A good part of positivity is about sharing the love. So this post is about setting up and running your own blog. Of course you must run a blog on whatever topic motivates you, but we’ll use our positivity topic in order to reveal how we’ve developed.
When I last checked, there were roughly 644 million websites on the go. Each month, on WordPress, around 59 million blog posts are published. This website is hosted on WordPress, which is one of the most popular content management systems around.
The numbers aren’t static of course and if you’d like to know a real time count of blogs per day check out Worldometers.
The point is that the Internet is a very busy place and faced with such figures it may seem daunting, or even off-putting, to even consider starting your own blog. But that’s not what we’re about.
We’re not going into the technicalities of how to set up a blog so much as discussing some of the related issues.
Why bother with a blog?
People who write blogs have all sorts of motives but one driver is extra income. Even a moderately successful blog can make a little income via advertising or goods sold on the site. If this is your prime motivation however you may be disappointed.
Jon Morrow’s website Smart Blogger is an earthy, often funny, but quite valuable website about blogging. He works through all the pitfalls and common mistakes that both new and established bloggers make. It’s certainly worth a visit.
These days for any blog to make big bucks it really has to stand out and deliver something others do less well. The moment other people see a blog getting traction they jump on the bandwagon and try to do it better.
And make no mistake, there are a lot of people out there with a lot of cash to throw at something to make it work to their advantage.
Remember MySpace? MySpace looked at another site called Friendster and realised money could be made. They basically moved with the idea, took it forward and became huge. But then along came Facebook, and you know the rest. But we’re talking about big players here.
Starting your own positivity blog is, in principle at least, no different. However, despite the fact that self help in all its forms is popular, it’s still a niche area, and so will never be a really big player. But that aside, the same basic principles apply as to what makes an appealing site.
People love something for nothing and plenty of big sites offer just that. A small-to-medium site, which is how I regard us, can still do the same (we offer free courses and downloads, plus we have a members page for our newsletter readers). But, if you provide regular advice and helpful tips on your blog about something, then it is likely to draw regular visitors.
Free, helpful information, even if it’s a collection of links to other sites/blogs can still attract a good number of visitors. As your blog finds visitors it will increase in popularity through natural linking – the equivalent of marketing through word of mouth.
Links, especially on high traffic sites or blogs about your blog will gradually lead to a steady stream of traffic.
There are certain characteristics that are shared by popular blogs no matter which topic(s) they cover.
1. Be Sincere
Superficiality shines through. When a reader comes across your post they are investing their time and interest in it. Don’t let them down by posting banal or half-baked information. Get your facts straight, show something of yourself and print.
2. Be an Authority
You could simply repeat what others are saying but what’s the point of that? People are drawn to sites they regard as authorities on topics. This is not the same as saying everything you write must be unique. That would take a huge effort. In fact the approach often mentioned is to look at what is really working, that is, what people are actually reading and just do it better.
Sites like Buzzsumo allow you to type in a topic, or website, in order to assess its popularity. So, if you see a popular topic in your area of interest you visit the site, read the material and judge whether you could improve on it.
This is the idea behind the ‘ultimate guide’ approach to writing. It conveys the message that you won’t get better than what you’re currently reading, so no point looking.
Purpose and depth
Our key focus is positivity, but even within this niche, our niche is how positivity can be applied in practical ways in terms of motivation, happiness, etc (i.e. our categories).
Even if a reader isn’t especially drawn to a particular article they should ideally accept we know what we’re talking about.
Related to this, is purpose and depth. Blogs are just fine when all that’s required is to convey some information or interest.
For deeper and sustained interest authority generally comes in the form of education and/or coaching. We do this via courses. Our courses reflect the categories we provide on the site (motivation, success, self-improvement, etc). There is continuity.
3. Don’t be Static.
People like to be informed and entertained in equal measure. They like to see new things and they are aware of innovations. Our main focus is on providing articles, but we also offer infographics, quizzes, and so on. A little bit of diversity attracts people for different reasons.
