So you’ve started yourself a blog. Awesome!
The hard part’s over, right?
The first step is the toughest? Well, not quite.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of you for taking that first step, but you’ve got a LONG way to go before you become a media kingpin.
You could have the most engaging content this side of the world-wide web, but if you’re not marketing yourself correctly, you’re not going to have the audience to go with it.
There’s nothing worse than creating a well-researched, informative and entertaining blog post, only for it to disappear into the cyber-ether, unloved, unread, and unshared.
But with these 7 steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a blog that resonates and brings the traffic that your web page deserves.
1. Choose a Niche
The first step in blog world domination is picking a niche. A niche is a particular area of interest that you will specialize in.
Examples of niches include fashion, food, travel, fitness, parenting, etc.
Hopefully, if you choose wisely (and I’m certain you will), people will come to your site for the authority that you have on the subject.
What do I mean by authority? It means that you have a high-quality website that is respected by industry peers. Your content is so awesome that people happily share it. But most importantly, people know that your content is content they can trust.
But what if you can’t figure out what to write about?
Here’s the deal – you can be someone who talks about a little of this, and a little of that. That would be a lifestyle writer. But it’s very hard to do that starting out – though not impossible.
I strongly urge you to focus on one niche. And then as you grow your brand, you can expand into other areas.
For now, write down three things that you absolutely LOVE to talk about. It’s important that you’re passionate about whatever it is you’re talking about because you’re going to have to come up with content over and over.
The last thing you want is to get bored with your blog because that’s when you lose focus and stop giving your blog the attention it needs.
Your other option is to talk about a topic that you know about really well. Ideally, you should choose a niche that you both know and love. Score!
Once you have your three niches, begin to create a list of possible topics to write about. Whatever list is the longest, that is probably your golden blog idea.
Now, what if the niche is a saturated market? Don’t think about how many people are already discussing your niche. Think about how you can make it better.
What is your unique slant on a niche?
Let’s say your topic is fashion. How can we narrow this down or make it unique? Consider school fashion – fashion for teens – etc. I think you get the idea.
Your goal should always be to put your own unique slant on the industry you’re going to specialize in. You want to improve it and make it better.
Now that you’ve got your niche, let’s discuss how to make it awesome.
2. Create Awesome Content Consistently
Consistency is one of the keys especially you’re just starting.
You could have the best content in the world, but if you post only once every 4 months, you’re really going to struggle with garnering that loyal legion of fans.
By releasing amazing, personal & conversational content regularly – a blog post every Tuesday morning, for instance – your audience know what to expect and when to expect it.
Remember, you’re still at the stage where you’re building a name for yourself so you need to show up at a regular rate. This is the way to get your audience get familiarized with you and draw more interest in your blog.
Here’s a useful post to help you generate blog topics ideas.
Keep in mind when the best time to post is too. Dropping something you’ve been slaving away on at 3am before finally crashing out isn’t going to cut it.
According to Coschedule, the best publishing day is Monday at 11 am EST, but have a play around to determine what works best for your specific audience.
Ingredients for Creating Quality Content:
- Use attention-grabbing headlines. Use popular search terms such as “How To ____”, “What Is ___”, “Why ___”. Use catchy adjectives while keeping your headline simple, short and focused.
- Make it easy to read. Posts without breaks in the content are painful to read, and you wouldn’t want your visitors to leave because of that. Divide your content by using sub headings, lists, readable fonts, visual aids and by keeping your paragraphs short.
- Speak like your target audience does. Write in the same language your target audience use and be consistent with it.
- Be useful. Be sure to use relevant and up-to-date examples, facts, and proofs. And oh, don’t forget to cite references/sources.
- Write in a conversational tone. Don’t just throw in a bunch of information, be personal. Write as if you’re talking to a close friend. This will help your blog more relatable and engaging.
Make your posts social media friendly. Add social sharing buttons somewhere visible within your content (it could be on the left side or top/bottom of your content), add a “click to tweet” button whenever appropriate, create pinnable image for each of your blog posts. Here’s an example:
- Create different type of posts. Spice up your blog by diversifying the type of posts you publish. You can write How-To tutorials, case studies, roundups, reports, cheat sheets (or checklist), videos, reviews, favorites, giveaways, etc. Plus ,this way you’ll be able to track which type of content performs better.
- Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization for the uninitiated, is essential if you want to get ahead of the competition. It makes you findable.
After all, there are thousands of other blogs that you’re up, so you’ll need to make yourself stand out.
The best way to do that? Be at the top of a Google search. Here’s an example of how I show up in the top of the search result using the keyword “catchy:
By making use of keywords throughout your post, SEO makes yourself known to search engines. It alerts them of your intentions and adds you to relevant searches.
It can be pretty daunting for a first-timer. You don’t want to overwhelm your reader with keywords to the point that the text becomes nonsense or unreadable.
It’s all about being as covert as possible, inserting it into the blog post when necessary. You don’t want to detract from what you’re saying. Also, no off-handed tactics; let’s keep it above-board!
Quick SEO Tips:
- Keep creating relevant content and fill it with relevant keywords (be sure the keywords flow naturally within the content)
- Use unique and relevant page titles
- Complete your sentences with good spelling and grammar
- Write a unique description (with some keywords) on your images’ ALT tag
- Add relevant links and references. These could be your older articles or relevant articles from other credible websites.
