Wouldn’t life be simple if all one had to do was write up a quick post and schedule it to go live? Ask any blogger you know and he or she will tell you that blogging is about so much more than just the writing part of the job.
Instead, you have to juggle a lot of different plates at once to truly build a noteworthy blog that readers will want to return to time and again.
It’s important to write the best content possible, magnetize your blog to draw readers to it, promote your blog and keep them coming back for more.
Somewhere between all that, you have to make sure you’re keeping readers engaged while reading your work and plug in a few Call to Action phrases.
If you’re exhausted just thinking about it all, this simple road map will guide you through the steps you need to take to have a successful blog. The starting point is the first thing you write. The finish line is marketing and community engagement.
Writing Your Blog
You might think it is obvious that the first step to a success blog is to write that blog. However, there are some very specific things you’ll want to keep in mind as you work up posts for your niche topic.
Write an engaging headline that will grab readers. This is the first thing your reader sees, so it is vital that it grabs her and makes her want to read your work. Our very own Jerry Low wrote an article titled Writing Headlines that Sell: Actionable Tips and Headline Samples, where he says, “Believe it or not, an effective headline can make or break an entire piece.”
Write a skimmable article. Readers want something they can digest quickly. Microsoft Research estimates that website visitors make a snap decision in the first 10 seconds of visiting about whether they want to stay or leave. Use headings, subheadings and bullet points to keep your text readable.
Keep it short and sweet. People are busy. The average person works, has a family, spends time with friends and has other hobbies and interests. They need information that can be read in a matter of minutes.
Ahh, the dreaded “E” word. Edits are not fun for anyway and if you aren’t a professional writer by trade, you may worry that you’ll be able to make a difference in your written word. However, edits are important if you want to put out a professional looking blog.
Since Google now ranks on the quality of content, you do want to present your best work possible. Either edit the articles yourself or hire a professional editor to polish them up for you.
Let the article sit for at least a day or two. You’ll be able to go back and read it with fresh eyes and catch errors you might not have seen before.
Read out loud. Reading your written word out loud will help you hear any awkward phrasing and to find missing words or repeated words.
Do a spell check. It sounds simple and basic, but this is a step that many writers forget but one that can polish your work up quickly and help you find typos.
One of the most important parts of blogging is marketing. If you only write posts for your blog but never get the word out that the posts are available, then you likely won’t have many site visitors.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is one of the least expensive ways to get the word out about your blog and what you have to offer. If you aren’t already active on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter, then you should set up pages for your business and start talking to others.
Add family and friends to your friends lists. The best way to get word of mouth going is through those you already know. Ask family and friends to like/join your new page and share it with others.
Don’t spam your readers. No one wants a constant barrage of sales pitches. Offer useful tips, share funny quotes, post a picture of an event.
Utilize HootSuite to schedule posts ahead. If Tuesday is the best day to promote, you may wonder how you’ll ever find time in the middle of the week to do social media marketing. There is no need to worry. You can use HootSuite and schedule your promotional posts ahead of time.
One of the most powerful tools you can develop as a blogger is your personal mailing list. When a visitor comes to your site, you should have a Call to Action that encourages him to sign up for your newsletter or emails.
Send out a regular newsletter or email. A few times a week is a good goal, but at least once or twice a month.
Make it easy for users to sign up. Use MailChimp or Constant Contact. Both offer a two-step verification process to make sure anyone who subscribes really wants to be on your list.
Offer value to your readers. You have to make your visitors want to subscribe to your news. Offer a free ebook download for signing up. Send coupons only subscribers have access to. Provide articles that are exclusive to your newsletter.
Sweepstakes and Events Marketing
Offering contests and fun online events can help draw traffic to your site. Keep these details in mind:
Be careful of laws regarding lotteries. There are several elements that make a contest a lottery. You’ll want to be sure to have a requirement to enter, such as having entrants answer a question correctly. You also can’t benefit monetarily. So, don’t trade an entry for a newsletter subscription for example.
Hold a webinar. You are an expert in your topic. Hold a webinar or teleseminar on a specific topic in your area of expertise and invite people to register. Collect their info when they register and invite them to sign up for your newsletter for updates on future events.
Poll your visitors to find out what they most want and need. Business owners have used polls for many years to figure out what their customers want and need. Poll your site visitors to find out what events they’d like to see on your blog.
Your final step in the process is to engage your readers. There are several ways of keeping readers engaged and making them feel part of a wider community.
Turn on your comments. Some blog owners choose to turn off comments, because it is time consuming to moderate them. While this is not a bad idea, especially if you get a lot of spam comments, try to engage your readers in conversation on at least some of your posts. Ask for their thoughts and interact with them.
Set up a chat room. Is there a hot topic on your blog that everyone seems to be commenting on and sharing? Schedule and online chat and invite your readers to attend. Ask an expert to come speak on the topic (or do it yourself). Offer classes on a set day and time.
Get people talking on Facebook and Twitter. Utilize private events and hashtags to engage others.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
If you never write another blog post outside of the ones already on your site, you still need to repeat the steps after the writing portion of this road map, over and over and over.
Every three to six months, you should review posts on your site and figure out what needs edited, updated, removed, or replaces.
You’ll also want to continue to promote your articles. Go back to old articles and reference them here and there.
Engage others in discussion on these topics. Repeat what you’ve done in the past with both old and new posts.
I’m certainly not advocating never writing another post. You need fresh content on your site to keep people reading and visiting your blog.
However, the steps after writing are equally important and shouldn’t be ignored if you want to have a successful visitor base.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.