It’s hard to get people to read your blog.
Imagine walking into a room with hundreds of people are talking, each of them vying for the attention of everyone else. Now imagine walking in amidst the ongoing conversations and trying to get someone, anyone to listen to you.
That’s how it is with blogging.
One source says two million blog posts are written every single day. That’s a lot of noise. Your little post has a lot of competition.
To have a successful blog – one that gets read, subscribed to, liked, shared, and purchased from – you have to do a lot more than just set up a free blog and start posting. If you want to have a successful blog, certain rules must be followed.
Pick a niche.
Picture your blog as a cable television channel.
If your blog was ESPN, you’d post sports content all day, everyday. You wouldn’t post about kids toys because that’s not what your audience wants to see from you. Or, you’d attract people who are interested in kids toys, but may be in interested in purchasing the premium sports content you offer to keep the lights on.
Successful bloggers select a niche and focus on that topic. When these bloggers want to write about something off topic, they start a totally separate blog, with a new domain. Successful bloggers don’t dilute their brand by trying to integrate more than one topic under a single blog.
Set goals for your blog.
But isn’t “having a successful blog” a goal? Nope, it’s too vague. Success means different things to different bloggers so you have to define what success is for you at the stage you are right now.
Decide how many subscribers you want to have, how much traffic you want to receive each month, and the amount of money you’d like to make.
Goals take time to reach and while it’s easy to publish a blog post, it’s not as easy to get noticed and build a strong readership. Set a realistic timeline for achieving your goals.
Once you reach your initial goals, set new ones to work toward.
This may mean posting daily, weekly, or twice a month. Figure out how often you’re going to post, set a schedule, and stick to it. There’s no faster way to lose your audience than to post inconsistently.
Create quality blog posts.
If you want to stand out and create loyal readers, you need to provide valuable information for your readers. Quality is not the same old posts that every other blogger is writing. Quality is a new angle on an old issue, a fresh view of a stale topic, an innovative approach to a stubborn problem.
Before you start writing a blog post, do a quick internet search to see what else is out there. If the first page of the search results is filled with results exactly like what you want to create, go back to the drawing board. Tweak your idea to make sure you’re providing quality that your readers can’t get anywhere else.
Stay on top of trends.
To be an authority on your topic – someone who everyone else turns to for advice – you must stay on top of the news and trends in your topic. Subscribe to the top blogs in your niche. Sign up for Google Alerts to get daily news related to your keywords. Sign up to receive press releases from companies in your niche.
Staying on top of what’s on in your niche is just a start. You also have to pay attention to trends in blogging, social media, and affiliate marketing (if you promote affiliate links).
When I first started blogging 10 years ago, daily 500-word blog posts were the norm. There was no Twitter or Pinterest. Facebook had just introduced status updates (and most of them were made in third person!).
Today, daily posts aren’t necessary for success and 500 words may not be enough, at least not when you start out. The most popular posts are upwards of a thousand words.
Blogs that remain successful year after year embrace and adapt to changes.
Create social media accounts for your blog.
Social media marketing is one of the best ways to build your blog audience. It allows you to promote your blog content, provide additional value to your readers, and engage with your audience.
Don’t bother creating social media accounts if you’re not going to maintain them. Nothing looks worse than a Twitter account that hasn’t been updated since 2013 or a Facebook page that only receives sporadic updates.
Take advantage of tools like Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts to your social media pages. Even if you automate some tweets, make sure you’re also logging on frequently to engage with your community, respond to comments, and post messages that don’t solely promote your content.
Publish error-free, easy to read posts.
Proofread your post, and then proofread it again. Spend time going through each blog post to be sure it is grammatically correct and contain no spelling errors. Remove unnecessary words from your posts so they’re easier to read and understand.
Produce original content.
Don’t steal. It’s ok to borrow ideas from other bloggers or websites, but it is never okay to copy and paste another person’s work, even if you give credit.
Cite your sources.
I don’t mean to sound like your high school English teacher when I say this, but if you use someone else’s words or images, make sure you give them credit.
It’s ok to use a small portion of someone else’s work without asking for their permission, it called fair use, but even when you do this, make sure you let your readers know where the work came from.
Make sure people know you exist.
Publishing a blog post and then walking away from it without doing any extra promotion is like walking into a crowded room, whispering something important, and expecting someone to hear you.
Imagine if you walked into that crowded room with a megaphone. And instead of standing in one place shouting your message, you walked the room from one end to another, talking to first one group of people, then another, captivating them with your words, mesmerizing them with your delivery. Do you think people would listen to you then?
You have to promote your blog the same way.
Promote your posts on social media with sharable tweets and images. Send updates to your email subscribers. Tell your friends about it. Guest post on some other blogs in your niche. Don’t be too cheap to spend a little bit on advertising if you’re serious about building your blog readership.
Inject your personality into your blog.
In a world where millions of blogs are being published everyday, many of them on the same topic, your personality is the only thing that really separates you from the next person writing about blogging or parenting or relationships or weight loss.
Make a habit of putting a little of you in every post you publish. I love this awesome quote on The Middle Finger Project: “Personality is the difference between being loved vs. liked, ordinary vs. iconic.”
Don’t let your blog be a whisper in a crowded room. Make these rules part of your regular blogging habits to build a successful blog.