What Makes a Successful Blog?
We all have a blog we love. You know the one. It’s the one you get excited about when a new post publishes. And everyone who posts on a blog wants theirs to be loved. But, with more than 600 million blogs published globally, how do you make your blog one people notice and look forward to reading? What makes a successful blog? This post explores the answer to this question more.
Understand Your Audience
You can’t have a successful blog if you don’t know who you’re writing to or if you try to address everyone. Understand who the audience is you need to reach. Learn everything you can about them. Regularly check your site’s analytics to see if who you thought your audience was is actually who’s reading.
Once you have data on your readers, use that information to build an audience profile. Who is the person you’re writing to? Create this profile, including a photo, a name, and facts about them. Then think about that person every time you write. You’re writing to them.
Having a clear audience profile helps you gear your writing to your ideal audience member. It focuses your strategy, so you aren’t just choosing random topics or guessing about how to approach content.
Be an Expert in Your Niche
Chances are, you already know a great deal about the subject of your blog. After all, who knows more about your business than you do? Sharing information you know your audience needs is a great way to become known.
Do you feel like you don’t know enough? Don’t fall into that trap. The average person probably doesn’t know some of the common knowledge to you about your industry. But also remember to continue growing and learning. Stay informed of innovations, changes, and current events in your industry. Share this knowledge with your readers along with your take or experiences as examples.
Talk about knowing your niche! Search Engine Journal is an amazing resource on all things SEO, which is a topic many people find intimidating. They certainly don’t have the only blog in the space (I read several.), but their content is timely and informative.
Do It Better
It’s unlikely that you’ll launch a blog about a topic no one else covers, and that’s OK. I searched Google for “content marketing blogs” to get an example of how much competition is out there for this blog. I got 442 million results. Does that mean we give up? Nope! It means we figure out how to do it better, and we encourage you to do the same.
Research your competition. Subscribe to their blogs to read what they’re posting. Then level up. How can your blog be better than theirs? How can you serve your audience better than anyone else? Even if a topic is already covered, what can you bring to it that makes it more complete, relevant, or informational? And most importantly, remember that your experiences and personal examples set your blog apart no matter what. What can you personally bring to each post?
Remember how I mentioned all the marketing blogs out there? Ann Handley found her niche and shines in this crowded space. Ann is a writer at the core, and she’s carved out a niche as the source on all things marketing and business writing-related. I haven’t found a ton of practical writing blogs that I love, and Ann is a go-to resource for me.
Provide Visual Appeal
Fair or not, visitors judge a blog’s content based on the site’s design. Blog design includes everything from colors and fonts to the layout of blog posts and the images, videos, and graphics you use. Your blog’s design sets the tone for your business and helps visitors immediately relate (or not) to your brand.
An example of a blog I enjoy visually is Modern Mrs. Darcy from Anne Bogel, a reading and lifestyle blog. It’s interesting because Anne and I don’t have the same taste in books, but I was drawn to the look of her site from the first time I found it and have read it for years.
Have a Strong Technical Structure
We don’t want to get into the weeds on this point, but your site’s technical functioning matters a lot to its success. Load time is critical. Visitors will abandon a site if it doesn’t load quickly enough. Choose a hosting service with great reviews that does most of the updates and backend work for you.
Show Up Regularly
You can’t start a blog, post a couple of times, and expect stellar results. You have to show up regularly for your audience, providing them with new, helpful information. The blogs that get the greatest attention and conversions publish two to four times a week. We recommend that our clients publish at least twice a week for consistent results.
Go back to that blog you thought about at the beginning of this post. The one you get excited to read every time. It’s not just that the subject matter fits your needs. It’s also how the blog is written and the person behind it. The most successful blogs practice great storytelling consistently. Not only that, but the authors of those blogs are relatable. Even if you don’t know them, you feel like you do because they share enough of themselves with you to establish a relationship.
An example of storytelling, relatability, and authenticity for me is Mark Schaefer’s Grow blog. Mark is a former journalist and tells stories like one. His content pulls me in, and I’ve read an entire post before knowing it. I started engaging online with Mark years ago when all of us who were relatively new to blogging used to gather on Twitter to learn from each other. From there, we connected on social media.
I enjoy that Mark gives more of his personal life on social media, but it still stands true with what he writes on his blog. In other words, what you see is what you get.
A couple of years ago, Mark was kind enough to agree to speak to a class I was teaching. And the guy who showed up via video conference was the same fella I’d engaged with all of those years. I know it shouldn’t be a surprise, but many bloggers present themselves differently on their sites than they are. When someone is true to themselves, their work is much more legitimate to their audience.
The majority of any site’s traffic comes from searches. That means people go to a search engine like Google and type in a phrase they want more information about. The sites at the top of the results (that aren’t paid ads) get the clicks. That means it’s not enough to post on your blog and wait for people to read. You have to use SEO best practices to optimize your blog for search and make it discoverable.
The most successful blogs have authors that aren’t afraid to try new things. They were the first to post video, even if it wasn’t excellent quality. They use social media optimized pull quotes. They add poll questions to their posts. Whatever people are doing at any given time to get attention, they will try it out. Sometimes these efforts fall flat, but it’s a chance they’re willing to take.
The most successful blogs build community on and off of their websites. They respond to comments, engage readers, and connect with them in real-time via social media. They don’t expect readers to do all the work. They intentionally create communities that then trust them and look to them for expertise.
An example of such a community is the one built by Digital Marketing Kitchen. The site helps with digital marketing training.
But our friends, Rebecca Gill and Cory Miller, who author the site, really wanted to focus on creating an ongoing, helpful community in real-time. To do that, they created the Digital Marketing Kitchen Facebook group. The members-only group helps marketers connect, share, and learn from each other.
Let Us Help
Launching and maintaining a successful blog is no small order. It takes a fair amount of expertise and a lot of time. Let Content Journey help! We make content marketing our business so that you can focus on yours. Book a call today, and let’s talk about how we can help you.