Running a successful blog, especially if you want that blog to be a business, requires a combination of strategies. It's not just about marketing, branding, and SEO - but also about blogging from the heart.
That's the advice from ProBlogger founder Darren Rowse. Your content has to engage the reader, and you have to build a community of people that respects your style and looks to you for more than just simple information.
"Content plus branding plus ads plus seo plus marketing plus link bait plus design equals successful blogging. Not necessarily. What I found to be true is that it's really where the heart and the smart come together."
Here are some key tips for blogging from the heart:
- Passion: "If you want an engaged readership you need to be engaged with your readers and your readers need to be engaged with each other." Successful blogs have writers and an audience that are all truly interesting in the topics they cover.
- Tell Stories: This is all about being unique to your readers. When you tell stories to your audience, it creates engagement. "Write the type of posts that create memories with your readers."
- Build Community: Remember, everyone can provide information. Do something more.
- Inspire People: "When you inspire, something amazing happens on your blog. The inspiration can motivate your readers. Inspire people first, then inform."
- Be Personal: A good way to build you brand is to bring your own life into your blog.
- Be Playful
- Be Yourself
- But remember to be useful. "If you can help people solve their problems, you are blogging from the heart."
Blogging from the heart is important, but it's not everything. It's about being smart.
"I began to hear a spectrum of disillusionment. People think that if you blog from the heart, good things will happen to you. But blogging from the heart is not enough.
If you want to be a business with your blog, treat it as one today."
To do this, Rowse says you have to define what "success" means to you. You have to have a plan for what you want your blog to achieve in one year, in five years, and beyond. You have to focus on branding, which can be thought of as "what you want people to say about you when you're not in the room."
How can you grab an audience and keep them? It's about "hooks."
"How are you going to make readers stick to your blog? It may mean some sort of social media. Perhaps the biggest hook is email or Twitter or rss or Facebook or Flickr. What do you want your readers to do? We know that if we can get people to subscribe to our email and signup for our Twitter or Facebook, then we have them hooked."
In the end, don't be afraid to try new things.
"Experiment, test and tweak. I am constantly trying new things. I had this crazy idea of trying to write 31 posts in 31 days. It had a very positive response. We then put this together in an e-book, which was our first product. We have now sold over $300,000 worth of our e-books."