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How to become an awesome blogger. 18 experts know the answer

| Posted in category Content marketing Expert round-up Experts Speak

how to become an awesome blogger, 18 experts

Blogging is a business for tough players who learn every day and adjust their working methods depending on changes in the industry. Becoming an awesome blogger with a huge readers' list can be your dream , but few people manage to become #1 and even if they do they never stop working and improving.

I asked 18 bloggers to share their best and the most exclusive blogging tips to help you be a blogging rock star. The list features both industry influencers and less known bloggers who write stuff in the language different from English. Their paths are unique in many way, yet they are all united with one thing: a passion, a true uncovered and uncontrolled passion for blogging.

18 bloggers were asked to answer just 4 questions:

  1. When and why did you decide to start a blog of your own?
  2. What techniques did you apply in an attempt to gain more visitors, traffic, etc? Which ones worked and which ones were a complete failure?
  3. What blog capitalization methods do you believe to be the best?
  4. What advice can you give to someone who's only starting to blog?
All the folks who contributed to this blog post are listed together with their answers in the alphabetical order. Each story is challenging, each tip is a gem, make sure to read each and every line even if you think you are a blogging expert.

1. Jason Acidre: "Publish a post only when you believe that someone will find it useful."

jason acidreA1: I started blogging back in 2010. At first, I didn't really plan to have a popular blog that I can eventually monetize, as I originally wanted my blog to serve as a personal journal that I can use to review all the SEO strategies I researched and tested.

Documentation of my own processes for future use was the main reason why I blogged, but I'm even happier to know that others are also making use of the things I've been studying/writing about for the past 3 years.

A2: I've only focused on two techniques ever since I started blogging, continuous content development and building relationships with other content publishers.

Applying these 2 methods have driven results I've never expected, as these 2 strongly improved my blog's SEO (based on the right signals the blog is able to send out to search engines), branding and lead generation.

I've tested a lot of marketing methods for my blog, and the ones that have failed haven't really affected my campaign that much. Although, I did a case study before on reciprocal linking back in 2011 (with exact match anchor texts) that led to a manual penalty early last year – but the penalty was manually revoked right away – but that really sucked.

A4: Keep on learning new things. Because the more you learn, the more topics you can write about and more knowledge you can share with your readers.

And publish a post only when you believe that someone will find it useful. If you don't think anyone's going to find it useful, then why waste your time writing and promoting it, right?

Follow Jason on Twitter | Follow Jason on Google+

2.  Glen Allsopp: "Write better content than anyone else. It sounds overly simple, until you try to write better content than anyone else."

glen allsoppA1: I started my first blog, ViperChill, back when I was just 16 years old. I really didn't care about getting comments or having an audience. I really just wanted to document my journey with learning SEO and what worked. Later on that perspective definitely changed when I built my personal development blog, PluginID, to be one of the top 10 in the world. ViperChill certainly gets a lot of comments and visitors now, too 😉

A2: Some of the main things that I tried include:

  •  Getting more traffic from search engines
  •  Being active on StumbleUpon
  •  Writing comments on other blogs
  •  Writing guest posts for other websites

I would say that SEO and writing guest posts worked the best for me. I was one of the first people actively guest posting so bloggers were happy to receive my content and hadn't received too many requests before.

A3: Writing better content than anyone else. It sounds overly simple, until you try to write better content than anyone else. Do that, and 'success' is not far behind.

A4: If you're doing it primarily for the potential income, then don't start blogging. There are easier and quicker ways to make money online. If you have a message to share and think you have a lot of them to share, then give it your all.

Follow Glen on Twitter | Follow Glen on Google+

3. Peter Attia: "Avoid writing opinionated posts until you have a following that knows and respects you."

peter attiaA1: I had been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while, and about 3 years ago, I finally did it. My main reasoning was how little people wrote actionable posts on SEO and marketing in general. Articles are usually rather vague and full of a lot of fluff. I figured others may be interested in the same material, so I decided to give it a shot. It was also a way for me to build out something I could put on a resume and bring in some personal clients.

A2: I honestly did very little to promote my blog. To gain my first bit of a following, I just wrote about things no one else would. For example, Paid Links That Work and Why Google Can’t Stop Them and 9 Evil Ways to Build Links. These struck a cord with people and pretty much promoted themselves.

One thing that was kind of a waste of time were some comics I'd made. They were fun and some people really enjoyed them, but ultimately the shares were very small and it was more time consuming than it was worth. However, they were fun and I don't regret posting them.

