A successful blog can be defined in multiple ways. You may have a successful blog in terms of traffic and advertising revenue. You may have a successful blog in terms of building your brand. Success can also be gauged by the amount of business your blog generates.
Every individual, every business has a different definition of success. The moot point is, does your blog help you achieve your goals, and if it does, it is a successful blog for you.
Blogging brings you many benefits but just like any venture, it also comes with its own set of challenges. For example, 70 million blog posts are published each month just by WordPress users. You can easily imagine how much competition an average blog faces and how difficult it must be for Google algorithms to crawl, index, and rank blog posts based on their relevance and quality.
If it is so difficult to generate visibility of your blog, why am I advising to start a new blog? Isn’t blogging already saturated?
Blogging is saturated for people who want to make a quick buck, or people who don’t have enough patience or a desire to work hard.
Yes, in the beginning years it was easier to get enough visibility for your newly started blog and now it may take a few months before some decent traffic begins to trickle down, but it all depends on your niche, how much competition you face, and what is the quality of your content.
Besides, many people think that starting a successful blog means getting millions of visitors and generating lots of advertising revenue. Even a small blog with 200-300 visitors per day can be successful if it generates business for you. A successful blog can help you
- Improve search engine rankings of your main website.
- Generate leads for you.
- Enhance your brand presence.
- Establish yourself as a thought leader.
- Increase your social media visibility.
- Keep your audience engaged and informed.
- Build you a platform where you can tell your side of the story in case of a controversy.
Listed below are 10 tips for starting a successful blog
1. Clearly define your niche
The narrower it is, the better it is. Remember that you are not looking for millions of visitors. You are looking for visitors who will do business with you. 200 people coming to your blog and 10 among them submitting your contact form is much better than 5000 people coming to your blog and just 5 among them submitting your contact form.
It is also easier to start a successful blog if your audience is selective. It means there is less competition.
I’m publishing a blog on content writing and copywriting. This is not a narrow niche because in the field of content writing and copywriting there are multiple fields, but when I started it was a niche because there were very few content writers.
Suppose you start a blog on digital marketing. Again, it is a broad topic and many people might be covering many things in the field of digital marketing. How about just creating a blog on podcasting for digital marketing, or digital marketing writers? Or even graphic designers for a select few graphic design tools?
2. Blog about something you love (or hire a blog writer)
I know, this is a clichéd advice. You love different ice cream varieties, and you would like to start a blog on ice cream recipes, but you are into finance and your business requires a successful blog in the field of finance.
Since you are into finance, you must be passionate about your topic (unless fate has entrapped you).
Love for the topic will enable you to work on your blog every day even when you don’t encounter success in the beginning. The ongoing effort can be daunting especially when you don’t see any improvement in your blog traffic.
Most of the people who started a successful blog are passionate about the topic. Every day I write on content writing copywriting, and blogging, because I am interested in these topics. I have learned a lot. I like to share. Also, my website is my bread-and-butter and this keeps me motivated enough to stay put and work on successive blog.
Even if you’re not passionate about the topic but still you want to start a successful blog on your chosen topic, and if you have the budget, the next best option is to hire a blog writer or a professional content writer.
Since he or she is a trained writer, and since he or she will be paid, which is a good incentive, you will get a regular supply of high-quality blog posts.
3. Choose the right blogging platform
Currently my favorites are WordPress and Medium. WordPress gives you independence (I’m talking about WordPress.org). You can install it under your domain name either as a subdomain or a directory. Your design, your layout, your images, and all your blogging content belong to you.
A good thing about WordPress is that it gives you complete customization. You can have custom themes. You can search engine optimize your blog. You can install plugins to achieve various tasks and get different features.
If you want to move to another host all you need to do is take backup of your entire content (images, themes and blog posts) and take it to the new host.
I have been using WordPress for more than 15 years and I believe it has been an excellent choice.
There are many more content management system but WordPress is the best, both for managing website as well as blog.
Medium is a third-party blogging platform. Which means, all the blog posts that you publish belong to Medium. It is basically a content publishing platform that can generate lots of traffic for you. It already has a great following. You don’t have to build everything from scratch. There is a standard template and people are accustomed to the template. Medium allows you to take backup. There is also provision for publishing Medium blog posts appearing under a custom domain but you will need to figure out how to do that.
Both WordPress and Medium have their individual advantages and you will need to weigh your pros and cons. The only problem with Medium is that a third party owns your content and the traffic that comes to Medium may remain on medium and not come to your website. It is good for branding though.
You should also keep an open mind towards LinkedIn blogs. Just like Medium you can use the LinkedIn platform to publish blogs. Again, the content that you publish will remain on LinkedIn and the traffic that you generate will be secondary, but just like Medium, you can increase your visibility faster.
