When you start blogging it can feel overwhelming. You need to have a university degree in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), be an expert graphic designer that can make 3-D images come to life, and also write compelling content that has J. K. Rowling asking you what inspired you. Am I right? It feels like so much pressure. But it doesn't have to be. And hopefully, like me, you started blogging because it was… FUN! Yes, y'all, I started Helene in Between 6 years ago because I broke my ankle and had to sit on my butt and wanted a way to connect with the world while I was holed up on my couch and my doberman, Hugo. Contrary to popular theory, you don't need all the bells and whistles in order to have a great blog. In reality there are only 3 things you need for a successful blog. And they are more simple than you might think.
The Only 3 Things You Need for a Successful Blog
1. A Working Website
When we start blogging we are so focused on publishing, polishing, Google Adwords, social media accounts, you name it. But really, that's all extra. You need a working website, first. What I mean by working is that it should be easy to read first and foremost. You don't need a $1,200 custom designed website with colors that you built from a Pinterest inspiration board. Here's the deal, there are templates that are FREE or very inexpensive that will help you create a beautiful blog.
What you need to remember is that when someone lands on your website they only want ONE thing: to find what they were looking for. If you can do that, the battle has been won. Then, you need to make it super easy for them to follow and share about how wonderful and helpful or inspiring you are. While a pretty website is great, it shouldn't be your first order of business. A clean looking design will do the trick. So, give yourself a break, and realize you don't have time to do it all.
Here's a few things I think a website should have:
- Clean, clean – can't say that enough. Overcrowded websites lead to people throwing up a “peace sign” and never returning to your website again.
- A way for people to follow you – have your social media icons on display. I also highly suggest an opt-in for your email list (more on that below).
- A navigation bar- did you know the second most clicked link on a blogger's website is their “about me” page? Make sure it's easy to find. I also like to include: popular posts, or sections about topics you write about. Lastly, a search bar! Make it easy for the people to find what you want.
- How to contact you.
Bottom line: make it super easy. If I go to a website and immediately my eyeballs are assaulted with 45 different colors, 16 different sidebar ads, and no way of searching for what I want to learn, I leave. Plain and simple. Some websites that I really love, design wise, are: Venus Trapped in Mars, Whit Speaks, Girl VS Globe.
If you haven't started a blog, or wanting to switch to WordPress (highly recommend) here's how to start a profitable lifestyle blog from scratch, step-by-step.
2. Write great content
You don't need to start the next great trilogy here, you just need to write content that you yourself would enjoy reading. The other day I had a conversation with a girl who told me she just couldn't figure out why her blog wasn't growing. She had a lovely little blog and images, but most posts were one paragraph long… that's it! Now I don't know about you, but I go to a blog to read their content. No matter what you are talking about, tell me what it is you are doing, be descriptive, and of course, make it interesting.
We have to remember that people have limited hours in the day and we want them to come to our blogs regularly. To get them to stick around we need content that counts. I suggest writing what I like to call foundational content (< clicking that link will help you write epic content). This is content that inspires, teaches, relates, or conjures something up when the viewer reads.
The important step, that many bloggers often overlook when creating great content, is to not just stop with what you write in the post. A headline or title should also be interesting. Let's say you write a stellar post about your weekend in Los Angeles, California where you discovered the meaning of life. But your title is: My Time in LA. AHH! First, you have to put yourself in the reader's shoes. Instead of talking about you, think about them. Also, are we talking about Louisiana? or Los Angeles? Because both are acronyms for the state or the city. Your title should be just as compelling as the words you put together on your post.
As for social media, you should also create catchy 140 character tweets or interesting tidbits for why someone should stop what they are doing, click, and read your post. So, the buck doesn't stop with writing great content. We have to think about why we are writing it and what it will ultimately do for the reader. I'm not saying you need to spend hours thinking about how this will or won't help someone who is a potential reader. But I think it's important to understand the link behind why someone might read your blog.
[bctt tweet=”You just need 3 things to create a successful blog. And they are more simple than you think! ” username=”heleneinbetween”]
Lastly, if you really want your content to count, write in your voice. The great thing about a blog is you write on your own terms, in your own voice. So OWN it. This can take some doing but it can help you define yourself online and make you stick out from the rest. Bloggers with great voices: The Daily Tay, The Skinny Confidential, Tyler Lucille.
Speaking of getting people to be lifelong readers, the last point is so essential:
3. An Email List
Now that you have a site and content, there is just one more thing you need: an email list. I know what you're thinking: but why? And how? Let me tell you, I thought the same thing. But if my blog stat's are proof, then this is something everyone should do. When I started an email list, I started small. I simply asked people on my blog to subscribe. It started slow, because I really didn't know what I was doing. But once I understood that having this email list was my connection between myself and my readers and allowed me to send targeted and direct emails that resonate, I learned to grow it.
But not only did I realize the connection this would bring, it's quite honestly the reason why I am a full time blogger. When I sold my first product, I had an email list of under 2,000 subscribers. I made over $10,000.
Now, my email list is over 15,000 and I am making 6 figures as a blogger (full time!). This is sincerely because of my email list. And the way that I grew my list took some time and effort but has been totally worth it. One of the best ways I went from 2,000 to 15,000 was by offering an “opt-in”- a free incentive to get people that I knew would be interested in my product a free way to sign up for my newsletter.
Hopefully, you can see from the above that you don't need 100 different bells and whistles to make your blog successful. It's just these three things that will make all the difference.
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