10 Steps to Having a Successful Web Blog

I want to blog, but where do I start? How do I get readers? How do I keep them? How do I make money at it?

After practically living my life online for the last 15 years, it seems crazy to me when people just now ask how they can get started with blogging. Whether their goals are simply to find a way to express themselves, or to create a self-promoting powerhouse, or even to just talk about their business in front of a limitless audience, my answer always starts in the same place: The basics. Here are some web-blogging 101 tips for the novice writer:

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  1. Whiskey & WordsStick to what you know: If you want to corner the market of readers, then stick to content you are familiar with. Write about and showcase something you are passionate about. It will come through in your work and gain you dedicated and loyal visitors. This is especially true when your blogging niche is something off the beaten path, narrowing the scope of sites out there that are already covering this material.
  2. Be original: Chances are for every “popular” website on the internet, there are hundreds of invisible knock-offs. People see the success of one idea and try to recreate that success by creating a duplicate but slightly varied version of the same marketing idea even if they know nothing about the subject matter. This is a waste of time and leaves the copycat looking like an idiot.
  3. Keywords are your friend: It is common knowledge that keywords help search engines determine how relevant your site is to the search queries internet consumers use to find it. As you are searching for inspiration, potential content and ideas for your site, keep track of the keywords you are using. These are probably keywords you want to use heavily in your own writing. It takes a little practice to properly pepper your site with a fair share of keywords without going overboard, but mastering this element can tremendously increase your blogs rank and relevancy.
  4. Get Social: These days people rely on social media sites almost as heavily as they rely on search engine results. Consumers are voting on, recommending, and rating web content at an astounding rate and turning the web into more of a community environment than the former reference library it once was. This means success really can be about who you know as much as what you know. Join several social networking groups and start sharing content. Build a network of users who contribute content similar to yours and take part in the sharing of knowledge.
  5. Tagging is only illegal with spraypaint: Tags help readers navigate through your site by finding posts similar to the ones that got them to visit you in the first place. Use tags moderately, only tagging the two or three main keywords or subjects of each post. Avoid redundant tags such as “blog tips” and “blog advice” in the same post to keep navigation simple.
  6. Make friends: Use comments, trackbacks and link trading (with other like-minded bloggers) to create a community centered around your content. Respond to readers’ comments with more than just “thanks”. Keep the conversation rolling. Engage your audience and they will return for more!
  7. Analyze your results: Install a traffic tracker of some sort to help you understand where your visitors are coming from and clicking to. I personally recommend Google Analytics simply because of the amount of detailed statistics if provides from keywords used to find my sites, to what blog posts get the most traffic and where my visitors are from.
  8. Monetize responsibly: This is where things get tricky, and keeping up with trends is important. Just because that ad for funny t-shirts offers a higher commission percentage doesn’t mean the readers of your blog on conservative politics will click on it. When selecting affiliates and ad categories, keep your target reader in mind. Would they be interested in this product? Is it relevant to your site? Are the ads going to blend into your theme without being obnoxious or intrusive? Are ads really going to help you in a world of ad-blocking apps and plug-ins? Would you be better off getting individual content sponsors or starting an eCommerce store with your own products, ebooks and branded merchandise? When in doubt, select quality over quantity to avoid allowing your site to look like a cheesy link directory. The best blog content in the world can be easily overlooked in a sea of poorly placed ads.
  9. Stay regular: A post a day keeps the cobwebs away. Readers expect the internet to reflect real time events, news, and information. The most successful blogs revolve around a steady stream of new information and posts. A predictable posting routine (such as PostSecret’s Sunday schedule) can help you two-fold. It creates a writing deadline that is predictable and helps keep you on task, as well as giving your readers something to look forward to. Stale content gets boring and drives away readers.
  10. Roll with it: Keep a running blogroll on your page. A blogroll is a list of links to similar blogs and sources of information on your blog topic. Exchange links with high-ranking sites to help increase your blog’s visibility and ranking.

Overall, the most important thing is to just be yourself, in words and web-expression. Personality always shines through and wins out! Happy blogging!

To see some of the handy blogging tools I keep close by when I go out in the field, check out this collection on my Kit.com profile!

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