If you're new to blogging, then you've likely already figured out that there are a lot of elements to keep up with. Not only do you have to figure out the backend of running a website and adding content, but you have to figure out how to get the word out about your blog.
Whether your focus is solely on your blog as your business, or you simply have a blog as part of your business, there are many compelling reasons to blog. Business to business marketing with a blog leads to about 67% more leads. In addition, companies who have a blog get 97% more links than those who do not.
Every half a second, a new blog is born, so if you want to stand out from the crowd, you simply must study your craft, study the blogosphere and continually improve what you put out into cyberspace.
First 10 Tips for Blogging Success
Tip # 1: Social Media Your Butt Off
Marye Audet-White, who owns the blog Restless Chipotle points to social media as the single best thing she does that drives traffic to her blog.
“I have taken my top 10 posts and shared the crap out of them… pinning them every day to different boards, putting them on my Facebook page…everything I can think of. My traffic has increased significantly.
I spend about 3 hours a day on just social media now…and my daughter is my VA and she spends an hour on my social media.
Which social media channels that will work best for your blog will depend on your blog's topic. Marye, for example, uses Pinterest for her recipe site. This would also work well for home and garden type sites.
“Find some big group boards [on Pinterest] in your niche and ask to join them, get a scheduler (I use Tailwind) and schedule at least 30 images a day that aren't yours – concentrate on images that have big numbers of repins. Now pin as many pins as you can from your own blog… trying to pin any with large numbers at least 2x a week. Also have the first board be just the stuff from your blog so people can find it easily.”
Tip # 2: Develop Your Photography Skills
While there are some free and licensed sources for photos, you run the risk of other bloggers using these same photos. One thing that can really make your blog stand apart is professional looking photos. If your photography skills aren't so good, yes, use those stock photos to create the right kind of look for your site.
However, it also pays to take better pictures yourself.
Mariel Wangsgard runs the blog Or So She Says, and had this to say on BlogHer:
“You want your readers to share your content. If it's super great with crappy pictures, they will still share it. But they will share it a hundred-fold if you've got attractive photos to go along with it.”
Typically, taking better photos simply requires practice and investing in some equipment such as a good DSLR camera and a lightbox.
Tip # 3: Be Upfront and Honest
If you want to develop a following of readers who will visit your blog regularly and feel comfortable sharing your posts, you'll want to be sure you have integrity at all times.
Caril Phang, Consultant Multilateral Projects, Words Edge, shared her philosophy on standing out from the crowd. “The blogosphere is saturated. Therefore, entry into the field depends on maintaining T.R.U.T.H: time, resources, uniqueness, topical issues, and a hallmark theme, image, or byline which makes the blogger stand out.
My best advice would be adhering to T.R.U.T.H. Pursue every story, even seemingly insignificant ones. The most modest persons can have really unique standpoints.”
Tip # 4: Don't Copy
Jeff Goins of Goins Writer is one of those bloggers who has learned as he went along. However, that is often some of the most valuable advice you'll find about building a successful blog. My favorite tip from him is simply a good reminder to be unique and not to try to copy what someone else is doing.
“No copy-catting. Stop trying to be like someone you admire and instead find out what unique offering you have.”
Tip # 5: Invest in Your Own Domain name
When first starting out, you may be tempted to use one of the free blogging accounts out there. However, if you want to really build your traffic and make a living from your blog, you need your own domain name and a to invest in a shared hosting plan at minimum.
Mike McLaughlin, SVP, Domains at GoDaddy had this to say:
“If you plan on running blog to promote your business, it’s best to host the blog directly on your own domain versus through a blogging service. This enables you to point visitors directly to your products and services without them ever visiting another site. It’s a more elegant solution.
For personal use, there are a number of great blogging platforms, like Medium and WordPress. If you’re OK with running your blog under someone else’s terms and conditions, they might be great solutions. If you want independence, there a number of website hosting options, like GoDaddy, that offer more flexibility. Whatever you decide, having a domain name point directly to your content on any platform makes it easy to direct others to your content. Plus, it gives a boost to your online credibility.”
