Blogs are a lot like diets – a lot of people are doing them, a lot of people are doing them wrong, a lot of people do them too inconsistently, and a lot of people are unhappy with the results they see from them.
Seriously – I should be one to know, I’ve failed at both of them miserably multiple times.
But unlike diets, blogs are quickly fixable through some consistent, persistent and obsessive actions.
And now that I’ve been blogging consistently for a couple of years on Tumblr, written hundreds of pieces on this domain, ghost written blogs for millionaire business owners like this one, and written thousands of articles while I was in the newspaper industry, I have a bit of skin in the game – and I have some words of wisdom to pass on to those looking to start, improve and keep their blog…and eventually dominate their niche.
STARTING YOUR BLOG
Starting is not too difficult.
This section ignores items like getting a domain, hosting, picking a blog name, selecting an attractive blog theme, etc.
1) Establish Your Motive
The first question people often ask themselves is, “What should I blog about?“A lot of pundits & ‘experts’ will tell you to simply follow your passion – this is somewhat right.
The first question (I think) you should ask yourself should be, “What do I want out of my blog?“
Establishing your motive for creating your blog is the most important step because if you just want to keep an online journal of your daily life and unique passions as an item to check off of your bucket list, then you can probably stop reading my blog here.
I’m not knocking those who keep a blog merely for personal reasons, but if you’re like 90% of other bloggers out there, you’re blogging because you want gain exposure, build authority, rank in search engines, establish a brand, and become a voice in an industry.
So, what’s your motive?
Personal or professional?
Hobby or monetization?
2) Determine Your Niche
If you’ve read to this step, I’m assuming you’re not merely keeping a blog as an online diary but are looking to dominate a space. Good – now it’s time to determine your niche.
Don’t know what your brand or niche might be? Ask yourself 2 questions: “What am I good at? What am I passionate about?”
These two answers will most likely be different, so you will have to choose which one to focus on for your particular blog.
You want a very specific niche so that your brand and online identity are very clear.
Your goal should be to tell people, “My blog is the place to go to for __________________.”
3) Start Tapping Away
Once you’ve determined your niche, it’s time to put your fingers on the keyboard.
Blog. Just do it. Your first blogs aren’t going to be perfect nor are they going to get 100,000 hits nor are you going to know exactly what you’re doing – but the process is emergent. Trust the process & get some content up.
4) Make A Content Calendar
Some people are able to find success blogging whenever the mood strikes them, but if you’re like me, you need a plan. You need direction.
Creating a content calendar is a great way to hold yourself accountable, plan ahead, and get a big-picture view for the course you want your blog to take.
If you’re merely writing one-off blogs with no overarching goal or vision in mind, it’s easy to get caught in the rat race.
But if you create a content calendar, you can take a broad view at your work and strive toward bigger goals.
A good general content calendar for starters is to blog 2-to-3 times per week. If you can do this consistently for 6 months, after half a year, you will have 50+ blogs and have a good online footprint going.
IMPROVING YOUR BLOG
This is the longest section because it’s the most important.
Continuous improvement is critical to the long-term success of your blog.
1) SEO The Shit Out Of Your Content
Use very specific sales-type copy and keywords in your metadescriptions.
Like I mentioned in point number 9 in my blog here, you can customize the message on every single headline & description for all blogs you write.
Most search engines will use a maximum of 160 characters for your post description on their results pages. If you don’t create a meta-description, a search engine will often take the first 160 characters it finds on your page instead.
A tool I use is a free plugin called Yoast. Once you install it, a new box will appear under your blog posts where you can edit the meta descriptions of your pages and blogs.
I use this plug in to highlight specific keywords and maximize the SEO potential of my post – you should do the same.
Once your content is up, you not only want it to be found through marketing you do toward it (through email marketing, social media, or paid advertising), but also through organic searches.
1A) Traffic Hack To Create Better Key Words
— Juan V Lopez (@JuanVLopez) February 18, 2015
2) Focus On Sharing As Much As Creation
A bad tip new bloggers often get is to simply create more & more & more & more content.
“If I keep writing, eventually they’ll have to read!”
