12 Most Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger

12 Most Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger

If your blog shares your deepest, darkest secrets about your passion for Jersey Shore or troll head dolls, this is not the 12 Most for you. This is the post for serious bloggers who want their online musings to play a meaningful role in their business.

My blog is http://www.convinceandconvert.com Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s a well-regarded social media and content marketing blog — or so says my Mom. Am I a full-time blogger? No. Do I make money from the blog? A little. But like most blogging businesspeople, my writing is a means to an end. It drives exposure, leads, and credibility — all of which create revenue in a cascading, trickle down fashion.

There is no shortage of blogging advice out there, some of it may even contradict what lies below. But this is what I believe to be the 12 Most Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger, based on my personal experience and those of my clients.

1. Be patient

Every blogger starts with the exact same audience… zero. Eventually, relatives will read your blog, followed by sympathetic friends and neighbors. And then you’ll be on your way. But this notion that you start a blog and it becomes “a big deal” overnight is as rare as Keanu Reeves nailing a Victorian British accent.

I don’t keep up on blogs in every category (my passion for diapers, free range chickens, souped up cars and other topics just isn’t that deep), but in my world the only blog I can EVER remember successfully bursting on the scene in less than a year is Social Media Examiner.

Me? Here’s my actual Google Analytics showing visitors per month for 3+ years I’ve been writing Convince & Convert. Slow and steady.

analytics

2. Be specific

You have to have a clear sense of what your blog is about, and for whom you’re writing. There are no shortage of blogs out there, and if you’re going to successfully compete with a site like 12 Most, you better have a sharp understanding of what role you play in the educational or entertainment panoply of your audience.

3. Be consistent

Imagine if you subscribed to a magazine and it showed up at your house only whenever they “felt like” publishing an issue? The surprise factor might add a sprinkle of delight for a time, but the unpredictability would become irksome. We prefer to consume content in a disciplined and patterned way. Your blog should not contradict that circumstance.

The hard truth is that not every blog post you craft will be your best work. Nor is every meal you create, sentence you utter, hug you lavish, or bed you make. Nobody is at their best at all times. So this notion that some bloggers cling to of only writing when they “have something important to say” wrongly values inspiration over predictability.

As long as your quality doesn’t suffer markedly, recognize that more = more. Seven posts a week are better for your business than five. Five is better than three. And if you can’t write two posts a week, you’re probably kidding yourself if you think you can drive real business results from your blog.

4. Embrace variety

Because you’ll be creating multiple posts per week in a consistent, reliable way you’ll want to include variety in your blog.

What if the magazine we referenced above not only came to you with seemingly random frequency and sequence, but also always contained multiple articles of approximately the same length, point-of-view, and design?

The reality is that your blog IS a magazine, and you have to mix up your content to keep things interesting and fresh. Add a video post. Conduct an interview. Go on a rant. Commission a cartoon. Just don’t adhere to the same style over and over and over and over. Unless your blog is based on adherence to a hook (like 12 Most) in which case you can ignore this Must-Do.

5. Use imagery

Imagine if your magazine had no photos. That’s a recipe for boring. Perhaps not as boring as Angelina Jolie in The Tourist, but in the vicinity. Whether it’s visual window dressing or information-laden charts and graphs, everything you publish on your blog should have one or more images.

I like to use Shutterstock.com for stock photography for my blog and in presentations, and for more casual stuff I turn to Flickr.com — which has a Creative Commons search feature that directs you to images that you’re allowed to use with appropriate crediting and linking.

6. Be a utility

Create content that’s useful. Solve problems. This is where you can get into publishing presentations, and creating free social media tools (in my case). Spend some time thinking about (or even surveying) your readers about their most common challenges, and then create content on occasion that addresses those challenges directly.

7. Find an anchor

Especially for new bloggers, it’s often very helpful to create an “anchor post” — something you can create on a regular basis that becomes the nucleus for your blog. Your other content becomes electrons that you publish in between anchor posts.

I used to do live interviews on Twitter with social media luminaries every two weeks. The transcript of those interviews (20 questions each) became my Twitter 20 series of blog posts. This anchor became my anchor and was part of the trampoline that expanded the readership of my blog.

