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The Four Os: a Four-Step Guide to Successful Blogging

Posted By Guest Blogger 12th of April 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Adam Best of FanSided.

I spent the previous decade figuring out how to “make it” online as a writer. Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone” comes to mind. Eventually, with the help of my brother, I made a bit of a splash on a Kansas City Chiefs blog called Arrowhead Addict. That effort went so well we decided to make a business out of sports blogging and started the FanSided Network. What started as one lonely Chiefs blog is now a family of 175 sites, with over 300 bloggers and millions of readers.

I’ve gone from figuring out how to blog to figuring out how to make bloggers better. As FanSided’s Editor, that’s my job. In a day and age where Charlie Sheen has dubbed himself a “genius warlock with tiger blood,” I’m gonna take the high road and just say that I know a thing or two about blogging. Ah, screw it. I’m a Blogfather and I’m here to make you a blogger they can’t refuse.

My blogging philosophy, the Four Os, has guided FanSiders for years. Hopefully, this blogging code will now help guide some of you. The Four Os are:
Blog Original.
Blog Often.
Blog Outstanding.
Blog Obsession.

Drumroll please (I picture a grand total of six of you tapping your pens on your desks…).

Blog Original

Elvis. Bowie. M.J. Madonna. Kanye West. Lady Gaga. All talented musicians? Yes, but it was their originality, even eccentricity, that allowed their talents to come to the forefront. Am I saying that you have to wear one glove, paint your face, announce that George W. Bush hates black people, and then die eating a sub on the toilet? No. What I’m suggesting is for your blog not to be a carbon copy of the existing powerhouse blogs in your category of choice.

Because almost anybody can jump online and start a site, it’s a copycat world out there. Everybody is involved in the same rat race to be first to get to the same story, the same video, the same meme, and then be first to market that post. What happened to establishing your own voice? What happened to being a trend-setter?

You don’t want to be viewed as a walking, talking spambot. Nobody really breaks news at this point. C’mon, everybody already heard about it on Twitter. My little sister broke the story on her Facebook page before most blogs did. Your focus should be on crafting original content that’s well written and different from anything else you can find on the Net. Research your niche; figure out its staples and what’s missing. Look outside your niche for inspiration. Put together a game plan to make your site one of a kind. Don’t be afraid of trial and error either. Your audiences will eventually only remember your hits, not your misses, and if you compile enough hits you’ll be well on your way.

Say what you will about Lady Gaga and her idiosyncrasies, but there’s only one of her and her schtick feels more natural than gimmicky. She’s made herself an indispensable part of the music scene. You’d be wise to do the same in your category.

Blog Often

Let’s say you own a restaurant. Let’s even say your place has spectacular food, a convenient location and great atmosphere. The problem? You only serve one meal, lunch, and only serve it Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If that was the case, you’d expect patrons to visit somewhat frequently during those times, but not during other times. Most bloggers serve up content about as infrequently, yet expect different results—great daily traffic. That’s unreasonable.

If you are only doing three, four, even five posts per week, you are contributing on strictly a hobby level. Those who write that infrequently yet experience a great deal of success are often either already famous or write like Hemingway. Most blogs need to average a post per day. Sometimes a daily post isn’t enough. FanSided is like Office Space. We can only ask our writers to wear so many pieces of flair, but our writers who wear the most pieces (post the most) get the most out of their blogs. I’ve been staring at analytics for years now, and there is definitely a strong correlation between post quantity and traffic.

Blogging isn’t just writing—nobody alive can write four or five opuses every day. Blogging is part writing, of course. But curating, or mining the Internet for gold (news, videos, links, images, stats, quotes, tweets, etc.), is equally as important. Yes, your blog has to be your own voice, but it also has to be more. The best blogs serve as hubs that keep readers from having to surf the web. Besides, you can still Blog Original and voice your opinion when you are curating. Just make sure you interject original insight, even if you do so in rapid-fire fashion.

