If you want your blog to flourish and be considered the go-to resource for your industry, it is critical that you follow these steps over the next 30 days.
Day 1: Don’t launch until your blog is correctly set up
No matter how tempting it may be, you don’t want to launch your blog too early. Make sure you have covered the basics, such as having an about and contact pages, as well as a decent looking design. Your design doesn’t have to be unique—you can just use a free WordPress theme.
Day 2: Pick a topic and stick with it
Even though it’s your blog and you can write on whatever you want, you have to pick a topic and stick with it. Your blog will be much more popular if you stick with one topic.
Day 3: Be consistent
If you have a lot to say and a ton of time, blog daily. If you don’t have much time on your hands or much to say, blog once a week. Once you figure out how often you are going to blog, stick with it. The biggest way to lose your audience is inconsistency.
If you aren’t sure how often you can blog, start off by blogging once a month. If you happen to have more time, you can step it up by blogging more often. Just don’t reduce the number of times you are blogging.
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at Quick Sprout. During the beginning of the year, I used to blog weekly, and my blog was getting roughly 100,000 visitors a month. Now my blog is only getting 60,000 visitors a month because during the second quarter of this year, I was averaging 1 to 2 blog posts a month.
Day 4: No man is an island
Now that your blog is a few days old, you should start seeing some comments. Although standard practice only dictates that you read every comment on your blog, you should also make an effort to respond to each and every commentator.
If you don’t, some of your commentators may feel like you are ignoring them. Responding to every commentator will help you build a loyal following, which will help build up your traffic in the long run.
This is the main tactic I have used to help build up Quick Sprout.
Day 5: Stop regurgitating content
Don’t just blog about the news or about something you saw on another blog. If you are going to write about the same topics as everyone else, make sure you throw in your two cents.
People are reading your blog because they want to hear from you…right? It’s best to give them what they want by providing your opinion.
Ideally, you should only be blogging when you have something new and exciting to say.
Day 6: Don’t be afraid to take risks
Most bloggers are afraid of saying what they really think, especially when it is something negative. Don’t be afraid to take risks, even if most other bloggers don’t take them. If you really feel a specific way about something, then write about it, no matter how negative or positive it may be .
Controversy is one of the quickest ways to build a large following because it will cause other bloggers to link to you. Just don’t abuse this power by writing controversial posts for no reason. If you do, it could end up backfiring.
For example, I saw that Matt Kirkpatrick was messing up on his blog, so I called him out. Not only did I get Matt to come to my blog and comment, but that post also caused me to see an uptake in my RSS subscribers.
Day 7: Differentiate yourself
Like anything else, you will have competitors. So if you want people to read your blog instead of your competition’s, you’ll have to do something unique. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just something different.
For example, I blog about entrepreneurship — so do thousands of other bloggers. The way I try to differentiate myself is by writing detailed content that helps entrepreneurs take action. Entrepreneurs can get information from anywhere, but it is hard for them to find resources that tell them what to do.
Day 8: Survey your readers
Now that you have built up a small audience, it is time for you to survey them. The best way to improve your blog is to get feedback from your readers.
I usually use Survey.io to survey my blog readers. It has helped me realize that it’s best to blog about entrepreneurialism rather than about branding (Quick Sprout was once a blog on personal branding).
Surveying your readers will allow you to adjust your blog to meet their needs. You won’t be able to satisfy everyone, but you should be able to satisfy 80% of your readers.
Day 9: Leverage the social web
Your blog may not be relevant toward the Hacker News audience, but it is relevant to someone on the social web.
Look for social sites that promote content similar to yours. If you don’t know of any, you can always go through this list.
In general, sites like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon work well for most bloggers. And out of these three, Twitter is going to be the easiest to leverage because every time you write a blog post, it automatically gets tweeted out.
Day 10: Network with bloggers
The easiest way you can grow your blog traffic is to get other bloggers to link to you. But if you just hit up 100 random bloggers, you’ll be lucky if you can get a few to write about your blog.
On the other hand, if you start chatting with bloggers through instant messaging and email, you’ll start building relationships with them. And when you need them to plug you on their blogs, your chances are going to be much higher.
Just don’t abuse these connections because bloggers can easily get irritated if you keep requesting to be mentioned on their blog.
Day 11: Analyze your Feedburner stats
Feedburner can do a lot more for your business than just tell you how many RSS subscribers you have. If you dig a bit deeper, you’ll notice that they tell you how many times RSS subscribers clicked on different blog posts.
