Blogs are a hugely important part of the online atmosphere. While they might have originally started as simple personal journals, they’ve become something more. They’re a great way to establish a personal brand and to make a business seem more relevant to consumers.
Blogs are still, however, difficult for many to write.
When presented with a blank page, many would-be writers freeze up. Even those who write in other formats professionally can find the process of writing a blog intimidating.
Fortunately, there’s a method to writing blogs that makes the process easier.
If you are willing to put in the work to learn the tricks behind blog writing, you’ll have everything you need to be successful. A well-written blog can be the platform that launches your brand, so follow the tips below to construct the blog you need to succeed.
- Technical Information
- Engaging with Your Audience
- Proven Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic
- Don’t Fear the Keywords
- Find Your Flock: Hunt Down Your Audience’s Nest
Before you ever put a word on a page, you should know the direction that your blog will take. Blogging isn’t just about writing whatever you want – it’s a process of marketing your writing to others.
The most popular early blogs grew out of the relationship that consumers had with individual producers. Now that the internet has grown, though, great blogs are a product of producers creating content that consumers actually want.
The research process will help you decide if you should start a blog, what you should write about, and how to get the most eyes on your page. The first research attempt can be time consuming, but it will become second nature after you’ve got through the process successfully at least once.
Choosing a Topic
What do you want to write about?
That’s the first question you should ask yourself before you start on any blog. If you can’t come up with an idea, there’s no reason to write. Blogs are largely creative projects, and thus have some spark of information before they can begin.
This does not, however, mean that you should write about just any topic. If your goal is to publish a successful blog, you should look for a topic that will interest people other than yourself. While your creativity is the engine that moves your blog, readers should always guide your path.
The goal is to find the intersection between your passion and the desires of the consumer. As such, it’s a good idea to start your research by looking at blogs in your field of interest. Is there something to which people are already flocking? Is there an audience other there that isn’t being tapped?
At the earliest stages of blog writing, you might as well consider the project a marketing effort. You’ll need to try to figure out a market segment that has a need for what you’re writing. While it might take some of the creative fun out of blogging, this first step will help to ensure that you actually get readers for your blog.
Understanding Your Niche
Every blog fits in a particular niche. There is no blog on the internet that can appeal to everyone. Trying to create that blog is an exercise in futility.
Instead, your goal should be to find a way to understand the niche in which your blog fits and how best to cater to those in that niche.
Take a moment to consider who is likely to read your blog and then do some research on that population. What do they like? What do they dislike? How are popular blogs marketed towards that niche written?
This is all information that can help you to tailor your content to the people who are likely to read it. While your blog can and should have a unique voice, it’s important that the voice appeals to those who are likely to consume your content. You’ll need to tweak and edit your writing to appeal to that group.
This research will inform almost everything that comes after. Your job is to figure out when to color inside the lines and when it’s safe to break out on your own. You are creating something similar, but distinct from, everything else that’s in the same niche as your blog.
The final, and sometimes most boring, bit of preparation you’ll need to look at keywords.
Keywords are, admittedly, not as important as they once were for blogs. There’s a whole host of other factors that will impact your readership and get you more subscribers. Keywords are, however, easy – figuring them out is much less work than you’d think.
The most basic type of keyword research is largely going to be conducted in your own mind. Take a few moments to figure out what your blog is about, and then to figure out how someone searching for your blog would find it. How would you sum up the content of your blog in just a few words?
Once you’ve got those keywords figured out, you can begin to look into how others are using them. Does another blog already dominate that phrase? If so, you’ll need to either figure out a way to differentiate your blog or search for another way to attract readers.
There are many great free & paid tools, such as SEMRush, that can help you figure out both the types of keywords to pursue and how well your site and your competitors blogs are ranking when using those words. These tools should be used consistently to help you create content.
Keyword research is, ultimately, just one facet of launching a good blog. If you are willing to put in a little time, you’ll be able to figure out how to get the most out of a few key phrases.
Once you’ve got the research out of the way, you can get to the soul of your blog – your written content.
