The last time I looked at the statistics, there were over 100 million blogs. That’s an awful lot of blogs and with so many to choose from how is it only a small fraction of these grab the lion’s share of readers while the rest get a small trickle of visitors or no visitors at all? Building a popular blog demands 4 essential activities.
And the skills you need or activities you must do to make your blog successful are not obvious. But this is where we can learn from successful bloggers who have grown a sizable following of fans and readers. When you study them, you can spot what they are all doing. In fact, some of them tell you exactly what they do.
The 4 step blog success strategy
I’ve taken the time and trouble to find out what they do that works so well and there are 4 key activities. You must do all of these, and if you do them well, you’ll get results. They are,
- Create a well designed blog with a strong focus or USP
- Produce well written, unique, quality content and publish it regularly
- Write guest posts or articles for B-list and A-list bloggers in your niche
- Network with people, engage with bloggers and reach out to influential people
It doesn’t matter if you are starting a new blog, publishing an old one or it’s attached to your business website, the components for success are the same. If you think it’s a lot of effort, you’d be right. It certainly is. But with so much competition for eyeballs, the most successful bloggers are continually raising the bar.
Successful bloggers we can learn from
The example blogs I’m going to show you all come from the internet marketing or related niches, but then it’s a very competitive space and difficult subject to gain traction and followers. This doesn’t mean, however, it’s the only niche where you can build a successful blog. In fact, it’s probably easier with most other topics.
Corbett Barr use to work 60 hour weeks helping new start-ups in a corporate environment before he discovered blogging and new lifestyle spending the winter months in Mexico and travelling. His blog for adventurous entrepreneurs has 5421 subscribers. Pretty good for a personal blog.
Corbett’s blog think traffic gets 21,942 monthly readers. He is quite open about how he gets those readers with monthly traffic reports where he shows you his google analytics statistics. He shares with us how he gets traffic and readers, and it isn’t about a bunch of different traffic techniques either.
Pat Flynn’s blog smart passive income gets 30,709 regular readers and 51,274 twitter followers, and the blog hasn’t been around that long either. The articles and posts on his site are excellent, which is a clue to his success. And he is also very open about how the blog earns income with his monthly reports.
Glen Allsopp’s blog viperchill gets 90,000 monthly visitors and it took him only 6 months to grow it to 6000 subscribers. Glen is known for publishing his ultimate guides and although he’s worked in the corporate world as a marketer, which gives him valuable knowledge, it’s still an amazingly fast growing blog.
Firepole marketing runs training programs and coaching for small businesses. It’s an internet business and associated blog run by experienced entrepreneurs Danny Iny and Peter Vogopoulos. Their blog gets 7883 monthly readers and is a great example of a successful web business-based blog.
James Clear’s blog passive panda is only 8 moths old yet gets 120,000 unique visitors a months. That is amazing growth. But when you look at his blog you can see why. He is the perfect model for a successful blogger and talks about what he did to achieve these results in a recent video interview.
Start with a strong focus and good design
The very first step is to define your audience. You want to have a clear idea of who you are aiming at with the content you publish. Corbett aims at adventurous entrepreneurs who like to travel. Firepole marketing aims to be the definitive resource for entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-marketers. What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? You may not be selling anything yet, but must know what makes your blog different.
Start by reading Corbett’s ultimate guide to finding your unique selling proposition. This should get you on the right track. You should be able to write a tagline that perfectly summarises what makes your blog unique and useful. You want the reader to get what you’re blog is all about within seconds of landing on the home page.
First impressions count. You may not think that’s always fair, but it’s always true. The outcome of many job interviews are decided within minutes. The impression your blog gives takes just seconds and a professional looking design can give it a great start in your reader’s mind. If you have the money, pay for a designer to create a custom theme, or if you haven’t, at least buy a professional looking theme.
Read my recent article on 7 steps for finding the best web designer for your project. You can get great designers for very low rates on odesk and other freelance sites. And if you want to buy a professional looking template or theme, take a look at woo themes. They sell plenty of great wordpress themes and create new ones constantly.
Write and publish quality content
What does quality content mean? It’s articles, videos or audios (yes, you can publish using different media types) people read and want to share with their friends or work colleagues. Corbett tells us to write epic shit, a colouful and unique way of saying the same thing. Make sure you create great content.
This takes time and effort. Glen from viperchill spends many hours researching and writing the long and very useful articles he publishes. Read his article on creating viral content for a complete step-by-step to writing excellent blog posts and headlines. Or, read master the art of article writing for my 7 step method.
When James Clear from passive panda wrote the article 99 interview tips that actually help you get a job, he spent 25 hours interviewing recruitment experts and writing an amazing blog post. That’s 3 days of work! But then that one article alone got 414 tweets, 769 facebook likes, 157 linkedin shares and generated 556 emails.
Article writing and guest posting
If you subscribe to many of the A-list blogs, such as problogger or copyblogger, you will notice they publish quite a lot of guest posts. And after a while you will spot the B-list bloggers who guest post. All of the successful bloggers I’m using as examples guest blog. In fact many reckon guest blogging gave them their big break.
These big blogs have many thousands of regular readers and an article published by you with a link back to your blog can result in a huge traffic spike and a ton of new readers for your blog. It’s a win-win. The A-list blogger gets some great, free content for their blog, you get noticed and your blog gets traffic.
Read Glen’s article on guest blogging: the ultimate guide for some tips on why you should guest blog, how to find sites and writing publish-worthy posts. You will need to write guest posts often and you want to use your best material. This is your showcase to the armyof people who read blogs regularly.
Reaching out to other people
Are you a natural networker? Some people are and some are not. If you are, you have probably realised what I’m about to tell you already. If not, listen closely as this is crucial to your blog’s success. You need to have a strategy for reaching out to people, blog owners and influential people in your niche.
Start by targetting blogs where you would like to see your content published as a guest post. Read the posts they publish and write useful, insightful comments. Do this continuously. Make sure you have a gravatar or provide a face to your name. In time you will be noticed by the blog owners. Then ask them if you can post an article.
On your own blog, make sure you reply to all comments and encourage engagement. There are wordpress blog plugins, like commentluv, which promotes commentors. Or you could feature regular commentors on your blog on your home page so they get noticed by other people. Everyone like to be seen.
Once your face is known in your niche, reach out to other bloggers and influential people in your space. You should know who they are by now if you’ve spent the time to network with others. Email is a great way to reach out. In his recent video interview with Corbett Barr, James Clear describes how he does this. Or you could buy his course on how to email important people for $99.
Putting it all together
Publishing a blog as a hobby or to express yourself is very different from using a blog to create a business or promote a business. Does it take a lot of effort to build a popular blog? You bet it does. And you may wonder why anyone would spend so much time and effort, especially when you are not making money.
But this is where you need to be strategic. Most successful bloggers have a plan. Once their blog has been launched and is building an audience, they introduce products or a service. That’s when the payback starts. Now that you know what it takes, it’s not knowledge that’ll bring success, it’s effort. Lots of it.