5 Tips for Building a Successful Blog

by Jennifer Miller on December 31, 2013

in Communication, Learning

What blogging taught me this year

What blogging taught me this year

What makes a blog “successful”? You can slice that definition any number of ways. For me, it’s a combination of three things:

  1. Engagement: how many people share the blog socially and comment on the blog?
  2. Opportunity creation: in what ways did the blog create opportunities for me professionally?
  3. Practicing the craft: how can I build my writing muscles?

The People Equation has been active since May of 2009. Every year teaches me new things. For 2013, here are five lessons gleaned from this year’s blog activity.

Guest posts drive great traffic. Many of my guest posts have been among the highest sources of traffic. It’s also a great way to collaborate with other colleagues in my professional realm. For example, Phil Buckley wrote 5 Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change to promote his book Change with Confidence: Answers to the 50 Biggest Questions that Keep Change Leaders Up at Night. This post was one of most-read of 2013.

Speaking up pays dividends. It’s long annoyed me that the “top” lists for leadership thinking have very few women on them. But I didn’t bother to speak up until I wrote  37 Women with Interesting Things to Say about Leadership. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with both genders chiming in to support the post. As a bonus, it was The People Equation’s top socially shared post of 2013.

Stay plugged into your industry. As The People Equation has become known, several think-tanks have added me to their mailing lists. So, when they publish new research, I get a sneak peek before they publish more widely. For example, I wrote Leadership Development – A Key Strategy for Change Management after reading a white paper by The Institute for Corporate Productivity. Build strong relationships with industry thought leaders and you’ll never lack for something to write about. Plus, you’ll gain a reputation as a thought-leader, which can lead to great opportunities.  My writing gig for HR Answers.com is a direct result of the work I do here on The People Equation.

Mine your life for content. One of the best ways to offer fresh content to your readers is to write about “real life” that’s happening all around you. For my blog, that means work-related topics. But do so with permission. Earlier this year I worked with a coaching client to help him form a strategy for networking. I wanted to share a few insights with my readers about this topic, so I cleared it with my client first. He was fine with it and what transpired was a much-read post called An Introvert’s Plan for Working a Room.

Personal connections are the lifeblood of your blog. When people comment on my blog, it’s one measure of how well the piece resonated with people. And there’s an even more important aspect of blog comments. The folks at WordPress offered me this cool stat: the top five commenters for my blog this year were Karin Hurt, Chery Gegelman, Jane Anderson, Gwyn Teatro and Jesse Lyn Stoner. Here’s the thing: there is only one person on this list that I knew personally when she first commented. But you know what? I’ve reached out to all of them and am now proud to call them friends. They have become a part of my professional network that I can rely on for support and advice.

Over the years, I’ve seen many suggestions for how to create a successful blog. To me, it’s a bit like parenting advice: there is no one “right” way. The tips I offer you today are those that work for me. Maybe they’ll work for you.

If you are a blogger, what have you done with your blog that has been successful?

Please share! We can all learn from each other.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Miller December 31, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Chery,

Ooh, I love your questions about blogging. . . would make a great follow-up post to this one. Are you going to write about this as well? If you do, let me know.

Hugs right back to you!

Jen

Jennifer Miller January 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Mike,

Happy New Year! Thanks for the kind words and for always speaking up in a way that’s thought-provoking, but non-confrontational. It’s one of your gifts.

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