The original question appeared here:
Ah, it’s the age old question.
Before I answer this question, however, understand that owning and running a blog is a full time commitment, amongst everything else.
Running a blog, especially a good one, means that you have to consistently create powerful and influential content, distribute it, analyse the feedback, then repeat the process for years to come.
And I don’t mean “meh” Content.
I’m talking about long form blog posts, content that is so full of awesomeness, more than 4,000 words, that gets your audience jumping up and down, subscribing to your content, and taking whatever action you ask them to.
Case in point? It’s 1 and a half month into Contentrific, and i’m still writing endlessly every single day.
However, if the idea that you are thinking is: “Oh! So the key to making a good blog is to churn out consistent content, right? That’s what everyone tells me!”
Yes, and no.
In fact, creating consistent, powerful content is just step 1.
Yes. You didn’t just read a typo. In fact, if you truly want to make a great blog, creating consistent content that rocks the socks off your readers is just one of the steps.
In this Quora, let me point you in the right direction, by sharing a little more about my own experiences, and share with you a little general overview about what it takes to create a truly great blog.
#1: Make Sure You Take Care Of The User Experience
Paying particular attention to the user experience has significantly paid off for me and this blog today, and have reaped me repeated benefits day in and day out in my blogging journey.
Every single day, people come to me with questions about the blog, but the first thing they ask is always: “Who developed your website?”
A lot of times, there are a lot of gurus out there who claim that you can just use a simple WordPress theme for your blog, and while that might be good advice to most people, it’s not good enough, if you want a great blog.
I mean, take a look at what the gurus are hosting their site on – are they simple themes, by any means? No.
Chances are, these gurus themselves are rocking custom coded sites for themselves.
Naturally, this begs the question: why are they giving advice that they don’t follow themselves?
If there’s a very good first lesson for you to take away from this blog post, you should always opt for a custom coded theme.
Why? Having a custom coded theme brings you the following benefits:
- It stands out from the rest of the pack. There are 2 million blog posts being published every single day, and the last thing you need is yet another site that looks exactly like everyone else. BORING.
- It gives you an identity. Do you just blog for the sake of it, or do you blog to build a personal brand? If I were you, I would choose the latter. That being said, would you choose to read content from a site that just looks like the last 300 blogs you read, or one that is entirely built custom?
- It shows that you are really serious about blogging. My previous site, Mentored Growth, used a simple theme from WordPress, but for Contentrific, I was pretty sure that I wanted something built just for myself. The benefits have paid off tremendously, with guest bloggers taking me seriously, and people are actually interested in what you have to say.
#2: Learn To Code
It was only after 8 fired developers, one and a half month of web development myself, and an entire period of ups and down, that I managed to get my site coded to what it is today.
The entire experience was shi**y, but it taught me one key lesson.
If you are serious about creating, owning, and running a great blog, you have to learn how to code. There’s just no escape from it.
Coding is not difficult, but it does take a lot of time and patience.
For starters, you can look at award-winning WordPress Frameworks like Genesis, or Thesis, which are really good Frameworks to base your website around.
You can also go to sites likes Codeacademy, where you can take up free courses on coding.
These frameworks are good to start a blog on, simply because they are the most stable WordPress versions, have clean base code, and will save you a lot of headaches in time to come.
Pro tip: If you are totally new to coding, then I suggest you to go with Genesis, simply because it’s much more user-friendly, and, if you decide to hire a developer one day, there are more Genesis developers then there are Thesis developers.
That being said, if you decide to take the route that I did, and code your own WordPress site, then congratulations! There are many tools that you can leverage on to tweak your site well.
For example, visual page editors allow you to drag and drop different elements around, and help you to easily bring everything together in an intuitive manner.
Powerful plugins like Beaver Builder (which is a paid plugin, by the way), or the Genesis Simple Edits plugin to help you change the code in an extremely user-friendly manner.
Understand Basic Coding Languages
When I coded Contentrific’s site in 2 weeks, I wasn’t some smart aleck or an evil genius.
It was because I had tinkered around with HTML and CSS, basic coding languages, years ago.
That being said, these skills have saved me thousands of dollars, and otherwise painful experiences with developers who just can’t deliver the powerful website that you see today.
