How to have a successful blogHAVE A GREAT BLOG

OK, Captain Obvious. You know this, right? But, what does that mean exactly?

Keep your reader in mind

No matter the topic of your blog, solve your readers’ problem. Be helpful, entertaining, insightful or inspiring. Know who you want to attract and what they need from you. Use your experience, knowledge, humor or way of looking at the world as a way to keep readers coming back for more. Check out these tips for identifying your target reader.

Find your writing voice

Be authentic. Read lots of other blogs and find one that resonates with you. Note the cadence, sentence structure and language. I’m not suggesting you copy the style of a well-known blogger or world-renowned author. Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King write in unique styles. They are different, yet each has their own appeal. The best way to find your voice is to write a lot. Write the way you talk. Readers can spot a fake.

Make your blog visually appealing

Let’s face it. People are attracted to attractive things. Look at your blog from a readers’ point of view. Do YOU love looking at it? Use stock photography, infographics and other graphic elements in your posts to grab reader’s attention. If you haven’t updated the theme of your blog in years, consider a facelift. Invest in your blog and readers will invest in you.

Be consistent

Consistency is key for attracting and keeping a blog following. Whether that is everyday, once a week or the first Monday of the month, get on a schedule for readers to anticipate. Strong content delivered consistently will attract more readers than content delivered with a fire hose only to fizzle with the waning moon. Set goals for your blog. Create a content calendar and outline posts in advance to avoid the blank screen of indecision and mental paralysis.

GET THE WORD OUT

Integrate with social media

Make sure social share buttons are prominent on each post. Use Better Click to Tweet or similar plugin and encourage people to share your content with their followers. My shares increased dramatically once I began suggesting it to readers. A WordPress plugin, like Jetpack, will allow you to share your post automatically as you publish it. Make sure you customize the details of how it will appear by adding engaging teaser copy and hashtags.  Use a Pin It plugin on photos for easy sharing on Pinterest. Include excerpts in email with a link to the entire blog post to drive traffic to your site.

Interact with readers

Blogging is not a one-way street. It is a conversation with your readers and other bloggers. With that in mind, participate in groups or start a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. Strategically read, comment and follow other blogs. In your posts, link to other similar blogs. Reach out to the bloggers and let them know you mentioned them in your post. Be a giver. Be generous with praise and admiration (if genuine). Give your readers added value by connecting them with other resources that help solve their problem.

Make it easy for readers to comment, so people feel part of your community. Take down barriers to commenting by adjusting the discussion settings on your blog. Readers shouldn’t have to give up their first-born to say they liked your post. Use plugins, like CommentLuv, to allow commenters to share their blog with readers and incentivize commenting.

Invite guest bloggers to post on your site and be a guest blogger on other sites. It gives you and the other blogger access to each other’s readers and followers. It is a win for you, the other blogger and your readers. Look out for opportunities in your online groups or join a guest blogging community like MyBlogGuest.

Don’t keep it to yourself

Include a link to your blog on your business card, in your email signature and in social media profiles. Include a link in your book or ebook for more info and resources. If you haven’t written a book yet, consider using your blog content to deliver a comprehensive package to your readers. Once your book is written, link the blog to your Goodreads and Author Central profiles, as well. Click here if you want to know how to write a book.

Use Ads and Signup Features

With a small investment you can use Facebook and Google Ads to generate interest in your blog. If you have a Facebook Page (not a personal profile) you can boost a post for as little as $1 to drive traffic to your blog. It’s easy to use and even easier to experiment to find out what works best. Encourage people to subscribe using LeadPages, sidebar widgets, and pop-up on exit features on your blog.

Maximize your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Use links to cornerstone content or other posts on your blog. Get a handle on using categories and tags on each post for greatest discoverability. Use header tags (H1 and H2) for SEO and to help readers scan and digest the content quickly and easily. And, link to quality outside sources to boost your search ranking. It’s nice to know you can use other people’s success to your benefit.

Building a following won’t happen overnight. It takes a plan and consistent effort. If you aren’t an under-the-hood website guru, get help from a web designer to set up the many features available to generate blog traffic and follow the results.

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Let our readers know what works for you to build your blog. And, please, don’t hesitate to share this post with other bloggers!