Everyone has a blog these days.
Your mother. Your mail carrier. Maybe even your dog.
The sobering reality: of these millions of blogs, only a small fraction will successfully build an audience.
This sounds like bad news, but it’s actually an opportunity in disguise. The vast majority of businesses are blogging ineffectively. So if we can see what some of the top bloggers are doing right – things that make their blogs special – we can apply their strategies and cut through the competition.
Let’s talk about how.
Insights from Some of the Best Bloggers Around
What better people to learn from than some of the world’s top bloggers today?
These bloggers, who represent a variety of industries, offer actionable insights you can apply to grow your blog.
Here are 11 of the best tips to transform your business blog:
1. Write Like You Speak
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One of the most common blogging mistakes is writing in “corporate speak.” You think you’re being professional. But you’re really coming across as boring and difficult to read.
That’s why Mariel Sunday Wangsgard, from the popular women’s website BlogHer, recommends writing like you speak.
Imagine you’re explaining something to a close friend. This casual delivery will help you build rapport with readers. Favor short sentences. Don’t use a long word when a short one will do. Clarity trumps beautiful prose every time.
Embracing the write like you speak mindset will also help if you don’t consider yourself a writer. Instead of sitting down to write a post, flip on an audio recorder and talk it out. Pretend you’re explaining the concept to someone in the room. Once you transcribe it and cut out the filler, you have a great blog post!
2. Spend at Least as Much Time Promoting Content as Creating It
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Your blogging time is limited. It’s tempting to spend all of it writing new content.
But Jon Morrow, digital entrepreneur and founder of the blog Smart Blogger, sees it differently. He argues that most bloggers spend too much time creating content and not enough time promoting it. Especially if their blog is new.
His reasoning is sound. If you only have a hundred people reading each post, writing one more only offers a marginal benefit – maybe two or three new readers. But if you focus more on expanding your audience they can help promote your message for you through channels like social media. The larger your audience is, the larger the gain after each new post.
Take the time you allocate to blogging each week and cut it in half. Use one half to promote your content. Connect with influencers in your space and build relationships on social media. You might end up posting less often, but every post will get more traction with a larger audience.
3. Carve out Your Niche
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Steve Kamb, who runs the popular blog Nerd Fitness, is thriving in a large, extremely competitive niche.
Kamb didn’t start his blog to be just like the zillions of other fitness websites out there. Instead of making a generic fitness blog, he put a unique spin on it. He injected his nerdy interests (things like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and video games) to target a specific audience: gamers looking to get fit.
The lesson for us is we can’t be afraid to express our own unique personality and interests. Even if you’re blogging in a crowded space, like marketing, there’s no reason why your blog should look and sound like all the others. That’s a recipe to be ignored.
How can you put your spin on an established niche?
The better you answer that question in your blog posts, the better you’ll connect with readers.
4. Your Email List Gets Top Priority
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James Clear, an entrepreneur and weightlifter, built a successful financial website before starting his current self-improvement blog. The topics range from motivation and goal setting, to productivity and fitness, but they’re always entertaining.
I can’t even imagine how much traffic the guy must get. But traffic isn’t the top priority for him; his email list is.
That makes a lot of sense. Building your list allows you to communicate with people in the intimate setting of their email inbox. It helps you follow up and stay at the top of someone’s mind – even if they haven’t been to your website in a while.
Expecting visitors to check your blog regularly for new content is unrealistic. Fortunately, with an email list, you don’t have to. You can let them know whenever you publish something new, and use tools like an autoresponder series to nurture the relationship.
It might be time to rethink the purpose of your company blog. Having people read and comment is great, but what is the ultimate goal? Are you using it as a tool to get them on your email list – and eventually become customers?
Lots to think about…
5. Write Timeless Content
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You’re ready to start blogging.
You’re super excited. You open a Word document and get ready to start typing… but end up spending half an hour staring at the blank page.
Jeff Goins, a best-selling author and founder of an extremely popular blog, recommends a foundation of timeless content. This content (also called “evergreen content”) is information that will be useful for years to come.
Blogging about news stories or current events has its place. But a healthy mix of evergreen content will help you appeal to readers who won’t discover your blog until several years down the road.
Search engines are always improving their algorithms to match users with relevant, valuable content. If you focus on the timeless stuff, you’ll ensure healthy rankings for years to come.
6. Find Questions, and Answer Them
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Another blogging temptation is to be super creative and come up with topic ideas from scratch.
