It is easy to believe that starting a blog and generating immediate traffic is a simple task. However, ask anybody who has tried and they will tell you that this takes extreme dedication as well as a unique approach.
According to a study by NM Incite, at the end of 2011 there were more than 181 million blogs around the globe – and that was two years ago. It is safe to assume this number has grown through the end of 2013, and will continue to do so well into the future.
What does this have to do with starting a blog? What does this have to do with increasing traffic and user engagement? In short, here is what you need to know: you have tons of competitors, especially if you are tackling a popular niche, such as internet marketing, sports, or parenting.
Don’t freak out. Take a deep breath while realizing that there are steps you can take to move up the ranks, making your blog one of the most popular in your niche.
One of the best ways to achieve great success as a blogger is to pay attention to what others are doing. More specifically, what can you learn from the top bloggers in the world?
Here are seven of the top bloggers, including a key lesson you can learn from each one:
Neil Patel of QuickSprout
You are never going to make it through a post on QuickSprout in a couple of minutes. Neil Patel is one of the top bloggers in the world thanks to the fact that he focuses more time and effort on content quality than most.
This is something Neil has blogged about in the past, touching on how content length affects rankings and conversions.
You can expect each post to be 2,000 + words, while also including everything from graphics to infographics to personal anecdotes and much more.
Remember this: Neil doesn’t write for search engines and search engines alone. Instead, he provides high quality content, which is useful to his audience, knowing that the SEO side of things will take care of itself.
With an average of 176 comments per post, it goes without saying that his readers have fallen in love with the quality.
Jenny Williams of What My Daughter Wore
Every blog on fashion is pretty much the same, right? Wrong! Jenny Williams has taken the traditional fashion blog and shown the world just how exciting and unique it can be.
Most fashion bloggers focus on traditional images, often times of celebrities and models. Not Jenny. Instead, she provides sketches that capture the fashion of her daughter and her friends.
Check out this post: Trust Me, I’m The Doctor
I want you to take notice of a couple things:
- This is a sketch, not a traditional image like you would find on 99 percent of other fashion blogs
- Just because Jenny uses sketches doesn’t mean she fails to get her point across – fashion is still at the center of the blog
So, what can you learn from this blog? Simply put, there is nothing more exciting (and rewarding) than taking a popular topic, such as fashion, and giving it a unique spin.
Jessie Rosen of 20-Nothings
If you don’t learn anything else from Jessie Rosen, always remember this: you must identify with your audience.
Some people try to start a blog in a niche that doesn’t interest them. As a result, this shows through in both the content and the passion. Subsequently, readers come and go because the content fails to inspire them.
Rosen never has this problem. As you make your way through her blog, you will immediately feel the passion.
Here is proof, from the about page, that Rosen will do whatever it takes to identify with her readers:
“The goal has been and will always be to remind you that you’re not alone, you’re (probably) not crazy, and (chances are) you’re going to make it out of this alive.”
James Fallows of The Atlantic
James Fallows is a bit different than the other bloggers on this list, as he doesn’t have his own blog but instead pushes his thoughts and opinions through The Atlantic. But of course, he made it into this piece for a reason.
Here is what you need to know about Fallows: the man does a heck of a job staying on topic, day in and day out.
He currently works as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and has written for the magazine for more than 30 years.
Fallows has taken the art of “staying on topic” to new heights. He knows more about certain topics than most others, and this is what he sticks to when crafting blog posts (and magazine articles). This has gone a long way in helping him build a readership that dates back to the late 1970s.
Pick a niche you are passionate about and focus on conveying this to your audience. Over time, this is one of the best ways to gain a large following. Just ask a guy like Fallows, who has been doing this for more than many of us have been alive.
Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess
The tagline of Lawson’s blog says it all: Like Mother Teresa, Only Better.
What does this tell you about Lawson? Humor can work, if you take the right approach.
Before we go any further, it is important to note that some topics simply don’t lend themselves to humor. For example, it is hard to inject humor into a blog on war. If you can find a way to show your funny side, without going over the top and offending your readers, you should consider doing so.
There are two benefits of this:
- If you are truly funny it will keep people coming back to your blog, time and time again
- Your humor will show your human side, making it easier for readers to identify with you
Need an example of a post that will keep you on the edge of your seat, moving you from a smile to laughter? Here you go: Best present ever. Worst present Ever.
There are 747 comments on this post (and counting). Can you imagine what that would feel like as a blogger?
Zac Johnson of ZacJohnson.com
I have to be honest in saying that Zac Johnson has been one of my favorite bloggers since day one. When I first started my career as a freelance writer, I was looking for inspiration as I got up and running with my first blog. This blog was one of the first I came across, and I have been reading it ever since.
There is a lot to like about ZacJohnson.com, however, the thing that I truly enjoy is the way he combines high quality content with a well laid out design.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on a unique blog design. What it does mean is that the right design, including the layout and color scheme, can go a long way in keeping readers on your site for an extended period of time.
Above the fold, you will find all of the following:
- Page navigation
- Social media icons
- Newsletter signup
- Like us on Facebook box
- Follow me on Google+ box
- A large portion of the featured blog post
Best yet, despite all of the information, it doesn’t appear cluttered. If you don’t think your blog design could be holding you back, I urge you to reconsider. A simple change could help increase page views, while also putting you in position to earn more money.
Beth Kanter of BethKanter.org
Last but not least, let’s take a look at what Beth Kanter is doing on her blog.
Take the time to review this infographic from Search Engine Journal when you get a chance. It shows you just how important social media has become. As somebody who wants to have success in the blogosphere, you cannot shy away from this.
When it comes to social media prowess, Kanter may sneak under some people’s radar. But not mine. She knows how to leverage her content via social media as a means of increasing traffic and attracting new readers.
For example, this post – Free Webinar 1/8: Leveraging Social Media to Engage and Inspire Your Alumni Network – received 24 Facebook Likes, 63 Tweets, and 38 shares on LinkedIn.
Long story short, you need to take full advantage of every social media avenue that is available to you. This is one of the best ways to increase your readership, all without having to rely on organic traffic.
Follow the Leader
By following in the footsteps of these seven bloggers, it will not be long before your blog is reaching new heights.
You have what it takes to do big things with your blog. You have what it takes to be a major player in your niche. Continue to follow along with these bloggers, as well as others, to learn more about what you should and should not be doing.
Soon enough, you may find yourself on a list just like this!