What can you do to take your blog to the next level? What does it take to become a successful blogger?
There are no secrets or a magic wand that will make your blog a success. Writing stellar blog posts requires a combination of good luck, hard work, and consistency. I have found that working enthusiastically and diligently makes the work a little easier and more enjoyable.
Blogging has the potential to not only make a difference in your life, but also the life of the reader. Blogging helps you become a better writer (practice makes perfect), a better thinker (the process of blogging forces you to stop and think deeper), a more intentional marketer (you’ll begin thinking more intentionally about your school and your marketing campaigns) and you’ll develop an internal “eye” for meaningful aspects and events in your school. Blogging requires a filter, after all, because you can’t blog about every event or everything that happens. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most important parts of your school.
Perhaps the most inspirational aspect of blogging is the potential impact you will have on your audience. For the most part, blogs are free content and open to the public. On many levels, blogging is an act of giving. It is a selfless act of service to invest your time, energy and school’s viewpoint. You will find that others will find inspiration in your writing – and that’s a great feeling.
Here are 10 tips that will help your blog shine.
1. Move Your Blog to WordPress
If you’re blogging on a platform other than WordPress (like Blogger or Tumblr) do yourself a favor and move to WordPress. It’s not a difficult process and will definitely help you in the long run. Blogger is an easy-to-use alternative but the problem is that copy that is not a Page or a Post is not used for SEO purposes. Also, Google is known for cutting products mercilessly (i.e. Google Reader) even if it has a strong user base. Here is a good resource to help you transition your blog from Blogger to WordPress.
2. Find Your School’s “Voice”
You need to develop a unique and interesting writing style that will resonate with your audience(s). Need some ideas for how to style your writings? Here are some of my favorites:
3. Craft Interesting – But Accurate – Headlines
Everyone knows the importance of a strong headline in today’s over-crowded world of content. But make sure your headlines are accurate and not over-exaggerated, which could harm your credibility. Drawing a blank on a title? Here’s a simple little headline generator tool that’s definitely not fancy but helpful for coming up with a host of ideas. Just make sure you use your own “voice” and keep your headlines genuine.
4. Use Visuals
Always use your own graphics, photographs or a stock image (here’s a link to 40 Free Stunningly Beautiful Stock Image sites) to help your post stand out.
5. Pay attention to SEO
Keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind – but don’t obsess about it. Google algorithms are so sophisticated these days that the best way to optimize your blog is to write relevant, helpful content. That said, here are a few SEO tips you might want to use to optimize your posts:
- Always organize your content under subheadings. Use anchored headings and add titles and captions to your images.
- Link your content so visitors and search bots can find the gold in your archived posts.
- The post excerpt is important because it will show up in search snippets and social news feeds. Don’t use the auto-generated version of the excerpt – write it yourself.
- Fix broken links. I suggest running the Chrome extension Check My Links once a month or so to make sure my links aren’t broken.
6. Avoid RSS to Email
Don’t use a RSS to Email service to prepare your daily/weekly email newsletters. Instead, write original content for your email newsletters and put a summary in the email subject line to increase your open rate.
7. Leverage Your About Page
Your About Page is your chance to shine! Don’t be shy. Demonstrate why someone would want to work with you. Show off your best work, link to your popular stories, make it easy for people to subscribe to your content and include testimonials. This will make your bio more credible to someone who doesn’t know you.
8. Use Listicles Sparingly
A “listicle” is a list with a little bit of copy (list + article = listicle.) Think “Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Albums of All Time.” A listicle can be very popular – but doesn’t usually have much substance to it. Most visitors will want more substantial information; your best bet is to try a variety of blog post types and see which ones your audience likes the best. Or keep them guessing – mystery is always alluring!
9. Harness the Power of Social Media
Amplify your reach using various social channels. There are many channels to consider besides Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ or Snapchat. Consider uploading slides to Slideshare, write an e-book for Kindle, do a podcast on iTunes (or at least offer to be a guest on a regular show), use social bookmarking sites like Medium, Tumblr, LinkedIn Articles (Pulse), Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit – there are so many places to consider sharing your content.
10. Know What Sets Your Blog Apart
Almost anyone can have a blog these days. What will set yours apart is your expertise in the field, writing style (and yes, skill), and most important – credibility. Be transparent and abide by the journalists’ code of ethics. Here’s an example on The Verge (a well-known blog) in case you’re interested. There are many reasons to keep your blog up-to-date. Blogging helps to drive new traffic (potentially new enrollees!) to your website, leveraging the power of search engines and social media to attract new or returning visitors. A blog helps potential parents determine if your school is the right fit for their student and family. It helps to establish your school’s authority and credibility – and generates long-term results. A blog for your school is definitely a worth-while endeavor. I hope these tips will help you make some improvements to your blog.
What other questions do you have about blogging? What has worked the best for your blog? Feel free to leave your questions (or input) in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!