8 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog

Are you tired of looking at blogs like Buffer or Copyblogger and seeing the crazy amount of engagement they get while your blog is still dwelling?

Do you ever see those blogs that get hundreds of shares per post and wonder how you can start a successful blog of your own?

In today’s world, blogging is a pretty helpful marketing tool. Whether you write about fashion, lifestyle, food or technology, there are hundreds if not thousands of blogs you are up against.

So, how are you going to stand out? Why will someone come to your blog over someone else’s?

Today I want to share with you some of the strategies that helped blogs like KISSmetrics, OkDork, Lifehack and QuickSprout go from zero to one thousand page views in a  month.

Follow these 8 strategies to get started with your own successful blog:

1. Choose your platform

There are so many blogging platforms for you to get started: WordPress, Blogger, Ghost, Svbtle, Tumblr– the list is endless.

I am personally a WordPress fan.

The reason I believe WordPress is the best platform for bloggers is because of its huge community, the simple interface, and the crazy amount of plugins and widgets available.

 WordPress allows you to do pretty much whatever you want.

There are tons of resources that will teach you how to create and implement your WordPress site, so I won’t elaborate on it here. If you do need assistance, check out this short video:

2. Know your audience

The first step of launching a successful blog is to know your audience. I cannot stress enough how important this is.

If you don’t know who you are writing for, how can you provide them with valuable content that they will want to read?

Imagine you decide you want to write a blog aimed at designers. Do you think graphic designers, interior designers, fashion designers, and website designers will all want to read the same content? Probably not.

Its crucial that you know your exact niche and write about things that your target audience will want to read about.

Create A Buyer’s Persona:

The best thing you can do before starting your blog is to create a buyer’s persona.

A buyer’s persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal reader that requires you to consider readers’ demographics, behavioral patterns, motivations, and goals.

For starters, this is exactly what I want you to do.

Get yourself a pen and paper (or use a tool like Personapp)

Now, Imagine your ideal reader.
Write down:

1. Their name
2. Their sex
3. Their age
4. Their location
5. Their career
6. Their Interests
7. Their biggest challenges at the moment

Now write down the following answers about your ideal reader:

8. Are they sophisticated? Are they cool? Are they technical? Are they informal?

9. What is their tone of voice?

10. What do they value? What do they consider to be the most important things?

Now for the important question.

Where does your audience hang out? 

  1. Find where your audience is online – which Facebook groups they are members of, what content they are sharing on Wwitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ groups.
  2. Talk to your audience through online forums, do surveys and post statuses asking questions. There is no better way of knowing what content your audience like to read about than from asking them directly, right? So do it!

You can use tools such as Typeform or SurveyMonkey to help you.

SurveyMonkey

If you are looking for a more detailed breakdown on User Persona check out Step 1 of this article by Neil Patel or read Lander’s blog post about how to build your first persona.

Now, let’s move on.

Know your keywords and search terms

So now you know your target audience, you know what they are interested in, you know where they hang out and you know the content they are engaging with.

Now its time to develop a list of keywords and key phrases that your audience are searching for, to include in your content and topic strategy.

You need to do keyword research based on the topics that your audience are interested in and exactly what they are likely to search for.

These are 4 tools which you will find extremely helpful:

1. Keyword planner:
google

Here is a great resource that explains exactly how to use it: “How to use the keyword planner: The new keyword tool from Google AdWords.”

2. WordStreams Keyword tool:
Wordstream

WordStream’s free keyword tool provides keyword suggestion, keyword grouping, keyword analysis, long-tail keyword research and negative keyword discovery.

3. Freshkey:
Freshkey

Gives keyword ideas, variations, and synonyms sorted by popularity.

4. Keywordtool.io (a Google alternative)
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 16.49.25
Now take your keyword results, and create content using them.


See what content is resonating with your target audience: 

The perfect tool for this is BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo analyzes what content performs best for any topic or competitor. You can also find key influencers to promote your content.

1. Go to BuzzSumo
Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 17.03.03

2. Create an account by pressing “Sign Up” in the top right corner.

3. Type in your keyword search. In this example I have typed in “gamification”.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 17.05.43

4. Choose to sort by “total shares” to see which content is most commonly shared.

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5. “Filter by date” on the right hand side. If you want to know what’s currently trending I recommend filtering by “Paste month.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 17.12.23

 

So when you are looking for inspiration to create high-converting content, you need to check out BuzzSumo.

Now get writing!

It’s time to start writing your content.

Make sure that the content you write has a purpose.

