The Ultimate Guide To Boosting Your Blogging Strategy
I'm finally writing about my biggest passion of the last two years (besides travel, minimalism, food, pugs, and finally, Taran): BLOGGING, to bring you 40 simple steps to making a better blog!
I believe that I was always destined to write, from a young age; I wrote anything from poetry to short stories to songs even. But when I was a teenager and trying to find my creative outlet, blogging was in its infancy. I had no idea that one day this would be my thing.
We grew up together, blogging and I.
I liked the idea of journalism, but I also always wanted to help people, provide advice or guidance, but did I have a single clue via which channel I wanted to do that? I truly didn't, until 2 years ago.
This blog is one of the best things I have ever gone through with, from its small beginnings to what it has grown into today.
I've had so many ideas about blogging advice jumping around my brain for months.
The last 2 years have been a major learning curve for me as a blogger. Even the last 2 months have brought me reams of new ideas. I now read about blogging more than I read about travel which might seem odd to admit as a travel writer.
No offence to my fellow travel bloggers! I love peoples travel chronicles and advice, but when I get downtime from travel, I use my days to hone my blogging craft.
I have slowly figured out some solid ways to boost my own blogging strategy, through trial and error, lots of time on social networks and other blogs.
Ready to totally up your blogging game and follow 40 proven steps to success?
Below is an 8 part guide, which centres on the different areas of blogging strategy.
1 - Review your blogs user friendliness
2 - Engage with other creators in your community
3 - Review your newsletter strategy
4 - Build a deep and sincere relationship with your audience
5 - Utilize social media scheduling tools
6 - Create great content upgrades
7 - Audit and repurpose old content
8 - Improving your writing
1. Review your blog's user friendliness
We often get disconnected from the user experience of our readers when we are in a routine of writing, publishing and sharing.
How often do you actually sit and use your website as if it wasn’t your own? Do you ever take a moment to actually enjoy your own stuff, whilst also critiquing it?
Use your website instinctively and intuitively.
This isn't about analysing your writing quality, that we will discuss in a part 8; this is purely about design elements, technical issues and general user-friendliness.
Write down anything which sticks out to you as needing immediate changing, from small details, to overarching flaws. Note what is working well and see if you can build on this across your site to deliver a more consistent and stream-line look.
Struggling to critique? Consider this:
Are your most recent, and most popular blog posts easy to find?
Your blog might have a deep archive filled with content that doesn't match your current style, theme or message. In time you probably intend to edit or remove these posts, but meanwhile, you want to ensure that your new readers come into easy contact with what you know is 100% current, as well as your evergreen content. We personally use a gallery tab on our homepage which shows 5 of our most read posts. We then share our most recent content nearer the bottom of that page. We also have a category in the top navigation bar for latest and popular. We basically make it super simple for anyone to find the content we want them to see first.
Are your sharing buttons well-placed for optimal visibility?
If people love what they find, at almost any place on your site, can they easily share that on multiple social networks? We favour using AddThis to display our sharing buttons on the left side of the page for desktop and at the bottom for mobile. We originally relied on social links at the top of the page, plus a floating follow widget that followed the page as you scrolled down, as well as sharing links at the bottom of the post. I have noticed a lot of popular or high-quality blogs who do this is also, only including share buttons at the very bottom of a post. I do ideally want people to read all the way through a post before sharing, but not everyone will read the whole she-bang before they feel the desire to share it. I like the placing of our buttons because they don't detract from the bulk of the text whilst also making it very easy to share the post.
Can your readers easily ascertain who you are and what you do, without having to read your 'About' page?
Something we have tried to do here at Nomad'er How Far is ensure that we use a bio on the homepage, and at the bottom of every post, using our keywords to get across our blog's purpose. We also created categories for all of our blog posts displayed along the top bar, so that readers can get a quick idea of the key things we are all about, no matter which section they land on. Our homepage uses an video in the header if you are viewing on desktop. We also have our sidebar present on every page, displaying our logo, names and social channels.
Do you use one readable font type across your site for a simpler viewing aesthetic?
We go through phases where we hate our font and want to change it, we often stumble upon a dream font somewhere online and then can't find a worthy match. For now, we are mostly a-ok with this font because we know it's readable. We did however make our font smaller, which makes our longer posts much easier to take in. We also now use our Heading 1 and Heading 2 correctly, as this has a lot to do with improving SEO; our blog title at the top of the post is always Heading 1, and any subsequent sub-titles, Heading 2. This is something we had just brushed aside until recently and is such an easy mistake to make, we genuinely felt a bit silly when we realised what we were doing.
