How to Blog; The Ultimate Resource, 104 articles, 18 tips, 8 interviews, 10 platforms & 21 pros to follow
There are a ton of blogging resources around the web, and so much fluff with so many diverse answers. My goal when looking for information is to break through the BS and get to the core techniques, mentalities and practices that will lead to success.
Following the 80-20 principle of productivity I hope to make this the ultimate blogging resource.
While there are a ton of places to go to find quality blogging resources, they aren't coupled with the real backbone of blogging. The unsaid truths that should be preached along with any blogging resource. No list of "things to do to succeed in blogging" should live on their own without the core mentalities to keep in mind while trying to be a successful blogger (whatever that may mean to you).
In search to find the most core answers and best advice possible to any blogger I decided to ask some questions. I asked some of my favorite bloggers and SEOs what their absolute best blogging advice is when distilled down to as short of an answer as possible. Here's what they said!
What some of the worlds best bloggers say:
#1 - be willing to invest for the long term, even if things aren't going well. Blogs don't die by being beaten by the competition or outranked in search engines or out-shared on social sites. They die because their creators give up.
#2 - the definition of failing at blogging is much like that of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting that eventually it's going to work. If you're not having success with the content you're posting, or with how you're earning traffic, or with retaining an audience who comes back again and again, try something new. Learning from failure is hard; and that's why it's worth doing.
"Be original. Purposefully stay away from posts about topics that have been rehashed again and again on blogs, and purposefully stay away from titles that are just supposed to 'bait' readers but ultimately fail to deliver, like The Ultimate Guide to X if it can't beat the industry leader. You may get some traffic and shares for "11 Ways To Do X", but it won't make you stand out as a leader."
Content Strategist at Facebook
"When you blog, don't strive to be the first, the best, the greatest, the funniest, the most sarcastic, the most reviled, or any other superlative. Strive to be yourself. And if you're not already familiar with yourself -- surprising as it may be, you're probably not -- then strive to discover yourself through blogging and take the rest of us on that journey with you. Be authentic."
Owner of PointBlankSEO
"Sure, content is king, but presentation is HUGE, online or off. Most people make subliminal trust/authority decisions of websites in the first 5-10 seconds of viewing the site, so make sure you don't neglect your design. Sure, you'll have to sell them with your content, but without design, you can lose them before you even have the chance."
Founder and Owner of SimpleTiger
"Be honest and get to the point. Talk to me about something important and don't waste my time."
A few lessons to take away from those quotes are:
1. Interestingly enough, the pros don't tell you "hey focus on your call to action and email subscription form" they tell you to focus on the psychological aspects of blogging.
2. Your blog, your voice, your presence should be unique and your own. Don't copy best practices to the point where you lose yourself, you won't stand out, you won't be noticed and you won't be followed.
3. Don't give up! Blogging can be brutal, it can be arduous, but also very rewarding. Most bloggers will give up once they hit a wall, and the wall will come, don't give up, keep pushing. It's usually right after that wall that the magic happens.
4. Adjust. Analyze what works and what does not. Make design adjustments, improve and keep writing. Keep analyzing, keep improving. If something isn't working, if you aren't getting as many page-views as you should be, make adjustments and test. Doing nothing and expecting more is not anywhere near a profitable tactic.
When a new blogger is just starting out or even considering if they should blog, one of the biggest struggles or "humps" to get over (i believe, judging by all of my friends that I've helped to start blogging) is deciding what platform to use. Info on blogging CMSs and platforms can be pretty ambiguous. I just want to give a quick description of my favorite blogging platforms as a reference to any new-comers who want to create their first blog, or are looking to change from a different platform.
My Favorite Blogging CMS's and Platforms
All of these platforms are great in their own respects, but to elaborate I will give a short description of the meat and veg of each system.
1. Squarespace - Immensely minimal blogging platform used from simple bloggers up to business-class websites. Beautiful aesthetics, incredible backend, easy-to-use front-end editing, simple blogging and page-making abilities, integrated analytics dashboard on the backend, powerful settings, fully customizable, many templates (or themes) to choose from to start with. Offers cloud-based hosting, great for creatives and photographers specifically. Easy to integrate images and portfolios.
