Blogging Basics 201– What Your Teacher Forgot To Tell You
Because no one wants to admit that they don’t know the basics of crafting super sticky blog posts that attracts the right kind of readers.
But a second level class makes you feel like you can pick up a few tips without feeling bad about yourself.
I’m talking about blog posts that help you build a community of your peeps. These readers love your stuff so much they can’t stop themselves from talking about you endlessly, in person, via emails and on various social media channels.
This in turn helps build your email house file, improve your search rankings for your special keyword phrases, and getting shared on social media. As a result, your business starts to grow.
(BTW—here’s a newbie blogging guide for, well, newbies.)
Blogging basics 201 – 10 Super easy tricks to increase your business
1. Develop a blog editorial calendar and stick to it.
At first it’s easy to find topics about which to blog. But over time, it can become a slog. To keep your blog content fresh, create an editorial calendar to schedule posts and topics.
Some bloggers have trouble thinking a month in advance. In that case, use the Cliff Notes approach to editorial calendars. Many of my students find this shorter 2-week view works well with existing meetings and deadlines to gather other perspectives.
2. Craft great titles.
Like it or not, titles can make or break your content. This dates back to Mad Man David Ogilvy who pointed out that 80% of potential readers don’t get beyond the headline.
Spend time crafting the headline. It’s time better spent than adding more content.
Want some headline inspiration? Here are 7 title tips guaranteed to standout based on research.
Be positive when you have a choice. At a minimum, avoid words with strong negative connotations like “death wish.” (Really I don’t make this stuff up!)
Still looking for ideas? Here are 125 free blog titles.
Like it or not, visitors are harsh critics. You have less than 15 seconds to convince them to read your content according to Chartbeat data!!! This is why most blog bounce rates are around 80%.
To increase the chances that your blog posts will get read, do the following:
- Exploit the power of outlining. Not only do readers zoom in on your bolding, but also it helps create the F-pattern of online content consumption noted by UX expert Jakob Nielsen.
- Use short paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs to 3 to 5 lines tops.
- Pay attention to Winston Churchill’s vocabulary advice. Just use simple words, the shorter the better.
4. Include a catchy image to attract reader attention.
People are visual beings. It’s in our DNA.
Since you have less than 15 seconds to capture visitors’ attention before they’re gone, maximize post impact with a photo that can convey information in as little as 13 milliseconds according to MIT researchers.
Of course, you can improve your post’s effectiveness by adding other types of media such as video, audio, presentations and PDFs.
5. Take the Goldilocks approach to links.
Links are like gold but you don’t want too many or too few.
- Link to other people’s work where appropriate. Don’t force it just to catch someone’s attention.
- Cite third party research and sources. Recent research showed that trustworthiness drops a whopping 46% without sources. Also, make sure that you spell their names and companies correctly.
- Include references to your past posts, especially pillar content. No blog post should stand alone.
- Supply links to your product pages where appropriate. This helps your lead generation and sales.
Don’t beg or buy links. Be above board with your link activity or it can hurt your search rankings. (Here are more blog search tips.)
6. Employ an editor (aka a real person!!!)
Many bloggers proof their own work. They consider it acceptable to have posts filled with spelling and grammar errors. Unfortunately, your readers feel differently about your articles. They know the difference between quality content and poor writing.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional editor, get a member of your family or a friend to read your content for understandability and readability. It’s hard to be objective about those phrases you love that make your readers cringe.
Another alternative is to trade services with another blogger. I call it a blog buddy.
7. Publish on a consistent schedule.
Take a page from traditional media. Select a publishing schedule you can keep and stick to it!!! If you can only publish once every 2 weeks, then do so on the same day at the same time every fortnight.
Consistency contributes to building trust with your readers. Know when and where your audience wants to gather your information.
Along with your publishing schedule goes your distribution schedule. (Here’s a 37 step content marketing distribution checklist and 17 tips to distribute your blog content to more people.)
8. Open the door to discussion.
Don’t just throw every possible idea or fact into one gigantic post. Most importantly, it’s difficult for your readers to follow. But it can hurt your search rankings since it’s all over the place and not focused on a specific term.
End your post with a question to draw readers in and make them think about your information.
Continue the conversation on other social media platforms. Social sharing buttons can help you accomplish this. In fact, many high profile blogs have followed Copyblogger’s lead and are moving their blog discussion to Google+.
9. Incorporate a contextually relevant call-to-action.
Before you start crafting a post, determine what you want your reader to do after they finish your article. If you don’t know the answer to this point, how do you expect your readers to do anything except leave your blog when they finish?
At a minimum, ask them to join your email list. (BTW—We’d be thrilled if you would sign up for our newsletter.)
10. Track blog metrics consistently.
Go beyond vanity metrics like social shares since data shows that highly shared articles aren’t necessarily read.
Engaged readers don’t necessarily share or comment on your blog posts. They actively consume the information and act upon it (hopefully resulting in purchasing from you.)
Start by considering what you want your blog to achieve. The more specific you are, the better you’ll be at tracking results.
As a blogger, school’s never out no matter what your teacher or diploma says. You always need to keep honing your skills and taking your blog to the next level.
While you keep getting smarter, so does your audience! This means the bar for blog posts that increase your business keeps getting higher.
What else is on your blogging basics 201 list?
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Joe Pulizzi, and the team at The Tilt.
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