Is your colour scheme and layout easy on the eyes?
We have used the same colour scheme since day one, although I did gently encourage Taran to lighten the background because I love black on white, whereas he thinks the pop of colour is better. It is actually good for our blog because it visually complements our logo image, and is a continuation of our branding.
Focusing on these elements of design have helped me spot a number of things that needed addressing on our site; I found that many of my blog posts weren’t using the best header images, and I also found weird glitches in fonts, where my bottom bio was all messed up. I couldn’t believe I'd missed this stuff before, but I hadn’t been looking for it.
My forever solution to this problem is to regularly audit my content. I go back through the archives, pick old posts and edit them to ensure they follow the design of our newer posts.
HOLD UP, we will discuss this more in Step 7.
2. Engage with other creators in your community
Lately I have loved being social, present and chatty across our social networks. I'm a chatter box by nature and I have to kerb this so as not to babble all the time. Like I was about to, just then… So recently I have massively upped my game across the board, from Facebook groups, to twitter conversations, to talking more to the bloggers who inspire me the most. I have also become addicted to podcasts and I now use my walk to work for lots of inspirational brainstorming time.
As bloggers we can become solitary figures, locked down to our laptops, typing away endlessly, and trying to go it alone in creating great stuff, and sharing it. But I have to remind myself that blogging is fundamentally, my hobby, so I should try and enjoy it more. Sure I get days and even weeks where I avoid everything to do with my blog, which I call, my blogging overwhelm. But right now I am striking the balance between engaging often and brightly, with my fellow bloggers, as well as creating meaty content.
I especially love talking to and sharing the stories of those who are just starting out in blogging, travel or minimalism, because we were all new to this once upon a time!
5 Things To Consider:
Do you regularly share others content, which you have read and can truly advocate?
I believe its more important to share other people's content less frequently, and focus more on the quality of what you share, furthering the message and purpose of other bloggers you personally respect. As bloggers I believe we want to encourage each other in our quest to produce truly engaging and life-changing stuff. But also, it makes sense that you don't deliver to your loyal followers something that you can't provide 3 solid reasons for why they should read it. You don't want to fill up the feeds of your fellow bloggers and your audience with things that aren't worth their precious attention. Plus, if you share absolutely anything, of any quality, it does nothing for your credibility as a voice worth listening to.
Have you created a spreadsheet to collate your favourite posts from other bloggers or websites?
This is a massive time-saver that I recently brought in, so that I can save any links I have read and shared, and make it easier to re-share them again in the future. I also utilize Pinterest and Feedly, for when I want to source new bloggers or content worth sharing; I look at my saved pins and newsfeed, and pick a few things to share on other platforms. Yet again, this saves time and carries forth a message in-line with your own, curating social spaces that are unequivocally suited to your niche or target reader.
I have also been making better use of IFTTT, which if you haven't heard of, is a neat site which allows you to connect different processes through what they call 'Recipes'. I've connected our Twitter to my google drive, so that all the tweets I post are saved into a spreadsheet; this helps make twitter sharing quicker in the future.
Are you regularly commenting on other creators posts, offering positivity and friendship?
I develop blogger and youtuber crushes constantly when I find people who are hitting it out the park with their stuff. I don't necessarily mean established and well-liked individuals, I mean people similar to myself, who are maybe not yet pro-blogging, but headed that way. This might seem like a purely social activity not geared to improving your blogs success, but it truly is.
Some of my favourite podcasters, some of whom are super successful personalities, often bring on fellow creators to share their wisdom, and these people aren't just their guests, they're their friends. When you move forward in your creative journey, it makes sense to bring others along with you, to complement one another in your different outlets, and make the long process of growth far less lonely. But also, by being massive and consistent supporters of our fellow creators, we foster mutually beneficial friendships, not short-term business connections.
Do you play an active part in Facebook communities in your niche, offering advice and opinions, not just links back to your website?
