them in their own lives and practices, help them make important decisions, plan for the future, and achieve clarity in questions they may have about current or future situations. By actively seeking this clarity ahead of time, and acting on it, a witch is able to better guide herself on a path of her choosing and (hopefully) be a greater agent of her own destiny.
Tarot cards, runes, crystal balls, scrying, palmistry, they’re all ways of gaining divine insight. Creating order from chaos. Like crystals and bones, they’re tools, and they’re the same tools we use in business and blogging.
They just have different names.
Business plans, cash flow forecasts, and schedules, are all used to organise and predict where things are heading. The more information we have, the more confident we feel in making decisions, and when it comes to the big choices, we are often steered more by our premonitions of the future – hopes, dreams, predictions, plans – than we are by actual facts.
The entrepreneurial existence is once of faith.
We know we can do it, we can see it in the cards, we’re just not quite sure how to get there.
We have a brilliant idea, but that’s all it is, an idea, until we take a leap and invest time and money into it and transform that idea, that dream, into a reality. We saw it before it was real and we made it a reality.
If that isn’t divination I don’t know what is.
One of the secrets of blogging success is having a clear plan. This feeds back into our last point regarding structure, as a solid foundation is not build over night – it takes careful planning. It requires you to anticipate the future and work your schedule to what you foresee on the horizon.
Consistency is key when blogging, but true blogging consistency requires a rock solid plan. A schedule. And extremely keen insight into what your business, readers, and clients need.
Sitting down to have your tarot read (which, by the way, I love doing) is a lot like sitting down and planning out your blog schedule. You have certain questions in mind during a reading. You know what elements of your life you want to explore, and a good tarot reader will guide you through the deck and the reading in the directions you have chosen to contemplate.
By the end of the session, the answers to your questions are laid out on the table before you. They are specific to you, personally, and if someone else came in and chanced to glance down, the cards would hold no meaning for them. Another person would see which images were facing up, but without context those images would be meaningless. The most they could do would be to draw their own meaning from what they saw. And that would be totally different to your meaning, your interpretation, because you each have different needs, wants, fears, and uncertainties.
Blogging is exactly like this.
A blog is business specific. When a client comes to me asking for help planning out a blog schedule I am essentially doing a tarot reading for them. They have questions. They have specific goals. They know what needs to be considered and they need guidance to get to the right answers. We look far into the future, six, twelve, eighteen months at a time, and plan accordingly. The schedule I design for one client is never the same as for another. They are entirely unique. In fact if one of my clients looked at another clients’ schedule, they likely wouldn’t understand it, anymore than you would know what the layout of cards on this table means:
I know what it means, it’s the result of my last tarot reading. The answers and clarity that came from the reading will help me, but they’ll do little for you.
Blogging Success Secret: Seek clarity in your blogging efforts. Consider the questions, goals, and needs your business’ unique blog has, and devise a blogging strategy fully informed by that divine insight before you start blogging.