Yes, creating more content is great, but you should be more focused on sharing this content & getting it in people’s eyes. You can do this by using very specific keywords in your blog tags, as well as tagging experts in your field when you post a blog link.
Many bloggers will link back to their blog just once or twice after posting, it, but instead of doing this, do it consistently for the span of a few weeks & months & years – just use different phrasing every time you do it.
You don’t always have to link back to new content – just use new phrasing every time you do it.
3) Diversify Your Content
A good blog should not just be you orating to your readers. Mix it up with content like:
• How’s To’s
• Cheat Sheets
• Guest posts
4) Increase Your Exposure
Once you’ve created content, the most important thing is driving traffic to it.
You can do this through:
• Email Marketing – If you have a list of email subscribers, mail your new content to them via a weekly/monthly newsletter.
• Social Media Marketing – Share each new blog post across your social media networks, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. Use appropriate hashtags. Spend time cultivating your networks – social media sites can become some of your top traffic sources.
• Paid Media – Drive paid advertising to your blog. If you’re doing this, you’re usually implementing a native advertising format. You don’t want to merely pay for people to see your blog – you want to pay for people to see your blog that offers them a free opt in on the page that starts them off into your sales funnel.
• Create More Content – Google gives higher priority to websites with fresh content, so if you want to get more attention from the search engines, update your blog at least twice a week.
• Share Other People’s Content –This one may sound odd, but when you share other people’s content, they’re compelled to say thanks, check out your online profile and check out your stuff. Digital media is all about reciprocity, so pay it forward by sharing other content and watch as your online networks grow.
• Comment On Other Blogs – This has the same strategy behind it as sharing other people’s content – when you comment on other people’s blogs, you start a cycle of reciprocity. They will check out your blogs, check out your website, etc.
• Guest Blog On Other Blogs – Reach out to blogs who have a similar niche as you and explore any possible opportunities for guest blogging on their site. The readers of their site will be on your content and inevitable look at your website.
5) Diversify Your Voices
Getting people to guest post on your blog is a tremendous way of increasing your readership because the guest blogger will ultimately drive traffic to their blog on your site.
Plus, it helps to have different writing and content-creation styles on your website, just to diversify it for the reader.
6) Increase Your Activity Level
I’ll be frank – a lot of blogs fail because the blogger behind it is lazy.
They don’t blog consistently enough, they don’t market it enough, they don’t diversify their content enough, they don’t measure their results – they’re happy having their name online and make excuses as to why their little blog can’t make it up their with the big boys.
Instead of increasing your excuses, increase your activity level.
Do more. Challenge yourself. Push your blog. Don’t be OK with having an average brand.
7) Write Better Headlines
Use specific keywords in your content headlines for max performance & to create organic virality.
After all, you can write the best blog in the world, but if your headline sucks, your blog is worthless.
— Juan V Lopez (@JuanVLopez) February 17, 2015
PS: Headlines that are worded negatively get much more reads than positive reinforcing words. For example, “What a blogger should NEVER do” would get much more traffic than “What a blogger should ALWAYS do.” People always want to find out if what they’re doing is wrong first.
8) Create Value
Once you’ve determined your niche and have started to put pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard in this case), it’s vital to create valuable content.
Nothing will replace value.
Is your content worth reading? Would you take time to read your content? How is your content helping? How is your content different from others in your niche?
8a) Create Value By Being An Expert
You don’t have to be THE expert, you just have to be AN expert.
People’s psychology when reading is they either want to learn something from an ‘expert,’ or they want to read an ‘expert’ opinion and disagree with it. Either way, they want to read from an ‘expert.’
Position yourself as a highly knowledgeable person in your field, speak with authority, use short/punctual statements & make your point quickly.
9) Set Metrics
What’s the bar for your blog to be successful?
How many new subscribers do you want per week? How many unique hits? What ‘time on page’ do you want to shoot for? What’s the ‘exit rate’ you want? How much revenue do you want to bring in via your content?
Establish measurables to gauge your progress and returns on your time & money.
10) Set HUGE Goals
A lot of people will tell you to set realistic goals – not only in your blog, but all throughout life.
This is not only the fastest step toward mediocrity but it’s also the fastest way toward failure.