I try hard where possible to help others via the various Facebook groups I am currently in (including a minimalism group of around 7000 people), but more often than not, I am the one seeking help. I am still a relatively new blogger, and there is an awful lot that I yearn to understand. Thankfully, these communities are full of people willing to share their wisdom, open to building others up, because its the cool thing to do. We are all in this together, and whilst competition exists, there isn't ever going to be one standout winner in this game. If you are someone who wants to succeed and become the top in your field, and you choose to chase this in a selfish and one-sided manner, you're not really here for the right reasons. Sharing IS caring.
Have you reached out to any of your blogging companions via email to discuss a collaboration?
I personally struggle with this one usually because of time limitations; I'm so caught up in my daily life and blogging routine, I neglect to broaden my content variety by inviting others onto the blog or reaching out to guest post on other sites. I just never get down to writing out thoughtful emails to people who I genuinely want to collab with out of fear that they will either say no, or simply be too busy, in which case I feel bad for bothering them aha! People-pleaser disease. I am definitely going to be working on this big time in the coming months.
This idea, as well as the other 4, will benefit your blog in terms of content variety and authority, but at the core, it’s a fun and important part of staying sane in the blogging game.
We're all here to cultivate something special and real aren’t we? Being engaged and creative within the communities which we rely upon and want to be successful in, is a key part of that.
Step 3. Review your newsletter strategy
We currently use Mail-chimp, because, duh, it’s free...up to a certain point that we are nowhere near reaching.
We have seen a huge rise in our newsletter sign ups in the past 2 months. We believe this is directly linked to the addition of a call to action to join our email list, placed in the middle of our longest and best content. We don’t have a welcome mat or a pop-up (we find these mildly annoying even if they do apparently convert to list growth) but so far, increasing the opportunities to join the list across our blog posts has more than sufficed.
For the longest time we sent out a weekly newsletter pulled from our RSS feed. This is surely a pretty boring email to receive, plus these often end up in people's promotional folder, not even their main inbox. It's great for our readers who need reminding we exist, but, it doesn't provide extra value to those who have willingly handed over their email address in the hope of getting something great.
Recently we made some changes based on the fact that we suddenly had this growing audience on our email list who had signed up assuming they’d receive bonus content, and we simply were not delivering on this.
We still keep to only 1-2 emails a week, but we now bulk out the RSS email with a conversational style of email. We share more personal info that links well to recent blog posts and we try to give a little extra detail than what our audience finds on the blog.
But the biggest change has been the addition of a mid-week email. I create a relatively long-form email which will relate to a recent post, and make mention of my minimalism eBook. In-depth and thought-provoking, this email levels a question at readers in the end. The answer to that question could well lie in the product you are promoting be it free or paid, or in the very least, it makes your readers think, and interact.
You really cannot underestimate the connection you can build with your reader via email, so consider these 5 ideas:
How often do you email your list, and what are you current open rates?
We review our analytics for our open rates and click-throughs via Mail-chimp, and it's always a good way of measuring which email format is working best. But because we only alternate between an RSS-driven email, and a more long-form chatty one, there is little room for drastic comparisons. We generally use this as a rule of thumb for if we need to up our game further, for example, by creating a better email subject line in future emails.
Do you often share something valuable, and bonus, making the members of your list feel like they are part of an exclusive club?
We send emails to our small (but steadily growing list) which are more conversational to encourage more interaction than the average blog post might do. We also expand on our current posts, or discuss something relevant but not yet published on the blog. We have also brought in content upgrades only available by joining our list, but in the future we will periodically send out content upgrades to our list, as well as incorporating an opt-in to a landing page, which will be a piece of evergreen content.
Are you including a call to action at the end of your email, plus 1-2 links within the text?
Research into getting your emails not flagged as spam might suggest against too much link dropping in an email, but you should still include at least 1-2 links within the text, otherwise you are missing out on a targeted traffic-driving opportunity. I definitely keep it to a minimum however. I also add a call to action to the bottom of the email which relates to the key topic or takeaway of that email and directs readers back to my website or product.
Is your sign up link visible across your site, during your content and at the end as a call to action?
Our list growth can be directly attributed to the increased visibility of our sign up link, now included in the middle of posts, often at the end, and in the side-bar. We have seen a 1000% growth in our list. Yes, 1000%. For months we only gained 2-4 new people a month...to now getting 2-4 a day.
And you know what, we haven't used any annoying user-interrupting methods or pop-ups to achieve this growth! It is purely from having more sign-up links across our posts, combined with a couple of content upgrades in some posts, but only a couple so far.