Often, before I start writing I jot down a list of what I want my readers to take away from my post. This gives me a goal to work towards.

Your content must deliver solutions, inform your readers, solve their problems. This is what will keep them coming back to your blog.

Once you have established your blog’s angle, of course taking into considerations who you are, and what value you can bring, you need to communicate your expertise.

Please avoid two things:

1. Unnecessary fluff
2. Jargon words that sound “clever” but have no meaning.

3. Find your blogging voice

One of the best ways to get your readers to continue coming back for more or to get your readers to choose to spend their 30 minutes of reading time a day on your blog requires you to find a unique voice they can relate too.

Writing with personality is the most important thing to do if you want people to get a feel for who you really are.

But how can you find your unique tone of voice?

  1. Tell personal stories and open up to your readers.  By being more open with your readers and getting personal, it is easier to relate to you and build trust. Being human is a big part of building readership relations.
  2. Remember that they have not come to the blog to read about you – they have come to learn something from you. Your job is to find the middle ground between “me me me” and adding personality to your writing.
  3. Write like you talk. Speak with your audience, not at them. No one likes formal. Be fun, creative, and approachable – this is what will make your blog a hit.
  4. One of the best tips (which I got from Neil Patel) is to find a blog you love reading and start imitating their style until you feel secure enough to develop your own. While doing so, you will find exactly what you love. This is a good way to start finding your own voice as you go.

Personality is the difference between being loved and being ordinary.

4. Create an online community

Imagine your blog is a physical reality, not a virtual one.

Building a devoted blogging community is one of the biggest struggles. To do this you need to be constantly active and constantly engaging with your readers.

Follow these tips and you will have an online community on your blog, in no time:

1. Consistently post content.

It is your responsibility to provide your readers with new content. The more you post, the more they will feel a need to return.

By consistently publishing content your readers will start trusting you more and more. You will also see a huge improvement in your writing which will result in an increase in authority.

2.Participate and Engage!

You must participate on your blog! Imagine that each blog post is the opening sentence of a conversation. You want to keep the conversation going by responding to comments. You readers have taken the time to leave a comment- show that you appreciate it.

Caring goes a long way! There is nothing that inspires loyalty more than feeling like you belong.

3. Get Active on Social Media:

If you are looking to build a strong community you need to get active on social media.

Sharing your content, sharing the content of others, and connecting with relevant people allows you to build relationships with your target audience.

Mastering social media channels can be very time consuming. I use Buffer, an amazing social media management tool.
buffer

Buffer allows you to write posts at one time, choose which social profiles to send them to, and schedule the posts for the days and times of your choice.

Here is a post that shows you all the features Buffer has to offer: “The Complete Guide To Social Sharing: The Brand New Buffer Browser Extensions”

5. Know the secrets to overcoming blogger’s block

Let’s be honest, blogging can be daunting.

All blog owners will eventually experience writer’s block. This feeling often leaves us saying to ourselves “I’ll write tomorrow,” then tomorrow comes and you sit down at your laptop and struggle to get the words on the page, then you say “I’ll write tomorrow” again. It’s a vicious circle that you need to break.

Here are my top 5 tips for overcoming blogger’s block:

  1. Engage in social media groups. When you’re feeling lost and in need of inspiration, networks come in handy. Join LinkedIn, Google + and Facebook Groups relevant to your niche. Ask questions on Quora and Reddit – share information on topics of common interest and get feedback. From there use the information as a writing prompt to help get you started on a new piece of content.quora
  2. Carry a notepad with you wherever you go and jot down ideas whenever you think of them. Stephen Leacock sums it up perfectly: “writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself – it is the occurring which is difficult.” You’ll find that having a place to keep track of ideas is a great help when the inevitable happens and you hit a wall when it comes to writing.
  3. Read something old that you wrote once. You may think that this is a somewhat bizarre piece of advice, but it tends to help me every time. Sometimes I think to myself: “I must have lost my touch.” But by re-reading past blog posts, you realize how natural the writing process comes. It takes you out of ‘panic mode’ and helps you gain confidence to move forward.
  4. Set yourself deadlines and stick to them. It’s often hard to complete a blog post in your own time. You may find yourself taking procrastination to a new level. To avoid this happening, set yourself deadlines in an encouraging way. These deadlines are not there to stress you out or make you feel pressured, they are just a great way for you to jump-start a writing routine.
  5. Take a break, go for a walk and brew yourself a coffee!

