By the end of 2011, NM Incite tracked 181 million blogs, up from 36 million in 2006. According to Snitchim.com, Tumblr.com alone has more than 101.7 million blogs. WordPress boast 44.6 billion blog posts from more than 63 million blogs in 2013 alone.
With so many blogs floating around the Internet vying for attention, it’s paralyzing to know where to start with your own blog launch. Start small and think big, tackling some practical steps to get your blog noticed.
Optimize your site
Writing content, posting videos and adding photos is a great place to start with blogging, but your site needs more than just great content. Site optimization includes a broad range of techniques, from streamlining your site navigation to providing clear graphics and using a clear call to action. An example of a good call to action might be signing up for an email list in exchange for an in-depth report on how to solve a particular problem your blog addresses.
Optimize your blog posts by focusing on a core set of keywords you want your site to rank for. You can’t realistically rank for every keyword that relates to your site. Instead, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool and figure out a handful of useful keywords you want to rank for when people search for those words. People are also increasingly searching for entire sentences or phrases, called long tail keywords, as opposed to individual words. Write content and create videos based around those keyword phrases and approach your marketing plan with keyword phrases in mind.
Your site might look different across different browsers and mobile devices. A tool like RWD Bookmarlet can show you exactly what your site will look like across mobile and tablet devices and alert you to any issues with your images, content or headlines.
Get the inside scoop on royalty-free images
Tap into royalty-free images and videos to add dynamic content to your blog. Google’s advanced image search feature can narrow down image searches by copyright and usage rights. If you’re looking for a video or image on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala for an upcoming piece on retiring abroad, search for your desired keywords and then choose “free to use or share, even commercially,” or whichever filter meets your needs. Google will show you results accordingly and find photos and videos you can use without copyright issues.
Don’t stop at just one resource. Free images from Google and Creative Commons often won’t meet your needs. Pick up quality, royalty free videos and photos at sites like Shutterstock. Narrow results around your niche and incorporate the content into a dynamic blog post. Use your new videos to enhance your content and keep your audience engaged.
Develop a premium product for free
It’s common for bloggers to offer a free eBook or course in order to capture emails and market to them again and again. What’s not as common is developing expert, highly useful content that could easily be sold instead of given away for free. Someone who blogs about improving their high jump could offer a detailed video series on related exercises and techniques. Later, that same blogger could sell an upgraded version that also includes athlete interviews and professional tips and case studies.
It’s far easier to sell to an audience if you’ve already gained their trust with an incredible free product. They have little reason to doubt your paid product will disappoint and trust it will be packed with useful content. Developing a loyal following with free expert information can also lead to plenty of social sharing and help getting the word out from your audience.
Don’t blog in a vacuum
Successful bloggers all know the same secret. You can’t be successful without the help of your peers. Develop quality relationships with other bloggers and slowly build trust and ask for advice. Eventually they might tweet your new post to their audience or help get your site more exposure. Look for online magazines that use guest writers and bloggers and write useful content for their site in exchange for a link back to yours.
Building relationships with other bloggers and industry experts goes both ways. You can’t expect to score big favors with your first email. Treat the blogger as someone you genuinely want to know and help where you can. Offer to help them with a problem they posted about, transcribe a video or try their product before it launches.
Write content worth talking about
There are far too many blogs that mimic the same information everyone else is writing about. Your content needs to stand out with quality images, videos, resources, eBooks or just in-depth text. Figure out how to stand out in your niche. That could mean interviewing other experts in your field, writing case studies, relying on research, creating engaging infographics or just focusing on one area of your niche. For example, instead of blogging about content marketing, blog about how info graphics are used to impact content marketing and build your voice around that sub-niche.