Having the coding ability to change things as you see fit on your site will also boost your motivation, because it reduces your reliance on remote teams, which is not always the best way to get things done.
#3: Don’t Just Ask For Something
Next, let’s go into the heart of blogging, which is to build an audience.
I will share a little secret about blogging, after being in my content marketing journey for 1 and a half month now.
It’s all about giving, then eventually reaping the benefits of your generosity later on.
Gary Vaynerchuk calls it Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
When you blog, you are actually trying to provide enough value for people to subscribe to your website, get on your mailing list, and build trust with your brand.
Eventually, when you are ready with a product or service, you hope that this trust and relationship with your readers will translate into a purchase of your product or service.
That being said, the only way to build a solid relationship, and trust with your readers is to provide an immense amount of value.
For example, I’m doing a Quora on my website, answering simple questions like these every day, sharing my journey about my blog for all to see, all for the sake of providing enough value to educate my target audience: marketers, entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
Eventually, I know that the amount of value and knowledge that I bring to my readers will be powerful and influential enough that they will trust my advice, and be more willing to give the products and services that I recommend a chance to perform for them.
In other words, if you are serious about blogging, focus on solving specific problems that you’re target audience fumbles with.
For example, on this blog, I know that my audience struggles with creating content, distributing it, and getting people to follow them as they grow their online presence.
Every single bit of content, and information that I put out there, helps them to move forward in their mission to achieve this goal.
You have to do the same:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What specific problems do your target audience have?
- What nagging problems do they struggle to solve?
- Do you have a solution to solve that particular problem?
- If so, what is the best way to put content around it, so that you can educate them on solving the problem? Is it? Is it a podcast? or is it an infographic, for example?
Once you start creating content that actually solves a problem, you start differentiating yourself from the people out there who are creating content in hopes of one day becoming famous.
They can continue kidding themselves, because they are never going to get there.s
#4: Create Powerful Content, Or Don’t Waste Your Time
Too many people are jumping on the blogging and content marketing bandwagon, only to realize that this journey is not as simple as it looks.
Most of the times, I miss lunch.
That’s how bad it is. In fact, I’m typing this at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, and I still haven’t eaten breakfast yet.
That being said, I don’t want you to waste your time believing all the talk, and the hearsay online that blogging can make you successful overnight, because it can’t.
When it comes down to it, blogging is a full-time career, and it is an extremely time-consuming one.
What do you spend that time doing, you ask?
Creating content, of course!
As I’ve mentioned early, I’m creating content around specific problems that my audience have every single day, with no rest at all.
If you are serious about blogging, you should do the same.
You must have the drive and the focus to create powerful content, and the best piece of information on the problem there is on the web.
That means to say: If you’re not committed to creating content that blows the socks off any piece of information on the Web around that topic at anytime, forget about blogging.
I’ll give an example why. Every single day, that 2 million blog posts are published on the Web.
What are the chances that your content will even be read by a tiny fraction of the people, if it is simply rehashed content that is similar to a few thousand on the blog posts out there?
If you don’t have the time, nor the patience to dedicate yourself to create powerful, impactful content, then I suggest you to not waste of time.
However, if you truly want to become a great blogger, then focus your time to learn more about content marketing, read the material in this blog, and then apply them on your own blog.
I guarantee you that the information that you learn on this website will save you a ton of time in the process.
#5: Learn The Power Of Persuasion
The next crucial step in your path to successful blogging, is to learn how to create powerful content that persuades people to sign up, and eventually to purchase your products or services.
To do that, you need to master the power of persuasion.
Since persuasion is a topic that is obviously huge, I’ll just give you a simple tip to take away.
Learn about psychology, and how people react to certain words.
Read about killer content, using power words, and emotional phrases to engage your readers better.
#6 Learn how SEO works, at least for the basic part
A staggering 90% of all search traffic comes through Google, and of course we find almost all information online through search engines.
That being said, becoming a successful blogger depends very much on your ability to generate traction, and traffic to your site.
That also means that you have to master the topic called search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is simply put, a technique of optimizing different aspects on your blog, and off your blog so that you rank higher in search engines results.
If you truly want to become successful at blogging, you need someone to read your content first.
This means that you have to learn all you can about the basics of SEO, so that you can slowly start to rank.