I actually run this blog (the one you're on currently) on Squarespace, switching over about 5 months ago from Wordpress, and I have to say it's exceptionally well done.
Rand Fishkin actually had this to say about Squarespace too:
"The Squarespace team has put together a remarkable platform. Every aspect of the product - user experience, feature set, SEO friendliness, design and more - all work together to create one of the few content management systems I'm proud to recommend."
price: Lowest plan starts at $8/m billed annually (or $10/m-m)
domain: Squarespace can host a free subdomain or you can use your own custom domain.
2. Tumblr - Recently acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, this platform built by one kid in NY is one of my favorite platforms off of it's sheer simplicity and social-media likeness. Recently surpassing Wordpress's user-base, this is the most widely used blogging platform there is. Immensely easy to use from any device, largely customizable, extremely simplistic, well adjusted for SEO, this is a great platform, especially for it's price.
domain: You can have a free Tumblr subdomain or use your own custom domain.
3. Wordpress (preferably .org, not .com) - Easily one of the most customizable platforms on the web, rich with a massive plugin and theme directory with both paid and free ad-ons. Powerful enough to handle a simple blog all the way to a fortune 500 website. Definitely one of the most widely used and highly regarded blogging platforms in existence.
domain: If you use wordpress.com you can use a wordpress subdomain for free, or if you use .org you can use a custom domain.
4. Medium - Founded by Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone this is one of the newest, freshest and most enticing writing platforms there are. As you would expect, Medium has a very strong integration with Twitter, logging in and sharing via tweets is very simple and promoted. Medium will actually promote their "Editor's Picks" from the network, giving writers far more visibility than a usual blogging network, which entices users to write better posts.
One thing to keep in mind though when writing on Medium is that they own your content. They can do whatever they want with it, and if Medium decides to shut down you no longer have your content. This is one reason why many people use this platform as a "secondary blog" or almost as their personal guest-blog.
price: Free, invite only. (you can request an invite though)
domain: your blog sits in a folder on their servers under your twitter username, IE, mine is: medium.com/@seandillonsmith
5. Svbtle - Runs in a markdown editor, extremely slick user-interface, minimal blogging style, beautifully designed and simple to read. This is one of my favorite blogging platforms, even though I don't personally write on it. It is (like Medium) an invite only platform.
price: Free, invite only.
domain: your blog sits in a folder on their servers.
6. Blogger - Google's blogging platform, features Google+ comments, easy adwords integration and feedburner RSS subscriptions. It's a bit dated as far as look though, and given that Google has recently axed their RSS reader, Blogger could soon be on the chopping block, since Google+ is sort of taking it over as their micro-blogging / social blogging platform. Blogger is a bit iffy to me, I'm not into it, but that's a personal preference. Also integration with Google Drive and Gmail.
domain: subdomain of blogger
7. Typepad - Blogging and writing guru Seth Godin uses it for his personal blog where he publishes once a day. Typepad is one of the oldest blogging platforms in existence, very easy to use and features an "out of the box" approach to blogging. A lot less customizable than most of the competition though.
price: Starts at $8.95/m
domain: Can use a typepad subdomain or a custom domain.
8. Ghost - Awesome new startup from one of the founding developers of Wordpress, targeted at being a free, open source blogging focused platform for writers and creatives. The founder, John O'Nolan has said that unlike Wordpress which is moving more towards enterprise functionality in it's later years, Ghost will remain and focus on being specifically solely for blogging.
Releases to the public on October 14th (2013). We'll see how it goes from there.
price: Free, open source.
domain: Requires hosting with custom domain
9. Google+ - Google's social network, yes, but also a good blogging channel. Kevin Rose actually shut down his personal blog and moved over to using Google+ for it's social interconnectivity as well as ease of posting. It's extraordinarily minimal, doesn't have any customization other than your profile, will be batched together with a ton of pictures of dogs with lightning bolts riding t-rex's but is easily indexable in Google's SERP's and easily shareable across Google. The only real analytics you will get though is the amount of +1's you get and the amount of shares your content gets.