Because a lot of times when we set our ‘realistic’ goals, we underestimate the work it will take to achieve these realistic goals – so we underachieve.
However, if you set tremendous, broad and gigantic goals, you will be forced to also overestimate the work it takes to get there – so you’re work ethic and commitment to your blog will expand exponentially.
KEEPING YOUR BLOG
A wise teacher once told me, “It’s easy to get an ‘A’ – it’s much more difficult to keep it.
By far, the most difficult part of blogging is doing it consistently. It’s easy to blog for a while, see some results and then let it go … and then jump back on … and then let it go …
Consistency is key. It’s easy to blog well for a couple weeks or months, but it takes a lot to become a reliable source your audience can come to for valuable content in your specific brand.
1) Do It ‘Til It Becomes A Habit
Your ultimate goal should be blog so much that it becomes a habit. You can’t go a 2 days without creating something new, SEO’ing the crap out of it, marketing it out and seeing results.
A good way to hold yourself accountable is through a content calendar and also trigger-based actions.
By ‘trigger-based actions,’ I mean to connect your action of writing a blog with a trigger of an action you already do regularly in your life.
For example, make your trigger be every time you exercise. So, every time you exercise (trigger), you will blog afterward (action). It will be difficult to build this positive habit at first, but it will become natural after a while, since you are already exercising regularly.
2) Aggregate Content
A lot of blogs fail because people think they have to come up with something original every single time they write. This is hard – coming up with something original on a consistent basis is difficult.
However, there’s already a ton of great content out there.
If you simply Google some of the content you’re specifically looking for and create an informative list or cool infographic from this, this can be tremendous content.
People appreciate bloggers who serve as gatherers of information that’s already out there. Being a gatherer & presenting something in a way it hasn’t been showcased before is a huge service.
Places like Mashable & Buzzfeed have created HUGE content sites simply by serving as aggregators of content.
The top sites in the world right now are aggregators. Few of the top sites still create original content. They aggregate. #TCS2015
— Juan V Lopez (@JuanVLopez) February 17, 2015
3) Track Analytics
Another one of the biggest reasons people stop blogging is because they don’t see results.
They don’t get readers, they don’t see their network increasing, they don’t see monetary gains – it doesn’t pay off.
But it will only pay off if you track your returns over long periods of time.
Install Google Analytics early on to your site to track visitors.
Look at them over a monthly basis to identify trends – what are the key words people are searching to find you, where are people coming to your website from, how long are people staying on your website, what are the demographics of your readers…information like this will help you optimize your future content and create it for your perfect audience.
4) Collect Leads/Place Pixels
A primary feature on your website should be a platform for you to collect leads – you need to be able to capitalize on the traffic you receive.
Add an email opt-in box in a few places on your website to capture leads.
A next level to collecting leads is installing tracking pixels on your website to track visitors and slap a cookie on everyone who visits your pages.
Once you’ve pixeled a few thousand users, you can create re-targeting advertising to them for your products and offers.
Your ultimate goal should be to dominate your brand and be the person others think about when they are searching for items in your industry.
Between Tumblr & WordPress, more than 250,000,000 blogs currently exist.
Reading numbers like these are overwhelming, but like sales expert Grant Cardone says in his latest book, The 10X Rule, “Stop being a little bitch!”
I say this lovingly, of course.
Seriously though, you cannot approach blogging by looking up at the skyscrapers from your 200-square-foot studio. You’ll be overwhelmed, feel insignificant and quit before you make a dent in the blogosphere.
Instead, approach every blog & every piece of content you create with the mindset of domination.
Ask yourself, “How can I not just replicate what’s already out there, but change the way things are done? What is something I can offer that no one else can? How can I set the pace instead of falling into the fallacy of competition?”
6) Have Fun With It!
You will not continually do something you are not having fun with.
Creating content for your brand should be a fun thing – if it’s not, you need to revisit step 1 all the way at the top of this page and re-establish your motives. Re-establish your ‘WHY’.
Enjoy it & love it – it’s such an amazing feeling to create ‘stuff’ that impacts people’s lives!
What has helped you keep your blog going strong? Let me know in the comments below!
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