So, you’re ready to start your blog and you have dreams of success, traffic, followers and fans. Yet, you wonder, what do you actually need to be working on to have a successful blog?
There are 11 key factors that you will need to take into consideration if your goal is to grow your blog to truly make an impact.
The first thing your readers will see when they click through to your blog is your design. While you want your blog to reflect you and your personality, you need to make sure that the design is clean and not distracting to the eye. With the rise of video and social media, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. If someone comes to your blog and can’t immediately see what they are looking for, the chance is good that they will click away and not come back. You want to welcome your reader in and entice them to stay.
2. Ease of Navigation
Your readers need to be able to get around your site and to be able to find what they are looking for. As with the design, if they have to try too hard to look for a particular blog post, they will just give up. Have your blogging categories and dates clearly laid out. It is also important to have a search bar available so readers can search for key terms in your blog posts.
Content is king. No matter how pretty your blog is or how easy it is to navigate, if you aren’t offering good, solid content then your blog will not be successful. Share yourself, your story, and your expertise with your readers. Let them get to know you and they will become lifelong fans.
Your blog posts do not always have to be long form stories. List posts are very popular, as are tutorials, guides, and the occasional reviews. Figure out what resonates with your audience the most and create the content that they want to read. Do some research and look at what the most popular posts are doing. For example, if you want to create a guide post, this guide by WPBeginner is a perfect example of what you should try to follow.
It is one thing to have great content, but it is a whole other thing to have great content with great titles or headlines. You must have attention grabbing headlines for your blog posts. Your reader needs to know what your post will be about or what question your post will answer before they even click through to the post.
The headline is what will essentially grab your reader’s attention and what will represent your whole blog post.
What about those people who have never heard about you or your blog? How else might your blog be found? This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. Having your posts formatted for SEO will increase your chances of coming up when someone searches on Google the question that your blog post is answering. SEO can be difficult to fully understand at the beginning of your blogging journey, but there are WordPress plugins like Yoast that make it easier to format your posts for SEO. Most plugins you add to your site will be SEO friendly, like Soliloquy which is designed to help you search results, but if a plugin doesn’t state that it’s SEO friendly, you may want to avoid it.
Make your posts easy to read. The posts do not have to be a specific length, but keep in mind that there are dozens of things begging for your reader’s attention at any given minute. Make sure your post is engaging and full of helpful content.
Also, do not use five words when two will convey the same message. Blog posts do not have to be long to be successful. If you are writing a longer blog post, make sure to break up your message into small paragraphs. You don’t want your reader’s eyes to be glazing over as they are supposed to be digesting your 2000-word blog post.
Photos are a great way to keep your reader’s attention and to provide a break for them. Use well-lit, clean photos in your posts. Whether you choose to use stock photos or take your own photos, make sure the photos are the same size but aren’t so large that they slow down the loading time of your page. Most importantly, make sure all of your images are high quality. There is nothing more unprofessional or worse for a reader than viewing a grainy or blurry image.
A huge key to success in blogging is to find your community. Find fellow bloggers who support and encourage you. Fellow bloggers who are available to answer your questions is also helpful. Find communities where you can share your posts and where you can go when you need a boost in motivation. Building a successful blog is not a quick project and there will be times when you need to be encouraged to continue to press onward in your mission.
Where are you advertising your blog? You do not have to be paying for advertising, but do your friends and family know about your blog? Are you sharing your posts on social media? Do you have good SEO that is enabling new readers to find you through search engines? Getting your blog in front of new eyes is the key to making your blog successful.
10. Social Media
It can feel sometimes like there is a new social media channel popping up each month, and while it can be beneficial to reserve your username on the new platforms (in case they become very popular in the future), you do not need to be active on each social media platform. You may ask which ones you should be active on and it’s as simple as you need to be active and present where your readers are. If your readers are primarily Facebook and Pinterest users, then perhaps you do not need to be growing your Twitter or LinkedIn followings. Find out where your people are, then make sure you are consistently active there.
11. Your Email List
One day a social media channel may be popular and the next day it is outdated. So, what if the social media channels you are on start closing down? Or what if algorithms change and you are being required to pay to have your posts seen by your followers? What if your Pinterest account gets shut down or you get shadow-banned on Instagram?
You cannot fully rely on social media for your traffic and your blog’s visibility. You need to be building your email list from the beginning. A large Facebook group was shut down several months ago (it had several thousand members) without warning and without explanation. Rather than that change crippling the blog owner, all she had to do was send out an email to her email list to explain what had happened and send out the link to her new group and she was back up and running. This is exactly why an email list is crucial in the blogging world and OptinMonster has a great email marketing guide to get you started.
There are many factors to consider when you are setting up, growing, and maintaining your blog, but with your focus on the right things, your blog has the potential to grow and be as successful as you have dreamed it will be.