10 Things Every Blog Needs to Be Successful

There are two sides to a blog: the human side and the technical side.  If either side fails, the blog is weak. Here are 10 things every blog needs to be successful.

On the human side, a great blog needs:

  1. Ten Things Every Blog Needs to Be SuccessfulBlogs need a clear purpose. Blogs that ramble about many things are rarely successful.
    Blogs are typically defined by topic but they can also be defined by the personality of the blogger or the needs of the audience the blogger serves.
    Here are few examples (the first 2 are my consulting clients) from the legal realm to help you see how others define their purpose:

    • NavWaters.com is a niche law blog whose purpose is the discussion of Maritime law cases.
    • The blog of AlfordLegal.com, Worth a Minute, is written to meet the need of both family and business law clients.
    • Ernie The Attorney is a legal blog defined around the personality of the blogger whose purpose is to discuss technology for law offices.
  2. Blogs need a well-defined audience.   The best way to define your audience is to first picture them.  Write down names (real ones) of the people who need the topics your blog will discuss. Think about the most common questions these people have. Make sure your posts answer these questions.
  3. Blogs need an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will help you decide:
  • How often your blog will release a new post: Daily, weekly, monthly?
  • What categories will be included on the blog?
  • What titles will be written for each category?
  • Who will write the posts?
  1. Blogs need conversation. Here are some ideas to help you generate and manage the conversation:
  • Ask open-ended questions at the end of posts.
  • Take polls or surveys and talk about them with your audience.
  • Include an occasional list post and ask readers to add new items to the list.
  • When a post gets a lot of comments/engagement, go deeper on that subject and post links to the new post in the comments section of the other post.
  • When you reply to a comment, ask a question that goes deeper with the person commenting to keep the conversation flowing.
  • Have a plan for moderating the comments. Check settings to make sure you get notifications when new comments are added so you can respond in a timely manner.

5.  Blogs need visuals. Pictures should add something of value to the post. For example, it can evoke emotion or demonstrate How To. Think Pinterest and Instagram. Think Youtube and Vimeo. You can get good stock photos and videos around the web at sites like Fotolia.com. (That’s the one I use the most.) To avoid, copyright infringement, don’t be tempted to use what you find on Google unless the photo is marked with the Creative Common License for commercial use. I always buy stock photos or take my own. We live in a visual world. Take advantage of visual images to make your message stronger and memorable.

On the technical side, a great blog needs:

  1. Blogs need to be hosted. Where will yours live? There are the free options like com and Blogger.com.  And, there are self-hosted solutions that provide an array of special features and functionality to serve businesses. I strongly recommend that blogs with business objectives find a home on a self-hosted solution – a third party web hosting company.  Here are a some examples of hosting companies that I recommend:
    1. Bluehost.com, a large company, with diverse hosting plans. (If you choose this host, I would only choose the PRO level or the WordPress plans – not the low-end starter sites.)
    2. Elliptical Hosting, a boutique firm with excellent personal support.
    3. Websynthesis, a WordPress only host.

I work with clients to determine which is hosting platform would best suit their unique needs.

  1. Blogs need a domain name. You can use a subdomain such as blogname.wordpress.com which won’t cost you anything. Or, you can purchase a domain name such as MyUniqueBlog.com at a domain name registrar like GoDaddy.com. If you have business objectives for your blog, purchase a domain name.
  2. Blogs need a theme. Themes are where the look and design of the blog site are defined.  I use and recommend the WordPress platform with WordPress themes. WordPress plays well with social media, mobile, SEO and PEOPLE because it’s easy to update.  And, I strongly recommend using a framework such as Genesis, WooFramework and Thesis. (I use Genesis by Studiopress.) Frameworks ensure best practices are followed at the programming level. For the end user, frameworks mean better plugin integration (they work more often), greater functionality (more plugins means more functionality at a low cost), upgrade ease 99% of the time and longer lifespan for themes.
  3. Blogs need protection. Make sure you have a plan for regular (daily, weekly, monthly) back-ups. Then, make sure someone manually downloads a copy once a month or more often if you update A LOT each month. One of the most common problems I see on blog and websites is that the backup system is part of the website file structure. Downloading the backup to your computer or to the cloud is the safe thing to do in case of hacking, coding error, upgrade failure or server failure. If the site goes down, you don’t want the backup to go with it.
  4. Blogs need subscribers. There are many ways to get them when they know what’s in it for them! Finish these sentences: Subscribe to my blog and you will get __________________. When you use the list below to get subscribers, lead with what you put on the blank.
  • Enable people to subscribe with RSS or by email on your blog using services like Mailchimp.com or Feedblitz.com.
  • Invite people to subscribe to your blog at the end of your Youtube videos and podcasts. Direct them to your subscription form link.
  • Add a pop up subscribe box to your website.
  • Post links to your subscription form routinely on all your social media channels.
  • Ask people to sign up when you meet with them in person at your office or at events. Have them sign up on your website, on a tablet with an app. Or, they can sign up on a list or fill out a form that is part of your client processes.

Whether you are an old-time expert blogger or a start-up blogger, I hope this list helps you know how to meet the top 10 needs of your blog from a technical and people perspective.  If you have another list item to add, please post it in the comments so we can talk about it and share it with others! Happy Blogging!