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Success: What Bloggers Must Do

Anyone who frequents Dear Blogger knows I try to keep the focus of my blog posts niche narrow. Specific ways to master weird facets of blogging, like upsells or G+.

But every now and then I’ll come out with a piece of cornerstone content that seems to cover it all.

This post would definitely fall into that category…

Note: Don’t leave without dropping off your quick comment. See below.

The story behind the post

Here’s a quick story that sort of explains my inspiration for writing this post. Won’t be offended if you skip it ;) though it may help and entertain you…

The dinner conversation had gotten dangerously boring.

Totally immersed in my 007 sushi roll I barely even heard my date bring up my favorite conversation topic, #blogtalk.

“I don’t get blogging…” my date said.

Nom nom sushi nom sushi.

“Why do people even bother to blog?” my date asked, a bit louder.

What, how does she know I blog?

I stopped and sort of chuckled, while mentally preparing my short speech. This should be easy.

But she stopped me, “I absolutely hate it.”

“Um, you hate…blogging?” I responded, almost hurt and definitely confused.

She said that at work she had to blog on behalf of her boss in his plans to “dominate social media.” She literally spent much of hey work day regurgitating her boss’ demented ideas on golf and Mitt Romney into cyberspace.

And she said that no one read the blog!

It was forced blogging and it sounded absolutely awful. Criminal almost.

I chuckled (sadly this time) as I pondered her “blog”.

I’ve always believed the best blogging covers our passions but this made me wonder what other types of blogging people are doing.

Blogging for businesses? Ghost-blogging? Forced-blogging? What the heck!?

Needless to say I held off on my speech.

We finished our wine and walked off into the snowy night.

Failure is a big reality

According to one source, 95% of blogs fail.

Either the marketing is off or the content stinks. No coherence, no social proof and no traction.

The sad thing is this: People assume blogging is productive and don’t look much further into it. They think publishing steady content guarantees steady growth and that people, some form of weird, nameless online people, are just reading.

That is usually quite far from the truth.

Blogs fail by default. They stumbled into the blogosphere, make a few cries for attention, then end up in an online graveyard with countless others. If you can’t connect with a target audience (most never do) you’ll almost surely die out.

Failure is big reality.

…But, hope exists.

If your mindset is right and your passions great, you can make it. Even ProBlogger was brand new at one point. Even Obama had to give his first speech somewhere, probably to a mere handful of people.

Even Chipotle struggled in it’s first months due to stiff resistance from Taco Bell. Now who sells more burritos?

Now I’m no master. Far from it. Even “expert” would be a stretch.

But I have marketed, grown, and otherwise hustled a few blogs into lovely existence and have come to love this “job” a tad more each day. So, if for nothing more than my own usage, I’ve written this list of “ways to make it in blogging”.

You may want to hit bookmark and save this for future reference.

How to be a success (readers, growth, and everything else we dream of)

“A fool with a plan often beats the brilliant man without a plan.” – Mark Twain

1) Have a plan

Does blogging ever seem impossible? A plan of immediate and long term to-dos like “increase my PageRank to PR3″ or “get published on 3 blogs” or “write 2 posts by Friday” will turn blogging from an open-ended do-it-whenever task to a conquerable activity.

2) Start building your network immediately

Trying to become a star on your own? Blogging is a LOT about relationship building and you need a network of bloggers at or around your level who appreciate your work and will share it. They’ll make your blog feel popular when it’s not and make publishing posts a lot more fun.

3) Get on WordPress.org

Do you blog on the best platform? The blogging world is becoming increasingly WordPress dominated and you’d be wise to upgrade. Joining WordPress is the best step a blogger can make to take their work to the next level.

Further reading at Dear Blogger:

  1. Manual Guide to Setting Up Self-Hosted WordPress
  2. The Popular Guide to Blogging

4) Hold off on the monetization

Enjoy being disappointed every day? Me neither, but you almost surely will be disappointed if you monetize your blog too soon without ample traffic and stand alone content. Wait at least 6 months.