#7: Equip yourself with the ability to create sales funnels
Many bloggers I know create content, and just stop there.
But, if you are aiming to become a successful blogger, and eventually make a living from blogging, then creating sales funnels should be an integral part of your blog in Journey.
A sales funnel is simply put, a process that new prospects and readers of your blog go through, including the messages, advertisements, and information that they are exposed to, before they become a paying customer.
Having an intricate understanding of sales funnels allow you to better improve, predict, and analyze your blog journey, and allows you to become a better blogger and business owner.
#8: Build relationships with established bloggers
If you want to fast track your blogging journey, and speed up the path it takes to blogging success, then getting to know influencers, and established bloggers is probably the best way of getting there.
I know, because I’ve been blessed to receive help from some of the world’s best marketers on this blog, including Sam Hurley, the world’s #1 ranked Digital Marketing Influencer.
Having a powerful relationship with influencers is a great way to get the word out about your content, and get new subscribers for your blog.
At the same time, it is a difficult skill to master, because it is as much about professionalism, as much as it is in building a friendship that could last a lifetime.
#9: Know how to distribute content
Content never read is content never created.
Since day one of Contentrific, I’ve been saying this, and it is something that I strongly believe in till today.
If you want to become a successful blogger, you can’t get there without people actually reading your contact.
Being able to put eyeballs behind your content is a bonus point for the blogger, because you don’t have to wait for the Google God to visit your site every time you post something new.
#10: Create a product based on the people, not what you know
If you want to run a good blog, then you have to make it profitable.
Unless you’re just blogging for fun, I bet that you want to make money from your blog.
It’s natural! Heck, you’ve placed so much effort into writing, and you’re telling me that you’re leaving dollars on the table?
As I mentioned earlier, this first step is to obtain enough subscribers that will engage and read your content.
The next phase is to listen to the feedback, and create a product that solves the existing problems.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, or come up with some smart tactic that you think might work.
That, unless you have the next Facebook as part of your blogging domination plan.
Monetizing your blog is a simple task of listening to your audience, and creating a product or service around them.
Not only does this reduce the risk for you, it removes all the guesswork of trying to survey everyone that you know, and trying to decide if the data is skewed, or not.
In fact, you should start collecting information from the content that you put out, then see how your readers react to it.
For example, suppose that I want to sell a course after 6 months of building an audience, but I’m at the beginning stages now.
At the start, you’d want to create content specifically around the pain points of your audience.
You should also try to get your audience to engage with your post as much as possible.
Once you find a pain point that is worth noting down, or keeps coming up over and over again, note it down into an excel sheet, or even your notebook.
Come back to those points when you decide to start designing the product or service.
I guarantee you that the product or service that you design in this way will be 10x, if not 100x more sellable and profitable.
When you are ready, launch a pre-offer to your audience.
Put them on a waiting list, so that you get some guaranteed sales when the product or service is out.
#11: Know how to convert people from reader to subscribe, to customer
This is a technical step, but one that is relatively easy to master.
Simply put, any great blog needs to have the right technologies to maximise their conversion rates.
The easiest method is to use opt-in plugins like Optin Monster, or Thrive Leads.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I shall use Thrive Leads, since this is the software that I use.
Once you’ve installed Thrive Leads, you’d want to create different kinds of opt in templates on your site, such as a scroll mat:
Or a post footer:
Landing pages are 1 page offers that you can send your readers to make them take a specific action, such as:
- Opt in
- Purchase a product
- Subscribe for a course
And so on.
#12: Be clear with the objective of your blog
Now comes the most important lesson of them all.
Throughout my 1 and a half month of blogging, there is no more important lesson that I’ve learned, than the importance of having a clear direction and objective in your blog.
In my experience, I have changed the direction of Contentrific so many times, thinking about it just makes me sick, to be honest.
Frankly, constantly changing direction of your blog can be very strenuous, and it limits your ability to bring your blog to the next level.
That being said, it is important for you to get the direction of your blog right from the start, so that saves you a lot of trouble at the end.
When you get all these 11 steps right, I’m not saying that you will definitely become a successful blogger, but you will get as far as I am right now.
I’m learning so much more on my content marketing journey – and I know you will benefit from it.
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