If you're anything like me, then you'd agree with me when I say that maintaing…
11 Painless Actions You Can Do Today to Set Your Blog Up for Killer SuccessHave you ever heard of analysis paralysis? Here’s my simple definition: Over planning so much, you actually get nothing done. The problem is that you can plan all you want, but unless you take action, none of it matters!
To be successful in blogging, you have to continually focus on things that work, and stop spending valuable time on things that don’t. But, which activities should you be focusing on?
Today, I’m going to make your life a bit easier by giving you 11 actions that you can take today to set your blog up for killer success! Set aside a block of time and try to knock out as many of these as you can.
You may have already done some of these, and that’s ok. That means you’re on the right track to success. But remember, the more you complete, the more successful your blog will be!
Action #1 – Start Building an Email List
We can all agree that to build a successful blog, we need more than just one-time search engine visitors. We should also focus on getting repeat visitors. The most effective way to get repeat visitors is by converting one-time visitors to email subscribers and focusing on building long-term relationships.
The real power behind email is that you have complete control over your email list at a very affordable rate.
3 Easy Steps to Start Building Your Email List:
- Sign Up for an Email Marketing Service, such as GetResponse.
- Create a Signup Form. GetResponse has a very simple to use signup form builder. I suggest using some sort of giveaway (ethical bribe) to increase conversions.
- Put a Signup Form on Your Website. Use GetResponse’s form builder to get the code, then insert code in sidebar and footer at minimum.
Action #2 – Add Social Media Buttons to Your Blog
Social networks represent a very powerful marketing opportunity for your website. If people visit your website, and like your content, then they have the ability to share that content with their network of friends. But, people will usually not jump through hoops to share your content, so let’s make it easy for them by including social sharing buttons.
Although you can program some advance sharing functionality into your website by visiting the Facebook and Twitter developer documentation, you can likely get by with just using services such as ShareThis or Digg Digg.
If you don’t like either of those services, Facebook and Twitter have their own button generators.
Action #3 – Add Social Proof to Your Blog
There’s a reason why athletes and other famous people are paid millions of dollars to endorse products… it works! While you likely can not afford to pay some superstar a million dollars, you do have other options.
If you have an established blog, you can choose to show the number of RSS subscribers, Facebook fans, or Twitter followers that you have. For those of you that like to work in the “grey” area, you may consider buying Twitter followers. Be warned though, there are obvious pros and cons to this technique.
If you do not have an established blog, then you really have a few options.
- Option 1 (not the best) – Choose not to show any social proof.
- Option 2 (better) – Share your best content with a recognized name and ask for a testimonial. This is a long shot, but you never know until you try.
- Option 3 (best) – Get your very best content published on a blog in your niche. You can include something like, “Featured on xxx Blog.”
How to Add Social Proof to Your Blog:
- Decide which social proof you want to use. At first, I recommend you choose the social proof that sounds the most impressive. Do you have 10,000 Twitter followers? Include that. Have you been featured in a national newspaper? Include that. Later on you can split test to see which is most effective.
- To add RSS subscriber count, login to your Feedburner account. Under the publicize tab, get the FeedCount code and copy it to your website.
- To add Facebook and Twitter followers, I’d recommend using a WordPress widget such as WP Max Social.
Action #4 – Clarify the Purpose of Your Blog
The importance of this really is two fold:
- Gain and Retain Readers. Ideally, you should define the purpose of your blog as early as possible. This is because to set your blog apart from the thousands of other choices out there, you need to do something different. If you can’t come up with a good answer to, “Why should I read your blog instead of all of the others”, then keep trying.
- Make Your Life Easier. Clearly defining the purpose of your blog will help guide you into the future. Having a purpose will make writing content and building partnerships much easier.
Once you have clarified the purpose of your blog, publish it for the world to see. You can do this in an about page, in your optin forms, in your site’s tagline, and even in your posts!
Action #5 – Add Calls to Action
The best way to get a reader to take an action is to ask them. This is known as a call to action.
Do you want more Twitter/Facebook shares? Ask people to share your content.
Do you want more email subscribers? Ask people to subscribe.
Although every website has different needs, all websites can benefit from using a call to action. On Art of Blog, we have been working on increasing interaction with our posts. For example, at the end of every post I ask our readers what they think about what I wrote, and then I ask them to leave a comment below.
