This guest post is by Jane Sheeba.
“Success” is a very relative term. Unless you define it precisely, it’s very easy to become lost in a sea of assumptions. You can work hard on building a blog without having defined your “success,” but if you do, how will you know if you’re progressing successfully?
A blog post is an essential part of the blog—in fact every single blog post is a very important entity of the blog. Subtract all the blog posts and you have no blog left.
So your blogging success depends heavily on the success of your blog posts. And as Shaun Connell explained earlier today in The Systematic Blogger’s Mainfesto, if you can systematize your blogging, you can create a more reliable path to whatever you’ve defined as success.
So in this post I’m going to show you a system for creating successful blog posts, every time.
1. Define your “success”
As I said already, “success” is a very relative term. It differs from person to person and blog to blog.
- For some “success” may mean building an email list which is highly responsive.
- For some it could be making X number of affiliate sales.
- For some it could be directing people to a particular service.
So unless you know precisely what you want, you cannot know what to do in order to achieve success—or if you’ve succeeded at all.
Defining your success is nothing but setting a goal. This applies to blog posts just as well as it does to your blog overall. Every blog post you write should have a clear purpose. How can you identify it? Ask yourself, “What do I want from this blog post?”
Let me give you some examples:
- If you’re writing a product review, your goal could be to make X number of product sales.
- If you’re writing a series about how to make money blogging, your goal may be to attract a certain percentage of readers to subscribe to your email list.
- If you’re writing a guest post, your goal might be to generate a number of clickthroughs to your own site.
Once you’ve defined your goal, and defined “success” clearly, you can start working on the post.
2. Choose a topic that your readers and the search engines want
Readers are the lifeblood of your blog, so you must write what your readers want.
Do not assume that your blog readers will be like you. Do not assume that a particular topic will interest them. Do not make any assumptions. Rather, research and find out what interests your blog readers. If your blog post doesn’t strike a chord with your blog readers, you will be wasting a lot of blogging energy with no return.
There are various ways to find what your readers want.
- Yahoo Answers and Quora are great places to start with. Type in your primary keywords and you’ll see what people are hungry for.
- Go to the free, famous, and useful Google Keyword Tool and type in the same keyword you used in Yahoo Answers and Quora. Then click on Phrase Match, and pick up a handful of potential keywords that have low or medium competition, but high global monthly searches.
- Visit Wordtracker Keyword Questions (you’ll have to register for a free account) and, again, type in your keyword. This tool will give you a clear idea of the questions people are asking for on that particular topic.
- Google is another great place to find out what people are interested in. Go to Google and start to type in your keyword slowly—don’t complete it too quickly! As you type, you’ll see Google’s suggestions appear below the search box. While these options are personalized if you’re logged in to Google’s services, you can use anonymous browsing mode to remove personal settings from your search results.
Once you know what people are looking for, you’ll be able to come up with a great topic to write about. Do your research and deliver useful, practical advice on the topic. In fact, go further and over-deliver.
3. Include elements to help you achieve your goal
Earlier, you set a precise goal for this blog post. Let’s say you decided you want the post to prompt a number of people to opt in to your list. The element you’ll want to include to help people sign up is a link to your sign up form.
If you like, you can adopt a hard-sell approach to achieving this goal. But when you deliver awesome quality information in a post, a simple form at the end will do the work. You don’t even have to hit people multiple times with your subscription invitation.
The key is, don’t forget to include that element. If you want to generate a certain outcome from a post, make sure you’ve included the elements required to achieve that goal in your post.
As another example, if you want people to buy a particular product after reading that post, don’t forget to include a link to the product or talk something about that product in the post. If you omit those elements, you can’t expect achieve your goal, no matter how great your post is.
4. Promote your blog post
The word “promote” is often read as “spam others with…” But you don’t need to resort to spam.
If your blog post is of great quality, and you believe it will help many people, share it in social media. Take five or ten seconds to manually add a description to the post link before you share it.
If you want to share your post with your newsletter subscribers, create a compelling, non-spammy headline, and write a compelling teaser so that people will want to check out the post.
Promotion doesn’t have to be spammy—do it in such a way that people want to click through.
5. Analyze your results
This is the crucial part where you’ll measure your success in terms of numbers. Don’t skip this step! You won’t learn anything from all you’ve done so far if you decide to ignore the results. And if you don’t learn anything, you won’t be able to improve your systematic approach to writing successful blog posts.
Again, let’s consider the example of people joining your subscription list after reading your post. You could create a special opt in form for this particular post (instead of your usual generic one). In Aweber, you might create a new web form and, in the Settings screen (where you fill out the crucial details), name the form appropriately so that you can easily identify it.
It’s a good idea to use a short form of the title of the post itself to name your web form. You’ll see that Aweber uses the same name for the tracking ID. And, when you look at the stats of all your web forms, you’ll be able to see how well that form converts in comparison to the others—that is, you’ll know how many people actually looked at that form, how many opted in, and what the conversion rate is (as a percentage).
This is a great way to see how successful your post was at achieving this goal.
If you want to track sales or see how well your signup funnel performed on the whole, you can always use Google Analytics. Go to the Analytics information for your target page to see the referral information.
You’ll usually see domains (that is, the home page of other blogs or websites) in the referral details. If you click on a particular domain, you can see the break down of actual pages of that domain that sent traffic to your target page, and the actual number of visits that came from each.
So you can pinpoint exactly how many visits are sent to your subscription or product landing page from a particular blog post you’ve written.
A systematic approach to blog post success
Don’t neglect to provide quality on every blog post you write. Every time you prepare to write a post, ask yourself: What do I want out of this blog post? What’s the purpose of me writing this blog post? How will I know that it’s achieved what I want?
Considering all this may sound like a big task to do on top of writing the blog post itself. But asking these questions, and being clear about the answers, helps you to actually write posts that achieve your desired results with ease.
Jane is a blog consultant and the founder of Problogging Success. She has authored two e-books Problogging Action Plan (winner of the Small Business Book Awards, 2012) and Guest Blogging Champion to help bloggers become successful in their blogging business.