Mack Collier used to have an anchor at The Viral Garden where he’d rank all the social media blogs by the number of RSS subscribers they had.

My friends at Jane Nation used to do a live review on Twitter and their blog where women would critique advertising for content and tone.

These types of anchor content give you and your readers a proven, reliable archetype.

8. Be human

It’s a blog, not an annual report. If you can’t inject some of your personality into the content you create for your blog, don’t bother. Whether it’s adding a photo of you (and other authors if it’s a group blog), or having interesting bios, or just touching occasionally on more personal subjects, a blog should very much feel like it was written by a person, not a committee.

9. Cultivate a community

Just like selling products, the best way to increase your blog traffic is to get people to want to read it every day. And the reality is that even if your writing is superb and your perspective is sublime, your awesomeness is not enough to create that type of loyalty.

People will come to your blog because of you (and your co-creators, if applicable), but they’ll stay with your blog because of the OTHER PEOPLE that hang out there. If you’re not answering nearly every comment with one of your own, and if you’re not acknowledging your audience and proactively looking for ways you can help them intersect and connect, you are ignoring one of the most important aspects of being an online leader, not just a writer.

As Chris Brogan once said, the only difference between an audience and a community is the direction the chairs are facing. For long-term success, you want the latter.

10. Be findable

Even now, with a steady and growing audience, nearly 25% of my blog traffic comes from search engines. If you’re not paying attention to the keywords you use in your blog, how your URLs are created within your blog software, and how your posts are titled, you are costing yourself visitors — and possibly a lot of them.

At the post level, I appreciate tools like Inbound Writer that help me optimize content for search by recommending keywords and how often they should be used. I know you want to be an artiste, free from the confines of SEO of other burdensome guidelines. But being smart about SEO doesn’t mean you can’t write posts that people will love and share.

11. Embrace extensibility

Your blog should not be the only expression of your ideas. Every blog post you write could be turned into a presentation and posted on Slideshare. Every useful post you create or free tool you devise could be uploaded to Scribd. Your interview post could be in video format and uploaded to YouTube and other video portals.

You need to think of your blog as a farm — a source of raw materials that you can combine in an infinite number of ways in a wide variety of online locales.

12. Be shareable

Social sharing and blogging go together like tequila and limes. You need to make it exceptionally easy for your audience to share your content with their social graph through smart placement of icons. And don’t restrict yourself to Twitter and Facebook, either. The Linkedin share button is a tremendous source of traffic, as are StumbleUpon and increasingly, Google Plus.

Recognize too, that if you want other bloggers in your industry to take notice of your work, the way to make that happen is for your to support THEIR work. Visit their blog. Leave smart comments. Introduce them to your social graph. It’s not a quid pro quo necessarily, but if you want your content to be shared, you need to be a great sharer yourself.

If you follow this 12 Most will your blog be a success? I can’t guarantee that. But if you’re serious about your blog, and you can and will commit the substantial energy to it necessary to execute on these twelve imperatives, I can promise you’ll have a decent shot at it.

Featured image courtesy of pj_vanf licensed via Creative Commons.

Jay Baer

http://www.convinceandconvert.com

Jay Baer is a social media and content consultant and speaker. His blog is ranked the #1 content marketing blog by Junta42, and the #3 social media blog by Social Media Examiner. He’s the co-author of the leading social business book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social and his latest book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about HELP not HYPE. He’s @jaybaer on Twitter and is on Facebook.

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58 comments
Mary Duggan
Mary Duggan

Okay, I liked this a lot. Think I might even re-read it. How about that?

Deborah Davis
Deborah Davis

Thank you. This is one of the most useful articles about blogging I have ever read. You shared so many new tools for me to try including Inbound Writer and Free Social Media Tools. Awesome.

MalharBarai
MalharBarai

How about using Triberr or the likes to create a community where you can share post and induce traffic?


Great points Jay!

