Are you finally looking to launch that blog you’ve always wanted to talk about?
Looking to release the content that you have carefully created and curated throughout the years?
2017 can be the year that you make it happen, but let’s face it, successful blogs these days need staying power. A blogs’ success is measured no longer solely by the quality of its content, but rather its ability to keep delivering that content while attracting a greater and greater audience.
Here are 17 ways to help you get started.
A WordPress.org blog is still the best way to get it done
A simple Google search for blogging hosts will yield hundreds of results.
The top 20 or so will yield household names like Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress. It is of my opinion, however, that WordPress.org has been and still is the best choice for your blog. The self-hosted WordPress.org blog gives you the control, branding options and ownership that you need to make a professional and progressive blog.
Wait a minute you have WordPress twice!
|Free setup||Paid self-hosting|
|Your site will have ads you don’t control||Ad-free unless you want to show your own|
|Small selection of themes||Large selection of free themes and paid themes|
|Limited customizability||You have the ability to design your own themes, features, etc.|
|Very difficult to generate revenue||You can use it however and for whatever you want|
|Support available||Support available|
|Includes spam protection and security protection||Additional free plugins available on top of spam and security protection|
The draw of free blogs is huge; they are free after all.
While paying for a blog may not seem attractive, especially if you are just starting out, it will save you a mountain of headache down the line when you will want to inevitably switch your growing blog to a self-hosted solution. Start on the right foot and go self-hosted. Need a web host? I recommend Bluehost.
The role of visual content is increasing exponentially
In April 2012 Facebook purchased Instagram for what seemed like a preposterous $1 billion USD.
By December 2014 Instagram was valued at $35 billion USD. Whole markets have been created around Instagram, such as bots (Instagress was the biggest, but got shut down – try an alternative).
If the growth of Instagram is an indicator, we are seeing a significant consumption of visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words, and apparently, the world likes pictures…lots and lots of pictures. Harness this desire for visual content and include photos in your blog.
If you’re a shutterbug and love taking your own photos, then that’s fantastic.
They will add colour and spice to your posts.
They will also break up the wall of text that tends to bore or strain the attention of readers. If taking photos is not up your alley, then use high-quality stock images from sources like Getty, Dreamstime and Gratisography. These site will allow you to use and post their photos with an attribution license.
Cultivating a mailing list should still be your top priority
Mailing lists have been around since people started selling things over the Internet, and even before that when people ordered via catalogues. There is a bit of a stigma when the term “mailing list” is brought up. It invokes an image of salesmen endlessly sending you physical and digital junk mail. But, there is a reason why it is still being used by everyone from mom-and-pop shops, to digital entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. It works.
Starting and cultivating a mailing list should constantly be in your top 3 priorities for you blog. This is important for several reasons; it helps grow an audience, it allows you to notify your audience when you have released new content and finally, it gives you a direct line to the hearts and minds of your audience should you ever want to push a product or service.
Wait this is just to push product? By product we mean anything from your writings to physical baubles. It is by far the best way of to reach your audience without having your email auto-deleted or filtered-to-trash from their inboxes. But can’t I promote using Google AdWords or social networking? You can, but the unreliability of AdWord conversions and the unpredictability of social networking platforms leaves much to be desired. Why not take matters into your own hands and see real results?
There is still an audience for long content
“There will always be an audience for long form” – Tim Ferriss
Best-selling author, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and podcast host, Tim Ferriss is a master of long content.
According to Ferriss, his long content posts (he calls them evergreen content) get the most views, clicks and conversions. In fact, his long form content is so appealing, so informative and so worth their time that posts from 4 years ago are still being consumed by new “unique visitors” today.
Long form allows you to fully develop an idea or concept. Help others solve problems and in doing so deliver so much value that they won’t be able to help to revisit your site or blog again and again and again. Because now you have transcended being just another blog on the web, now you are a trusted resource.
Get in front of key individuals early on
This may sound like a marketing ploy, and in a way it is, but this isn’t just about catching the eye, getting likes or thumbs up from industry leaders.
It’s about getting individuals with large followings of their own to champion your work and writing. You can build the bridges to success by working with other, more established bloggers. And by working, we don’t mean harassing them for guest posts, but actually developing a relationship and seeing how you can better your blogs through mutual cooperation.
