This is Part III of a series. Links to other posts in the series can be found at the bottom of the page.
Once upon a time, blogging was a new and strange medium. Few people anticipated how big it would become. The early adopters profited massively from their foresight, and many blogs that were established by one man in his bedroom are now amongst the world’s biggest (Mashable, anyone?).
Although the barriers of entry were low, people could profit from the fact that few were exploiting blogging to its fullest potential. The early to mid “noughties” was when the blogging gold rush took place.
But the rush is over. Everyone is blogging now. It is widely accepted in the web 2.0 era as a mainstream form of writing. Even the most recognized and respected newspapers blog.
Blogging Has Changed
So here’s the problem. Most people who have dreams of making it big with their blog are living in the past. They think that “content is king” – that their blog will become successful in time merely by the fact that it is online. But they are wrong. It wasn’t even true during the “gold rush” era – it was easier to establish a popular blog, but never easy.
You have no doubt read multiple articles on how explode your blog into the mainstream. There is just one problem with those articles – they are missing out that bit where you go from one to a few hundred visitors per day. Otherwise known as “the hardest bit”. Once you have momentum and experience in creating a moderately successful blog, you are far more ready to take bigger steps. But you need to get to that place first.
The Science of Blog Growth
Blogs grow through “snapshots” of mainstream exposure. You get linked to on x blog, which leads to an interview with y blog, which leads to a full-blown feature with z blog. The chances of you getting linked to by enough x blogs to hit that first y blog increase with the amount of visitors you receive. If you are only getting a handful of visitors a day, the statistical chance of you getting picked up by someone of note is incredibly small.
So today, we are going to talk about how you can start creating an online presence for your blog. There is a point at which people begin to talk. We want your blog to be talked about – that is where momentum kicks in.
But we are going to come at it from a different angle than you might expect. We are not going to be talking about guest posting, or other forms of marketing that you can (and should) do. We are going to talk about the fundamentals of successful blogging at source – i.e., on your blog itself, and in the areas that you have direct control over. Because if your marketing is great but your blog sucks – well, it’s not going to work out as you would expect.
So let’s get to it!
1. Create Quality Visitors
When it comes to growing a startup blog, every single visitor you get is absolutely invaluable. Because you will not be seeing vast quantities of visitors, is all about creating quality visitors. And believe it or not, it is largely up to you whether or not a new visitor becomes a quality visitor.
You may be wondering what we mean by “quality visitor”. A quality visitor should be a fan. Preferably a loud fan – an evangelist, with plenty of connections. Someone who will promote your blog on your behalf. A “normal” visitor is just that – one visitor. A quality visitor has the potential to bring you tens, hundreds, or even thousands more – directly and indirectly.
But how do you create such visitors? Simple – with your blog’s design and content.
You will need a good design so that your content actually gets read. And you will need great content so that a visitor becomes a fan. Whilst marketing is extremely important to growing a successful blog, the level of any positive impact from marketing directly correlates with the quality of the content being marketed. Make no mistake – if you want to get your blog off the ground, you will need to write epic shit. Then you will have quality visitors.
2. Engage With Your Audience
We have already made it clear that each and every person who visitors your blog should be highly valued. And that should be reflected by the amount of personal time and effort you put in to anyone who reaches out to you – whether it be by blog comment, email, or any other medium.
Let’s put this into perspective for a moment. The people who reach out to you during your blog’s early stages may well end up being your biggest fans. They reached out to someone who has practically no presence, who isn’t talked about, and isn’t known. They must really dig what you’re doing.
So do not waste that. Not only should you be replying to every single comment, email, and tweet you receive, you should be doing so with thoughtful and gracious words. Make your visitors feel truly valued. It is that kind of action that will gain you a positive reputation in relatively little time.
Take Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion as an example. He has a reputation for being one of the nicest guys around, and still replies to almost every single blog comment he gets. Such bloggers aren’t ignored for long.
3. Convert and Recycle
One of the biggest mistakes that new bloggers make is not recycling their audience.
Here’s the deal – people’s loyalty is extremely hard to earn. We are exposed to such a huge amount of information on a daily basis that it becomes extremely difficult to recognize one entity from another. That’s why companies such as McDonalds and Coca Cola spend such a huge amount of money on brand awareness. People simply recognizing your brand represents a huge step in creating repeat custom.
Someone could hit your site, love your content, then leave again – never to return. Many people will have the time nor patience to become a repeat visitor if you don’t make it easy for them. Not catching potential repeat visitors is an enormous waste, and you must prevent it from happening.
So give your visitors options to subscribe to your content. The more the better. Put up a big fat RSS subscribe button. Place a newsletter signup form with a great incentive in a prominent location. Link to all of your social media accounts. Then…
4. Be Everywhere
We’ll be straight up about this – “being everywhere” is a mantra taken straight from Pat Flynn’s 2011 Blog World Expo presentation. For those of you who don’t know, Pat lost his job back in 2008, but used what most would consider a disastrous event as an opportunity kickstart his online business. His blog is now one of the biggest in the internet marketing niche, with 40,000 RSS subscribers, 54,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 18,000 Facebook fans.
But his blog started off with zero readers, just like yours. His “be everywhere” strategy has been a major catalyst for his blog’s growth.
Check it out from the man himself:
Read The Series
- The 5 Key Fundamentals of WordPress Site Design
- The 5 Key Fundamentals of WordPress Site Navigation
- The 5 Key Fundamentals of Running a Successful WordPress Blog