A3: Question about a blog monetization is a tough one, as it depends on what you're trying to achieve. For me, the blog itself was my way of capitalizing, as it was my main source of client requests. However, for the blog I run at Skinny Limits, it's very different. We primarily write posts that potential customers could relate to and target titles that have potential to rank well. This helps us build our email list as well as run retargeting ads on people who have visited the blog. We also have recipes which are heavily shared on Pinterest, so this has helped us grow out our social following quite extensively, giving us another audience we can target.

In short, we don't make sales directly from our blog, nor do we try to. We want people to enjoy our content and trust us before we begin to consider advertising to them, as this has shown us a better conversion rate and user experience.

A4: Avoid writing opinionated posts until you have a following that knows and respects you. If you write opinionated articles and no one knows who you are, no one will take you seriously or share them. Don't get me wrong, it's still possible to succeed through this route, but it would be much harder.

I'd also recommend getting your first few posts in front of an audience, for example, through Inbound.org or the YouMoz Blog. This will help you build your personal brand and gain a following, so people will see any articles you share.

Follow Peter on Twitter | Follow Peter on Google+

4. Matthew Barby: "Only write about something if you're passionate about it."

matthew barbyA1: I started my first blog at the start of 2013 - this was my travel blog. I started the blog as I was going off for a few months to travel South East Asia and saw an opportunity to build a good community within my blog and make some cash in the process. After this I started my digital marketing blog, FindMyBlogWay.com.

I actually acquired the FindMyBlogWay.com domain from someone for $50 as it had some links pointing to it and it used to have a lot of visitors around 3 years ago. The site hadn't been live for 12 months prior to my acquisition but I thought I'd give a shot at building a blog focused around helping out fellow bloggers. Alongside this, it allowed me to test out some different traffic generation methods that I wouldn't really try with clients, which was pretty fun.

A2: The main tactic that I've used with both my travel blog and Find My Blog Way is to build high quality, linkable content assets. Now, I know everybody says that this should be your main focus, but that isn't always the case. My goal was to cover different topics each month, with one big post each month that was an 'ultimate guide to...'. For example:

The main reason for this is so that I can then easily mention my articles whenever I write on other blogs. Alongside this, my content will appeal to a much wider audience.

Once the content is created, I will use a whole host of different traffic generation methods. One that I've found to be particularly good is Stumble Upon's Paid Discovery. You get awesome value for money, only pay for 'engaged visitors' and be really specific with who sees your post.

On the other hand, I've found Facebook advertising to be the biggest waste of my cash. From my experience, Facebook advertising works best when you're promoting something within Facebook as opposed to an external link.

Another tool that I use to drive through relevant traffic to my site is BuzzBundle. It's an awesome tool that allows you to search across social media chanells, Yahoo! Answers, forums and blogs for any keywords. I do this to search for people that are looking for information on topics that I've covered on my blog and simply share the link with them.

Finally, a big traffic and link generator for me has been YouTube. I'm going to be putting even more of a focus into my YouTube presence because I've only really be creating video tutorials over the past 3 months. If you're thinking about doing the same, check out Matthew Woodward's 'YouTube Marketing Optimization' tutorial - it's amazing.

A3: Monetization is something that I've been talking about a lot this year. Personally, I'd avoid things like Adsense unless you're generating some big traffic numbers - otherwise it just makes your blog look crappy.

I prefer using my blog to market my own consulting services, or generating revenue via affiliate links. I do a lot of in-depth tutorials and reviews of software so this is an easy way to cash in on affiliate income.

I wrote a HUGE post that outlined loads of monetization methods (http://findmyblogway.com/monetizing-your-blog/), so check it out for some inspiration.

A4: Only write about something if you're passionate about it.

Blogging take a lot of time and effort, so you will find it a lot easier if you are interested in what you're talking about. Alongside this, spend a good part of your day engaging with influential members within your community because these are the people that will help you grow your blogs traffic in the long-term.

Finally, be realistic with your targets. Don't set your expectations too high unless you're willing to devote the time and money required to achieve them!

Follow Matthew on Twitter | Follow Matthew on Google+

5. Sebastian Cowie: "Create a database of all your favourite bloggers or those that you're trying to emulate or aspire to be."

sebastian cowieA1: I started my web marketing blog about a year into working my first SEO job. I created it to share tips, tricks and general musings about the SEO industry as a whole and it contained information that wouldn't have been published on the corporate blog. As such, it was initially just a venting platform for strategies that I'd seen fail time and time again, but it grew to cover all sorts of topics.

A2: Outreach and networking have been the primary methods of promotion. Cross-promotion with other people working in the industry seems to be a hot strategy at the moment! Failures have included trying to promote SEO via Facebook. It doesn't work unless your friends just happen to all be SEO fanatics.

