A short while ago I decided it would be a great idea to put together some blog writing tips that could help both existing and aspiring bloggers.
At Verve we like to think of ourselves as pretty darn good at blogging, but what if we could include some of the world’s top blogging, content marketing and online marketing experts in this discussion, how fantastic would that be?
What started as a ‘what if’ soon evolved in to something amazing, the response (and calibre of the responses) was overwhelming and we are extremely honoured and proud to present to you expert advice from 20 of the worlds most respected bloggers and online marketers (plus me).
We asked each of them:
Sit back, grab a coffee and read on to discover each expert’s tips and guidance (and look out for the bonus tip at the end)!
If you are an aspiring blogger, the one thing you have to keep in mind is that it isn’t easy to create a popular blog. It takes months if not years. So you need to be consistent with your posting schedule and persistent, as you won’t be seeing any great results in the short run.
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting.” Neil Patel
Invest in your own education, specifically about channels that can send free traffic on the web like SEO, social media, content marketing, community building, links, etc. There are no secrets or tactics that will instantly generate thousands of new, loyal visitors to your blog, but education is something no one can ever take from you.
Knowledge of how search engines work, how social media sites choose what to display and what content forms and styles are effective will forever make your efforts yield greater returns.
“There are no secrets or tactics that will instantly generate thousands of new, loyal visitors to your blog, but education is something no one can ever take from you.” Rand Fishkin
One of the best lessons I’ve learnt from blogging for over 5 years is to simply be me. We’re all original, so why be someone else?
When I started, I followed other people’s advice and I tried to be someone I wasn’t, it was awful! I learnt that I enjoyed writing more when I write from ‘me’, writing became simpler and I was able to connect with more people without trying too hard to impress them.
If you look at some of the most successful bloggers, you’ll realise that they all have their own unique writing style. Remember, you won’t be able to stand out if you just follow what everyone does and say what everyone else says. BE YOU.
“One of the best lessons I’ve learnt from blogging for over 5 years is to simply be me. We’re all original, so why be someone else?” Aaron Lee
Make sure you don’t give up too soon. Most people associate the Internet with making fortunes overnight, but this is not how things happen in most cases. Building a successful blog or website is no different from building a successful business. It takes time and hard work. As such, it will take hard work and persistence, so make sure you hang in there until things start working out.
“Make sure you don’t give up too soon. Most people associate the Internet with making fortunes overnight, but this is not how things happen in most cases.” Daniel Scocco
Any journey requires starting despite your fears and placing one foot after the other, building an online house a brick at a time and one word after the other.
It means having “a go” despite judgment and criticism, and on the social web that will happen. If any of you read the first articles on my blog (and I am not going to provide a link for you, they are so embarrassing), then you would understand that starting means imperfection and being prepared to be vulnerable.
Be courageous then the opportunities will be revealed in time. True bravery is willing to be “you” despite stones being thrown and criticism turning up in your blog comments. That is part of the journey. Seth Godin even struggles with this (he turned his blog comments off). But he still started and keeps publishing.
“Starting means imperfection and being prepared to be vulnerable.” Jeff Bullas
Words tell us how to . . . how to be beautiful, how to fall in love, how to make money by working online. Words try to move us to be happier, be greener, be more active in someone’s cause. Words help us connect with each other. Words appraise us, explain us, and help us describe who we are. Words are how we find out what we need to know.
Yet there are far more words to read than there is time.
We can think and write. We can craft our sentences to be clever. We can make sure that each part is factually, structurally, grammatically correct. But clever and accurate only go so far in satisfying readers. If we want our writing to resonate long after, our words need to come from the heart.
“Clever and accurate only go so far in satisfying readers. If we want our writing to resonate long after, our words need to come from the heart.” Liz Strauss
Blog about concepts that are easy to visualise. People love sharing informative charts, diagrams, slides etc.
If you use compelling visual assets throughout each blog post it will make your Social Media & SEO much more effective.
You can also leverage your visual assets into links from other bloggers, which will aid your SEO.
People will love you for your writing style but many times they will share your content primarily for the strong visual assets.
“Blog about concepts that are easy to visualise. People love sharing informative charts, diagrams, slides etc.” AJ Ghergich
Figure out how you can help people with your unique knowledge or point of view. Ideally, help them make money, save money, or feel better and happier with their lives… or ideally, more than one of those.
Begin with the idea of serving readers and helping them and your blog will have a real shot at finding an audience.
“Figure out how you can help people with your unique knowledge or point of view.” Carol Tice
Mike Sansone (@mikesansone) conversation conductor at www.converstations.com
When writing for the web, provide plenty of “eye rests”. Simply, format your writing with:
• Bold phrases (key points you want remembered)
• Images (enhancing the story)
• Short lists
By formatting your posts this way, even if your reader is quickly skimming and scrolling, they will pick up some of the value of your work and perhaps, slow down to intake the whole article. It’s also easier to share a post formatted with these eye rests.
