Blogging Tips to Develop a Successful Blog

Over the past 18 months, I’ve launched over 100 blogs on behalf of clients while maintaining several blogs of my own.

Because of all the clients I’ve helped guide through this process, I’ve been able to observe impact of blogging on businesses. I’ve watched what works… and what doesn’t work when it comes to blogging.

In finance class, you learned about P/E ratio… which is a price/earnings ratio that tells you whether a stock is fairly priced.. Well, here there are three P/E elements which are essential to developing a successful blog.

1. Passion isn’t Enough

Passion is the foundation but it won’t keep you going in the long run. You’d better have a well defined goal set for your business blog before you begin. Why are you blogging? Part of your definition had better be communicating with people because THAT is what blogging does best… communicate!

2. Planning is Essential

Once you have a goal in mind, then you can lay out a plan to achieve that goal. Simply posting random streams of consciousness won’t help you reach your goal.

3. People are a key Element

This isn’t writing for you, this is writing for your audience. Who are they? Why are they reading your blog? If you don’t know who they are or why they’re here, then you can’t give them what they want.

Don’t pass over these three key elements lightly. They are truly ESSENTIAL to developing a successful blog.

How to Make a Blog Successful

One of the most popular questions new bloggers ask is “How do I make my blog successful?”

Some elements essential to blog success are easy.  Successful blogs

  • Are structurally sound when it comes to the writing.
  • Are written in a personable and engaging manner.
  • Provide useful information to a well defined audience.
  • Speak directly and respectfully to that well defined audience.
  • Are written in a voice of authenticity and honesty.  (No anonymous bloggers)
  • Are a source of breaking news to their community.

When you build a blog on the foundation above, you’ll discover you start getting links from other websites and blogs. Lots of links.

Of course, there are other elements found in every successful blog.  Successful bloggers credit other bloggers when appropriate.   Also, successful blogs follow a REGULAR posting pattern.   Posting once a week is a bare minimum… three times a week would be even better.

At this point, I should mention that the most successful blogs are using a self hosted WordPress blog.  It’s not as easy to set up as a free blog but in the end, blogging on that platform seems to be a significant key to blogging success.

In the end, a successful blog is more than just the sum of its posts and comments.   Building a successful blog takes planning, time and direction.

Begin your quest by defining your blog goals.  Then, determine your blog’s audience.  Who would want to read your blog?

Writing with your blog’s audience is mind may be the single most important factor in determining how successful your blog will be.

Create A Successful Blog Through Tagging

Is your blog struggling? Are you posting and no one is finding you? A basic key to creating a successful blog is to assign tags to your entries.

Blog Tutorials writes in the post Tags for Traffic writes:

So how can tags increase traffic to your blog? Tags can help increase your blog traffic by helping your SEO. Since you will be using your keywords as tags this will help search engines determine the relevance and importance of the keywords for that blog post. Even more importantly tags can help you in blog search engines and social bookmarking sites.

Every successful blog assigns tags to each entry. Those tags help the search engines find your blog but more importantly, the tags help those searching such social networking sites as Technorati to find your blog.

The most successful blog is the blog that is FOUND… DISCOVERED… AND READ!

A great blog with incredible posts that nobody reads is not a successful blog!

I just found such a blog today. It was a great blog that I had literally stumbled upon about a year ago. Today I went back and the last post I saw was the last post on the blog. It was a Typepad blog with great content which was poorly tagged.

It’s been my experience that a great post that is poorly tagged can still get some attention when it’s posted to a self hosted WordPress blog. However, from what I’ve seen, good tagging is ESSENTIAL with Typepad.

Before you post that next entry… tag it! If you’re using WordPress… it’s right below where you type your post!

Tagging is an essential key to create a successful blog.

Grabbing Attention with Famous Names in Blog Post Titles

When it comes to grabbing attention for your blog post title, one really effective tactic is to grab attention by using a famous name or title in the blog post title.

