Guest Post By Mel Obar
The blogosphere is crowded, and becoming more so every day. How, then, is it possible to establish, maintain and enhance an individual “weblog” so that it is distinguishable from the competition? If the goal is to establish a leadership position and boost revenue, is there a guidebook of opportunity?
Consider the following points:
- Today, there are more than 100 million blogs;
- Except for a relatively small number of visitors generated by your promotion efforts, people find your blog through links and search engines;
- One-time visits do nothing. If you cannot generate return visits, your efforts are wasted.
Important requirements, then, are that your blog is interesting, frequently updated, visually attractive, and that it offers something of value to the reader. Effective SEO is a given.
Assuming that you have specific goals for your blog, and you’re not posting just for the fun of it, you should be clear about what those goals are. Write them, and refer to them often. If you want to grow your business, you might go about it in a manner quite different from the way you would proceed if your intent were to share your expertise, or initiate a community program, or even engage in a debate. Try to differentiate between immediate goals and long-term goals, and place a timetable on specific goals so that you can track progress.
Strive for Quality
The quality and consistency of your blog posts are one of the things that will elevate your blog beyond the ordinary. It should not be “all about you” either. Your readers and your customers are interested in the world beyond your doors. One of the best methods of assuring a loyal following is to provide useful, helpful, pertinent information and links to additional reference sources that your visitors will appreciate. Just assure that you, in some way, provide corresponding links back to you.
How your blog comes across to your readers is also important. If your blog’s host is poor and your blog is often down, this certainly doesn’t scream quality to your visitors. Plus, it means visitors can’t explore your site.
What follows is for you to decide. Certain considerations apply to all blogs. Ensure that your content is consistent with your purpose. If yours is a business blog and you have additional business concerns to deal with, you probably do not have sufficient time to devote to supervising every detail of blog operation yourself. You may be able to write some of the posts; you may decide overall direction; you may make major decisions. But, it is likely that you will either have to delegate some tasks to co-workers or, as an alternative, contract with others to supply some services.
Use All the Tools
In setting up the physical presence of your blog, utilize all the tools at your command. The need for an attractive “landing page,” eye-catching color, use of graphics and buttons, professional photographs and easily-followed, working links cannot be overstated.
There are divergent schools of thought on physical design, but many blog designers agree that simplicity is effective. These principles are frequently cited as effective design features, and are worth noting because, as Grechen Reiter states, “content should be the main focus of your blog, not the design.” Note the following:
- Keeping the header simple lets the user focus on features.
- Uniform size, full-width images are appealing.
- Stylistically, a page with the main content column and a sidebar are easy to read.
- Ensure that your main content is “above the fold,” meaning that it is visible before a visitor must scroll down the page.
- Always place important information at the top – the top of the page, the top of the column, the top of the graphic. You want it to be seen first.
- Keep the background light.
Perhaps you know all of this and are looking for ways to build your site into the money-making machine you want it to be. Traditional marketing techniques and retail selling tools utilize the art of persuasion to drive sales. Digital marketing should be no different, and there are some proven guidelines to be employed when building your blog.
Color is a motivator. Just as certain colors invoke feelings and can drive actions, proper utilization of color prompts can drive certain actions on a website or blog. Learning to utilize these tools can be daunting, but they are proven techniques for prompting hoped-for responses from your site’s visitors. Interestingly, color response is not universally the same, so it is important that you know your audience.
Consider the Options
Another possibility is to employ affiliate marketing. Forging online alliances and building links that drive business back to you can take some time and effort, but if it is done properly, it can be extremely effective, as well as beneficial to both you and your merchants. One of the easier affiliate marketing networks to use is SkimLinks.com, as it converts links into affiliate links without you having to do the hard work.
Proven promotional techniques also can include such things as regular e-newsletters as well as special promotions. MadMimi is a good starting point if you’re interested in making an impact through emails. One admonition would be, however, not to overdo it.
In fact, the conservative approach is often the best approach, according to those who successfully guide successful bloggers. They caution you to realize that the slow and steady approach will pay the largest dividends and that no successful business is built overnight. Also, advisers admonish being true to “your passion.” Nothing convinces people to “buy in” to a product, a service or a cause more than a consistent, passionate voice, applied across a broad spectrum.
If you can accomplish that with your blog, you will certainly stand out from the crowd.