A3: Best ways to monetize on your blog? Two ways to answer this really. There's a ''best way'' and a ''most lucrative way''. Keeping your site relatively clean, offering users tutorials that include affiliate links and adsense would be my ''best'' way. Selling links and purchased guest posts can certainly be a lot more lucrative in the short term but you're sacrificing your reputation and future earning potential in that scenario.

A4: Advice that I should be offering myself from time to time… Make sure you keep at it, start by creating a database of all your favourite bloggers or those that you're trying to emulate or aspire to be. Take note of what it is you feel they're doing right and create your own little spin on it! Most bloggers are quite happy to lend a helping hand to those in need, so get in touch with them, leave a few comments on their posts and build that relationship. You never know, it could turn into something bigger and better!

Follow Sebastian on Twitter | Follow Sebastian on Google+

6. Brian Dean"5 tips for..." simply doesn't perform anymore."

brian deanA1: I started Backlinko in December of 2012. I had wanted to start an SEO-focused blog for a while, but kept putting it off.

Eventually, I read one too many "SEO is dead/SEO is now content marketing/link building is dead" articles and said "enough!".

I realized that there was a MASSIVE opportunity in the SEO space for super-practical link building, on-page SEO and content promotion strategies. That's when I decided to launch Backlinko.

A2: The first thing I did was get active on a number of forums in the internet marketing niche. I knew that unless I could get my content in front of the people with the power to share it, I'd be playing to an empty room.

While I was helping people out on forums, I also built up a few "base content" posts. These were posts that I spent 15+ hours on (each!) to make them really stand out. When you're first starting out, you REALLY need to make a great impression on every visitor that comes your way. Mind blowing base content is the best way to do that.

Forums and base content worked really well. I was able to get targeted traffic to my blog via the forum - and because the content was really good - people from the forum starting sharing it.

What was a complete failure was trying to post once a week. Because I had read from so-called "blogging experts" that you needed to post on a set schedule, I started publishing a new post per week. That was actually one of the WORST months the blog had in terms of traffic and engagement.

Why?

Because I had to sacrifice quality just to meet my self-imposed deadline.

Once I went back to only publishing base content level stuff, everything started to trend in the right direction again.

A3: In my opinion, the best way to monetize a blog is to build an email list. With a list, you can monetize a million different ways (selling your own product, promoting affiliate products, advertising space on your newsletter). Without it, you don't have a lot of leverage.

If you're not putting your list as your #1 priority, you're making a HUGE mistake.

A4: My advice would be to publish ONLY amazing stuff when first starting out. When you're new no one cares how often you publish.

To get your name out there in today's competitive content world, you need to publish some of the best stuff that's ever been published in your industry. "5 tips for..." simply doesn't perform anymore.

If you're not ready to do that, you're going to have a very hard time growing your blog.  But if you can publish out-of-this-world stuff, you'll generate a huge following very, very quickly.

Follow Brian on Twitter | Follow Brian on Google+

7. Chris Gilchrist: "Develop industry relationships and build the network."

chris gilchristA1: We added a blog to our company site back in 2009, and the main reason initially was because 'we thought we should'. We didn't have a particular strategy initially, and used the blog both as a means to serve client service messages and an outlet for useful or interesting comments.

We quickly realised that our audience isn't necessarily our current client base, and writing too many self-serving or insular posts weren't doing us many favours. We adapted our strategy and now try to focus either on highly useful/practical posts and great resources or humourous ones, although even today we are still altering our blogging strategy and trying new things.

A2: The main methods that have been successful for us have been good old fashioned networking. Unless your writing is focused on traffic from the search engines, social is you main traffic source, and networking is one of the most effective forms of social interaction. By regularly engaging with influencers online, we built up a highly focused group of friends and followers, all of whom were open to receiving our messages.

Once you have this sort of network set up, it can very quickly multiply your shares, as several people re-share your content without you having to 'sell' it to them, which in itself drives more traffic and more shares.

The only 'failure' of note was a post we did that was quite controversial and upset a few people in the industry.

I'll not go into the details here, but we ended up taking the post down as a few people were unhappy with it - so I guess the lesson there is just to remember that sometimes people can misunderstand your intentions, and in today's online world it can very quickly get out of hand.

A3: There are multiple ways to capitalize on your blog. The main one has to be understanding your audience, and producing content to fit. There is no point spending a lot of time writing high-level tutorial posts, if your audience are only beginner level.

The emphasis has to be on the content, making sure that the content is adding value to the topic, providing information or answering common questions that your audience may have.

