Updated April, 2021
While blogs are the cornerstone of content marketing, when you compare the number of successful blogs against the total number of blogs that exist on the internet, you’ll notice 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+.
Ever wondered what these top blogs have in common? In this post, we share 9 keys to a successful blog. So let’s jump right into how to make your blog successful with tip #1…
Define and listen to your audience
Successful blogs speak to a well-defined, niche audience. This goes beyond a list of demographics, although that is a good start. Really get to know your audience, what they want from your blog, what questions they want answered, as well as how and when they want it.
You can do this by listening carefully — for example, by reading the comments and engaging with your audience. Or, you can ask them straight out. Ask your readers to leave feedback in the comments, or ask them what topics they would like you to cover, or perform a survey. Besides building a list of potential blog topics, you will gain valuable information on who exactly is reading your blog, what appeals to them and what they don’t like.
This can go beyond subject matter, to what forms of content connect best with your audience. Do they like videos, infographics, long-form textual content, more or less images? Is the format of your content legible and appealing to your specific audience? All these sideline issues will help you to reach your specific audience in a more worthwhile way. Always ask yourself what value you are providing to your audience. And this leads up right into the next point…
Provide relevant content
Relevance is similar, but slightly different and is another tricky thing to define. Responding solely to your audience’s desires can lead to a myopic view of your corner of the universe. Getting the right content to the right person on the right channel at the right time is important, and this may include broadening your audience’s perspective.
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.
Being relevant takes in the context of the blogosphere and what is happening at large in your field of expertise. What are other people in your field talking about? Relevance requires a lot of time spent looking at what others are doing on their own blogs. Engaging and networking with experts in your field helps expand your knowledge, which can then be passed on to your readers.
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? Create content that is informative and engaging.
Provide a unique perspective
It’s not enough anymore to just provide information. Information is easy to find; there’s a how-to and an article 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, the personality 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? This will ensure you provide content that isn’t readily available elsewhere. You and your experiences are unique, and that in itself will make your content unique and will differentiate you from your competitors.
Closely connected to your perspective is your blogging style, or your voice. 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.
Keep it professional in look, design, and content
This is really about quality and delves into the finer points of presentation. Professional content means you stick to the topic in a respectful way without disparaging others or attempting to create division and hate.
Formatting of that content is arguably as important as the actual content you provide. How that content is presented sends a message about the trustworthiness and authority of that content and your business in general. User Experience is important and makes using your site pleasurable, makes the reader feel you put some care into their well-being and imparts a sense of quality. Do you, for example, break up the text with subheadings to make it easier to scan and read?
Images are a key part to any blog post. 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. Just make sure they are high quality and relevant.
There are plenty of beautiful stock photo websites (we like Canva and Unsplash 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.
How often you post isn’t as important as being consistent with frequency. If you can provide valuable content every week, that’s great! But if you find your content is getting a little thin and rote when you post that often, do it less often and aim to make the content you do provide the most valuable to your audience that you can.
When you are consistent with your posting, and if your audience really appreciates your content, they will know that you’ve posted, will visit your blog without being prompted, and will maybe even look forward to the posts. Regular posting provides a sense of structure that can be reassuring, if only subliminally.
Being consistent also applies to design and branding. If you switch it up too often or diverge from your brand too much, people won’t be able to develop a clear picture of your brand identity and as a result, won’t believe it to be authoritative and trustworthy.
Promote your blog on social media
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 be 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. This is a great way to learn about your audience, their needs and wants.
Don’t think you need to promote your blog on every single social media platform to be successful. Pick one or two that are particularly relevant to your niche and concentrate on building up that audience — at least to start. If you want to expand later, and you have the energy and resources, go for it.
Promote your blog through a newsletter
Few business blogs can really be useful marketing tools without a newsletter. Successful blogs will use a newsletter to send notices of postings and other offers to their readers. A blog with a newsletter keeps you top of mind and is standard practice today. They work because your newsletter subscribers want to hear from you! They signed up for it. To build your email list, make it easy and worthwhile for people to subscribe. Make sure the sign-up form is highly visible on your site and blog, and offer an incentive for people to sign up.
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.
Optimize your blog for search engine
Google now places great value on context to understand if your content shows expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. As well as providing contextual information within the content itself, external links to relevant, authoritative sites or internal links to your own relevant blog posts help provide context for Google.
Including keywords, especially long-tailed or secondary keywords, is still important, however. One way to make sure you are using appropriate keywords is to keep in mind the user’s intent in searching for the type of information you offer. You can place higher in the search results by using appropriate keywords. But remember, you’re writing for people, not for search engines.
Metadata such as optimized title tags and well-crafted meta descriptions are blog must-haves.
Include a compelling Call to Action
You are writing the post to encourage some action on the part of your readers. First, decide what you want them to do, and then make it easy for them to do it. Do you want them to share the post? Provide share buttons. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Provide the sign-up form right there. Do you want them to read other blog posts? Sprinkle links throughout. Do you want them to buy your products or engage in your services? Suggest it, in a non-pushy way. (wink)
Which element is missing from your blog?
Is your blog missing something from our list? Maybe you have a great blog, but it’s not working as well as it could. These 9 successful blog tips work together to get the best marketing bang out of your blogging buck, so it’s worth spending some time refining them.
Which tip would be most difficult for you to implement? Get in touch with our team of digital marketing experts to discuss your blogging challenges and how we could help.