Do you want a formula to guarantee the success of your blog?
Yesterday I was interviewed by a journalist about blogging and half way though the interview he asked me what the formula for successful blogging was.
His question was innocent enough and asked without agenda but as I pondered it and pondered the many successful blogs that we see in our medium it became very clear to me that while it might be simpler to have a formula to follow to make our blogs succeed that there are many many different approaches to success in this field.
One of the things that I love about blogging is that there really is no wrong or right way to do what we do and for every ‘rule’ us people who blog about blogging might write – there is always an exception of a blog that has done the opposite and still had good results.
Yes there are some principles that we might see in many successful blogs – but even as I’ve been recently exploring some of these I see examples of blogs that buck the system and succeed despite doing so.
Last year I came up with a list of ‘debates’ in blogging to illustrate some of the diversity of approaches in blogging. Recently – after being accused of being too narrow in my focus – I revisited the list and added a number of ‘debates’ to illustrate the variety of approaches that bloggers take.
All in all I’ve come up with 29 areas that bloggers take different approaches in – yet there would be many many more.
Some of them are debates that might come down to a bloggers ethics, although most are simply different approaches that might be based more upon a bloggers goals, the niche that they’re in and the type of audience that they’re attempting to connect with.
29 Debates Bloggers Have about Blogging
- RSS Feeds – Full vs Partial Feeds
- Comment Sections – Comments vs No Comments
- Post Frequency – Post More vs Post Less
- How Many Blogs? – Focus upon One Single Blog vs Having Many Smaller Blogs
- Domain Names – long vs short, hyphens vs non hypens, .com vs other extensions (like .net, .org), local vs global domain extensions
- Hosting – hosted vs self hosted
- Post Titles – descriptive vs keywords
- Content – Link content vs Original content
- Paid Reviews – Happy to Write Paid Reviews vs Not Doing Paid Reviews
- Design – Professional Design vs Templates
- Links to External Sources – Should Open in a New Page vs Should Open in the Same Page
- Ownership – Use Social Media vs Build Your own properties
- Post Length – Long in Depth Posts vs Short, Sharp Posts
- Topic – Niche vs Broad Topics
- Dating Posts – Dates on Posts vs Non Dated
- Blogger Name – Anonymous blogging vs Using Your Name
- Subscribers – RSS is Best vs Email is Best
- SEO – Writing for Search Engines vs Writing for Humans
- Personal Blogging – Sticking to Topic vs Injecting Personality and Personal details
- Comment Moderation – Highly Regulated and Moderated vs Anything Goes
- Social Media vs Search – focus upon social media rather than search engines as traffic sources
- LinkBait – Anything goes (e.g.. Personal Attacks) vs Strong Boundaries Around What is and Isn’t Acceptable
- Bloggers Participation in Comments – Respond to Every Single Comment vs Let Readers Talk to Each Other and Don’t Interact
- Blog Platforms – WordPress vs ((Insert Other Platforms Here))
- Monetization – Blogs Should Be Monetized vs Blogs Should Never Be Monetized
- Affiliate Disclosure – Disclose every affiliate link vs Site Wide Disclosure vs No Disclosure
- When To Start Monetizing – From Day 1 vs Once You Have an Audience
- Text Links – To Sell them vs Not Selling Them
- Outsourcing – Outsourcing content (or other aspects of blogging) vs producing your own.
Some of the above debates are over things that some bloggers feel quite strongly about (there are a few that I do) – but in almost every one there are blogs doing a full spectrum of things.
I wanted to share this updated list mainly to celebrate our diversity and variety as bloggers and in the hope that those who might be looking for ‘the formula’ might see that there’s a wonderful array of choice at our finger tips and with that comes a lot of freedom to forge our own paths as individuals.
I think there is a simple formula that unless you follow it 80% or more of the time your blog will NOT be successful.
Step 1: You MUST select a niche topic where you have some chance of competing with the blogs that own page one today given your own blogs resources and skills.
2, You MUST select a niche where searchers have commercial intent.
Ignore step 1 and you never get any traffic to your blog.
Ignore step 2 and despite reasonable visitor numbers you will struggle to make any significant income. Yes the money will come eventually but you will need 1000’s of visitors a day.