From a technical perspective, there are of course some other things that are always worth doing for search and social benefit:

  • Optimise each post for SEO (use Yoast's WordPress SEO plugin)
  • Markup your posts using Twitter cards and Facebook Open Graph data
  • Utilise authorship markup

A4: If you have no existing network or 'name' within the industry you are blogging, I'd spend some time trying to develop those relationships and build that network. A great way to do this can be to write guest blogs for your peers, which will expose you to their audience and help you build connections. Try to find any niche networks or forums where your peers hang out, and make sure you try to engage and add value wherever possible.

Once you've developed a bit of a network and have developed a writing style that you are happy with, all you need to do now is keep going!

We're actually launching a 'How to start blogging' section on our site shortly to help others get started without making the mistakes we did.

Follow Chris on Twitter | Follow Chris on Google+

8. Kristi Hines: "Don't feel the pressure to write a certain number of times per week."

kristi hinesA1: I started blogging in 2008, originally to have a personal blog full of creative writing and photography. After a few months, I became more interested in writing about the process of growing a blog audience. This transformed my blog from a personal one to one with a stronger marketing focus.

A2: The best technique I found in the beginning to drive traffic to my blog was blog commenting. It wasn't blog commenting with the goal of building links, but blog commenting with the goal of getting to know other bloggers who would be interested in the content I developed. The more I engaged on other blogs that my target audience read, the more visitors I received.

A3: I believe that for everyone, experimentation is the best. Not every blog will do well with Google AdSense, finding advertisers, affiliate marketing, or other common monetization methods. Your audience is unique, so you need to try different things to see what works best with them, and adjust your monetization strategies accordingly. This is why when I write posts like 50 blog and content monetization tips, I include a bit of everything - how to monetize different types of content (blog posts, video, podcasts, etc.) as well as different ways to monetize such as advertising, selling products, and selling services.

A4: Don't feel the pressure to write a certain number of times per week. It's better to only publish one post a week and focus the rest of your time building an audience than publishing seven days a week and not actually promoting the content.

Follow Kristin on Twitter | Follow Kristin on Google+

9. Julie Joyce: "Promote your content, because people don't just sit around waiting to happen upon it."

julie joyceA1: I decided to start a blog a couple of years ago when our agency was much bigger than it currently is, as we had some amazing writers on staff and I wanted to be able to let them write. It started off well enough but then became almost a burden, as we were busy working for clients and a lot of people who initially wanted the blog kind of lost interest. To be honest, I did too.

A2: Other than social promotion, we really did almost nothing to help promote the blog and I fully accept the responsibility for that. Even when I did a post featuring answers from extremely prominent SEOs, the content got very little traction, even with their help in promoting it. I don't know that anything was a complete failure, but nothing was a raging success either.

A3:  I think that unless you really have your heart in what you're doing, it's going to be difficult to write the kind of content that attracts attention, and you also won't promote it as well if you aren't invested in it personally. I do think that the most successful thing we did was use crowdsourced pieces, as I do really love hearing other's points of view and I'm always honored when someone takes the time to contribute. However even if you have a great piece of content, you absolutely have to promote it, because people don't just sit around waiting to happen upon it. You have to get the word out.

A4: I would say that you should figure out how you can stand out, as there's too much regurgitation out there. Figure out what you are good at, too, so if you do PPC, don't write about link building. Be honest. If you are new, say so, and don't try and pretend that you aren't. There's one tip that I have started to use, and that is to have someone else give feedback on your content before you publish it. It's good to have it proofread but you'd be amazed at the disconnect between what you think you're saying and what someone is getting out of your words. And don't forget to promote your content! If you mention someone in a post, email or tweet to them to tell them about it. I always, always appreciate being told that someone has mentioned one of my posts as I don't always notice when I have my head down doing other things. Just make sure you really do want to blog for reasons other than "everyone else is doing it."

Follow Julie on Twitter | Follow Julie on Google+

10. Steve Morgan: "Give it time."

steve morganA1: I started SEOno back in April 2011. I had written a few blog posts for the blog of the agency where I was working at the time, but they wanted everything to be very professional and corporate in tone, while I had a few weird/funny ideas related to SEO that I wanted to blog about, so I thought that the best opportunity would be to start my own.

A2: It was always a hobby (it still is), so I never intended to utilise it for traffic-generation purposes.

However, when I publish a post, I do share it on Twitter (a few times, spread across a few days), LinkedIn, Google+ and - if it's something more personal to me - via Facebook as well. If it's related and/or useful to a group of people, I make sure to share it with them - for example, when I wrote about 3 things I'd learnt 3 months into self-employment, I shared it with Cardiff Start (a Facebook community of startups in Cardiff) and also with my co-working space's Facebook group (as it's full of startups and freelancers), as I thought that it'd be of interest to them and also useful for them.

