16 Dec What Makes a Blog Successful, Anyway?
I’ve been blogging regularly for … [pause for counting] … eight years, and my blogging has come a long way. I know this because people tell me they read everything I write. (Even for a professional copywriter, that’s a huge compliment.) So of course this lead me to wonder, what makes a blog successful?
I’m not talking about the technical side of a blog post – choosing the right keyword, formatting the blog for readability, adding helpful links, picking a striking image. Those are important, but they’re not the reason anyone reads my blog or yours.
Instead, I’m talking about the true meat of a blog post – the information and the way it’s presented.
Last week, I talked to a potential client who wasn’t happy with the blog posts his former marketing agency had written for him. I started poking around and reading his blog posts, and the problem became instantly clear:
The blog posts were generic fluff pieces.
Anyone could have written them. They lacked depth, personality and a distinct point of view.
(They weren’t formatted properly and seemed to lack a focus keyword, but that’s another story.)
Is it any surprise my client had gotten zero solid leads in the six months this agency was churning out junk for him?
Yes, it takes much more time and effort to product a great blog post. However, you are asking people to give up their time to read your stuff when there are probably 38 other things they could be doing (or reading) instead. Consider it a fair exchange.
What makes a blog successful anyway?
I thought about why people like my blog, and why people like the blogs we write for our clients. They all contain these five elements:
Point of view
Call it an angle, call it a point of view – the blog posts that do well plant a stake in the ground and say, “This is what I know based on experience.”
I used to write mostly straightforward how-to blog posts, but now I only occasionally write them. I still weave in tips and strategies to every blog post (more on this below). People want to learn, and I’m more than happy to teach.
Almost anyone can write a how-to blog post. It takes a lot of experience and hard-won knowledge to write a truly unique blog post.
Taking a stand is much more interesting, anyway.
This past summer, I wrote about how Facebook hates small businesses based on a long, infuriating story from my sister-in-law (who is also in marketing). Last spring, I went on a rant and told people to stop abusing LinkedIn.
I’ve also written about things in marketing I’m curious about and what I learned when I did some research. Those turned into blog posts on what content people will pay for and if you should write long blog posts.
Are all my blog posts home runs? Nope, but they’re never boring (I’ll touch on this later).
Generously sharing knowledge pays off because it builds trust. As I’ve said a million times, we work with and buy from people we know and like.
Should you give away your secret sauce? Of course not. Keep proprietary information behind the curtain, always.
I always share what I know, and people can replicate what I teach them if they wish.
Am I afraid they’ll get better than me? Of course not. No one can be me. No one else has my exact writing skills, hard-won experience, network of great people, string of failures and triumphs, list of clients or sense of humor.
Besides, my readers aren’t necessarily other copywriters (or would-be copywriters). They’re marketing professionals and small business owners who have their own areas of expertise and want to learn more about content marketing. If I write something that resonates with them, I know they’ll reach out.
And one more thing: I have worked in opaque organizations that would hide important information or only share bits here and there. Holding back immediately creates a sense of ill-will and distrust. No thanks.
Because I am known for saying it like it is and making people laugh at the same time, it’s fair to say that I don’t hold back when I’m writing.
Do you need to know everything about my life? No. Do I need to know everything about yours? Definitely not. We all have our own circuses with our own monkeys, and our best friends can help us deal with the sloppiness of life.
But it is important to be you when you write so your blog posts sound like you. If you and I chat on the phone after you read one or two blog posts, you’ll instantly recognize me. And you might feel like you already know me.
If you’re worried people won’t like you, well – do you want to work with them anyway? (The answer is no – it’s ALWAYS no.)
Humans have been learning through stories for millennia, so I always try to include stories in my blog posts. If they’re not stories based on my experience, they’re my clients’ stories.
I follow this formula with the clients I blog for too, and it makes all the difference.
Are you writing about a new or somewhat abstract concept? A story makes it instantly understandable.
Are you writing about how you helped a client successfully overcome a challenge and reach a goal? A story will not only make it relatable but more clearly connect how you can also help a reader do the same.
Start including stories in your blog posts and see how readers react.
Those fluff articles that were being written for my potential client were so superficial they were basically worthless. Readers are looking for deep dives into a topic.
Above I mentioned a blog post on why it’s important to write longer blogs. Here’s what I say in in it:
“Longer blog posts tend to be much more comprehensive than shorter ones, thus providing more bang for the buck. In other words, your readers don’t have to read a few blog posts on one topic. They get all the information they need in one go.
“Also, long blog posts prove you’re an expert. Try finding someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do and ask them to write a coherent and valuable 2,000-word blog post on a topic of your choice. Not gonna happen. Only you can provide that kind of value to your audience.
“Once you are providing all that amazing value, people reward you for it. Long blog posts get shared more frequently on social media.”
Do you want your blog to be successful?
Write down those five elements I listed above on a sticky note and put it in your office where you’ll see it. Every time you write a blog post, make sure you’re hitting all five.
No time (or interest) in blogging? No problem! We’ll write interesting blog posts based on your experience and expertise – no matter what your industry. Shoot us a note to learn more about our process and how we might help you.