Blogs are awesome but they’re also a ton of work (unless you’re efficient about it). If you blog with purpose, you’ll see some great results. I’ve learned a lot over the few years I’ve been blogging and I’ve had many folks ask how they can get started, get better, and grow.
To that end, I’d like to offer 31 tips to help you get your blog off the ground and drive the results you want. Why 31? See Item 11 for the reason.
1. Blog with a purpose. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, you won’t stick with it. For me, the blog is about getting our message out and getting folks interested in buying our training courses or buying my book (which is also tied to our training courses). Everything I do keeps that end in mind.
2. Stick with content areas you have expertise in. Stay focused on a small set of topics (10 max). Readers want to know that more often than not when they come to your blog, they’ll find topics they’re interested in.
3. Keep it short. And long. Our posts are 600-1200 words. Short enough to digest quickly. Long enough to cover a subject appropriately.
5. Be actionable. Give your readers something they can immediately apply. If they use your info and find it helpful, they’ll be back and they’ll tell others.
6. Standards. NEVER let crappy content show up on your blog. If you use guest bloggers, you have every right to ask them for revisions if their content isn’t up to your standards. Aim high.
7. Set a schedule. Stick to it. Readers come to expect a certain post frequency. Break up that schedule and you frustrate them. I tend to write my post on Mondays and have a guest post on Wednesdays.
8. Commit. I have not missed writing a post in 4 ½ years. Every week. If you’re sporadic, people won’t be regular readers. It takes a loooong time to build an audience.
9. Use a consistent format. My posts always have a picture, an intro paragraph or two, a story (usually), a lesson/actionable takeaway, and a signature block. People get used to that style. Pick one and stick to it.
10. You’re here to amuse us. People go to blogs first for entertainment, then for content. Share ideas using interesting angles (wookiees, heavy metal, superheroes, etc.). It makes people think (and read).
11. List posts work. Even better are list posts with odd numbers in them (53, 17, 22, etc.). They catch your eye and get you to start reading. If you want to grow your blog, you have to capture their attention first.
12. Use Tweetadder to AUTOMATICALLY build your twitter following. I automatically follow folks who mention me, my blog, “leadership,” and the names of other prominent leadership bloggers. Those people then tend to follow back and see our posts tweeted out. See graph of my followers below for the impact it can have. Gee, when do *you* think I started using Tweetadder?
13. Use RSS Graffiti to have your posts automatically go to your Facebook timeline and the timeline of your Facebook page. Set it and forget it. This will generate traffic from Facebook with no effort.
14. Tie your blog to your LinkedIn profile. Again – another opportunity for people to find your posts.
15. Use either Tweetadder’s RSS function or Twitterfeed to automatically publish OTHER RSS feeds from other bloggers in your space in your twitter feed. Yes, share other people’s content. Your readers will appreciate it and those authors often reciprocate.
16. Invite guest bloggers. They do the heavy lifting (writing), you get more content, and your readers enjoy it.
17. Write 10-20 blog posts and get all your widgets, sign ups, etc. all set up before you tell anyone about your blog. They won’t subscribe if the first time they’re there they see one single solitary post. Build content before building audience.
18. At first, invite friends, family, colleagues, etc. to check out your blog, give you a pity subscription sign-up, and tell their friends. It’s okay to ask for favors occasionally. Just don’t ask too much.
21. Email quarterly updates with your best posts from the last 3 months via Constant Contact. If folks missed them the first time around, give them another opportunity to read them.
22. Enable sharing. Use AddThis on your posts so people can share your content on other social media sites.
23. Get people to read more of your content. Link back to older posts, have a “best of” list of posts, use Outbrain for other post suggestions (see the “You might also like” pictures at the end of this post and definitely use pictures vs. text – the click through rate is three times higher).
24. Use Tweetadder to create a list of your old posts and tweet them randomly (no more than 7 per day). People don’t go into the archives. Just create a tweet with the post title, URL, and “via @thoughtLEADERS” at the end. As your Twitter following grows, more people will come across this content that they wouldn’t otherwise find.
25. Write guest blog posts for other prominent bloggers in your space. If their readers like your stuff, they’ll click through to your blog and hopefully sign up for yours too.
26. Find newsletters in your content area and submit posts to them for inclusion in the newsletter. Again, folks will click through and become your readers.
27. Use a good SEO plugin. It makes your posts easier to find via search. I like All-in-One SEO for WordPress.
28. Be patient. Just to manage expectations, here’s a graph of my subscribers over time from JAN 2008 to present. It takes a long time to get traction.
29. Don’t censor comments. I’ll post any comment as long as it’s not profane, hate speech, or spam/phishing. Sure, I disagree with some comments. I can either a. reply with my disagreement, b. ignore replying, or c. let my other audience members hammer the commenter. If you censor, people will leave your blog over time.
30. Respond to tweets. Sure, most of our twitter stuff is automated but if someone takes the time to say something to you, be courteous and reply.
31. If readers suggest a post topic, consider it. If one reader is asking for it, others will probably enjoy the piece too. Incidentally – this post is being written based on a reader’s request for how to build their new blog’s audience.
There you go – 1,200 words on how you can get your blog up and off the ground. Good luck!