The year’s end is a great time to take stock of your blog. What’s working for you this year? What do you need to do more of?
Once you’ve reviewed your activities for this year, focus on creating a plan for blogging activities in 2013. Once you’ve created plan, you’ll feel more confident, because you’re building your success.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Revisit Your Dreams for Your Blog: What’s Changed?
Cast your mind back to the days when you were planning your blog. You had goals: to promote your business, to sell affiliate products, or perhaps to create a personal blog.
While those goals may not have changed, your methods for achieving them may have. The Web changes every year. Things which once worked well — methods of getting traffic for example — may no longer work as well as they did.
Perhaps your own emphasis has changed. For example, if you started the year blogging for your business, perhaps you’re now emphasizing Twitter, or Facebook.
2. Identify Your Audience’s Needs in 2013
Your blog has an audience. Think about what will be important for them in the new year. Think about your business too, and how you can align your business’s goals with that of your audience.
3. Identify Sources of Blogging Income
Everyone blogs for a reason. It’s time to think about income sources in 2013. Make a list of what brought income in 2012, and decide to continue those sources if they work for you, or to find new income sources.
Most bloggers spend a lot of time checking out income sources, or trying to get advertisers.
4. Choose Keywords and Topics
If you keep an eye on keywords, you know that they’re constantly changing, in every industry. A search term which brought great traffic no longer does. New terms have become popular.
Keyword tools are historical. This means that there’s no guarantee that they will send you traffic just because they once did.
Rather than studying tools, study news sources, and social media sites like Twitter to make your keyword lists. Spend some time brainstorming too. You may well find that they keywords you brainstorm out-perform keywords from a tool.
5. Brainstorm Blog Titles for January
By the time you’ve completed the four steps above, you should have a good idea of which blog topics you want to emphasize in January.
Keeping your keywords in mind, brainstorm some blog post topics and titles for January and February.
With your blogging plan in hand, you’re well on the way to a profitable 2013. Happy New Year!
About the author
Angela Booth is a copywriter and blogging enthusiast. Contact her via @angee on Twitter if you need writing or blogging help. Alternatively, visit her Creativity Factory Blog, where she’s starting a new series: “Make Writing Easy” for writers and non-writers too.
I’m often asked what the main elements of great blogging best practice are, and what new bloggers can do to really make the most of their online business to generate more traffic and increase revenue. In truth, there are a number of things that we need to do to keep our blogs flourishing and successful, and it can sometimes seem as if there is so much to learn, and so many activities to do that we’ll never get to the bottom of the winning formula for blogging success. However, the following tips are the main things I can think of that will really enhance your blog, supporting you to be a success.
1. Update your content regularly
Search engines like content that is fresh, newly-published, and has a high turnaround, as the latest content on the web is the most successful in terms of being highlighted through the search engines. Because of this, keep your blog updated with at least three new posts a week to make the most of the possibilities of the web.
2. Watch your competitors
A really good way of making sure your blog is right on the money in terms of quality content and customer-focused activity is by keeping an eye on what pioneers in your industry are doing. Use the people you most admire as the yardstick for working out where to go next with your blog, and check out your key competitors regularly to make sure you stay ahead of your game.
3. Be good to your customers
Your customers are the reason why you blog, so make sure they are always your top priority. Answer comments quickly, respond well to queries and questions, and stay ahead of what your customers need at all times to have a well-read, flourishing and happy blog.
4. Keep your blog well maintained
Blogs are a bit like gardens – turn your back for too long, and they become a little unkempt and need a spruce up. The busier your blog is, the more work there is to keep it maintained. Keeping on top of comments, posting regularly and making sure your blog is tidy and well looked after are all really important for ease of loading and customer satisfaction online.
5. Use your customers to work out what should be on your blog
It’s sometimes easy to fall in to the trap of writing for ourselves rather than our customers, but this can easily lead to a fall in traffic as people find that they aren’t getting what they came for when they visit your site. Use your customers to establish what’s needed in terms of content, and cater for their requirements. When people get in touch with queries, use these as headings for new posts, letting your customers tell you what they want to know, and giving it to them.
6. Keep your blog easy to navigate
The best blogs are simple to use, and make it easy to see content and get to what we need quickly and efficiently. As our attention spans grow increasingly shorter, make sure you cater for customers by keeping everything within easy reach for them.
7. Link in to social media
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the other platforms for social networking are all there to support you to be a great blogger. Make the most of what is available by linking in to these powerhouses of free advertising, letting them work on your behalf to optimize your blog and raise awareness of who you are and what you do.
8. Make your content easy to read, and accessible
Great content is the cornerstone of good blogging practices, and if your site is full of mistakes, or tough to read, people won’t come back. On the other hand, lively fresh content will keep your readers loyal and satisfied, encouraging returns to your site to see what you have been up to, and what your latest post is telling your customers about.