The only thing that I wouldn't necessarily call a failure but not much of a traffic-driver is sharing posts on LinkedIn. When I check out my Google Analytics stats, it hardly ever refers traffic - single digits, if that. That said, I still do it because a) it only takes a second, and b) a few people I know use LinkedIn more heavily than Twitter and Google+, so they have more chance of seeing any posts that I share.

A3: I don't advertise on my blog, mainly because I'd love to win a Wales Blog Award, but in previous years I've not even been shortlisted, so I should give up the dream (sigh...) and really put some ads on there sometime. But regardless, it's helped me to win some work - a couple of past and present clients have either discovered me via the blog or like working with me because of the information I've previously shared on the blog. So while I haven't made any money off advertising, it's helped me to win client work, especially now that I'm freelancing, which is great.

A4: Give it time. I'm reminded by Rand Fiskin's post about his wife's blog and how it took a number of years to get off the ground. I've only really seen noticeable Google Analytics stats in the last 6 months, even though the blog's nearly 3 years old, so it can take some time to gain momentum and get noticed.

I also hugely recommend attending local blogger meet-ups. We have Cardiff Blogs where I live, which has been great for meeting like-minded bloggers, networking and for picking up tips and advice. It also helps being one of the only SEOs in attendance - I can return the favour by offering SEO advice...! :-)

Follow Steve on Twitter | Follow Steve on Google+

11. Giuseppe Pastore: "Figure out ways to do some money before you actually start your blog."

giuseppe pastoreA1: I launched my first blog in 2007, a crime novels related one (ThrillerCafe.it). I was already collaborating with a few sites here in Italy and decided to start a personal one to collect reviews of books I read. Along the years it has become a premiere resource in its niche (probably the most know in Italy at the moment) and I've allowed a few people to contribute. I still write the most of the articles because I want quality stay high, and I enjoy thrillers.

A2: As I was already collaborating with other sites, had published some tales in actual anthologies and frequented a few forums, I've had many underground writers and friends linking me immediately. Anyway, I started interviewing other bloggers in my same niche I was already following and it was a success, as I made more friends and reached a wider audience. Having ''friends'' is vital for bloggers in my opinion. SEO has been a great part of my success as well, along with good fresh content every day. I've tried a few times with infographics but in my case they didn't work well. I think mostly because I've spent too less time promoting them. I mean promotion is an important part of blogging I don't spend enough time on.

A3: It depends on your niche. In my case I've soon realized Adsense doesn't pay well and I started selling advertising to publishers and authors. In other spaces one would probably prefer affiliations, mainly in betting/gambling but with Amazon selling almost everything you have a wide choice. If you are really authoritative you can start selling your own products (ebook, courses, private newsletters, etc.) but it's not for everybody. As I was saying, it really depends. Anyway I highly suggest growing a subscribers list. Whatever your monetization method is, your list will make your fortune.

A4:

  1. Be passionate about your topic;
  2. Identify your target;
  3. Figure out ways to do some money before you actually start your blog. If you can't find anything, chances are you'll get tired of blogging without any rewards, one day or another;
  4. Connect with people in your niche, have them friends and not rivals. Influencer are great, but value every connection. Give before asking;
  5. Have your own voice;
  6. Plan not to depend on Google traffic;
  7. Take your blog as a job;
  8. Value your readers more than your advertisers;
  9. Don't give up: if you're working hard results will arrive;
  10. Have an entrepreneur mindset: spend some money instead wasting your time to do things you're not good at. Dedicate yourself to the strategy and what you enjoy doing. Buy the rest.

Follow Giuseppe on Twitter | Follow Giuseppe on Google+

12. Sujan Patel: "Mention popular articles or other popular bloggers and follow up to let them know they were mentioned."

sujan patelA1: I started blogging in 2007 when I realized how much a blog can help with your personal brand and creditability. My personal blog has brought me a handful of clients, dozens of job offers and through it I've been able to establish relationships with a ton of awesome people.

A2: I've tried hundreds of things to drive more traffic to my blog but I found only a handful of things really impactful:

  1. Writing long post that are easy to read which means scannable yet meaty (usually means list type post)
  2. Mentioning popular articles or other popular bloggers and following up by tweeting at them or emailing to let them know they were mentioned. They'll usually help promote your content.
  3. Get your friends to help promote your content. It always helps to get the ball rolling
  4. Constantly promote other bloggers content. Not only will it help you establish a relationship with them but they'll likekly promote your blog post. This has been the most successful tactic for me. I try to be as genuine as possible when promoting other's content and only sharing content that I like or think is good instead of just doing it to get their help.

