It seems to me that we bloggers get caught up in thinking about monetizing our blogs, or the design elements, or SEO; while the major focus of our time should be on our writing.
I’m often asked how I got over 136,000 readers for my blog, and the answer I offer folks might seem like there’s some trick that I do not want to share with them.
This is the answer. This is how you become successful as a blogger: create exceptional content, and the readers will come. Content is king, as they say, and that should be the focus of 90% of your efforts.
Content is King
Are there other things that matter in creating a successful blog? Sure there are, but they don’t matter nearly as much as some people think they do. Yes, it’s important to network with your fellow bloggers, and the theme you choose matters, and social media is the sort of tool you could leverage in order to find more readers, but the truth is that as much as these things are useful, they are not nearly as important as the content itself.
Which leaves us with the question: how does one write great content?
It’s actually quite simple, but not easy. I’m still trying to figure a lot of things out myself. For instance, I believe that:
Rule #1: Write something your readers would pay money for.
You must consider your reader; great content is focussed on your reader — not on yourself, your ads, your blogger friends, or anyone else but the reader.
What are your reader’s needs, wants, hopes, dreams? What problems does he have in his daily life that you can solve?
Now simply write a blog post that will solve one of his problems. Offer him the resources, practical tips, links, and tools he needs to solve that problem.
Always aim to over-deliver, because this is what few ever do. Think of it: every blogger is saving his best ideas and content to sell as an e-book, or for some later time when they’ll have more influence and readers.
Write your best content now. Write the kind of content other bloggers are asking money for, and watch what happens.
Rule #2: Write great headlines.
I always tell my clients they should write the headline first (and then come back to it to make it better later).
Because the few words that make up the headline are the most important ones in your post. Most readers will read your post in the WordPress Reader or come across it on a search engine or another blog that links to your post. In all of these examples, just about the only thing they’ll see before making a decision about whether to read the post is your headline.
If the headline is catchy, they’ll read more. If it’s not, you’ve just lost a reader.
And just so you know, about 90% of all those who stumble upon a blog post never read past the headline and introduction.
Rule #3: Take into consideration the fact that most readers are scanners.
You’ve got your great topic, your killer headline, and an extremely useful post. Your reader decides to give your post a few seconds of his time.
But if your post is made of a huge block of text, he’s not going to read until the end.
Readers are quite busy, so they are picky with their time. And no reader is going to give you even a little bit of their time unless they’re damn certain what’s in the content.
Don’t force your readers to dig through endless paragraphs in order to know what your post is about. They won’t do it — they’ll move on quickly to the next item in his feed reader.
Rule #4: Write in a conversational style.
They’re not going to give you a Nobel Prize for Literature because of one or two blog posts. And you shouldn’t feel like writing is the act of picking up bizarre sounding words from a Thesaurus.
The great writing manual, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, instructs us to avoid fancy words and to omit unnecessary ones.
Pretend that you’re having a conversation with a friend, and write like that. Then go back and edit out sentences and words that are unnecessary.
To paraphrase Elmore Leonard, if it sounds like writing, rewrite it.
There is no fail-proof formula, there is no perfect how-to guide.
Rules are meant to be bent or broken.
Write from the heart, write about what sets your soul on fire, for this is what gets people hooked on your blog.
What do you think? Is content still king? What is the perfect ratio of time to be spent between writing content and promoting content?