Knowing how to blog successfully…
…will drive traffic, leads and sales to your online business – I managed to increase a client’s page views x 600% inside 4 weeks!
Knowing how to blog successfully is one of the most powerful tools at your fingertips to drive sales to your online business.
People who succeed at it do two things very well.
Firstly, they identity what the experts do to get results.
Then they put a plan of action in place to execute and scale those techniques.
At the same time, you are probably wondering:
“Where do I find strategies on how to blog that actually work?”
It’s my aim to bring you proven techniques guaranteed to grow your online business, so you know how to blog and get the results you want:
So, I approached 29 leading digital experts!
I put the following question on ‘how to blog successfully’ to the experts:
What are your 3 top tips for how to blog successfully in 2016?
Putting their insights into practice will keep your business blog streets ahead of the competition.
Starting from zero traffic, zero followers, zero subscribers, and one blog post, I’ll be putting the leading digital marketing experts’ advice into practice on my new website emergecontent, so you can see their tried and tested blogging and inbound marketing strategies in action and apply them directly to drive your own online business. Make sure to sign up for emails so you don’t miss the updates!
How to blog successfully – Joe Pulizzi
- Focus on a specific audience where you actually have a chance to become the leading expert in the world.
- Publish with extreme consistency…to the day and to the minute. Keep your content promise.
- Focus all your efforts on building subscribers to your blog. Value is not in the content, but in the audience you can build with the content.
How to blog successfully – Rand Fishkin
- Only create content that you’re confident has a great answer to the question: “Who will help amplify this and why?” The answer can’t be a generic group like “parents” or “people who like soccer.” You need a real list of actual human beings who will care about, are invested in, and/or want to see the piece reach a broader audience and will contribute to that goal.
- In 2016, I think we’ve moved to a world where quality beats quantity. There’s so much content that being a regular publisher who just happens to put out new posts is far less valuable/useful than being the site putting out something great that stands out only every 2-4 weeks (or even less often).
- Avoid the three death knells of useless, visual content: the stockneric (stock photos that look generic), the borporate (boring and corporate), and the illedgfographic (illedgible infographics no one can read). Instead, create visuals that are authentic, useful, clear, unique, and interesting. That’s a high bar, and hard to do, and that’s what makes it worthwhile.
How to blog successfully – Jeff Bullas
“First you need traffic, without that attention you don’t exist on the web. Second, you have to get engagement from those visitors. That is done with great content.
If you don’t complete the third and final step – you will fail – converting that traffic and engagement into leads and sales.”
How to blog successfully – Ian Cleary
Founder of RazorSocial, one of the world’s leading marketing technology sites focused on social media and content marketing. Award-winning Tech Blogger. Contributor to Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur.com, VenutureBeat and Huffington Post.
Razorsocial provide training and expert technical guidance to optimize results from social media and content marketing.
- Create detailed content – the average size of a post in the top 10 search results of Google is greater than 1,500 words. Long content typically gets more shares and more links.
- Build your social presence – one of the best ways of getting free traffic to your content is building relationships with your social audience. A relationship leads to action!
- Do email outreach – even with a good social audience you still can’t beat email outreach to extend the reach of your content.
How to blog successfully – Neil Patel
- People are reading more posts on their mobile devices. So if your content is extremely long you will see a lot less reads. Get to the point… make sure there is no fluff in your content.
- Because mobile devices are popular, your blog has to load fast. It doesn’t matter how great a blogger you are, if your content takes forever to load, people won’t read it. Leverage Google’s AMP as it can help speed up your blog.
- Whether you are new to blogging or have been at it for years, beginner topics have been beaten to death. Start writing more advanced information if you want to gain momentum in 2016.
Get your awesome tips on how to blog successfully in one big checklist – straight from the experts!
How to blog successfully – Holly Homer
Holly runs Kids Activities Blog and the mega-popular Quirky Momma FB page with over 2.2 million fans. Her second book, The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments launches April 19, 2016. Holly is a work-from-home evangelist who built her company from her living room amid the chaos of raising three boys.
Twitter: @Texasholly Website: kidsactivitiesblog.com
- Be intentional about everything you do online – don’t just go through the motions because some “expert” told you that it was necessary.
- Get serious about looking at analytics and then take action based on what you find.
- Make money. This is an unsustainable hobby unless you start bringing in some cash.
How to blog successfully – Mike Butcher
‘Editor-At-Large’ of TechCrunch. Mike has been named one of the Top 50 most influential Britons in technology by The Daily Telegraph. As well as being a long-time Writer, Broadcaster and Editor Mike is also co-founder of TechHub.