My personal take: Install the blog on your own website through WordPress and keep Medium and LinkedIn secondary options for additional visibility.
4. Publish blog post with greater frequency in the beginning
This will help you get your content crawled and indexed faster by Google. How fast Google crawler crawls your content depends on how often you publish. If your publishing frequency is quite low, the crawling frequency too is quite low.
For example, if you publish just one blog post every week it may take you anywhere between 5 to 6 months to get some traffic and visibility. On the other hand, if you publish a blog post every day, at least for the next two months, your content will get indexed faster and your search engine rankings will improve quicker.
Even if every day is not possible, keep your target 2-3 blog posts every week.
5. Pay close attention to the search intent of your visitors
Why you want people to come and read your particular blog post? What should they get out of it? This can be gauged by knowing their search intent.
Although search intent is SEO specific it can also help you write and publish targeted blog posts to help you start a successful blog without wasting much time.
Are your visitors looking for humor? Are they looking for a specific solution to a particular problem? Do they want to read a review so that they can say something based on your decision or based on the information that you have presented?
Paying close attention to search intent will help you generate highly targeted traffic faster.
6. Create great, high-quality content
The quality of your blog posts is going to be the backbone of your successful blog. No matter how great your template is, no matter what blogging platform you use, no matter what is your frequency, unless the content is great, unless it serves a strong purpose, it is of no use.
I advise my clients to focus on quality at the cost of quantity. Yes, quantity does matter but it is of no use if it is not backed by quality. If you need to compromise based on budget or effort, compromise on quantity, but not on quality.
What does quality mean in terms of starting a successful blog? Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Write for your readers.
- Provide applicable solutions and advice.
- Satisfy their search intent.
- Make it easier to read your content by using appropriate formatting.
- Do enough research and find credible data to back up your claims.
- Always be accurate when you are presenting statistics.
- Try to write mostly on searcher’s query.
- Make your content readable on all devices.
- Write in a simple language people can easily understand.
- Add your own perspective to trending topics.
- Whenever possible, use your own experience and anecdotes to explain concepts.
- Write on niche subtopics.
- Create a knowledge wealth.
7. Don’t ignore promotion and marketing
Your blog is just another business venture, or a subset of a business venture. To start a successful blog, you need to promote it regularly. Simply publishing blog posts won’t do. How can you market your blog?
Maintain a vibrant presence on social media. Promote your links over there. Start a mailing list. You can promote your links with your mailing list. You can also create shorter versions of your blog posts and then post them on blogging platforms like Medium and LinkedIn with a link back to your original blog post. You can also run paid promotions for certain blog posts on Facebook and Instagram.
8. Maintain a repository of blog post ideas
When people try to start a successful blog, this is one of the biggest challenges they face: how to keep coming up with interesting blogging ideas that would serve their audience? You need to brainstorm constantly. You need to keep your eyes open when browsing the Internet.
You can use apps like OneNote or Google Keep to maintain a list of blogging ideas or you can maintain an Excel sheet.
You can also use Google alerts to come across trending topics and interesting ideas for your blog posts. I have set up Google alerts for content writing, content marketing, online copywriting, and other terms for which I want to get regular blogging ideas.
Here is another trick that I follow: when I start adding blog post ideas to my repository, I don’t use them unless I’m hard pressed against the wall. I keep them when I completely don’t find any new ideas. I keep adding ideas to the repository but then for the upcoming blog post I try to find or come up with a new blogging idea by myself.
9. Publish guest blog posts
Once your blog begins to generate decent traffic, people will approach you to publish guest blog posts for your blog. This is a good way of publishing fresh content and bring in fresh perspective. The only caveat is that they will want backlinks to their own blogs.
Some guest writers will want to publish on your blog to get extra exposure from your blog and some will approach you for backlinks because they want to improve their search engine rankings. You can decide whether you want to use the no-follow tag for your outgoing links but if you do that, do let it be known to the guest bloggers.
I provide do-follow link from the author profile section but not from the main blog body content. Anyway, that’s a different issue.
Make sure when you get guest blog posting ideas you maintain the same quality standards that you maintain for your own blog posts.
10. Prepare for a longer haul to start a successful blog
You will need to be patient. You will need to persevere. There are months of struggle behind overnight successes. No matter how narrow your niche is, someone is already writing on the topic because there are billions of web pages being created and published on the Internet every month.
What the others don’t have his persistence, which you have to start a successful blog. This is where you stand apart. Most of the people give up after a month. Be prepared to continuously publish your blog for at least six months without experiencing any success.
That’s why it is important to choose a topic that is close to your heart so that even if you don’t experience much success in the initial months, at least you enjoy writing about it.