Figuring out how to start a blog isn’t the hard part. Creating a content strategy, an editorial calendar, and writing your first post aren’t for the faint-of-heart, but many bloggers find that growing an audience is their biggest challenge. It isn’t easy, but I’ve succeeded at growing traffic to a new blog 1000% a month for 9 consecutive months with some pretty scrappy content creation and promotion tactics. And the benefits of improved blog traffic are pretty clear:
These tips on how to start a blog aren’t necessarily the most conventional advice you’ll find online, but believe me - they really work.
1. Use More Visual Examples
As you begin to try and decode the secrets to getting more website visitors, more seasoned bloggers will advise you to “write better content.” You’ll hear this advice often, and unless you’ve got glaring problems like editing issues or terrible research habits, it’s going to be difficult to apply.
Something the world’s best bloggers have in common is the use of examples. They back up their words, claims, and recommendations with real brands, situations, and people. These examples can be screencaps, graphs or photos. Regardless of how you choose to approach this, your content’s going to be infinitely more authoritative and original with some added context. Putting examples in almost every blog you write is a simple way to increase your shareability and traffic.
2. Syndicate Your Content
Immediately after you’ve identified how to start a blog, you might feel like you’re scraping for readers. It can be even tougher to win pageviews if you’re also trying to build a social media following, subscribers, and an email list. One simple way to boost your traffic and lead generation overnight is by syndicating your content, on sites like Business2Community, SocialMediaToday, and elsewhere.
To learn more about the pros and cons of this content promotion strategy, check out How to Triple Your Audience and Lead Generation with Syndication.
3. Create a Calendar of Events
The internet moves incredibly fast. Content is created and published at such a mind-blowing speed, that evergreen articles aren’t always enough to go viral. This idea is what spurred David Meerman Scott to write the book Newsjacking, in which he argues that real-time content is critical to success. Consumers are hungry for relevance, and mapping your content strategy to current events is crucial once you’ve figured out how to start a blog.
You can’t predict when news will break in your industry, but you can prepare to write more relevant content by creating a calendar of events for your industry - like conferences, major annual studies, and other events. Integrate these dates with your editorial calendar to create the right content at the right time.
4. Write Salacious Headlines
What if you only had 70 characters to make a serious impression? That thought is actually closer to the truth than any of us want to believe. Compendium reports that 80% of web users basically just read your article headlines:
Blogging giant Upworthy has found that better-written titles drive 17 times more traffic by running A/B tests of the same article with two different header tags. If your headlines are anything less than totally eye-catching, investing more time in this area can yield quick results. The best way of identifying how to start a blog that people read is probably with more intriguing titles.
To demystify the art of writing headlines check out 7 Steps to Creating Titles that Work.
5. Use Metrics and Stats
Be honest - which of the following articles would you click on if they appeared in your LinkedIn feed?
1. 50% of Your Competitors Love this Content Outsourcing Tactic
2. How to Effectively Outsource Your Content
If you’re like the majority of us, you’ll click on the first one. Numbers have a magical effect on people - they react well, because they know exactly what they’re getting into. You don’t need any credentials to declare yourself an expert and publish on the internet, and consumers have become increasingly tired of low-quality content as a result. Using stats in your headlines, and throughout the body of your content, is a simple way to show that you know exactly what you’re talking about.
6. Perform Original Research
Want to earn about a billion inbound links, social shares, and infographic embeds overnight? Sponsor an original study. Create a survey that fills a need for information in your industry, promote the heck out of it, and publish your results (after adequate analysis and data scrubbing). It’s not the easiest way to become well-respected after you figure out how to start a blog, but it’s a pretty surefire way to gain thought leadership and traffic.
7. Provide Value Above All
What are the best-known business blogs you read? If you’re a marketer, you may have answered Unbounce, Kissmetrics, HubSpot and Moz. All of these publications have something in common, which is very little self-promotion of the company’s products. The goal of all of these brands’ content strategy is to provide an enormous amount of value to their buyer personas, without a sales pitch. There’s no question that it’s paid off dividends for these companies in traffic, and ultimately, sales!
8. Write Content that Digital Influencers will Share
One of the most interesting marketing specialties to emerge over the past several years is the idea of digital influencer outreach. It’s exactly what it sounds like - identifying, and building relationships with the right people. These are the kinds of bloggers, thought leaders, and authorities who’ve built a massive social media following and earned the respect of your industry.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll earn the attention of a major league player like Joe Pulizzi or Darren Rowse right off that bat, the simple courtesy of letting digital influencers know that you cited them in your content can be a surprisingly effective tactic to gain ReTweets. In fact, this approach works so well, I’m hesitant to reveal it. I’ve watched articles gain thousands of views within an hour after being shared by a digital influencer - all because I took the time to let them know their thoughts were a part of it.
While these techniques aren’t everything you need to know about how to start a blog that people love, they’ve worked incredibly well for me. When coupled with the basic tenants of business blogging, like community management and social media promotion, they’ll surely increase your traffic, lead generation, and site SEO rapidly.
Have you successfully learned how to start a blog, and grown a healthy readership from the ground up? What weird or uncommon tactics did you find most effective?