Twitter: @mikebutcher W: mbites.com
Blog every day – Use the platforms as if they were blogs (Facebook, Twitter etc).
How to blog successfully – Matthew Barby
- Focus on user experience over monetization. I see too many blogs out there that are just starting up and have ads plastered everywhere and all kinds of pop-ups firing all over the place – this isn’t giving your users the best possible experience, and if anything it’s taking away from the content itself.
- Don’t just write for the search engines; write for your buyer persona. Every piece of content that you produce should solve a specific problem that your buyer persona has.
- Don’t assume that ‘great content is enough’. If you go into it thinking that your content will do well because you’re a good writer then you may be in for a shock. My general rule is 30% of your time will be spent on content creation whilst 70% will be spent on promotion.
How to blog successfully – Stephen Kenwright
- Think carefully about your call to action. Every blog post should have an obvious next step for a user: you absolutely need at least one CTA. But it’s pretty rare that the right action is “call now” or “get in touch”. Make sure you’re linking through to posts on the same subject and other resources, and giving readers the opportunity to follow you on social media.
- Write frequently. If you’re not publishing at least once a week your blog won’t grow; you might get a few leads but you’ll have to seriously invest in other areas. If it’s a personal blog and you’re trying to build a profile you need to be writing as close to every day as you can.
- Take a position on whatever you’re writing about. You have to make a blog personal, even if it’s a dry subject – just reporting what’s going on isn’t going to differentiate you from all the news sources that are already available.
How to blog successfully – Zac Johnson
- Create better content than your competition – The longer and better your content, the more likely your site is to rank higher.
- Have a call to action within each post – Don’t let users just leave your site when the article is done. Give them something to act on.
- Call out to other experts in the industry to gain credibility and social exposure – A perfect example is this expert roundup post here.
How to blog successfully – Joanna Wiebe
- Make your publishing schedule all about quality, not quantity. Don’t be a slave to your editorial calendar or to popular keywords; be a slave to your ultimate reader. That means you should wait to publish until you’ve got a post the busiest influencer you can imagine – Stewart Butterfield, Fred Wilson, Ann Handley – would spend time reading, sharing and commenting on.
- Create content upgrades while you’re writing each and every post, not in a panic at the end. And make each upgrade desirable.
- Promote your posts where you audience is at… because you need growing, quality traffic to your blog to validate your efforts or you won’t want to stick with it.
How to blog successfully – Peg Fitzpatrick
Author and social media strategist. Peg is the co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users with Guy Kawasaki. Top 15 Pinterest for Business Experts.
Twitter: @PegFitzpatrick Website: pegfitzpatrick.com
- Use visuals in your blog posts. Each article should have a photo or graphic that looks fantastic when you hit the Pin it button for Pinterest as well as Twitter cards and Facebook Open Graph images.
- Set up GREAT social sharing so it’s easy for people to look like rockstars when they share from your blog.
- Be consistent.
How to blog successfully Donna Moritz
Founder of Socially Sorted, Winner of the Best Australian Business Blog in Australia 2014. Visual Social Media & Content Strategy. Contributor to Entrepreneur online, Social Media Examiner, Social Fresh and Amy Porterfield Inc. and has been featured in Forbes, NBC and Yahoo!
Twitter: @SociallySorted Website: sociallysorted.com.au
- Be consistent – it doesn’t matter if it is weekly, fortnightly or monthly, creating consistent content, posted at a similar time, catches the attention of your readers and gets read and shared.
- Use Visuals. Every page of your website, particularly blog posts should have at least one great, shareable visual. Consider adding a short heading/text overlay on the image so that if it is shared to Pinterest it provides context for people to click through to the article.
- Set your blog up to empower others to share. Have a great “sharing” plugin – I recommend Social Warfare which includes funky sharing buttons, the ability to specify which images will be shared to Facebook, Twitter, a fun click-to-tweet function and a Twitter Share count. Be sure to also install Twitter Cards so that when your article is tweeted, it pulls in more content, images etc.
How to blog successfully – Rory Vaden, MBA, CSP
Co-founder Southwestern Consulting™, Self-Discipline Strategist and Professional Speaker, New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs and the new “National Bestseller” Procrastinate on Purpose.
Twitter: @rory_vaden Website: roryvaden.com
- Be consistent. Post at the same time, on the same days every single week. Posting irregularly on your blog is like inviting a friend to lunch but not telling them which day you’re going to show up.
