If there’s one very important lesson banking has taught me, it’s niching down. Think about it, if every bank offered the same products, most would go out of business within a year. The survivors would be those that are either conveniently-located, or those that advertise the most. That’s why smaller banks offer a range of products that differ from their larger competitors. They use value as their edge, and it’s no different when you’re looking to create a top blog from scratch.
I know most of us feel that if we throw as wide a net as possible,
we’ll catch more traffic. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. For new bloggers in any category, competition is extremely fierce. Think about it–68,000 blog posts are published every minute.
That’s over fifty million posts a month.
I’m not throwing these figures at you to discourage you, but to make you understand the dire necessity of niching down.
What will help you create a top blog is having a different slant–a different take on things.
There was a time, for example, when blogging about a vegeterian lifestyle was a hot topic. It was a unique niche which quickly became crowded. I don’t know how many thousands of posts vegeterians write every month now, but there are still ample opportunities if you focus on specific parts of being vegeterian.
An example could be “living a vegetarian lifestyle in a certain city.”
The biggest misconception is assuming that because you are thinking small, you will never be big. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My blog started off very, very small. I understood travel bloggers were flooding the marketplace. My Nomad Facebook Group is proof of that; every week, hundreds of new bloggers join. The only way I could truly compete was niching down: namely on my own country–Saudi Arabia–which hardly anyone visited.
Better yet, very few bloggers wrote about the reclusive kingdom.
Even if they started writing about it today, it’d be okay. I entered the niche early on and wrote extensively about it, covering subjects from dating to safety in Saudi Arabia. Search engines have already picked up these articles and ranked them.
The more you can niche down, the higher your odds of success.
Important tip: Once you do choose your blog niche, STICK TO IT.
This is one of the greatest mistakes I’ve seen bloggers make. It’s also a mistake I made, which I learned from. But if you choose to create a blog about parenting in your 50s, stick to that demographic. If you start adding articles about teen pregnancy and how to deal with high school issues, you’ll leave your readership completely confused.
This usually happens when folk don’t see the traffic numbers they thought they’d get, in turn expanding their niche in an attempt to drive more traffic to their site. Soon, they end up losing their loyal readership and find themselves swimming in a massive ocean of similar posts.
In the travel blogging domain, if you target a certain age demographic. Stick to it. If your focus is a specific country, make sure most of your articles are about that country.
Again–I can’t emphasize this enough–if you want to create a top blog, find a great niche, then stick to it.
Here are some important tips and advice that will help you create a top blog in less than 3 months:
Active Facebook Groups
This is possibly the easiest way to get traffic to your blog during your first three months. It certainly helped me create a top blog in a very short period of time. There are Facebook groups and there are active Facebook groups. Find out which ones have an active and engaged audience. You’d be surprised, some groups have north of 10,000 members, yet anything you post will hardly ever get read.
Then you’ll find other groups with half the member base, but with tons of engagement. You will need to post in all the groups to gauge engagement response. I’ve seen some bloggers hit double and triple the numbers above in their first three months by posting in Facebook groups. But above all, people want engaging content, which leads us to…
People love reading interviews. They love hearing about the struggles and successes of others. Depending on what kind of blog you’re creating, you need to find people who struggled above and beyond the norm. People love underdog stories, so whatever your niche, find these underdogs.
On a side note, try not to focus your interviews on other bloggers in the same industry. Readers really want to lose themselves in an incredible story, not a promotional tour. Promotion has a distinct smell, and readers have a great nose for it.
In order to create a top blog in as short a time as possible, you need to post frequently to create content for you readers. Check these blogging statistics out–pretty enlightening stuff, huh? My posting schedule was once every three days, and I followed it like clockwork.
It’s important to understand that professional blogging is a job, and you get paid very little at first. The real benefit comes in the long term. In the short run, however, you want to post as much as possible to increase your readership and for search engines to find (more and more of) you.
Social Media And Money
Social media is crucial. If you want to create a top blog, you’ll need to embrace specific social media sites. The traffic they send you can be significant, since social media can make your posts go viral. You are human, and trying to be all over the place is very difficult, so pick social media sites that appeal to you the most.
My focus is on Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon.
