Chances are, you’re one of a few different types of people reading this right now.
- Person A: You work for, or own, a company. You know blogging is important so you’re about to embark on a terrifying journey of publishing content on the cruel harsh world of the Internet.
- Person B: You already run a blog. You may have subscribers, but you, like all of us, need a kick in the butt to keep going and stay motivated.
- Person C: You aren’t sure if you want a blog. “Aren’t they dying anyway? I hear Instagram and Periscope are what the kids are doing these days.”
Regardless of your persona, these tips should prove invaluable. The tips that follow cover everything from pre-launch setup to maintaining a sweet blog that people will want to return to.
1. Create a content base and queue
I know. The urge to just start throwing out posts is strong if you’ve got a dozen ideas. It sucks but you should create a content vault before you begin so you can give yourself runway in order to yourself time before you have to start thinking of new posts to create. Give yourself about 10 posts backlog to begin and have a queue of 5 if you think you can post once a week or so.
The idea is that you want other content to direct visitors to once they land on your site. So having a backlog ready to go is key. You also don’t want to be rushing to create content right away once you’ve launched, so you also need the queue. Prioritize this before you launch.
2. Identify trends
You want to write about what you have to say. But you want to meet the needs of your readers. The world where these two intersect is the sweet spot for your blog.
Look at Quora, Yahoo Answers, or industry-specific discussion sites or forums to see what people are asking about your niche. This is how you differentiate yourself from the dozens to thousands of other sites out there. Questions asked on this are being asked because (hopefully) there is not enough content in Google or other sites for them to know. This indicates a gap that you can fill. Just create content tailored around these sorts of questions and you’ll start to build up a collection of highly targeted, useful content, that your future readers will love.
No, not the content. But look at your favorite blog posts from other niches and ask yourself how you can recreate it. Now that you’re a blogger, think about the posts that you find the most interesting and most compelled to share. Was it a specific point-of-view, photography or message? You want to copy the aspects of these sorts of successful posts and apply them directly to your own.
It works best when you aren’t really trying to research. Often times throughout the course of the day, you may run into a piece of content you thought was really inspiring or amazing. Think about why you felt that way and work it into your content strategy. Even if you aren’t sure how yet, jot it down in an Evernote notebook for future reference.
4. Get Social
Get on all relevant channels. But make sure you have a plan. Nothing looks worse than a stale social media profile. This will unfortunately mean most industries and companies do not lend themselves well to popular channels like Instagram or Vine. Let’s face it, if you’re not a visually appealing blog (e.g. Travel, Fashion, Food) then people aren’t going to want to see your posts in their feed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a social presence. Twitter and FaceBook are great for just about any niche.
Set up search queries in Hootsuite to monitor for questions people are asking about topics that are relevant to you. Curate content from other channels and give them credit.
Look for opportunities to contribute to community Pinterest boards. You’ll see them listed in the board description on top. You’ll have to email the owner of the board and request to be a contributor. Have some tact with this approach and explain how you can benefit the board. (Hey I love your board! I pin a lot of similar things and would love to contribute if you’re open to the idea. Check out my profile at xyz.com).
5. Follow Interested People
Follow people that are interested in what you have to offer. For travel blogs this means follow other travel blogs. Follow people who are into photography. Follow lifestyle blogs and food blogs. Anything that could be remotely related to you.
Why? Every one of these actions lets the other person know you are following them and thus advertises your presence to them. This is a small step but can work to give your site some immediate follow-backs that you may need for credibility.
Identify communities and engage. Sign up for a FaceBook page (not a personal profile), Pinterest, and Triberr. Join groups related to what you do. You should be engaging with others in your community. Other bloggers in the same industry will often be your biggest champions because they, unlike your readers, have an incentive to shout you out…the hope that you will reciprocate and shout them back out.
Also, communities provide opportunities for collaborative posts, exposure for you as an authority among your peers, and give you ideas for things you can take away to provide to your readers. Look for these opportunities in FaceBook groups.
7. Write Often
Just like nobody likes a stale social media presence, nobody likes a rarely updated blog. This will be your biggest challenge. If a blog looks dead and hasn’t had a post submitted to it in months, you will not get as many subscribers or interactions.
You need a consistent stream of posts to keep a sense of liveliness and interactivity.
Aim for one post every other week or once per month depending on the length and breadth of your content.
