Is there anything easier than starting your own blog?
You can have your site up and running within minutes which is why hundreds of thousands of new blogs are created every day.
But how many of them stay in business 6 months or a year down the road?
As soon as the early excitement of starting a new blog fades away, most newbies find it difficult to come to grips with the demands of blogging.
Despite publishing new content regularly, they fail to build an audience and generate organic traffic.
As a result, they lose motivation and their blog dies a slow and painful death.
Successful bloggers, however, do it differently.
They have a plan from the start and understand what it takes to establish a thriving blog.
Do you want to know the secret to their success?
Let me give you some hints.
1. They Build an Email List from Day 1
“I’ll start building my email list from tomorrow”
For most newbies, this particular tomorrow never comes.
Successful bloggers understand that building an email list is the most important part of establishing a blog.
Which is why they prepare for it before publishing even a single post.
Leading marketers like Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse, Glen Allsopp and even Zac himself are huge advocates of email list building.
According to research, email marketing has a long-term ROI of 3800%, gives your message 5x more visibility than Facebook and drives 3x more social shares.
So how exactly do the super successful bloggers build their email lists?
By adding a “Subscribe to My Newsletter” opt-in box in their blog’s sidebar?
They create irresistible and laser-focused lead magnets that turn first-time visitors into loyal subscribers.
For example, just look at the lead magnet Zac uses
Zac knows his audience and has created a free giveaway that’ll lure any newbie to his email list.
Your lead magnet should address a very specific problem of your audience and should have a high perceived value.
For starters, I’d recommend using a well-designed 10-15 page eBook as a lead magnet on your blog. You can find lots of eBook ideas in this post.
Placing a lead magnet on your site from day 1 gives you a great chance of converting any traffic generated to your site into email subscribers.
2. They Understand the Needs of Their Audience
Newbies get flashes of inspiration and creativity by seeing the success stories of other bloggers.
But pro bloggers don’t jump into any niche without first understanding their audience.
In fact, research is perhaps the biggest difference between successful bloggers and mere hobbyists.
So how exactly do you research your audience?
Let me quickly share a few tips
- Use Facebook Audience Insights
Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly active users. It is one of the best places to research and understand the needs of your audience.
To do that, go to Facebook Audience Insights inside Ads Manager.
In Audience Insights, search for the key interests of your target audience. For example, if your blog is about SEO and content marketing, you can search that in the interests tab
As soon as you search for your interest, Facebook will show you tons of data about its users who’re interested in SEO.
For example, in the snapshot above you can see the tabs marked as “Demographics”, “Location, “Page Likes” etc.
Each of these tabs has loads of information you can use to understand your audience.
Let’s take a look at the “Page Likes” tab
It shows you the other Facebook pages your target audience likes.
You can go to these pages and see the content that they’re publishing.
This will give you a great idea of what your audience wants.
- Google Trends
Google Trends shows you the level of interest in a topic over a certain period of time-based on the searches on Google Search.
For example, here’s the interest level in social media marketing
If you scroll down, you can also see the related search queries that people interested in this topic are using
You can sort them by “Rising” to see the recent trends.
It also gives you other related topics that you can use to expand your research.
- Keyword Research
Successful bloggers never start a blog without extensive keyword research. But since it’s a detailed topic itself, I won’t be able to cover it in this post.
I do, however, strongly recommend reading this keyword research guide by Brian Dean. In my opinion, it’s the most comprehensive keyword research resource on the web.
3. They Create Actionable and In-depth Content
The days of thin, poorly researched 500-word articles are long gone.
If you want to engage your audience and rank in the top 10 Google search results, you need to create authentic, high quality and in-depth content.
According to research, the average word count of the top 10 Google search results is 2000+ words
But apart from SEO, longer and more in-depth content also delivers more value to the readers.
Successful bloggers know that which is why they invest in high-quality content and try to make it as actionable as possible. In simple words, their content helps people take action and move forward in their businesses.
4. They Diversify Their Traffic Sources
“Never keep all your eggs in one basket”
You must’ve heard this famous saying by Warren Buffet, an American billionaire businessman.
The same principle applies to your blog traffic as well.
Newbies depend completely on search engines and SEO to generate traffic. Which is why the moment their rankings go down, their blog dies.
Successful bloggers also generate traffic from Google, but they focus on building online assets to diversify their traffic sources.
Here are a few ways to do it
- Build your email list, we’ve already discussed that.
- Guest post on other high engagement blogs in your niche. Ryan has written extensively about this topic.
- Create and grow your own dedicated Facebook Group. I personally know bloggers who generate more traffic from their Facebook Groups than Google Search. Neil Patel has a detailed guide on this topic
- Build your presence on Quora, Inbound.org, Triberr and other industry-specific forums.
- Grow your audience on social networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit etc.
Diversifying your traffic sources minimizes your risk and reduces your dependency on Google.
6. They Aggressively Promote Their Content
Last but not the least, successful bloggers don’t forget their content after publishing it. Instead, they go out and spread the word.
That’s the only way to consistently drive traffic to your blog.
Don’t stop after sharing your post once on social media. Develop a sharing routine and automate the process using tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.
Here’s a good example of how to do it.
The most successful marketers like JeffBullas, Neil Patel etc. keep sharing their content for months and even years.
This keeps sending them new visitors to their archive content and keeps their blog alive.
Blogging isn’t rocket science, but it’s not a walk in the park either. You need to have a clear plan and the willingness to execute it day in and day out. Ask any successful blogger and they’ll tell you how hard they’ve worked to grow their blogs to a level where they can sit back and relax. Hopefully, the tips I’ve shared in this post will help you move in that direction.