Blogging looks so very easy, doesn’t it? You set up some free blogging software in a matter of minutes, type your insights into a post and hit “publish.” And success!
Blogging is identical to gardening (save for the smell of fertilizer). You must lay out your garden, choose your seeds, plant, nurture and harvest your content.
Here are five crucial tips to making that blogging garden grow.
1. Set a publishing schedule; make it realistic. You have to have a schedule to help you feed the blogging beast. But more importantly, you need a schedule to get you into a rhythm of sourcing, writing, reviewing, revising and publishing. Great blog posts require thought and effort. And getting into a routine will help strengthen this discipline in your team. A schedule also makes it more difficult for you to skip a post because you’re “too busy” with other things. You either blog regularly or you don’t. Readers will come to expect this rhythm and reward you with their clicks.
2. Always include a call to action. This can be as simple as driving readers to a more in-depth piece of content (a white paper for example). Remember that a blog post is part of a larger digital content ecosystem and you need to reflect that as your posts grow in number
3. Nurture your audience. When someone comments on a post, he or she is starting a conversation with you. Respond to build a relationship with that person. Plus, when other people see that you value readers’ insights, they may be more inclined to stay on your site and contribute to the conversation.
4. Respect the reader’s time. Many bloggers are enthralled with their own words. The reader generally isn’t. If she’s on your site, it’s generally because she’s looking for answers to a question or for some specific information. Write cleverly, but get to the point. Readers today scan digital content quickly looking for what they need; if they want to wade through florid prose, they’ll pick up a print book or fire up their Kindle. Use bullets for important points and don’t hesitate to bold-face phrases you want to amplify. This helps the scan process. For extra points, spend some time on Jakob Nielsen’s site. He’s a renowned expert on web usability and readability.
5. Respect your metrics. Connect a tool like Google Analytics to your blog and spend time reviewing your posts, how many people clicked on them and for how long. Where is your audience located? What content did they jump to after a post or before reading it? Use this information over time to optimize your blogs, how you write them, when you post them.