By studying this data you will have a better understanding of what content your readers like and don’t like.
In addition to that, you’ll have a better understanding of the type of headlines your readers like.
Day 12: Participate in the conversation
In addition to responding to the comments on your blog, you should comment on your competition’s blogs. This is a great way to get some of their visitors to come over to your website.
Are you familiar with Mashable? If you aren’t, it is one of the top 100 most popular blogs on the web. One factor that led to Mashable’s success is that when they first launched, they commented on their competition’s blog.
I know this can be time consuming, but you don’t have to do it with all of your competitors, just the most popular.
Day 13: Optimize your blog for search engines
According to Alexa, Google is the most popular site on the web. So why not optimize your website for it and other search engines? SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have a WordPress or Movable Type blog, this article will walk you through the steps you need to take to be search engine friendly.
If you don’t have a WordPress or Movable Type blog, you can still optimize it. You just may have to put in more time.
Day 14: Write a three-part series
Writing a three-part series blog post isn’t an easy task, but the results that it will produce will be worthwhile. By publishing a three-part series over the course of a week, you will encourage readers to come back more often.
This is important for a new blog because even if your readers like your content, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll come back. If you leave them wanting more, they’ll have to keep coming back.
Day 15: Come up with a monetization plan
You shouldn’t try to monetize your blog within the first few months of blogging because it can be a big turn-off for your readers. But you still need to know how you are going to make money from your blog.
Come up with a plan of monetization strategies you want to test over the next few months. And don’t just rely on the standard methods such as slapping up Google AdSense.
If you don’t want to make money from your blog, that’s fine, but in many cases, the popularity of your blog will increase as you make more money — just look at John Chow!
Day 16: Encourage commenting
A good way to increase the number of comments on your blog posts is to ask a question at the end.
For example, you could end your blog posts with questions like:
- So, what do you think?
- If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.
- Do you have any questions?
Or if you want, you can do what Gary Vaynerchuk once did:
If this post doesn’t receive 600 comments, I am going to stop blogging. So please comment.
Day 17: Have someone tweet about your blog (not you or your mom)
Tweeting about your blog posts isn’t enough. You need other people to tweet about your blog. Now that you have been leveraging Twitter for a while, here are a few ways you can get others to tweet about you blog:
- Ask your followers to retweet your message (assuming you just tweeted about your blog).
- Email friends and colleagues who use Twitter, and ask them to tweet about your blog.
- Join a social media ring. If you join a group filled with social media users, you can ask each other for tweets.
Day 18: Leverage blogrolls
You’ll notice that a lot of bloggers have blogrolls on their blogs. It’s their way of showing their readers which blogs they typically read.
If you can get your blog added to a few blogrolls, not only will you get an increase in traffic from the link but you’ll also get a bit more traffic from search engines.
The best way to get your blog added to a blogroll is send out custom emails to bloggers. Build a relationship with them, and ask politely if they wouldn’t mind adding you to their blogroll.
Most bloggers are going to say no when you email them, but like anything else, it’s a numbers game.
Day 19: Get personal
Now that you have been blogging for roughly three weeks, it’s time to build a personal connection with your readers. There are three ways you can achieve this.
The first is to write a detailed About page that includes your life story. I have done this with my About page, and based on the comments I have received, it has been effective.
The second tactic, which has been effective for building a connection with my readers, is to blog about your life experiences. For example, I blogged about the 7 business mistakes that nearly made me go broke.
Lastly, although this is more of a requirement than a tactic, you should add a picture of yourself in your sidebar. It doesn’t matter what you look like. People won’t bond with you unless they can put a face to your name.
Day 20: Track your internal searches
Through services like Lijit, you can track what people are searching for and what blog posts they are clicking on. This will enable you to get a better understanding of what content your readers are looking for.
Once you have gathered enough data, you can consider writing blog posts related to the keywords people are searching for.
Day 21: Survey your readers again
I know that you have already surveyed your readers once, but you want to make sure you are meeting their expectations. Hopefully, after you learned what they wanted from you the first time, you were better able to satisfy their needs. You’ll never know, though, unless you survey your readers.
If you don’t happen to meet their expectations, that’s fine. It took me roughly three times before I met your expectations on Quick Sprout (or so I hope).
