A couple of weeks to go for a new year to come and a hundred resolutions to put into practice.
Is one of your resolutions for 2016 to start a blog? Do you already have a blog but it didn´t achieve the hoped for results? Did you manage to have a blog that is quite good, but you want it to be jaw-dropping good?
Well, I’m glad you’re reading this, because things are going to get better- way better.
Since it also is my first blog post on our brand new and shiny Gradiblog, I’d like to share some top tips with you that’ll help you to create a blog that gets readers hooked and thereby boosts your business, sends your sales through the roof and reaches your business goals- hands down.
How to Create THE Top-Caliber Blog That Helps You Reach Your Business Goals
While doing my research, I read a lot of good and bad blog posts, books (of which I warmly recommend Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing and Ann Handley’s and C. C. Chapman’s Content Rules) and papers on the topic.
I put together a cream of the crop list of my findings so that creating your irresistible blog is going to be a piece of cake.
Ladies and Gentlemen, full steam ahead for the top 15 tips to have a killer blog in 2016 (applause!):
First things first: The Preparation
Before you start pounding out those masterpieces of blog posts, you might want to make sure you mind the following aspects:
1. CONSIDER THE COMMUNICATION CONTEXT
In order to address your target reader, answer the following questions:
- Who is your target reader?
- How can she or he profit by your blog?
- What’s the hub of your blog? What’s your main topic?
- What do you want to achieve with your blog? What are your goals?
- Who are you competing with? Who else is offering information your target reader can benefit from?
Even though some of these questions might seem obvious, it’s pretty handy having made up your mind about them. Once you took this first step, go on and:
2. DRAW UP YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR
How your editorial calendar looks like is up to you. There is no ideal schedule that serves as a model. Your calendar depends on the purpose of your blog and—above all—on how much time you are able and willing to spend on it.
According to the content experts Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman, you should blog at least two times a week.
No matter how your editorial calendar looks like in the end, the most important thing to keep in mind is: Pull it off and be consistent.
3. DESIGN: LET´S GET PERSONAL
Without a doubt: the content and its value for the target reader is the top priority. Nevertheless, you should think about a design that helps you stand out of the tremendous blogger crowd and that represents your personal style.
You can choose between a de luxe and an economic option—that is between a professional graphic designer and free templates (there are a lot useful ones out there).
Whatever design you go for, here is a list of must-have features for your blog:
- eye-catching subscribe button/ opt-in box
- top search bar
- (personalized) links to social network profiles (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
- social sharing icons in posts (Twitter button, share button for Facebook, etc.)
- structured post archive by topics or categories
- sidebar that displays the different blog categories
4. KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING
Comment moderation is something you might want to consider as well. One of the main reasons of having a blog is to enter into a dialogue with your target readers. It goes without saying that a dialogue requires two parties.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that it takes time to keep spammers and trolls off your blog. Still, there are plugins and settings—as for instance Whitelist/Blacklist options—that help you manage.
An absolute no go is to edit any comments from your readers. Just look at it that way: You can benefit from negative feedback as well, for instance by getting back to the person, inspiring conversations and launching new pieces of content tailored to your reader’s requests.
Now, we’re almost there. Before starting to write, however, there is one more top tip to rock the blogosphere:
5. WRITE AS YOU SPEAK
The conventions of a blog are a lot looser than those of other text types. So, it neither has to be very technical nor very formal. Tell your readers things that are important to them. Make their tasks, jobs and lives easier by sharing irresistible content.
Say it simply, clearly and with a personal touch. If you usually don´t say the word “indeed”, you should—indeed—not use it when writing either.
After having completed the preparations, you are all set. Let´s get down to business!
Second Base: The Writing Process
6. KILLER TITLES
The very first thing you start writing with is at the same time the most important one: the title. It is up to the title, whether the rest of your post is even going to have the chance to convince. Imagine you wrote THE best blog post of all times, but your title doesn´t grasp the readers. No one will ever know about it.
