There are many good reasons to start a blog. You might be trying to boost traffic to your company’s website to earn more conversions and increase site revenue. You might hope to build a big enough recurring audience that you can make a living off the advertising dollars spent on your site’s banner ads and affiliate links. Or maybe you’re just in it to inform the world about an important topic, like your personal research or experiences. If you haven’t started a blog yet, it’s not too late.
Even though these goals and directions are diverse and distinct from one another, all blogs have certain things in common. In order to be successful, no matter how you define that success, it needs to achieve these eight baseline qualities:
1. Novelty. There are millions of blogs out there, and people tend to gravitate toward only a handful for regular reading. If you want to build an audience, you need to do something that nobody has done before — not only will it help you stand out from the crowd, it will also give you a specific target audience to build your content around. With the abundance of information available out there, that may seem like a daunting task, but fear not. A wholly original topic can provide all the novelty you need, but you could also cover an existing topic in a new way, such as with a new perspective or a new tone of voice.
2. Expertise. You can’t have a successful blog if you’re only decently versed in the subject matter you’re trying to cover. For example, if you’re writing a nutrition and weight loss blog, but you aren’t familiar with how carbohydrates and proteins work, even your good advice will sound uninformed (and therefore be useless).
3. Usefulness. “Usefulness” is broadly defined, as different types of blogs will serve different purposes. For example, a biking blog post about how much you love biking wouldn’t be very useful to the average reader, but a post on how to change a tube would. However, a post about how much you love biking that injects ironic humor or satirizes elements of biking subculture would also be useful because it’s entertaining. Usefulness takes many forms, so don’t be afraid to use them.
4. Depth. Occasionally, shallow posts and content will go viral, whether it’s a basic “top 10” list or a gif of a dog looking guilty. However, shallow content tends to yield shallow results. Your content needs to run deeper, providing your readers with more detailed information; that doesn’t necessarily mean longer posts, but it means you have to spend more time on every post you produce to make it as good as it can be.
5. Consistency. You also need to have a degree of consistency in your blog. That doesn’t mean you should be writing the same thing every week; on the contrary, you should be writing new topics and experimenting with new ideas, but always in the same style. Depending on your goals and preferences, your stylistic consistency could include your voice, your tone, your angle and perspective, or even your formatting. The point is to give your readers something they can reliably expect, so they keep coming back for more. It also helps to have a consistent posting schedule, such as making a new post every Monday and Thursday.
6. Circulation. It’s next to impossible to build a successful blog without some means of circulation. You might have the best article you’ve ever written, but if nobody’s there to read it, it won’t do you any good. At the very least, you should have a social media strategy to publicize and syndicate your posts on a regular basis. Over time, you’ll be able to attract more followers and guarantee more readers for every new post you publish. Without those branches in place, your growth will be painfully linear — if it even exists at all.
7. User engagement. Once you have all the preceding things in place, you should be able to attract an initial base of readers. To keep those readers around, and encourage even more to join your blog, you’ll need to increase your user engagement. That means responding to people who comment on your blogs, thanking the people who share them, and engaging with your readers on social media.
8. Scale. Finally, you’ll need some way to scale your efforts over time. If you keep things slow and steady, such as posting one new blog every week, you’ll put a hard cap on your growth potential. Instead, it’s better to have a growth strategy in mind; will you write more posts per week? Will you do special content features? Will you invite more people to guest blog on your platform, or will you seek a guest position on external sources? There are many possible ways to expand, but you’ll need at least one to keep growing.
Having these qualities isn’t a guarantee that your blog will become an instant success, but they will give you the foundation you need to achieve almost any set of goals you can imagine. If you already have a blog, conduct an audit — and try to remain as unbiased as possible. Does your blog currently exhibit all eight of these requisite qualities? If not, it may be time to shift your content focus in a new direction.