Another suggestion is to add a staff around you once your blog is established. There are plenty of talented writers out there who don’t have the time to spearhead their own site, yet want to receive great exposure. Adding staffers will also allow you to focus more on quality over quality. Most importantly, any knucklehead can start a site by themselves. If you have a dedicated and talented staff serving under you, then you and your site must be legitimate. That’s not always the case, but a blog staff presents a façade of success and perception is everything—or at least very damn important.

Make sure you have at least one quality post on your site every single day. If you’re not doing so already, try it out for a month. If you already do one, do two or three for the next 30 days. If your traffic and comment numbers don’t increase, tweet to me @adamcbest and let me know it didn‘t work. I’ll tweet to all my followers that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s how confident I am in the Blog Often approach.

Blog Outstanding

Part of the problem with trying to Blog Often is that we are all pressed for time. As a result, visual appearance, formatting, grammar, title and promotion often are overlooked aspects of blogging. Compare posting a blog post to selling a house. When you sell a house, you do everything possible to get potential buyers inside, where they can envision being there on a day-to-day basis. You don’t get sloppy or take shortcuts. You make sure the house is painted, the yard is mowed, and that there is no trash anywhere on the premises. You put up yard signs and get the house listed.

Most bloggers, however, don’t think of blog posts as houses for sale. They assume that as long as the message is there, that’s what matters. Those bloggers couldn’t be more wrong. Blog readers often scan new sites before digging into articles. If your formatting sucks, they’ll probably just close the tab. If you have huge blocks of text without breaks or images, they’ll probably bounce. If your post is chock-full of errors, they’ll assume you are either unintelligent or lazy and won’t come back. If you don’t promote your posts and site in general, nobody will even show up in the first place.

That brings us to promotion. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Likewise, if a blogger posts brilliant content that no one ends up reading, was it really brilliant content? “Post and ghost” is a systemic plague that has killed blogs off for years. The Internet is vast. Bloggers can’t just post, step away from the keyboard and expect for readers to miracle their way to their site.

How do you promote your blog? Start with Facebook and Twitter accounts, and make sure they are personalized. Do not just use these accounts to aggregate new posts. Network with other bloggers in your niche, introduce yourself, link their site. You might think of them as competition, but most fans of any category read multiple sites. From experience, kindness in the blog community is typically repaid. After that, look at social media content communities like Digg and Reddit, and see if you can get any traction. I no longer digg, but as a former “power digger” I can assure you that these sites can point a traffic firehouse at your site.

This section is simple: if you don’t take pride in your blog, how can you expect anybody else to? If you’re proud of the way posts look and read, you won’t feel uncomfortable promoting your site. Also, the more you promote, the more you’ll stop worrying about the shameless self promotion you’re doing and do what needs to be done. In reality, almost all promotion is at least partially self promotion anyway. Take pride in your blog. Eventually, you’re audience will, too.

Blog Obsession

Ultimately, your success will depend on your topic, your niche. If you think too small, your earning chances will be extremely limited, and you’ll have a hard time getting noticed. On the other end, if you think big, bigger opportunities could present themselves, but so will bigger challenges. For those of you who have seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, let’s call it Ramona Flowers Syndrome. Your new beau might seem fine at first, but a bunch of dudes were there before you and all of them are formidable. You will have to work your way to the top—if there’s even room for you up there. It’s kind of like making a decision between entering the main World Series of Poker event or a smaller WSOP satellite tourney.

Not only do you have to be passionate about your topic of choice, other people have to be passionate about it as well. If you’re not passionate, fans of your topic will see right through you. If nobody else is passionate about your topic, you might as well print your blog posts and stick them on your mom’s fridge. The number of folks who are enthusiastic about your topic will determine the ceiling of your blog venture. Some topics will leave you stranded on a deserted island with a few friends. Trust me, you don’t want to be a Blog Gilligan. I’ve been there and there’s no Mary Ann or Ginger.

