Elance Blog

10 Ways To Produce A Winning Blog

According to Technorati, a leading authority on the so-called blogosphere, there are more than 100,000,000 blogs that have launched since 2002. Yes, you read that right. One hundred million. But let me be honest. It is my (admittedly) unscientific opinion that 95 percent of blogs on the Web today range from generally mediocre to digital train wrecks.

Great blogs stand out because they have great content. It’s why you bookmark, subscribe to RSS feeds, and generally come back for more. If you want to take your material to the next level, you’re going to have to pay attention. Get ready to take notes — we have a lot to cover.

Let’s look at some of the basics of creating a winning content strategy:

  1. Determine your publishing frequency. Different blogs have success with different publishing schedules, but the key to this equation is to remain as consistent as possible. Elance user Tim Ferriss crafts no more than two-to-three posts a week on his blog, while sites like the uber-popular TechCrunch publish five-to-ten new posts everyday. While there is no definitive answer for how many times a week you should post, just remember that as unpredictable and fickle as blog readers may be, when it comes to frequency, they appreciate consistency.
  2. Create an editorial calendar. This is a big one. Once you've tackled number 1, build an editorial calendar to keep track of your content. If "editorial calendar" makes you feel like you're roaming in uncharted territory, a marketing professional can help you come up with the right topics, angles, and frequency for your posts. A well-kept calendar will also keep your blog sharp, timely, and informative, all while ensuring you that all topics have been covered.
  3. Look for unique content angles. Three words: Set. Yourself. Apart. Avoid boring your readers to death with the same song and dance as the next blogger. Give breaking news a little bit of edge, share your personal perspective or bias on a controversial topic, or give add a little kick to your blog by using a truly unique voice. Confused? Public relations professionals professionals are experts at getting your message across, and they can help you construct a blog your readers (and your customers) can’t breathe without.
  4. Choose the right blog platform. Decisions, decisions. With so many choices out there on the Web, picking one can seem like a daunting task. Strong candiates like WordPress and Movable Type have huge community support and feature plug-ins and many customization options, while Joomla and Drupal software packages can publish a wide variety of page types. If simplicity is your game, Typepad and Blogger are right up your alley. Want more info? We break down six of the most popular blogging platforms used on the Web today in our latest blog post.
  5. Too busy? Get help. Dust off the Rolodex and start scanning for friends, partners, colleagues and experts who could be guest contributors—not only will you get content with a refreshing voice, but their readers may stumble upon your blog as a result. (As a rule of thumb, we follow our own advice: The Elance Blog features guest contributors often.) Another possible option is to hire talented ghostwriters: Formulate the topic and select a deadline, and an elancer can create the engaging content that you didn't have the time — or ability — to write yourself.
  6. Write a great headline. The headline can either make or break a post, so choose your words wisely. Try using lists, numbers, how-tos, compelling questions, popular names, or even satire and wit. Think of it this way: Would you read an article titled “Techniques for Personal Budgeting” or one titled “Save Hundreds by Making Four Simple Phone Calls”? If you're still struggling with headlines, copywriters are the pros; they know how to instantly grab Web surfers with just a few key words.
  7. Avoid filler or fluff. Remember: You are not the only blogger out there. Readers just have too many choices available within half of a click; they’ll quickly pass on an article with padding or unnecessary commentary. Get to the point and stay on point. Leave your readers wanting more, and they’ll come back for more. Bore them and they may never return.
  8. Create a conversation. We’re all human, so let your voice show it. Conduct your writing as if you’re having a conversation with close friends. Let your personality shine through; after all, that’s what social media is all about. And don’t be afraid to take an unpopular position or to be wrong or brutally honest—your readers want to know what you truly think, so tell them.
  9. Use pictures and video. Adding an image or video is simple yet adds a huge amount of depth to your blog. For example, Tim Ferris often includes how-to videos on his blog, and the headline/photo posts on The Sartorialist get dozens of comments from visitors. Trust me — it makes a big difference.
  10. Above all, be a resource and put your readers first. Your readers want to gain something special from your blog that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the Web. If you want your blog to grow in popularity, provide information, analysis, and viewpoints that are exclusive to your blog. Not only will they tell others by word-of-mouth, but they’ll also submit your content to social media sites. Don’t create a blog for you–create a blog that for your readers.


With these tips, you’ll be able to give your lifeless blog a major content makeover while attracting a wealth of new readers. If any of these points sound difficult or time consuming, remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Get help from marketing professionals, blogging platform experts or talented writers as they can help you build your blog, devise a direction and maintain its freshness.

Did we miss any? Leave a note in the comments section and let us know your secrets to keeping your blog on top of its game.

 

Comments

For my own blog, I just have fun with it. I post when I want about what I want. But, I have learned from working with my clients' blogs that creating a conversation can be taken a step further than what was mentioned above. Start a controversy. Ask questions. Get your readers involved with explosive angles of topics. You don't necessarily want to be Jerry Springer. But, having an exciting topic to talk about gets comments and gets people coming back.

Dear Alex,

Thank you for a very informative piece on blogging.
I have recently added a blog to my website and was conflicted initially as to whom I was really writing. Was it for fun? For readers? For clients?
Until this question was answered, writing content was perplexing.

I suggest that this question is a fundamental one for new bloggers before they get "down to business".

Sincerely,
Barbara Hales
TheWriteTreatment.com

I am about to set up my own website with blog. For me the biggest difficulty with the blog is narrowing down the topics of interest: I am interested in so many things! Is it possible to have a blog that jumps from politics, to gardening, to cooking, to writing, to poetry, to parenting, to art, to competitive sport, to spirituality and even to sex? I have read much about finding your niche, but I am clearly one of those whose only niche really is writing. (The rest I love, but I'm hardly an expert.)
So, is it possible to have a successful blog that covers such a myriad of topics?
If so, is it wise to link such a blog to a professional website (my writing/editing business), knowing that I am going to reveal much of my personal side as I would to friends?

I liked the points 1, 2, 4 and 6. These four steps in themselves can do a lot for your blog. But no matter what technique you apply, I believe that patience is the key to blogging successfully. While selling an article to a magazine is akin to selling a product, blogging is like an investment that yields rich dividends over a period of time. But if you do it right, it can build your wealth in a big way!

Ketan Rindani
http://ketanrindani.blogspot.com