A3: I think the best way to make money off your blog is to use it to help brand you or your company as an authority in a particular topic or subject matter. Because of my personal blog and the Single Grain blog we get dozens of inquires a month from potential clients which is worth way more than if I had any type of ads or monetization on the blog.

A4: Read Copyblogger for tips on basic copywriting tips & help writing headlines and write about what you're great at and passionate about. Focus on building an audience.

Follow Sujan on Twitter | Follow Sujan on Google+

13. Daylan Pearce: "Don't try to be someone else, no one is Youer than you."

daylan pearceA1: I started blogging about three years ago for work. The company I was working for at the time started a blog and I thought I'd give writing for a public audience a go. My first few posts got some good feedback but I was limited to what I could and couldn't say due to corporate branding so I decided to create my own site - daylandoes.com. I built the site as somewhere I could be myself, away from corporate responsibility - and where I could use more swear words.

I really love words. They are the strongest thing on earth. Putting a bunch of words in the perfect order can achieve every single emotion a human has ever felt. Anger, happiness, sadness, anything! I wanted to get better at using words; to figure out how to tell a story in the best way possible, and my blog lets me do that.

A2: Spend time to find your audience. Generic advice huh, but honestly my number one technique is to find out exactly where the people who I am writing for or about are, and then I start a conversation with them. Social media is a goldmine for me in these instances. I write a lot about how people interact via social media and search, so using these channels is a no-brainer. If it's business related, then I aim it at business readers (LinkedIn, Google communities, forums and Twitter accounts), if it's privacy or Facebook, I aim it at Facebook users. The same applies for any topic really. Cooking? Aim it at cooking groups and people interested in cooking. Cars, gardening, marketing? It's all the same thing. Ensure your content can be found by that audience. Make yourself known. Build a community. Don't just throw it out to every channel you have and hope it sticks. Spend time to target your content at who will engage with your content. I'd take a single engaged reader over 50 readers that bounce after 3 seconds.

A4: Your need two things - personality and passion. Perhaps it's cliche, but I believe it's the key to both good writing and more importantly, good reading.

One of my favourite quotes ever is by Dr Seuss "There is no one alive who is Youer than You". I try to make that quote is the foundation of everything I write.

There are millions of people writing millions of posts every single day, a lot of it is run off the mill, generic content that could've been written by anyone. 99% of the time I find these posts boring as hell, so I don't read it and never come back. If I find those boring, then I'm fairly sure a lot of other people will too, so I definitely don't want to create something people find boring and never come back.

Being passionate and giving your writing a personality is key. Be yourself. Being yourself is what makes your blog stand out from the millions of other generic posts. When you believe what you are writing is awesome, readers will come along on that journey with you. Don't try to be someone else, no one is Youer than you.

Follow Daylan on Twitter | Follow Daylan on Google+

14. Harris Schachter: "Be original and give people a reason to continue to come back in the future."

harris schachterA1: I decided to start my own blog during the summer of 2012 in order to contribute to the community at large. After years of reading other peoples' content, advancing my knowledge and career and gaining valuable experience, I wanted to give back and hopefully provide this same opportunity for other people. I made the OptimizePrime site to give myself a platform to share my resources and ideas. Another reason why I started it was to give more substance to my personal brand.

 

tweets

A2: My own strategy was just to come up with highly original content, and not just regurgitate what is already out there. Although this limits my publishing to about once a month, I try to make them the most valuable they can be. Although traffic and visitors weren't my original goal, I appreciate that they're materialized after putting so much time into it. I usually come up with an idea when I'm doing something completely mundane like driving in the car, and just continue to refine it until I have enough to write about. Real data is always helpful too, because personally I don't find as much value in reading people's opinions than I do in hard numbers.

A3: I do not make any money from my personal blog or capitalize on it in any material form. This might change in the future, but for now I'm just happy to have an avenue to share ideas and provide people a way to learn more about me.

A4: Although I sound like a broken record, and everyone says this, but the best advice I can give is to provide value which is not found anywhere else. Be original and give people a reason to continue to come back in the future. Try not to have traffic or money in the forefront of your mind because that dilutes the substance. They might come with time, but if you're publishing content you might as well make it the best it can possibly be.

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15. Bill Sebald: "Be patient, be social, embrace your artistic side, don't be shy, be yourself."

bill sebaldA1: Blogging started for me in April 2008 (and yes, I did have to look at my WordPress archives).  To be honest I did it because that's what every SEO was doing and recommending. Back then we used to all believe blogging was the best way to get Google's attention (perhaps some still do).  We were introducing corporate blogs to big brands at every turn.  Blogging was still a relatively underused platform and not the buzzword it later became.  I fancied myself a writer before 2008 (I wrote a movie treatment that got picked up and had an SEO book deal for a hot minute), but writing on Greenlane's blog turned not only fun, but educational.  I believe sometimes you can learn more from teaching the class than sitting in audience.  By having readers it makes you think more about what you have to say, and do more homework before you commit words to pixels. Especially in SEO, where peers aren't shy to call you out on your lack of thought, insight or experience, it can ultimately pressure you to think before you speak.  That pressure helps develop your real skills.