So far as blogging is concerned you don’t need to blog furiously but you do need to ensure your blog is kept up to date by posting regularly.
Depending on your topic you may find that a single blog of some length and depth does far better over the longer term than multiple short blogs.
Having said that, at the time of writing our most popular article is from a guest writer entitled a day and four flowers it’s quite a short article but it has captured people’s imagination.
Incidentally, guest contributors can really add something to a site at no cost to yourself, so it’s certainly something to consider. We started this way but decided to withdraw.
The biggest issue with guest blogging, we found, is the ‘something for something’ dilemma. By this, I mean we received regular requests to post often thin and poorly structured material, simply so the writer could get their link(s) posted on our site.
Despite clear information about what we would (and wouldn’t) accept the advice was often ignored. We were a little too willing to accept sub-standard material in the early days, but those days have passed.
Search engines are fickle beasts but at the moment longer articles are generally regarded as more authoritative and therefore receive a certain level of priority.
Getting the Word Out
When we started PositivityGuides we did very little in the way of self-promotion. This wasn’t due to idleness it was simply an admission that we wanted to build the site with sufficient content to make it worth visiting and looking around.
There are plenty of websites with very good advice about how to get your blog up and running. If you’re new to blogging you might like to check out ProBlogger, which is packed with useful information.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is important but is often made to sound like a dark art. Companies feed off the mystery and charge a great deal of money to provide services which they claim give your site a search engine advantage.
Fortunately there are simple and effective solutions. We use The SEO Framework. It’s free, pretty straight forward, and if you found this article via a search engine, it demonstrates it’s effective. Many other WordPress hosted sites use Yoast. Again, it’s quick, relatively uncomplicated and effective, plus it flags up useful issues.
There are many tips and tricks to help boost your site. We came across a book and website by Will Coombe and found it really valuable.
If you have the budget then an instant spike in traffic comes from paid advertising. Search engines such as Google and Bing have their own systems, but it’s possible to pay for a single click with very little money.
Of course the deeper your pockets, the more visits you’ll get to your site. We sometimes use Google Adwords in order to get the word out. It produces instant results but be aware these tend to last as long as your budget. Once you stop paying, expect a drop off in visits.
3. Promoting Your Blog in Forums.
One way to promote a blog is to go on like-minded forums. The idea is to make informative and helpful posts in forums dealing with similar topics to those covered in your blog. By making useful posts, you can leave a link back to your blog in the signature or somewhere in the post (if allowed, of course).
4. Posting Comments
It used to be all about backlinks, that is, getting other sites to link to yours. These days it’s really about getting high quality sites to link to yours. Don’t be drawn to sites offering to put 5,000 links onto various anonymous sites for a sum of money because they don’t work and may possibly even disadvantage you.
Every week we find two or three word comments like ‘great article’, or ‘I really enjoyed that,’ simply so the person can add a link back to their site. It’s a waste of time because most site owners are savvy to what’s happening and they simply send such things to the spam box. A really thoughtful comment, one that shows you’ve read the article and perhaps adds something to the topic, might well be met with a better reception.
How exactly do you determine the success of your blog? Most people would say it’s about numbers and of course they are right. A highly successful blog is one that people turn to and bookmark.
There’s another side to this and it’s what success means to you. A successful blog could be one that doesn’t leave you out of pocket at the end of the year, and for many bloggers that’s their goal.
Of course if you just enjoy writing your blog and you get pleasure from it, well good for you. If the numbers don’t really matter, well that’s fine too – up to a point.
If you have an audience of one, you might as well write a diary. The purpose of a blog is to be ‘out there’ and read by people and this should reflect in your efforts. So, whether you’re off to write your own positivity blog or some other topic, it just remains for me to wish you good luck.
Do your research, find a reliable hosting company (We use SiteGround but the faster more reliable hosts do cost a little more), commit to the project for the long term and go!