Blogs can be an incredibly engaging medium for getting ideas across, but they require a very specific sort of formatting. A good blog is going to follow a few key rules and elaborate from that point.
If you look around online, you’ll notice that most blog posts follow very similar formats. These suggestions aren’t quite strict enough to be considered rules, but they’re certainly guidelines that new writers should follow for the sake of convenience.
While you might decide that you can avoid some of these guidelines as you become more experienced, you’ll also notice that they help you put together a better blog. There’s a reason why this sort of format is so well-loved by successful writers.
Start with a Headline
Every good blog starts with a headline.
A good headline is the bait that brings in your potential readers. If you want to write a successful blog, it’s important that you distinguish between disingenuous (clickbait) headlines and headlines that give a preview of what you are going to write.
Great headlines serve a need. They ask a question, provide guidance, or pique the interest of a reader. Good headlines tell a potential reader that there is a good reason to visit your blog instead of moving on to another resource.
Great headlines are short, punchy, and generally incorporate your keyword. They give enough information to readers to tell them that they should read an article, but not enough to give away everything that is in the blog post.
A great way to understand how to write a good headline look at the comments of other blogs in your blog’s niche. Look at what people are talking about, and then turn those talking points into a question or statement.
A headline helps readers to find the material for which they were already searching. It’s your first chance to impress a reader, so make sure you choose all of your headlines with care.
Once you’ve hooked your audience with a headline, it’s time to get them to stay.
Your introduction is one of the most important parts of your blog post. The vast majority of readers won’t make it past the first few lines of what you’ve written, so it’s vital that you catch as many as you can early on. Good headlines lead to higher reader retention rates.
A good introduction will appeal to readers on a personal level. While you may have been taught to lead off with statistics in school, you don’t want to be that impersonal in a blog. You want your readers to form an emotional connection as early as possible.
Generally speaking, your goal with an introduction is to convince the reader that he or she should keep reading. That means that your opening needs to be interesting enough to bring the reader’s eyes down the page. You want to provide just enough to keep the reader going, but not so much that you answer questions too quickly.
Don’t overlook the importance of an introduction. It’s something that too many amateur bloggers tend to do and it’s a huge part of the reason why so many blogs find themselves with disinterested readers.
Have a Hook
Once you’ve got the reader’s attention, it’s time to keep it. Every good blog article has a hook.
If you’re a great writer, your hook is always going to be your prose. People are going to follow you through anything you write just to admire your writing.
Chances are, though, that you aren’t a great writer. You might be a very good writer, though, so you can use your writing as a method of supporting your hook.
For some, the hook of a good blog is in the formatting. Many blogs rely upon top ten formats to engage the reader and keep them moving through a constant stream of content. This is a useful way to structure some blog posts, but not all.
Another good way to hook a reader is to use emotional engagement. If you’re funny, make sure that you keep the jokes coming at a reasonable pace. If you are telling something dramatic, weave your s tory throughout the blog. Make the reader feel like he or she has to keep going to get the whole story.
Hooking your readers is just a form of increasing engagement. The harder your work to develop your hook, the easier it will be to adhere to that format in the future.
If you’re writing a blog, you are selling something.
It might not be a product or a service. You might be selling yourself as a brand. You might be selling a community. You might just be selling the concept of the blog itself. No matter what, though, you’re making sale.
Every blog should end with an attempt to make that sale. This is called a ‘Call to Action’, and it’s the way you motivate your readers to do the thing you want them to do.
It’s important that you stop and think about how you are going to make this pitch. If you’ve written a lengthy, emotional piece, you probably don’t want to blatantly plug a product at the end. Likewise, it’s probably not a great idea to end a complaint about a project with a link to that project.
The Call to Action for some blogs might be as simple as asking people to leave a comment after the article. Remember, you don’t have to sell a product to have a viable Call to Action – you just need to help remind your readers that you are trying to accomplish some kind of goal.
Never end a blog without a Call to Action.
Ease of Consumption
Writing a blog isn’t just about what you write – it’s about how your write that content.
A good blog should be relatively easy for any consumer to access. You aren’t writing for an academic journal here – the tone might be serious, but don’t make your readers find a dictionary to keep up with your text.
