Although I've been blogging for over 3 years now, I've learned the most about blogging over the past 6 months. I've never poured this amount of time and energy into a project, and I spend at least 3 hours each day preparing content for this space. It's been trying, rewarding, and exciting seeing this blog grow over the past several months, and I love sharing what we've learned with other creatives and entrepreneurs. Blogging has become fundamental to our business, and Jake and I can't stress the importance of it enough.
Today I'm sharing 25 of the biggest things we've learned since we took a more serious approach to blogging last November. I hope that these insights might help you with your own blog and save you all of the trial and error that we've had to go through!
- When you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. The narrower your niche, the more effective you’ll be in providing content that appeals to your audience. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone with your posts, get specific and narrow your focus.
Related Post: How to Create Your Own Niche
- Preparation is vital. Especially when you’re posting multiple times a week. Editorial calendars are vital to posting quality content on a regular basis, and planning ahead takes the guesswork out of coming up with new content.
Related Post: My Process for Creating and Publishing Blog Posts
- There’s no easy road to blogging success. There are very few overnight successes in the blogging industry, even if some blogs may seem to have taken off faster than others. There’s often a lot of time and effort behind the scenes, not just in creating posts, but in following up with comments, sharing posts on social media, and brainstorming new content.
- Readers are selfish. I say this often and I mean it in the nicest of ways, but readers will only come to your blog if there’s something in it for them. Whether it’s entertainment, insight, or education, write for your readers and always consider what they’re taking away from your posts.
- The more content you create, the easier it is to come up with new content. I’m often asked how I come up with enough content to publish on a daily basis, and I can honestly say that the more I blog, the easier it is to come up with new post ideas. As you get to know your audience better, you get to know which content they’ll enjoy reading and you begin to know what to look for.
- Engagement is the key to a loyal following. A conversational tone, interaction on social media, and following up with comments are all great ways to engage with your audience. The more your audience gets to know you, the more they’ll enjoy following along with you and continue to visit your blog.
- Blogging pushes you out of your comfort zone. I didn’t enjoy writing when I first started blogging; it was more of a means to an end. But the more I continued to write, the more I enjoyed it and the more comfortable I’ve felt behind a keyboard. Blogging also pushes you to get creative with content and switch things up.
Related Post: How to Blog When You Hate to Write
- Blogging increases your site’s SEO. Publishing posts on a regular basis creates more pages on your site for search engines to index. And the more high-quality content you have on your blog, the more often it will be shared and the more link-backs you’ll have to your site.
Related Post: SEO Made Simple
- Consistency is key. It’s always good to set expectations with your readers, and that often comes through consistency. By posting at 6am every weekday, my audience knows what to expect and is more likely to return on a regular basis.
- First impressions are crucial. The title of your posts and the design of your blog and blog graphics are often the first thing people see from your blog. If they are strong and seamless, there’s a greater chance that visitors will stick around and explore your site.
Related Post: 7 Tips for Creating a Credible, Trustworthy Website
- Blogging positions you as an expert. Blogging gives you a platform to validate your credentials and share your expertise. It’s given me the opportunity to share more about my design background and the insights I’ve learned about blogging and business.
- Outlines are the key to a well-organized post. Outlines have made the writing process so much easier for me. Before I start writing each post, I create an outline to gather my thoughts and determine a final outcome at the outset.
- The higher the word count, the better. Studies show that readers enjoy longer posts (the ideal post is 1600 words). I’ve seen in my own experience that when I strive for longer posts, I do a better job explaining my topic and digging into more details.
- Growing an audience begins with strong content. It’s much more enticing to return to a blog when there’s something in it for you. High quality content puts the focus on your readers, encourages them to share your posts, and keeps them coming back for more.
Related Post: 10 Ways to Make Your Blog Content Stronger
- Successful bloggers aren’t followers; they’re front-runners. It’s tempting to look at others for content ideas and topics, but it wasn’t until I stopped piggy-backing on the ideas of other bloggers that the Elle & Company blog began to grow. The most popular blogs are often the front-runners of the industry that branched out and either attempted something different or did something really, really well.
- A blog following is more important than a social media following. Social media changes so frequently, as we’ve seen lately with Facebook and Pinterest’s promoted posts. You have much more control over a blog than you do social media and since people are choosing to visit your blog, they’re usually much more loyal and engaged.
Related Post: Social Media is Changing (and 3 Free Marketing Alternatives)
- You must be open to change. When I first started Elle & Company, I had 3 blog series that I posted on a consistent basis. As the vision of the blog began to change, those series didn’t fit well with the new vision and I struggled to let them go. But in order to be successful in blogging, you have to be objective about what is and isn’t working; you must be open to change.
- Readers love transparency. While it isn’t necessary for everyone to share their secrets to have a successful blog, our audience has enjoyed our open-hand approach to our blog and business. I think there’s a certain amount of authenticity involved when readers realize that it’s more about them and less about us.
Related Post: Share Your Secrets
- Squarespace is a legitimate blogging platform. Squarespace gets a bad rap among the blogging community, but I can say from personal experience that the platform has made blogging so much easier and much more streamlined for me. It hasn’t affected my growth or hindered any amount of success, and I’ve never regretted making the switch!
Related Post: Blogging with Squarespace
- Your blog has the potential to keep people coming back to your site on a daily basis. This is especially important for businesses. If you had a brick and mortar storefront, chances are you wouldn’t have the same people returning to your shop day after day. Blogging, on the other hand, gives potential clients and customers a reason to return to your site on a daily basis. And the more often they’re on your site, the more likely they are to buy your products or inquire about your services.
- Blogging provides great networking opportunities. I’ve met several great industry friends because of blogging, several of whom I’ve since partnered with for workshops and big projects. There’s a great community involved with blogging.
- Infographics are always a hit. Not only are they highly shared, but they add a little variety to the way that I share content on the blog. I’ve also found that readers love long lists and narratives.
Related Post: A Step-By-Step Guide for Creating Infographics
- FAQs often make great blog posts. If I receive the same question multiple times on social media or by email, there’s a great chance that others are interested in learning more about the topic, too. I often take those FAQs and turn them into blog posts. Then when people reach out to me with that same question, I have a resource to point them to.
- Polarizing posts usually generate the most buzz. Although it’s always a little frightening to press “publish” on a post that shares a strong point of view, it often creates the most amount of engagement and buzz. It’s also a great way to get a conversation started.
- Blogging can transform your business. And Elle & Company is a prime example. Blogging has allowed me to expand my reach, bring in more potential customers, and book my services. We’ve seen more Library subscriptions, had 2 successful e-course launches, and we have some even bigger plans in the works. And it’s all due to this blog.
Related Post: How to Successfully Blog for Business
Blogging is an area that we continue to learn more about. It's ever-changing and evolving, and there are always new approaches and ways of doing things. So we would love to get your feedback:
What are some of the greatest things you've learned from blogging? What were you most surprised to see on our list?