Do you know how to become a successful blogger?
If you’re reading this, the answer is probably closer to a “no,” but that’s about to change.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “everyone can sing, but not everyone can sing well?”
This is true of blogging too. These days, anyone can do it – but without the proper preparation or execution, not everyone does it well. And the people who don’t do it well probably didn’t think through everything required to create and maintain a successful blog.
Luckily, you won’t be someone who’s bad at it, because you’re reading this post.
And we’ve got what you need.
The hardest part of becoming a successful blogger? Starting.
By the time you reach the end of this post, you’ll be armed and ready to take on blogging. You’ll learn:
- 7 steps to become the successful blogger you’ve always dreamed of being
- Advice from blogging veterans to get you pumped
Do you want to know how to become a successful blogger? This is where you start.
“How do I become a successful blogger?” We know how…
When you look up how to become a successful blogger, you’ll find a mixed bag of content that stands on one of two sides.
- Technological. Lots of information about the mechanics of setting up a blog involving your domain name, your hosting platform, and more.
- Emotional. Here’s where you’ll find information that pokes deeper at why you’re trying to blog at all, finding inspiration, being creative, and focusing on growth.
The thing is, both of these are important when you are trying to become a successful blogger. There really aren’t sides.
Equal part tech and emotion required.
When you’re getting a blog off the ground, you can’t have one without the other. To blog, you need to have that tech side covered – but without the emotion and creativity and motivation, you’ll have nothing to actually use a hosting platform for.
Which is why in these next 7 steps, both sides are represented to give you the most complete picture of how it all works together:
- Define why you’re writing
- Know your audience (and really do your research)
- Choose a platform
- Come up with content ideas
- Create your content
- Publish and promote your content
- Get the other tools you need
Step 1: Define why you’re writing
Why do you write?
You have something to say to someone you think you can help, and only you can say it.
But that’s definitely easier said than done. You need to think about it, and actually define your answer.
So, literally ask yourself:
- What do you want to say?
- Who do you think you can help?
- What do you feel like you have a unique take on?
Maybe you want to:
- Inspire and teach others
- Share an interest
- Connect with more people
- Create your own job
- Make some money
- Become more intentional about life
- Become a better thinker
- Become a better writer
Whatever your reason, know it. Your writing and blogging will be much harder without it.
“Other people have already written about this. Why would anyone read my content?”
Yeah, it’s true. People write about the same stuff over and over and over again. There’s no denying it, and there’s no stopping it.
A lot of the same
pineapples content out there already
But guess what? It’s ok!
As Jimmy Daly says, “do it better or do it differently.”
It doesn’t matter if people have already written about what you want to write about. All that matters for your own blog is that you have your own angle and voice.
After that, it’s ok if other people are still writing about the same stuff as you, or if tons of people still haven’t heard of your content yet. As long as you are writing for an audience who does like what you have to say, it’s all good.
Remember – you don’t need to reach everyone.
You don’t need to reach millions of people. If you have a small group of people who care about what you have to say, that’s enough.
Starting small is part of the process.
Step 2: Know your audience (and really do your research)
If you wanted to be a writer (or, totally hypothetically, a blogger), one of the books you might read is Stephen King’s On Writing.
What if you wanted to write about writing? How would you come up with blog ideas, or know what people care about?
You read the Amazon reviews. Like this one.
This is a GOLD MINE of blog ideas (Source: Amazon)
Read this review (one review!) and you have all the blog post ideas you need:
- “I could ‘hear’ Mr. King’s ‘voice’ in my head” becomes a post like How to Get Your Readers to Hear Your Voice in Their Heads
- “I breathed a sigh of relief when I got the feeling that writing classes and clubs are kind of a waste of time” becomes a post like Are Writing Classes a Waste of Time?
- “Don’t share your stuff unless you share it with someone you can trust” becomes a post like What If I’m Afraid to Show Other People My Writing?
There are so many ideas you could pull out of this! I could keep going with posts like…
- How Much Description is Too Much?
- Where Are the Best Places to Write?
- “Adjective Repetition” Might Be Killing Your Writing
I’ll stop now.
But look at all those ideas! From one Amazon review!
This is what it means to “know your audience.”
When you write, people will feel like you’re reading their minds. Because you’re saying exactly what they think. Because you did your research to figure out how they feel – and how they talk about it.