While Twitter can be used for micro-blogging (140 characters) I use Google+ for a sort of medium-ground blogging. I write long posts, bold the header so that shows up as the "title" in the SERP's and move from there. It's just an easy way to get content posted and indexed on the social sphere that might not be suitable for an entire, fleshed out piece of content.
domain: At your social account, so plus.google.com/manymanyeradicnumbers
10. Quora - Quora is an awesome question-answer social network, and they recently implemented blogging functionality. There's no customization, but if you write in more of a question-filled way, this might be a niche blog platform that is worth your attention.
domain: quora subdomain
Just as some added context, I started out on Wordpress with this blog, and set up all of my client's blogs on Wordpress. I moved this blog over to Squarespace though and absolutely love using it for my personal blog. Wordpress has great functionality for multiple-site setup however, so using it for clients works well in a synergistic approach.
I also write on Medium, using it as my secondary blog for rants and other information that might not fit my personal blog, using it as sort of a "personal guest blog."
I use Google as a medium-ground blogging platform, typing longer posts than I would put on Twitter or Facebook, and getting them quickly indexed with a proper headline.
I use Quora for it's questions-answers functionality, as more of an information-based social network, rather than a blogging network.
And I use Tumblr for a number of niche-blogs I've created that focus on visuals and occasional text posts. One example of this is my men's style blog, Bowtii. Focused on imagery and quick-queuing of posts. It works well for this sort of niche.
That's how I use these platforms, all a personal preference though.
My recommendations on choosing a blogging platform as a starter
A) Don't pay for one. This will just be a stress that you don't need, especially when you're just starting out. You don't want there to be invested interest in you quitting your blog, that may just be the tipping point for you to actually quit.
B) Choose a domain you will be happy with. You want to establish that domain, you want to build authority associated to that domain, you don't want to change that domain and confuse your readership. Choose something that really targets the audience you want to reach, or speaks to what you want to be talking about.
I chose seandillonsmith.com to establish my own credibility as a marketer as I write more and more and because, well it is me speaking (and to be honest, I wasn't that creative). After a while I was going to change it to "serendipitynotated.com" as I love that name, and as an aspiring entrepreneur I thought "hey I could be notating my journey and it would work" but the bulk of my readership is marketers looking for marketing information, so I changed it back. Eventually I may do something with that, but as it stands, it didn't make sense.
C) Choose a platform that is customizable enough for you. I love customization, I love aesthetics, and I have to have a platform where I can make things stand out the way I want them to. If you're like me you want something very customizable, Wordpress, Squarespace or Tumblr work well for this. If you're like me you won't want to feel limited once you've started your blog.
D) Choose a platform that is SEO & subscription friendly. Platforms like Tumblr, Squarespace and Wordpress are all well setup for SEO, for social sharing and for easy subscribing. This is all very important for gaining a following and then retaining it.
To give even more elaborate tips I went ahead and wrangled up 104 posts and articles directed at improving your blog, helping your writing and motivating you to blog better and more effectively.
Here are my favorite blog posts on blogging:
First and foremost Tim Ferriss gave a speech at a Wordpress conference titled "How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself" which has long been my favorite piece of blogging content. He focuses on the 80-20 principles of productivity like no one else so all information he gives is very targeted and actionable for big results.
Second, Neil Patel writes about what he wishes he would have known when he started blogging in "15 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Started My First Blog." Neil explains how you should pick a niche but make it a large one, not to blog about news, as that will not stick around and FOX news will do it better, don't try to out-FOX FOX news.
Third, John Doherty's "The Rise to 10,000 Visits a Month" is a case-study of his own blog (which actually inspired me to start this blog) as it rose to it's first 10,000 visit month. John gives some great advice on how to leverage conference visits, personal branding and guest blogging to establish a vast readership quickly. Also as a quick side-note, Tom Critchlow (formerly of Distilled, now working at Google) sent me to this post immediately when I asked him for some initial information for building my blog, needless to say I loved it.
Fourth, this post from the Quicksprout blog titled "10 Things Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging." As every marketer should know Seth Godin is a beast of a blogger, writer, entrepreneurial guru and content marketer. Neil Patel writes out 10 things that Seth Godin does with his blogging that others should take notice of, such as blogging once a day, writing like you talk, notice everything etc.
