I am by no means a blogging guru, BUT I have been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two mostly through trial and error. Lately, I’ve been helping a good friend of mine set up and improve her blog and it has shown me how much I really do know about blogging.
There are about 198398472398 articles on the internet about what makes a successful blog. I don’t believe in a magic equation for blog success, but I do believe there are a few fundamental things that all successful blogs have in common. These are the 10 things you NEED to run a successful blog.
When it comes to your blog, everything starts with good hosting. If you’re just starting and want to use wordpress.com or blogger, do your research first. Both platforms are great, but they are different from one another and offer different things. Check out THIS page to see the pros and cons of both. If you’re thinking about making the change from wordpress.com to self-hosted wordpress.org (read about the difference between the two HERE), then once again, do your research first. I am currently hosted through Bluehost, and have had nothing but positive experiences. I have not used, but have heard great things about SiteGround as well. Both are affordable and reliable options.
A quality theme
If you’re heading to a job interview you’re not going to be showing up in sweats and unwashed hair. You’re going to be dressed for the part and looking put together. The same should be done with your blog. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a super extravagant theme (just like you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on new clothes). You just need to look put together.
My theme is from Restored 316 and it cost me $50. That’s right $50. I cannot recommended their designs and their support enough.
An engaging and interesting “About Me”/”Start Here” page
After we catch a glimpse at the first page of a blog where do we usually go first? The About Me or Start Here page right? Do not skimp on this page! This is the best opportunity to really hook your reader, and encourage them to keep clicking through your site. I am a huge fan of the Start Here page, because it speaks right to the reader and directly tells them this is where to go. I have a Start Here page that gives an overview of my site and has several calls to action. My start here page says “click here” , “sign up here”, or “follow along here” over 10 times. The objective is to send the reader somewhere and then send them somewhere else. Never send your reader to an area of your site that’s a dead end, with no other place to click or to land on next.
I am not someone who obsesses over analytics. I believe if your audience is highly engaged it beats out huge numbers with an unengaged audience. That being said, it is important to have some kind of handle on your blog traffic. Setting up Google Analytics for your blog will give you all of the information you could ever want to know about your blog traffic. This is great for your personal information but is also necessary if you’re looking to venture into writing sponsored content.
Social media channels
It’s 2016 people, if you’re not on social media do you even really exist as a human? Not really. Hands down, the best way to drive traffic to your site is social media. Some people have separate social media accounts for their blogs and some just use their personal accounts. It’s really your own personal preference. Because my blog URL is carrielippert.com, I use my personal accounts for Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I have a personal Facebook page and a separate Facebook page for my blog.
Visually pleasing images
Do not kid yourself. Everyone, I mean everyone, loves visually pleasing things. I am by no means a professional photographer, nor is my site a photography site, but I still take the time to make sure my site and my posts include visually pleasing images. No matter what your blogging topic is, you should have at least one photo in each post. If you’re looking to share your post across your social media channels (which as we learned above, you should be), then you should include a Pinterest optimized photo. Pinterest optimized photos are these dimensions: 735 px x 1102 px and usually have the title of your post written on the picture. Get friendly with Canva or Picmonkey. Both of these are free and incredibly easy to use.
I’ll admit, when I started my blog, I had zero direction what so ever. My blog was random and ill-thoughtout. This is fine if you want your only readers to be your mom and your grandma, but if you want other people to read your blog you need direction. People need to know that they can come to your blog for certain content. I’m not saying you need to pick a niche. I think “lifestyle” blogs are fabulous and will continue to have success. But even the most popular lifestyle blogs are known for specific content.
For example, every time I hop on to The Everygirl, I know their going to have content about how your typical girl can live her best life possible. Their posts cover a wide variety of topics, but their always a) up-lifting b) interesting and c) geared towards women.
A support system
As with anything else, it’s always easier to thrive if you have people who are there to support you along the way. There is so many different ways to build a support system, but here are some of my favorites:
- Join some of the many awesome (and free) blogging Facebook groups. Right now google “Facebook groups for bloggers”. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. I have an awesome list of Facebook groups for travel bloggers HERE.
- Reach out to a few bloggers in your same niche and form a mastermind group. Become friendly and bounce ideas off one another. Maybe even form a weekly link-up.
- Become a part of a community. I’m a member of Helene Sula’s Blog Boss Babe community. For a monthly fee, I get access to a private online community filled with other motivated bloggers, I get loads of tutorials and webinars available to me at all times, and I get access to the private Facebook group. When I have days I’m not in the mood to blog (or do anything blogging related), this group is my little cheerleader, always motivating me.
The thing about consistency is that it has different meanings for everybody. I read some blogs that post 5-6 days a week. By the same token, I read (and enjoy just as much) some blogs that post once a week. Find your “happy spot” of consistency and go with it. Just don’t be one of those people who go through a cycle of posting 5 times a week and then going MIA for 2 months over and over again.
Last but certainly not least, you need some banging content! Everything listed above means nothing if you can’t produce content that people a) like and b) want to share.
There are so many things that go into building and maintaining a blog, but your content is the most important aspect! Your voice, your experience, and your perspective are unique and worthy of being heard. Be authentic, be genuine and let your personality shine through in everything you write.
Now get out there and ROCK your blog!