We’re living in the era of blogging. Truth is each one of us has stories to tell, interests to share, thoughts to communicate with others. We all carry the distinctive and unique lines of our life and love to spill them out on the ever-continuing page of the internet.
Keeping this in mind though it’s in no
way easy to maintain a popular blog with good content that (on top of it all!)
comes often enough for readers to decide to stick around. You may be hooked on
politics or economics; you may absolutely love fashion trends and wish to cover
the current spring model reviews or you may be a hopeless geek fallen for the
web design beauty - the struggle will be there for sure.
Having a blog, no matter if it’s a non-profit personal one or a business-driven website is a responsible thing to do. Even picking your blog's colors can be tough! And it’s very easy to go downhill even after an initial wondrous start if you don’t play by the rules and have the different aspects of successful blogging thought out.
Let’s get straight to the point and see at some important things you should do so your blog gets a fine chunk of attention.
Don’t fire in
all directions – find a niche and expand on it
It’s just like in the movies – the bad guys fire in all directions and don’t hit anything. The protagonist aims carefully and shoots only once, but does it right.
The internet is full of websites that expand on many fronts but don’t offer in-depth insight on any of them. Stand out from the rest by defining your passion and improving your knowledge of it. It’s good to be realistic throughout the process – there are smaller and bigger niches, so if yours is a small one, the exposure will be less. Smaller niches tend to have a strong, close-tied community though, and with growing internet users with each day passed you are sure to find yourself expanding – just a bit more slowly.
As for bigger niches – they may be
over-saturated with other websites and seem a hopeless realization field.
Instead of worrying, analyze your competition, see what it offers the
audience, and improve over it. People value quality and insight. If you provide
them these, you’ll be good to go.
regular content but be merciful to yourself
You’ll hear many people telling you that you have to post often in order to engage your audience. You’ll hear advice to never sacrifice quality over quantity too. Both of these are true, but let me add something of my own:
Post regularly enough but don’t strain
yourself too much. Match your own pace.
Different people have different pace. Don’t try to match up with others at all costs. Define a comfortable frequency for you and stick to it. If you strain yourself you may become nervous, feel pressured and deliver a less qualitative content. Not to mention that you won’t be having fun while writing on the thing you’re passionate about – a nightmare no one wants to see happening in his/her life.
Another thing to look out for is when
to post your content. Experts differ slightly on this topic, but the morning
hours of working days to seem the best bet for exposure. Blog analysts from
Kissmetrics have a terrific graph you’ll want to have a look at as to optimize
your blogging habits.
language of your niche & audience without sounding fake
Different niches have different slang. Words like “business angel”, “cha ching”, “joint venture” or “WFOE” are natural to the business blogger and a technological terra incognita for the blogger who’s into internet memes and popular culture.
Remember you have an audience and you
have to live up to the common dictionary you share with these people. Utilize
the specific terms whenever it’s needed, but don’t overdo it. You’re not
writing an academic essay, you’re giving insight into a specific topic. Don’t
fake it, it’s easy for forced writing to get exposed and if the case is such,
people will be easily put off. Be concise.
All in all, be genuine, think about the slang of your niche and expectations of your readers, and try to combine them in the best way possible. And while we’re on the topic of writing – be precise, use short sentences, watch out for the grammar and be straightforward. Everybody loves simplicity that delivers knowledge.
You are a
part of a community – act like it
Blogging is rarely fit for lone wolves. You are a part of a whole ecosystem and it’s good to navigate through it and communicate with the others inhabiting the internet forest. Other bloggers in your field are not your enemies. You are competitors for the audience’s attention, but you can draw knowledge and good practices from each other. Socialize with them, discuss the common topics you care about, why not even guest blog to each other.
Whenever there is competent competition, the end-user benefits from this. This is a basic rule of economics, and while blogging isn’t exactly economics, it’s true that readers will only benefit from an insightful exchange between niche bloggers.
Another aspect is communicating with your readers. Always be sure to enable comments on in your blog. Whenever it’s possible (and that should be often enough), answer to the comments of your readers and establish a personal connection. A community gets closer via reciprocation so be sure to pay attention to your audience and treat them well.
For example, if you're making a review website on hair cutters for balding men, always plug in and offer advice in regards to the models of the cutters and their general strengths/weakness. Aim for objectivity and friendliness, for a nurturing tone.
People love surprises and gifts. Think of ways to engage your audience even better and surprise them in a good way. There are many options to do this, ranging from more easy to do to fairly difficult and time-consuming.
A Freebies post or even a whole section is a good way of bringing surprise and giving benefits to your reader base.
People also love holiday special themed posts that provide interesting and more specific information or are just fun to have around. A good example which made me chuckle some time ago were Blizzard’s funny Starcraft II Valentine’s Day themed cards.
The hardest option is introducing new topics to your blog – or even a new niche. This has to do with a bit of redesigning and may cause initial confusion in your community, depending on how it’s delivered. You may need to search for another writer that is familiar with your new column (or niche) which may bring additional costs. So it’s a situation that has the biggest potential in long-term but you have to approach it carefully.
I can safely say that blogging isn’t rocket science, but it’s a very unique blend of art, journalism, content creation, marketing and social knowledge. If you want to be successful at it you have to combine these and somehow manage to balance them out. It sure may seem very engaging, time-consuming and scary (and it can be), but if you play out your cards well, it’s one of the most enjoyable things to do.
So go out there. Grit your teeth. Flex your mind. Clench your fists over the keyboard. Get ready to blog!