20 Secrets of Blogging Success

By Carol Tice

Ever wonder how successful bloggers got where they are? If you’d like to start or improve your own blog and turn it into a really useful tool for growing your business, below are 20 tips I’ve distilled from my own experience in growing this blog into a Top 10 Blog for Writers.

I recently did a free blog-review day, and took a look at about 30 different writers’ blogs. This gave me a good sense of some of the common mistakes new bloggers make.

The tips from 1-13 will help you use your blog as an audition piece to get freelance blogging gigs. Tips 14-20 concentrate on ways to turn your blog into a money-earning business of its own.

This tips are my own opinion, based on what I’ve learned from guest-posting on sites including Copyblogger and Write to Done, and from my participation in A-List Blogger Club.

1. Your blog has a great name, tagline and URL. Your URL matches your blog name, and between the name and tagline, it’s easy to understand what your blog is about.

2. You write great post headlines with key words. Work hard on your headlines – they are your hook for luring readers to your site. Learn how to write compelling ones by reading the Psychotactics report Why Do Some Headlines Fail?

3. You write strong opening paragraphs. Remember that many search engines will show the first few sentences of your post – so make them catchy and include key words.

4.    You understand blog style. Blogging truly is its own format. It’s different from a magazine or newspaper article. Blogs need to be scannable, short, informal, and to the point. The posts contain links to other useful, related information, both within your blog site and on other credible sites. Good blog posts use short sentences and paragraphs. Using bulleted or numbered lists is also a great way to get your blog noticed.

5. You understand blog mechanics. There are some basics you should learn to make your blog posts appealing and useful to readers, including how to enliven links properly, add photographs, code images, and link to sales carts.

6. Your design is uncluttered and inviting. For instance, you don’t have a black background, tiny typefaces, a lefthand sidebar or multiple righthand sidebars.

7. You have a great About page. Typically, your About page will be the most-visited page on your site. Tell a compelling story there about who you are and why you’re blogging.

8. Your posts focus on what your blog’s readers need to know. Many bloggers just post about whatever’s on their minds. Great bloggers are constantly asking their audience what they need to know, through polls or contests – and then delivering exactly that.

9. You post consistently. Even if you only post once a week, you post on the same day of the week, at the same time of day. That way, readers can come to rely on you.

10. You stick to a niche. You pick one topic and blog exclusively about it. If you have multiple subject areas of interest, start multiple blogs. With the plethora of blogs out there today, the more focused your niche is, the better you’ll tend to do.

11. You have testimonials. Particularly if you’re looking to get hired off your blog, be sure to include raves from customers.

12. You have a “Hire Me” page. If you want gigs, don’t be shy – let visitors know you do work for others. Have your clips well-organized on your blog site on a static page, and make sure clips are clickable links to your stories. If they’re not online, get your clips turned into PDFs and load them onto your site.

13. You engage your audience. Good bloggers aren’t know-it-alls – they ask readers for their point of view. You also ask readers to be guest posters occasionally, to give them the spotlight. Showing good engagement on your blog can help you get gigs moderating others’ blogs for pay.

14. Your content is easy to share. Your social-media share buttons for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are easy to find and use. You also use them yourself, promoting your blog posts in social media.

15. You guest post and leave comments on popular blogs. Circulating on other blogs is a great way to draw new readers to your own blog.

16. You make it easy for visitors to subscribe. Ideally, your subscription form should be simple and visible “above the fold” – ideally, right at the top of your sidebar. Don’t make readers hunt for it.

17. You have a funnel of products to sell. Top-earning bloggers have a variety of products at price points from low to high. For instance, a $9 eBook, a $47 ebook, a $97 course, and a $500 bootcamp. The lower-priced products act as marketing tools that motivate readers to want to buy your higher-priced products.

18. You know how to affiliate sell. Once you attract an audience, you can sell products they would find useful. On this blog, I have taken the approach of only selling products and tools I personally use and recommend. It’s a way to sell with integrity that works for me and doesn’t feel sleazy.

19. You don’t clutter up your home page with too many ads. If your ads aren’t earning much, take them down. They’re a turnoff for viewers, and you probably won’t earn much. An alternative is to group them on a separate Products I Love page.

20. You persist. It takes time to build a following, often a couple of years. Keep at it and don’t give up before it pays off.

Parting gifts

I originally put this handout together for a members-only teleclass for the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors: 20 Secrets of Blogging Success. If you missed that call, you can listen to it here:

While you’re here on the blog, feel free to take a tour around! Subscribers receive a free report — 40 Ways to Market Your Writing.