- Have 1 message. 1 idea per post. People can’t handle more than that and since each post should strive to be 600 words or less you can’t afford more than 1 idea.
- Move people emotionally. People are not logical; they are emotional. The reason they continue reading is because your writing creates an emotional experience for them. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of that.
How to blog successfully – Jessica Miller-Merrell
- Visual representations are just as important as your content. Take time to build customized blog photos, headers and material to support your article’s point of view. They will be pinned, shared and talked about by other influencers and bloggers within your niche, driving additional influence and traffic long after your article publishes.
- Create content that focuses on creating value, serves a purpose and is based on a need in order to drive traffic and conversations for the long term.
- Think beyond selling links, ads, products and sponsored content. Use online sponsored courses, resources and ebooks to drive free resources that provide monetization.
How to blog successfully – Madalyn Sklar
It’s all about the content. People pay attention when you write quality with passion for your subject. Today there are so many bloggers. You have to work harder than ever to stand out. Know your subject. And know what your audience wants.
How to blog successfully – Marko Saric
- Publish amazing content. Without this you will not be able to have a successful blog in 2016. No matter what the format you focus on (text, video, podcast…) you need to publish something of value for people to have a good reason to spend time consuming it and sharing it with their friends. Check my guide on publishing content here.
- Get out there and promote your work. Be it in social media. In forums. On websites that allow content syndication. On bigger blogs in your field. You need to go where your audience is and you need to show them enough value for them to come and visit your blog. Here’s a list of 40 places where you can go to share and promote your content.
- Keep going and don’t give up. Making a blog successful takes a long time. Put in the effort every day over many months and you will start seeing the results. It’s a marathon.
How to blog successfully – Henneke Duistermaat
A large collection of wishy-washy blog posts might generate some traffic, but won’t win you any business in 2016. Rather than churning out many blog posts, focus on creating insanely valuable posts for your audience. A successful blog has a focused strategy – think about the following questions:
- who is your target audience?
- how does your blog help your audience? (Company news is rarely useful for readers!)
- how will your target audience find your blog – what is your blog promotion strategy?
Without a good strategy, a blog will remain a lonely voice, languishing in the dark corners of the web.
Alright, here we go:
- Be genuine. Be real. If there is one thing that has brought me any success in blogging/writing, it’s the way I make people feel when they read my material. Blog, email, podcast, it doesn’t matter. Write the way you might talk to someone. Conversational writing is easy to digest, more easily retained, and certainly more memorable.
- Give them something actionable, which is different from providing value. Give me something I can put into action this instant. If I am the reader, show me the steps to accomplish whatever it is you are trying to teach (assuming of course your aim is to instruct). Imagine the pitfalls I might find, and explain how I will overcome them. I need to leave your blog with more than just a good fuzzy feeling. I don’t care if you are a terrible writer if you’ve given me steps I can take to further my interests. One of the best in the game is Brian Dean of Backlinko. He’s also a pretty good writer too 🙂
- Don’t BS. You might get away with it once, twice, but eventually it will catch up with you. If you can’t stand up on a stage without cue cards, or slides and educate someone on a subject…you really ought not be teaching it. There is enough garbage on the net, and we don’t need more people contributing to it. Call it a bit extreme, but you have the power to shape someone’s future for better or for worse. That is a tremendous responsibility, and you need to appreciate that.
- Use other people’s data only as a starting point – There are lots of reports on things like the best time to post on social media, or publish a blog post. But the important thing to remember is that these use data from someone else’s audience. That’s not to say the information is bad, but the key here is in how you use it. Use the data to provide a starting point, and test it out with your audience to see how things go. Every niche is different and even communities within the same niche will have their own nuances.
- Shake things up or try something new – After a while in any niche, people’s habits will change both from the perspective of those publishing content and those reading it. For example, if the top blogs in a certain niche all start using the same opt-in form template, it could lose effectiveness across the board. Or if everyone publishes content on a specific day/time – it’ll become harder to reach people. So shake things up, try changing how you do things and see how it impacts your results.
- Avoid over-reliance on specific platforms to minimize risk – A lot of bloggers began to rely on Facebook Pages for traffic. Then Facebook changed its algorithm and they lost almost all of their traffic overnight.
The lesson here is to diversify your traffic, otherwise, you’re effectively building a house on rented land. So try other traffic generation strategies, build an email list and you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.
Amy Locurto owns a DIY party and food blog LivingLocurto.com. Amy has created content for some of the largest brands in the world such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Universal Pictures, FedEx Office and eBay. She is also co-founder of iHeartFaces.com a popular photography website and community for women.
