“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” ~Kurt Vonnegut
Let’s face it: Blogging is hard. Writing — not to mention writing well — is challenging for most. You’re putting your thoughts and ideas out into the world, for the trolls and the fans alike. Maybe someone will disagree with you — or worse, maybe the only thing you’ll hear is crickets.
After three years of working on WordPress.com — and many conversations with people who know a lot more than me about successful blogging — here’s what I’ve learned.
Content is still king
At the end of the day, unique and engaging content is still more impactful than any of the “top SEO tricks” you’ll find on Google. Figure out what unique angle you bring to your topic and think about how each piece builds on the last. Be consistent — create a schedule, and stick to it. Think about the words you use, and what words potential readers might use to find you. Which leads us to…
Figure out who you are writing for
Don’t write for everyone — know exactly who your target audience is. Think about what you want those people to get out of every post you write. What value are you adding for them? What problem are you helping them solve? What job are they hiring your blog post to do for them?
Go where your audience goes
A blog can feel a bit like a walled garden, but there are likely already existing communities out there for your subject matter. These communities can be a great place to share your writing — generating targeted, relevant traffic to your blog. They can also be a great source for researching future topics and keeping on top of new and relevant trends in your space. Look for pain points, problems or other interests your target audience has. How can you help? What value can you create?
Page views are a proxy
What is your goal when you started blogging? Was it to get your ideas out there? Change the world? Write a book? Promote your business?
Whatever it was, page views were likely not the goal. Page views are what we call a proxy metric. They’re supposed to help you know if you are heading in the right direction towards a bigger goal that is more difficult (or takes longer) to track (e.g. 1,000 True Fans).
They are also not the greatest proxy. While page views can make you feel good, they don’t always indicate progress toward your larger goals. Low-quality traffic from random sources can result in many page views, but how long will those visitors stay on site? Are they likely to return?
Sit down and think about what success looks really looks like. What’s a better way to measure it than page views?
There are a lot of analytic tools available to bloggers today. You can easily end up drowning in data. Stop refreshing your stats page every 5 minutes, and focus on data that is actionable. Page views on a single post are not actionable — but looking at your most popular posts might help you identify what type of content is resonating with your audience. Follow this up with conversations in the communities you’ve joined and you’ll find valuable learnings about where to go with your next posts.
There’s no magic bullet
If you build it, they
Ultimately, blogging is about putting in the time, learning as you go, and creating something of value. There is no shortage of information out there about what you should be doing to get more traffic, but there’s no short cut for hard work.
Instead of spending $20 on a few ads, buy a strong cup of coffee and a notebook for keeping track of your ideas. Know who you are writing for, how you can help them, and what your goals are in writing your blog.
Then go write some great content.