To mark this week's launch of the IMAGE.ie Blog Awards, we're taking a look at 10 top tips for successful blogging.
Though blogging may appear on the surface as something quite easy to do, creating and maintaining a successful blog is no mean feat - just ask the experts. In an age where everyone and anyone can set up a WordPress account, having an original idea is only the first hurdle in going the distance. Whether you're toying with the idea of starting a blog, or wondering how to make a lasting impression in a saturated blogosphere, here we compile a few handy tips to keep in mind.
1. Do what you do, and do it well.
The last thing you want is to become a jack of all trades and a master of none; if you try to cover too much on your blog, it'll be hard to become known as an authority or an interesting voice in one particular area. Decide what it is you can write about or discuss well and stick to it. If you're a foodie, stick to recipes, reviews and all things food related rather than incorporating another subject altogether into your blog.
2. Don't be afraid to use your own voice.
The best blogs are those that stand out from the crowd with their own unique voice. Chances are, what you're writing about has already been written about a gazillion times before, so to add some originality and garner some attention, it's imperative that you put your own spin on things.
3. Build an audience with social media.
Your work on social media is just as important as the content on your blog, if not more so. It's through social media that potential readers will find your stuff; if you're not getting this part right, you won't get the traffic to your blog and all that hard work will go unnoticed. Be sure to post everything on social media in an engaging way that encourages discussion. Get chatting with those who interact with your posts.
4. Identify your target audience.
Figure out who it is you want your content to reach and be mindful of that demographic with every post. Write with confidence and don't be afraid of not pleasing everyone. Even the most successful blogs have their naysayers, it's a part of life. If you try to pander to all likes and tastes, you run the risk of winding up with very lukewarm content. Just go for it, it's your blog after all.
5. Don't fear the trolls.
If you're making waves online and have garnered the reaction of a few keyboard warriors, then pat yourself on the back; you're doing well. Trolling is an unfortunate part of blogging. For some strange reason, you will come across those who just like to be negative, and sometimes plain abusive, so it's important to know how to handle them. If repeat trolling offenders get personally abusive, just save yourself the hassle and have them blocked. More often than not, it's better not to engage with trolls; this is what they want! Also be aware that people are more inclined to comment on something when they feel negatively towards it. This doesn't mean people aren't liking your content, it's just that those who like it are more likely to read it, enjoy it and move on.
6. Prioritise your aesthetic.
Regardless of how good your writing is or how interesting/funny/informative it may be, if your blog ?isn't aesthetically pleasing, you'll struggle to get it off the ground. Be sure to make use of lots of imagery. The best blogs come with original photography so get snapping. You don't even need a fancy camera for this, a decent camera phone will do the trick. Ensure that all of your blog posts are complete with at least one or two nice images and you'll encourage far more sharing (which is what you want!) than large chunks of undigestible text.
7. The importance of headlines.
You may have written a brilliant, witty piece about the perils of dating in Dublin, for example, but unless your content is packaged in the right way, it will fail to grow legs. Blog post headlines or titles are massively important. Think of what you'd be likely to click into online, should you give it all away in the headline? Or should you create a little intrigue? We cannot stress the importance of headlines enough. Get thinking!
8. Quality over content.
When building your blog from the ground up, you're far better off writing fewer decent pieces than lots and lots of smaller pieces just to pad out your blog. It'll take a while to get going, but in time you'll be glad to have a body of work that you're proud to stand behind. Focus on creating content that will be shared for its quality and just make sure to be consistent.
9. Immerse yourself in analytics.
Google analytics is a great tool for tracking everything from how many people are on your blog right now, and where in the world they're coming from, to how individual posts are performing and most important of all, your monthly traffic totals. This is hugely important in terms of growth; if you don't know what's doing well, and more importantly what's not, you won't figure out how best to continue. If you fail to get to grips with your statistical reporting, you may as well be playing darts whilst blindfolded. Don't worry though, it's easy.
10. Get networking.
Last but by no means least, it's very important to get out there meeting people and build a strong offline presence. Get yourself along to lots of PR events, blogger breakfasts, networking events and what have you and begin to put faces to names, all the while getting your blog out there. The more you do this, the more opportunities you create for your blog, the more integrity your blog will earn and the more you will become known as a blogger worth paying attention to.
Any blogging tips you'd care to share? Join the conversation in the comments box below. And don't forget, enter your blog right here!
Caroline Foran @CarolineForan