Instagram and Pinterest are secondary. There is no right formula, but these five are very popular and work out great for me. Twitter was a natural choice, since I already had many followers that were writers and readers.
It often takes money to make money, and I do spend about $5 a day on various social media. I spend $1 a day on Facebook promotions (of posts), and the rest on StumbleUpon. This has helped me build a Facebook fan page with over 8,000 members from mostly native English-speaking countries.
Important Note: Please don’t recruit Facebook followers from countries that have no bearing on your target market simply to inflate a Fan page’s numbers. It’s a common, but self-defeating practice. These followers are cheap on the pocket, quick to hit the Like button, but will never engage with your posts.
I recommend you boost every one of your posts, especially during the first three months. If you can spend more, all the better. I’ve gotten tons of loyal fans this way, some have even become close friends.
Although this won’t affect you as much during your first three months, everything you do should have SEO in mind. You should be optimizing for people first, and then for search engines. On an average day, over 50% of my traffic comes from search engines.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend a dime on SEO companies. Actually, I encourage you not to. The above chart is a result of my own effort and it was really simple to accomplish.
Important note: do not focus on backlinks. Focus on great content and structure, and your SEO will be better off. I recently had one blogger ask me how I was tracking to get half a million page views from Google this year. I told her I’d let her in on my secret if she promised not to laugh. “Just write great content,” I said. She laughed and instead tried to find more backlinks instead of focusing on valuable content. That being said, she’s still struggling to find “the secret juice” to this day.
At about 1.5 pageviews per visit, you can see how I averaged around 1,000 page views a day towards the end of that chart. That number only increases as the months go by.
Here’s a little secret: titles are as important as the content itself.
That deserved its own line. With fifty million blog posts competing for attention every month, titles are hugely important. Chances are, if the title isn’t catchy, the post won’t get read. It’s not your fault. We just live in a very busy world where information comes at us from every angle. Our eyes have become accustomed to scanning headlines and only reading articles whose headlines catch our attention.
To get some title ideas, open up a news app and look at their headlines. “Monroe: The Love and Murder of Stardom” looks more appealing than “Marilyn Monroe’s Life”. Again, if you can’t come up with a good title, don’t hit the “Publish” button just yet. The extra time spent creating an awesome title can help that post go viral!
There’s nothing more exciting for a reader than–well–an exciting page! If you’re wanting to create a top blog, it needs to look the part. Check out some news sites and you’ll see what I mean. When I created my blog, I had a strong affinity for Marguerite Duras, my favorite author. I was especially drawn to her lover’s house in Sa Dec, which featured in a very popular movie called The Lover.
This story is widely taught in literary circles in Europe, and by combining photos and videos, I created articles that drew the eyes of numerous students. I received many personal thank you’s for taking visitors on a multi-media tour of the house. Readers obviously value articles that possess pictures and/or videos, as do search engines.
Combining photos with your text helps create a top blog,
but going above and beyond with videos and infographics gets you there much faster.
Last, but not least, is the design of the site itself. This alone killed two of my previous blogs. You should have your own domain name and a reliable hosting service. I use BlueHost and they’ve been excellent so far. For my web design, I visited many top blogs and eventually found Scott Eldo at Eldo Web Design. I liked Scott’s clean and effective designs–and he delivered promptly without sacrificing quality.
I also recommend that you keep your blog as easy to navigate as possible.
I’ve seen some awesome blogs out there, but unfortunately the navigations leaves little to be desired. If you want to create a top blog, keep it simple and effective. Too much going on can get very frustrating for readers, no matter how great the page looks. But at the end of the day,
your passion is what will help you create a top blog.
If you don’t write about what you truly enjoy, your readers will feel it. Have you ever read a technical blog about something–like cameras–and been engaged just by the tone of the blogger? The blogger’s enthusiasm can be felt, and this is what no amount of technical expertise can buy.
Creating awesome content and then heavily promoting it in Facebook Groups and social media is crucial during your first three months. It will help you get that initial surge of traffic and put you on the map. It will help you get tens of thousands of visitors.
What will grant you longevity, however,
Is a laser-focus on your niche,
And a heartful of passion and patience.
What are the greatest hurdles you’ve faced while trying to grow your blog? What tips would you like to share with those looking to create a top blog?
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