The 7 rules for successful blogging


Once upon a timeWhatever subject you choose to blog about, there are a few simple rules you should follow. These will help to ensure your blog is well-received by your readers, a well-regarded member of the ‘blogosphere’, and produces the best marketing results for you.

#1. Be consistent


You don’t have to post every day – and probably shouldn’t since that’s a tough regime to keep up. But you should set a manageable goal for posts and stick to it. It might be a particular day of the week, or it might be a number of posts per week or month. More posts = more traffic so more is usually better but consistency is key. Only commit to what you can deliver.

The best way to achieve consistency is to use an editorial plan. There are many ways to create editorial plans but it can be as simple as keeping a handwritten list to record story ideas, and using a calendar to schedule their planned publication dates.

We’ve put a link to our favorite editorial plan for bloggers in the resources section below.

#2. Be patient


This is a close second to consistency when you’re starting out. It takes time for traffic to grow and you’ll be blogging to yourself for a while. Tough it out, it’s worth it. This is where it helps to be one of those disciplined ‘to do’ list people: There’s a lot to be said for writing down your posting goals and marking them off as you achieve them.

#3. Interact with your visitors


The best way to do this is through the comments and attracting comments is a good sign that your blog is being noticed and respected. Be polite and respectful, even where you disagree (the same applies to commenting on others’ sites), and respond promptly. Asking questions at the end of your stories, or asking your readers to add what they know in the comments section, can help to kickstart discussion. So will adding a prominent ‘Recent comments’  sidebar to your blog. All blog software has easy ways to generate and display this.

#4. Engage with other bloggers


Bloggers are very open and sociable, so engage. Most blog part time, for the love of it or to support a related passion. They want to interact with people who have similar interests, knowledge and well-considered opinions.

Tips for engaging with bloggers
  • A great way to interact is to leave comments. Good bloggers read and respond to them and most will also allow reasonable self-promotion, such as linking back to a relevant story on your blog or mentioning your book – again, as long as it’s relevant and respectful.
  • Another tip for relationship-building is to link back to their stories from within your own. This serves to both acknowledge a blogger as one of the sources for your story, and alerts them to your existence: Most bloggers use a thing called ‘trackback’ which alerts them that their post has been referenced.
  • You can contact bloggers directly. A good way is to send a personal email pointing out a blog post that you think will be of particular interest to them. They might choose to reference it or write a follow-up piece. Most bloggers have contact details on their sites.
  • Some also accept guest posts on their site, a powerful way to tap into their audience and raise your own profile.
  • Many bloggers are happy to allow occasional ‘cross-posting’ of their stories on your blog – provided you ask first and acknowledge their generosity with a link back to them.

#5. Have something worthwhile to say


Unless you’re an extraordinarily gifted writer with a fascinating life to go with your talent, a personal diary isn’t going to cut it. Blog posts need to reward your readers’ time with quality thinking, research and writing. The better it is, the more it will be shared.

A great way to get story ideas for your blog is to pick up items from other bloggers and add to the story with more information and good analysis – or just share an excerpt and bring it to the notice of your blog readers. You’ll make friends with fellow bloggers, too.

#6. Share widely and actively


Sharing is what blogging is all about. Blogging should be social, not one-way broadcasting. Sharing stories is at the heart of gaining influence and increasing traffic to your blog.

Tips for sharing articles
  • The biggest bloggers are the biggest sharers, going to great lengths to get their stories widely used and talked about. So don’t get too proprietary and hung up about how people use your stories, or try to place restrictions.
  • Blogging culture respects copyright and always acknowledges others’ work. Sites that routinely run complete articles without permission are frowned on and are usually spam sites.
  • Some types of stories are likely to be picked up by others. In general, opinion pieces are fine but news, reviews and how-to articles are probably more shareable, especially if you’re less well-known.
  • Actively market your best articles and have a promotion plan and time set aside to do it. You’ll be surprised at how approachable fellow bloggers, Twitters, and Facebook Page managers are, and how keen to share well-written items about their books, exposing your blog to their networks.

#7. Blog for the right audience


Let’s be blunt here: You’re using content to attract influential ‘eyeballs’. You’re justifying the time you invest in blogging by its business return. A generalized target audience won’t deliver a lot of book buyers or influencers and won’t deliver a return for your time invested.

So think carefully about who your target blog reader will be, and make sure that’s who you have in your mind’s eye every time you sit down to write a post. You’ll enjoy another benefit from this: it will help when you’re generating story ideas.

 Tip: Want to know who’s shared your blog post?

Paste the link to your blog post into Topsy (http://topsy.com). It will uncover the places and people who’ve shared it and will give you a whole lot of other useful, related information and insights.

Resources


An editorial plan for bloggers. Here’s our favorite one: A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week

What to blog about: Some tips for authorshttp://janefriedman.com/2014/10/27/authors-blog/

Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.

 

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