A2: Nothing has worked like Twitter.  I was always active, always sharing, always commenting, and always making friends.  Most of my referring traffic comes from Twitter to this day.  Digg, StumbleUpon, and social bookmarking sites were duds.  But ultimately finding more relevant niche groups, like Inbound.org, Sphinn (dead) or subgroups in Reddit and the like, were much more successful.  They sent qualified visits. Other than that, the only other technique was SEO – using keyword research to figure out what people are searching but hasn't been written about.  To this day my biggest post is one from 4 years ago about how to auto-reply on Twitter.  It was a trendy tactic that rightfully ran out of gas, but I still get searches for it today.  I came up with the idea after doing keyword research.

A3: I've seen affiliates do really, really good with ads.  Native ads work (despite feeling dirty sometimes).  Personally though, I've never really monetized from my blog, except that I made a name for myself by being a blogger (somewhat).  According to GA goals, my posts have definitely brought prospects to our company.

A4:

  1. Be patient.  I didn't get my rhythm for years. I didn't truly find my voice until about two years ago.
  2. Be social.  Share (i.e., network) the heck out of yourself with other like-minded (and similar themed) bloggers, and work together to promote each other's best material.
  3. Embrace your artistic side.  Writing is an artform – even if you feel more like a geek than an artist, embrace the artform and constantly think about what can make your posts better than all the others.  Think outside your box.
  4. Don't be shy.  Commenting is part of blogging; if you get ripped apart, simply attend to your community. Don't be afraid to write and stand up for what you believe, but also don't fear having a change of heart out of a good argument.  Socratic method never hurt anyone!
  5. Above all, be yourself.  If the top 4 don't necessary feel like ''you'', and you can't pull it off, no problem.  Default to whoever you really are.  I'm pretty sure I can sniff out someone who's playing a character when they write, and assume other can as well.  If you're a sweetheart in real life, be one online.  If you're an egomaniac, be one online. People equate the content with the author in blogging.  Blogs are not like faceless textbooks in high school.

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16. Himanshu Sharma: "Understand that the success in blogging is not a sprint, it is a marathon."

himanshu sharmaA1: Before I started my own blog, I was regularly contributing to the SEOChat forum and was getting good feedback from the members. From there I got the inspiration to start my own blog. I like sharing what I learn. So I have always been genuinely interested in blogging. Blogging has made me a better marketer, as it forces me to make things simple, it forces me to improve my understanding of a topic. Because if I can't explain it to others, I don't understand it well enough.

A2: I believe that quality is more important than quantity. So I invest lot of time in writing a blog post. The average turnaround time for a single blog post is around 8 to 10 hours. Sometimes a post can take 40 to 50 hours to write and research, sometimes even months. For example, it took me around 3 months to write various posts related to SEO contracts like this one: SEO Contract | Sample SEO Contract Template. In case of this post, I spent a lot of time in understanding how contracts work, what the terminology used in the contract actually mean, how to find loopholes and how a contract can be made null and void.

 Another example is this blog post: Introducing Predictive Marketing – The next stage of Business OptimizationRead more. This blog post is on 'predictive marketing' and is like 40 pages long and it took me around 50 hours to write it.

Lot of my blogging time is spend on deciding how to structure my blog post i.e. how I should present the information so that my topic is incredibly easy to understand, as I write mostly about technical topics.  It is like creating a lesson plan. If I have to put a price tag on my blog posts, then each blog post cost me on an average $2000-$3000 of my consulting time. So blogging is not cheap for me at all.

I always try to keep all of my blog posts up to date. Most of the content on my blog is evergreen content. This result in lot of social sharing, new and repeat visits. I have a very strong social media presence esp. on Facebook. More than 2300 Facebook fans. I run two groups of my own on LinkedIn. Both of these groups have got hundreds of members. My blog has got around 3000 subscribers, most of them have subscribed through email. Other than that, there is always someone kind enough to promote my posts on Inbound and Hacker News. I also promote my contents through various linkedin groups. I get lot of traffic from LinkedIn and Facebook. I also use Google+ and StumbleUpon for promotion, but traffic is miniscule. I tried LinkedIn ads once and it didn't work.