Tip # 6: Know Your Audience
One of the lessons I learned early on in my writing career was that to reach out to readers you had to understand your readers. What does that mean? You have to study your audience and understand who the typical reader you attract is. If your blog is about parenting, then your typical audience is young parents seeking advice, for example.
Once you know who your audience is, you'll be better able to understand where to reach that audience. In an article over on BufferApp, Brian Clark, Founder and CEO of Copyblogger shared that it takes a lot of “upfront research” to figure out who your target audience is but that investing the time in that research will pay off big in the end.
The author of the article, Belle Beth Cooper, suggests that you ask readers a question on social media. She says:
“If people respond well, [then] this is probably a great topic to write about.”
Tip # 7: Content Still Matters
If there is one thing that Google's algorithm changes have consistently proven, it is that excellent content that is valuable to the reader does matter. Mike McLaughlin, SVP, Domains at GoDaddy, said:
“In order to run a blog as a successful marketing tool and establish yourself in an industry, you need to publish insightful content for your audience. Build your reputation as a thought leader by writing on interesting current events, or offering how-to’s, tips and tricks relevant to your industry. Use key industry words in your posts to optimize your content for search and lead potential new audiences directly to your website.”
Tip # 8: Create a Community
You've probably heard it said before that you should create a community for your blog so that readers will engage and want to return. What example does this mean, though, and how do you accomplish it?
When I think of a successful blogging community, I think of sites like ProBlogger and LowCarbFriends. These sites have successfully created a following by providing valuable information and allowing users to interact both with the blog owners and with one another.
Of course, the two communities I mention above are very different from one another. One is about blogging successfully and the other is about a way of eating. However, what these two sites have in common is this:
- An easy to use platform
- Tools to help with the topic at hand
- Involved moderators that are ready and able to answer questions users have
- Ability for users to personalize their profiles
One thing that I think ProBlogger does better than LowCarbFriends is to stay in touch with the community via regular emails. Email can be a powerful tool for bloggers (more on this later), so it's smart to use that info you collected when the person signed up to be part of your online community.
Tip # 9: Be Conversational
Have you ever read a blog that is stiff and dry? It isn't very entertaining, is it? Instead, it is important to write in your own voice so that the text “sounds” natural to the reader.
The best way to do this? Imagine you're drinking a cup of coffee with your typical reader and having a conversation. While you do want to go back through and prove any points, flesh out content, and make sure everything is written clearly, your initial text should be written conversationally.
A great way to do a final edit is to read your work out loud. You'll “hear” any issues that need fixed.
Tip # 10: Get Specific
Don't try to write on a topic that is so broad you can never delve into it deeply. For example, you don't want to write about desserts but about the top five chocolate ice cream flavors you love.
Michael Gray of Graywolf's SEO points to the necessity to keep your articles focused around your keyword. He has an interesting approach to finding the narrow topic within a broader topic, especially if you are writing a series of articles. He states:
“My preferred method is to attack this from the other end by creating much more in-depth, narrowly focused “tail” articles first and backing your way into the main or head article.”
So, let's say you are going to write a series of articles about training your dog. That topic itself is far too broad for a single article, but if you work backwards toward that topic, you might come up with some articles on topics such as “Easy Ways to Potty Train a Puppy,” “Teach Your Dog to High Five,” and “Overcoming Food Aggression in Dogs.” These topics are narrow enough to work with but fall into a broader category of dog training.
15 More Tips from WHSR
Tip # 11: Create an Ebook
There are many reasons to create an ebook to go along with your blog. An ebook can be utilized as a free giveaway to encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list, or can be sold as another product on your site.
Recently, Gina Baladaty interviewed Angela England on the topic of making money doing what you love. England shares this advice in the article:
“Writing an ebook is about finding the sweet spot between a unique, compelling title and a broad enough potential audience. Your book should be focused enough to catch the attention of a potential customer, but not so narrow that only a few people would want to buy it.”
Pay attention to the details of your site. Know the legalities involved, any licenses you might need, and add a clear privacy and use policy. Remember that you're trying to establish trust with your site visitors. Part of establishing that trust involves making sure visitors know what you do with any personal information you collect.
