It takes creativity and motivation to start a successful blog…

The Internet is a crowded place. New blogs are launched on a daily basis, and there are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet.

This means two things:

  • People still read them.
  • You have to do something original to stand out.

There are a number of factors you’ll have to consider if you’re looking to start a successful blog in 2017. Blogging and online marketing are not really things you can do and achieve immediate results. It’ll take some persistence and planning…

Make this the Year that You Start a Successful Blog… 

Take a Deep Dive Into Your Industry – You’re going to want to take a look around and see what kind of posts your competition is publishing. Find out what the industry leaders publish as well. Make sure you know what the hot-button conversation topics are, and get a sense for what your future audience might want to read.

Many businesses fall into a bit of a trap here. Following competitive blogs doesn’t mean you have to print your version of everything they print. In fact, you don’t want to be a blog copycat. But…

“Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of different concepts.” – Steven Grant

So, if you see a concept or an idea that resonates with you, or that you want to share with your audience, do it. Take an idea and own it. But don’t just recycle. At best it’s boring. At worst it’s plagiarism.

Find A LOT of ideas – If you’re looking to start a successful blog, you are going to need some writing ideas. You’ll need to have something to say. A really good place to start is going back and answering some of the frequent questions your customers ask you. That way you’ll have a built in audience.

Another method that has worked for me in the past is to conduct a lot of keyword research. With a few simple searches you can find out the pressing topics that your readers will want to know about. If a term has received a lot of searches with a relatively low level of competition, you have a winner.

Think about all the different types of content you can write for your audience: How to’s, interviews, opinion pieces, lists, or more. There are a lot of different types of blog content out there, and a limitless number of ideas for each type.

As you plan and consider blog ideas, consider using an editorial calendar to keep it straight. This can also help you think seasonally. It can help you to write about what you want to sell at any given time, and keep your blogging in harmony with the rest of your marketing efforts.

Commit to Telling a Better Story – The good news is you don’t have to be a prolific writer to start a successful blog. There don’t need to be published books or magazine articles in your past to do this right.

But it does help to keep your readers’ attention. It’s up to you to find out what they’re looking for and provide it. It helps to learn how to write invigorating headlines that encourage people to click. It helps to tell an interesting story, and provide a strong call to action.

Mastering each component of your blog posts can keep your audience better invested in your message. One other thing…Your grammar and spelling don’t need to be perfect, but they need to be under control. A post riddled with mistakes is distracting, and may cost you business in the end.

Keep it Conversational – Your audience finds you, not the other way around. For them to stick around, and actually do business, they’re going to have to like you. It’s OK to show them who you are. You can inject a little personality. Mention your kid. Mention your dog. Mention your hobbies.

But the big takeaway here is not to make your post sound like a Wikipedia article. I have nothing against Wikipedia, but you’ll need to be a little more human than that if you want your readers to stick around. A conversational tone can help. The best way I can describe that is to picture yourself out for coffee with a potential customer, and write exactly how you’d talk with them. It might drive your English teacher a little batty, but it’ll endear your customer.

A few tips on this front:

  • Use as many contractions as you can. When you’re talking to people, separating every word out sounds stuffy. Same goes for your writing.
  • Be a rule breaker – End a sentence with a preposition once in awhile. Start a sentence with a conjunction. It’ll make you sound more human.
  • Drop the geek speak. Write in a way your audience will understand. Your blog posts don’t need to sound like an academic dissertation. Think of yourself as translating the “inside baseball” aspects of your business into something that your audience can identify with. Limit big industry words and acronyms. If you have to use them, define them and write them out on first use.

Go Deep – In order to stand out, you have to give people something to remember you by. It’s OK to spend more words to examine a subject in full. There’s a misconception out there that people will only read 300-400 word blog posts.

Some of the highest ranking content on the web comes in long form, according to Kissmetrics. What is a subject in your industry that your readers should care about, or have a misconception about?

An in-depth piece explaining a topic of value will help position you as an expert. Some of the best performing posts I’ve written in the past are the more exhaustive lists. When you answer every question your reader may have on the subject, you’re keeping them on your site for longer, encouraging them to check out your other work, and preventing them from heading back to the search results. That’s a lot of wins right there.

Be Patient – It’s going to take more than a night a week, a month to start a successful blog. It’s not something you will simply be given just for showing up. But if you do these things over an extended period of time, and you provide the highest quality content, your readers are more likely to reward you.

Just keep showing up. Keep producing the kind of content you’d want to read. And keep stepping up to the plate.

Promote, promote, promote – This doesn’t mean you have to sound like a used car salesman to start a successful blog. Hopefully if you’ve done the other things to this point, you believe in what you’re providing. It should be truly helpful.

People aren’t going to just show up out of thin air to anoint you with the best read blog on the Internet. So make sure that you do things like install Yoast SEO on your WordPress blog, and publish your post on your social media platform. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter are all good places to start. If there are other platforms that work well for your industry, don’t discount those either.

Medium is a good blogging site to republish your work in front of a new audience. Look for other opportunities to get the word out, as well. Guest posting on leading industry websites, and finding other sites to republish your work have both been particularly helpful strategies for me.

Wrapping it up…It’s not too difficult to start a successful blog, it just takes a little creativity and dedication. If time is the major factor, it helps to prioritize it. For me, I’ve started waking up a half hour earlier a few days a week. Night people can stay up later, and your schedule can always be examined for tasks that can wait.

Blogging can be a highly rewarding content marketing medium. Businesses who blog receive 67 percent more leads than those who do not, according to Hubspot. What are you doing to take control of your marketing, and start a successful blog this year?

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now: How to Create Content that Grows Your Business

 

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