You’ve heard the phrase “Content is king”. It’s been used so much that most people just nod, “Yes, yes, content is king. Now let me get back to what I was doing.” Well, content may be king, but – like any kingdom – it takes a whole bunch of “underling” support to keep that king on his throne. Blogging is an art with many parts that need to work together.
At Level343 we help our clients by answering their questions and offering solutions – and they do have questions, like:
- “Should we start a company blog?”
- “How often should we blog?”
- “What can we do to boost traffic and engagement on our blog?”
Today, we’re going to share with you some of the answers.
So Many Bloggers, So Little Space
New blogs are created every day. According to Blog.org statistics, 31 million bloggers populate the US blogosphere alone. The numbers are staggering. According to wordpress.com, in 2012:
Over 395 million people viewed blogs each month
Approximately 1 million new blog posts were created each day (or 29.3M each month)
Approximately 1.4 million comments were left on blog posts per day(or 40.5M each month).
If you’re new to blogging, you may feel overwhelmed. You may be thinking, “That’s insane! How can I possibly penetrate that kind of market?” Don’t panic. Just as new blogs are created every day, others are established and become successful every day. You just need a strong foundation.
Here’s our recipe for a successful blog to get you started on the right track.
Start with a manageable platform.
As you may or may not be aware, there are several blogging platforms, such as WordPress, Squarespace, and Medium. Some are free. Some are not so free. Some have professional versions. You can build a blog on your server or have a blog hosted somewhere else.
There are several options, but remember professionalism and manageability. If it’s not professional, people won’t take you seriously. If you find it difficult to update your theme or add images to your blog, you won’t be inspired to keep blogging on a consistent basis. No matter which platform you choose, it should be easy for you to manage and understand.
Tip: If you have an established business website, it is best to add your blog onto your server rather than have it hosted elsewhere.
Pro Tip: Many people settle on WordPress. If you’re considering WordPress, please read: The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Everything
Add a good design.
Make sure you design your blog with your readers in mind. A good user experience is crucial. Your readers must be able to navigate your site easily. The look and feel of your site will depend on what type of information and media you plan to post. Choose one that will best showcase the type of media you will publish.
Tip: If you’re using the blog as an extension of your business website – an article section, for example – consider the possibility of using your site’s design on your blog.
Pro Tip: Simplicity performs. The more complicated your design is, the harder it will be for readers to navigate.
Stir a huge amount of value into your content.
If you notice, I did not say “a huge amount of content” but rather, “Add more value to the content you share.” Quality trumps quantity every time. Tell a story, your story; offer value by adding your experience to subjects familiar to you. Your blog is a great way to showcase experience and thought leadership in your area of expertise. Some bloggers miss that. It’s a shame when you see bloggers struggling for ideas to write about.
Tip: Check your spelling and grammar before hitting the publish button.
Pro Tip: Preview your content before publishing and look for glaring errors (such as characters that didn’t convert correctly or huge gaps in text).
Sprinkle in a liberal amount of keywords.
Wait. Keywords? Haven’t they fallen by the wayside? Who really focuses on those anymore? Well – smart bloggers, for one. Many people are so stuck in the SEO they forget that there are genuine readers that use those terms. In fact, that’s what keywords were originally for: to let the readers know they had found the information they were looking for
With this in mind, don’t be lazy. Help your readers by tagging your articles with appropriate keywords. Choose them wisely. You aren’t writing for search engines, you’re writing for people.
Tip: If you’re unsure how keywords should work with copy, read SEO Mistakes: Are You Making Them?
Pro Tip: Imagine yourself as a blind person, reading your blog through a screen reader. Tag your images and fill in their descriptions in ways that would help someone in that position.
Mix compelling images with your copy.
Some bloggers prefer to publish entirely text based blog posts but we challenge you to think twice about this strategy. Images can help break up your posts into segments – especially text heavy articles. It’s good to remember most people scan posts first before they decide read any article in detail. If they feel your posts are too long or too text heavy, there is a good chance they’ll get tired and not bother reading your entire article.
Tip: Make sure the content layout around the image is the way you want it before publishing.
Pro Tip: Your image should always be relevant in some way to the content in the article.
Add social network plug-ins.
For those new to blogging, social sharing will have a great impact on your blog traffic. Think about what types and number of social buttons to use. Start with the popular ones and observe which ones your readers use most often. A good example is if you don’t publish any images, adding a Pinterest “Pin It” button doesn’t make sense since Pinterest is an image based network.
Tip: Don’t use so many icons that your site looks cluttered. This can turn off some readers.
Pro Tip: Provide ways to share your content, but also provide ways to connect with readers (example: links to your social profiles).
Stir in plenty of engagement opportunities to your readers.
Encouraging engagement is important for bloggers, so make it easy for your readers to comment. Allowing your readers to comment easily is a great way to build relationships, and helps them feel like they’re making a personal connection. It’s also a great opportunity to learn what they care about, and can be an excellent source of ideas for your next blog post.
There are several commenting plug-ins, such as MyDisqus or Facebook comments, which allow your readers to share their comments on Facebook and other social networks. Research these commenting plugins carefully, however. Make sure you know what you’re getting.
No matter what type of commenting system you use, remember to reply to comments and engage with your readers. One way to gauge success of your articles is not just the social shares they generate, but also the engagement you generate with every post.
Tip: Don’t panic if you don’t get comments when you first start your blog. It takes awhile to build up an engaging readership.
Pro Tip: Some comment plugins host the comments on another site rather than your own. Make sure your comments are actually on your site!
Check the temperature of your blogging etiquette.
