By Dave Yonkman
Blogging has become fundamental to the success of businesses, organizations and individuals. They increase search engine traffic, build authority in competitive industries, generate more leads and improve conversion rates.
Small businesses employing blogs report a 126 percent increase in leads, search engines index 434 percent more pages for websites with blogs, and companies that blog receive 97 percent more inbound traffic from outside links.
Those are the success stories; creative and sustained efforts have built their success.
The following are four reasons why those blogs win and why so many others fail:
Blogs should provide information about trends and developments in trades that will benefit visitors. They should spotlight your proprietary knowledge and expert wisdom, not spew sales pitches.
Blogs attract visitors when they profit from your expertise, so bloggers should write with those visitors in mind.
The lack of a defined voice and specific niche represents the downfall of many blogs, according to Katie Haines, communications coordinator with TalenAlexander in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“My favorite blogs are so successful … because they know who they are,” Haines says. “They use their unique voice to connect with their user base on an authentic level. Readers can tell when bloggers are holding back and when they are writing for a word count or marketing purpose.”
It helps to say, when posting new material, “This blog is updated every Thursday at 9:28 a.m. Eastern time,” or, “Check here for new content on the second Friday of every month,” so readers know when to return.
They might visit every so often without a calendar, but they will move on if they don’t see new content consistently. Vagueness in timing for the sake of attracting a few additional page views is counterproductive.
Many bloggers fail because they begin with an overly ambitious mindset. They blast out of the gate, publishing three times a day with writing that engenders a fury and zeal for their subject.
Then they check Google Analytics and find that a dozen or so people visited their website over the prior week. Disappointed that they aren’t rocketing to stardom, posts diminish to once per day, once per week, once per month—and then end completely.
“I tell clients blog writing is just like going to the gym to get into shape,” says Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, president of Falcon Valley Group in San Diego. “You can't go once a month and expect it to work, but if you keep at it regularly and chip away, three months later suddenly you realize your pants are falling off.”
Visitors won’t read your blog solely because it exists. The internet is too vast to expect that readers will somehow discover it themselves and then remember to return.
Andrew M. Warner of “Content Ranked” in Toronto says bloggers often spend too much time on content without a corresponding amount of effort pitching it digitally.
“The ‘build it and they will come’ approach has never worked and never will,” Warner says. “You need to promote whatever content you write. By rule, however long it took you to write that content, spend seven times more on promoting it.”
Seth Gilgus, digital marketing specialist at New Orleans-based Online Optimism, advises using multiple social media platforms, email marketing, online advertising, giveaways and partnerships with larger brands to create a core following that can expand.
4. Money and prestige
Most blogs fail because their writers set out to earn riches and gain celebrity overnight. They set incredibly ambitious goals of pulling in lots of advertising dollars and attracting millions of followers. It rarely works.
Successful bloggers are passionate about their vocation and informing their audience. They offer a rare perspective on their industry and commit to weekly or even daily updates, in addition to marketing themselves aggressively.
“The money-earning potential is blogging’s greatest promise that quickly turns into its greatest curse,” says Nikola Roza, who blogs at Build Yourself a Brighter Future. “It’s an obstacle many bloggers never jump over.
“Even those with huge passion aren’t safe,” Roza adds. “It’s because having ‘dollar sign eyes’ gives the blogger tunnel vision. He can't focus, he can't work, and what he somehow manages to do is mediocre at best. It's what I call, ‘Let’s get this over with; I’m waiting for the dough to come.’ No, that won't sell.”
Dave Yonkman is the former Washington Correspondent for Newsmax Media, Capitol Hill Communications Director and the founding principal of @DYS_Media.