Contrary to popular belief, popular blogs aren’t written overnight.
The only real thing that can be a true overnight success is 24 hour bread.
Creating a lasting successful blog (i.e., not just a blog that’s trendy for a minute, then everyone gets bored of) takes a lot of ingredients.
But I’ve only been given so many words for this article.
So, here are the 6 key ingredients to make a successful blog…
1. Do Not Register Your Domain Name (yet)
If you Google “how to become a successful blogger,” you’ll find a ton of articles that tell you to come up with a topic for your blog and then register your domain name.
Do not do that. Let me say that again, differently:
You first need to find out if people are going to care about what you’re writing… and to figure out what you want to write about.
Unless your blog is simply going to be a hobby, you need to find out if there’s demand for your topic. That’s done by performing keyword research.
These tools will give you a better understanding if your topic has sufficient demand, that is, people wanting more information about that topic.
Once you have multiple ideas for content and are sure that your topic will work — then you can confidently register your domain name.
2. Think “Business,” Not Blog
From Day 1 you need to treat your blog as a business.
This means asking yourself the million dollar question:
“How will my blog make money?”
There are so many ways to monetize a blog or website.
Here’s what I do…
My blog is about fashion and style. I write about and review top fashion brands’ clothing and shoes. I also offer advice on how to style different pieces.
Affiliate links are a natural way for me to make money on my reviews… and because I overdeliver on details about sizing and quality for each item, my readers feel comfortable ordering it too.
Despite my healthy earnings, I don’t consider myself an “affiliate marketer.” It’s easy for some affiliates to go with whoever will pay them the most and make things up to get a sale. Instead, I always put my readers’ interest first (e.g., posting where they can find an item on sale, even if that means I’ll make less). And I’m honest.
Since I’ve gotten into a (somewhat) more consistent rhythm of posting new content that people are searching for, my traffic has also gone up. In late 2019, Mediavine accepted me into its advertising network. So now, in addition to affiliate marketing, I also have ads on my site to earn extra income.
This means, all in all, my blog averages four figures of passive income a month.
And since it’s a business, a lot of that money gets reinvested in new content to further its growth.
When you start, think about how you’ll earn money.
Is your site’s topic conducive to monetizing?
Will you stick to passive monetization with affiliate marketing and ads? Or do you have plans to create your own digital or physical products and actively monetize your blog?
3. What Will Set You Apart?
For readers to turn into fans, you need to determine what will set you apart from other bloggers.
You don’t want to be “just another” site.
The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself these two questions:
What Will Your Voice Be?
Your voice is basically your personality, but on the page. Really great blogs have content that sparkles with personality. Witty and fun, or quietly respectful, or authoritative, or controversial… be your best self!
Your blog’s theme (design) and content layout will also add to your perceived online personality.
Aim to let visitors know that when it comes to your topic, you’ve been there and done that — but again, be yourself!
Visitors want stories, character, spirit, and credibility. If your niche is more serious, they’ll want authority and clarity.
If you share your knowledge in a relatable and warm way, readers will return as fans.
What’s Your VPP (Valuable PREselling Proposition)?
Your VPP is the cornerstone of treating your blog like a business.
Whether it’s specific and high-value information or a unique take on the topic, you need to provide something that readers won’t read anywhere else.
My VPP is my overdelivering of information. I have a clear picture of who my site visitor is, so I know to write in a fun and casual yet knowledgeable way.
4. Develop Relationships
Being a “solopreneur” means that you’re the only one working in your business. It doesn’t mean that you won’t surround yourself with other people.
There’s so much more to being a successful blogger than just writing blog posts. I’m talking about the importance of using social media, email marketing, making friends with other bloggers, and developing a long-lasting relationship with your readers.
Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram, social media is the easiest way to connect with your site’s visitors.
You can give your fans a glimpse into your personal life, a behind the scenes look at how you produce your content, and even simply share your blog posts.
From fun videos that feature his kids en route to the beach…
To snippets of bees buzzing around his backyard…
Wellesley doesn’t go too personal with My Island Jamaica’s social media, but he does make it more personal, while still imparting information, personality, and beautiful images of his island home. This all complements his website and gives you another feel for what Jamaica is like and what Wellesley is like.
Newsletters, ezines, mailouts, whatever you want to call them — you can’t send them if you don’t have an email list.
If “email marketing” sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry — it’s way easier than it sounds.
Basically, start by collecting your readers’ email addresses (they’ll be more likely to sign up if you ensure them of their privacy). RTen send them links to your new posts whenever you add them. Remember, they signed up to get your emails because they’re curious about what you’ll write next.
