Have you taken the time to figure out what works, or are you publishing content and just hoping for the best? There’s strategy, metrics, and then there’s closely-guarded blogging secrets that even many of the elite don’t know.
From adjusting the way you cite your sources in your content to carefully auditing your technology, we’ve compiled a list of blogging secrets that could revolutionize your work:
1. Consider Technology Carefully
One of the smartest bloggers on the block, Chris Brogan, recommends that “technology should serve your community and your content, not just be there.” This means your blogging platform should walk a balance between not being too technical, and being just technical enough. Minimalist designs are great, but totally eschewing call-to-action buttons will result in a nonexistent conversion rate. Consider Brogan’s tech tips:
- Evaluate Your Widgets: Do your buttons and apps slow down your blog’s loading time, or enhance your readers’ experience?
- Don’t Force Registrations to Comment: People may just bounce when they see you require an official account to join your community.
- Know a Little Bit: You don’t need to learn Ruby on Rails, but you should have enough technical prowess to understand basic HTML, and how to optimize your blog effectively.
2. Outsource, for Goodness Sake
Burnout happens to the best bloggers, and it isn’t pretty. You can try to keep writing year-round without vacations or breaks, but your quality and passion will suffer. Outsourcing your blog could make all the difference in your mindset and ability to innovate, and help you achieve remarkable results as long as you’re smart about what you choose to seek help on.
3. Learn Some Design Basics
Graphic design is an incredibly complex practice, but great blogging stars know the basics. You don’t need to learn color theory or invest in complex programs, but gaining the proficiency to add text overlays and logos to your photos can significantly improve your content’s performance on visually-oriented social media networks like Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+. The image below is an exemplary example of customizing images with information:
Canva is one of many ridiculously easy-to-use tools that bloggers can quickly master for more shareable images.
4. Invest in Super-Duper Headlines
If your blog’s succeeded with titles like “How to Blog,” it’s probably in spite of your terrible titles. Your blog titles are inarguably the most important component of your content in our social media-driven world. They determine whether you’ll gain clicks, readers, and shares. Invest in provocative, silly, strange, or otherwise attention-grabbing titles for best results.
5. Make Hyperlinks Open in New Windows
When you cite other content creators’ work, does the hyperlink open in a new window? This simple blogging secret can dramatically increase your crawl rate. You definitely want to give credit where credit’s due, but you don’t want to lose readers to a third-party website when they click a link! Setting your links up correctly will resemble the following image if you’re using Wordpress:
Image credit: InklingMedia
This super-simple blogging trick won’t take long to master, but it could decimate your bounce rate.
6. Use Excerpts Throughout Your Website
For most people who are blogging for business, the homepage and FAQ pages of their website may receive more traffic, especially if their social media communities are small. Marketing expert Ken Mueller recommends “luring readers in” by sharing excerpts of top-performing blogs on your homepage, and other heavily-trafficked pages on your site.
7. Ask for What You Want
Your content will gain traffic and attention if you work diligently, and there’s a good chance you won’t always gain the attention you deserve. Buzzstream Founder Paul Mays recommended at Content Marketing World 13 that bloggers spend time “harvesting” - that is, asking for backlinks when their work is mentioned on other websites. Remember, the worst another blogger can say is no.
8. Capture Ideas Constantly
There’s a sad little secret about blogging long-term, and it’s that it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you continue. You could find yourself running out of ideas, especially if you’re in a relatively boring industry or quickly exhaust your well of most-common customer questions. The secret to continuing to publish creative and engaging content is to become more effective at capturing ideas. Whether you decide to carry a notebook constantly or develop an addiction to Evernote, you should be prepared to scribble down inspiration before it’s forgotten almost anytime.
9. Be Shameless About Efficiency
Creating content takes lots and lots of time. As your blogging efforts begin to pay off, guest blogging opportunities and your readership will explode, creating a need for even more original content. Really effective (and famous) bloggers are often shameless about finding time-saving methodologies that work, whether that’s significantly limiting their “fun” internet time, or creating rigid blocks of time in their daily calendars. Find what works for you, and continue to search for ways you can become more effective without sacrificing the quality your audience loves.
For more insight on gurus’ efficiency methods, check out 13 Time-Saving Blogging Tips from the World’s Busiest Marketers.
10. Comment on Other Blogs
Consider the following: if you don’t comment on other blogs, you basically don’t exist in the blogosphere. It doesn’t really matter how much content you consume; if you aren’t engaging with other bloggers, you aren’t building the relationships that matter. Sharing content is definitely kind, but becoming an active part of a community where you add value is a much better way to showcase your smarts and get noticed.
11. Don’t Just Blog
There are legions of so-called blogging gurus from years past who’ve totally fallen off the map because all they did was create content. Even if their content was incredibly amazing, the tables have shifted, and today’s blogging experts represent a hybrid of skillsets that includes email marketing, social media, and other tactics. You’ve got to market your blog to gain notice, and you need to work at it continuously.
To learn more, read 14 Ways to Market Your Blog for Free.
12. Reward Your Community
You know the people who come back often to comment, and engage in active discussions with other community members? There’s a good chance they’re the same folks who are sharing your content on Twitter, and mentioning your hard work to their peers. There’s a million ways to showcase your community members that are more sincere and helpful than just thanking them for their participation. Brogan built an entire page on his website dedicated to promoting his blog’s “rockstar” readers.
13. Create a Unique Value Proposition
If you needed any more evidence that bloggers need to be marketers too, realize that your audience probably reads dozens of blogs each day. The content they choose to engage with is the stuff that actually stands out. Formulate a unique value proposition for your content marketing, a concept that differentiates you from other sites in your niche. Make an effort to stand out in a way that people can’t help but fall in love with.
14. Network for the Right Reasons
According to Independent Fashion Bloggers, too many content creators network for all the wrong reasons. Don’t set out to build relationships because you want to gain readers, links and guest blogging opportunities (even if you do), but because you’re passionate about what you do and want to learn more about your field.
15. Ask Your Community
Sometimes, the most effective way to pivot your content correctly is even simpler than blogging metrics. According to Chris Lema, you might just need to ask your audience for insight on what they want to hear. Reaching out in this manner shows you care deeply, and can help you create really compelling content.
Have you tried any of these advanced blogging secrets? Which tips are you most excited to apply?