First of all, I can't believe I've actually written 400 blog posts! Well, ok, I guess I've written 399 to date - this is number 400. But still... that's crazy to me!
If you don't know my journey, I started this blog in January of 2013, on a whim. I wanted something "fun" to do as a hobby. I had no business plan, no strategy, no expectations. Just a free wordpress.com site and a bunch of ideas in my head.
Little did I know what would transpire since then!
From literal obscurity, I collaborated with, and surrounded myself with other successful bloggers. I learned what worked and made note of what they did successfully. I built up my blog repeatedly and consistently. And, by early 2014 (yes, in just over one year), I was awarded the title of being a Top 10 Social Media Blog by Social Media Examiner. I retained that title for 3 years in a row.
I had 2 million blog views in less than 3 years, and I currently average about 3000 visitors a day to my blog.
Believe me, these were always accomplishments that surprised me and which I didn't take lightly. I know how hard bloggers work to achieve reach, loyalty, and success. I still refer to my "little blog" because I don't have the capacity to consider myself at the same level as those I admire... even though, statistically and realistically, I know I'm there. Although, I honestly think this is one reason for my success, which I'll talk more about in a sec.
So, how did I do it? What did I learn?
I've learned a few things along the way... and hopefully they'll help you on your journey too.
I should point out though that none of these things is technical. They have nothing to do with the length of your blog posts or the platform you use to publish or the types of images you use or anything else you might expect.
It's a Business, Treat it Like One
You wanna know what really sets successful bloggers apart from those who aren't? It's all about how much you respect your blog.
To be honest, all of the following points are important. But none of it matters if you don't do this!
The reason my blog is successful is that I commit to it - every. single. week. Like clockwork. If it means staying up until 11:00 pm on Tuesday night to crank out the next morning's blog post, I do it. If it means eating chips from the bag, at my desk, for dinner so I can finish a post, that's what I'll do. Yes, I've done both these things multiple times.
Because it's my "job" to get that blog post out each week. And I treat it with the respect that it deserves as a business, in and of itself.
If you blog when it's convenient. Or put other things as a priority. Or don't strive to create the best content your audience deserves. Ok. That's your choice. But it will show. And your blog will not grow as successfully, nor as quickly, as you want.
You get to choose the priorities in your business. If blogging is one of them, then make it one. Period.
Know Who You're Talking To
I didn't really know it at the time, but I actually had a target audience well defined in my mind.
I started my blog to help other business owners who didn't understand social media. I wanted to help them overcome their fears and inhibitions about social media and see it as a valuable tool. So, I started writing that kind of content.
I didn't realize it, but I was mostly talking to entrepreneurs and small business owners over the age of 40. And with my personality and penchant for fashion and style, I was attracting more women than men. They were business savvy but not necessarily so tech savvy. They like to be efficient and don't want to waste time on things that aren't going to get the job done. But they are fun loving, family oriented, and super supportive of those around them.
And you know what? That's still who my audience is today! Not to say there aren't outliers to this description. But, in general, this is still who I attract as loyal blog readers.
The great thing? Many of my blog readers "graduate" to other blogs and resources. I do cover a lot of 101 and intro style content. I don't get into crazy analytics or technical stuff. That's not for my audience. But when my audience has learned the basics and are ready for the higher level education, they move on to those other resources - and I couldn't be happier!
You have to realize who it is you're talking to and create the content for them. If you try to be everything to everyone, you won't get anywhere.
Have a Personality
I already mentioned my penchant for fashion and style. If you've followed me for five minutes, you know that 😉 I'm also a strong personality. I know what I want, and how to get it. I am a self-proclaimed diva and not ashamed to admit it. I'll spend $700 on a pair of shoes but dang it, I'll use a coupon on salad dressing when it's on sale to save myself that extra 80 cents! I'm frugal too 😉
I'm a teacher by nature. I love to help others learn and like to create content to facilitate that.
I hate people wasting my time - that's why I don't like watching videos, because I have to sit through all the random crap before and between learning points. Blog posts and books - those I can read and skim to get what I need directly.
I talk kinda crazy sometimes. And, yes, I use words like "kinda" and "gonna" and "amazeballs". Cuz that's what I say in real life. So why wouldn't I say that in my blog posts?
One of the best compliments I receive when people talk to me in real life is that I'm exactly what they expect from reading my blog posts.
Why? Because I am unapologetically me.
My personality. My style. My examples. My experiences. And people can relate to that. It connects with my target audience. It makes them feel comfortable and welcome.
You have to know your personality and let it shine through in your blog posts. Whatever that is, find a voice and embrace your personality. Stay true to that and your audience will rally around you.
Have a Damn Opinion
Seriously, there's absolutely no need for one more blogger repeating the same regurgitated crap that the "big names" are saying.
You are a human, with a brain, capable of individual thought. Use it!
One of the main reasons I'm successful is that I stand by what I know and practice. I go against the norm if I need to. I'm not afraid to be the first person to talk about something. I'm also not ashamed to admit when I'm wrong.
I've absolutely called out people on my blog. Never to intentionally hurt them, but to question their methods or logic. To disagree and offer a different opinion. To stand up for what I believe is right for my audience.
If you are a sheep, repeating all the same internet buzz as everyone else, why should anyone listen to you?
Do your research. Stand behind your opinion. Learn from others and formulate ideas of your own. Take a stand. It doesn't have to be catalytic or political. Just have something to voice and a reason to voice it.
Stay Humble and Work Hard
Finally, remember how and why you started. Remember what it was like to be a "little blog". Embrace the characteristics of being personal and individually involved with your blog readers.
You are only here because people choose to show up every week and read your content. Without them, you're just spewing random thoughts into open space. Humble yourself to the value those readers provide.
I still work on my blog as though I'm starting out. I forget that I have that many viewers or that much traffic. I'm fighting like I did the day I started.
You need to work your damn ass off!
Post consistently. Even if that's only once a month. Just be consistent.
Insist on quality content that your audience will value. A grammatical mistake or two can be overlooked if the entire post is full of value. An image that doesn't load can be glanced over if everything else in the post is keeping their attention.
Obviously, we all want perfection and to create the best content. But you have to work at it. Over and over and over.
Reward your audience with your devotion and personal interaction along with quality content, and you have yourself a winning blog!