In case you didn’t know, I started this blog in January 2013. In February 2014, I was honored to be listed as one of the top 10 social media blogs of 2014. After only a year of blogging, I achieved a milestone I honestly never imagined and was bestowed an honor that thousands of bloggers would like to receive.
I don’t say this to gloat. If you know me at all, you know that is far from my style. However, I do say this because I have learned some great lessons about what works and what doesn’t work in blogging and I want to share those lessons with you. And I want you to know that I have some credibility in my advice.
Now, to be fair, there is no “right” way or a specific recipe you can copy to create a perfect blog. In fact, I don’t think there is a “perfect” blog. But there are some things you can do which can help bring your blog into a highly visible and competitive position.
With that being said, here are my tips to create an “award-winning” blog.
Write About Your Passion(s)
When I started this blog, it was because I had a message I wanted to share. It was something I believed in, and something I wanted to share with others. Social media is a passion of mine (chances are you know that by now 😉 ). I can literally talk about social media all day every day. I “do” social media and this blog is my spare time – after work, on the weekends, and other times when most people would rather be enjoying down time. I do this because I am passionate about it.
Blogging successfully, consistently, and well enough to win an award doesn’t come from casual interest. It comes from passion.
But, you might be thinking, your business blog isn’t your passion. But is your business your passion? If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, or otherwise independent business person, your business sure as heck had better be your passion. And if it isn’t, well, this blog and my posts might not be for you… But if your business is your passion, then you have the passion to fill a blog. Write about what you know and love and that will come across to your readers.
Depending on your strategy and your business, the level of “personal” may vary. But there should always be personality in your posts. People can read books and formal information anywhere. Your blog is a conversation. Share your stories. Share anecdotes. Make fun of yourself. Admit when you’re wrong. Use your vocabulary.
If you’ve read my blog regularly, you know I love emoticons and silly words like “gonna”, “wanna”, “amazeballs”, and “ginormous”. This is how I talk so this is how I write. It’s “me”. I share stories about good things and bad things. I share what I’ve learned. I invite you into my world.
Find a way to get closer to your readers and get some personality into your posts.
Write About What You Know
You are an educated person – in something or many things. You know things that your customers don’t. You know things that your competitors don’t. You know things I don’t. Write about that! Write about what you know that will educate others.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. I’m not an expert. I don’t know many bloggers who are “experts”. But they’re all good at what they know. We all learn as we go. Things change, evolve, or update. You’re learning along the way – and that’s ok. Share that information and those lessons with your audience! Help them learn from you.
Know Your Audience
This is BIG! You have to be writing for the right people. My audience is entrepreneurs and small business owners with little to moderate social media knowledge. I don’t talk techy. I don’t talk like a Ph.D even though I have significant post graduate education. I keep my posts simple and with easy to follow steps. I provide information (that I hope) business owners can easily implement into their strategies. If you don’t fall into this category I’m totally ok with that. There are plenty of other blogs that will cater to what you need. In fact, some of my readers “graduate” to higher level blogs – and that’s awesome! I want them to grow and succeed.
So know who you’re talking to. You are NOT writing for everyone. You are writing for your audience. And your audience will depend on your business, your goals, and your strategy. Your audience may be your customers, they may be fellow business colleagues or associates. They may be highly educated or technical. Or they might be beginners and struggling to grasp concepts. They may be looking for simple answers or in-depth technical analysis.
Whoever your audience is you need to write for THEM!
This means your tone, your content, your post length, your post frequency, your calls-to-action, etc. all depend on your audience. Figure out what they want and give them that.
I know, it’s your blog and you want to write what you want to write. You can mix in some personal choices but if you aren’t writing for your target audience, you aren’t going to achieve your desired results.
Know Why You’re Blogging
Why are you blogging? Have you ever asked yourself that? Are you trying to get new customers? Are you trying to grow your brand? Are you trying to educate people? Are you trying to scam people? I know, of course you’re not trying to “scam” people – but many people are. And you don’t really want to be that person… right?
I started my blog to educate people. And to be completely honest, I needed something to do. I wanted to fill my downtime with something more valuable. I didn’t plan to make money. I didn’t know if anyone would even listen to me. I still don’t place ads on my site because I don’t care about that kind of revenue. Yes, I do take on consulting clients now but it’s still not my primary income so my blog isn’t designed to bring in that kind of customer. I’m still here to educate (and entertain myself 😉 ).
But until you know why you’re blogging, you can’t be successful. Whatever your reason, your blog will require certain things to achieve that goal. And if you don’t know what that goal is, your blog will likely look like a smorgesborg of various purposes. Defining your purpose will keep your blog clean and functional.
Make It Appealing
Your blog has to look good. That’s it. You can have the most amazing content ever but if it’s hard to navigate or has horrible color options or poor font selections, no one will last long enough to read past the first paragraph.
Choose a layout that’s easy to navigate. Keep your page tabs simple and organized. Don’t crowd your side bars and footers. Include only the most important information in these areas. Choose colors that appeal to your readers and that are easy on the eyes. Harsh colors like red and neon colors strain the eyes. Black backgrounds with white fonts are also very difficult for readers to focus on. If you can’t read it, neither can your readers.
Embrace Your Readers
Really, this should be number one in growing your blog. The main reason my blog made it onto the final list of the top 10 blogs, and the ONLY reason it was even nominated is because of my readers. I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a huge readership. I average about 13,000 views a month right now. I realize that’s nowhere near the big leagues but it’s a whole hell of a lot more than the couple hundred views I had when I started this thing.
And before my blog won the award, it had never seen more than 8000 views a month. But even then, my “little” blog outshone the big names – blogs with hundreds of thousands of views a month. Why? Because my readers are awesome. And I show them that I appreciate them. I genuinely love my readers and have developed friendships, business relationships, and casual connections with many of my readers.
Here’s the thing, if someone takes the time to comment on your blog (or a social media post related to your blog) you had better respond to them. Yes, each and every one of them. Ok, maybe some exceptions, but there are few. Can you imagine going to a business party and ignoring every person that attempted to talk to you or start a conversation with you? That’d be weird, right? So why do it on your blog? This is how your audience is connecting with you. Connect with them!! Even if it’s merely to thank them for their comment. Keep the conversation going or your blog will sink quickly.
These are the reasons that I believe my blog has done well. I know I haven’t given you super specific details, but that’s because I can’t, and I shouldn’t. Your blog is unique to you and your business and your readers. The specific details of my blog (my colors, font choices, conversation tactics, use of emoticons, post topics, and post frequency) won’t work for you. And that’s what’s so great!
Our blogs are as unique as our fingerprints. They separate us from everyone else and define our brands and our businesses. But if you want your blog to be more successful, I recommend you follow the tips above.
No, I can’t promise you’ll create an award winning blog. Heck, I still can’t believe that mine is! But you can create a better blog and if that helps you reach your goals, then we’ve succeeded.
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