I am sure you have heard these and many other statements eulogizing the virtues of having a blog. Yes, the prospect of having a blog and leveraging its immense marketing potential is finding plenty of traction these days. It’s quite surprisingly really that blogging, which began as a means of publishing personal thoughts, opinions and stories has transformed into a covert way to market a business. I say covert because bloggers cloak their marketing endeavors with a veneer of personalization. For instance, a blog on a business website acts as an informative resource for the business’s target customer, wherein the brand takes a more personal form. Its objective is to offer niche information which allows readers to get a better idea of their niche. This improves brand authority, credibility and awareness.
But all this only happens if you have a good blog on your hands. A bad blog is a recipe for disaster and will bring down the reputation of your business down a few notches. And you know what they say about a broken reputation,
“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was”
While blogging as a concept has plenty of wonderful possibilities and has tremendous potential, not all blogs realize this potential. Some fall by the wayside and others just work in fits and starts.
So, what makes a good blog? Let’s take a closer look:
A blog falls flat without great content. And no, great content doesn’t only mean well-written content with little or no spelling or grammar errors. Great content is much more than just effective written communication. Great content in blogging parlance refers to content that’s not just well-written but is also informative. ‘Informative’ is an umbrella term that includes qualities like usefulness, user engagement, facts and figures, and worthiness. It should be the kind of content that is very real time and more often than not, is as problem solver. To put in a nutshell, great content is something that your readers will love going through.
It hosts Curated Content
The blog owner must have an “uncanny” ability to seize the moment, or in this particular seize a story and run with it. The focus must be on finding, selecting and sharing the most readable, the most interesting and the most relevant content related to particular topic or theme. This is what content curation is all about and a blog that institutionalizes the practice of content curation grabs eyeballs. Audiences are more inclined to associate curated content with a particular brand, which sets the stage for fostering brand loyalty.
It Embraces Outside Experts
There are plenty of blog owners who have reservations about hosting write ups by other authors on their blogs. For many, the overriding fear is that an outside expert contributing to their blog might devalue their own authority as blogger/author. But blogs that don’t host write-ups by other authors have limited appeal. An expert whatever his view point will bring value to your audience. Isn’t this why you have a blog, in the first place? A good blog shares the best and the most valuable information with its readers, irrespective of its authorship.
It Fosters a Sense of Community
Your blog should act as a meeting place where all the action happens. The first step in fostering a sense of community is by responding to their comments. There is absolutely no doubt that consistent communication will help built a community of readers on your blog. What you are trying to do is start a conversation by way of your posts and replying to the comments they attract. Some of the more successful blogs are known for the quality of reader interactions rather than their content.
What you are trying to do is start a conversation
Its design perfectly accompanies its content
A great blog has elegant design that complements the content on it. Think KISSmetrics, Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, BusinessInsider and you get an idea of what great blog design looks like. You might wonder whether any effort was put in to designing these blogs at all, but that’s the beauty of it all. A good blog is one where the design doesn’t overwhelm the content. It makes content accessible and ensures the focus of the reader doesn’t veer off the content.
It screams passion from every pore of its being
Your blog must talk about something you believe in. Yes, you might have created it for the express purposes of increasing brand awareness, but this doesn’t mean you talk about things that you aren’t very passionate about. Your passion for a particular topic/subject/niche/domain should come out in your write-up and this is something that improves your credibility.
Its updated consistently
Successful blogs are active blogs. They are constantly updated with new posts, which ensure its target audience has something new to read every time they access the blog. They don’t go away disappointed. Popular blogs like TechCrunch , SEJ and many others are updated every day. This keeps adding to their popularity. What’s more, these blogs make sure that the content updates on their blogs are always of very high quality; where every piece of content offers their readers a very clear takeaway helping them solve a particular problem or take an informed decision about using a particular service or buying a particular product.
It taps into different content formats to engage readers
A good blog is one that doesn’t take its readers for granted. As a blog owner, you need to take steps to keep things interesting on your blog. You can’t allow things to stagnate. One of the ways you can do this is by making use of different content formats to pick reader interest in your blog. Use a mix of infographics, videos, new stories etc. to generate this interest. That’s what makes a successful blog. It keeps changing the status quo.
Is this it? Not by a longshot it isn’t. But these things will definitely get the ball rolling in the right direction. At the end of the day, what separates the best blogs from the worst is honesty. A blog must be true to its purpose and no, the purpose does not revolve around monetization or marketing. A blog’s true purpose is bringing useful information in front of its target audience, when they need it most.
But, it’s also about staying away from some of the big mistakes that a bad blog makes, let’s take a quick look at them:
It looks like its core purpose is monetization
There is no harm in monetizing your blog, but you must draw the line between monetization and crass hard sell. Your monetization efforts, which include the placement of banner and displays ads on the content pages shouldn’t come in the way of the readability of your blog. Most blogs fail because they cannot tone down their selling.
It’s all about Me, Me, and Me
Your blog mustn’t be a narcissistic fancy that just talks about you, your expertise or your business and its products and services. That’s not the reason why people will flock to your blog. You might think you are the most important person, but that’s only in your universe. I see many blogs that can achieve so much only if they are to let go of their ‘only about me’ fixation.
Let go of your ‘only about me’ fixation
The content is just not worth it
Blogs also fail because their content is just not worth reading. The content’s not purposeful enough and isn’t something that readers haven’t come across before. Boring content never sells so why would you even make the effort to put up such content on a blog? This usually happens when you aren’t really interested in sharing valuable information. Sometimes blog owners have very little idea about the kind of content that makes a blog tick. They have this misplaced belief that all they need to do is update their blog regularly with content (quality be damned) and readers will make a beeline for it. I know it sounds funny when you think about it, but that’s just the way they think.
There is very little interaction happening on the blog
Blog popularity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are plenty of things that need to come together to ensure blog success, and interaction is one of them. Blogs that function in an extremely sanitized environment, especially where users cannot post comments are bad blogs. If there are no comments, where’s the interaction going to happen? Think of interaction as the fuel a blog needs to survive. Without interaction, a blog comes across as a passive entity with very little going for it.
You will do well to keep in mind that people who have strong opinions about something want to discuss it with people who have similar interests. For such people, the comments section of a blog catering to their niche interest is THE place to be, if they want to meet people with similar interests. If your blog doesn’t give them the opportunity to do so, you’ve got a dead blog on your hands.
To put it simply, a good blog is one that doesn’t make the kind of mistakes that bad blogs do. But it’s much more than that. The good ones, care about their readers and more importantly have a stake in their growth. They believe they are in some form or other playing an important role in the lives of people and enable these people to take smarter decisions. They feel responsible about their content and hold themselves accountable to the people who read this content. That in essence is what separates the best blogs from the worst.