What makes a good blog? That’s a hard question to answer. No matter what the topic (and we know there are blogs for everything, literally!) there are four key factors each blogger should consider for success.
- Content can make all the difference. Bottom line: new content drives traffic.
- Be attractive to visitors. Utilize social media, make connections with fellow bloggers, choose the right domain, and take SEO seriously.
- Make it easy for visitors to return. Including social media sharing buttons always helps and also encourage email subscriptions to gather more information about your readers.
- Manage your time wisely. Most blogs don’t usually see instant gratification or popularity. It can take up to 6 months to a year, so be patient, but also be persistent. You have to give users a reason to visit your blog once and then return.
It’s important to recognize there are several different types of blogs. Besides various topics, many blogs have unique goals and purposes. Not all blogs are created equal.
Types of Blogs:
News: Generally feels and looks like a traditional online news website, reporting latest announcements and developments.
Professional/Semi-Professional: Professional blogs are generally of a high standard, produce content several times a day, and focus heavily on news and features. Semi-professional blogs differ in the amount of time spent blogging, usually the blogger is not full-time.
Recreational: Content tends to be produced sporadically, but it’s characterized by a very specific passion for a subject or hobby.
Aggregator/Link Sharing: Generally collates content and re-publishes, normally doesn’t provide original content.
Group: Collaborative, brings people together to create centralized content.
My Top 5 Blogs:
Mashable: Mashable is an example of a news blog. It’s purpose is to share news, information, and resources connected to the digital world. Founded in 2005, Mashable sees approximately 20 million unique visitors each month and has around 6 million social media followers. Mashable has established itself as a reliable resource for all things social media-related, technology-based, and business-savvy for professionals in today’s multimedia world. Mashable is constantly publishing new content related digital communications. In fact, each section of the site includes sub-sections titled: The New Stuff, The Next Best Thing, and What’s Hot. These three categories are what everyone wants to know. And Mashable delivers.
As a hub for social media news, Mashable makes it easy for users to connect via social media. One of the keys to a successful blog: provide multiple social sites where users can connect with you. Mashable does this well by placing “sharing” buttons throughout the site and making social media networks very visible on each page. It’s hard to find something Mashable is missing, because I really look to them as a resource for best practices. Mashable does utilize advertising on its site, but the ads are not intrusive to users’ experience. Ads appear at the top and bottom of each page, and also in the “news feed” area, but the way each ad is designed almost makes it look like a “post” rather than stand out on the page. Not sure how effective that is for advertisers, but I enjoy it as a user.
Half-Hearted Housewife: The Half-Hearted Housewife is an example of a semi-professional blog. As the mom of four young boys, it’s not surprising blogger Claire doesn’t have time to keep up as a full-time blogger. But the site provides a very professional appearance and is driven by content, which is one of the reason I think it’s so successful. This blog puts a humorous, yet realistic spin on the life of an army wife, a mother, and real world experiences. It’s relatable (even to me who isn’t married or has kids yet!). This quote in the “About me” section grabbed my attention on my first visit:
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to come over for a drink. Just warn me first so that I can throw all my laundry in a closet and hide magazines under the bed.”
Beyond the content posted pretty regularly, Claire makes it easy to sign up for emails, connect with her via social media, and share her own content via the user’s social media sites. It’s clear Claire understands how to get her content shared and is utilizing all that her blog platforms has to offer. There is some advertising on the blog, but it’s very minimal and is mainly related to being a military spouse. It’s clear Claire knows who her audience is, and like I said even though I’m not a military spouse or a mom, I’m drawn to her content by the way she writes it. Her humorous and real-life spin on normal occurrences have educated me on what to expect when I become a wife and mother. It’s always a feel-good read and I encourage others to visit her site!
Bobbie’s Buzz: This blog is a sub-section of Today.com, featuring Bobbie Thomas’s take on everything fashion related. Bobbie’s Buzz is a professional blog and coincides with her appearances and segments on the national morning show. The purpose of this blog is to educate users on the latest fashion trends, but also provide great consumer information and tips for the everyday woman. The Today Show website does a great job of featuring each of the “Bobbie’s Buzz” blogs in an eye-catching way. Not only is there often fresh content, but catchy headlines and visuals draw the reader in.
The site also includes many social media buttons and sharing options making it easy for readers to pass the helpful tips, cool products, and general fashion information along. There is a lot of advertising on the blog, but like with the Mashable site, most ads don’t stand out from regular posts. The design makes the transition between post and ad as seamless as it really could be. The one suggestion I would have for this blog would be for Bobbie to do video posts just for the blog, rather than just clips taped from the Today Show. I think this would help users connect with Bobbie on a more personal level, and maybe feel more loyalty to her as a fashion expert, rather than just to the Today Show.
The Storefront: This blog is a professional blog that contains information about new retail businesses restaurants, and real estate news in southwest Virginia (where I live). Amanda Codispoti does a great job of staying in front of new businesses in our community and often blogs about questions readers have submitted. I think what makes this blog unique is it has a local focus. Those of us living in the community benefit from reading Amanda’s blog because we can stay in tune with how our community is developing and growing, and sometimes what happened with businesses that has closed.
I’m sure a lot of the traffic that comes to this blog is through the main Roanoke Times website, but readers can also subscribe to a RSS feed or connect via social media. Amanda keeps her blog posts short, which helps with providing fresh content. Roanoke isn’t the largest metropolitan area, but it is a city with an ever-changing business atmosphere. Her content is usually focused on one topic at a time, which I believe provides the readers with fresh content more often. The Roanoke Times has advertisers all over the website, including on the blogs. What newspaper wouldn’t? I do think it’s cool that the site features some ads as if each is on a bulletin board. This is a different approach to catching people’s attention while reading a blog post.
Design Happens: HGTV’s design blog is a professional blog that attracts homeowners and design enthusiasts alike. Featuring several staff bloggers this site appeals to a broad audience wanting to learn from design experts about tricks of the trade, tips on making home renovations and decorating easier, and overall design help. I think what makes this blog unique, is it really aims at inspiring the audience.
Obviously, HGTV isn’t there to help you decorate or renovate (I guess unless you appear on one of their shows), but this blog can help consumers understand what a project will take and tips on how to go about accomplishing a project successfully.The blog does a great job of promoting it’s other social networks, specifically Pinterest, which obviously works well with this topic. As we know, Pinterest’s audience tends to swing toward females (Pinterest demographics infographic), and so does the HGTV audience. It makes sense to incorporate both platforms together. Ads do appear on the blog, but they are very related to the content (i.e., Wayfair.com – which is a home goods site).
So, what make a successful blog? I think many of the reasons listed above can answer that questions. If you’re still confused, I would suggest subscribing to a variety of blogs and making note of what you enjoy and dislike. It’ll help place superior blogs above the rest. I’m by no means a blog expert, but I hope you find this post helpful. Until next time, happy blogging!