The ball hasn’t dropped in Times Square to ring in 2015 just yet, but a lot of people have already started thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of making the same old resolution to lose weight, save money, and call your relatives more often, make 2015 the year that you make a serious commitment to blogging.
Let’s start by examining five keys to achieving blogging supremacy in 2015. Then, let’s morph these concepts into specific goals that can transform you from a non-blogger — or a slacking blogger — into a blog-writing powerhouse.
1. Write Posts Regularly
Many people start blogging with a burst of literary energy. They write frequent posts in the beginning only to run out of steam after a few weeks. Sometimes, they get tired because they run out of ideas. At other times, they begin to wonder, “What’s it all for?” because they don’t see an immediate return on investment.
The data is unmistakable: Writing regular blog posts can be one of the best ways to bring traffic to your website over the long term. Take a look at some of these statistics about blogging:
- Those who post often get the most benefit. A business that blogs once or twice per month receives 70 percent more leads than a company that doesn’t blog at all. The more you blog, the better it gets. Sites that increase their posting frequency from fives times per month to six to eight times per month almost double their leads.
- Blogging beats advertising. Seventy percent of customers learn about companies from articles and blog posts, not from ads.
- Good things happen when your blog hits critical mass. Companies with 200 or more blog posts generate five times as many leads as companies that have 10 or fewer posts. Also, once a company hits the 100 blog post milestone, it’s more likely to see continuous lead growth.
If posting more often is your primary goal, try some of these resolutions:
- Write a blog post every weekday for 10 weeks. After you generate your first 50 posts, you can cut back to two or three times per week.
- Hire writers or ask guest posters to contribute three posts per week. If you don’t have time to write daily posts, ask other people to guest post for you, or hire some writers to generate great material. You should edit and fact-check all posts, but feel free to delegate ideation and writing to someone else.
- Build an idea file that always contains at least 20 unused blog post ideas. Use a program like Evernote, which syncs between your smartphone and your desktop computer, to jot down and organize all of your blog post ideas. When you’re feeling short on inspiration, just pull out your notes and select an idea. When you have fewer than 20 ideas in the file, it’s time for a brainstorming session.
2. Increase Your Credibility
One way to build brand recognition around your blog is to earn good inbound links from credible sources. Try writing guest blog posts for credible, high-traffic blogs that will offer you an inbound link in return. Also, write longer blog posts that feature images, infographics, screenshots, graphs, and other visuals. Posting content of the highest quality is the ultimate way to generate credibility for your blog.
After high-quality content, visitors judge a blog’s credibility by its design. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: What do you do when you click a Google result to find a blog that’s crammed full of ads, has a design that looks like it’s from the 1990s, and has a structure that’s impossible to follow? You go back to Google and look for another link because the design doesn’t create credibility in your eyes.
Try one of these resolutions to increase your blog’s credibility:
- Pitch one guest blog post per week. Contact one high-quality blog every week and pitch a guest post to the editor. Make sure to follow any submission guidelines, and research the blog to ensure that your topic is a good fit.
- Write at least one 1,600-word blog post per week. According to social blogging site Medium.com, posts that are about 1,600 words long get the most engagement. Add images, short videos, and other visuals for even greater engagement.
- Give your blog design an overhaul by March 31. Take a look at your blog’s design and evaluate anything that might make people click away. Is your theme dated? Is your blog so filled with ads that it takes forever to load? Do you have unnecessary widgets or plug-ins? Is your navigation hard to understand? Find your design issues and fix them. Work with a Web designer if needed.
3. Get Social
According to surveys, 42 percent of people judge a blog’s quality by the number of social shares it receives. Readers view your +1s, your likes, your shares, and your retweets as evidence suggesting that you’re credible and that you have an admiring audience. If you’re not active on social media, then you’re missing a great opportunity to gain followers for your blog. You’re also missing the chance to connect with other bloggers and thinkers who can become an important part of your network.
If you want others to share your material, then you should be willing to share theirs as long as the quality of their material is good. Also, you can’t just join a social network, start broadcasting your material, and expect other people to share it. Always remember the “social” in social media: Be a friend if you expect to make friends.
See if one of these social media-related resolutions might be right for you:
- Add social sharing options to your blog by January 5. This is a quick and easy resolution. Search for a widget or plug-in that can place social sharing buttons on your blog posts and make it simple for people to share your content with just one click.
- Spend time on one social network every day through January 31. Take some time to consider which social network is right for you depending on where your audience hangs out. If your blog is primarily B2B, for example, then dedicate yourself to spending every day for one month posting to LinkedIn, making connections, and building a list of followers.
- Subscribe to three blogs and interact with other readers that would be interested in your content throughout 2015. If you blog about decorating, pick three decorating blogs that you admire, subscribe to them, and become an active commenter. Only link back to your own blog in the comments if you’ve written a post about a similar topic and your post is relevant to the conversation. See what relationships you build and where those relationships might take you.
4. Embrace SEO
Great content means a lot, but it might not be enough to generate traffic for your blog. Your posts should be optimized for search engines so that you can get free referral traffic from Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Optimization involves using the right keywords for your industry, good page construction, and high-quality inbound links. It also involves establishing both domain-level and page-level authority, which will help your blog to perform better in search rankings.
These resolutions can enhance your SEO:
- Optimize all of your new blog posts for keywords, and review older posts for keyword usage by the end of 2015. If you use WordPress for your blog, you can try a plug-in like WordPress SEO by Yoast. When you post or edit content, the plugin will guide you as you optimize for keywords, create effective title tags, and write useful meta-descriptions.
- Incorporate responsive design for your blog by March 31. If your mobile look isn’t working, look for a theme that specifically incorporates what developers call “responsive design,” which means that your website looks good both on desktop computers and on tablets and smartphones.
- Work with an SEO provider during 2015. If the changes required for SEO seem too technical for you, hire an SEO provider in 2015. Your provider can deliver SEO advice, help you optimize your site, and provide ongoing SEO maintenance.
5. Understand Your Audience
As a blogger, it’s important to write from your gut and to share the ideas that matter most to you. However, the opposite side of the coin is that you need to understand your audience. You should also use free tools like Google Analytics to better understand how people are finding your blog.
These analytics resolutions can give you better audience insights in 2015:
- Set up your Google Analytics account by January 5 and visit it weekly throughout 2015. Google Analytics helps you to understand what sources refer people to your blog. For example, you can learn how many readers find your blog through Google searches or through social media referrals and which searches bring people to your website.
- Hire an agency to provide consumer insights in 2015. If dealing with Google Analytics seems like a lot of work, then hire Google Analytics experts to do the work for you. Their insights can tell you which keywords work best for your pages, which social networks provide the most bang for your buck, and which conversion paths people take on your blog.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says, you can “crush it” in 2015 by keeping some of these blogging New Year’s resolutions. Let us know which resolutions worked best for you by leaving a note in the comments.
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