8. Don’t Write Too Often
Just like you don’t want to write to rarely, you actually don’t want to write too often either. Why? Because you’ll likely turn your readers off if they constantly hear from you.
Think about how annoying it is when you get multiple posts by the same person, blog or site in your social media feeds. If you’re on WordPress every one of your posts is emailed to your subscribers and it will quickly turn them off if you’re posting constantly.
On social media, peoples attention spans are low. It’s okay to repost content as long as it’s spaced out enough.
What I mean by this is that you can resurface old content once in a while to keep content new. This is more a rule for Twitter/FaceBook than Instagram. Reason being, most followers will not see every single one of your posts and resurfacing old posts can expose them to new content as well as throw it back to the top of hashtags for whatever social network you’re using.
Syndication is the idea that you have your content republished on other sources. The easiest way to do this is to send your posts to sites like Medium.
Sign up for Medium and create a nice looking profile. Take a few of your best written pieces and edit them to include a link back to your blog. Submit it.
Now read through other posts on Medium and create thoughtful comments in response to their posts. This will bring people to your content naturally the more you do it.
11. Guest Post / Collaborate
Create unique content just for guest posting. If you’ve taken the earlier advice about engaging with your community, then often times this will be in the form of collaborative posts. When you work on collaborative or guest-posts, make sure you include a link back to your blog as well as your social profiles.
Guest posting helps spread your brand and content to a wider audience and one you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
Need ideas? Join a FaceBook group and look for people asking for collaborations. Or offer your own!
12. Become An Authority
Sign up for Quora. If you are looking for trending topics to identify topics to write about then you can also answer questions on Quora or social media sites. This establishes you as an expert in the industry and associates your brand with the topic.
Bonus points if you’ve done the legwork of creating content beforehand and can drop a nifty link into your answer “for more information”.
13. Capture Your Audience
You need to do email marketing. You have to. It’s the only way your blog is going to keep people coming back. Look in to plugins for your blog to either provide subtle, minimally intrusive pop-ups to capture subscribers.
Do not irritate your guests so make sure there is a timer before the ad shows to the same user again. One week is standard. Don’t pester your guest but give them the opportunity to subscribe if they like.
14. Have Guest Posters
Remember how we went over how you want to submit guest posts to other sites? Likewise, it’s a good idea for you to accept guest posts. Why? Let’s face it, it’s nice to have a fresh perspective and content that you didn’t have to create that is propping up your blog. It’s a win-win.
People like links and if they provide you good content, it’s the least you can do. Also, it’s in their best interest that your post be successful because the stronger your post is, the more that link to their site is worth as far as SEO is concerned.
15. Keep SEO In Mind
SEO is a long play. It’s something that should become second nature to you. The breadth of this is huge and way to much for a single bullet point so if you do nothing else, read my SEO tips for travel bloggers and make sure you’re internalizing the process.
16. Create Lists
There’s a reason that the most popular articles all start with numbers (e.g. 10 reasons to xyz, 23 best abc). I don’t know what that reason is but people love lists.
Capitalize on this by creating lists about singular topics. Don’t make lame lists. Make lists that are helpful and provide interesting things for people to think about.
17. Expand On Each List Item For Its Own Post
Each list item that you’ve added could potentially have its own blog post solely about that list topic. Lists are a content gold mine. It’d be a good process to build out the list, create the list post, then start going through each list item to figure out what it is that you can write about to expand that list topic into its own blog post.
Once you’ve done that you can go back and update your list post to link to your new posts to provide some additional SEO value.
A good contest can go along way. It doesn’t even have to be that great of a prize but if its free people will want it. Think of all the random crap people go crazy for at bars or sports events when there’s a promotion going on. Do people really want a free Bacardi coozie or keychain? No, but it’s free so why the hell not. I can anecdotally vouch for falling victim to this sort of marketing.
The best way, if you can swing it, is to have a company sponsor a post. This means you may write a sponsored post and give something away that the company has provided. For travel bloggers this can be a voucher at a restaurant or a free night at a hotel if you’ve got enough pull. But again, don’t let this stop you from giving away smaller things too. Coffee mugs, calendars, a contest where the winner gets a framed version of their photo submission. There are hundreds of potential ideas for giveaways.
There are dozens of ways to keep your blog content fresh and to keep engagement levels high. We’ve really only touched the surface.
Do you have any more you can think of? Let us know!