I’ve been blogging for about 15 years or so now, and I have a few tips and tricks that can help craft great articles, grow your blog, and get tons of traffic. Back in 2006 I shared a few tips for building a ‘successful’ blog. That was just 2 years into my journey of blogging, and I’ve learned a bit more during that time.
Keep in mind that these tips and tricks are not in any particular order. Some may be more valuable than others, but I definitely recommend that you follow all of them if you are to build a successful blog / website.
1) Keep on writing
The most important thing when first starting a blog is to write, and keep on writing. After all, a blog with no articles is a glorified
404 Not Found page. Even after the blog is established, if you don’t keep writing the traffic flow will eventually slow down and possibly die off. You need to keep writing content to keep the site flourishing and growing.
2) It’s OK to edit older posts
Blogs will tag a post with the date it was first published. This can often make people afraid to edit their posts, as if it’s frozen in time and something that’s not allowed. Don’t worry about this! It’s OK, to edit older posts, and I would often encourage it.
Just imagine you have an older post that has become slightly outdated, or isn’t getting the amount of traffic (page views and visitors) that it used to. If you go back and edit the post to update it, and optimize the title or other content to better suite the topic and modern audiences needs, you can give some life back to older posts.
“Keep on writing” doesn’t have to mean only writing new blog posts. It can be editing older ones to make them better too.
3) Use a Custom Domain Name
It’s important that you go buy a Domain Name for your blog. You don’t want to host your website on a subdomain (such as mysite.wordpress.com). Do so will give the hosting provider full control over the future of your website. What if you want to change hosting providers? What if the hosting provider goes out of business? These things will happen eventually, given enough time.
A custom domain name will help you give a domain name to your blog that adds value and tells visitors what the blog is about. Take https://BuildAzure.com for example. “BuildAzure.com” conveys an important message that the blog is about “Azure” and “building”. If it were “buildazure.wordpress.com” then an added message of “it’s another wordpress site” would be added to the mix. This would detract away from the overall branding message conveyed to visitors, and may hurt the website.
There are also SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits of a custom domain as well. All pages at a domain (including it’s subdomains) will contribute to the Page Rank of that site in Google and other search engines. With it hosted at *.wordpress.com it loses some of this. With a custom domain you are funneling all your SEO of your posts together in a more targeted way.
4) Don’t waste time designing the perfect theme; at first
It can be easy to be swept up in choosing the best Wordpress theme, customizing the CSS styles, and installing all the greatest Wordpress plugins. Do not let yourself get all wrapped up in this. Sure, it’s important to have a nice looking website, but try to be a minimalist with this (especially at first) so you can spend more time writing the content that will get visitors and page views. Be sure to spend your time on things that will add value to your blog.
5) Don’t monetize with banner ads (ala Adsense) until traffic is flowing
When getting started, or even after some time, you may not get very much traffic (page views and visitors). Every blog starts out at zero and slowly grows over time. Do not let this discourage you from keeping on writing, as the visitors will eventually come. Also, don’t let the dream of making tons of money from your blog blind you to what really matters. Visitors are there to read your content, so keep on writing and giving it to them. You don’t need to add banner ads to your site until your getting roughly 50,000+ page views per month. Before that time you don’t have enough traffic to really make any money, and the banners will detract away from the appeal of your content to your visitors.
FYI, evan at 50,000+ page views per month you may only make about $100 - $200 per month from Google Adsense, Wordpress Ads, other types of banner ads on your website. Sure it’ll be nice to pay for your hosting costs and possibly a lunch or two, but you won’t be making tons of money yet.
6) Keep post titles relatively short and include keywords
You don’t want the titles of our posts to be too long. Generally, it’s best practice to keep your post titles shorter than 70 characters. It’s also important to include the search keywords that are most relevant to the article within the title as well. This will help SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of you blog to get your posts ranking higher and showing up closer to the top of search engine results. There’s no guarantee to be the number 1 search result, but hopefully you can get within the top 2 or 3 pages and this will help increase your traffic.
Remember it’s ok to go back and edit the posts title over time to better optimize it. Just be sure not to break the URL for the post in the process.
7) Monetization through Affiliate links
Sure, banner ads can help make money on your blog, but the amount of money will be limited. At the same time the banner ads are monetizing your blog, you can also place Affiliate links in your content. I don’t mean making your own banner ads that link to affiliate offers; although you could do this. What I mean is making text links within your content where it’s relevant to affiliate offers.
An easy affiliate program to get into is the Amazon Affiliates program. This enables you to place links within your content that link to Amazon products or pages with your affiliate code in the URL. The affiliate code is then saved as a cookie on the visitors machine and if they purchase anything from Amazon with that cookie in place you will get a referral bonus. It’s not much, but it can help add another $10 - $20 or more on top of your banner ad revenue with your 50,000+ page view per month blog.
