What The Top 10 Bloggers Do Differently To Succeed

10 Tricks For Success From The Top 10 Blogs

Gold top 10 winner-Top 10 BloggersIt’s “Top 10 Blog” season, the Academy Awards of blogging.

Before you ask: “Do I have what it takes to be a Top 10 Blogger?”

Listen, I understand what you’re thinking because I wondered the same thing myself. (BTW—this blog was short-listed for Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Social Media Blogs 2015 along with 19 other amazing blogs.)

Like you, I’ve sat in front of my blank computer screen wondering if anyone would take the time to read my words on my new blog, let alone nominate my blog to be a Top 10 Blog. Top 10 Blogger via SocialMediaExaminer

Let me tell you that is the WRONG way to start blogging.

You risk going down a one-way rabbit hole that will leave you paralyzed and unable to write.

I’m here to tell you: “Don’t do it!”

Instead the real question you must ask yourself is: “What do the Top 10 Bloggers do differently from me?”

To understand the power of Top 10 Blog Lists not only for bloggers, but also for the creator of the list, let’s look behind the curtain (like Dorothy in Oz before she clicks her ruby slippers)

Top 10 Blog Insider Perspective

For a Top 10 Blog Insider Perspective, I spoke with Top Rank CEO and Optimize author, Lee Odden.

According to Odden, he created his BIGLIST of SEO and Marketing Blogs in late 2006 and stopped adding to it a few years later. Each week Odden found 5-8 new blogs to review in a post and then add them to the BIGLIST.

Key factors:

  • The list was created by selection. They had to find you. You could NOT ask to get on the list. At the time it was the go-to place for search and marketing blogs. For bloggers, being on the list was a BIG deal.
  • There was a badge of honor to show your status. Top 10 Bloggers - Button


  • 19,000+ links point to the BIGLIST of SEO.
  • The list still attracts just under 1,000 visitors each month. As a result, it’s reviewed quarterly to remove any blogs that are no longer publishing or have changed topics.

Top 10 blogger bottom line:

DON’T THINK: “Does my blog to even stand a chance of getting read, let alone being ranked a top blog?”

Instead BELIEVE you can build a top ranked blog and focus your work to achieve that goal.

To succeed, paste the words of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience on your mirror so you see them everyday.

“It is not the skills we actually have that determine how we feel but the ones we think we have.”

10 Tricks for success from the Top 10 bloggers

Here’s what the Social Media Examiner Top 10 bloggers of 2014 did differently that they believe set their blogs apart from the pack.Gold top 10 winner-Top 10 Bloggers

1. Select your blog topic with care.

Your blog must be laser focused to stand out in today’s never ending avalanche of content.

RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary is a geek and proud of it. He even wears a sweater that says “Geek”! To become prominent in the crowded social media blog category, Ian became the Social Media “tool guy” because he’s willing to get his hands dirty (at least figuratively) with the latest technology platforms, apps and tools.

Top 10 Blogger-Ian Cleary

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Assess the top blogs and content sources in your category to determine where there’s a gap that you can fill. It must play to your strengths not just be unfilled. You don’t want to be a me-too blog.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

2. Determine specific blog objectives.

As with any undertaking, set both long term and short-term goals. Make them actionable and measurable to track your progress. If you’re blogging for a company, these goals should be closely aligned with those of your business.

While it’s tempting to establish a goal of being a “Top 10 Blog”, the question you must ask yourself is: “What will being a ‘Top 10 Blog’ do for my business specifically?”

Key point: Your blog goals must be associated with activities and related metrics that help build your sales and profits.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Define specific goals for your blog.

Key point: Blogs require resources, both people and budget. Therefore they must contribute to and be measured against your business objectives. Here are 65 blog metrics to get your blog tracking going.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


3. Understand your key readers and their needs.

Your blog is for your audience’s consumption. It encompasses a broader market that extends beyond your prospects and customers. Additionally, it includes past buyers, influencers, users (who may be different from your customers), employees, the press and investors.

Appreciate your readers’ interests and pain points so that it can inform your content creation.

Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends listened to her audience’s to determine their problems and pain points. She asked them to tell her the topics they wanted her to cover. By addressing her readers’ issues, she provided the assistance they sought.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


4. Plan your blog content creation.

To be a top blogger, you can’t write whenever the spirit moves to rant about that day’s pet peeve. Even your mother doesn’t want to read this stuff.

