This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com's Second-Quarter Startup Kit, which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.
In the book Start Your Own Blogging Business, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and marketing expert Jason R. Rich explain how to start a profitable business as a blogger by generating income from advertisers, subscribers, merchandisers and more. In this edited excerpt, the authors reveal the six steps you must take if you want to create and maintain a successful blog.
The following are basic blogging strategies every professional blogger should implement to help ensure success:
1. Define the target audience for your blog and cater to that audience. The best way to build a dedicated audience for any blog is to carefully and clearly define its target audience right from the start, and then create content that caters to that audience.
Focusing on a niche audience and developing appropriate content specifically for those people helps to ensure there will be strong interest in your blog's content, plus it makes promoting the blog easier.
The more narrowly you define your target audience, the easier it will be to identify those people, cater to their needs with your content, and reach them with your advertising and marketing messages.
The target market or audience you identify for your online content can be defined using one or multiple criteria, or various demographic characteristics, such as:
- Club memberships
- Geographic area
- Income level
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Special interests
Reaching a target demographic on the web is relatively easy (much simpler than doing it using traditional advertising practices in the real world). Carefully designing your online marketing efforts to appeal to your target audience will help set you apart from your competition and pique the interest of Internet users who are inherently interested in what online content you're offering.
2. Put a unique twist on your blog's topic and content. It's virtually impossible to brainstorm a totally original topic to blog about. Instead, your primary and ongoing goal should be to continuously develop innovative content and put a truly unique spin on whatever topic you're blogging about.
You, as a blogger, are a unique individual with your own personality. To set your blog apart, be sure to incorporate your knowledge, voice and personality into your blog. This is one of the easiest ways to set it apart from your competition.
You can also set your blog apart by including proprietary information, publishing extremely timely facts or research, or by incorporating your own unique thoughts, ideas, perspective or expertise into each of your blog entries.
Be sure to research how other bloggers and website operators are presenting similar information, and then develop innovative ways to do it better or in a more unique, attention-getting, and memorable way. You'll want to keep constant tabs on what your competition is doing, plus stay up-to-date on trends happening within the blogosphere.
Another important strategy for creating and publishing a successful blog is to develop content that isn't readily available elsewhere in the blogosphere or on the web. The more unique and innovative your content and the better you target your audience, the easier it will be to build a following.
3. Add new content on a regular basis. To build and maintain a steady audience, regularly add new content to your blog. Every new blog entry should cater to your blog's target audience, offer content that's perceived as valuable, and build upon previously published content.
For a blog to be successful, you must stay on topic and cater to the wants, needs and expectations of your target audience. This means developing a thorough understanding of who your audience is, then adjusting your focus as trends and demands change over time.
Once you set a schedule for posting new content, it's essential to maintain that schedule, so plan accordingly and don't be over-ambitious. You're better off promising new content once a week then posting twice or three times per week on occasion, as opposed to promising new content daily (or several times daily) and not being able to deliver.
4. Transform your blog into an interactive online community. Instead of focusing exclusively on publishing content, develop your blog into an interactive online community. Encourage your audience to post feedback and comments, interact with each other, share their ideas, and enhance your content by adding their own information.
Be sure to incorporate a "Share" button into each of your blog entries. Make it very easy for readers to share your content via email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn. Virtually all the popular blogging platforms offer a widget that makes it easy to integrate a "Share" button into your blog. Doing this can help you build your audience through virtual word-of-mouth.
5. Adopt a multifaceted approach to promoting your blog continuously. It will take some time to build an audience in the hundreds of thousands or millions. To achieve this level of success will typically require ongoing marketing, promotions and even paid advertising. Many of the world's most successful bloggers have relied on the mainstream media to generate publicity for their blog to help build an audience. Promoting your blog on an ongoing basis is as important as regularly adding new content.
6. Keep the blog's look, overall design and content professional. Always convey a professional image, regardless of the subject matter or your audience. The look and overall design of your blog should be professional, and easy to read and understand.
Also, be sure to edit and proofread your work carefully to avoid or correct any errors. Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in your blog take away from your credibility and make your blog appear amateurish.