Pick your title carefully. Be creative. Be controversial. Also numbers have proven to work really well.
In order to structure your post and to help your readers navigate through the text more easily, use interesting and informative subheadings.
7. IT´S ALL ABOUT THE LENGTH
Say as much as you need to get your message across—not more, not less. Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Go through your text and clear out all of the unnecessary words. Avoid using “from my point of view, in my opinion, etc.”
As my university professor used to say:
“The Bible of good writing: Make it short, precise and colorful.”
So, if there is a shorter sentence for what you want to say, use it. If there is a simpler word—well guess what—use it. Don’t beat around the bush, get to the point. And wrap your valuable content in stories or anecdotes. Use metaphors or other stylistic devices to add zest to your text.
8. PICTURES: BREATH LIFE INTO YOUR BLOG
Most blogs are very text-heavy. In order to spice up your black and white screen, add pictures, graphics, charts, infographics, video clips or other embedded elements. Every blog post should come with at least one image.
9. READY, STEADY, TAG!
You should assign at least one category to each blog post. The categories are very helpful for your readers to navigate through your blog and quickly find what they are looking for. Also search engines are quite fond of categories.
10. CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA)
There shouldn’t be a single blog post without a CTA. Why? That’s how you achieve your objectives of creating content. Your content users read your blog post, click on the CTA, and – at some point – convert into a lead. You can even position the CTA on three different places of your post (beginning, sidebar, end of post). Here are a few examples for common CTA:
- Sign up for our enewsletter
- Download our ebook
- Join us on Twitter/Facebook/etc.
- Sign up for our free webinar
You can either stick to these traditional CTA, or you can give free rein to your creativity and try something more fun. Point Blank SEO is doing a very good job at this:
11. EDITORS ARE A MUST
Do you want to make sure the quality of your blog is royal? Get an editor. Every piece you write should go through the process of the so called “four eyes principle”. All of us need an editor- even the greatest!
Third Base: Distribution and Planning Ahead
Once you´ve finished writing your blog post, you have already achieved a lot. But: Don’t rest on your laurels yet. After all, you didn’t write this piece of art for yourself, but to offer your target readers valuable information and—at best—entertainment at the same time. Make sure they get to enjoy it!
12. GET IT OUT THERE, GET IT EVERYWHERE
There are various channels you should try to cover in order to spread the world:
- Your company´s website
- Content hosting sites (DocStoc, iTunes, Sribd, Slideshare, etc.)
- Social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, YouTube)
- Your enewsletter
- Industry influencers and guest blogging (tip: influencer question-and-answer session)
- Allies for co-marketing along the lines of: One hand washes the other
- Paid channels (Facebook ads, promoted tweets, content discovery platforms like StumbleUpon)
13. REIMAGINE YOUR EXISTING CONTENT
Get the most out of the content you have already created. What´s the best way to do that? If you want to save time and resources, you should plan ahead. One option that works very well is to publish an ebook that consists of previously published blog posts.
You can also turn blog posts into video clips, check lists, quizzes or infographics. The opportunities are (almost) endless. Click here for more inspiration.
14. VARIETY’S THE VERY SPICE OF LIFE, THAT GIVES IT ALL IT’S FLAVOUR
Apply William Cowper‘s words to your killer blog and offer your readers the full range. Create short and long, technical and simple, current and evergreen posts. Make it as gripping as possible.
15. MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS
I bet you want to know, whether you achieved the goals you set for your blog or not. You can easily do this by using Google Analytics for instance. Among other things you can find out how many visits, page views, enewsletter signups and search rankings you had. Also bounce rates and the time users spent on each of your pages are very helpful metrics. You’ll learn which kind of content resonates the most with your audience and therefore, be able to give them exactly what they are looking for.
Don’t wait any longer! Let’s go and blog like a boss throughout the year!
Do You Have a Top Tip List of Your Own Killer Blog?
Can you add tips to this list? Want to share your experiences running a blog? Already blogging like a boss?
Let us hear about it in the comments below!