No matter who you are, whether you’re a seasoned blogger or a newbie, you have to keep your engagement “temperature” at a warm level. You don’t want to be so professional that you seem cold and heartless, but you also don’t want to be so friendly that you seem unprofessional. It’s a fine line to walk.
Here are some blogging etiquette tips that are good to know and follow as a successful blogger:
- Give credit where credit is due – If you plan to use images other people own, make sure you ask permission, especially if they’re copyrighted. If you quote statistics on your blog, use a permalink to link back and give credit to the original writer.
- Don’t sell yourself in comments – This practice is annoying and sometimes make you appear like a spammer. Blog will often ask for your name, email and URL when you comment. By posting your site URL in the body of a comment, you’re being redundant. Unless you’re making a point and referencing another article, adding a link is not appropriate and will be viewed as spam. The purpose of commenting is to add value to the topic being discussed, not self-promotion.
- Make sure your links are working properly – Value your readers’ time by thanking them and making sure everything on your blog works properly, especially any hyperlinks. It’s very annoying to your readers to have to put up with broken links on your site.
- It’s okay to get negative comments – Not everyone will agree with your point of view. You will get negative comments from time to time. Some choose to delete them while others leave them and respond accordingly. Unless the comments include inappropriate language, curse words or spam, use the opportunity to interact with your readers and encourage engagement.
Tip: Provide other blogs with the type of comments you’d like to see on your own. This will help you keep your blogging etiquette at the right temperature.
Pro Tip: Never lose your temper – or at least, not in the comments where the world can see it. Always respond to comments in a professional manner, whether those comments are positive, negative or anything in between.
There you go; our recipe for a successful blog and elements we feel every blogger needs to know. Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you.
Thank’s for sharing this information
Thanks for the recipe. Well to be honest, if i was at your place, i would have never shared these just awesome tips and shortcuts for successful blog 😀
Educative sharing for the bloggers! As a newbie I learned very few things from your tutorial, Gabriella. I would like to say thanks for your deep research and tips views here with the true opinion and judgement. Keep up the good work! 🙂
Thanks Aaron 🙂 kind of you to say!!
To start your own blog, first of all set your domain or subdomain name that should describes about your business. Design, content, heading, title etc. should be according to guidelines of search engine so you can optimize it easily. Your tips are really awesome and hope it will surely helpful to bloggers.
I like blogger platform and I’m currently running my blog on it. Writing versatile content which impress the readers is the only requirement to run a successful life in blogging carrier. Thanks for this nice post.
Thanks for dropping by Dinesh. 🙂 Enjoy your new year and please keep us posted on your progress.
While content is definitely king, design can sometimes trump it. Derek Halpern makes a good argument as for why web design is much better to focus on then content (ideally both for longevity obviously) but web design is definitely underlooked and it’s so easy to do with amazing premium wordpress themes everywhere. Sorry for the rant but great insights!
Something else that I could recommend to be successful in blogging is to make it mobile friendly. A lot of people are mobile users and it will draw people away from your blog if it’s hard to navigate on mobile.
Absolutely, dare I say something in the horizon will remove Mobile from our language. I’ve heard a few things that I can’t share, but Mobile will be out once this product becomes available.
i think the best way to have good blog is write only when u have somethinh interesing not when u have desire
In an ideal world I would say yes, but in a competitive world I would say no. Take a look at your brand, your message and what your customers are getting when using your services/brand/. Write to them, about them, features, benefits, etc. Things that are relevant, and have meaning to your readers, not to you. Unless of course you are Brian Solis, then you can write anytime you want and still have readers come to you. 😉
We just started a new blog and I wanted to thank you for a great article. I got so many great ideas and tips! Keep on the good work!
I can say that one can follow this as a checklist for creating a successful blog. Its soo true that blogging has become a kinda work wherein many are trying to be a blogger. Now the competition is high and it is really gonna be a nice challenge to be on top.
“Recipe”? More like a checklist!
I’m don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s good, really good. Anyone can just open this page any time, and check if their blog has these qualities or not.
I just did that. And found out a couple of things I was missing, on my way to fix them right away.
Hey Kalpit, while the word recipe may have several intents in how it’s used, we don’t take things personally around here. I’m glad the post was useful, please keep us updated on how the changes you made were useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Back in your blog after a long pause. A well written recipe for a successful blog. Adding social network plugin is a great way to increase visibility of a blog and it can bring a lot of traffic at less time. Buildinng relationship with other blogger is also important I think.
Well I think a blog design should be focused on getting your readers to take action on something that has the highest impact towards achieving your goals you’ve set for your blog. It’s all about making it as easy as possible for site visitors to perform the action you would like them to.
Thanks for sharing these tips, really enjoyed reading your post.
For a blog success we need to have good marketing strategy. Before starting SEO, it’s important that we build a user friendly website. Good design, easy to navigate, informative content, easy to share content on networking sites and keyword research are some essential points to be considered before launching a blog. I think the tips written by you will definitely help us to build a successful blog.
most newbies don’t build their blogs before thinking of monetizing the blog, this is one thing that kills their blogging journey so you should focus on building the foundation of your blog which is quality content
thanks for this post
First of all, I would like to say thank you for the effort you have put into making this type of a great blog post. I enjoyed this publish of yours and I have to say that every time I return to your blog, I also have something new and informative to see. Thanks for keeping me personally updated.
Very interesting article and I learned a lot from it. I’m interested in your feedback and whether you offer a service for improving blogs. My site is mohajjar.com
I appreciate a conference call or your feedback by email.
Hello Mohammed, sure we’ll be more than happy to set up a time to discuss your blogging needs. You can either contact us directly through our blogging service page or you are welcome to give us a call or leave us a note on our contact page. Looking forward to hearing from you.