Someone tweeted me last week that I should write a post titled “It’s a blog eat blog world out there”. It made me chuckle so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I hope it’s helpful as well as just slightly amusing though!
Here are my thoughts on what makes a successful blog:
The famous Oscar Wilde quote “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” is a cliché but it’s so true. You’ll never make your site a success if you’re following in someone else’s shadow. Don’t try to be the next (insert blogger name here), strive to be the first YOU!
You might think you have nothing new to offer, but that’s total crap! Remember, no one else has lived your life or had your exact experiences. What you might think is the mundane everyday, will be wildly exciting and different to someone living on the other side of the world.
Stop putting yourself down. You are amazing and you have something of value to offer.
Practice your writing
The more you do something, the better you get at it. So, if writing isn’t your strongest skill, practice, practice and practice some more!
Read a lot. Get your writing inspiration from a variety of sources, not just other blogs in your niche. Read books, read magazines, read journals… keep reading, keep writing, keep learning.
If you go back and look at my very first blog post you’ll see just how far I’ve come. Oh cringe!
Present things differently
But blogging doesn’t just have to be about long form writing. Look at places like The Oatmeal, Buzzfeed and all those YouTube beauty bloggers. They use comics, listicles and videos to connect with their audience and get their points across. Mix things up a little!
Include great images
If you look at your favourite blogs, I’d imagine that most of them also include amazing imagery. Whether you’re taking your own, using stock photos or asking photographers if you can use their work, always accompany your posts with at least one gorgeous shot to draw people in and pretty up the page.
It can be very easy to get stuck in a blogging rut. The old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. But if you’re bored, or not pushing yourself, your readers will be bored too. Diane Vreeland once said “Give them what they never knew they wanted” and never is this more true than in blogging. Don’t always go with what’s expected.
Push yourself to post something different and a little bit scary once in a while. It will keep you on your toes and keep things interesting for everybody.
Have an opinion
Don’t always take the easy path. If you believe in something, stand up for it. Occasionally say things that you know might ruffle some feathers. While I don’t believe you should be controversial for the sake of it, if there is something you really want to get across, DO IT!
Yes, you might piss some people off, but great blogs are polarising. They attract and repel people in equal measure.
Teach people something
The golden rule of successful blogging is to post things that help other people. While you might look at a lot of fashion or lifestyle bloggers and want to emulate what they do, it’s the hardest niche to really get any traction with.
Bloggers that get famous by simply posting their outfit photos or sharing things about their everyday life are few and far between. They are definitely the exception not the rule.
If you can teach people something and help them in some way, then they are more likely to find you in the first place and keep coming back.
What is it that you know that other people don’t? It doesn’t have to be complicated, and actually it is often the simplest things that prove the most popular. Did you do a great DIY project recently? Discover a new way to style your hair? Learn a new trick with your camera? Share it!
Write for your ideal reader
Having your ideal reader in mind will make it a LOT easier to come up with blog topics and ideas that will resonate. If you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no-one. Think about who you really want to be reading your stuff and write with them in mind.
…with your time, your knowledge and your efforts. Reply to your comments, share what you know, value your readers. Realise that without them, you have no blog. Never take them for granted.
Post when you say you will. Have a schedule and stick to it! In a way, how often you post doesn’t matter as long as you do it consistently.
Posting regularly (and at the same time each day/ week) will help you get into a routine and your readers will know when to pop by for your updates. The more you do something, the better you get at it and the fastest way to grow your blog audience is to update your site as often as possible.
Have a secret recipe
Your secret recipe is the way you present your posts that is unique to you. Maybe it’s the way you write your titles, how you edit your photos, the fonts you use, the formatting of the posts, or your unique sign off at the end of each article.
You want people to be able to read your posts in a RSS feed or on their phone, without your blog name or branding around it, and for them still to know it was you who wrote it.
Less is very often more. Can you get the same message across by taking that paragraph out? Do you need to post all of those images? Does each one tell a different story or add to the post in some way?
You have to be unafraid of sharing things about yourself. That’s not to say that you have to stand there naked and tell the world every single thought or feeling you have, but you do need to share something.
The reason personal blogs are so popular is because they offer a unique, individual perspective in a way that magazines, for example, never could. The most popular bloggers always share insights into their lives, even if it’s perfectly curated and styled!
Don’t be afraid to be a little bit vulnerable sometimes. Share your successes and failures and let your readers in. Just always remember to end a personal post on a positive note. Car crash blogging is never cute or fun!
I think that the most successful bloggers sit on that fine line between being inspirational and aspirational. They have something their readers want (business success/ a cute wardrobe/ a fancy house/ a beautiful family) but they also seem down to Earth and genuine.
You want to portray yourself as someone that your readers might aspire to, without being big headed or too showy. Think of Zooey Deschanel vs Paris Hilton!
For more blogging advice, tips and tricks, be sure to check out The Blogcademy Home School; short ‘blog booster’ videos for you to learn the blogging ropes at your own pace. And if you want to get your questions answered in person you should totally come to our mixer event in London on July 24th!