Ready to take your blog to the next level? Here’s 10 things I have learned about making my blog better over the last 13 years.
1 – Sign up for Google Analytics. This will give you valuable information about the health of your blog. I use it every single day to see how traffic is doing here, specifically Real-Time and referral sources. It’s great to track what content is resonating with your readers. Plus, if you ever want to bring on ads or sponsors for your blog, they will want to know your blog’s stats tracked via Google Analytics. Plus it’s free, so get it today.
2 – Get the right plugins that add functionality for you and you readers. Here’s three of my favorites and make sure you add Akismet to block spam. And most importantly, make sure all your plugins and WordPress are updated as soon as available. Outdated plugins are the first thing hackers look for on your blog, so simply keeping everything updated will make your blog far more secure and if you are vigilant about it, that alone could be enough to keep your blog from ever getting hacked.
3 – Nail down your audience. No more of this ‘I’m just writing to share my voice’. That’s lazy, figure out WHO you want to share your voice with. The exact person. Do that and you can give them the message that’s relevant to them, and you’ll be more likely to earn their attention.
4 – Figure out your reader’s journey. Mapping the ‘customer’s journey’ is a buzz-term in business right now, similarly, you need to think about the path your reader takes on and off your blog. Think about the actions they are taking, and the actions you want them to take.
5 – Factor in content placement and blog design. With the former point, think about the actions you want the reader to take, and organize your blog so it is easier for your readers to take those actions. For example, my primary audience here is people working in marketing and social media for brands. The primary actions I want them to take is to sign up for my newsletter, and read my content on brand advocacy. So notice that my newsletter signup and recent posts on Brand Advocacy are both featured at the top of the blog, where they will be the most visible.
6 – Nail your headlines. Of all the tips in this list, this is the one that can instantly boost your readership the most. I’ve written before about the importance of writing a great headline and how to do so. Don’t think about how your headline will read here on this blog, think about how it will read on Twitter or Facebook. That’s the test, consider if you glanced at your headline on Twitter for 2 seconds, would the headline alone prompt you to click the link? If not, then it’s a bad headline. However if you do click and then the post doesn’t back up the headline, that’s even worse. So you want to have a headline that instantly grabs attention and makes me want to click the link, but also the content has to back up the claim or statement made by the headline. Don’t summarize the post, make a specific claim or statement with the headline that grabs my attention.
7 – Create reader-centric content. Don’t focus on blogging about your business (or the business you want to build) instead blog about ideas and themes that are relevant to your desired audience. For example, Patagonia has a fabulous blog for their customers. But at The Cleanest Line, Patagonia doesn’t blog about its clothing, it blogs about ideas and themes that are relevant to its customers. Such as sustainability, protecting the environment, and being active outdoors. Patagonia does this because the brand understands that creating reader-centric content means creating more interesting and relevant content for its customers.
8 – Get on a regular posting schedule. All things being equal, the blog that publishes more content will have a higher readership. So if you want to create and publish more content, a great way to do this and cultivate your readership is to get on a regular posting pattern. If possible, start out shooting for at least one new post a week, and pick the same day to publish that post. Wednesday, Saturday, it doesn’t matter as long as you make it the same day. Then try to grow from that to 2 posts a week, then maybe 3. But if you can only write 4 posts a month, I would rather see you spread out those 4 posts as one each Wednesday versus publishing a post the 1st week of the month then none for the next 2 weeks then 3 posts in the final week of the month. Getting on a regular posting schedule trains your readers to know when to expect new content and helps grow your readership.
9 – Engage your readers. ‘How do I get more comments?’ is one of the biggest challenges most bloggers have. The quickest way to get more comments? Actually REPLY to the ones you get! Now granted you don’t need to reply to every single comment but if you did, you just doubled the number of comments on your blog. And your replies will lead to more comments. More importantly, if your readers know you will reply if they comment, that makes them more likely to comment.
10 – Pay more attention to your audience than the ‘experts’. Case in point, you’ll hear all day that people hate list posts like this. The more advanced bloggers will look down their noses at them and tell you to stop writing them that they want content that’s more advanced. That’s because they are more advanced. Every one of them LOVED the ‘listicles’ when they started blogging because they needed posts exactly like this. So if you are writing for more advanced bloggers, then you need to provide them more 201 and 301-level content. But if you are writing for beginning bloggers, guess what? You need to give them 101-level content, and don’t listen to the more advanced bloggers that want more advanced content. Because they aren’t your audience.
What did I miss? Add them in the comments, please!