In last week’s article, I wrote about the foundation for a successful blog: identifying and developing your brand.
But after you’ve done that, it’s equally important to pay attention to the nitty-gritty details that go into developing good blogging habits. Producing high-quality content and writing it in your own voice, in a way that lets your readers connect to you, is what will keep them coming back for more week after week.
Once you’ve gotten your blog off the ground, take it to the next level by adopting these four habits.
1. Be Authentic
I touched on this last week, and I’ll say it again—authenticity is everything. People can get information from anywhere, but what keeps them coming back to certain blogs or sites is connecting with you, the writer.
Writing authentically is really about voice, and it’s a lot easier to write in your own voice once you’ve figured out what you sound like. A great way to do this is to write like you talk. Try this: Instead of writing your next blog post, say it out loud and record it. Then play it back and write down every word you’ve said. You can make minor edits later, but using your own voice as the starting point will ultimately make your post more authentic—and that’s what people respond to.
2. Make Every Post Tell a Story
You want to entice your readers, pull them in, and demand their interest—and that requires a great story.
Whether you’re writing about your own life journey or the industry you work in, your post needs a story arc—in other words, it needs to efficiently move the reader along in a manner that’s engaging and logical. If you’re talking about your career path post-college, for instance, it makes sense to introduce the reader to your first career after school, note the challenges you have faced, and offer advice for moving forward. Career blogger Penelope Trunk is known well for writing posts that tell an engaging story; weaving her personal life and her advice in a pattern that flows logically while remaining interesting and useful.
So, instead of just sitting down to write the first draft of your post, identify from the get-go what you’re introducing to the reader, what the challenge of the situation is, and finally, how you’ll propose to resolve it. Your blog post doesn’t need to be that cut and dry, of course, but it’s a helpful framework as you write your first draft. With that in mind, you’ll be able to write in a way that allows your reader to follow along with anticipation and excitement, whether you’re writing about your career struggles, your family reunion, or the latest celebrity breakup. To learn more about enhancing your writing skills, check out Sarah Selecky or Jeff Goins—both offer great tips for writers of all stages!
Also, make use of another old-school writing tip, and use sensory language in your posts. Melissa from Dear Baby Blog is exceptionally good at adding powerful details of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound that paint a beautiful picture as she tells her stories.
3. Take Your Time
This may seem like an obvious rule, but it seems to be one many bloggers consistently ignore. It’s always better to write and share higher-quality content than it is to push yourself to move quickly and churn out content that’s either mediocre or that you later regret sharing.
It’s often helpful to implement a 24- (or 36- or 48-) hour rule, where you wait the determined number of hours after writing a post before publishing it for the world to see. Giving yourself at least a day away from your writing allows you to review your content with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. You’ll often find that what made sense last night no longer makes sense in the light of day. (This is an overall life lesson, actually!) So, take your time and remember: Your readers won’t be impressed by your ability to consistently produce content unless you have first-rate content to share.
4. Post Consistently
The last lesson—and what I believe is the secret sauce behind every successful blogger—is to post consistently. You don’t have to post every day, every week, or even every month if you don’t want to (though I would suggest posting at least once a month), but post consistently so that your readers know what to expect and when they’ll hear from you.
Developing a schedule and sticking to it will also help you practice pushing out content even when it’s hard to come by. You can’t get better at blogging without practice, and the implementation of a hard daily-weekly-monthly schedule is often just the kick in the pants your inner blogging muse needs. If you have a hard time getting inspired when it’s time to write, try keep a running list of post ideas that you can refer to later.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for blogging and no surefire recipe for success, but being authentic, developing your voice, and sticking to a consistent schedule will definitely set you on the right path. If you’re hard-working, creative, and responsive to your readers, you’ll surely gain an audience that trusts you, respects you, and comes back for more—and I’m not sure there’s a greater sign of blogging success than that.