Fifth is "10 Ways to Build Authority as an Online Writer" from Copyblogger media. This article speaks majorly to how you should focus on being unique with your style and content, but in it's own unique way. "Being confident" is brought up pretty majorly in this article, teaching you that if you're going to be an authority, you better believe yourself to be one.
Sixth is "The Marketers Guide to Tumblr" and while this might not have met my criteria for the other posts, instead being more of a "how-to-do-tumblr" post but still being very worth it. I read this post when starting my men's style blog, Bowtii on Tumblr, and with great success too (may write a case study soon on it). This is really a front-to-back great guide on Tumblr specifically, it's bulletproof. This is the 3rd post in my top 6 from Neil Patel, so if you haven't already, follow him.
Those were 6 of my favorite blog posts on blogging, they cover the mentalities to uphold, and things that pros have learned by actually becoming successful bloggers. So now here are ~111 other posts with incredible resources and information for those who like to get a lot more granular with their information.
The key principles you need to keep in mind though always (even while looking at these resources) are the 4 that I listed above. Those will keep you on track and keep you from falling into an optimization trap rather than actually doing the work.
104 Blogging Resources
- "How to build a high traffic blog without killing yourself" by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "Blogging By Numbers, How to Write Headlines That Get Retweeted" by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi on Blogging Techniques and Self-Publishing vs Big Publishers" by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "The Top 5 Uncommon Timesavers for Bloggers / Writers" by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "The 7 Commandments of Blogosphere (and life) Self Defense " by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "A Few Thoughts on Content Creation, Monetization and Strategy" by Tim Ferriss on the 4 Hour Workweek blog
- "10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language" by Gregory Ciotti on the Copyblogger blog
- "10 Ways to Build Authority as an Online Writer" by Demian Farnworth on the Copyblogger blog
- "10 Rules for Writing First Drafts" by Demian Farnworth on the Copyblogger blog
- "What the Future Holds for Business Blogging" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "Everything You Need to Sell Your Boss on Business Blogging" by Paul Rios on the Hubspot blog
- "8 Ways to Instantly Increase the Shareability of Your Visual Blog Content" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "The Resources You Need to Get Started With Business Blogging" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "The Complete Guide to Updated and Republishing Outdated Blog Content" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "12 Things You Should be Using Your Blog For (Besides Blogging)" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "Why Blog Posts are the New Ad Unit" by Steve Hall on the Hubspot blog
- "How to Convert Casual Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Subscribers" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "10 Amazing Blogs About Blogging to Start Reading Now" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "20 Simple Ways To Boost Blog Subscribers" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "Study Shows Business Blogging Leads to 55% More Website Visitors" by Rick Burnes on the Hubspot blog
- "How to Nurture Leads with Your Business Blog" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "The Business Bloggers Ultimate Guide to Mastering Lead Generation" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "10 Amazing Blogging Insights Your Analytics Can Tell You" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "7 Fatal Business Blogging Mistakes and Easy Fixes" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "4 Business Blogging Best Practices" by Kipp Bodner on the Hubspot blog
- "10 Blogging Tactics That Increased One Business's Traffic by 300%" by Rebecca Corliss on the Hubspot blog
- "12 Business Blogging Shortcuts for Time-Crunched Marketers" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "How to Keep Guest Contributors From Ruining Your Blog" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "7 Keys to Blogging Awesomeness" by Eric Vreeland on the Hubspot blog
- "How to Pick the Perfect CTA for Every Blog Post" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot Blog
- "10 Common Business Blogging Questions Answered" by Magdalena Georgieva on the Hubspot blog
- "10 Simples Strategies for Business Blog Content" by Kipp Bodnar on the Hubspot blog