/post-name URLs without the date
When blogging it’s common practice to have the URL of a post be in a format that includes the date the post was published. Here’s an example of a common URL format:
/2019/07/07/top-wordpress-blogging-tips. However, this really stamps the post with the date. If you remove the date from the post URL it makes the content a little more versatile and longer lived.
When people go to a website to read an article, they will see the date it was published. If it was published what they consider to be a “long” time ago, they may not read it and close the browser.
Also, if you remove the date from the post URL, you are then free to edit that post pretty much anyway you want over time. You can even change the publish date of the post, in affect republishing the content as new again; just be sure to no change the URL as any links to that post will be broken if you do. This can help freshen up old, stale content to get new views again. Although be sure to update the post with current and relevant information before republishing.
9) Post at a regular schedule
It’s ok if you keep writing content and have spurts where you write 3 posts in a weekend. Just be sure to schedule those posts out to be published on the blog over the next few days or even weeks. More content is always great, but consistency of posting is important. It will be more desirable for subscribers to the blog to get notified of new content every few days or weeks, rather than a single notification once a month or so.
Also, when new visitors are looking at your blog, they’ll be encouraged to subscribe or follow your blog if you have a post archive that shows evidence that you publish new posts on a regular basis. This let’s them know what to expect. If they see 3 posts or more published on a single day, they may think “Whoah this person posts way too often for me to read!” And, if they see only 1 post every 6 months, they may be disinterested due to the lack of recent and new content.
10) Find a niche and stick to it
It’s important that you find a niche, or topic area to blog about. Also, you’ll want to stick to writing posts in that niche. People don’t really want to subscribe to a blog that posts on random, unrelated topics. Also, it can help SEO when multiple articles are related as Google will get an idea what your site is about as your building up trust and expertise in your specific niche.
11) Add links between your posts
As you write content, be sure to add links where relevant to other posts on your blog. This helps you add value to a post by connecting it with other content on the blog. It can also help increase your page view count by keeping visitors on your site for longer periods of time. This also helps give the search engines a view into what other content on your site is related to a specific article and help spread page rank points around your site making all the posts rank higher in search engines.
As an example of this is what I did at the top of this post where I linked to a post I wrote in 2006 listing a few tips for building a ‘successful blog.
12) Share! Share! Share!
Don’t be afraid to share you posts with others in your circle on influence. This means posting links to your blog on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other social network you use. It’s perfectly acceptable to promote your own content by telling people what you wrote. Also, be sure to add hashtags to your social media posts so they are easily discoverable by others outside your circle when they are viewing related postings on those hashtags.
It’s ok to promote yourself and share your content. If you don’t do it, not many will, especially when you’re first starting your blog. Plus, it can help jump start your blog traffic (page views and visitors) to get people reading your content and possibly sharing links to it themselves.
Something I do myself, is I use a social media sharing service called Buffer to schedule out Tweets and other social shares. This let’s me build up a tweet queue that will automatically post on a schedule without requireing me to constantly be tweeting directly.
13) Technology doesn’t matter
It can be easy to get swept up in the details and cool-ness of hosting your blog with the latest software or platform everyone else is talking about. However, you should pick the technology and platform that will give you the most efficient path towards writing and posting content. Don’t worry about hosting it yourself, managing servers, or other tasks that may give you “tech street cred” to your friends. If your site isn’t running then you’re spending time managing it rather than writing and posting content. The most important things with a blog is that it’s able to server your content to your visitors and allows you to easily publish new content.
As a technology professional myself, I know what’s it’s like to get wrapped up in the latest trend of hosting your blog. In the early days of Pietschsoft.com I built my own blog software (which may have made sense in the early days of blogging in 2004…), then I used the “cool” BlogEngine.NET with a hosting provider to host my blog for a long time. Today, Pietschsoft.com is hosted using Jekyll and GitHub Pages because of it’s simplicity.
Currently, I host BuildAzure.com using Wordpress.com. Yes, I’m a technology professional. Yes, I work with and blog alot about Microsoft Azure. However, if I were to host my blog myself using Microsoft Azure virtual machines or some other service, then I wouldn’t have as much time to write and publish content. I choose to use Wordpress.com because it’s a service I can “just use” and not have to worry about or spend time managing.
It’s really the “build vs buy” debate with technology. It’s ok to purchase a solution that provides you with the value your looking for. Building and managing things yourself can be costly, and you need to choose what is more valuable to you. Is it build / managing the blog software, or is it actually blogging?