Further reading at Dear Blogger:

  1. My Secrets to Money Blogging
  2. How I Blog for Money

Further reading at ProBlogger:

  1. Why Your Blog Won’t Make You Rich
  2. How to Monetize without Selling Out

5) Practice basic Search Engine Optimization

Do stats make you cringe? Even if you hate numbers you owe it to yourself to at the bare minimum setup Google Analytics and get a WordPress sitemap generator.

Resources:

  1. Get Google Analytics
  2. Get a WordPress XML Sitemap Generator

Further reading at Dear Blogger: How I Got PR 3 in 3 Months

Further reading at ProBlogger: The Only SEO Your Blog Posts Need

6) Adopt the 80/20 rule early on

Struggling with blog promotion? The 80/20 rule for new bloggers states you must spent at least 80% of your time off the blog doing things like marketing and guest posting and a maximum of 20% of your time (initially) on your blog.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: Why Blogs Fail to Get Traffic

7) Design a powerful about me

Do your readers even know you? Most about me’s are boring but make a good one and readers will really enjoy your work and connect with you on a greater level.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: Create Everlasting About Me Pages

8) Crave more comments

Like feeling popular? Humans are often followers by nature but a good comment count will signal more people to join in.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: On Comments, The Golden Age, and a New Social Media

9) Find 2-3 inspirational blogging idols

What sites do you just love? You can’t possibly learn everything about blogging on your own so find 2-3 irresistible blogs and add them to your daily feeds and emails.

May I suggest: Check out the Dear Blogger email club

10) Get a premium theme with a good forum

Does your blog look boring? A premium theme gives you easily customizable CSS, robust SEO features, a cool layout, and hopefully even a forum with people paid to help you succeed at blogging.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: The Truth about Premium Themes

11) Have a friend test your blog

Think everyone loves your design? Your blog might look like a “10″ to you but to us it could be a confusing, cluttered, 5.5 of a mess and one friend (who at least knows how to read blogs) can be really helpful to tell you what’s going wrong.

12) Social proof not social media

Still only have a handful of fans? We all want 100,000 Facebook and Twitter fans, but for many of us that’ll never ever happen. However, social proof can be just as effective as social media for building a following. Prominent quotes, strong comment counts, and any other sign of blog popularity works great.

13) Make a niche specific landing page

Are your offers clear enough? If people don’t know what they stand to gain at your blog they’ll probably say adios you can say hello. A concise, hard-selling landing page is the solution.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: The Landing Page Strategy I Should Have Sold

14) Write when confident

Do you force yourself to write? Confidence is often a roller coaster but if you write at the peak of it you’ll produce much better results than when writing at those low moments we all experience at times.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: The 7 Facets of Confident Writing

15) Write really, really good titles

Are your titles bland? Good post, bad title. See it all the time. Bad post, great title? See that one too, often times on the really successful blogs like DeadSpin and Huffington Post. Make sure your titles aren’t selling you short.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: How to Craft Clickable Post Titles

16) Make the blog legible and simple

Could I navigate your blog? Before you really develop your content it’s worth it to make sure things like page tabs and font are clear enough so readers don’t get scared off.

17) Pay attention to bounce rate

Are visitors leaving too soon? High bounce rate means people leave right away before they can even find your awesome content. Good thing the smallest tweaks can fix this problem.

Further reading at Dear Blogger: Is Bounce Rate Ruining Your Efforts?

18) Define your target audience

Who are you blogging for? Your target audience is people who love your messages and say yes to your offers. Defining and keeping them will allow your blog to prosper even through really tough times.

19) Unify your message

Not sure about your marketing strategy? A simple fix is to make your messages on Twitter, Facebook, G+ and email really consistent. This will allow people to get used to you and solidify YOU as a brand.

Resources: Get a Gravatar here

20) Go further; do more than the next guy

Feeling deflated? I’m going to leave you with this article at Social Triggers. Realize it may take a bit of fighting, sweat, and tears to get your blog off the ground and a lot of success comes from your willingness to push harder.

Will this work for you?

Of course this stuff will work. I wouldn’t put it here if I didn’t truly believe this would help you be a success in blogging.