- "11 Editorial Guidelines Every Business Blog Needs" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "4 Business Blogging Lessons from Google's Chief Blogger" by Kipp Bodnar on the Hubspot blog
- "Before You Start Blogging, Ask Yourself These 10 Questions" by Rick Burnes on the Hubspot blog
- "7 Content Angles to Unhitch Your Blogging From a Rut" by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot blog
- "11 Essential Business Blogging Software Features" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "How to Become a Blogging Superstar" by Neil Patel on the MOZ blog
- "How to Blog Successfully About Anything" by Tanner Christensen on the MOZ blog
- "Blogging for The Long Tail" by Matt Lambert on the MOZ blog
- "21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic in 2012" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "12 Things That Will Kill Your Blog Post Every Time" by Neil Patel on the MOZ blog
- "17 Ways to Improve Your Blog: Case Study" by Dan Shure on the MOZ blog
- "Blog Design for Killer SEO" by Cyrus Shephard on the MOZ blog
- "How to Make a Successful Health and Wellness Blog" by Ivan Dimitrijevic on the MOZ blog
- "SEO 101 for Travel Bloggers" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "Reasons Why Corporate Blogging Fails" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "How to Build Links to Your Blog - A Case Study" by Mathew Barby on the MOZ blog
- "How to Reach Bloggers, Ninja Style" by Martin Macdonald on the MOZ blog
- "Corporate Blogging Tips Whiteboard Friday" by Scott Willoughby (talk by Rand) on the MOZ blog
- "Lessons Learned from 3 Years of Blogging" by Rebecca Kelley on the MOZ blog
- "When Interesting and Informative is Not Enough - Emotional Triggers in Blogging" by Benj Arriola on the MOZ blog
- "Company Blogging, Whose Voice Is It?" by Dr. Peter J. Meyers on the MOZ blog
- "Blogging for Higher Rankings - Whiteboard Friday" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "10 Lessons From a 100,000 Pageview Post" by Stephen Kenwright on the MOZ blog
- "You First 30 Days of Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "Marketers Guide to Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "15 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started My First Blog" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "8 Things Your Blog Readers Want More Than Good Content" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "How I Got Started in Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "5 Lessons Fortune 500 Companies Can Teach You About Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "Neil Patel's Guide to Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "Blogging, It's not so simple when it's for a business" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "A Simple Plan for Writing a Powerful Blog Post in Less than 2 Hours" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "9 Hard Hitting Content Strategies for Small Business Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "How to Create a Popular Blog" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "The Real Secret to 1000 Blog Subscribers in 60 Days or Less" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "A Blog is Not a Content Strategy" by John Doherty on his personal blog
- "120 Marketing Tactics for New Blogs Part 2" by Venchito Tampon on the Digital Phillippines blog
- "The Rise to 10,000 Visits a Month" by John Doherty on his personal blog
- "How to Use Tumblr for SEO and Social Media Marketing" by Takeshi Young on the MOZ blog
- "The Marketers Guide to Tumblr" by Neil Patel on the Kissmetrics blog
- "The Beginner's Guide to Tumblr" by Christine Erickson on the Mashable blog
- "Get Started with Blogging on Tumblr" by Herbert Lui on the Guiding Tech blog
- "How I Blog - The 21 Wordpress Plugins that Keep me Sane" by Tim Ferriss on the Four Hour Workweek blog
- "15 Wordpress User Errors that Make You Look Silly [infographic]" by Jerod Morris on the Copyblogger blog
- "10 Steps to a Secure Wordpress Website" by Jerod Morris on the Copyblogger blog
- "How to Noindex and Organize Categories Tags in Wordpress" by John Doherty on his personal blog
- "The Essentials of Guest Blogging Strategy for SEO, Traffic and Audience Building" by Sonia Simone on the Copyblogger blog
- "Guest Blogging Strategies - Whiteboard Friday" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "7 Crucial Tactics for Writing a Wildly Successful Guest Post" by Ramsay Taplin on the Copyblogger blog
- "What I Learned from Writing 42 Guest Posts in 7 Weeks" by Josh Hanagarne on the Copyblogger blog
- "10 Proven Steps to Snag a Guest Post on an A-list Blog" by Jordan Cooper on the Copyblogger blog
- "7 Mistakes that Lead to Guest Post Failure" by Andrew Nattan on the Copyblogger blog
- "How to Get Your Guest Posts Accepted Every Time" on the Problogger blog
- "Why I Quit Blogging (And What to Do If You're Struggling"
- "Is this the Secret to Building a Popular Blog?"
