The Essentials for A Successful Blog
Almost one year ago, when I first started publishing ramblings about my ambitions, struggles, triumphs and personal philosophies around starting my own business, I had no real idea what I was doing. I wanted a platform to share my ideas, but to also keep me accountable for continuing my creative writing on a regular basis. And for me – this meant blogging. At that time, I had no real plan for where this would go, or if it would go anywhere at all. All I knew was that this was the first time I could really write for myself and not have the pressure to “perform.” This was a wildly new feeling which allowed me to access a whole new level of creativity and improve my own writing over the course of a single year by simply making me do it weekly.
While there is still much for me to learn from some of the Master Bloggers out there, I do feel like I’ve picked up on several tips that allowed me to enjoy the prestigious WordPress honor of being Freshly Pressed and to continue to steadily grow the Bennis Inc blog week after week, month after month. The following are what I consider the prime essentials for my blog’s success:
Consistency. Every Monday morning around 8am you can expect to be greeted by a Bennis Inc blog post in your inbox or blog feed. This takes planning, and sometimes pre-scheduling posts weeks in advance, but I’m a stickler for not leaving my readers hanging. For you, a different day of the week or a different frequency might make more sense, but whether you’re posting weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, loyal readership comes from consistent content.
Tags. Tags are what get your blog before the eyes of potential followers. In WordPress you’ll see that you can browse blogs by an endless number of topics. How do the blogs you see get placed on these topic pages? Tags. I familiarized myself with the most popular, overarching topics such as Life, Business, News, Photography and Writing (you can pick them out by the size of their font on the Topics page). I incorporate these powerhouse tags into my posts as much as relevant. That’s the other key to tags is to keep them relevant to your post. Overtagging is treated like spam to WordPress and that won’t get you any further ahead. Pick just the 10-15 most relevant tags for your content. Tags are also how a lot of search engines pick up on my blog. So when I use a Thomas Edison quote, for example, I’m sure to tag him because his name alone has brought many people to my blog because Google includes it in its search suggestions.
Quality Content. If you’re going to make the time commitment to start a blog, also make the commitment to write to the best of your ability. I can remember one busy week over the holidays when I just knew I couldn’t make my Monday blog deadline with a post to which I was proud to sign my name. Instead, I took just a few minutes and included a photo and a fun message to my readers about how even bloggers need a holiday. First, this kept me consistent with my weekly posts. Second, this allowed me the extra time I needed to come back the following week with quality content. I want to WOW my readers every week – and some weeks I do a better job of this than others – but I never want to take their readership for granted. So by offering you something worth reading I’m letting you know that I value your time!
Make it Genuine. So often blogs that are started by businesses fall into the trap that their posts should focus solely on promoting this business or its services. While a blog is a great opportunity to self-promote, it shouldn’t be a sales pitch. Just as I mentioned about quality content, give your audience something worth reading. Establish yourself as an expert in the field, but be sure to include personal stories, humor and even give people a look into some of your own struggles from time to time. My underlying point is – be human. We have enough social media being run by spammers and software. A successful blog gives readers a window into your life.
Make it visual. Adding a picture, graphic or embedding a video clip into your blog posts creates immediate interest for readers. When you browse through a topic on WordPress you’ll see an entire feed of new posts – too many to fully process. So what stands out? One of two things, an attention grabbing title or a picture to accompany your words. Both should accurately represent your blog with minimal thinking or reading. It’s the 0.5 seconds you have to pull a reader in, so don’t willingly give up this opportunity to grab their attention!
Become a part of the WordPress Community. WordPress is very much a social network; it’s a community of writers and readers made up of every demographic imaginable. But you can’t simply publish a blog, sit back and wait for people to swarm it with likes, comments and 5-star ratings. Most often, you have to actively pursue new readers. I personally comment on 5 other WordPress blog every day with something more meaningful than “Great post!” I show them that I took the time to read what they wrote and I share how it relates to me personally. WordPress is a very interactive community and 4 times out of 5 I get a reply for my comment. Most often, 2 out of 5 times I’ll get a new subscriber to MY blog. Multiple this by 5 days a week over the course of a year and it’s easy to consistently grow your blog. It just takes a few minutes of meaningful interaction every day.
So what are some of your successful blogging essentials? Have you discovered the tips I mentioned to be same as the ones you currently use? Since we are a community after all, share your blogging Do’s and Don’ts with me!