Great blogs don’t happen overnight. There is nothing in this blog post that will make our blog one of the Top-Ten All-Time Blogs by tomorrow morning. It takes time attract readers, to find our blogging voice, and to get in the habit of creating content.
Blogging is like a pair of jeans right out of the dryer — we gotta wear them for a while first. There are, however, a few things we can do today to make our current blog a notch better.
Be A Reader
Readers and writers go hand in hand. Writers are readers, or their writing will suffer in every way, from style of writing to freshness of ideas.
There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader.
– Stephen Ambrose
Being a great blogger means we’re also a great blog reader. Reading other blogs means we may find ourselves commenting on them. This is how other blog readers find our blog. This is how we offer ourselves as an expert on a topic outside of our own blog walls.
Take Action: Find three new blogs to read today, with at least one being outside of your industry or usual reading comfort zone. Add them to your RSS reader if necessary. Read them for at least a week. Respond to a post on each at least once.
Be A Magazine Magnate
Our blog is a lot of things. It’s a blog, it’s a link, it’s a feed, it’s a magazine, it’s…Supercontent!
We can’t all be Conde Nast, but with Flipboard (for iPad) and Google Currents (for Android and iPad), our blog can become a digital magazine. Google Currents, in particular, opens the door and makes it easy for everyone to become a magazine publisher.
When we realize how many different ways readers can find and read our content, it should get us to step up our game a bit. Every post is our best post. Every post has images. Every post is stand-alone, meaning we don’t rely on our blog’s sidebar to help our readers find us online or on social networks. Instead of constantly fussing with a blog’s template, make the actual content super-strong. Our readers might never come to our actual blog; they might be reading it elsewhere.
Take Action: Find a new outlet for your blog content. Whether it’s through a feed, a digital magazine format, a mobile app — find a new way to serve it up. Note how it changes the way you think about the content you create.
Be A Sub Captain
Huge ambiguous goals are white whales. They are impossible to master.
Let’s say our goal for our blog is to get more readers. That’s a huge goal. A big goal like “get more readers” doesn’t provide us with an obvious plan, so it makes achieving the goal pretty tough. What if we considered some sub-goals? Can we break down the holy grail of “more readers!” into some approachable steps in order to reach that ultimate goal?
We need sub-goals. We need to be sub-captains and take control of the small goals to master the bigger goal.
Let’s use our example, and ask ourselves how we’ll get more readers? The answers to that question become the smaller goals we focus on. Perhaps it would include beefing up our social media activity, or being more responsive to our current blog readers. It might be creating a better mix of content. Find these sub-goals. Work on them first. The big goal will follow.
Take Action: Write down one big goal for your blog. Write down 10 questions that relate to achieving that big goal. From those questions, come up with three smaller goals that are manageable, and will ultimately make the big goal a reality.
Be A Gracious Host
Like guests? Why not consider guest bloggers? Carefully chosen guest bloggers bring three things:
- A fresh voice our readers haven’t heard.
- Their own fans and readers.
- A surprising view on how someone else sees our blog and what content they believe should be found there.
It’s great to be a guest blogger ourselves (that certainly brings traffic to our own site and street cred to our blogging abilities), but for our blog — it’s own “entity” and the subject of our discussion — how much better to be seen as the host? Our blog becomes the place writers want to be seen writing.
Mankind is divisible into two great classes: hosts and guests.
– Sir Max Beerbohm
Keep in mind that guests like to visit places that make them feel welcome and safe. Guest bloggers know that where they write reflects on their reputation as a blogger, so be honest about whether our blog is ready to offer that. And, of course, personal blogs might be better off without guest bloggers. We have to decide what we want to do.
Take Action: Determine what kind of content your blog is lacking. Create a guest-blogger policy that is clear and concise. Find guest bloggers, based on these two things, and invite them to participate. Consider new bloggers who are eager for exposure and who show great promise in their writing.
Be A Headliner
Forget about getting our name in the headlines. Let’s get our blog’s content up in headlines. Good ones.
With our blog being read on all kinds of platforms, the headlines for each post have never been so important. From feed readers to mobile-ready apps, the headlines we use for our blog posts might be the first (and only) thing our reader has to go by when they decide if they want to read or not. They might not see our pretty photos right away, or be impressed by our slick blog template. When it comes to content, the headline carries the weight of getting people to read.
Headlines should be direct, and not trying to trick people or be so clever as to be obscure. Their job is to tell people what they are about to read. People don’t like wasting time and don’t like to be made the fool of. They’ll only fall for it once. This doesn’t mean that there is no place for a clever headline or play on words; we just have to be sure we’re not lying or leading our reader on. Headlines that ask questions or specifically state an action the reader can expect to make are also great ways to hook readers. Some of the best headline advice can be found here.
Headlines are what bring our readers in. Perhaps this will be part of our “get more readers” sub-goals: improving our headlines.
Take Action: Brainstorm a list of headlines that would make you stop and read. Don’t worry about whether they seem ridiculous or even applicable to your blog. From that list, choose ten that you could use. Write those posts.