Google+ will grow to the point of necessity
Now ranked as the second biggest social network (after Facebook), Google+ is making waves in the blogging world as it helps to give your SEO rankings a significant boost. This is accomplished through authorship and uses your Circle to promote your blog posts. More exposure, can lead to more traffic and, if they like what they read, can lead to more shares.
Google+, many have argued, is now an essential tool in developing a successful blog. It’s time you plugged in and grow your Circle.
Responsive blog designs are a must
Nowadays people are primarily consuming content from the palms of their hands. Your blogs themes must be responsive when loaded onto the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones. If they aren’t already you can be sure that you are losing traffic as people quickly drop your page due to slow loading times and awkward navigation experience.
Outsourcing will make you prolific
Focus on the big things. The little things…delegate to someone else. Use sites like Fiverr and Upwork to hire freelancers to work on tasks you deem menial (anything from data entry to research). Alternatively, you can use freelancers to take on tasks beyond your skill level; such as graphic design and coding work. We know that you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to your blog. But you only have two hands and 24 hours in a day. Call in the cavalry and increase your productivity.
Write from the heart
There is such a thing as writing from the soul.
It is a cathartic experience and can be felt by the reader. Sure, you can write posts that are designed, manufactured and SEO’d to the gills to drive traffic, but it often lacks the substance for readers to enjoy the post and, more importantly, to come back to your site. Like long form content, writing from your heart allows you to make a connection with your audience. It allows them a glimpse into your inner workings, emotions and thoughts. You can be sure that those that enjoy these writings will be loyal fans for years to come.
Almost every successful blog in the Internet has this common thread; people find them useful and that’s why they come back for more.
Be a resource and a trusted advisor.
Strive to be that trusty tool in your readers pocket that they can rely on over and over and over. Develop content with so much useful information that readers can’t help but wait at the edge of their seats for your next post. This is one of the cornerstones on how to build a loyal and fanatic following.
Keep the reader’s problem in mind
You are writing with your hands and a lot of the time you are writing about your own experiences, but remember that readers must see how this can apply to their own lives. Keep their perspective in mind when you develop content. What problems do they face that you can address with an idea or your own experience? What can you add to their lives? What problems of theirs can you address? Bridging this gap in information is they key to keeping your audience engaged and your material relevant. Try polling your readers to see what topics they may want you to cover. Once you lock on to a topic that can help a bunch of people attack it and deliver with stellar content.
Don’t just write about yourself
A typical blog usually starts as a personal journal or diary.
While this definitely adds character and your own flavour to your blog it doesn’t hold in the long run. Remember that a lot of your audience is tuning into your blog because they find value in it for them. They believe that something in your blog is helping them. However, if you disregard your audience and only write for yourself, you will eventually alienate and lose your audience. Instead of a diatribe or a one sided dialogue, try making your blog more of a discussion between yourself and your reader.
Interact with readers
Engage your readers by using polls and surveys to get their feedback on your posts.
Ask them questions and allow them to question you back. Blogs are dialogues between the content creator and their audience, and allowing your readers to participate in the creation of content is a great way of maintaining and attracting readership.
Write catchy headlines
Get your sales and marketing cap on, and try to come up with an eye-catching headline.
The majority of your audience will look for something to read through their feed reader, social media or a link from another blog. You must think of your title not in the terms of how you would describe it, but rather how your readers will look for it.
…not just Facebook, but also try Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious too.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, or so the old saying goes. And, with all the options available on the internet, why would you want to? Yes, Facebook is the largest social media site, but there are other sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit that have loyal followers that go them to get information. Whereas, you are usually bombarded by information and an endless feed when you open Facebook. Also don’t ignore specialty social media pages or sites if you have a piece of content that fits their niche.
Much like writing from the heart, allowing readers to see the real you will help them connect with you on a more personal level. This means that you’re not just a smiling face on a banner or an avatar image. Show them that you’re an actual person, with feelings, with a perspective, with aspirations and failings. It makes you more relatable and makes you more real.
Always use good images or screenshots with your post
Don’t skimp on quality.
Not in your writing and definitely not in your images. Use only high quality images. Don’t allow low quality shots cheapen your blog, your site and your brand. If you have access to an image editing software, by all means use it. If you don’t have one, consider outsourcing the image editing to a pro. Or, head on over to an online photo resource like Getty for professional images.
How to Become a Professional Blogger