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You’ve started a blog, but now what?! If you’re ready to take things to the next level, check out this list of things all serious bloggers do.
Is your blog not quite where you need it to be?
Are you trying to figure out what you need to do to improve your blogging efforts?
If so, today is your lucky day because I’m going to walk you through the 10 best practices that serious bloggers employ. If you see one (or a few) things on this list that you need to improve, don’t let it get you down. Instead, celebrate the fact that you have recognized something that you can do to whip your blog into shape.
Are you ready to get serious? Let’s go!
Establish a Niche
One of the most basic oversights that many bloggers make is not establishing a clear niche. So often we fool ourselves into believing that we can talk about any and everything.
Don’t get me wrong, you totally can. However, you can’t blog about everything under the sun and expect your ideal reader to find you. The reality is that we all go to specific blogs for specific things. If I’m looking for great recipes to try out, I am most likely going to find myself over at Damn Delicious because her recipes are damn delicious and I know I can count on her for that. If I’m looking for a Harry Potter fix, I head to Pottermore. If I’m looking for pretty printables to help me stay on track with my fitness goals, I run to Fit Life Creative.
I think you get the picture. We are attracted to sites that fit a specific purpose. We remember those sites. We bookmark them. That’s what you want your readers to do. You want them to think of you when they think of (fill in the blank). So take some time to get really clear on what you want to be known for. That, my friend, is your niche. That is what you should focus on.
Create Valuable Content
Once you have successfully identified your niche, it’s time for you to create content that your readers will love. The key, in my opinion, to creating share-worthy content is to make it helpful. I don’t know about you, but the websites that I frequent are the ones that are focused on helping people like me with some type of problem or goal. When you make a name for yourself as someone who people can count on for advice, tips, insight, strategies, or resources to help make their lives easier, that is often when you find that your blog becomes more successful. In other words, many successful bloggers ARE successful because they do this.
Your task, for now, is to really get into the head of your ideal reader. What are some problems that she faces? What does she need help with? What are some of her goals? What is keeping her from achieving those goals? Think about these questions and then create content with the answers in mind.
For example, if you blog about being a WAHM, your ideal reader might be a mom who wants to work from home. Some problems she may face include figuring out which work-at-home opportunities are legit, how to juggle parenting with working from home, and how to manage her time effectively. With that in mind you could create posts like “5 Legit Companies that Hire WAHMs,” “10 Tips on Maintaining a Work-Family Balance as a WAHM,” and “15 Amazing Time Management Tools for WAHMs.”
Once you have ideas of the type of content that your ideal reader will love, make it a point to provide value on a consistent basis. I know you probably have 1,000 other things to do that don’t involve blogging. I get it. But if blogging is a priority for you, then blogging every now and then isn’t going to cut it. I’m not saying you have to blog every day or every week. Honestly, the frequency of your blog posts is totally up to you. But I do recommend that you aim for some type of routine.
People are creatures of habit. If you post every 2nd Monday, the people who love your blog will learn to tune in every 2nd Monday. However, if you post every week for a month, then miss several months, then start posting once every other week, then skip 5 weeks, then post once a month, then you will end up confusing and possibly losing your readers. Plan out your awesome content in an editorial calendar and then try to stick to it.
Build a Solid Social Media Presence
If you are only reaching out to your audience via your blog, you are likely missing out on a lot of connections. More than likely, your audience is hanging out on social media. Not only that, they probably spend a good deal of their free time on various social media platforms. That means they are engaging with various other entities on a daily basis.
At this point, it’s pretty much a requirement that bloggers have profiles on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as Pinterest. While Pinterest doesn’t feel as “social” as the other sites, it’s often a huge driver of traffic for many bloggers. Of course, there are more social media sites than these, and part of your job as a blogger is figuring out where your readers are and going to them.
Nurture your Relationship with Readers
Speaking of connecting with your audience, it is critical that you focus on nurturing your relationship with them. You want your blog readers to view you as their virtual BFF. When I think of my best friend, I think of someone who listens to me, cares about me, checks in to make sure I’m ok, knows all about my likes and dislikes, lets me know about things that she thinks will benefit me, and encourages me to do great things.
