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:
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:
Further reading at ProBlogger:
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.
♨ 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.