Review mining like this is one of the best ways to understand the people you’re writing for. Just go through reviews for books on your topic – then pick out the emotional problems people talk about.
Other ways to do this kind of “audience mind-reading” include…
- Comments on blogs about similar topics
- Surveys (you can start by polling your friends and social media connections, then later use your email list)
- Actual conversations with your readers
We’ve written about customer research questions before – talking to real people is the best way to learn about your audience.
In Ramit Sethi’s course Zero to Launch, he even says that you shouldn’t write anything until you’ve spoken (in-person or on the phone) to 10 real people.
The best copywriters in the world use review mining (here are the results)
Joanna Wiebe of CopyHackers coined the phrase review mining,” so it’s no surprise that she’s a good example of its results.
When she needed to find the right messaging for an addiction rehab facility, she turned to Amazon for help. She read over 500 book reviews, and organized her audience’s language in this chart.
How Joanna organizes her review mining (Source: CopyHackers)
And eventually, one of those customer quotes became the website’s new headline.
Hits pretty hard, huh? (Source: CopyHackers)
The new headline increased button clicks by 400%.
That’s the power of knowing your audience.
To know your audience, you have to go deep. They’ve already given you everything you need to know, you just have to find it.
Step 3: Choose a platform
There is one big question you need to answer for yourself and your blog platform:
Free or self-hosted?
There is a great resource for deciding what’s best for you, which you can find here. But the main difference between the two is that a free platform will ultimately not be owned by you, and you’ll likely need to pay for extra features down the line.
Whatever you decide, you need several things to get it up and running. So it’s time to go shopping.
Here are a few popular software options to consider:
First things first, there are a couple of different WordPress options – WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Here are the key differentiators between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
- WordPress.org is customizable, WordPress.com is too, but less so.
- WordPress.org is self-hosted, WordPress.com is not (which means paying extra for outside hosting).
- You get a full domain on WordPress.org but only a sub-domain on WordPress.com
- You own the content on WordPress.org but not on WordPress.com
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms out there – with multiple free and paid plan options. It’s not hard to find one that won’t work for you.
How can you set up a WordPress blog? Here are a few resources that will walk you through the process:
BUT, if WordPress doesn’t have everything you’re looking for, there are always other options.
And look, here they are color-coded and charted beautifully.
(Source: Start Blogging Online)
From personal experience, I can recommend Squarespace for:
- Easy set-up
- Good, customizable design templates
- Helpful analytics
- A reasonable price
- Your own domain name
BONUS- If you already have a domain name, you can easily transfer it over to Squarespace hosting.
One other little-known platform you might try is Ghost. Ghost is a great platform for either HTML savvy or technophobic users. It’s hard to go wrong and with the autosave feature and support of CRTL-Z, you never feel like you’re going to mess something up!
The business benefits for Ghost are:
- A clean, safe and intuitive blog platform that can be hosted separately to a site, but via the same domain
- It’s a free service
- It’s fully customizable (with proper coding)
Easy to use, visually compelling, and your work safe with auto-save. Not too shabby!
Step 4: Come up with content ideas
Did you know that 47% of customers will view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging on a sales path?
That means you’re going to need a lot of content throughout your product funnel. Content marketing is not limited to top-of-funnel awareness content.
So what types of blog posts can you do? If you were just thinking about paragraphs upon paragraphs, the answers may surprise you.
Here are 5 popular types of blogs that you can try:
- Long-form or short-form post (refer to quote above)
- Customer story or a case study posts
- Infographic posts
- Checklist or listicle posts
- How-to posts
I blog all day, every day. I’ve done it for years, and in that time I’ve created a lot of blog content in multiple ways.
On average, the typical length of a blog post is 1,151 words, which is a 44% increase over the last five years. Of course, don’t take this as a hard and fast rule. Long-form content can run longer than this.
Plus, bloggers who spend 6+ hours on a blog post are 56% more likely to report strong results.
And trust me, when you put the time in, you end up with some great blog content (AND, when optimized correctly for SEO, some great organic rankings too).
One of our ActiveCampaign blog posts is about the best opt-in email example. It runs about 2,300 words and is search optimized for one focus keyword phrase and several semantic keywords.
Only a short time after publication, it’s already showing some great data for organic ranking.