A successful blog is one that has a religious readership. You don’t need to have millions of readers to be successful; rather, you need readers that will always come back to read your content.
If you’re planning to monetize your blog, work on building loyal readership before venturing into the various monetization techniques.
In this post, we’ll look at the critical elements that make a blog successful, keeping in mind that great content alone doesn’t cut it.
So here we go:
Have a Plan and Goal (a blueprint for overall success)
You must have a goal for running a blog; from there, devise a plan to achieve that goal. A plan helps you stay focused on your goal.
For starters, choose a highly specialized niche rather than a broad and vague one. When you narrow down to a specialized niche, it becomes easier to categorize your content. Obviously you should have good grasp of your chosen niche.
Your overall plan should include an articulate content plan: what type of content you want to offer on your blog; how often you are going to be posting; target audience, keywords, and more.
Design and Layout (visual appeal to catch readers’ attention)
The first thing that readers notice on your blog is the general layout and design of the different elements. Before readers get down to digesting your content, your blog’s aesthetics is what catches their eye first. Needless to say, you want a simple but slick layout with uncluttered elements. Here are a few things you can do to improve your blog’s aesthetics:
- Make text readable at all screen sizes (fluid layouts).
- Eliminate clutter. The sidebar is a common culprit when it comes to clutter on a blog. Don’t dump unnecessary widgets in your sidebar. Only keep those that offer value.
- Change your theme periodically. Newer themes are typically built using the latest technologies and standards, and they’re also usually more appealing aesthetically.
Post Formatting (readability on device screens)
Post formatting is a subset of design and layout and largely depends on theme design. Regardless of what theme you’re using, mind the basics: readability, text size, and intuitive use of images and graphics.
Since it’s more tiring to read on screen than on paper, you want to ensure that your posts are correctly formatted for screen reading.
Points to note for powerful post formatting:
- Use subheadings and break your posts into small paragraphs for better readability.
- Highlight key phrases using bold text.
- Use bullet lists for key points to facilitate fast reading.
- Make use of blockquotes when quoting other people.
Email Subscription and Social Media Integration (attract and retain readers)
Getting readers to subscribe to your blog is a surefire way to increase your chances of monetizing your blog in the future. It also helps build trust and establishes a personal connection with them.
There are a couple of options your readers can use to subscribe to your content but email is far more popular. Choose from Aweber, MailChimp, and Feedburner to send out periodic post updates or newsletters.
In addition, it pays to promote your posts on social media. Specifically, you want to integrate ways through which readers can share your content on social media.
The Comments Section (build relationships with readers)
The comments section deserves special mention because it is where you’ll build long-term relationships with readers. How you customize this section depends on many things, notably your theme’s design. By all means, you should have a solid spam filtering system to weed out trackbacks and potentially malicious postings from shady Internet users. Besides the potential security risk to your blog, spam comments can deter healthy debate from genuine readers. There are plenty of options when it comes to spam filtering but most times, you’ll find that Akismet from Automattic is more than sufficient.
Keep a clean and vibrant comments section and you’ll build solid relationships with your readers.
Editorial Calendars (ensure smooth, timely, and organized content creation)
Posting high quality content regularly needs organization. An editorial calendar not only helps you post your content on time but also helps you stay focused on your content goals.
Advanced editorial calendars have a plethora of features that range from editorial team management to automated publishing and many more.
An editorial calendar helps you implement your content plan. It should have features that allow you to define the nitty-gritty of each post or content type. Consider the following blueprint for each post:
- Post title
- Post details (graphics, post content, resources, and more)
- Main keywords
- Target audience
- What action is required from reader (CTA) or what’s the point of the post?
Running a successful blog takes effort and commitment. Competition for readers is stiff so you need to go the extra mile to stand out. While there are many variables that can determine the success of a blog, the basics shared in this post go a long way: a solid plan and goal for creating top quality content along with a carefully chosen layout and formatting features for displaying that content are the very basics. You then set about to creating long term personal connections with your readers through email subscriptions, debating in the comments section, and social media engagement.
Now I want to hear from you. What are the essentials that make up your blog’s anatomy?
Image: CC BY 2.5