30 Okt 2012

How to Create a Popular Blog

One question that I constantly get asked by you is:

How do you create a popular blog?

The obvious answer is to write really good content. But good content isn’t good enough. When I started blogging 5 years ago I had information to share, but I didn’t have many readers.
Fast forward to today and after having started 3 blogs and working with other popular blogs like TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Mashable, and Boing Boing, I’ve learned the formula that’ll make any blog (with good content) popular.
Here are the 7 things you need to do:
Pay for blog posts

Warning: Do not try to use this tactic to increase your search engine rankings as it can lead you to get banned from the search engines.

When I start a blog, the first thing I do is publish a minimum of 5 blog posts. After that, I pay other bloggers to blog about my blog. It takes a lot longer to build momentum if your blog has zero readers. So if someone already has readers, why not leverage their blog and get them over to mine?

Through services like ReviewMe and Pay Per Post you can find bloggers who are willing to talk about your blog to their readers. Keep in mind that these bloggers will have to mention to their readers that you paid them to write a blog post, but even with that said, it’s still effective.

When I did this with Quick Sprout I was able to attract 1000 RSS subscribers within 24 hours with this tactic.
Leverage the blogosphere

If you can’t afford to pay other bloggers to write about you, don’t worry. Another effective way to get more readers to your blog is to write guest posts.

For example, Mark Suster has a blog called Both Sides of the Table, in which he blogs about business and venture capital. One way he gets more readers to his blog is by regularly blogging on TechCrunch which has a similar audience to his.

And to prove that it has been an effective strategy for him, he even breaks down how guest posting drives more traffic to his blog than any other referrer.
Don’t forget the basics

The way you setup your blog can make a huge impact on it’s popularity. WordPress already comes out of the box with a lot of the stuff you need, but if you add a few extra plugins, it can make a huge difference.
Top commentors – you want reward your readers for commenting on your blog. The easiest way to do this is to have acommentors leader board in your side bar as it will encourage people to come back and comment.
Threaded comments – no one likes talking to themselves. With threaded comments you can reply to each of your commentors, which will help encourage more comments and cause your traffic to go up.
Subscribe to comments – every time someone leaves a comment on your blog, you should give them an option to subscribe. This way, when a new person comes to your blog and leaves a comment, the previous commentors will get an email notification to come back to your blog and check out the new comment.
Tell your story

People connect with people! By writing a very detailed about page, your readers will feel like they actually know you. And once they make that personal connection with you, they will be more likely to not only comeback to your blog, but also comment and interact on your blog posts.

If you’re not sure on how to write an about me page, just follow these 4 steps:
Image – I don’t care if you are the ugliest person in the world, you need to place an image of yourself on your about page. That way your readers can connect with you and get to know you on a personal level.
About yourself – The main point of the about page is to talk about yourself, but don’t get caught up in just writing about your background and education, you should also discuss your life experiences.
Be unique – People have probably seen hundreds or even thousands of about pages in their lifetime, which is why you need to have something memorable.
Contact – Once you have made a strong impact your reader, the chances are they’ll visit your blog again or even contact you. Because of this you need to make it easy for people to contact you through your about page.

And if you want to see what a finished product looks like, check out my about page.
Don’t be shy

If you want to get readers to your blog, you can’t by shy. Get out there and create a Twitter and a Facebook account. According to Alexa Facebook is the 2nd most popular site on the Internet and Twitter is the 11th. So why not leverage their traffic to get more people to your blog?

With Twitter not only should you be tweeting about topics related to your blog, but you should also follow other people who are interested in similar topics. You can find these people by doing a quick search on Twitter and then start following them. Naturally some of those people will follow you back, so when you tweet about your blog people will read it.

And with Facebook, start adding friends to your profile as there is a good chance they’ll be interested in your blog when you share new posts.
Get Stumbled Upon

Do you know what the number 1 referrer to most blogs is? Google,right? But do you know what the 2nd most popular referrer is?

It isn’t Digg, Facebook, Twitter or even direct traffic. Out of all the blogs I worked with, StumbleUpon seemed to be the 2nd most popular referrer.

If you want to start getting more StumbleUpon traffic to your blog, not only should you create a StumbleUpon account, but you should also participate in the community. You can do this by:
Stumbling – start stumbling things that interest you and your blog readers.
Add friends – befriend people who have similar interest on StumbleUpon. This way, when you start stumbling your friends will also see what you are promoting.
Engage – stumbling every day isn’t enough. You need to interact with other StumbleUpon users so that you’ll increase the odds of them actually stumbling your stories. You can do this by sending them direct messages.
Optimize for search engines

As I mentioned above Google is the number 1 traffic referrer to most blogs. When you are first starting out, it won’t be that way, but in the long run you’ll notice that your Google traffic will continually go up.

Since a good chunk of your traffic will come from Google, it’s important that you optimize your blog for search engines. The easiest way to do this is to use plugins like the all in one seo pack.

If you want to optimize your blog manually, you can read this blog post.

Writing good content isn’t enough! You have to do all of the things I mentioned above if you want a popular blog.

Even though I have been blogging for 5 years, by no means do I know everything about blogging. So if you have any other ideas on how to make your blog more popular, feel free and leave a comment.

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