5 Simple Steps to a Better Blog
I’m very much of the opinion that certain things in life are over complicated. Some things, like brain surgery, are just complicated, there’s not getting away from it. Other things however, are made more complicated than they really are. I believe Blogging falls into the latter category. So, with that in mind I’m going to give you five tips to improve your blog, and they are all really, really simple. If you decide to try these tips, which have all come from my personal experience in blogging and the internet, let me know if they help.
- Start a Feature – There are a load of blogs out there, really, lots and lots. And no matter how small your niche is, you will still have competitors. To put this in perspective, I once got to know someone who ran a site all about Fire Walking (the pastime of walking across red hot coals. Crazy). This is a very small niche yet there was still fierce competition between the handful of sites that covered the subject. If a niche as small as Fire Walking can be so competitive, can you imagine a more Main Stream subject? It’s difficult. The up shot is, you have to make your blog stand out, and having the content is necessarily enough, you need to guide your readers correctly, they need to know it’s unique. The most effective way to do this is to set up a feature on your blog, something that readers can rely on. Something brandable. You may have noticed that this post is part of the 5 Things series, which accounts for the vast majority of traffic that comes through this blog. It’s memorable, if people come back here there is a fair chance you’re going to come across a post that has a list of five things in it. And not only do people like lists, but they like lists of five things.
- “How to” Post – It’s incredibly rare that a post will hit the front page of digg or del.icio.us if it’s just about what your cats been doing this week. The vast majority of posts that hit it big on these sorts of sites are instructive in some way or another. Even though you may not realise it, there’s something you know that someone else wants to know. And you can easily pass that knowledge on, so do it. And remember, even if it’s something very basic, there will still be someone out there who needs it written down. Another approach is to take something normal and give it a twist that’s not been covered before. Just because all the other bloggers do X, doesn’t mean your wrong for preferring Y. Just make sure you tell us why you prefer Y.
- Push your Feed – Write a post explaining that users can subscribe to your feed and include all the relevant links. More importantly, explain what a subscription and a feed is, how they subscribe to it and what they’ll get. Also point out how easy it is to unsubscribe. There’s some starting text here: RSS Feeds, a template for increasing subscriber numbers.
- Audit your Existing Posts – This can be somewhat of an arduous task, but is completely necessary and will provide benefits in the long run. Essentially, blogs are living, breathing entities. You don’t put up a blog and leave it there, it needs to evolve over time. What I’m suggesting is going back over some of your previous posts and auditing them. When performing this audit (which may not be the best word now I think about it) you need to look for three things. Firstly, is what you’ve written still valid and correct. When looking into this, check the comments and any other responses to see if anything can be added to the posts based upon the subsequent conversation. Secondly, is it grammatically correct and does the writing style (and voice) suit the rest of your blog. The last thing you need to look for is whether you can add any links in the post that points to newer content. It’s all very well posting to old content in your new posts, but why not take the time to opposite. You may want to read Reducing Bounce Rates with the Personal Touch for a quick tip on this subject.
- Take some time out for Research – At some point you need to stop being introverted on your blog and take a look outside. You should take a conscience decision not to post for a certain period of time. For example, if you usually post once a day, take a day off posting for this step. With this time off, have a look at other sites and content in your niche. And not just a cursory read of their RSS feeds, take a proper look. The most important thing you can do is read their comments. Every single one on any post that interests you. Many bloggers underestimate the importance of comments, make sure you don’t. And not just your own comments, comments on other blogs and forums that lie within your niche. While your researching some content by checking out these other sites, why not give yourself a bit of a boost by joining the conversation by adding a comment yourself, or joining a forum.
I hope those five, really simple, steps will help you out in one way or another. I’m sure you’ve thought of everyone of them at some point, but sometimes you need a bit of provocation to get it done. It’s also worth making a note of these steps and adding them to your routine, just to make sure you get them done. I think this is especially important for steps 4 and 5, which definitely need to be done even if they don’t give you an instant boost in traffic. Hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Have you got any really simple tips for building a better blog? Share your experiences in the comments.