When I think about the choices I make, a scene from Blow pops into my head. The one where Diego says to George, “You failed because you had the wrong dream.” Your blog could fail the second you choose your topic, as many relationships often fail because the pair was just wrong from the start. Make sure you and your topic are a good match for both you and your audience, and that there is an actual audience. It’s like an NFL franchise choosing between quarterbacks with a No. 1 overall draft pick. Choose wrong and it will cost you down the road, possibly for a long time. You want to pick Peyton Manning—not Ryan Leaf.

Take your time mulling your topic over before you launch your blog. If you’ve already launched, reevaluate your blog and ask yourself if you’re covering the right topic. If you figure out you’re wasting time, that’s okay. You’ll be saving time in the future.

So what do you think? Are you following these Four Os of successful blogging?

Adam Best is an entrepreneur, blogger/writer and artist from Austin, TX. He founded FanSided and currently has a couple other start-ups in the developmental phase. He has covered sports, film, pop culture and blogging all over the Net. Follow him on Twitter at @adamcbest.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Now thats what I call a blog post, ace !

    • yeah, an excellent post. however, when i first read the title, i thought Os stands for Operating system. but never, a very useful post

  2. Blog often is much easier said then done. Great post tho!

  3. “If you are only doing three, four, even five posts per week, you are contributing on strictly a hobby level.”

    Really? That’s surprising… if not disappointing.

    • I agree with you. I am able to post 3 times a week, and I definitely don’t consider my blog a hobby. I put a lot of thought into those 3 posts. If I had to post 2 or 3 times a day, my content would suck and it would just be a bunch of no-sense words on the screen.

  4. Great post, thanks! ‘Often’ is my problem, as my posts are informative by nature (no pun intended)- I don’t know how to integrate a lighter air to the blog so as to increase the frequency of my posts.
    I do well though and have made great strides in a short period of time (averaging 11k page views daily in less than 18 months). I compensate for some of the ‘often’ through social networking.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Oh, and as a Bodhran player- I did the drum roll with my hands.

  5. Excellent article. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Nothing really that new, but the way it’s said does make a bit of a difference in capturing interest.

    Well worth the read.

    • Well said Lupica… Indeed, this writer “captured my interest” from the first paragraph; his style of writing is not only informative but fun to read as well.

  7. Alright, I’m just going to come out and say it: I love you. You got me all excited to start writing some great content for my blog.

    I’m glad someone finally admitted that new bloggers have to update their blogs often. I try to update my blog at least 2 times a day, with at least one longer post. You’ve convinced me to start curating a little more. I typically curate some news on my Twitter feed, but why not write a couple sentences of commentary and post it on my blog instead? I think DaringFireball is an example we could look to. Although I sometimes wish he’d write more longer articles.

    Anyway, thanks for writing. Great stuff. You rock.

  8. As I read his, I am in the middle of a blog post that I was cranking out just to get it out. Talk about timing.

    It made me think about the reason that I blog and what I want to share with my readers. Rather then just throwing a post out there and turn it into a “spambot”, I am going to finish what I am writing and sit on it for a day or so and re-edit it to make sure that there is true value in the post.

    Thanks for the right post at the right time… Much appreciated.


  9. Really great article Adam! Very well written and easy to read.

  10. Great article, but 5 posts per week is more than a hobby man. 5 quality posts per week would more than suffice to have a successful blog. Most people won’t even read your posts if you’re spewing out 2-3 posts per day.

    • That’s what I’m thinking. I figure five quality posts is quite sufficient; even four; possibly three… maybe? LOL. And I agree that if you post too much, you risk your content not being read, and you’re readers being overwhelmed.

      • true but you need to try out what makes u happy and best for you. I am trying to do it 5 day and the number is there on my mind that makes me read more and keep the count increasing of my topic lists. So till now i am having fun. rest about readers well my view is that keep on blogging, follow the 4 o’s mentioned above and readers will come(i am not a smart blogger though, just a new kid).

    • Some of us spend 4-8 hours on one single blog post. Getting 5 out a week is a massive effort. So yeah, I would hardly call that just a “hobby”.