Ahna_Hendrix
Ahna_Hendrix

@PegFitzpatrick Lol, oh alrighttttt, most times - which is why I RT them constantly! #12Most ;)

pamelamaeross
pamelamaeross

@PegFitzpatrick Thanks Peg! @jaybaer @judymartin8

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick

@arkarthick Thanks for sharing my favorite post today! Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

wakacje
wakacje

12 great tips. Thank You Jay for good post as always. In number 1 this is your stats ? Impressive.

GFMelissa
GFMelissa

Thanks for the RT @booksnyc! Yes, that list by @jaybaer is awesome. I need to work on all of them! =)

Oluwatobi Soyombo
Oluwatobi Soyombo

Waoh...There's no day I read JayBaer's article that I don't get wowed! This is just another one that just sparked up my blogging spirit. From this piece, I have listed five (5) line of action for my blog (http://oluwatobisoyombo.com) in 2012. Thanks.

tracyschutz
tracyschutz

@JayBaer

Thanks for this post; I needed a reminder that things will not happen overnight! Note to self: stop talking about my strange fixation for troll head dolls! J/K

Tracy

samfiorella
samfiorella

Some of the best blogging advice I've read. Great list Jay. #11 is particularly important. Why not leverage your work across multiple channels when appropriate? Thanks for this.

shawmu
shawmu

@JayBaer@jaybaer Jay, I like the tangible and intangible items in the list. Indeed to reach/create a community of readers a blog needs to be set up to do it. Sure it takes content. You give us great examples of what more it takes. For example, it's also the purposeful actions the blogger takes to connect with people in the spirit of helping. Nicely done.

joshduv
joshduv

@krystalatwork I love everything on the 12 Most website. Very useful information in relevant, bite-sized pieces on all kinds of topics.

pbehnia
pbehnia

I've been a fan of yours for quite a while and I appreciate you sharing your blogging wisdom with us! Thanks also for reassuring those of us newer to the game that "slow and steady wins the race" as it can be a bummer if you realize that you're broadcasting to a very small number in the early days. Finally, thanks also for your dose of reality and generosity of spirit not only in this post but all of your other content you publish.

davismg
davismg

You've really covered what one needs to be to blog. This is a nice article, very informative and encouraging to us who want to keep on writing articles. I like point number 1 and 3 most, though you need all of them. Thanks for the post.

TheJackB
TheJackB

BTW, just as you can be too broad you can be too specific. There is nothing wrong with covering a variety of topics as long as you do it well and add value.

Latest blog post: Your Blog Bores Me

TheJackB
TheJackB

<i>This is the post for serious bloggers who want their online musings to play a meaningful role in their business.</i>

And who says that those of us who write about the deep dark secrets don't need the usual batch of advice. :)

Latest blog post: Your Blog Bores Me

danperezfilms
danperezfilms

You forgot: "Use plenty of links to other sites (especially to your previous posts, products you endorse, and your pals)". Still a good read :)

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick moderator

Jay,

I adore this post - as a new blogger there is so much for me to soak in from this post and am I going to work on it all. I am on week two of the anchor post for my blog- great idea. Being findable and shareable are crucial. I have a lot to learn and appreciate experienced bloggers like you taking the time to share from your experience writing as well as reading blogs.

Definitely a print and save post!

Peggy

KristaNeher
KristaNeher

Great post. I know that when I work with new bloggers, they tend to struggle the most with being specific. They don't want to pigeon hole themselves so they try to keep the topic broad. Like anything in marketing, this weak positioning doesn't actually help the blog to succeed.

Also, I really like the anchor idea. What a perfect way to keep yourself disciplined and posting regularly. Excellent summary of tips for bloggers at all levels!

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard

Great post Jay! Of all the points my favorite was the one on post consistency. For many bloggers this treads into troubled waters as it runs counter to the way that many "artistes" want to express themselves. You nailed this not only with the magazine publication metaphor but also the simple point that every sentence we utter, every presentation we give cannot be our A+++ effort. I truly believe that part of successful blogging is come up with some form of a publication schedule that works for you.

