When you compare the number of successful blogs against the total number of blogs that exist on the internet, you'll notice that the ratio is very, very small. Only a fraction of blogs build an audience of more than a few hundred, and only a few rare ones get subscriptions of 100K+. The blogging world gets increasingly competitive every day as individuals, the media, businesses, governments, and organizations post more content more often. Blogs are also the cornerstone of content marketing and inbound marketing campaigns.
Many things can make a blog successful: a fascinating voice, amazing stories, beautiful visuals, useful information, etc. But what are the common elements to successful blogs? I've noticed 6 things that popular, successful blogs have in common.
Blog element #1: A unique perspective
It's not enough anymore to just provide information. Information is easy to find; there's a how-to and a listicle for every topic you can imagine, and even those you can't.
What makes perspective special? Perspective is opinion informed by experience. Perspective is personal yet has wisdom for others. When it comes to blogging, readers like to connect to their authors, not the information itself. We like to read from humans, not machines; this is probably the only thing that's keeping the writing robots from taking over.
Perspective is the human element in information, and a unique one is absolutely necessary for a successful blog.
What's your unique perspective? What have you learned through your years in your profession or field? What wisdom can you impart to others?
Blog element #2: A compelling voice
What makes Seth Godin so popular is his compelling ability to compress a lot of questions and thoughts into very short posts. What people love about Mark Schaefer is his honesty when it comes to difficult issues within the marketing field. The list could go on, but if you think of your own favourite bloggers, you'll see what I mean.
Finding a voice is at once the most common and the most frustrating piece of advice you receive as a new blogger. Honestly, there's no way around it but to blog often and trust that your voice will eventually settle itself.
What makes other people listen to you when you speak? Are you funny, perceptive, incisive? This might be a clue to your blogging voice too.
Blog element #3: Great visuals
We can't talk enough about the effectiveness of visual marketing. Every successful blog will use visuals to emphasize the message, to summarize the content or to add an emotional touch. We've been working with Canva to make awesome blog graphics that are easily reshareable on social media as well.
The trick with visuals is that you don't need to think too hard about it. There are plenty of beautiful stock photo websites (we like PicJumbo, Unsplash and Gratisography in particular) that you can use in your graphics or on their own. Just always remember to put at least one photo or visual in every post.
What photos or images inspire you? What emotions do you want to convey?
Blog element #4: Relevant content
Relevance is another tricky thing to define, but here's how I conceive it:
Getting the right content to the right person on the right channel at the right time.
Being relevant is a balance between talking about what you're interested in and talking about what your audience is interested in. If you write about things that you don't care about, you'll lose steam quickly; but if you just write about what you're interested in, you're likely to lose those readers who don't share all of your interests.
Writing about a variety of topics in different tones--some opinion, some factual, some controversy, etc--will keep readers interested in the long run. Relevance also requires a lot of time spent looking at what others are doing on their own blogs.
What would you like to read about if you were an executive in your field? What information would keep you coming back to your blog?
Blog element #5: A mailing list
Few business blogs can really be useful marketing tools without mailing list. Successful blogs will use mailing lists to send daily postings, newsletters and other offers to their readers. A blog with a mailing list keeps you top of mind and is just standard nowadays. It's hard enough to keep up with all the content websites publish on a daily basis, so emails are a great way to keep your readers notified of new blog posts.
As far as inbound marketing goes, email is still the best tool you have to turn subscribers into leads and to nurture them into prospects and clients. However, make sure that the way you collect your email addresses follows the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, or you could be in pricy trouble.
Are you subscribed to mailing lists? What makes you click or delete?
Blog element #6: A social presence
If you think that you'll get visits just by writing blog posts, you need to reassess how you understand the blogging world. Visitors rarely find new blogs to follow through Google; instead, they come through shared links from trusted sources (on a blog they already read, on social media, etc). Your blog should have a constant and active presence on social media, not only for broadcasting, but also for sharing other people's stuff and having discussions with them.
A warning: "not doing" social media is the surest way to banish your blog to the obscure abyss of all the unread stuff of the internet. You don't need to be on there 24/7--this is what automation is for--but at least be there a few minutes every day to share your content and engage with others'.
Do you strategize your social media or do you just go with the flow and inspiration?
What element is missing from yours?
Is there something on the list that your blog is missing? You can still have a great blog, but maybe it's not working as well as it could. All these elements work together to get the best marketing bang out of your blogging buck, so it's worth spending some time refining them.
Which is the one that is the most difficult for you? Do you need tips or tricks (or have them) to share with our community?
Anabelle is Stikky Media's official wordsmith and grammar police. She loves writing, social media and learning how this wonderful thing called the "web" actually works. Officially known by her ex-colleagues from grad school as "the jargon killer", she loves combining plain language with complex ideas. When she isn't writing for Stikky or grading student assignments, you can find her knitting a lace shawl, finding occasions to speak French, sipping tea or making stories up. If you have any questions, comments or fan mail, you can reach her at [email protected].