Having an active email list is also a great way to monetize your blog.
OK, this one is optional, but can be beneficial.
Make friends with other bloggers in the same niche, or a closely related one. Maybe they’re currently more successful than you or maybe they aren’t. Either way, creating relationships with other bloggers can benefit your blog.
For a while, my blog was floundering. I asked myself, “Since no one is reading this, why bother?” Until I got my first follow-link from a blogger who writes about buying nice things while being fiscally responsible. We emailed back and forth, and she encouraged me to keep going. So I did — and now my blog continues to grow.
Especially now, her support means everything. Having someone who “gets it” is so important.
When she gives me a shoutout on Instagram, I’ll get 50 new followers. When she gives me a link on her blog, I’ll get 20 extra visitors.
While we never talk about what we get in terms of clicks and followers for all this support from each other, because it’s more of a friendship than a business partnership, I think that she gets benefits from me too.
5. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Since your blog is also your business, use plugins that will make your business run smoother.
I’m assuming you’re using WordPress, because, well, who doesn’t when it comes to blogging?
Here are a few plugins that make my work easier, and why:
For Checking Your Progress/Finding Out If You Can Join Mediavine
Jetpack is the plugin of all WordPress plugins.
There’s so much functionality in it — even with the free version.
I use it mainly to check my daily stats and for blog security.
Google Analytics is more accurate, but I like to check on my blog during the day to get a rough estimate of how my blog is performing and being able to see what links readers are clicking.
I use Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights. There are other Google Analytics plugins that also work.
If you can see your site stats on Google Analytics, that’s all that matters.
You can check which pages get the most traffic, which hold people the longest, and well, everything else you could ever want to get out of Google Analytics reports.
You can analyze why those top pages get the most traffic, what you can do to get clicks to articles that aren’t doing well (could your title be more compelling?), how to make readers stay on your blog longer (add more links to your other pages in the article!), and more.
Basically, Google Analytics gives you Traffic Knowledge Power.
For example, in the overview above, you can see that I should be working on reducing my bounce rate and increasing the session duration. To do that, I need to add more links to relevant content on my site and give people a reason to read my article instead of just scanning it for photos.
For Your Content
In the beginning, it’s useful to use Yoast to make sure you’re optimizing your articles properly for SEO.
It will tell you how strong your writing is, if your article makes sense, if you’re using your keyword enough (or too much!), and if everything is a go. It will (literally) give you a green light to post.
This is a free plugin that lets you check what readers search for on your blog.
I find it a good way to decide what to write next. For example, if I check my Search Meter stats and see that 20 people have searched for “Jimmy Choo,” then there’s obviously demand from my readers.
For Developing a Relationship With Your Readers
You ultimately want your blog posts to create a conversation. You want folks to respond to them and have thoughts about them. Give them a place to talk about what you wrote with Disqus.
I prefer Disqus over other comment systems because anyone can make an account and comment. They can even comment without an account. And Disqus is generally a great system to manage discussions.
Social Media Plugins
I use Instagram Feed to display my Instagram feed on the footer of my site. I also use Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget to link each of my social media pages under my search bar.
Jetpack will show how many people clicked on each link on your website in a given day, including the links to your social media accounts. For Instagram, it’s especially useful, because it’ll show which Instagram photo got the most clicks.
Then I recreate the most popular images using different outfits. Afterall, a business is all about understanding what works and doing more of it!
6. Be Consistent & Persistent
I know it’s so cheesy, but…
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese proverb
This proverb has stuck with me.
In order to make your blog successful, you need to start now and keep going.
My blog could have started stronger if I had been more consistent and persistent. Instead, it sat there for 2 years, until my blogging friend gave me a push. When I finally started posting more content that people were searching for, more readers came.
To keep yourself consistent, I recommend deciding how many posts you can write a week.
Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself or simply overdoing it. If you make it feel like work, you’ll start to fall out of love with it.
Hold yourself accountable to getting things done. I recommend creating an editorial calendar to keep yourself on track.
Sure, there’s always mañana to do it, but remember that old proverb.
YUP, stop waiting and start doing.
In the beginning it’s especially important to publish new content regularly. Consistency also applies to posting on social media and sending out newsletters.
When you post consistently and write about topics that folks are searching for, you will start to see results.
How to Become a Successful Blogger: My Final Words of Advice
There’s no need to rush your blog.
From writing compelling and creative posts to building a following on social media and treating your blog like a business, there is so much that goes into creating a successful blog.
It’s a lot of work, and it’s totally doable.
It simply takes time, passion, and grit.
… oh, and the other points I told you about!
When you add in all of those ingredients, your blog will surely rise.