8 Secrets to Creating an Engaging Blog

The web publishing landscape has evolved into a diverse and profoundly important ecosystem over the last few years. Targeted publishers like Stratechery have blossomed into major players, and savvy digital creators have become serious influencers overnight. Overall, more and more people are creating digital content in order to establish credibility and build an engaged audience.

Creating useful and insightful digital content has become a cornerstone of effective brand strategy. It affirms your position as an expert and thought-leader and drives extremely valuable search engine optimization. In fact, 60% of marketers now say content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. However, it can be difficult to be heard amidst the noise of this crowded space.

Having spent the majority of my career working with professional content creators (at YouTube, Vine, and now Verst) and helping them grow their audiences, I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most out of your content and your publishing platform. Here are eight tips to set you up for success.

1. Choose a niche.

The best way to stand out is to become a trusted expert. Choosing a niche (e.g. “the best pizza in New York City”) instead of a broad topic (e.g. “food”), will keep your content focused and make it more discoverable. Gaining credibility and devoted followers in niche markets can happen quickly, as continued coverage of a specific topic draws in readers who share that interest. As you choose a topic and create content, think in terms of common searches for your ideal audience and how you can stand out from the other pizza aficionados of the world.

2. Publish frequently and consistently.

Statistics show that B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month generated 4x more interested leads than those that blogged only 4–5 times per month. By frequently publishing quality content, you will remain top of mind for your audience. In addition, maintaining a consistent publishing schedule will encourage your audience to build a habit of coming to your site, knowing, for example, that they can expect new content in the morning on Tuesdays and Fridays. When a steady pace is matched with high quality content, you’ll create an incentive for your readers to check back regularly, leading to a highly devoted audience.

3. Be you.

Authentic content with a strong voice will establish you as an authority in crowded markets. Your audience will connect with the enthusiasm generated via focusing your content on a topic you’re truly passionate about. Establishing your voice (how you’ll share your messages on your blog and social media) will allow you to foster a genuine connection with your audience.

4. Track your progress.

Digital publishers have access to more information about their readers than ever before. The best publishers take advantage of the available data to learn what resonates with their audience and gain insight into the types of content they should focus on creating. For example, checking your traffic’s incoming sources as well as most popular posts and time of day, and what keywords are driving traffic to your site will enable you to maximize the value of your content. You should also track your output of content and compare the number of engagements on posts, then benchmark that against your total site traffic to determine your optimal publishing schedule. By knowing what people click on the most and what types of articles drive the most traffic from Google, you can grow your audience faster.

5. Use social media to spread your message.

Once you publish your blog posts, share your content across your social channels (including LinkedIn and Medium). Once you’ve done that, keep sharing. Blog posts can be shared numerous times on social media by presenting different highlights in multiple posts. For example, this blog post could call out the title in one post, and “60% of marketers say blogging is their top source of inbound traffic. Here’s how to start a blog that stands out.” in another. By creating multiple ways to share one blog post, you’ll drive more traffic. For example, social media expert Guy Kawasaki will often tweet promoting the same content at least four times over the course of one week. Why? It allows him to reach audiences across multiple time zones, especially since Twitter & Facebook’s curated feeds often mean that if a follower doesn’t see your post in the first two hours, they may not see it at all.

6. Interact with your audience.

Chat with your audience early and often. Reply positively to comments (regardless of sentiment), like and share their updates, and thank them for sharing your post on social media. These interactions build relationships and will keep your audience coming back for more. Humans yearn for connection. One of the reasons so many celebrities have come out of nowhere across various digital platforms is the connection the audience feels to these creators. Bethany Mota has cultivated her audience for six years and says the close relationship she shares with her millions of subscribers is “the same as friendship.” As an added bonus, your audience will often be a source of inspiration for future content.

7. Rock your brand.

Your brand should be at the forefront of your blog design, and your posts and voice should follow suit. Inject your brand colors, logo, core beliefs and messages throughout your site and as much as possible across your social presence. This is where having your own space to publish is key, versus using platforms that commoditize all of the content to look identical in order promote their own brand instead of representing yours. Having your own site will give you the freedom to shape your identity online.

8. Convert your audience.

Converting first-time visitors into repeat visitors, customers, or subscribers is critical to building a business. Owning your own site lets you take control of this: place Calls-to-Action (CTAs) across your site to capitalize on your readers’ attention; A/B test those CTAs to learn what drives the most engagement; customize your site’s design to reinforce your brand; feature related content that your readers might also enjoy (furthering your stance as a trusted source of quality content). The longer you can engage readers on your turf without the distraction of competing stories, videos, baby pictures, and fake news, the more likely you are to convert them to loyal readers or customers.

Ready to make it happen? My company, Verst, is a great place to build and grow your digital presence. We’ve developed Verst to make it possible for you to design a truly unique website that reflects your personal brand in minutes. In addition, you can convert your audience via smart calls-to-action, track your progress with useful and understandable analytics, and optimize your content using A/B testing. What are you waiting for? Start today!

Originally published at blog.verst.co.

Celebrity animal aficionado. @UVA Wahoo.

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