  11. This is fantastic. I post twice daily and I think it’s perfect. I keep a binder for drafting posts and save those at the end of the day as drafts to be posted in the future. I also 1 regular guest blogger and I’m planning to increase that to 5 by the summer.

    It does make a huge difference.

    I’ve found that 3 or more posts a day is too much. Two quality posts seem to be just right for my blog.

  12. I think you did a great job of covering what you need to have a successful blog. If you can’t blog often then getting others to blog is the best way to go… it’s just making sure they blog smart. I think that will be my next blog. How to blog smart. What I mean by that is target the blog to the audience. Make sure it is search engine friendly and for the rest of my tips you will have to stay tuned… :-D

  13. Hmm, OK, I agree with a lot of this, but surely the stuff about posting every day depends on your niche and your readers’ habits? In the travel niche I don’t see many people posting more than 2 or 3 times weekly. I can see that more content = more search traffic but surely reader fatigue will set in after a few weeks of daily posts. I think I stand with Jennifer Aniston’s character from Office Space and would be tempted to tell Mr Chachis where to put his extra pieces of flair! :)

  14. I agree with most of this, but similar to what others have said, I feel like Blogging Often and Blog Outstandingly have the potential to contradict each other. Yes, you should blog on a regular basis, but blogging just to make sure you reach your weekly quota can often lead to poor, forced articles. I generally try to blog about 5 times a week, but mostly, I blog when inspiration hits. Or I write down the idea to blog about at a later time when I’m in need of a topic.

    Your point about being original is spot on. It’s important to talk about things people care about, which are often typical, cliché topics or problems, but the key is to put a twist on it. Discuss a common topic, but with a creative twist :)

    • Really inspiring advice. I’m new to blogging and quickly learning how much I don’t know. I think that’s a good thing, though. I’m at that exciting stage where I’m thrilled with learning new things and getting advice about blogging via posts like this.

      It is tough to post daily, but the blogs I like best are the ones that update daily or several times a day. even if I don’t get to revisit that blog for a while, I can return and be excited about all the new content to sort through. Blogging often may be difficult, but I agree that it makes a big difference. Thanks!

  15. Brian Vickery says: 04/12/2011 at 9:01 am

    I really got a kick out of the movie and sports references. I also enjoyed the points, and I guess that means I am failing the Blog Often test because I was going for maybe one every 5 days or so. That provided a little interlude to recover from my blogging genius (he says tongue in cheek). I have tried to be original, humorous, mix content, etc. I’ll try to take the challenge of blogging more frequently. With daily posts, what would you say is the typical word count? I don’t want the reading to become part of a daily grind!

  16. I don’t know if I’ll blog more than a few times a week but there’s some definite value here, thanks for the article.

  17. Oh good- I feel so much better that I’m not alone on the Often thing. Personally I’d rather take the time to read fewer posts with better content than more with less.

  18. Well, interesting enough, but I do not consider three, four, or even five posts per week to be a hobby, unless of course it’s the blogger’s intention.

  19. Your post is awesome. Thanks for the four Os steps. I like your writing style and you simply rock.

  20. Until I start making actual money, I figure it is a hobby no matter how many posts I make per week.

  21. Great ideas! But sometimes is hard to come up with thoughts and put together as a blog.

  22. I have noticed over the last few weeks how a lot of bloggers don’t seem to care about what they put on their blogs. It has motivated me to take the time that is needed to put quality information together. I found myself a couple of weeks ago just rushing to get something posted but nobody seemed to care. Since then I have changed my outlook and focused on every little aspect of my posts. I have noticed an influx of over 700 visitors per day!!

    I definitely agree with this post and thank you for confirming my own thoughts.

  23. Great post Adam. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Blog Original.
    Blog Often.
    Blog Outstanding.
    Blog Obsession.

    That’s what it’s all about. Everyone needs to make sure that their content is original (especially with Google’s new algorithm) and the most successful bloggers are those who post twice a day.

  25. brilliant post Adam and thanks to problogger too. I am on a strict diet of the 4 O’s. keep on blogging and have fun.