You also touched on the publication metaphor with variety. Our blog publications need interviews, short little rants, in-depth how-tos and more. It's easy to take blog focus too far and end up in a rut but your tips provide great insight to help any out of the ditch and onto the fast track.

Well done -- Nick

Mightybytes
Mightybytes

Jay,

Great tips. Writing does not come naturally to me (engineer by trade) so I struggle the most to be consistent. I actually feel more comfortable speaking so I like they idea of adding video content to spice things up.

Anyway, it was good to read your stuff here. Hope you will contribute again in the future!

- Kyle Akerman

P.S. I'm surprised Sean McGinnis did not require one of your twelve to be "Be Awesome." :)

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

I agree with your mom, Jay...plus how could I not love a guy with my middle name!

arkarthick
arkarthick

@PegFitzpatrick That's a great post, Peg. Happy to share! Having a nice one here. TY & hope you're too. :)

krystalatwork
krystalatwork

@joshduv Yeah I just took a quick look around. Looks like great content! Added it to my RSS reader. :)

JayBaer
JayBaer

@danperezfilms It's a cooperation economy, and if anywhere that's especially true it's in blogging. I would never have written this post here if not for @marjorieclayman I'm unabashed about the importance of relationship cultivation, because my point 13 (had I had that luxury) would be to "find people to shout about you." Truly, if I hadn't have been lucky enough to have had Jason Falls (1st) and Chris Brogan (2nd) start tweeting my stuff LONG before I deserved their attention (if I even do now), none of the other 12 tips would matter. But, writing a whole post about that gets backlash from the "all this is a bunch of back-slappers" brigade, so I don't bother. They had no reason to support me. There was nothing in it for them at the time, or for thousands of other people that support my work today. And if I can repay those favors with a link here or there, your'e goddamn right I will. That's why I have Margie guest post for me. Not because she's a great writer and thinker (although she is) but because she goes out of her way to build an audience for my work, and that means an awful lot to me.

JayBaer
JayBaer

@NickWestergaard Thanks Nick. You know what else is really frustrating and got me to really adopt the consistency model is that whether or not WE feel it's an A+++ post doesn't matter. I've written a lot of posts that I thought were solid, and they went nowhere. And often I knock something out in 25 minutes, and it goes gangbusters. It's a real rarity when I write something that I feel will have a wide impact, and it does. So if you're only comfortable publishing your "great" stuff, you're going to drive yourself crazy, because your definition of great may differ widely from that of your readers.

JayBaer
JayBaer

@Mightybytes Get on that video train! I train a lot of CEOs and folks like that to video blog. So much easier to express yourself that way sometimes. Just set up a camera (or use your laptop camera) and commit yourself to talking into it for 3 minutes a day. Within a month, you'll have it ready to be a video blog. Do it!

BlueyeCreative
BlueyeCreative

@JayBaer Don't you think that there can also be a chance of overload if you post every day of the week? I always thought of the magic number being somewhere around 3x a week (assuming a magic number even exists).

BlueyeCreative
BlueyeCreative

Very true. The value of comments is hard to measure with a number alone. I think in some ways that's a good thing because it means the blogger has to remember to interact with the people commenting on their post instead of just waiting for the analytics to do the work.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@BlueyeCreative@JayBaer Overload is subjective and really hard to predict. If you provide value and worth people will make time for you.

And if you don't, well they just don't show up. Maybe I am relying too much on my own experience, but I post 6-7 days per week sometimes multiple times per day and I rarely see traffic dip.

There are a lot of ways to try to measure things but even the "best" metrics are tough.

For example, does a post with 200 comments on it have more worth than one with 50? I don't think that you can answer that without digging into the comments. Sometimes two or three people can be responsible for a third of those. Not to mention that without looking at the comments you can't determine whether they advance the conversation or are just banter.

Latest blog post: Spit Or Swallow

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  3. […] from The Now Revolution) 12 Most Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger is one of the best articles I’ve read on blogging. I believe that Jay used it to create a […]

  4. […] Jay Baer is a hype-free social media and content strategist and speaker, and author of “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype.” Jay is the founder of http://convinceandconvert.comand host of the Social Pros podcast. This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most. […]

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