- "Worst Guest Post Blogging Pitch of All Time Template" by Ginny Soskey on the Hubspot blog
- "17 Foolish Mistakes to Avoid as a Guest Blogger" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "How Savvy Inbound Marketers Get Results from Guest Blogging" by Pamela Vaughan on the Hubspot blog
- "6 Reasons Every Small Business Should be Blogging.. are You Missing the Boat?" by Jonah Lopin on the Hubspot blog
- "How to Use Guest Blogging for Effective Link Building" by Brian Whalley on the Hubspot blog
- "Five Steps to Finding the Right Guest Blogging Opportunities" by Mackenzie Fogelson on the MOZ blog
- "The Ultimate Guide to Advanced Guest Blogging" by Pratik Dholaklya on the MOZ blog
- "The Real Benefits of Guest Blogging" by Moosa Hemani on the MOZ blog
- "Guest Blogging Strategies - Whiteboard Friday" by Rand Fishkin on the MOZ blog
- "7 Alternative to Guest Blogging" by Daniel Bailey on the MOZ blog
- "Guest Blogging - Enough is Enough" by Carson Ward on the MOZ blog
- "The Foolproof Method for Great Blogging" by Danny Dover on the MOZ blog
- "15 Smart Ways to Find Guest Posting Opportunities" by Anthony Mangia on the MOZ blog
- "How to Build Links Through Guest Blogging" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
- "Why You Ought to Build an Online Brand Through Guest Blogging and Not Just Chase SEO Tricks" by Neil Patel on the Quicksprout blog
There are 104 impeccable resources from some of the most prolific bloggers out there.
Even though you can go through these resources individually if you would like, I don't think that would be the best use of your time. I want to give you the skinny on the overarching teachings of these posts. I'll try to give only the most needed, most actionable information carried over from these posts. Really the 4 principles that were listed above these posts are the guiding beliefs you have to keep in your mind as you set out on your blogging journey, but for the sake of further elaboration:
My 80/20 Analysis, 10 Tips from the 104 Resources
1. Pick a niche for your blog. Make it big enough to target all of what you want to say, but targeted enough to specialize and be known for something. IE: Men's Fashion instead of just Fashion.
2. Pursue what you're passionate about. Blogging is the long-haul. If you aren't interested in what you are talking about, don't say anything at all. You will reach your wall much more quickly otherwise, a wall that isn't as easy to break through as just writer's block.
3. Have a point before you start writing. If you come up with a topic, make sure you've fleshed that topic out before you get started. If it isn't significant, and doesn't have a clear message, it will just come across as drivel.
4. Be unique. Don't look at other successful bloggers and judge yourself according to them. You will paralyze your capability before you ever start. Analyzing other people's work to deconstruct what makes them successful is fine, but don't beat yourself up over your lack of follower-count or whatever the vanity metric may be. They don't matter. Define what makes you personally different than the "competition" and exploit it to gain your own "tribe" as Seth Godin would say.
5. Don't out-fox fox news. If you want quality traffic, you will want to write for the long term. You will never beat current affair networks unless your point is outrageous enough to go viral, so don't try it. If controversy on current affairs is your niche, then more power to you, but for the other 99% of us, that's not what works. For a growing blogger evergreen-content is your best friend. Write for the future, write for topics that will always be needed and sought out.
6. Have a style guideline and be consistent. If you're going to write once a week, write once a week. If you're going to write 3 times a day, write 3 times a day. If you're going to write long informative posts, write long informative posts. Pick style guidelines and stick to them. Be consistent. People will follow you based off of what you have done in the past and what they like about your style. Really just pick what fits your style best, how you like to write, and make that the guideline of your blog. If you're going to write outside of that guideline think about using it as a guest-post instead or post it on another entity such as Medium or something of the like. Seth Godin posts once a day, anywhere from 2 paragraphs to 2 pages, but he is consistent with once a day. Tim Ferriss posts long, informative, bulky, chapter-of-a-book sized posts, and they are typically spread out quite well. Just pick a style and stick to it.