Twitter: @livinglocurto Website: livinglocurto.com
- Have a plan. Many people start a blog for fun, but have no idea what to do after the first few months. If you want to earn an income, you need a strategic goal for the year in order to help grow your blog into a business.
- Work on your growing your email list. Having fans on various social media channels are great, but social channels could go away at anytime. Your email list, along with your blog are the only things you have control over.
- Video is getting preference on most social media channels now, so be sure to add video content to your blog business strategy.
TIP #1: Walk the walk
The majority of bloggers launch blogs to simply rehearse what has already been said. There’s no value in such rehearsed content and the value of the mere existence of such blogs is questionable. The only way you can add value to the existing knowledge is to act on it and share your unique stories and takeaways.
TIP #2: Network with top people in your field
… and learn to swallow critics.
Top people in your field can teach you a lot of great things and help you self-improve. But if you think you’re a superstar already – you will never achieve anything.
TIP #3: Learn how Google works
You can produce the best content in the world, but what’s the point if it can’t be found in Google? People will read whatever is on the first page of Google and if you’re ain’t there – you don’t exist. I have a nice course that teaches bloggers to get traffic from Google. Get it here: http://bloggerjet.com/100k/
For having tripled our income from our blogs / authority sites in the last 6 months, here are the 3 things I think will make a massive difference to any blogger:
- Build your list, and go nuts on optimisation. Most people think that just adding an opt-in pop-up, or a sidebar offer on their blog is enough to build an email list. It’s not. You need to test your offers, triggers and designs religiously to really get the most out of your traffic. We regularly 3x the email list growth of sites we work on with just a few weeks of testing. And with the 2 tips coming next, 3x more emails means 3x more money usually.
- Email your list OFTEN. Most people building an email list are shy to email their subscribers. They don’t want to bother them or be seen as the next spammer. But guess what, if people signed up, they want to hear from you and provided you maintain your editorial standards, more is better for them. Email 2-3x / week if possible.
- Sell to your list. On top of being shy to email content to their list, bloggers are SO afraid to sell to their list and to do it regularly. After all, your blog is your business and businesses need to make sales to survive. You are providing free content because you are passionate and want to help people but that doesn’t mean everything has to be for free. Those who want you to keep doing free stuff will be happy to see you are making a living from your blog so you can keep producing free stuff. When something interests them, they will gladly use your links and buy as well as a way to support you while getting value themselves. Don’t be afraid to sell.
That’s about it, email marketing has been MASSIVE for us in the past few months and I LOVE blogging to grow my email list and grow engagement. Try it, it’s awesome!
Lisa Larson Kelly
Lisa is a Canva Design and Training Certified Expert and a Prezi Independent Expert. She is a passionate trainer and sought-after speaker at technology conferences worldwide, with courses published with lynda.com, Skillshare, and Pluralsight. See Lisa’s latest book “Ready, Set, Brand! The Canva for Work Quickstart Guide” here.
Twitter: @lisamarienyc Website: LearnFromLisa.com
My top tips for blogging successfully in 2016 come from a recent talk I’ve been giving, the 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Marketing (and How to Avoid Them, with Canva):
- Add a beautiful, relevant image to every post.
Use a photo that enhances your message, illustrates your point, or highlights a shareable quote. With tools like Canva, you can choose the perfect photo, create a beautiful quote graphic, or even create an infographic in just a few clicks! Then you can share those images across social networks, driving more traffic to your blog.
- Brand your images for maximum impact when shared.
Always add your logo or website name to your images – so no matter where they end up, people will know it came from you.
- Be consistent!
This is one I’m always struggling with myself, but it is so important to your blog’s brand. Be consistent in how often you post, and be consistent in your graphics and visual branding. Create a visual “language” for your brand, how you use your logo, what fonts and colors you use, and your photographic style (applying the same filters to your images is an easy way to do this!)
My top tips for blogging successfully in 2016 are:
- Stay away from hype. People are becoming ever more skeptical and intolerant of things that seem too good to be true and are revolting against those that over use hype to get attention then deliver little value. Instead focus more on choosing a very specific topic for a specific demographic. Create your post like you were writing it just for that one person and go very, very deep.
- We have all seen the posts “Top 10 X to Y”, which are fine, except when you read most of them they are very shallow and can feel like reading a shopping list.
- Dig down and get into the specific details and nuances that interest your target demographic, this will help them to bond with you much faster.
