While there is no exact science or “right” answer when it comes to blogging, there are clearly 3 ingredients that should never be left off the list. These ingredients have worked for countless successful bloggers. And they’ll work for you, too.
Success in the blogging world is a bit like cooking the perfect meal. It requires skill and finesse, a little bit of flavor, and for you to know what you’re doing. Just as a chef must understand what flavors work together, you too must understand what ingredients make a successful post, and on a larger front, how to cook up a blog that keeps readers hungry for more.
Pulling this off is no walk in the park. It requires a tremendous amount of work to build a successful blog. But, hard work alone won’t get you there. You also need a plan. Most people forget about this. In their haste to get the ball rolling, they rush to hit ‘publish’ only to realize that it takes quite a bit more to get people to show up.
Your blog is a business.
If you look at your blog in any other way, you will not find real success. You have to approach building a blog just as you would a business. There are many areas to consider. You’ll need to come up with content ideas. You’ll need to connect with other bloggers. And, of course, you’ll need a compelling reason for people to visit your site. This is the first ingredient. It’s called your USP.
The first ingredient… Defining your USP
USP stand for “Unique Selling Proposition”. This is what differentiates you from other bloggers. This is the value you offer over other alternatives. This is the reason people should visit your blog.
What’s your USP? Businesses have them. Why don’t you? You are selling something, aren’t you? I’ll let you in on a little secret: you are.
Blogging is about selling yourself. You’re selling your knowledge, methods, advice, personality… any number of things. Every niche is different, but what is important to understand is running a (successful) blog is no different than running a business. Your visitors are your customers, and at the end of the day, numbers don’t lie.
If you want more, you need to demonstrate your value, and you do this by clearly defining what you offer.
How To Find Your USP
Deciding on your USP can take a bit of soul-searching, but the important thing to remember is that you need to be as specific as possible, more the better. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s far too difficult to pull of by yourself, and most people agree that it’s far better to hone in on a single niche that you can call your own.
Here is a recipe for finding your unique selling position (and a few examples). Answer these questions and you’ll be well on your way to defining what makes your blog unique:
What is different or unique about your blog versus others out there?
What words or short phrases best describe what you offer?
Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes: what’s in it for them?
One way to come up with the answers is to do a little spying on your competitors. This is a great way to find out what’s missing in your niche. You need to look for content gaps or things you can do better.
Perhaps one of the most important questions to answer though is what’s in it for your visitors? Put yourself in their shoes and take stock of what you offer. If you were a visitor, why would you want to bookmark your site?
The second ingredient… Developing a plan
Processes are important in business, same goes for blogging. The people that talk about the importance of content planning and strategy are not just blowing hot air. Honestly, I would argue this is the single most important ingredient in this recipe.
A plan is not the end-all solution for achieving success as a blogger. There are two parts to every good plan: the plan itself, and the execution. Think of your plan as your master blueprint. This is the grand design of what you want to accomplish, an outline of your goals and what needs done.
Executing your plan requires developing processes that allow you to stay on track, work efficiently, and, most importantly, develop a habit of working towards your goal.
Process → Productivity → Profit
This flowchart is exactly why you need to focus on your processes from the very beginning. I personally recommend writing your routine down and documenting your day-to-day tasks. This way, you’ll have something to refer to that will help keep you on track.
I don’t use anything fancy, just a little yellow notepad that I write my daily ‘to-dos’ in. While it may not be necessary for everyone, I have learned a lot about how I work, and what keeps me the most productive.
If you work for yourself, or your career gives you a lot of control over how you spend your time, you need to be accountable. It’s very easy to shirk your responsibility and spend too much time on things not as important. I think this post said it best:
“Don’t work harder for someone else than you work for yourself.”
It’s very common to see this with people who are just venturing into blogging or online marketing.
Never fall into this trap.
Here are a few key questions you should be asking yourself:
- How will my site be structured? What keywords will I target? What is the search volume of those keywords? What ‘cornerstone’ content will I be known for?
- What story will I tell? How often will I publish new content? What is my content strategy? What actions do I want visitors to take after visiting my blog? How will I promote my posts?
- What are my goals? Will I sell a product or service? Do I want more email subscribers? How much traffic do I want to get in the next three months?
You have to understand that blogging is a two part process. Half the time you’ll spend writing, the other half is all about the promotion. Not only will you need to plan what to write about, you’ll also need to develop a strategy for getting the word out.
The last ingredient… Sheer determination
Be relentless. That’s about the best way to put it. The difference between a successful blogger, and one who is not, can almost always be boiled down to the amount of work put in by each. So many people start a blog, only to let it fall by the wayside in a few short months.
More times than not, the root of the problem is a lack of planning.
They start off with a few good ideas, and once those are gone the potency of their content begins slowly drying up or losing direction.
To reiterate the second point: make sure you have a plan. The more detailed and solid your plan, the more you can focus on doing, versus thinking about what you should be doing.
If I was to start a blog from scratch, I can tell you exactly how I’d do it:
- Pick the right niche.
- Research keywords with the most traffic.
- Figure out what personas I want to target.
- Create a list of influencers.
- Make a list of competitors, or other similar blogs.
- Buy a domain name.
- Choose a web hosting provider.
- Decide on a theme.
- Determine how to structure the blog (categories, navigation, etc).
- Find content gaps in my niche.
- Put together a content calendar for at least 3 months.
- Outline a blog marketing strategy.
Wrapping it up
Success is yours for the taking. Perseverance is key. Planning will keep you on track. Goals will be your compass. If you take the time to incorporate these 3 ingredients into your blog strategy you will have a potent recipe for building an authority blog.
Are you ready for the sweet taste of success, or what?
Let me know your ideas in the comments.
It would be interesting to hear your USP, and what phrase best describes your blog.