- Promote your content. Get backlinks (people linking to your site) by sharing your content around. Remember, the more quality backlinks you get, the better chance of getting high search rankings. Here’s an awesome guide on how to earn backlinks.
- Avoid black hat strategies: duplicate content, invisible text, stuffed keywords, links from sites that are not relevant to your niche.
3. Have a Strong Social Media Game
Social media is HUGE, and if you want to get ahead, you’ll have to take advantage of it. There’s a massive audience out there just waiting to find something worthy of sharing, and your blog could be exactly what appeals to them.
But how will they know if they don’t know it exists?
By making yourself accessible on all major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – and being an active member of the community, you’ve opened yourself up to thousands upon thousands of readers.
If they find something particularly share-worthy, your content has the potential to snowball into an avalanche of new and engaged readers. Catchy titles and punchy content is the key to shareable media and is a good way to build a following. Here’s a good example:
Each platform has different rules, however, and you should make each of your outlets unique. No posting the same stuff on your Facebook as your Twitter, guys!
Also, installing social widgets onto your site is essential too, as it’ll streamline the process for your audience and let them know how much you mean business. Use SumoMe to install social sharing buttons to your site, and Add This to install “Follow Me” buttons to your site.
4. Guest Post
Is there another blog site that you look up to? One that you hold as a benchmark and an inspiration? Tell them.
Let them know how you feel, and express interest in writing a post for them. If they like your work, odds are they’ll take you up on the offer.
Broaden your blog’s reach and gain followers that share your views and passions.
After all, where better to guest post than at a site you yourself are a fan of? You already know about the audience they attract and how best to appeal to them. You’re one of them.
Writing guest posts helps build your portfolio and credibility.
By guest posting to someone else’s website, you not only show that you can throw yourself in at the deep end and cater to a completely new audience, but you show that you can be trusted by other people in your niche (especially if the website you’re blogging for is very well-known in your industry).
What may start as the odd guest post may flourish into something more, and from there, your own blog will go from strength to strength as you make a name for yourself in your industry.
Not only that but get others to guest post for you! Turn the tables and bring other bloggers into your world.
Guest Posting Tips:
- Step 1: Find high-quality blogs that accept guest posts. Be sure they are relevant to your niche. You may use the Google search to find relevant blogs, type “your keyword guest post or “your keyword write for us”. Buzzsumo can also help you find great blogs. Just enter a topic, then voila!
- Step 2: Write a personalized pitch. Don’t start with “Dear Webmaster…” or you’ll just waste your time. Start with the recipient’s name, be sure to follow their guest posting rules, give examples of your earlier writings + topic ideas.
- Step 3: If you don’t hear back after a few days, you can send them a follow-up email to let them know that you really want to contribute (unless it’s in their rules that they do not want repeat emails)
For a more definitive guide to guest posting, click here for an awesome article that can help you get accepted on high-quality blogs.
5. Build Connections
You need friends and lots of ‘em! Make sure you connect with other bloggers – be that through guest posting (which you’re DEFINITELY going to do, remember?) or sharing and promoting their content as well as your own.
By doing so, they’ll be sure to return the favor; just don’t forget to tag/mention them.
More Ways to Build Connections in Your Niche:
- Leave meaningful comment on other blogs
- Respond to your comments on your blog
- Follow and engage with relevant people on social media
- Interview and create blog posts about them
- Join and engage in relevant groups/communities (could be on social media, forums, etc.)
- Link other people’s blog post onto your posts whenever relevant, then let them know
- Find and participate in relevant Twitter chats
- Answer questions on relevant Q & A websites
Be sure to welcome any feedback that happens to be thrown your way, as taking on board constructive criticism is a sure-fire way to improving and growing as a blog.
PRO TIP: Add a link to your blog in your email signature. You’re building connections, which means you’ll email a lot of people, so you might as well add your blog link in your email signature to make your email even more personalized.
6. Join Blogger Communities
There’s more to blogging than writing. Way after you click the ‘post’ button, there’s so much more you can do.
The blogging community is thriving, and full of characters. By immersing yourself in their world, and becoming one of them, you’re already head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
The amount of conferences that can be attended is staggering, and there’s no better way to get your name out there.
Promote your brand, present to an audience, and use your business cards to turn some heads. Get involved in online events like Twitter chats too.
How about finding another blogger whose work you enjoy, and continuing the public conversation in the comments? By being plugged into other bloggers around you, your audience is going to start taking you seriously, as will your peers.
7. Grow Your Email List
Don’t forget to set up a mailing list that your fans can sign up for, notifying them when you’ve dropped a hot new post. This is also vital to helping grow your online presence. Each email should end with a link to your blog to make it nice and easy for your subscribers.
Quick Tips for Generating Subscribers
- Make your opt-in pop. Use an attention-grabbing design & catchy headlines.
- Make it easy to sign up. Avoid requesting too much information, two would be enough (name & email).
- Put your opt-in in multiple places. Some ideas you can place your opt-in: your homepage, after your blog posts, popup, about page, top bar, footer, registration, comment box, email signature. The more exposure = more subscribers.
- Offer incentive. Offer something that your target audience will love in exchange of your audience’s email (such as discount code, eBook, checklist, cheat sheet, etc.)
Pauline Cabrera is passionate about helping bloggers succeed. You can find her at KBlogging.com, where she can teach you how to drive traffic + make more money blogging.