9. Make the most of SEO opportunities
WordPress has a wealth of support in place for search engine optimisation, so make sure you give it a helping hand to get the main search engines to find and feature your content. The ‘All in one SEO pack’ is the very minimal you should be doing to enhance your blog content, using well researched keywords and backlinks to drive traffic to your site.
10. Be an active voice on your blog
Blogging success depends on customer interaction and a visible and strong presence at all times. When someone is actively engaged in their blogging business it shows through passionate writing, prompt responses to customers and a general impression of professionalism and enthusiasm. Stay present and involved with your blog, and you’ll succeed as your knowledge, passion and love of your business shine through.
This is a newsletter article from the October 2010 edition my monthly email newsletter. If you like it and aren’t signed up, simply fill in the form to the right or at the bottom of this post to join.
When you think about the word ‘success’, what springs to mind? The latest Porsche? Being hounded by the paparazzi? A huge house in the country with an Olympic-style pool? The Nobel Peace Prize?
However you define the word, the idea of success if usually loaded with different meanings for different people.
When you first set up your blogging business, the chances are you had a very defined idea of what success would look like to you. I’m not talking about a luxury yacht, eight long-haul holidays a year of first-class flights to drop in on your relatives in the next State, although these may have been in your mind when you first developed your business idea.
Usually, when we approach the idea of success when planning our online business, our goals are a little smaller than that.
What was your yardstick for success? The chances are, you were looking for a way to leave the nine to five rat race and be your own boss. In all honesty, you’ve probably figured by now that working for yourself isn’t just as you pictured it.
Yes, we get to stay at home while our significant other goes out to work, and we have a home office which enables us to sit with the dog or cat when we write.
However, making a small online business work takes hours of solid graft, and the chances are that you are sitting with your laptop or PC in the early light of morning when you could have been tucked up in bed.
So, now that we understand a little more of the pitfalls and challenges of running our business, is it time to reevaluate our measure of success? I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I think success can be measured in a number of different ways…
The categories of success which define our blogging business
When we consider our business, it’s likely that emotional wellbeing comes a long way down the list when we evaluate how we are getting on. The truth is, however, emotional success is a critical part of evaluating how well we are doing.
People who jump out of bed eagerly each morning, itching to pick up their computer and create more products, market their blog and write some killer articles can often be viewed as highly successful. This is because they have found their niche in the market, feel confident and self-assured, and get a real buzz out of what they are doing.
You could argue that this feeling is worth more than money itself, as satisfaction emotionally is something you can’t put a price on. If you’re not feeling a warm glow of appreciation when you settle down at the beginning of a long day, it may be worth the reassess what you are working on, and bring in new ways of providing an income which makes you champ at the proverbial bit to get on with it.
This is a fluffy subject area when it comes to evaluating your business. What does personal success look like to you? Most people would weigh up personal success in the following ways:
Feeling proud of your achievements
Generating a wide readership and loyal customer base
Counting the number of times your site and business are mentioned online
The amount of feedback which you get on your blog from satisfied customers
Being safe in the knowledge that you are being the best you can be, in your industry field
Gaining industry recognition for your achievements
Being acknowledged for your work, in a way that validates your career choice.
Personal success does not just relate to great business practices, however. It can also include more intangible measures, including how your family and friends respond to your career choice, whether you feel fulfilled, and whether you feel confident and happy in what you are doing.
If you are not ticking all the boxes when you evaluate your own personal success, sit down for a moment and consider what you could be doing differently. Are you stressed out all the time?
Think about ways to reduce your workload without compromising on quality. Are your competitors streaming ahead of you in terms of sales, recognition or achievements?
Talk to a business coach about how you could change strategy to achieve what you need. Personal success involves generating job and emotional satisfaction on all levels, not just financial return.
Can you remember when you were at school, and you were waiting to get a grade for a piece of work you had done? Or the glowing feeling of satisfaction you got when you passed an exam or got a great piece of feedback on a paper?
When I talk about academic success, I’m referring more to that feeling of fulfillment than I am about racking up a string of qualifications. Keeping ahead of your industry through regular training, learning new skills and keeping your industry knowledge topped up is a critical part of measuring your success, as these activities bring fulfillment in ways that accruing revenue can’t touch.
Now we come to the unpleasant crunch when it comes to evaluating your success as a blogger. It’s an unfortunate fact of small business ownership that we need to make enough money to survive. Without having a decent income, we can’t undertake training, reevaluate our work/life balance or gain confidence that we have made the right career choice.
Having said all that, we can consider our financial success in a different way, to make us feel more fulfilled. If you wake up every morning and compare yourself to Bill Gates, you won’t ever reach happiness.
Instead, perhaps we should be viewing financial success in a new light. If we have enough money to obtain emotional freedom, personal happiness and buy us some time with those we care about, have we ‘made’ it as bloggers?
In essence, financial success doesn’t come down to having enough money to buy a private jet, or sufficient capital to drive six sports cars. Instead, our financial success could simply be measured by having the space and time to pursue other forms of emotional success – familial security, career satisfaction, and the personal freedom to live as we wish, without feeling constrained or cornered by the job which we do.