7. Test, test, test. If something isn't working on your blog IE: you aren't getting the subscriptions you want, or the followers you would like, test something different. Mix it up. Use a tool like CrazyEgg to use heat-maps of user engagement to see where things are dropping off, what people are clicking and focusing on the most, slightly reconfigure your headings or call to actions and see what works better.
8. If you're aiming to gain more traffic specifically to your blog, reach out to other influencers in your industry, other bloggers and thought leaders, reach out and try to guest blog with them. Use the resources above for individual strategies, but the quickest way to grow your network is to tap into someone else's. Also as said above, write for the long term, for search.
9. Hone your voice. Reach out to your followers and friends and ask them what they enjoy about your message. Ask them what their favorite posts are, ask them all the things! You want to know what people think about your writing, what people are the most interested in when you talk about them. The best way to gain perspective on yourself is to see yourself through someone else's eyes. So ask. What do my headlines look like? What is your favorite topic that I write about, that you think that I write well about. Be weary of advice though, because not all is good advice. Take advice from those who you really believe in, and those who you specifically want to target. I personally did this with this blog recently and did an entire redesign and saw a very large bump in traffic. We get too close to our creation, and sometime brutal honesty is the best thing we could receive.
10. Don't give up. You will hit a wall, it's inevitable. It's usually right after that wall that the magic happens. When you hit that wall, mix it up, mess around, have fun with it, get re-invigorated, break some things, maybe take a quick breather before starting back up, but have something to say. Pace yourself, that helps too. Posting on other networks and about other topics sometimes help break up the monotony of the grind too, and can distract you from your mental block.
That's my general 10-point overview of all of the blogging resources I've read (all 104 posts above and more) and what everyone I've asked has told me.
Now if you want some great bloggers, writers and marketers to follow to better your blogging ability or to just see how they blog and model them as you start your blogging journey, here are some of my favorites.
21 of My Favorite Writers, Creators and Blogs (in no real order)
- Tim Ferriss, marketing, apps, blogging information, productivity, self expirementation
- Seth Godin, marketing guru, best selling author (like 97,000 times over)
- Brian Gardner, partner at Copyblogger media, awesome blogging information and Wordpress themes
- Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger and absolute blogging guru
- Neil Patel, Founder of CrazyEgg & KISSmetrics, SEO and blogging expert
- Rand Fishkin, Founder of MOZ & Co-founder of Inbound.org, entrepreneurship & SEO Wizard (of OZ to be exact)
- John Doherty, Former head of the Distilled NY Office, new Internet Marketing Director at Hotpads
- Brian Clark, Founder & CEO of Copyblogger. Writer, designer, entrepreneur.
- Tom Critchlow, product development at Google, formerly of Distilled
- Andrew Dumont, Business Development at MOZ
- Wil Reynolds, Founder & CEO of SEERinteractive
- Jonathon Colman, Content Strategist at Facebook
- Cyrus Shepard, SEO & Web Strategist for MOZ
- Jason Acidre, SEO blogger
- Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo, formerly of Facebook, entrepreneurial blogger
- Ryan Carson, Founder of TreeHouse
- Will Dayable, Hilarious and glorious design director at Squareweave
- Andrew Kim, incredible designer now working at Microsoft
- AJ Kohn, Founder of BlindFiveYearOld
- Jon Cooper, Founder of PointBlankSEO
- David Heinemeier Hansson, Partner at 37signals, creator of Basecamp & Ruby on Rails
My hope by this post is to make better bloggers. I think there is so much information on blogging that is essentially fluff and doesn't add to the mix that it is read by bloggers more than bloggers posting quality posts. I want this information to move the needle forward, that after this post you won't need anymore information on blogging and can adjust and act on your blog personally. To improve your own approach and get to posting the shit that we all want to read!
I plan on making this a living, breathing post. That means revisions. So if you have resources that you really believe belong in this post, short quotes, or bloggers that you think should be added to the list, please let me know either by twitter or in the comments below.
If your goal is to make the ultimate blogging resource for beginners or experts alike, then help and add to this post.
And lastly, as I see it more apparent in blogging success than in any other practice on the web, I leave you with this message.
"Adapt what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own. " - Bruce Lee