20 tips for successful blog writing (from a relatively new blogger!)

I'm a relatively new blogger - having only been blogging for the past 6 months, but my passion for blogging is relentless and my appetite HUGE.  I've learned quite a bit about blogging over the past few months - and and keen to continue with this curve.  But meanwhile, I thought I'd share my 'hands on' Top 20 tips with you:

1) Keep your posts relatively short. Having researched blogging to a good degree - then 500-800 words seems to be a good benchmark.  Short and concise is ok.

2) Keep your posts varied. Have some posts that are very factual - drawing on information that will help the users. Make some light and humorous so that the user understands that whilst you know your stuff, you're not taking life too seriously. And they get an insight to your personality. Make some posts a little controversial or challenging the user - to stimulate conversation.

Prior to this post I ran a series of Marketing Plan Template posts - breaking up a plan template I created - not sure this was the best way to do things as I lost a subscriber (ouch) but hey, you live and learn.

3) Always watch your spellings. Poor spelling really does hinder credibility.

4) Use images in a post to break up the text and add some relevant interest. Check out www.flickr.com or www.istockphoto.com or www.fotolia.co.uk for some cheap yet very good quality shots.

5) Create interesting headings. The piece of advice I came across (Hubspot webinar which was pretty useful) advised that you should write the headline imagining that the user won't even see the article. So the headline has to grab attention and tell the story.

6) Use keywords where you can - in headers and throughout the content of the article.

7) Keep it going. Stick to a tight publishing schedule. Blogging pays off over time - it's a marathon rather than a sprint and it takes time to build up relevant and optimised content. I set my schedule to publish 3 times a week.  And I've posted twice today, which is unusual!

8) Insert a call to action such as Subscribe to Blog on the site so that users can easily subscribe. I use www.feedblitz.com but there are many others www.feedburner.com is popular too.

9) Claim your blog on Technorati - Google Blogsearch and Technorati are the two main ways that people search for blogs. That way others can find your blog.

10) Promote links to your blog on your website and in email footers, businesscards and other off and online relevant marketing materials.

11) Get your blog noticed by publishing links on social media vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Linked In (all social spaces relevant to your industry).

12) Try and provide one piece of practical 'how to' advice in each blog post. That way the user will learn that you are always going to provide something useful.

13) Don't focus your posts around selling your products - users will switch off to this. What you should be focusing on is positioning yourself as someone, or a business, that is able to share advice, news and information which will prove useful to your readers. Remember, blogging is not about directly ‘selling’ your services – it’s a platform where you can advise and share information and knowledge about your products, services or expertise. Perfect ‘conversational’ marketing.

14) Be creative with where you procure your content – if you have published materials offline, then recreate them online. Duplicate content is a spiders web and I’m still figuring out what you can and can’t do (more on that in a later post) but what is clear is that you can post links to your site – and encourage the user to read the entire post via your site. (Hence why a great attention grabbing headline is necessary!). Top 10, 20 lists are good (hey, I’m practising what I preach) – but keep your posts mixed, don’t make every post a list! (Back to point 2 above).

15) Write short excerpts of your blog post – not duplicating the content – but summarising what your post and blog is about. Creating a short excerpt which is unique content each time, is a good tactic for giving users a taste of what the blog post is about, enables you to use keywords within the excerpt – and you can post this to social media sites to share news about your blog in a safe (non duplicate content way).

16) Follow the leader – if you find a respected and popular blogger/expert who focuses on areas you are interested in, your business area, subject etc – then write a post commenting on their post. Always cite the name of the author and provide the url directly back to the post you are talking about. This way you are joining ‘high volume’ and relevant and targeted conversations. And if you’re views matter – then they will be picked up on by others reading the ‘leaders’ blog. I haven’t been doing this – so can’t provide you with any direct feedback on how this works. But it’s a tactic that seems to make sense and I do follow certain bloggers and so I will start commenting and citing their opinions in future blog posts and see if that provides any traction to my blog.

17) As well as having a formal call to action – such as subscribe to blog, always ensure you include a link at the bottom of your blog post encouraging the user to subscribe and citing your blog’s URL. You’ll see that I do this below… (don’t forget to use the http:// before the www. url to ensure it links).

18) Be prepared to review lots of blogs, see what’s working for others and learn about blogging the hands on way. I’m new to blogging and whilst I love it – I learn new things about it every day… I don’t have to accept everything I read – but I am open to learning.

19) Join relevant forums and start joining in conversations – I recently joined http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk – and I throw in a blog post thread into the forum for debate. I recently did this with a post titled: Is your ringtone part of your personal brand. It caused quite a response on the forum – and is still adding traction to my blog. I don’t recommend doing this every time you are on the forum as people will think you are just there to flog your blog – but you can throw a post in occasionally, particularly if it’s worthy of debate – or relevant to a topic.

20) Always keep the user in mind. Remember, people are more interested in what you can do for them than what you do – so add value via your blog posts – and they will come and keep coming…

Happy blogging.

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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.