As Andy Crestodina’s Blogger Survey revealed, to be in the top 5% of bloggers, you can’t just whip off a post. It takes over 6 hours!

Top 10 Bloggers 

“Our content creation process is based on topics that have resonated with our audience, engaged influencers, driven organic traffic, and converted to leads. It’s like a puzzle that we have to solve every day, and the fun part is trying to get better and better at the puzzle each day.” Says Simply Measured’s Kevin Shively.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Develop your blog’s editorial calendar to ensure you’re covering the key topics, meeting your readers’ needs, and publishing regularly.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


5. Create better content, not more content.

You can’t be a top blog by providing me-too content. Quality content counts. (BTW: Here’s a quality content checklist.)

Simply Measured’s bloggers believe in providing quality, timely information. Add value by helping your customers, fans, and followers solve problems because a blog is only as good as its content. 

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Provide actionable information that your audience seeks. This includes product information, customer FAQs, how-to’s, styling and ratings and reviews. Top bloggers make a conscious decision to create better information NOT more information.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


6. Think beyond the text.

Use different media formats to attract a broader audience. Blogs can handle photos, videos, audio, presentations, infographics, and PDFs and more.

At a minimum, include at least 1 photograph to attract audience attention.

Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner is the podcasting flag bearer. Podcasting attracts an on-the-go audience where you’re speaking one to one and your voice is personal. Social Media Examiner has started transcribing their articles into audio to capture greater share. 

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Expand your media empire. In 2015, I believe video is going to be the go-to format of choice.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


7. Build reader loyalty.

Use a mix of different owned and social media channels to develop a strong, loyal audience.

Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends says, “By regularly engaging with my audience online and sharing other relevant content they enjoy, I am able to really connect with my readers.”

“They actively engage on both the blog and the social media sites and regularly share my posts, extending the reach of my posts. My loyal readers are the major reason, I believe, my blog made the top 10 list.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Focus on your blog community. Your community owns your blog.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


8. Treat your readers special.

Don’t overlook the power of email! While every blogger on the planet advises you to build your list early, understand that the objective is to own your audience.

To build a stronger audience long term, Francisco Rosales of SocialMouths.com focused on his email marketing, giving them the VIP Room effect, rather than blogging. The blog was the first step in building an audience. I focused on delivering a more valuable experience to the subscriber.

In Rosales words, “The blog is the club that anyone can get into but the email subscription is the VIP Room.”

Most blogs offer a freebie in exchange for an email subscription but don’t know what to do to retain that subscriber. As a result, there’s a lot of churn. People get the freebie and almost immediately become dead-beat subscribers.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Complement your blog content by providing value to your email list.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


9. Get blog support.

Most Top 10 Bloggers can’t do it all. (Even though a number of us would like to think that we can!!!) As the Beatles taught us, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Blogging support comes in a variety of ways such as content, design and graphics, editorial editing and/or technical help.

Personally, I couldn’t run the Actionable Marketing Guide without my webmaster, Larry Aronson. He takes care of all of the technical details.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Get assistance with your blog where it makes sense based on your time and resources. At a minimum, have someone review your content before you hit publish. One low cost alternative is a blogging buddy.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


10. Engage with people in your category in real time, face-to-face.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to meet your blog readers and social media connections in real life. People relate to people, not blogs or information. (I’m sorry but you can’t hug your blog!) 

I live in NYC where there are always conferences, events and meetups. Further, everyone is always flying in for meetings. I use these opportunities to meet friends, colleagues and new connections face-to-face.

Actionable Blogging Tip:

  • Get out from behind your computer even if you have to pay your own way. At a minimum, attend the major events in your category. (BTW—I’m attending Social Media Marketing World in March. Please join me!!!)

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist


To create a successful blog, believe in yourself and your content.

Focus your blog on a specific area where you can become the go-to expert.

Take the time to know who your readers are and what their specific pain points are so that you can create amazing content that keeps them coming back.

What has your experience been as a blogger? What sets your blog apart from the crowd?

Want some help getting started? Check out our Newbie Blogging Guide.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

P.S. We were also short listed for Radius’s Top Marketing Blogs of 2015. We’d really appreciate it if you voted for Heidi Cohen (aka Actionable Marketing Guide!)



Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/samchurchill/4182826573/

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