So you have a blog and you want it to become your full-time gig. Or you want to start a blog but are unsure how to attract readers or if anyone will care to read it.
Today, blogs are as numerous as stars in the sky or sand on the beach. Everyone has a blog, few are successful, and even fewer are wildly successful to the point the author can make a comfortable living.
So what can you do to stand out above the crowd? Here are seven brief tips to help you start or transform your blog and make it successful.
1. Unique Content
Running a successful blog requires more than “I know all that stuff too.” Feeling that you’re just as knowledgeable as the next expert isn’t good enough.
Blogging is a saturated market, much like computers and fast food. New entrants are hardly noticed and don’t last long. If you’re going to be successful as a blogger, you’re going to have to focus on doing something different from what’s out there, not just in addition to what already exists.
There are many ways to create unique content. Ideally you have some new, shiny, never-before-seen information to present. But there’s little if anything that’s not online already and you’re unlikely to have brand new, 100% unique content that will support a blog long-term. Points 2 and 3 below will help you stand out in a mature market with countless players and large incumbents.
2. Strong Opinions
Continuing with the point that the blogging world is a saturated market, “facts” and general opinions are all online in a million places.
A strong, well-presented opinion (or series of opinions) can help you create a reputation as a thought leader or industry expert which builds your readership base. People will read you not because you offer the only place they can get general news and opinions, but because they feel the way you do and they feel that you get them. Alternately, some will read because they don’t feel the way you do and you irritate them. This can be equally desirable.
Strong opinions can be controversial, especially with emotional topics such as political issues. But even emotionless, business-related topics can be controversial, such as marketing best practices or design do’s and don’ts.
Strong opinions can also be different or non-conventional, like in fashion or interior design. Whatever the opinion, stick to your guns and be sure to back up your claims and statements with solid arguments. Strong opinions with good results make you an industry expert.
Your strongest tool to help you build a successful blog is your personality. Your personality may be that you have strong opinions. Or it could mean a million other things. Whatever your personality, it must shine through on your blog. You cannot just copycat someone else and change the colors and fonts and expect success.
Even with a uniquely-designed blog, others may have similar design themes or similar opinions, but only you have your personality. Your personality is the single most unique part of your blog.
What you have to say is out there online somewhere in basic form. But you can share it in your own way that people can relate to and love.
4. Simple Design
Keep the design and layout of your blog simple. If a feature or widget doesn’t directly enhance the reader’s experience, leave it out. You’re not an Amazon product page and don’t have years of conditioning your readers to function well in an overly-crowded page. Your content is the focus–why add more?
Besides, minimalism is “in” right now and in terms of web design, less is more.
Consistency is an extremely effective way to build a following. Be consistent with your blog post schedule. You don’t necessarily have to have a strict schedule for day and time, but post daily, weekly, or somewhere in between and stick to that pattern. You can find successful bloggers with all sorts of different posting schedules. But they’re all consistent.
Your readers will come to expect a certain schedule and will look forward each new article when it comes.
6. Google Analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is an indispensable tool for any website or blog. GA captures an incredible amount of data and allows you to organize it in almost any imaginable way in order to gain insight from your reader base, content, and posting schedule.
Don’t get too bogged down in the details of the ideal time of day or how many words to make each blog post. Popular blogs may have certain of these aspects (exclusively posting in the AM or all posts with 1200-1500 words) but first and foremost the writers enjoy what they do. They don’t write to cater specifically to timing or other “best practices.” Besides, for each “best practice” you can find a blog that has become successful without ticking all of the “best practice” check boxes. This says there’s more to successful blogging than ticking “best practice” check boxes.
Yes, you can do SEO on a single blog post, not just for an entire website. And yes, blog post SEO is quick and simple and doesn’t require an entire SEO campaign for each post. One of the simplest SEO steps you can take is to define a keyword for your article and make sure you have variations of that keyword naturally scattered throughout your article. Another is to optimize your images’ alt text and descriptions to fit the desired keywords.
If you have a WordPress blog, you can take advantage of SEO plugins. Some are good, none are great. But SEO plugins will enable you to better optimize the URL of your blog posts, customize the meta description, and give suggestions for optimal title length and word counts.
You can check out Boostability for more SEO helps for your blog.
Whatever your blogging goals, you can be successful if you follow these simple steps. Make sure you have something unique to offer, make your blog simple and consistent, watch and learn from your analytics, and use SEO best practices for each post.