We live in a world where pretty much everyone has a means of getting their opinions heard online. Pick your poison - Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, the list goes on and on. You know that you are ultimately an incredible small fish in an unimaginably big pond, but you don’t mind, as it’s a way of interacting with your friends, and that is all you want.
But say you want more.
Taking things to the next level usually involves registering a website, or at least getting a personal domain outside of traditional social media (think WordPress or Weebly). Call it what you like, be it a website, a journal or a blog; in the end, it represents your chance to show off your thoughts, creations and interests on a dedicated platform.
If you are deciding to go down this path, there are a few things you can do to give your blog the best chance of succeeding. Following these tips won’t guarantee you success, but they can either provide a good platform on which to build, or provide the tip over the edge your website needs to start making waves.
1) Be interesting and on point
“Be interesting” may seem a little obvious, but it’s sometimes easy to forget this fundamental rule. A good rule of thumb to employ when laying out an idea, or even after completing a post, is to step back, and ask yourself - “Will this be interesting to other people?”. Again, you may think that you will of course think anything you write is interesting, but you’d be surprised how honest you can be with yourself when you take this approach.
You may take a step back and realise you have written a piece so unique to your own world that no one else will want to consume it. The post can probably be salvaged, and you may end up with something far superior, with a much larger reach.
One way to make sure you are writing interesting pieces is to see what is trending on social media. If you can figure out what you want your blog to be about (a certain hobby, a sport, a certain aspect of life etc.), you can get plugged into social media that can help you see what people in that niche are talking about. Websites such as topsy.com , reddit.com and buzzsumo.com can all help establish some trends that you could then turn into posts for your blog. This type of timely posting can help greatly with sharing.
2) Make your posts substantial
There are few things more dreaded in life than the Facebook “essay” post from someone you know. Facebook have got out in front of this by including the “read more” feature, but a few years ago, whole page-hogging posts were common place. Social media is not the place for these long posts, but blogs are.
With a blog, you are essentially saying “I have more things to say than can be contained within 140 characters or 10 second long videos”. If you have points to make that are that small, save it for micro-blogging sites. On your own site, you will want to post something with a little more meat on the bones. Not only does this set you apart from relentless tweeters, but it’s actually been noticed that having a higher word count often correlates with Google rankings and the average page ranking on the first page on Google has 2000+ word.
But be warned - posting something that is too long can have adverse effects as well. If you start to write posts that give the Encyclopedia Brittanica a run for it’s money, you are going against the first tip that we preached - you are no longer being interesting. Find a length that satisfies all of these goals, and stick to it. Write your posts for reader and not the search engines.
3. Include images, videos and other embedded content
The circus may seem an unlikely establishment to look to for useful tips for running a blog, but there is a reason circuses have endured for decades - variety. They would have likely died out long ago had it just been about the clowns, so they incorporate acrobatics, daredevils, animals and magic to keep the punters happy.
And you should do something similar. Whenever possible, you should look to include an image, a video, or something else to break the norm of text. It works for multiple reasons. For one, it helps to split an article up into several pieces, which can in actual fact make it seem easier to digest to a consumer than the same sized block of plain text would. It also allows you to expand your horizons if you choose to include your own videos and texts.
This tip is important because it’s very hard to imagine a start up blog succeeding without incorporating some alternative media. Maybe your writing is strong enough to make things work, but the use of images and videos can make your posts stronger still, improving your chances of success.
4) Make sure your blog is loading fast
This is one problem you may not have considered. The illusion that the internet all runs at the same speed is false.
There is nothing worse than waiting for a page to load. People nowadays have no patience for this sort of thing and are very likely to abandon your blog rather than wait for it to load, and may never return. Luckily, there are some things you can do to address the issue.
Firstly, you can try using Google PageSpeed Insights, a free tool which will check the speed of your site, and give you recommendations on how to improve it.
Some of the things will be pretty easy to fix - like image sizes for example (you don’t need 5 mega pixel images). Others may require a bit of web development knowledge. But the best thing to do, even before setting up a blog, is to make sure the hosting site you are using is not going to let you down. If you are using WordPress (as we do) for your blog here is an interesting article comparing various hosting options.
As we said, following these steps won’t guarantee a prosperous blog, but following these tips won’t harm it either. This could be the first step on the road to being a bigger fish!