12 Tips to Running a Successful Blog
Whether you have insider knowledge that you want to share with the world, or you want to enhance your brand’s presence online, starting a blog is the way to go. To compete with the huge amount of content created everyday, you need a solid strategy if your blog is to be successful. Using the right tactics, your blog could become the go-to source of information for your niche.
1. Be Passionate About What You Do
Your audience will know from your very first sentence if you lack passion for the subject you blog about. Rather than deciding what to cover according to what is currently trending, create content on topics you find interesting and care about.
Ideally, you should choose a niche on which you have a wealth of knowledge and can talk about with authority. Although it is more difficult, you can be successful blogging on a topic that has been covered countless times over, provided you have unique insights.
2. Use a Medium You Feel Comfortable With
Whereas most blog posts are text-based, videos, images, and infographics are all perfectly good options. Choose a style that complements your skills.
3. Know Your Audience
Determine who your blog will target before you create a single piece of content. When you have your ideal audience in mind, you’ll be able to tailor your content to these users’ needs, desires, and understanding of the subject. When defining your audience, think about factors like age, gender, profession, location, education, income, interests, and any other relevant demographics.
It is better if you target a small audience of specific users rather than if you try to create content that has meaning for a large number of people — you’ll only end up with generic content that isboring and unhelpful to everyone.
4. Create Content Others Want to Consume
Once you know who you’re targeting, it’s easier to figure out individual topics for your content. Your content should always improve the lives of your audience in some way, whether it does this by offering a solution, entertaining, keeping users up to date on crucial developments in your industry, or helping people think about a problem in a new way.
If you are unsure what your audience wants, think about questions people tend to ask you. Alternatively, you can check out forums, social media, and comments on other blogs to see what queries are going unanswered. Yet another option is to consider difficulties you have faced and how you solved them. Your audience will enjoy hearing about your personal experiences plus, this approach provides you with credibility.
5. Be Original
You need to offer content that your audience cannot find elsewhere on the Internet. This is one of the biggest challenges of running a successful blog but is far from impossible. For instance, maybe you possess knowledge or have ideas that no one else has. Maybe your witty sense of humor can make even the driest topics interesting. Maybe you have a new way of presenting information.
One way to ensure your blog is original is to infuse it with your voice. Choose a style and words that feel natural to you. Talk about your actual experiences (remembering to include just the pertinent details - no-one wants to hear detailed stories about your life, unless it is incredibly interesting). Be authentic in your advice and honest about what your followers can expect to achieve.
6. Always Research
Even if you think you know a topic back to front, it is worth doing some research. This will allow you to check facts and back up your claims with statistics — a great way to incorporate some outbound links.
7. Set a Schedule
You audience needs to know when to expect fresh content on your blog. Create a schedule and plan for (at least) several topics in advance - this will also make sure you always have some ideas ready. Determine the best day of the week and time of day to publish according to what you know about your audience’s habits. Combine this with publishing at different times and monitoring what is most effective.
You also need to consider how much content you can reasonably produce each week - if you have time constraints, just once per week is plenty. It’s always better to offer less content at a high quality than to push yourself to produce more and end up sacrificing both quality and enthusiasm. Plus, publishing too frequently may make it difficult to come up with innovative ideas.
When deciding how often to blog, also think about the length of your blog posts. A few years ago, short blog posts were the norm, due to the misguided belief that people have short attention spans. Since then, research has revealed that Internet users prefer long blog posts, as these allow them to explore a topic in depth. Google also favors long-form content, which means such posts will reach the top search results more easily.
8. Conduct Keyword Research
About gaining a top position in search results, we need to talk about keywords. With keywords, you actively target certain search terms to ensure the right users find your blog.
Use a keyword research tool to find terms with low competition but high potential. The best will always be long-tail keywords. If you are targeting users in a specific area, keywords that include a location are ideal.
9. Use SEO to gain an advantage
Keywords alone are insufficient to optimize your blog. Ifyou want Google to present your posts above any other content, you need touse additional SEO practices. This should include:
- Optimizing site speed
- Adding schema markup
- Ensuring your blog is compatible with all devices and screensizes
- Adding internal links
- Including meta descriptions and title tags
- Tagging all images with alt tags
- Improving site architecture through sub-directory rootdomains
- Optimizing headlines
10. Promote Your Blog
In addition to on-page SEO, you can take other action to promote your blog, including by using social media, listing your blog in high-quality directories, and creating PPC ads. You can also encourage others to promote your blog by monitoring what you audience shares most and creating similar posts in the future.
One critical way to promote your blog may seem counterintuitive: you need to blog for other sites. By including a link or two in these posts leading to your own blog, you will gain visibility and build critical outbound links.
The best places to guest blog are authoritative sites with many followers. The blogs should produce content on the same topics as you but should not be your direct competitors. Contact the owners of these blogs — you will find that many appreciate the offer for extra content.
Put the same amount effort into your guest posts as you do for the content for your own blog. Adhere to the requirements set by the website owner and make sure your content meets the needs of the audience. Finally, make the post just as long as you normally do, use SEO, and format everything correctly. This will help you develop a long-term relationship with the blog owner and improve your chances of being asked to create more content.
11. Drive Engagement
Allowing comments on your blog gives visitors the chance toshare their thoughts. When you start out, you may only receive a few reactionsto your blog posts. Embrace each of these as it comes and leave a reply. Youmay be able to start a conversation and gain a long-term follower.
If you receive a negative comment, consider whether it is worth answering. If it comes from a troll, delete it - nothing good ever came from engaging with a troll.
Negative comments can, however, be thoughtful criticism. In such cases, it could be worth your while continuing the conversation. This is your chance to expand on your ideas and show your audience that you are willing to hear their feedback, even if you disagree. You may even find inspiration for a future blog post.
Another place to seek engagement is on social media. Make sure you have share buttons attached to each blog post, allowing users to share on all major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You should also add share buttons leading to any other relevant social platforms,especially those where you have an active profile.
12. Pair Your Blog with a Newsletter
Many visitors may enjoy a piece of your content, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll remember your blog and return for more. Give users the opportunity to receive notifications about when you have new content by offering the chance to subscribe to an email newsletter. Let visitors to your blog know that an email newsletter is an option by including links to sign-up forms in strategic places. A/B testing is useful for figuring out the best places for buttons.
If you want your blog to be successful, you must not neglect too many of the above steps. It may seem like a lot, but if you are going to put in the effort to create a blog, you might as well make sure it is the best it can be. Once you get into the flow of things, you’ll find that many of the tips fit naturally into your content marketing strategy.