That said, it’s not that straightforward. There exists no single blogging success blueprint despite what countless other bloggers will tell you.

It just doesn’t exist.

Your success, instead, comes from how you apply information like the above in a unique way that compliments your own strengths.

It’s all about your own voice and your own ideas. So get to it. Work at it. Try out each of the above methods and let us know what works best.

A twist on comments

As you probably know I often ask readers to comment on whatever is on your mind. This time though let’s do it different, please post the number of your favorite list item above.

Then I’ll tally them up and see where we should spend the most time focusing on. Thanks guys, hope you enjoyed this edition of cornerstone content and as usual look forward to hearing from you.



Good news to the community! We've helped you successfully setup so many WordPress blogs that we can now offer an improved discount. Read more about the new Dear Blogger hosting plan discounts and learn how to make a WordPress self-hosted blog. Love, peace, and blogging to all in 2014.



Filed in: blog conversions, blog networking, blog traffic, writing style | disclaimer | | Twitter | comments are closed on this post
45 comments, add some wisdom...


  1. samantha says:

    Nice list. I’m not sure whether I’m moving in the right direction because just like what you’ve said, everybody is using wordpress except for me. I’ve decided to choose a different platform as I think jimdo is also easy to understand especially for a newbie like myself. I hope that doesn’t have any negative implication. Your comment? Also can you please elaborate on the monetization part? Don’t quite understand on the 6 months time period. Thanks

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Hey Samantha.

      Don’t know much about Jimbo. But in terms of benefits: WordPress’s community is tremendous. Lots of free resources for SEO, design, and traffic. If Jimbo has the same going for them then by all means, hope it works well.

      If you think everybody is using WordPress then…could be a good decision.

      6 months is basically a nice window to build content and authority necessary to successfully monetize. But I figure folks won’t listen to me and will begin this after about 2 :)

      Other questions?

  2. Nirmala says:

    Great post! In the blogosphere hope it is called “Killer post”!

    Am a newbie blogger and will have these success tips in mind to do better blogging. The tips are clear n precise! Thanks for writing and sharing.

    Can you have a look at my blog and give me suggestions?

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Looks really good Nirmala, I like your homepage layout and looks like you’re creating good social traction.

      Suggestion – you should create a logo

      Also, what are fundas?

  3. Saskia Koch says:

    Well … now I want to eat sushi and in my hometown is no sushi restaurant. Thanks for that :/

    No, just kidding. Again an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      My bad Saskia :) Come to nyc they are dime-a-dozen.

      Which point above did you like n’ why? Glad this helped.

      • Saskia Koch says:

        Oh well, if you buy me a ticket then gladly :P Oh they helped me all :D No but to be more precise: I like the tip about the “about me” page. I never realized that it is important for readers to connect with the person who writes there. Also the thing about wordpress and joining the community. I had blogs and websites before my current one, I never took this “creating a network” so seriously though. So that one is kind of a biggie for me. In generall its a really eyeopening post about the dos and donts (like, don’t try to chase after money immediately). So thank you :) Have a nice weekend!

        • Saskia Koch says:

          Ah … well this happens when you don’t read intently. So here are the numbers I like the most ;) 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8

          • Greg Narayan says:

            Haha, you’re totally cracking me up Saskia. Ok, tallied your numbers.

            Yes, make that about page really speak! :)

  4. This really very informative and useful post. I also like your points especially 3,11, 13. they are nice :)

    • Greg Narayan says:

      11 all the way Rahul! Having a friend test out the blog is so VALUABLE.

      Thanks, tallied em up.

  5. Ayatollah Buggerie says:

    I found you through thomas morffew http://bit.ly/Znic8U on G+. Used to be in his circle there but am only reading him publicly now – have fallen off the social media bandwagon. Btw, great article.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Great to see ya here Ayatollah.

      Why what happened? No more SM?

      Thomas and I recently became buds, he really owned me on G+, but I humbled up and learned my lesson.

      • Ayatollah Buggerie says:

        Nothing Greg – just a little SM lethargy. Great that you are his bud now. He was my guru when I was still banging my heads trying to sort out the G+ ecosystem. I remembered he was on my A-list circle. Anyway have fun there!
        Your list – I gravitate towards 1,2,15 and 16.