1. Publish content people like.
It’s trite, but true. Whether it’s a B2B blog or a large, consumer magazine website, it’s imperative you publish content people like. This keeps people coming back and it generates plenty of social shares. Most importantly, it helps with generating the results you see, whether email subscribers, ad revenue, selling products, etc.
For example, on one of my consumer magazine websites, I recently analyzed my top traffic generating posts that included some affiliate links for promoting products. What I discovered is that the posts that attract the most organic search traffic (which is the best traffic source for me for promoting products as an affiliate) were posts that I spent a great deal of time researching and writing. They weren’t affiliate bridge pages. I spent a great deal of time researching the topic and put together terrific buying guides that help people make a buying decision. Not only do these posts get the most search traffic, but they generate the most affiliate revenue (by far).
2. Invest time into optimizing revenue
Once you have a solid monetization strategy that works, it opens up more traffic options, including paid traffic. This is assuming you’re publishing a commercial blog of course. Sometimes monetization is easy; other times it takes a lot of work to get it to a level that works for investing time, effort and/or money into driving traffic.
3. Analyze revenue from traffic sources
Once you have some traffic, figure out which traffic generates the best results. This is particularly important for consumer magazine websites. It’s amazing how revenue per 1,000 page views (RPM) differs from ad revenue from different traffic sources. Once you figure out the higher earning traffic sources, you can focus on those. At least that’s what I do.
Sometimes the best way to see how things are doing is to think you are doing things from scratch. With that said, these tips assumes you are in the inception of creating your blog.
Topic – Often overlooked, the topic you choose can make or break your success. If there is something you can write about that is somewhat unique or special, it will be a lot easier to succeed than getting into the same niche as millions of other blogs out there. Also, if you combine the uniqueness of a topic with your passion about it, then you have a winner in the making. Obviously, the quality of your blog is equally important. So things like, themes, hosting, etc.. are also “stuff” you need to worry about. Finally and to put it short – find your niche and go all-in. Just remember to stay focused on your topic.
Content – Well, what can I say about this “obvious” tip? It goes without saying that if you do not give what your audience wants or needs, then you are wasting your time as your blog will never succeed. Remember that “content” is what people see and read in your blog, so making your content compelling, informative, and unique, is the ingredient to success. Unique is being you, using your own voice. Don’t copy what others are already saying – that will not work. Create great content, period.
Promotion – You can have a great topic and have content that is worth reading and sharing. However, unless people know about it, how do you expect them to visit your site and read what you have to say? Fortunately today, there are a lot more ways of getting your work to be known out there than in the past. Make use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn and even Pinterest. All these channels are free and a great way to put your stuff out there. Interact and engage with other people in your niche and slowly but surely, lead them towards your blog. There are countless ways to market your blog, just search for it. What is undoubtedly important is that you need to get out there and market yourself and your blog like crazy. There’s really no excuse not to.
- Help the reader succeed. We talk a lot about storytelling, but the important thing to remember when you’re communicating to someone is that *they* are the hero of their story. So make your posts about the reader, not you.
- Take a stand. While I don’t think it’s a great idea to be provocative for its own sake, you shouldn’t be afraid of taking an unpopular position if you truly hold it. Share your thoughts and opinions. Others can build off them.
- Make it practical. One popular approach is to give the reader very hands-on, step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish a task. People love practical tips!
Publisher, Foundr Magazine
- Ask your audience what are the biggest problems, frustrations, and desires they have in their business right now, and look for the trends and write content about exactly what they are struggling with.
- Start getting savvy on promoting your content – use tools like Edgar and contentmarketer.io
- This is an oldy but a goody – produce long form in-depth content and use Brian Dean’s “Skyscraper Technique” to get ahead of the rest
Strategic business blogging takes skill and a little focus, but the increased traffic, leads, engagement and sales make it the new ‘must-have’ accessory for your businesses in 2016.
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Please do get in touch if you think you’d benefit from a business blog report, competitor analysis report, influencer marketing report, are considering blogging or other training for your team. If I can’t help directly, I’ll know someone trusted and brilliant who can!
You can contact me here, and I’ll get back to you pretty quickly.
There are some amazing tips here; which one will your work on first? It’d be great to know what you’re planning to try out – or what has already worked for you – in the comments below.
How to promote your next blog post (so your get at least 1000 new visitors) is the topic of my next blog post.
Let’s see how applying the experts’ blog promotion techniques can drive traffic to your next blog post and online business…
… as they say ‘the proof is in the pudding’.