“By formatting your posts this way, even if your reader is quickly skimming and scrolling, they will pick up some of the value of your work.” Mike Sansone
While many bloggers start out with lots of zeal and energy, the most difficult challenge is to keep showing up at your computer and posting when you don’t know if you’ve got a following. Consistency is the key to blogging success as shown by Moz data. Many bloggers fall off of the blogging bandwagon over time. It’s the biggest reason bloggers don’t succeed.
“Consistency is the key to blogging success.” Heidi Cohen
When it comes to blogging, everyone is talking about passion. Passion is great but it will only get you so far. If you want to make money with blogging then you are going to need to create a business plan detailing how you are going to target your audience and turn them into customers.
The important thing to remember when trying to make a business out of blogging, is to ask yourself how your site is going to be any different and better than the billions that are already out there.
“If you want to make money with blogging then you are going to need to create a business plan.” Zac Johnson
You’ve seen them – the kinds of posts where, after you’ve read it, your next goal was to find out more information. You probably didn’t think to share the post – you just went in search of more details.
This is where the little 300 word, made for SEO posts generally fail. They’re generally too simplistic to the point that they don’t actually give the reader everything they need to be satisfied.
You want your post to be the full guide. You want it to answer everyone’s question before they even get a chance to ask it. You want it to be something that others will think of sharing when someone asks them about that topic. You want it to be memorable.
“You want your post to be the full guide. You want it to answer everyone’s question before they even get a chance to ask it.” Kristi Hines
Your audience does not want your content.
Your audience probably does not want to hear from you at all.
If you think that because your website looks great that people will want to visit it … think again.
What do they really want?
Your audience and potential customers know who they are and probably have a very good idea of their goals. At the very least they know their immediate needs. They are looking for answers to questions, advice and resources that help people like them get the stuff people like them want.
“If you think that because your website looks great that people will want to visit it … think again.” Chris Garrett
Blogging is all about passion for the subject you write and believe in. If you really love what you write, your expertise will reflect in your unique content style and that will keep bringing readers back to your blog everyday. If you can manage to consistently publish great content, a never-ending stream of traffic and income will soon follow.
“If you really love what you write, your expertise will reflect in your unique content style and that will keep bringing readers back to your blog everyday.” P. Chandra
Aspiring bloggers need to know why they’re blogging and beyond that, their “why” must be tied to some form of freedom. Think bigger than trying to make money, trying to get things, or trying to be famous. These type of “why’s” sully a pure intent, and dissipate your creative energies.
Back when I was a broke, fired security guard, I simply wanted to make money online. My “why” was whack. Then I changed my intent. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be free to travel, to see the world, and wouldn’t you know it, the inspired actions I took aligned with my reason “why”, and I began to travel the world….40 months and running, now.
Then 2 and a half months ago, I purified my reason “why”, when I started my new blog, “Blogging from Paradise.” I wanted to be free, and I’m becoming more free each day, but I want to take you with me. I want you to retire to a life of island hopping, through smart blogging, if that idea tickles your fancy. So the freedom of my readers means as much to me as anything.
I’m writing these words from Savusavu, Fiji, from a beach front location, 50 meters over the Pacific Ocean and bay.
I truly feel that my reason “why” (wanting to be free and wanting you to be free, through my blogging efforts) brought me here, and I feel that if you want to blog, and do it part time, or full time, or even if it’s just a hobby, tie your reason “why” to being free and to helping others become free, and your inspired actions, and your detachment from outcomes, and the people you’ll meet, will amaze you.
Think bigger than trying to make money, or trying to get things, or trying to be famous. These type of “why’s” sully a pure intent, and dissipate your creative energies.
“Aspiring bloggers need to know why they’re blogging and beyond that, their “why” must be tied to some form of freedom.” Ryan Biddulph
John TP (@johntp)
Step 2: Find the most linked posts of each popular blog using opensiteexplorer.org (look for the top pages tab).
Step 3: Find the most shared posts of each popular blog using buzzsumo.com (I recommended buzzsumo because it shows most shared posts of last 6 months, NOT of all time. What worked in 2005 may not work in 2014).
Step 4: Make a list of the most shared and linked to posts in your niche.
Step 5: Study the popular posts, what are the most popular topics?
Study the headlines used, headlines make a huge difference in getting people to read your post.
Step 6: Choose a post from the list and make a much better one – more detailed (at least 3000 words), up to date and well designed.
Step 7: Before writing the post –
Find the influencers sharing the original post on social networks, using buzzsumo and build relationships with them.
Find useful posts from popular blogs in your niche relevant to your post and build relationship with the bloggers who wrote the posts.
Find these popular bloggers on Twitter and share their posts mentioning them using @username
After sharing a few of their amazing posts that you liked, they should notice you.
Next, subscribe to their email list and reply to their email thanking them for a tip of theirs that really helped you. Once they reply, continue building a relationship with them.
