It’s time to put your blog to work

Is your blog working?

For 4 years I’ve been coaching bloggers and I have terrible news… most blogs don’t work.

No traffic, no leads, no measurable results and certainly no sales.

How’s yours doing?

Don’t you want your blog to build your list, attract business and, build loyal fans?

Maybe it’s time to make that happen.

In this post, I’ll share what I did for my blog to put it to work and get some action. I’ll also share what didn’t work.

What didn’t work

I’m ashamed to admit I’m a copy-cat. I read about some “amazing!” new scheme to get traffic and right away I’m changing directions. Not a good idea.

Here’s a short list of what didn’t work:

More posts.

Good news! Unless you already have a big following, I wouldn’t recommend publishing more than four times a month. Yes, there are studies showing that publishing multiple times a week can get you better results, but I tried less and I tried more and settled on once a week.

Blog post frequency vs customer acquisition graph

Unless you already have a big following, I wouldn’t recommend publishing more than four times a month.

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media says it perfectly: “The minimum blogging frequency is whatever you can reliably commit to.”

Black hat tricks.

Stuffing your post with redundant and unnecessary keywords just to appease the mysterious god of SEO is plain dumb. When people are reading an article they don’t want ads that pop up or video to start playing and they don’t want awkward writing.

Stuffing your post with redundant and unnecessary keywords just to appease the mysterious god of SEO is plain dumb. Click To Tweet

Super short or super long posts.

There are some impressive studies recommending blog posts over 2,000 words perform the best. Sure, that data may be accurate, but they’re not telling you who the blogger is or what the audience engagement is.

There are some impressive studies recommending blog posts over 2,000 words perform the best.

What’s more important is that you experiment for your style and your audience.

I’ve stayed up late, worked through the weekend and rolled out 3,000+ word blog posts and I’ve tried some Seth-Godin-like mini-posts. The sweet spot for me is about 1,000 words (or about a 5-minute read). Here’s some more research on the ideal length for blog posts.

What did work

‘At the end of the day, your blog is no different than a magazine—people read it for entertainment and relevant information. So, content is king and design is the queen.

Here are 5 strategies that will help put your blog to work:

1) Write damn good stuff.

I’m not a writer. I didn’t cut my blogger’s teeth grinding out journalism copy like A.J. Jacobs or Charles Duhigg. I had to learn how to write posts that were engaging and kept my reader from clicking away.

What I have learnt so far is to write conversationally and to trim bravely. Great books to read on writing are: Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) and Everybody Writes (Ann Handley).

2) Experiment with topics.

A blog gets stale pretty quickly if it’s always about “7 ways to be a better leader”, “13 ways to delegate better”, or “3 mistakes all leaders need to avoid”.

Those are great posts to have somewhere in your blog inventory – they might even be anchor posts you want to link to. But you’ll keep your readers coming back if there’s something new and surprising waiting for them, like this:

“What you can learn from this famous leader’s mistakes”
“The surprising truth about personality profiling”
“Confession: my biggest embarrassment as a leader”
“Don’t make this mistake with your staff”

3) Make people feel smart.

Someone once told me people share content because it makes them feel smart. Think about it: why did you tweet about a blog you read recently?

People share content because it makes them feel smart. Click To Tweet

Your goal as a writer is to ask yourself, what would make my reader want to share this post? Is it surprising? Does it smack in the face of common thinking? Is it funny, quirky or poetic?

A quick way to research blogs that get shared the most is to type your topic name into www.buzzsumo.com. Ask yourself: what was it about these posts that made them stand out?

4) Consistency.

This might annoy you (sorry), but publishing and promoting your blog consistently is maybe more important to anything else in this post (other than getting signed up with SOS).

The goal of your blog is to build loyalty and unless every post is going to be so unbelievably ground turning, readers will happily wait for it (like Tim Urban at Wait But Why). Set a schedule of no less than twice a month and stick to it.

5) Be you (everyone else is taken).

People are attracted to people they know. It’s the same with your blog. When you share some of your story, you allow readers to relate to you and feel connected with you.

This doesn’t mean you need to dramatically change your style or writing. You could start by sharing an awkward client experience or some change that resulted in more sales.

Over to you

If you want to put your blog to work, you need to do a little work. Have a look at your last 10 blog posts: were they written well? Have you tried a new topic? Is this unique, original thinking that makes people want to share it?

Your blog can attract the followers you want and help convert followers to loyal customers. In fact, your blog is one of the most powerful ways to build customer loyalty, sales and referrals. So, think of it as an investment in your brand and business and invest in making it work harder for you.

Now it’s time to put that blog to work.

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