Your blog post titles are very important… so choose them carefully.

Eighty percent of your blog readers will read your blog post titles…. a mere twenty percent will read the content of a particular post.  A great blog name combined with a great blog post title will attract clicks whether it’s via search or RSS feeds or sharing on Facebook or Twitter.

I have a confession to make. I ADORE the movie Fight Club. I’m sure my love of this dark and twisted tome reveals a definite “crack” in my psyche. What does Fight Club have to do with grabbing attention?  In a word – EVERYTHING! Any blog post with “Fight Club”  in the title instantly GRABS my attention as it does the other fans of the movie.  Take for example:

I could “justify” this tendency of mine by claiming that most posts which reference Fight Club are witty and well written. They usually are.  But this is an illustration of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) syndrome  in action- something that all the “potential” readers of your blog suffer from in varying degrees.

Successfully tapping into the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) of your target audience is a key element in building traffic and attracting readers to your blog.

The first step to tapping into the WIIFM of your target audience is to determine what movies or celebrities do they follow?

Fans of Paris Hilton are an entirely different audience than those who adore Mitt Romney.  Fans of the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are decidedly different than fans of “Texas Walker”.  Sure – there may be a straggler or two who watches both – but it’s safe to assume that as a general rule, if you begin blogging about RuPaul’s Drag Race you’re not going to need to worry about offending any Chuck Norris fans who might be reading your blog.

Determine who your target audience is and then try to “get inside” their heads to discover what famous names and movies will grab their attention.  It’s a great way to attract readers to your blog.

Learned it the hard way: Why you must keep your WordPress installation up to date

I learned the “maintenance” lesson THE HARD WAY a few years ago with a client of mine.

Back in the day, bulletin boards are another type of software that allows “regular people” to post questions and answers to a web site. These bulletin board sites did exceptionally well with the search engines because of the laser focused content. An active bulletin board could grow to several thousand tightly targeted pages very quickly. Not only were they “sticky” but because they were user driven, they naturally built threads around commonly used search terms.

While those were wonderful reasons to launch a bulletin board back in the day, what REALLY made them attractive was you could ALMOST set them and forget them.

Notice I said ALMOST.

I installed the bulletin board software and set it up for my client. Because my client already had a HUGE newsletter mailing list on the topic, it didn’t take long for the bulletin board to take off. People were posting questions and answers and before long, the conversations were occurring without my client’s input. She turned her attention to other projects and soon the bulletin board was on autopilot.

Well, during this time, several security holes were discovered in the bulletin board software, so the programmer issued an update. Then another, then another. About 6 updates were published in a year. Because my client wasn’t logging in and wasn’t involved in the programming community, she didn’t know about the security holes. As a matter of fact, she learned when she logged into her board.

What was once a thriving community was now FILLED to the brim with spam links. Over 13,000 in some categories. My client contacted me in a panic. The bulletin board wouldn’t allow mass deletion of the spam. She had thousands of bogus users who had literally driven the interested people from the site.

I went in to look at the installation. All the “switches” that had been set to prevent this were tripped. Not only that, but even when the site was closed to new activity, the spammers were still able to get in and post their spam links.

In the end, we had to take the board down. What was at one time a thriving community was no more.

What had attracted the spammers in the first place were my clients INCREDIBLE rankings in the search engine with the site. It was that success that attracted the “wrong” element and because no one was watching it closely, it was destroyed within a matter of 8 months.

Honestly, you don’t have much to worry about when your blog is NOT popular…. it’s when it becomes highly ranked on a desirable keyword that you have to become VIGILANT! My client’s problem was she wasn’t AWARE her keywords were doing so well until it was too late.

That’s why, when I created Acumen Web Services, I include the Cyber Angel Hosting package… to prevent a repeat of that horrible experience.

The WordPress 2.3.x upgrade now “warns” you when your installation is out of date. Some updates are “minor” while others are major. Just remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.