You may also guest post on their blog. It can be used to build your email list as well as to build a relationship with these amazing bloggers.
Step 8: Once you build a good relationship with the people who shared the original post (the ones with thousands of followers), email them letting them know about your post. Since they already shared a post on the topic of your post… they should be happy to read and share your detailed post.
Repeat this for those who linked to the original post, but this time ask them to link to your post.
Link to relevant posts from popular blogs in your post. And let them know you mentioned them. If your post is good, they may share it.
If you link, quote and interview popular bloggers, there’s a good chance they may at least share the post on Twitter.
“Find useful posts from popular blogs in your niche relevant to your post and build relationship with the bloggers who wrote the posts.” John TP
Blogging is both easy and difficult. It’s wonderful and horrible. It’s rewarding and disappointing.
Blogging can be whatever you make of it, which is why it’s important for aspiring bloggers to be clear with their intentions. Why do you want to blog? What is your goal? What is your purpose?
All the gung-ho attitude and discipline in the world won’t do you any good if you lack direction. It’s all meaningless if you don’t have purpose.
Find your purpose.
If you want your blog to make you rich, that’s okay. If you want to create the ultimate fan blog for Steve Urkel, that’s okay, too.
Just be honest with yourself.
With your goals and purpose clearly defined, you’ll be ready to set forth on your journey. You’ll be able to persevere through the difficult, horrible, disappointing days which inevitably occur. You’ll be able to smile big on the wonderful, rewarding days with the knowledge you earned them.
And earn them you most definitely will. Why?
Because there are no magic formulas for blogging success. No shortcuts. No easy blueprints.
No doubt, there is excellent advice to be learned by experienced bloggers. You should soak up all knowledge and wisdom they graciously impart to you. Just remember: All they can do is help you on your journey.
They can give you guidance. They can point you in the right direction. They can tell you what worked for them.
But they can’t guarantee your success.
That’s on you. The good news? You’ve got this. Ready to get started?
“All the gung-ho attitude and discipline in the world won’t do you any good if you lack direction.” Kevin Duncan
Pradeep Kumar (@spradeepkr) CEO & founder of www.slashsquare.org
Forget the fact that you can make money out of your blog; just write as if you are talking with your readers face-to-face, like chatting with them and clearing their queries. I’m sure at the end you can convert these into both money and reputation.
“Write as if you are talking with your readers face-to-face, like chatting with them and clearing their queries.” Pradeep Kumar
You should keep sentences short for the same reason you keep paragraphs short: they’re easier to read and understand.
Each sentence should have one simple thought. More than that creates complexity and invites confusion.
“You should keep sentences short for the same reason you keep paragraphs short: they’re easier to read and understand.” copyblogger
There are many writing exercises, which when done regularly, will help to keep your mind active and thoughts flowing. The brain / mind functions like a muscle, even though physically its a ball of spongy mush, and the more you exercise your and use it, the stronger your thought patterns, will and intentions become.
One particular exercise which works wonders for me in both writing and other forms of creative work, is spending 5 – 10 minutes each day drawing or doodling anything that comes to mind, then spending another 5 minutes writing a short story on what I drew. The act of putting your imagination to paper and bringing it to life rejuvenates and relaxes your mind and will bring a bit of fun to your day.
It creates and secures new neurological connections which in turn enables you to think and express yourself more concisely and puts in practice the art of translating thought to paper.
Make this activity a fun part of your daily life.
“The act of putting your imagination to paper and bringing it to life rejuvenates and relaxes your mind and will bring a bit of fun to your day.” The Blog Herald
Holly Doyle-Wilday Digital Marketing Manager at www.verve-design.co.uk
For your blog to reach its full potential it also needs to be coupled with a great social media strategy.
Display your social media icons prominently on your website
You should make it as simple as possible for blog readers to connect with you on all popular social media platforms. If they end up having to search for your Twitter handle or if they have to copy and paste the URL to share the content, in most cases they won’t.
Always have social share icons incorporated into your blog, if the social media icons have the same look and feel as the rest of the blog then all the better.
Be on social media — even when it’s not driving traffic
It can be exasperating when you feel that you’re doing everything right (posting good content on relevant channels at the best times) and you’re still not getting many clicks. But just have a think, each day how many links do you see that you don’t click on? Just spending time on social media platforms is a superb way to build relationships, keep up on industry specific news and get motivated for that next blog post.
“Be on social media — even when it’s not driving traffic.” Dave Lane
And to finish off, I am excited to say that Rand Fishkin of Moz has kindly provided you lucky people with a second tip.
My top tip is to give your blog posts just a few minutes of SEO attention, as per the below:
By simply targeting the terms and phrases your potential audience is using to search the web, you can dramatically increase your potential to be found and your search traffic.
“My top tip is to give your blog posts just a few minutes of SEO attention.” Rand Fishkin
A huge thanks to all of the experts for providing such informative and useful blog writing tips; we are extremely proud of the end result!
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