        P.S. Check out +Max Huijgen http://bit.ly/YkUS4U at G+. Thought provoking posts and rapid fire comments from his circle.

        • Greg Narayan says:

          Will do. I’m honestly pretty new to the process but it’s only going to help (content authority…) to be involved.

          A-List? Like best of the best?

          Tallied your numbers, thanks.

  6. Yusof Ihsan says:

    Hey Greg,
    My favorite ll be what you mentioned before the list – passion.
    Blogging is a long war, only by blogging topics that cover our passion, our blogger’s life can be longer and happier. And a lot simpler to win. Seems like we hv a same belief. (;

    In the list, it’ll be 1, 2, and 16.
    Bookmarked. Brief but full of valuable ideas. I learned something.

    Thanks Greg, keep up the great works!

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Really inspiring comment Yusof.

      I love #2 also, having a network makes every aspect of blogging more fun!

      Do you really think we can “win” at blogging? Maybe we’re winning every day by writing about our passions?

  7. Abdul Rauf says:

    14, 17, 20 and point about premium theme and WP.org were superb! But I’m lying truly. Actually, I loved all the points, Greg. I have bookmarked it for later use. I also loved your story in start. That was nice fun infact. Thanks for super content. I need this.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Getting a premium theme was top 3 most important moments in my blogging Abdul. It really helped me learn PHP and get hands on with WordPress. Not hard at all either, but fun!

      I’m a huge supporter of writing when confident :)

      Your comments are always a treasure around here.

  8. Alexander says:

    Excellent article. I really needed this.

  9. Yeremi Akpan says:

    Its number 18 for me! When you don’t have a target audience, everyone is a target. That affects your coherence…

    I love your posts, Greg!

  10. Akos Fintor says:

    Hey Greg,

    Powerful tips, kind of reminds me of Gary Vaynerchuck’s book titled “Crush It!”

    It think it’s important to enjoy the blogging journey, so blogging is not just a means to an end.

    cheers

    Akos Fintor

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Wise Akos, wise words.

      Enjoy the journey and the money will come…

      Yeah me and Gary go way back ;)

  11. Anthony Morgan says:

    1, 9 and 15. Writing a great title is a lot harder (and arguably more important) than writing a great article.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Oh my god is it ever Anthony.

      Sometimes I step back for a day then the title comes to me.

      How do you scheme up good titles?

      (and thanks for the numbers!)

      • Anthony Morgan says:

        No problem, and thanks. I’m still not sure I’ve cracked the art of writing good titles, though.
        I try to make sure they’re short and contain the relevant keywords, which is hard enough. Given that most of my articles are about printers, making them snappy and interesting as well feels near-impossible.
        My most successful article to date was about the rise of inkjet printers as business machines and was called “Inkjet is the New Laser. It’s one one the few titles I’m actually happy with.

  12. Ehsan says:

    11 of course. Now be my friend and tell me about the design of my blog and would love you letting me know about what’s going wrong there.

  13. Romy Singh says:

    Hello Greg,

    Success. A Short word, but it breaks us apart, to really get our name attached to it.

    Quite interesting plan to achieve success, but having a plan and putting it into action are 2 different things. Many bloggers falls because they don’t take their blogging plan seriously and think that working with half heart will make them successful.

    For me the most interesting points 16, 19, and 20. :) Thanks fot the share.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Hey Romy,

      Seems like you really value simplicity like me?

      Tallied your results. Yes! Action, action, action!

  14. Rebe says:

    5, 15, and 17. And to echo McLean above: second date?

  15. 6 and 20. Most importantly, will there be a second date?

    • Greg Narayan says:

      Great question. Already was, though we talked football rivalries and ate mac n cheese instead. Better combination?

      6 might be my fav too.

  16. Arfa says:

    12 and 14. Interest and knowledge gives you confidence. But if you have created a blog on some profitable niche (and you don’t have interest in it) then, perhaps, your blog will fail.

  17. 8, 13 and 17! Please and thank you! :)

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