For all the years I’ve been writing about blogging and for all the articles on this blog that are about blogging (more than 25% are specifically about blogging), I almost never get any email from anyone asking questions that I’ve either covered or not covered. That means everyone who’s online must already know these things… right?
Maybe not. A few weeks ago I got an email from someone who’s just started blogging, something that still happens on occasion. I’ve done a lot of videos on the subject, which are on my YouTube channel (look over there on the right), but they don’t get a lot of juice over there; that’s why I still blog about blogging… an interesting conundrum, isn’t it?
Therefore, I decided to not only write about it, but not necessarily include the questions. I’m only posting answers, 6 in fact, because I think that’s enough to give enough information to be helpful. This is called being creative because I’m sure I’ve written some of these things before in a different way. It never hurts to reinforce stuff as long as you can find a way to change it up I say.
Let’s get on with it.
First, the best way to grow a blog is to promote it in a few different ways. The fastest is blog commenting, though that can be a bit more time consuming. If people love your comments they’ll often follow you back to your space. This is my favorite way of getting the job done, but not the only way.
Many people who suggest blog commenting say it’s best to try to find blogs that are in your niche to do it. That’s not a bad idea but don’t be so finite that it’s hard to find blogs that fit.
For instance, if you’re writing material that might apply mainly to younger people, it wouldn’t hurt you to find some sites geared towards younger people, or young people making it good. Someone whose radar wouldn’t hurt to get on is Chelsea Krost, a millennial who’s got a TV show and is an up and comer.
Another place is on Twitter, as there are lots of Twitter applications that allow you to schedule posts to go live later, sometimes 6 months to a year in advance. You can also schedule previous posts as well as add hashtags. That strategy works great.
LinkedIn is one last place to advertise yourself. You can write articles specifically for LinkedIn in your niche and put your links in the content that match up with what you’re talking about. They also give you the opportunity to add tags at the end of each post; the problem with that is they define the tags, so you either have to try to fit into one of their options or take a chance and don’t use one at all; let the people find you.
You can also add links to your blogs or your videos; add a brief descriptions, post a link and you’re good to go. Just make sure it’s got something to do with business or a current social issue; otherwise the attention you get might not be what you’re looking for.
Second, guest posting is a way to help get noticed… kind of. I have to admit I’m not all that big on guest posting as a strategy, though it’s touted often enough. The problems with guest posting are:
* the audience might not follow you back
* The owner of the blog might not like your style
* you could end up being one of those people who Google contacts and says your link strategy is dodgy and then you’ll have to contact people to remove your links and get some of them (like me) to be irked with you. lol
* if you never go back to see if there are comments and respond to them, you’re wasting everyone’s time and might as well not do it at all
Having said that, if you want to pursue a guest posting strategy, find either high ranking blogs or try to get onto something like Huffington Post (yup, they’re still around). Those are considered authority sites and there’s no way you can get in trouble there… unless what you say isn’t true. If you know how to write but might not be ready for HuffPo, there are lots of other blogging sites or even places like Medium (I’m not a fan, but a lot of people use it). You can always use search engines to find blogs that accept guest posts on your topic.
Third, think about hosting your own site instead of using WordPress.com, Blogger, etc. The reason is that free blog sites are somewhat restrictive if you have bigger plans for your blog or business. It’s hard to market products through them, as well as setting up PPC (pay per click )campaigns. If you’re either hoping to get consulting gigs and clients or entice advertisers, you definitely need to be self hosted. Owning a blog that you’re paying for eliminates any potential hassles and totally protects your content.
You do need to know that it’s not always easy to do things on your own initially. There are lots of things to learn, whether you use WordPress software (like I do), Drupal, Joomla or any other types of nlog platforms or software. Once you figure the basics out you’ll be fine. If you want to learn more you can always go to the search engines for more help; YouTube is also a great source of information.
Fourth… I hesitate to bring this one up since I stopped on one of my blogs, but you could allow guest posting. I used to allow it on my finance blog, which I no longer have, and truthfully, at one point my blog was ranked really high because of guest posts.
However, I’m an independent consultant, and once I started traveling more I found that the time to correct so many horribly written posts didn’t feel like a great use of my time. I might have been making around $500 a month via advertising but that wasn’t enough to get the bills paid. And when those letters started arriving asking me to remove links… oy (I think those days have passed)!
If that doesn’t bother you then go for it. A better strategy is to every once in a while ask someone you trust to write a guest post for you if you’re comfortable with it. That way they look like more of an authority and your readers will like that. I’ve done that for many people over the years, written something for them based on a request, but only people whom I’ve talked to at least a year online, or when someone’s in trouble. At this point it’s been quite a few years since I’ve done it; I believe I’m pretty much out of that game now, but I’m sure you can find someone if that’s what you want to pursue.