“While it may seem like a hassle, putting off this important aspect of your blog could result in trouble down the line. You really don’t want to risk being banned from your affiliate ad networks, or getting sued by a website visitor.”
Tip # 13: Balance Sponsored Posts and Unique Content
Once your blog starts to gain some traffic, you may get offers for sponsored posts. It can be tempting to take on a large number of these posts in order to bring in some funding. However, it is important that you create a nice balance between unique content and sponsored content and that you make it clear what is sponsored so readers don't feel you are “tricking” them.
In 8 Mindsets that Are Killing Your Blog- And How to Beat Them, Gina Badalaty shares:
“Attending blogger events can leave you with too many items to review and that can compromise your blog. Remember that you don’t have to blog about free swag, however, if you’ve directly contacted the party for a product, avoiding a review can hurt your reputation. If so, contact the brand and try to postpone the post date.”
Tip # 14: Team Up with Other Bloggers
In the article Email Outreach for Bloggers – 5 Successful Messages that Create Relationships by Luana Spinetti, 5 different bloggers share outreach messages that have been successful for them. Spinetti seeks out very specific emails you can send to try to create partnerships with fellow bloggers.
Tip # 15: Refill Your Creative Well
Nearly every writer will experience writer's block at some point. Bloggers can be particularly prone to becoming blocked. It is hard to think up new ways to write about similar topics day in and day out for years on end. Yet, to have a successful blog, you have to write consistently unique content.
Make sure you take the time to refill your creative well, so you can continue to produce unique and entertaining content. In Why It's Important to Refill Your Creative Well, I talk about top things you can take away from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, such as creating morning pages and taking artist dates.
“An artist date simply needs to be something that makes your heart sing. It can be something you loved as a child or something you love now. For some people, it involves nature. For others, the last thing it would involve is nature. The key is figuring out what speaks to your own heart and soul.”
Tip # 16: Improve Conversions
Once you finally drive people to your blog, you likely want to convert them into paying customers. When you're just starting out, it can be difficult to know how best to accomplish this. Fortunately, KerLynn Engel came up with 7 Tactics to Convert Blog Readers into Paying Customers. She shares ideas such as eliminating distractions and answering objections before the reader has one.
“The specific objections will vary widely depending on your business, but they’re always there.
“To find out what’s keeping your audience from buying, try doing a survey or some one-on-one interviews of your current customers or clients.
“Then, write blog posts that directly address these concerns.”
Tip # 17: Circle the Bait with A/B Testing
Unless you understand where your blog succeeds and fails, it is hard to know how to improve things over time. A/B testing can be one way to gather the information you need to make smart changes. In How to Run Your Blog Like One of the Sharks from Shark Tank, I talk about circling the bait by getting statistics and asking pertinent questions.
“Sharks are known for circling their bait and you should do the same thing. Just as Mr. Wonderful asks pertinent questions and gets statistics, you should look at the statistics of your monetization strategies. What is working for you? What isn’t working?
“One way you can figure this out is with A/B testing. A/B testing will help you track which pages and features are converting visitors into customers.”
Tip # 18: Participate in Group Giveaways
Another way to get the word out about your blog is to participate in group giveaways with other bloggers. You'll gain the attention of their audience and they'll gain the attention of yours. In How to Manage a Group Giveaway Project, Gina Baladaty offers step-by-step instructions for managing a giveaway as part of a group.
Gina offers some crucial tips you wouldn't know unless you'd done a group giveaway before, such as:
“It’s critical to set due dates for each item that you need. Bloggers and brands that miss deadlines should be handled with care but you may need to exclude them from this project.”
Tip # 19: Troubleshoot Blog Platform Problems
At some point in your blogging career, you're going to run into technical difficulties. It is just a given when you're running any type of website. One problem many bloggers run into is getting locked out of their WordPress blog, but Vishnu Supreet offers tips for getting back in in his article titled Possible Reasons for Being Locked Out of Your WP-Admin. Supreet offers some tips to help you figure out where the problem is originating, such as if you're getting the white screen of death:
“As the name suggests, all that you get to see when you try to login is an unblinking blank white screen also commonly referred to by the WordPress community as the “WordPress White Screen Of Death”. One reason for this may simply be that there is not enough space on the server. This may often be the case when hosting is shared. Clearing your browser cache or your caching plugin (if you can access it) may help.”