Everything else you point out is the other 20%.
I hope the debates start now.
It would surely be informative.
This is really an exhaustive list of debates. Do you keep this list in Notepad or something? I guess I couldn’t think of more than 10 debatable topics about blogging on my own, from my head.
So either you are some freeking genius or you use Notepad :D
I would love to hear your very own answer to these lists Darren, that would be very cool.
For a moment, i thought that dating posts referred to posts on courtship :-P
This is a fascinating list, which leaves me, as a blogger with a lot to ponder. In fact, it leaves me so curious, I wish I could click on any one of the line items and view the debate in question. I realize, this would entail much time and effort, could even turn into a book.
Perhaps you could counsider beginning a series of posts, taking on one of these debates at a time, presenting cases where bloggers have found success on each side of the argument. Readers could comment on the posts, giving examples of their successes and failures in these areas.
Nice list though. From the comments posted here, I can see you’ve got a lot of people thinking, and that, for me, is successful writing.
I like the debate and the overview of the big issues in blogging. It’s a great summary of the decisions any new blogger makes when starting out or making chagnes. I also like the concept that there is no one formula. What works for one may not for another. Thanks for this summary. Very helpful.
As a new blogger I’ve made some choices about these debate points. My current choices aren’t set in stone. I’m sure I’ll be making some changes as I develop blogging experience, and those new choices will add personality to my blog.
It’s like the decisions you make when building a house. The new house doesn’t have as much personality as it will have after you’ve lived in it a while.
These list encourage me to try some other changes on my blogs.
What about you Darrent,. what will you choose?
Thank you for sharing
Well it all comes down to one thing. What is your main goal? Is it to become a guru then your not going to outsource. But if im looking to make money im going to use what is going to get me the most amount of traffic and make me the most amount of money.
I just started blogging and knowing the best balance of all these factors is elusive! I think the key is to be consistent on the style, but don’t be afraid to try something new and experiment!
yeah, that goodlist darren
Agree with PhotoBlogGeek’s comment “To blog or not to blog?”
That’s a major decision that many face after several months of writing and you have minimal traffic, revenue, etc.
Just refer them to Darren I’d say.
Should a small business keep a blog on ones main site or seek out a blogging site? Also how does a business protect against blog farms? or is this a false concern?
Great site thanks!
I’ve only just begun blogging and am considering another site to begin soon. I would love to hear more about each debate you put on the list. Thanks for the topics to look into for my new blog, I absolutely intend to make this one a profitable site, your list will help a great deal.
i really love ur post..and ya i will subscribe to ur feeds
The great thing about blogging is the freedom of individuality. I think the 29 debate issues will go on indefinitely because what works for one may not work well for another. For some it will be a practice of trial and error, for others it is simply a matter of following in other’s proven footsteps and copying their methods, but hopefully not their content!
Great tips! something to be remembered. its very useful. thanks for sharing!
29 options that can be used in blogs. This is reality, and could have the choice to be one way that we want.
i’d like to see these topics tackled one by one in a series of follow-up articles by the same author.
I don’t think there is any shortcut way to achieve success in blogging…
While there are definite success stories and great examples to follow out there, you need to define your own space in the blogosphere and do your own thing. Take the list above and try them all out and once you figure out what works for your particular style or project, go with it.
The great thing about blogging is you can change anything you want, whenever you want.
thanks for the updated list.
This is a very interesting list. I would like to see some of the pro bloggers opinion on this…and yours too ofcourse. If you can do another post going over each one individually as to what your choice is, and why that would be great
I have a friend who claims she’s a blogger and doesn’t even know what RSS feed is. A good next article, Darren, I think would be about “When Can You Really Call Yourself a Blogger?”
Hey, please could you tell me how to integrate your news in my rss reader, i can�t find here the orange rss symbol…
I hadn’t thought to count all of these up like this before, but now that you mention it I have gone through most of these internally. And I am a new blogger.
Darren, Your 31DBB course has been a great resource for me and I continue to learn when reading your new posts.
When I read this fun and thought provoking post, the technique inspired me to write something geared towards my audience of the real estate industry (just published yesterday). Thanks!!