Day 22: Reduce your bounce rate
Now that you have a decent amount of traffic coming to your blog, you want to work on reducing your bounce rate. A few things you can do to reduce your bounce rate are:
- Add a widget to your blog that shows your most popular posts. This way, if a new reader comes to your blog, they can easily find your best blog posts.
- If you don’t have a tagline, consider adding one. A tagline will help better explain your blog to new readers.
- Consider adding a short paragraph in your sidebar that explains what your blog is about. This should help convince a few of your visitors to stick around a bit longer.
Day 23: Tweak your design
Similarily to modifying your blog to reduce your bounce rate, it is now time to modify the design elements on your blog to meet your goals.
For example, if your goals are to increase the number of RSS subscribers you have, increase the number of comments per post, and make your content more readable, you would:
- Move up your RSS subscription link above the fold as well as provide an email subscription option (a lot of people don’t use feed readers).
- Implement a threaded comment system that encourages conversation.
- Consider using larger text and Arial as your font type.
Your goals may vary from the ones listed above, but whatever your goals, make sure your design is helping you to reach them. If it isn’t, modify your design.
Day 24: Write an in-depth guide
Now it’s time to figure out how in-depth your readers want your content to be.
Om Malik once said that if you have a blog post that is 1,000 words, it could be written in 500 words. And if it could be written in 500 words, then it could be written in 250 words.
What Om was trying to say is that you shouldn’t ramble on because no one likes reading fluff. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write detailed blog posts that are long and provide a ton of value.
Writing a blog post that is over 2,000 words and content-rich (no fluff) will give you a sense of whether your readers prefer it to your shorter posts. Based on that, you can adjust the length of your future blog posts.
Day 25: Guest-post on another blog
A great way to get more readers to your blog is to write a post on another blog. It doesn’t matter whether it is on a competitor’s blog or not. As long as the blog for which you guest-post is popular and somewhat related, you’ll see an increase in traffic to your blog.
Create a list of 10 blogs that you would ideally want to write a guest post for, and approach them. The majority of them will say no, but if even one of them says yes, it will be worth the effort.
If none of those 10 blogs say yes, consider creating a list of 10 more blogs that aren’t as popular. In addition, you may want to adjust your approach when you reach out to these bloggers. Not only should you ask them if you can guest-post but you should also tell them what you want to write about and how it would benefit their readers.
Day 26: Keep on feeding the fire
Through services like Google Blog Search and Technorati, you will be able to find out when someone mentions you on their blog. Keeping track of this on a daily basis will allow you to thank every blogger that mentions you on their blog.
By showing your appreciation, you will build up a larger fan base. Plus, those bloggers will be more likely to blog about you again because you said “thanks” to them.
Day 27: Join a blog network
Networks like 9rules and b5media have access to hundreds of popular blogs. By joining their networks, not only will you be connected with other popular bloggers but you’ll also start getting more traffic.
Don’t expect a ton of traffic from these networks, but expect high quality traffic. Plus, your blog is new, so every bit helps.
Day 28: Write an “ask the readers” blog post
If you aren’t familiar with what an “ask the readers” blog post is, check out this post I wrote. In short, it’s pretty much a blog post that is posing a question to your readers.
Not only does this encourage a conversation but it also allows you to find out how many readers you actually have. And when a good chunk of your readers post a comment, make sure you take the effort to get to know them on a personal level.
You can do this by replying to their comments, visiting their website (if they have one), and sending them a personal email.
Day 29: Start cross-linking
A great way to get more page views from each of your visitors is to link to your older posts. There are several ways to do this:
- Add a “related posts” widget at the bottom of each of your blog posts. That way, if your site visitors like what they just read, they can read other similar blog posts.
- Within your content, link to other posts you have written. These links tend to get the most clicks because they are embedded within your content.
- As I mentioned on Day 22, you can add a “most popular post” widget in your sidebar. This will also encourage your readers to click through to other posts.
The other benefit that you’ll receive from cross-linking is that it helps with your search engine rankings. Over time, you’ll end up getting more Google traffic if you cross-link.
If you don’t believe me, just look at Mashable. They are known for cross-linking, and it has worked well for them.
Day 30: Don’t expect the world
Unlike any of the previous days, Day 30 is a bit more relaxed. Instead of working on your blog today, I want you to sit back and think about everything you’ve accomplished and look for areas that still need improvement.
Most importantly, don’t expect your blog to be popular. It can take months, if not years, before your blog becomes really popular. You just have to be persistent with it.
If you stop, you’ll lose the traction you built over the last 30 days.
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