6. Write content regularly:

Blogging is not an easy job. I know it’s time consuming, I know it can be frustrating and I know it’s difficult to constantly come up with new ideas. But you HAVE to post content regularly if you want your blog to be successful.

The reason you have a blog is because you are an expert in a certain field – you need to be posting updates regularly.

There is serious competition out there – if you don’t write about it, someone else will get there first. Don’t let your most aggressive competitors get ahead of you – stay on the ball!

Another important reason to blog regularly is SEO. Search engines just love fresh content, play nice with them and constantly post new, relevant content, to show your website is still alive!

Once you create a schedule for posting it’s not difficult. Decide how many times you are going to post a week and stick to it.

7. Make sure your blog’s design is visually appealing

When you are designing your blog, make sure that its key purposes are met. Your content should be easy to find, your blog easy to navigate, and your content easy to read.

The header on your blog is your first impression. Be conscious of the message you want to give your audience. If your blog is a serious blog then be serious, and if your blog is a lighthearted blog then be fun and creative.

Within your blog posts, you should make sure your formatting supports the text by increasing its readability.

  1. Use graphics: You must break your text up with graphics. Information-heavy content is not easy to digest, and will result in a loss of readers. It’s important that the images included in your blog posts are high quality. Use Photoshop to make your picture look as good as it can get! If you’re struggling to find good images, Here is a list of 15 amazing sites with breathtaking free stock photos. Here’s a more detailed explanation about how to design your blog:  “How to Design a Blog and Make It Look Pretty”.
  2. Use ‘H2’ headlines to break the text. Not only does the text look more aesthetically pleasing, people also use headlines to decide whether or not to read your article. If the headlines are weak, the blog post will not be read.
  3. Use quotes: Every WordPress theme has a quotes design, which frames the quote in a different text and size from the rest of the content. This is a great way to break the text flow as well as a good resource to tweet.
    modernize-design-infographic
    Credit to http://madlemmings.com/

    8. Become best friends with Google analytics

    To launch a successful blog you need to master Google Analytics, so that you can track your visitors and monitor the traffic on your blog.

    Google Analytics is the ideal tool to help you measure the effectiveness of your blogging and marketing efforts.

    Google Analytics can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming for new bloggers. There are so many different metrics to understand that it is best to decide which reports are most important and focusing on that.

    Here are the most important Google Analytics metrics you should make sure to monitor:

    1. Bounce Rate: This is when a user visits only one page on your blog before exiting (bouncing off). Linking to other posts you have written is a good tactic to lower your bounce rate as you drive visitors deeper into your blog.

    2. Percentage of New Vs. Returning Visitors: New visitors are great but not if they are dominating the percentage ratio. After you promote a new blog post a high percentage of new visitors is a good sign.

    On a day-to-day basis, if you have a low percentage of returning visitors it means people are not engaging with your content. You want people to enter your blog, love the content, and regularly re-visit your site. If this is not happening then you are doing something wrong.

    3. Demographics: Who are the people engaging with your blog’s content? By identifying their age, gender, and interests, you can tailor your content suitably.

    4. Time of Day:  Pay very close attention to the time of day your posts are generating the most engagement. On Google Analytics, you can track visits by the hour.

    Traffic Sources:

    google-analytics-traffic-sources
    Credit to http://sideincomeblogging.com/

    The traffic sources overview gives you insights into how people find your blog. It is important to see which sources sent the most traffic. The traffic sources report is divided into 3 Mediums:

    1. Direct Traffic: These are those who visit your blog directly by: Typing your URL into the search browser or clicking on the link in an email/message.

    2. Referral Traffic: There are the visitors that click a link on another site and land on your site. If you have other bloggers referencing your post, watch out for the referral traffic.

    3. Search Engine Traffic: This is the traffic from visitors clicking on links from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. The traffic sources are divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic vs. paid ads on search engine pages.

    If you want to learn more about Google Analytics Reports, this article is very insightful: Google Analytics Content Reports: Understanding the Key Benefits


    Let’s quickly recap the 8 strategies you must implement to launch a successful blog of your own:

    1. Choose your blogging platform
    2. Get to know your audience
    3. Find your blogging voice
    4. Create an online community
    5. Learn the secrets behind overcoming bloggers block
    6. Write content regularly
    7. Make sure your blogs design is visually appealing
    8. Become best friends with Google Analytics

    It is impossible to document every strategy there is to launch a successful blog – but if you follow these 8 steps you will be well on your way!

    Please leave a comment below if you have any important tips you think should be included.

    Happy Blogging!