That can work, but it works best once you’ve established an audience and understand them deeply. Another way – one that works whether you’re a beginner blogger or a veteran – is to use questions people are already asking for inspiration.
That’s what Neil Patel, founder of KISSMetrics and QuickSprout, does. Patel estimates around 85 percent of his wildly-popular posts are designed to answer specific questions.
You can get these questions from a variety of sources. What are your customers and prospects already asking? Which sticking points come up again and again? You can also turn to forums and question and answer websites, like Quora, to see which topics resonate.
Imagine each post as an opportunity to answer a specific question. That makes it much more likely your audience will find it valuable. It’s less of a gamble than brainstorming topics at random.
7. A Commitment to Consistency
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The top bloggers are consistent. They might not publish five times a week, but they deliver regularly.
It’s so easy to get inspired about starting a blog, publish a bunch of articles the first few weeks, then taper off content production until you’re down to zero. Many business blogs follow that very path!
But blogging is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes patience to pay off. That’s why Amy Porterfield, an author and marketer, recommends batching your post production. By setting aside time to draft several posts, you always have something in the can to publish if the next few weeks get crazy.
It’s better to publish one blog post every week than five this week and none the next month.
8. Don’t Worry About Getting Things Perfect
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The most influential bloggers research their audiences thoroughly, use data to track which approaches work best, and are constantly on the lookout for new strategies to promote their content.
All of that can sound overwhelming if you’re just getting started…
But it doesn’t need to be.
Marcus Sheridan, a sales and marketing consultant, urges bloggers to stop worrying about getting everything perfect. You could spend countless hours researching how to write blog posts and understand your audience. You could obsess about developing the perfect strategy – without ever putting it into action.
None of that planning can replace firsthand experience. Don’t let your doubts slow you down. Your posts will get better over time, and so will your understanding of your audience. The best blogging strategy is one that evolves right along with you.
9. Look Beyond Written Content
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A lot of businesses associate blogging with exclusively written content. But that’s only one way to look at it.
Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur and life coach, makes videos to accompany her written blog posts. This gives her audience the option to read or watch – whatever they prefer.
If you like being on camera, this might be something to consider. You could make short video blogs to take away some of the pressure to write so much. Video is a great way to communicate authentically with your audience. You’re talking to someone face to face – not hiding behind a computer screen.
Another option is to create short podcasts and treat those as blog posts. Simply record yourself speaking, then have someone transcribe it and post the content on your blog. Giving people choices about how to consume content will help you reach a broader audience.
10. Figure out Which Traffic Strategy is Working, Then Stick with It
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There are tons of different strategies to boost your blog traffic. With limited time and resources, trying to apply them all will drive you insane. It’s counterproductive because you’ll rarely put in enough time and effort to see results from any single strategy.
It’s a lot less stressful to pick one or two traffic strategies and stick with them if they’re paying off. That way you can devote the time needed to start seeing real results. You’ll also master strategies one at a time, and can move on to others whenever you feel comfortable.
That’s why Danny Iny, founder of Mirasee, focused on guest blogging as he built his business. Iny tried a bunch of different ways to increase traffic to his blog. None of them were really working until he started guest blogging. So he stuck with it and started publishing dozens of guest posts, massively increasing the reach of his business.
You won’t know exactly which traffic strategy will work until you try. Experiment with a few different ways. Then, once you start seeing some results with a few, maximize your time and effort in them.
11. Don’t Give Up
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A lot of us vastly underestimate the time and effort required to build a successful blog. We publish posts for a few months, then get discouraged when we don’t see fast results. Many of us give up.
Peep Laja, founder of the digital marketing blog ConversionXL, assures us that it takes time. Blogging is a long-term strategy. You put in the work now to build a platform and authority later.
A successful blog can be one of your biggest drivers of business. But to get to that point, you have to stick it out through those first few months when you’re barely getting any traffic or comments.
It might feel like you’re writing in an echo chamber, but keep going! Keep posting and studying your audience. Keep studying successful bloggers and building relationships with influencers. Eventually, when your audience hits a critical mass, things will start to get a bit easier.
Blogging is a long-term strategy, but when it’s done well, it can be one of the most powerful marketing strategies to grow your business.
One of best ways to improve is to study some of the most influential bloggers today. We can study how they resonate with so many people, then model our approach based on what’s been proven to work.
Give the tips above a try. Your audience – and your bank account – will thank you.
Do you have a business blog? If so, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in building it? Leave a comment below and share your experience!