Action #6 – Showcase Your Best Content
First impressions matter! That’s why you should give visitors a chance to see your best content on every page of your website. The easiest way would be to add links to your best content in your sidebar and/or footer.
What exactly is your best content? Well, that’s completely up to you. You can choose to show your most commented on posts, the most linked to posts, the most viewed posts, or something else. The great thing is that there are already WordPress plugins that can do this for you ;)
On Art of Blog, we have our own code to show the most commented posts (this is mainly because we want to show the featured image along with a link to the post), but we use Author hReview to handle our product and latest reviews.
Action #7 – Plan Your Posts In Advance
As I grow as a blogger, I realize that planning my posts out in advance is one of the best things that I have ever done. Planning posts in advance has not only helped reduce some stress by having to come up with a topic last minute to meet a deadline, but I can now:
- Plan a Series of Posts. Have you ever looked back at your posts and thought that they could’ve been ordered in a much more logical way? Planning your posts out in advance will let you publish in a way that will help your audience better understand your material.
- Batch Write. Although I don’t batch write often, it definitely has its benefits. Batch writing allows you to get all of your posts done at one time so that you can focus on other tasks. For example, I like to batch write when I know I have a programming project or a website redesign coming up.
The beauty of planning your posts in advance is that it should only take 30 minutes to an hour to plan four to 10 posts for the whole month. To get some good writing inspiration, check out Prismatic. This tool will keep you in touch with your niche and supply with a steady stream of ideas.
Action # 8 – Ask Your Readers
Readers are a blog’s lifeblood. Not only do readers give you traffic to your website, but your readers can provide insights that make your blog more successful.
On Art of Blog we stay in touch with our readers in several ways, but here are the most noteworthy.
- Ask where readers are struggling. The first email that an Art of Blog subscriber receives contains this simple message, “What do you struggle with most in your online business?” The answers from these emails have often times been enlightening and many times have provided opportunities for me to write posts.
- Ask readers to comment. Many bloggers focus only on the content that they produce, but the comments that your readers leave can be a goldmine of post ideas and products to promote.
- Survey email subscribers. Periodically, Art of Blog will email its subscriber list to tell them about a new feature and we will ask for their input. This allows us to get quick input as we move forward.
- Did we do a good job with this post? I recently built a plugin that asks subscribers one simple question, “Did we do a good job with this post?” If they liked it, great. If not, then we ask them how we can improve.
Find a way to stay in touch with your readers. From there, act on the information you grain from that interaction.
Action #9 – Create Better Headlines
Your headlines (usually also your Title tag) are the one part of SEO that you simply can not ignore. The tricky thing is that your headline must be appealing to both human and computer at the same time. Your headline must, at the same time, be appealing enough that it forces readers to click and it must also be relevant to the keyword(s) that you are targeting.
To have better headlines I suggest you first focus on the keyword (SEO) aspect, and from there craft a jaw dropping headline that will force clicks.
For choosing great keywords there are several tools out there that will gladly charge $30 or more a month. To be completely honest, you can get by using the free Google Keyword Tool.
As far as creating attractive headlines, I will point you toward Copyblogger’s Magnetic Headlines. I regularly use this series to help come up with headline ideas. Pst – Don’t tell Brian!
Action #10 – Network with Bloggers in Your Niche
No matter what topic you choose to blog about, chances are that there are other bloggers in that niche. All of these bloggers can potentially be a powerful resource for your blog.
The hurdle here is that you’re going to have to stop thinking of other blogs as competition and try to look at them as friends. Once you make this mindset change and you begin to naturally build your relationship, your network can help build each other’s blogs by recommending post ideas, sharing each other’s content, and much more.
The key here is that you must naturally build these relationships over time.
Action #11 – Take a Look at Your Foundation
I intentionally left this action at the end of this list because I think it is the most important. As a blogger, you should primarily focus on creating content. You don’t want to worry about having your blog hacked or your hosting going out.
The performance of your website should always be a primary concern. Therefore, your first actions today should be to check your WordPress security, determine if your hosting is the best WordPress hosting possible in your price range, and get a WordPress theme with a design that can grow with you over the next year or two.
Once you have got your foundation, you can then move on to crush all of the other action steps!
What Do You Think?
This post is definitely a long one (about 2,000 words), and if you’ve made it this far I congratulate you! That being said, I’m curious what you think about the action steps, and what other action steps do you think should be on this list?
Leave a comment below with your thoughts!