Good blogs should assume that the average reader has a high school reading level. That means that they can keep up with most content and most ideas, but might be thrown by some higher-level word choices. If you can think of a large word to cover a concept, try to figure out if a smaller word will do.
Likewise, you need to keep your sentences short. Don’t let them drag on. Vary their length and keep them punch. The longer the sentence, the harder it is to read. Make things easier on your audience.
You should also seek to keep your paragraphs short. It’s easier to keep track of material with shorter paragraphs. It’s also easier on readers who will read your blog on mobile devices. Four lines should be the maximum for most blog post paragraphs.
Don’t feel like you have to dumb down your material. Keep the same core of information, but make it easier to read. This will help you draw in more readers and keep you from turning away potential fans.
If you want to write a blog, you’re probably already a good writer. You are not, however, perfect.
Every blog post needs to be edited for content and for grammar. Editing can be a lengthy process, but it’s better to spend time editing than it is to let an unedited post hit your blog.
Your first pass through a blog post should always be to find spelling and grammar mistakes. Don’t rely on your word processor for this – it’s very easy to let certain issues slip through the cracks. You don’t have to slavishly follow the rules of grammar, but do make sure that everything makes sense.
Once you’ve made a basic pass, go back and edit for wordiness. Are there words you can eliminate from the post? It’s better to go short than to go long in most cases. Eliminate, condense, and extract whenever possible.
Once you’ve done the second pass, you can go back for a third and final pass. You’ll want to check for grammar and spelling once again, but your primary goal is to check for flow. You need to know whether the blog post will actually read well. It’s a judgment call, but an important one that only you can make.
Presentation means quite a bit when it comes to blogs.
While most of your work will be with plain text, there are some formatting tricks that will make your blog look and read better. These don’t require any in-depth knowledge of website building, but they are a sure sign that a blogger knows what he or she is doing.
These basic technical tricks will help you to make a blog that’s easier to read and that is more engaging. Always pay attention to what your platform of choice will or will not allow you to do. You might be surprised by how limited your software can be.
Headings are used to break up articles into easy to read chunks. They’ve been in use for years, but many amateur bloggers forget them in favor of huge walls of texts.
Your average reader will get either intimidated or bored by the thought of reading a single unbroken article. He or she wants to be able to get at least the gist of what’s going to be in the blog without having to read the whole thing. This is where headers will come into play.
Headers are simple HTML coding that usually appear as <h#>. Larger, title-level headers are < h1> or < h2>, while paragraph headers are generally < h3> or < h4>. Using these tools will help your blog post to look better and read more professionally.
It’s usually a good idea to try to work your keywords into these headers when possible. It will make it easier for search algorithms to figure out what your site is about and to rank your page appropriately.
As a rule, you’ll want to either have a heading per paragraph or a heading per section. If you can find a chunk of your blog that stands alone, it should have its own heading. It’s not exactly a science, so put the headings where you feel they are most useful.
Images can do wonders for a blog’s popularity. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is true, at least as long as it is the right image.
You don’t necessarily have to have images to make a blog successful. Most successful blogs do, however, make use of images. They are a great way to keep readers engaged and add a bit of color and flair to any blog post.
Images should always be related to what you post. They provide a bit of easy commentary and give your readers a good idea about that which you will be posting. They also help to illustrate some of your points without requiring you to find the precise words you need.
Be careful with your images, though. Offensive images can turn off readers even if they are relevant. Larger images can also make it difficult for those with slow connections to access your site. If your site loads slowly once, you can be sure that you have lost potential readers.
Images are generally worth the risk. Make sure you have a good image to go with each blog post before you hit publish. A good picture won’t always work wonders, but it will usually help.
It’s also important to make sure your images are optimised for sharing on social media.
Finally, it’s a great idea to break up the formatting of your blog by using italic, bold, and underlined text. It’s just another small trick that can help to break up walls of plain text.
Don’t overuse formatting. You want every formatted word to mean something and provide an extra level of emphasis. You may go several paragraphs without using any kind of special format, but make sure that you can put emphasis somewhere.
