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Building a successful blog begins with the right approach

Published: 28 November 2012

The popularity of blogging can be measured by the number of platforms that have sprung up since its beginnings in the mid-90s. No matter what you need or want in a platform, there will be something for you. However, once you’ve made the decision to use Wordpress over Blogger or think Tumblr suits your needs better than Posterous, it becomes a little more complicated.

Building a successful blog begins with the right approach
By Darren Gilbert

As Xight Interactive’s Nikko Marasigan rightly points out on Famousbloggers, putting up a blog can be done quickly and without much hassle. However, ensuring that it becomes a success is a different challenge altogether. “It requires more time and pondering,” Marasigan writes. It also requires more careful planning, he says, a point which fellow blogger, Linda Hewett agrees with. “[T]he only way to build my blog was to focus on one element at a time”.

Hewett’s statement comes from one of the several strategies that she believes bloggers should employ when attempting to build their blog. Her first point is that building your blog takes time and skill. “At first I rushed around trying to do too many things at once,” she confesses. Once she realised this wasn’t helping, she slowed down and spent time on working out what it was she wanted to specialise in. It’s an aspect that Marasigan believes is crucial to the success of your blog. Before beginning, you need to have a plan.

“Work out what you can give to others, what you can share, how you can help,” says Hewett. And ensure that it’s a subject that you are interested in rather than one that is popular among other bloggers. In this, you need to be realistic. Don’t begin a lifestyle blog if you are not really interested in the topic because sooner or later, it will show in your writing. As Hewett says in another of her points, you need to empathise with your readers. How can you do that if you are not interested in the subject?

The short answer is that you can’t and once people figure this out, you’ll come across as a fraud.

Now, once you’ve figured out what it is you want to write about, you must believe you have something to say. It’s a point – made by Hewett – that should actually sit at the heart of your blog; and the one that led you to filling in you details at your preferred blogging platform in the first place.

One way of doing this is to provide quality content. As StudioPress founder, Brian Gardner writes on his blog, content is king and while it is becoming somewhat of a cliché, it’s true. In agreeing with Gardner, Marasigan takes this one step further. For him, it’s not just about writing blog entries but rather about writing compelling articles. “Blogging means using words, but successful blogging entails using the right words effectively.” It’s about finding what your audience cares about and then providing the information for them.

It’s how your casual readers become regular ones, says Hewett, giving them a reason to return to your blog. It also provides for that one thing that all bloggers want: engagement with their audience. And as Marasigan points out, it is this “reader engagement” that sets popular and successful blogs apart from the others. Now, when Marasigan talks about reader engagement, it needs to be noted that it’s not just about responding to all comments, which Gardner rightly believes needs to happen. It’s also about addressing your readers and taking care of them.

By this, I mean that you need to acknowledge and show your appreciation for them. “While you can reply with a simple ‘thank you,’ it’s nice to add a personal touch to every reply,” says Gardner. In doing this, you are not only showing that you care about your readers – a point which can be linked closely to Hewett’s one about empathising with your audience, but it allows for better engagement. Also, in interacting with your audience as well as asking them questions, you become something more than a website that churns out content. And isn’t that what the purpose is of any blog?

What do you think? Do you know of any other pointers that can help one to build a successful blog? Tell us below.

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