  26. Nice post, I am agreed to you in most of the part, but only concern is creating 5 posts in a week is asking for too much, especially when you have to come across very good quality content.I used to do, 2 or may be 3 posts in a week, which I think is good enough if you are producing content of good quality.

  27. I don’t think blogging often is the solution to getting more traffic. Search traffic is really based on quality original content, not quantitative. On another note, I really can’t think of someone checking blogs more than maybe once or twice a day. Flooding your blog with content just for traffic sake just becomes spam.

    If you want returning readers, I don’t think it’s the way to go. It’ll pile up in their “to-read” list or just not get read at all. I know for the blogs I follow, if I can’t keep up with reading their posts because they post too much in a short period of time, I lose interest. At this day in age, unless you’re having passive income and not a 8-5 job, most people don’t have the time to devote to such readings.

    Instead of posting 3-4 times a day, I think at most, bloggers should 1-2 posts. Maybe one long post, and one short post. And if you’re on a roll with writing post, schedule them for another day. This would improve consistency and neither you or your readers will be burnt out.

  28. OK, ok – about posting frequency. My approach is different. Write one, but long and good article for your blog – because it’s about content, and not landing your short post in their RSS reader.

    When I switched my approach and instead of publishing 3 short posts per week, I decided to publish only one huge article on Friday, my traffic have increased, social media interaction jumped up, not mentioning my revenue. So really – people want to read good content, not new content every day or hour. They don’t care how often you post, as long as you post good and professional articles.

  29. A lot of us are personal bloggers. We don’t have porfessional blogs likes yours and we’re not out to make money. We simply engage with other personal family style blogs. Posting as often as you suggest isn’t always right for us.

    I find that the less frequently I post, the more comments I get per post. If I put up an article too soon after another, that first one suffers because visitors tend to only read and comment on the most recent post. Very few people go deep into a blog past the newest post. Blogging is very time consuming, and most people don’t have the time to stay on one blog site for very long. They want to read your latest post and move onto the next blog. I tend to post about once or twice a week, and my comment numbers average over 40 per post. The lowest number of comments I ever got on my posts was the one week I put three posts up on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I barely got 10 comments on each post.

    Sure, I would love to generate more traffic to my blog, but if I post as frequently as you suggest, then it’s going to be at the expense of my posts.

    What say you about this?

  30. Is blogging about how to improve blogging the most popuar blog topic in the blog community?

  31. Not yet finished reading the whole article but it was awesome till I read, a help lot of information over there.

  32. All points noted Adam, thanks for sharing

  33. I agree with the author on all points. I recently went from 5 posts/day M-F to 7 days a week. Result? Most traffic in site’s history and solid weekend readership. I have an editor which makes things easier, but it’s very fulfilling watching the graph go up the more I produce.

  34. I especially agree with the point about writing every day. I get a massive increase in traffic on the day of a post because of all the extra promotion I do and all of my readers coming to take a look. Unfortunatly I don’t have the time to post every day. Maybe I’m just not obsessed enough :)

  35. One of the best posts I read on blogging in a long time!


    Read Aloud Dad

  36. Excellent Motivational post for everyone! I really feel myself kick the ball in the middle. I would like to mention about consistency in blogging. Like I got motivated after reading your inspirational post, but after few days again lazy blog routine…

  37. Love this! I have four blogs: two I am trying to grow (one of which I’m trying to monetize), and two I’m trying to kick off. I barely have time to write, but I love all of my blogs, and I’m thinking that doing thirty days of blogging for all four is crazy but also just what I need. I may be babbling incoherently by May, but here we go! Thank you, Adam!

  38. Great advice! Now if I could just write better, that is my problem. I always feel like an idiot when I blog!

  39. I know I have too many blogs out there, but I’m obsessed!

    So, I got at least one “O”!

    I believe I’m original, so that’s another “O”!

    Often and outstanding? May have to work on those “O’s”!

    Great post!

  40. I’ll print this post out as a reminder before publishing posts on my new upcoming blog! Thanks for this! :)

  41. What an awesome post. I really love the comparison to a restaurant. I’m one person who wonders about frequency, and if I am not doing enough to attract a bigger readership.