Fifth, let’s talk about quality vs quantity. It’s not too early to talk about this, even if you might not have much quantity early on.
The question some ask often is which is better. The truth is… it depends.
There’s been this discussion for years about whether it’s better to write 3 or 4 posts a week with length between 400 and 500 words or one really long post a week that’s between 3,000 and 10,000 words (yeah, scary isn’t it?). It’s not a simple thing to answer.
For each of these, one has to determine whether the content is high quality content or not. This is something you’ll see many people mention as the basis for all blogs but not define; at the link I shared I tell you what it is.
Say you’re writing a blog that’s like a tutorial, and you cover only one aspect of what you’re teaching per post. Probably each post will be relatively short, but it’s probably high quality because you’re teaching something, and writing 3 or 4 articles a week like that would be great.
As long as you’re not leaving stuff out that makes your advice worthless, that’s good content. However, if you’re writing something and you say “write good content” and that’s it, that’s bad content because not only didn’t you explain what it is, but you said the same thing thousands of people before you said.
One more thing before I go to long posts. A reality is the more you write, the higher your blog will rank, and there “might” more possibilities that your articles will be promoted on search engines for keywords and keyword phrases.
The problem is twofold.
One, high rankings don’t always equate to lots of traffic nor targeted traffic, which you care about if you’re hoping to do any type of business with others. Thus, you need to keep an eye on your visits and other things that involve traffic; I’ll come back to that.
Two, search engines are picky and can be punitive. If the bots believe you’re trying to game the system they won’t treat you nicely. Years ago there were sites that had content like. They paid lots of people low dollars to create content between 450 and 500 words. Then one day (literally, one day!), Google penalized most of those sites, and even blogs, for what they considered a lousy content… and those sites no longer exist. So, if you’re going to try playing that game, you better make sure your shorter content is bringing value that the search engines will agree with.
Long posts… let’s begin here. I used to be considered as someone who writes lots of long posts; I probably still am. Last June, on my business blog, I wrote a post that came to over 8,000 words because I celebrated my 20th year as an independent consultant and wrote some thoughts about it all. I didn’t start out planning on it being that long (pretty much like this post); it just turned out that way… check it out, even if you have to read it in stages. 🙂
These days, people are advocating really long posts; I already gave numbers above. I’ve seen some brilliant long posts… just not all that many. What’s the problem?
Once again, the problems are twofold.
One, many of the long posts will repeat things over and over. They don’t seem to be all that focused. I made a comparison in a video talking about blog post length (and Kool Aid; check it out lol) with kids who used to have to write 10 page papers in school, and how they’d write 4 pages and, because they didn’t know what to do next, would start repeating things they’d already said to stretch papers out. If teachers hated reading those papers, you can believe no one wants to read that type of thing on your blog.
Two, they put so many things into a single post that it might as well be a booklet that someone can print. You don’t want to confuse the reader, or bore them to death. Tutorials in this fashion work great; not many other types of posts do.
Before you go that route, think seriously about it beforehand. The people who write one really long post a week (sometimes one every 2 weeks) put a lot of time and research into it. Some folks burn out having to write what’s essentially a term paper every 2 weeks. If I had to do that I probably wouldn’t still be blogging after 17 years, which I’m up to right now. Some of my articles might be pretty long, but I’m never going to be Neil Patel.
Before I go to #6, let me say that I started out with the intention of writing 10 answers. Then I noticed how long this article is already, so I’m shortening it and getting to one last really good question to answer. You can thank me later. 🙂
Sixth, if you have a business it’s not imperative that you have a blog, but it can certainly help. I wrote about businesses and blogging some years ago. If you check out that post you’ll see links to tons of other blogging tips that will be helpful; I promise.
In that post I talked about having a better presence on search engines than your competitors if you have a blog, but didn’t say why. The reason is that most businesses set up a blog, hopefully have someone who optimized it well enough so that search engines know what they do, and never touch it again until they want to update the site later on.
Search engines love new content. They send out what’s called spiders or bots (depends on who you’re talking to) throughout the internet looking to see what’s old and new. Sites with new content get visited more regularly, which is good if you’re adding great content (refer to the link above) that keeps highlighting what you talk about or what your business does. Sites that don’t do anything will fall, and unless it’s a niche with very few people in it, they’ll get no search engine benefit from being online.
As a for instance, I write the blog for my accountant’s firm (we trade my articles for free accounting; yeah!). Out of all the accountants in town, her site is the highest ranked in the area for accounting services. There are better known and much bigger companies than hers, but she really only has one true competitor when it comes to online rankings. That’s with only 1 or 2 new articles a month; if I was writing once a week it wouldn’t be a contest. 🙂
I think that’s enough for now; I’m tired! I think I’ve given some value to this topic; y’all can let me know if I’ve achieved that goal.
What do you think of my advice? Anything you want to add? Anything you want to ask about? Let me know.