A4: You need to understand that the success in blogging is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You can't achieve success overnight. So you need to be consistent and patient. Find a topic you are passionate about it and just stick to it. When I started blogging I was writing about everything from link building, technical SEO to social media marketing. It didn't help me a bit in getting traffic or recognition. It is only when I found my true passion in web analytics and started writing about it, day in and day out, I started to get traction. So write what you are passionate about. Finally do blogging only if you love it. If you can't love it then you won't be able to blog for long.

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17. Ann Smarty: "Be very patient: popular blogs are not born overnight."

ann smartyA1: Seven years ago my boss wanted me to learn SEO. I started a blog to better organize my knowledge and what I was learning. Also, when you do your research for the next blog post, you dig out more information, so your learning process becomes more indepth and motivated.

Blogging turned out to be a successful learning tool. If I were a teacher, my homework would be to start a free blog to post weekly as you learn :)

Here's a quick story of my start with some details.

A2/a: Basically I was doing the following:

  • Actively participating in the industry communities (at that time these were Sphinn and SEOmoz. I tried keeping in at the forums discussions as well, so SEOchat, Google Webmaster forums, etc. I didn't have much time to be dedicated to them, so I was focusing on the major two)
  • Guest blogging (I adopted guest blogging very early and it resulted in MyBlogGuest much later)
  • "Fake it till you make it" :)

A2/b: Social bookmarking (the term we should forget now) turned out to be a big fail to me. I was under the impression that I was only supposed to share my own stories and struggled making them hot. It took me a while before I understood how to make my way within bookmarking community!

A3: Never done this. None of my blogs has ads. I use them to promote my freemium platforms (MyBlogGuest and ViralContentBuzz)

A4: Be very patient: popular blogs are not born overnight. But if you are passionate about the topic you are blogging, you'll succeed!

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18. Natzir Turrado: "One outstanding useful post always works better than twenty low quality posts."

natzir turradoA1: Firstly in 2006 I've created a WordPress Blog just to start experimenting with the SEO, to test some techniques that I've found powerful and to elaborate my own methods of work in this field.  Later in 2010 I've launched my professional blog to share my knowledge and to become known in professional circles. And I have to say that it worked successfully.

A2: In the case of my professional blog my goal was to promote myself like a SEO-specialist, to present my services and to gain some clients. So, I was writing articles dedicated a digital marketing, SEO and cool digital analytics methods to gain readers and subscribers impassioned like me by the digital world. Also I actively participate in different events dedicated to the digital field and marketing online. And to gain more visitors and subscribers I post summary reports about this events promptly. I did this with Clinic SEO event, and it really works.

As well as SEO I was using social media power to give to my content more visibility. So, I was diffusing my new posts through social media platforms with influencers' help.

Normally when I publish something I use two life cycles of a post: the first one is a ''social media'' cycle when I spread the article through social media (1-7 days) and the second one is the SEO cycle when I bring a new life to the article using SEO-methods to promote it.

For the first cycle I use sensationalist titles (with an SEO friendly url) and when the cycle ends I change the title of blog post for SEO purposes.  I recommend making an analysis of search queries that work good for your blog topic and use them in your article title. In those titles I use words like '"Best'", ''How to'', ''Free'', ''Tips'' to improve CTR in SERP. This is a Neil Patel's trick that works.

In my opinion in case of blog promotion for selling consultation services the quality always wins over the quantity. I mean that one outstanding useful post always works better than twenty low quality posts. You can write occasionally but always getting to the heart of the matter. This shows to your future clients that you know about your topic and you don't spend your day writing, you spend your day busy working hard.

A3: In my case I make money selling my consulting services. In case of other blog projects that I'm dealing with, selling video courses and eBooks works great. Another method that brings less money is the participation in affiliation programs and selling sponsored articles (always with nofollow attribute). Finally you can sell advertising space on you blog or use AdSense for example.  If you decide to use AdSense (or another ad program) my advice is to reduce the number of ads. With multiple ads the CTR is distributed more and the attention of your visitors can be lost.  The size of banners is important in this case – different sizes work in different ways. I've found that for my blogs that the sizes of 336-280 and 300-250 pixels are the most effective.

A4: SEO strategy should be taken into account on the blog development level firstly, when you define the categories and tags to avoid the duplication and thin content. And it should have SEO-oriented architecture.

At the content level it's important to be consistent in post writing (especially in the beginning) and do not expect short-term results. I always recommend choosing a topic that isn't only interesting to you but also it should be the field where you can contribute and add value, bring something new and useful to the community. Once you've done with it you can communicate with other specialists in the chosen topic and make relations with them to share the knowledge and opinions and to help each other to promote your content.

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What are your top blogging tips? How did you start? Share stories in the comments below.



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