    Thanks for the insight!


  42. Great post. Blogging is today’s need and those who own successful blogs generate good out of them.

  43. Dude you are a funny and talented motivational speaker. This is now one of my top ten all time favorite posts on ProBlogger.

  44. Okay so I don’t like sport, like at all. But when I checked out your site my eyes popped open and I said, “Woah!”


  45. Today is a great day all around, great comments and truly a masterpiece post Adam.

    Someplace, I can’t recall where, I read something to the effect; to succeed …. you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you. This post is one of those things.

    I know I have the Os but I think there is also a need for patience. Successful blogging don’t happen overnight. Thxs again Adam and thxs Darren.

    This is one of the reasons I love ProBlogger for it aids to keep me going:)

  46. KILLER post about blogging tips! Absolutely wonderful. A work of art. OK, I’ll stop gushing here but you get my drift I’m sure.

    I really appreciate how you break the article into four parts, and I like the “Os” theme. Your writing prowess and undeniable conviction come through and, as a result, the effect does not come off as gimmicky at all. (There was one grammatical error, spelling mistake, typo, but I’ll let that pass;)

    I definitely agree with all your points but I think frequency really depends on what kind of posts you are writing. Sure Seth Godin posts everyday but his posts tend to be short and to the point, powerful but with a feathery touch (think Larry Bird), while Olivier Blanchard writes long long long posts on a much less predictable schedule and far less frequently, but I would argue that they offer more or less equal value. (Not sure about the traffic/profitability aspect.)

    Also, some solid pop culture references for us TV, music, and movie nerds. Thanks for that!

    All in all, awesome, very “save and reread-able” post. Thanks, Adam!


  47. Let’s see if I can get through this without going all “blogpost” on y’all.

    I have been blogging for less than a month, and I already have over 90 followers, and NONE of them are my friends or family. Which is a whole different topic. You go to support to be supported. Anyway….

    Other followers are people who are on the lookout for great non-Walmart gift ideas. Like the coffee mug with the slot for your donuts, or cookies and milk, or tequila and lime, whatever your drink and companion of choice is. http://www.insideetsy.blogspot.com/2011/03/piece-by-denise.html

    The way my blog is set up, I don’t have to think of content. I have people sending me content! They ARE the content! I have my interview schedule full through June, and that is with posting one time a day, six days a week. (Sunday is my day of rest. It’s a really great idea, anyway.)

    I have an Etsy shop (www.MamaMellyMartin.etsy.com), write for handmadeology.com, and my blog at http://www.InsideEtsy.blogspot.com is about other people, not myself. The best way to get your shop promoted is to let others do the promoting for you. And they will if it is about them!

    I am selective in who I feature. They have to have an interesting product and great photos. They have to be “good enough”. If they’re not, then I send them a shop review. Most of my followers are people who are trying to grow their Etsy business and are also ones that have asked for shop reviews.

    After reading this post, I am going to kick up my posting to twice a day. It may not be the right thing for everyone, but I don’t see how it will hurt me any. I’m a stay-at-home mom. Anything to get out of doing laundry! “Blog Naked”, lol, that’s kind of catchy….

    Thanks for an awesome and inspiring post!

  48. I completely agree with your 4 O’s they are right on the money. Great post I think that you will fail if you don’t love what your are blogging about. You have to know so much in order to develop the readers because you are writing about the topic and commenting on other blogs so frequently. Love it or leave it because Content is King out on the internet.

  49. The four O’s that you mentioned are very true! I strongly agree with all of them, we need to be original and outstanding to stand out from the crowd, we really need to do something different or something unique to be success on the web. Anyway, we just need to be ourself, don’t copy what people had been written on the web, that would ruin yourself and it doesn’t help to brand ourselves at all.

    Great post Adam Best!

    Lee Ka Hoong

  50. It’s a good guide . But it’s difficult to obey it. That’s why only some bloggers (like you) succeed .

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