What does it take to build and maintain a successful blog?
This question may be old hat to seasoned bloggers but for those just getting their feet wet, this is valuable information that you need to blog by.
Over the last ten years or so, blogging has changed and those that have been around awhile have either embraced the changes or dropped off the face of the earth.
Back then, there were just a few blogs, but now, there are many blogs and many means more competition and more competition means you have to work harder to be noticed.
In the olden days, you could pump out a 500-word post on just about anything related to your niche and since blogging was so new, it was easier to become an expert in your field.
Things have changed drastically, you need a content strategy that catapults you above the rest if you want to survive.
Simply being an expert is no longer good enough, you need to be an authority and you need to prove it every day.
So, let’s touch on some essential ingredients that go into creating a successful blog.
Your blog needs purpose
If there is no clear purpose to your blog, you will never attract the audience you desire and your efforts will be lost.
You need to know why you are blogging.
- Is your goal of blogging to drive traffic to your website?
- Are you blogging to position yourself as an authority in your industry?
- Do you want to make money, blogging to someday monetize it and quit your nine to five?
Make sure your blog is living up to its purpose and delivers on its promise.
Today, you can no longer write when you want and about whatever you want, you need a purpose behind your words.
I’ts important that you remain consistent and persistent because your readers start to expect information from you at regular intervals.
Find a distinct message that quickly and efficiently identifies your goal.
Start by deciding who your target audience is and what they expect from you. And then, you can build a strategy to reach your goals.
Ask yourself a few simple questions:
- Am I providing valuable information that relates to your product or service?
- Are you promoting engagement from your readers, do they feel compelled to comment?
- Have I been writing about trending topics in your field that your readers need to know?
When providing content to your readers don’t make the mistake of turning your post into a sales pitch. People are tired of being sold to and they want information that solves problems.
Credible and original content
I know you have heard this a thousand times but without credible and original content that targets a Niche audience, your blog will not reach the level of success that you are looking for.
It’s imperative that you convince your readers that you can be trusted and one of the first steps in trust is providing value.
You are the authority and it is your job to pass on your expertise to your readers.
Get good at being able to teach in a way they can understand while still being yourself.
The content you provide needs to be relevant and timely, as well as, easy to read and well organized.
Another element of building trust is allowing your visitors to become part of the conversation by allowing comments on your posts; this will enhance the overall quality of the content. Try to respond to as many comments as you can, this conveys a sense of caring and your reads want to know you care.
Beware of spammers, they are always looking for ways to boost their page ranking in search engines by posting links back to their own sites. So, make sure the comments are relevant and add value to the conversation.
All great content needs to be supported by a logical site structure that is attractive yet simple to navigate.
Try to stick with easy to use navigation and site layout because your readers are busy and won’t hesitate to move on if the information is hard to find.
Furthermore, a good balance between color schemes, look and feel, including typography, is necessary to encourage the reader to stick around and continue reading. Remember, first impressions are very important; you only have seconds to captivate your audience.
Functionality is also important; your site needs to be error free.
Errors frustrate users. It drives them away, and most will not return ultimately finding the information somewhere else. Use free diagnostic tools such as Google Webmaster Tools to check for broken links and other problems with your site and check it often.
If you build your blog on WordPress (and I hope you did), there are plugins that can be installed that will help with diagnostics. Blog maintenance may not sound like fun but it is a necessary evil. You should make it a daily practice to check for errors and broken links. A well-oiled blog is a happy blog.
You could have the best-looking blog with the most relevant up-to-date content but if no one knows it exists, why bother, right?
Promotion is as important as any other aspect of blogging and a good chunk of time should be dedicated to promoting your work.
We are all in the hunt for more traffic and there have never been more options available.
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ etc.)
- Paid advertising (Google AdWords, Bing Ad’s)
- Email Marketing (More on building a list and promoting it)
- Guest Blogging (More on Guest Blogging)
There are options for those with nothing to spend on promotion to those with a full-fledged advertising budget.
Before you dive into promoting your blog, create a plan that includes what platform you can get the best bang for your buck.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Ask yourself if your visitors can be reached on social media or if you would be better off promoting your site through Google AdWords or Bing Advertising. It is very important to establish your target audience in the beginning so determining a promotional avenue becomes a lot easier.
If you are just starting out and looking to build your social media likes, you could opt for Facebook ads. They are affordable and you can reach a large targeted audience on a shoestring budget.
Not all social networks are created equal.
You may feel compelled to start promoting on all the social media platforms available. I would suggest you find a couple that works and put your time and effort into those. There will be a point in the future where you can test new networks.
Remember, different social networks attract different users. If your content is more visual then Pinterest or Instagram may be your ticket. If you are a traditional blog, then Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn are great choices.
Paid or free, there is a platform for you. For quick results, Google AdWords is a great choice but you really need a strategy and a bit of knowledge if you are new to Google. My advice for new blogs is social media, it’s free and most already have knowledge on how they work.
Although I only covered four of the most essential ingredients of a successful blog, without them you are sure to fail.
Make a plan and take action but be patient. Remember, Rome wasnâ€™t built in a day, give your blog time to grow and evolve.