The year 2020 is going to be a big one for blogging. Just like the last several years, blogs are playing an increasing essential role in the overall content strategy for businesses of all types and sizes.
From individual bloggers all the way up to Fortune 500 marketing teams, it’s clear that both search engines and consumers alike, continue to crave helpful blog content that answers questions and solves reader challenges. If you want to build your business and grow your personal brand, you need to have a blog.
I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, and I remember how overwhelming it was looking for advice when I first got started. If anything, there’s even more advice floating around than ever before, so it can be difficult to sift through all the noise.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the wide range of blogging advice you see on the Internet, don’t be. I recently interviewed several of the world’s most prominent bloggers, to compile their best blogging tips, and here’s what I learned.
1. Invest In Your Team
Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger has been one of the most consistently successful bloggers in the industry since 2012. His prolific, high-quality posts and writing advice have been a lifeline for many who are just getting into the field. But when I had him on my podcast a few months ago, he said one of the most impactful decisions he’s ever made, was is building a team around his blog.
Many bloggers outsource a portion of their content, but often do it through a loose network of low-wage contributors, never building a truly personal relationship with most of them. Morrow’s approach is different. He’s had one of his team members with him for nearly a decade, several others who’ve worked with him for years, and he says the difference is clear.
Morrow shares, “The amount of oversight that’s required is dramatically less with a great team, and the profit is dramatically higher for each of those people as well. So it’s a higher investment, but it’s a much higher reward. The amount of stress that it relieves—of knowing you have people around that are committed to your business growth over the long haul and that they’re genuinely doing a good job at their work—the sense of peace you get from that as an entrepreneur, is something that you just can’t put a price tag on. It’s a beautiful thing.”
2. Focus On How To Monetize First
It’s easy to go into blogging backwards if you’re not careful. You uncover a topic area or keyword opportunity you think will drive a ton of traffic to your site, and then figure out how to make a living from it—instead of purposefully choosing a niche that you both enjoy and has clear revenue potential. Just ask Tim Soulo, the CMO of Ahrefs, who previously built his own blog by focusing on traffic—not money.
“Traffic is a super vanity metric, because the number doesn’t mean anything until you try to monetize it. My advice for people who want to launch a blog as a business, is to go backward. Figure out how you’re going to make money from your blog first,” Soulo explains.
This is sound advice, because recent data suggests that 60% of people who read a blog post about a product will go on to eventually purchase it. So, whether it’s joining an affiliate program and writing product reviews, building your own digital product, soliciting sponsorships or otherwise—you need to have a viable plan for how your blog will soon turn a profit.
3. Build Your Email List
Alexis Grant has built media brands, grown her own content agency and was a critical player in expanding the popular personal finance site, The Penny Hoarder. Today, she runs a writing advice blog called The Write Life, where she draws on her experience as a former journalist for publications like the Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report.
Her advice for new bloggers is simple—build an email list. Grant notes, “An email list is more valuable than any social following, because you own the emails and can reach people directly in their own inbox, rather than hoping a network like Facebook or Twitter will display your content to your community. It’s also a very effective way to build trust, because you can add a personal touch.”
Email has been a successful channel for just about every blogger and marketing team, especially when it comes to driving consistent traffic to new articles and helping to better monetize a site.
4. Take Charge Of Your Promotion Efforts
Poornima Vijayashanker has been running the software engineering blog, Femgineer, since 2007, and she’s found that a passive strategy isn’t going to bring you success as a blogger.
As we head further into 2020, there are already more than 31.7 million bloggers competing for people’s attention in the U.S. alone. One of the best ways to stand out from the pack, is by competing directly for people’s attention, instead of standing around hoping to be discovered.
“You can’t expect people to automatically discover you, because there’s seven billion people on the planet—we’re all worth discovering,” says Vijayashanker. “You have to reach out and cultivate your own relationships with readers, and depending on the product or service you’re offering on your blog, how you do that can vary.”
Whether it’s through interacting with your email list, releasing an online course, speaking at in-person conferences or something else entirely, building a network is more important than ever. Find where your people spend their time online, and work hard to get in front of them.
5. Create Smart Habits
New York Times bestselling author and prolific blogger, James Clear, has risen to prominence largely because of his thought-provoking content and consistent publishing schedule.
“Set a pace that you can sustain with publishing new articles,” Clear advises. “Don’t worry so much about the results in the short-term. In the beginning, it didn’t matter if I thought an article was good or bad, if the response to it was good or bad, if it was long or short—all that mattered was that I published an article every Monday and Thursday.”
This consistency has worked well for Clear, and it has for many others too. Studies show that when companies publish more than 16 blog posts a month, they see three and a half times the leads as those that publish only four each month. Consistent, strong content output will set you apart from most of your competitors.
6. Start Today
Web developer and designer by trade, Alex Williams of Hosting Data, has built a rapidly growing blog that teaches millions of readers how to navigate the complex process of getting their websites online. He’s well known for using consistent, high-quality content as a tool to bring new readers to his site, and he’s good at it.
When it comes to sharing his best advice to new bloggers, Williams says, “Just start. Stop over-thinking and carefully planning your entire approach to launching. Just get started today, and know that your site doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if it’s not the most visually appealing blog right now, what matters most is that you start taking steps in the right direction—and strive to solve meaningful problems in the best possible way for your future readers.”
If you can build a strong connection with a particular audience, based on your ability to help them successfully navigate a subject, then you’re well on your way to growing a profitable blog.
Like it or not, blogging is a crowded space. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a member of a large marketing team though, there are always ways to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.
Follow the advice from these seasoned bloggers, and one day you may just be the person sharing your own experiences with future aspiring writers.