It’s also a good idea to format your hyperlinks whenever possible. While some blogs do put plain web addresses on their pages, it doesn’t look particularly professional. You can link to a web page and add blog-relevant anchor text to help clean up your writing and make your blog look cleaner.
Engaging with Your Audience
All of your work on your blog should go towards the goal of engaging with your audience. Blogs are great particularly because they allow for connections with real people. Figuring out how to make the most of that connection is a huge part of figuring out how your blog will be successful.
Blogs that tend to fail are those blogs that put too much emphasis on the writer. At the end of the day, you are creating something for the consumption of others. If you can’t put the focus on them, you will eventually lose them to someone else.
Comments and Questions
Good blogs should always have a way for the writer and readers to interact. While there’s numerous ways that this can be accomplished, the most useful is often a comments section.
Comments sections play a number of vital roles in a blog. First and foremost, they give readers a place ot contact the author. The reader can share his or her thoughts without ever leaving the blog.
These sections also help to build up communities. Some readers will stay with a blog for years not just because they enjoy the content, but also because they also enjoy interacting with other long-time readers. A good comment section is almost a social network in its own right.
Finally, the comments section can be a goldmine for future content. If your readers are talking about something, you should address it. Your readers will be more than happy to see the things they care about discussed in the body of the blog itself.
While blogs and social media are closely tied together, most blogs aren’t necessarily on a social media platform. These platforms will, however, be an important method of sharing your content.
Always make sure to have relevant social media buttons on your blog. Most blogging platforms make these easy to add with a click of a button. If you can’t find the buttons on your own site, it’s fairly easy to find the HTML tag to add the button on your own.
Don’t abuse social media. Update it to bring people to your blog. Don’t overshadow your blog with social media comments, or there will be no reason to visit the blog at all.
Social media is a double-edged sword, so be careful with your usage. It’s a promotional tool and a way to connect, but be careful that you don’t push things too far. The last thing you want is to lose blog readers over your social media statements.
Be willing to reach out to your readers when necessary. If you feel like there are fewer comments than usual or that your visitor numbers are dropping off, you should try to find out why. Your readers will often have more answers than you can imagine.
Don’t directly ask these questions in the comments. Instead, offer reader surveys every few months. Let the people who read your blog tell you what to think in a pressure-free environment. You can then read this material and make changes as necessary.
The more you reach out to your readers, the more your community will come together. When authors can trust their readers, they can get more honest feedback and will be forgiven for their mistakes. Don’t take your readers for granted – they’re your most important resource.
Crafting a great blog takes time and effort. The guidelines above will give you the tools you need to start building something of which you can be proud. Don’t be put off by the effort you’ll have to put in – the rewards are more than worth the work.
Proven Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic
It happens to the best of us. At some point, each blogger faces the same issue. It’s the bane of our existence. We’ve set up our blog, crafted our message, and now we ask: How do we get more traffic?
The blog traffic jam. We’ve all experienced it at some point. That sudden halt of visitors to your site that has you wondering, “What did I do wrong?” It may happen at the beginning, middle, or end of a blog’s life, but it’s inevitable.
If you’re just getting started or have been blogging for a while, you’ve faced this nemesis. And you’ve asked yourself,
How do I get out of this? How do I get more traffic to my site?
To help answer that question, I came up with a simple list. But before that, let’s talk about motives…
Why do you want more traffic?
So, you have a blog, but want more traffic?
First, check your motives: Is it help people, be a resource, and make a difference? Or to make you famous?
If the latter, quit blogging now. If you’re blogging for self-serving reasons, then that may be the real inhibitor to your blog’s growth. Because here’s the truth:
It’s okay to write about personal experiences and share what you’ve learned from a first-hand perspective, but be careful of making yourself into some kind of blog rock star. Instead, aim to be a resource and help to others.
The irony is that if you do that, you’ll end up becoming a star.
So if you want more traffic to your blog, don’t focus on the traffic. Focus on the people.