Tip # 20: Bring in Other Writers
As your blog grows, you may find it necessary to bring on other writers. Adding additional writers can allow you to cover topics you aren't as familiar with or simply break up the workload. In Improve Your Editorial Workflow in Multi-Author WordPress Blogs, Vishnu Supreet shares the best way to publish content on a multi-author blog.
“Oh and if you were wondering, we use Edit Flow on WHSR too. We publish on average around 12 articles every month, Jerry (our founder) and Lori (our editor) handle more than 5 writers. We started using Edit Flow because our previous attempts at communication ended with inboxes clogged with emails. Edit Flow helped solve all the problems we were previously facing.”
Tip # 21: Attend a Blogging Conference
Blogging conferences are a great place to learn more about your craft and to network with other influencers in your niche. However, as Gina Baladaty shares in 6 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation at a Blogging Conference, you can also ruin your reputation at a conference if you aren't careful. Yes, attend, the conference, but as Baladaty says:
“It’s easy to think of this like a mini-vacation without your family but that can get you into trouble. This year, I was painfully aware of bad behavior displayed by bloggers at these events. I witnessed at least 6 ways bloggers may have ruined their reputations at events and have come up with a list of what you should never do.”
Tip # 22: Use Images Legally
Make sure you have permission to use the images you utilize on your blog. Obviously, the easiest way to do that is to take those pictures yourself. However, that may not always be possible, so it's important to make sure you find images you can use legally.
In Having a Hard Time Finding Free Images for Your Blog? Check Out These Sites, I talk about some of the best places to find free images to use with your blog posts.
“It takes the average person 0.05 seconds to make a judgement about your website. That translates to 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression on your visitor. In 50 milliseconds, it’s doubtful the person has time to read much of your text. What does that mean? That means most people’s first impression of your website is made based on the design and images, which the brain processes faster than text.”
Tip # 23: Monetize Your Blog
Unless you are only blogging for your own personal amusement, it just makes good business sense to go ahead and monetize your blog. In 23 Clever Ways to Monetize Your Blog, Michael Karp shares some unique ideas for making money blogging, such as:
“Membership areas can be great sources of passive income. All you need to do is lock premium content behind a membership barrier and you’re set. Then you decide whether to have people pay a one-time fee or a monthly recurring fee.”
Tip # 24: Promote Your Blog in the Real World
Even though online promotions are vital, don't overlook promotions in your local community and to those you encounter on a day-to-day basis. In Blog Promotions You Can and Should Do in the Real World, I share a couple of ideas, such as promoting at trade shows and paper placemats.
“It’s the small things you do that add up over time and lead to success. If you want to successfully promote offline, you need to learn how to talk to people and speak up about what you do and what you have to offer. If you aren’t comfortable talking to strangers, try taking a Dale Carnegie course to learn to come out of your shell, or join Toastmasters. You never know when that person you tell about your site will tell someone else who then reports on it and drives hundreds of people to your blog. Be bold, take small steps, and watch them add up over time.”
Tip # 25: Don't Be Afraid to Switch Hosts
One thing WHSR owner Jerry Low says over and over is that there are good web hosting companies out there. He does in-depth reviews so that our readers have a clear look at what is good and bad about different hosting companies. A bad host can break your blog just as a good host can help it.
In 10 Ways to Protect Your Business from a Bad Web Host, Jerry Low says:
“A reliable web host keeps your site up and running (accessible to clients) consistently with minimal downtime; a bad host, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your success by capsizing traffic, not to mention your SEO ranking.
“As a smart business owner, you must be aware that even the best of hosting providers can turn into bad hosts (even though that they were good initially) one day.”
Never Stop Learning
The key for new bloggers is to continually seek information and advice on how to improve their blogs. If you study blogging, make connections, and keep trying different things, you will find blogging success over time.