Blogging is more popular than ever. Blogs are cheap to set up, easy to run, and can be abandoned easily when they don’t work out. This is both a good and bad thing. Conversations are better when everyone has a chance to make their point, but competition is stiff, and finding success with your blog is easier said than done.
Standing out in a crowd is a difficult task, but new blogs are started everyday that go on to become social hubs and sources of influence. Successful bloggers often have a plan and an understanding of what the right move should be. These five tips will help any new blogger find their way towards success.
1. Focus on Building an Audience
Every day, millions of people use Google, Bing or Yahoo to find information on all types of topics. Because of this, many bloggers start optimizing their blogs for search engines, and not for people.
This is an approach you should avoid.
People make links, share on social bookmarking sites and social networks, and they leave comments and spread stories by word of mouth. People make up an audience.
Look at two important resources for guidance.
One is Facebook. When starting a Facebook Page, one of the available tabs says “Build an Audience”, which is code for “run ads”. The key word is audience. An engaged and responsive audience is the most important factor in a blog’s success, so optimize for people.
The other is Google Analytics. The traffic statistics are presented as “Audience Overview”.
2. Learn the Basics of SEO
Your main focus should be creating content for people, but this does not mean that Search Engine Optimization is to be ignored.
There are a handful of steps that a new blogger should take to set up their blog for maximum search engine exposure without using shady tactics.
- Keyword research using Google’s Keyword Tool to find relevant terms with reasonable search volume. Anything over a couple hundred searches is plenty.
- Optimize the meta title tag and meta description to include your targeted keywords.
- Emphasize your keywords in the content by using an H1 or H2 heading title tag.
- Optimize your images by utilizing the ALT tag.
SEO can be far more advanced and complicated, but the fundamental basics are good enough for most bloggers.
3. Design is King
Powerful and engaging content are vital, but an ugly design will never entice users to bother reading what you have to say. Take the time to find a clean and easy to navigate theme that is free of clutter and any other confusing elements.
Making sure that your blog is also set up to recycle visitors through social sharing and eventually email opt-ins is an important element of blog design. Take the time to measure social sharing and email opt-ins to make sure your design is optimized for both audience experience, as well as retention.
4. Master the Art of Writing Headlines
It does not matter what masterful point you may make in your blog posts if nobody bothers to read them. Headline writing is key to getting clicks from search engine users, as well as social media and (eventually) email subscribers.
Headlines are far more than article titles. Learning how to write effective headlines can lead to spikes in traffic and significant buzz around a new blog.
There are a number of resources to help you learn to write good headlines, but the best resource is practice. Before publishing an article or post, write several headlines, narrow down the best two or three, then work on those until they’re perfect.
Headlines are often the key to new blogs generating off-site discussion and achieving near instant success.
5. Be Yourself
It is fine to be a novice on some, or even all, of the topics your blog covers. Not everyone is an expert, and readers can tell when a blogger is faking expertise for whatever reason.
However, bloggers who are genuine and are obviously putting in the work to learn more and present useful content in a unique way will eventually become an authority on their topic.
More importantly, they will earn the trust of their audience and build a brand. When a blogger becomes seen as both a person and a brand, the ultimate success has been achieved.
Building Something Worthwhile Takes Time
Popular blogs do not sprout overnight. Not usually. To grow a blog, it takes a clear and focused plan, patience and determination to make something that others believe is special.
As a final tip, a successful blog requires a certain level of daring. Great design, slick headlines, and an engaged audience are all more likely to happen when you dare to make something great.