23 tips for getting more traffic to your site
Here are some ideas for how to get more traffic to your blog (click the links for more helpful resources).
- Leave thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs.
- Write shorter posts.
- Blog consistently.
- Write less.
- Be a resource.
- Use trackbacks.
- Organize your posts with lists and subheads.
- Get on Twitter. Tweet links to your posts and other useful content.
- Link out to other sites (but only ones that will help people).
- Share your content on Facebook (and ask your friends to share it, too).
- Write stuff people will want to link to.
- Ask questions.
- Be funny.
- Be clever.
- Be remarkable.
- Request a link from someone else to a blog post.
- Do some public speaking.
- Write attractive headlines.
- Optimize your site for search engines.
- Deliver killer content.
- Guest post on someone else’s blog.
- Write in the second person (“you” not “me”).
- Tell stories.
Any serious blogger will eventually hit a plateau and need some help extending her platform beyond its initial reach.
This happens to all of us. And there’s nothing wrong with asking the question: “How can I get more traffic?” (Just make sure that your motive is to help and not merely to make you famous.)
Don’t Fear the Keywords
If you really want to drive big time traffic to your blog, keywords and SEO have to be a part of your strategy. People get really nervous these days when you suggest doing something in the name of SEO, but remember, search engine optimization is fine when done right. More than fine – it’s wonderous! You get targeted traffic from Google, and users find the information and answers they’re searching the web for.
So go ahead, shout it from the rooftops, “I care about keywords!” Be loud and proud my friend.
They key thing to remember with SEO is all good things in moderation.
Use keywords in your context text? Yes!
Use keyword stuffing to saturate your content completely with search queries? No.
Link to other related blog posts you’ve written on a specific subject? Yes!
Include so many links that every other sentence is dotted with blue hyperlinks? No.
Let keywords influence your outline and help conceptualize your post? Yes!
Put keywords and search bots before user experience? No!
Google drives billions of searches a day. Trust me, you want to use keywords to get a piece of that pie.
SEO for Bloggers: Finding Long Tail Keywords
How do you brainstorm these awesome long-tail keywords? Start with Google. Begin typing in a phrase and see what Google’s auto-complete suggestions are. Make note of the “eureka!” suggestions.
SEO WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
There are some great wordpress plugins designed to help bloggers with SEO. They make it easy to set up your URL slugs correctly, help you craft perfect meta descriptions, setup sitemaps, and aid you in navigating other SEO technical bits that may not come naturally to bloggers.
Two favorites are:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- All in One SEO Pack
Find Your Flock: Hunt Down Your Audience’s Nest
When it comes to promoting your blog, it’s essential that you’re strategic about where you spend your time. While it’s nice to establish your presence across a range of social networks, you’ll quickly burn out trying to excel with every social site.
Dip your feet and see which social networks work best for you. Is your blog heavy on the visuals? You’ll probably want to set your sights on LinkedIn. Is your blog catered more towards nerd culture? Find the right subreddits and you could strike it big.
If you’re looking for seagulls, you go to the seashore. To drive blog traffic, you need to go to where your flock hangs out. Know where to find your bird of a feather. Understanding your audience is also key for building strong referral links from relevant websites.
Use Google Analytics to see which websites are driving the most referral traffic. Find the forums and sites your target audience visits, and get active. Engage in discussion and post links or blog comments when appropriate. This is big – you can’t come off as spammy. You need to be seen as a valuable member of the community who is sharing something of merit. If someone mentions needing advice about scheduling healthy meal plans for each week, go ahead and point them to your resource! If they’re discussing their struggles in mastering the fine art of clowning, you can probably move along.
Once you’ve discovered your key networks, make those your focal point. Neil Patel points out that Upworthy, in addition to utilizing curiosity-focused headlines and emotional content, also limits the number of social sharing buttons they have on a given page.
The choice paradox shows that too many choices can overwhelm and stress users. While we may assume more choices are better, studies have shown that most individuals are happier with a few different options, rather than hundreds.
Upworthy only has two share buttons – Facebook and Twitter. Consider limiting your social sharing selection to the sites you get the most leverage out of.
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