Blogging has officially become a job. Formal employment. A nine-to-five. Not only can it win you popularity, get you free stuff, get you into parties or simply make you look cool, but people are now paid substantial amounts of money to include product in their posts, elevate company profiles, promote brand names and people. Whether you’ve got aspirations of professional blogging, are doing it for fun and fame or would like to monetise for a little pocket money, there’s tried and tested elements to consider when perfecting this craft.
Produce original content
Everyone with a camera and a dream feels their dinner bowl of dim sum or their best friend’s new shoes are worth sharing with the world but I’ve got news for you – it’s simply not true. You cannot expect to become successful by sheepishly posting a few personal pics and over-used images sourced from the most popular blogs on the net. This is particularly true in the world of lifestyle and entertainment – remember that everyone has access to the best fashion blogs, we are all addicted to Pinterest and if we’re lucky we can all eat out once in a while and Instagram our noodle soup.
Blogs provide a platform for you to be creative. Even if your blog only consists of curated visuals you still need to express yourself and evoke an emotion through your choices so don’t be lazy. Lifedev.net examined the bloated blogosphere and had this to report – “Almost every single major niche is saturated with regurgitated news.” If you have nothing interesting or different to say you may have to re-evaluate your reasons for blogging.
Develop your own voice
To expand on the above – as the chances are quite slim that you’ll be the only one covering topical issues like a news item or a big party, it’s ultra-important to make your post worth reading over the hundreds that will be discussing the same thing. Write the way you speak, make it sound natural and put your own spin on whatever story you’re covering so readers can identify with you, feel an attachment to you and appreciate your outlook on things. They will stay if they feel the way you see things resonates with them, they will stay if you’re funny and they enjoy your humour and satire, they may even stay if they have nothing in common with you but your fresh take gives them a second opinion. You will not retain readers by being samey and robotic. Your personality and story are a big part of the motivation for readers visiting your site; they want to know what makes you tick so don’t hide yourself too much. You have to be a really established blogger with amazing connections in your industry and enviable inside information to keep readers coming back for a boring delivery and bland writing style.
Consider yourself a journalist of sorts
Research, fact-checking, interest, spelling, grammar and again – writing style. These are as important in digital press as they are in print – you want your readers to trust you after all. Besides audience trust, there are also legal issues to consider when re-posting, using existing images and quoting other people. Be warned.
It’s imperative to know what else is out there for comparison, research and to make yourself more competitive in your niche. Have a look at what works and what doesn’t work and learn from other peoples’ experiences. It’s also important to check your own site analytics for hits, misses and bounce rates, especially if you use your blog to sell or promote product. Make sure you’re aware of what content converts into actual sales – this will help you turn more profit and gain a wider readership. Produce content that involves questions and ‘call-to-actions’ and take note of what gets the most attention. Sharing your work on social networks will only help elevate your profile, and strangely, linking to related content also does the trick by creating relevancy and showing us that you’re not writing in a bubble.
Another way to interact is by allowing your readers to comment – you want to know what they think after all, don’t you? It’s also a good idea to let others post guest articles on your blog – this provides variety and added interest. Once you’re more established you could also use competitions and giveaways as a means of connecting with your audience and promoting your own product.
Know the technical stuff
As mentioned above – analytics are key when investigating what works and what doesn’t. This is the boring bit but you’ll need metrics to determine what your readers are looking for and create a winning formula. Use of hash tags, headings and great SEO (Search engine optimisation) will make your blog stand out in the technical sense. This is where original content will make your posts easier to search rather than getting lost in pools of the same old stuff. If you’re trying to make money from blogging you will need to be as visible as possible so it may be worth getting an expert to assist with tags and the fiddly technie things. You will probably want your blog optimised for mobile and there’ll be formatting restrictions on this like word count and image usage.
Also worth noting is that people like lists – ‘Top tens’ and ‘Most wanted’ provide easy references for lazy readers and it’s how a lot of us check trends and make purchasing decisions. According to socialmediaexaminer.com, “The brief list has little description but can entice readers to bookmark the post to use the list as a resource down the road or to share it across their own networks.”
Make it pretty
The way your blog looks is probably the second most important thing to consider for blogging success. The digital world is incredibly visual and this may be your one chance to make an impact. Make sure it’s captivating, has good structure so it’s easy to navigate and not confusing. A cluttered site is like shopping during a sale – something I try to avoid. I don’t want to dig for what I want; it’s time-consuming and makes what should be a fun exercise frustrating and boring. According to problogdesign.com – structure, balance, positioning and small details are key. The overall look should have clarity and emphasis but little flourishes add interesting touches and originality.
A lot of white space achieves clarity and that’s why so many blogs use this method but this level of simplicity may not suit your subject matter or audience so you may have to find a good visual balance without overloading your look and confusing your readers.
What’s in a name?
Everything. The title should communicate a full message. A lot of people won’t ever go beyond this point so make it a good one! The tags and titles within the story are also very important – this is not an area where you want to be mysterious if you’re just starting out. This may be the only impression you’ll ever get to make and is what will turn casual browsers into first time readers. Make it as alluring and relatable as possible.
There you have it. Happy blogging! Remember to have fun, that’s the only way your posts will remain enticing and dynamic. Plus it will keep you blogging consistently so you don’t lose your hard-earned readers!