Think about ways that you can embody these traits when it comes to your audience. It could take the form of responding to comments and emails, paying attention to their feedback and then actually implementing it, or just going that extra mile to make sure you are bringing value to them. Another great way to do this is by creating an actual community for your readers, such as a private Facebook group, where they can interact with them on a daily basis. As a blog reader myself, I love when blogs I follow do this. One example is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Community.
Network with Other Bloggers
When I first started blogging back in 2010, I didn’t know anyone else who was doing it. I also knew next to nothing about blogging. It wasn’t until I started connecting with other bloggers, that I started learning about not only how to blog, but about all of the amazing opportunities that blogging could offer me. Networking with other bloggers has been a HUGE help for me. Whenever I have a blog-related question, I have people to turn to. I’ve learned so much, so much faster than if I had been doing this all on my own. I’ve also connected with large brands through other bloggers.
Sure, I may have been able to learn all of this on my own. I may have even been able to eventually connect with large brands. However, my belief if that just because you CAN do things alone doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Besides, it’s really nice to have a network of like-minded people that I can turn to, even if it’s just to chat. I’m happy to say that some of my closest friends are bloggers – both virtually and in real life.
Build an Email List
One of the first things all serious bloggers do is build a mailing list, even if they are just getting started. Many bloggers may mistakenly believe that you only need a mailing list if you are planning to sell something. While having a mailing list is important if you are offering a product or service, that is not the only reason to build one. Simply put, having a mailing list is smart and gives you a direct line to your ideal reader. It enables you to reach out to your audience to let them know about new content you have waiting for them, whether it is a blog post, an ebook, a course, etc. It lets you reach them directly to invite them to join you for events, whether online or live. In short, you are able to encourage them to take some type of action to engage with you. This can translate into everything from blog traffic to sales. So, if you haven’t already started building your mailing list, I would make that a priority.
There are a countless number of email companies, but the ones I recommend are MailerLite and MailChimp, both of which start out for free, and ConvertKit, which is a great option for if you need something a little heartier.
Create Amazing Graphics
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a blog that had great content but little to no graphics. You may think that it shouldn’t matter if a blog doesn’t have pictures if it has great writing. Trust me, I understand. I’m a writer by trade and I admit that creating graphics was not at the top of my to-do list. However, the truth is that people are visual. We love graphics. The wild popularity of Pinterest and Instagram are proof of this.
If there are two blog posts that say pretty much the same thing, but one of them has an eye-catching graphic, guess which one most people will click on. If you guessed the one with the graphic, you’d be correct. Having visually appealing graphics on your blog will help you to stand out from the blogs that don’t. Plus, having great graphics enables you to harness the power of Pinterest and Instagram to direct traffic to your blog posts. There is really no downside to having great visuals on your blog.
If photography isn’t your thing, check out these 23 sites where you can get free stock images for your blog! If you don’t have a graphics editor, sites like Stencil, Canva, and PicMonkey make it easy for you to create eye-popping graphics.
Blogging, like many other online industries, is constantly in flux. Just when you think you have gotten the hang of one thing, it either changes or you have to learn something completely new. If you are averse to learning or trying new things, you are going to have a tough time building and maintaining a successful blog. All of the serious bloggers and online content creators that I know are determined to stay in the loop. It is very easy to get left behind if you don’t at least try to stay on top of things.
I highly recommend that you write down a list of skills that you need to develop and then find some resources that can help you with each one. Personally, I love Creative Live and think it is great for learning a wide variety of skills. However, it’s just one of many quality resources out there. Many bloggers also offer courses, and they can be a great way to glean information from people who are rocking specific areas of the blogging landscape. A few of the courses and/or books I recommend include:
Offer Some Variety
Another thing that serious bloggers do is make sure they are offering a variety of content. Not only is it important that you cover a range of topics or problems within your specific niche, it’s also a good idea to diversify the type of content that you create for your readers. In addition to writing great blog posts, consider creating videos, doing podcasts, and creating digital products like printables, workbooks, and courses. By offering a variety of content, you help to ensure that people who come to your blog are able to find content that they enjoy.
Now that you know what serious bloggers are doing, what is ONE thing that you think you need to work on right away? Is there anything else you would add to this list of things all serious bloggers do? Let us know in the comments below.
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