Have you made this sign-up link enticing, but not promising of too much that you can't deliver?
We generally keep it short and simple, and we ask, 'Like What You're Reading?', so when people sign up, it's a vote for YES, your stuff is good, and I wanna hear more.
We don't promise a specific type of email as we are still in the process of improving our email content strategy and don't want to make false promises. We believe its mostly important to have a great piece of content, because then you gain list sign ups based on the quality of your writing and the message this infers, that whatever your emails contain, it will probably be good.
I know this blog post is a long read. I mean, LONGGGGGG, so I have also created a printable checklist for all 40 steps:
Sign up to our newsletter and get it sent to you instantly!
See what I did there ;)
4. Build a deep and sincere relationship with your audience
Of course your email list, your social media sharing and your actual blog posts all go a great distance in building your audience, but do they facilitate a deep and lasting connection?
Do you convert one-time visitors to long-term readers? Are you true to yourself and yet true to your audience and their needs?
42% of the world’s population now have internet access, and right now, around 3 billion people use a variety of devices to access it, but not all of whom are reading blogs (stats courtesy of we are social). That’s a lot of people all searching for inspiration and information, online. But then again, there are also 6.77 million people producing blogs.
But how many of these blogs are in your niche? And how many of them are producing content of a consistently high quality? Well, for starters, you need to be confident enough to say that you are... You need to be sure (via step 1 and later, step 8) that you are producing stuff worthy of an audience.
But really, it doesn’t matter what the numbers say, or how scary your level of competition is. You can still make a place within an over-saturated marketplace if your blog impacts a few people each and every day; you are going to gradually increase awareness, grow your audience and become a useful resource to a small but valid part of those 3 billion people.
Do you reply to comments promptly, address the commenter by name if possible, thank them, and think before you respond?
This is pretty much the most basic thing for audience engagement. We don't receive a constant stream of comments so its relatively easy for us to do this for every comment, always. I get its harder for larger blogs to keep up with but I still think its a worthwhile practise. I know you can't drop everything to immediately respond to a comment but even taking 10 minutes twice a day to do so, is still prompt enough for most people.
I really dislike it when a blogger replies to my comment with a perfunctory response that shows they speed-read my comment and probably found even that level of interaction an inconvenience. I think it all boils down to knowing your purpose; do you write for yourself, for your audience or to generate customers? For many creators, you are basically nothing without your readers, and you would be speaking to a brick wall if none of them felt like respected commenters.
Do you pepper your content with provocative questions, or statements, to make your readers think and respond?
We used to end every post with a question but it didn't really work, and maybe that's because we were focusing too much on this one question, neglecting all the points in our post that might have got our reading thinking, and wanting to speak. And it's not about asking more questions than you answer, but it is about placing a couple of well-worded sentences, which might even contest the point you are actually making. I believe we should assert our advice and be confident in it, whilst still showing a consideration for other perspectives. For example, in this post, we delivered a firm stance (albeit on a mildly trivial topic) but we still suggested ideas in support of those of the opposite stance. That brings me nicely to my next point...
Do you write about something from a fully-informed place, and use secondary sources as support?
I think its very important to not just use disclaimers (more in point 5) and refer to external sources across your blog, in places where you recommend products or specific ideas, but also, you should expand your readers knowledge on a topic, beyond the points you yourself present as truth. I make good use of social media to drive this but I also try to refer to external research in a blog post, sometimes that I myself conducted. I find this helps me to not make assumptions about the pains of my readers, or deliver unrealistic advice. Also, in certain posts when I am delivering a perspective from my own personal experience, I use my own situation to help my readers avoid the same outcomes. If we simply sound off about our own pains and basically put out negative vibes, what value does that provide others?
Are you honest and true to yourself in your creative output?
This might be hard if you cultivate a persona based on indomitable strength and success, who prefers to always keep up the appearance being an iron-clad authority in your field, and nothing else. But most of us show some level of weakness because it appeals to our audience, and because we want to keep it real. We want to be a respected authority but we don't want to steer so far away from sharing our imperfections that we lack personality and hold back our truth. This is important for building reader connections because we come across as real people, with real concerns, and the solutions to match, who care about our readers lives more than just being business-like 24/7.
I always go back to my reasoning for beginning this blog, which was to chronicle a phase of my life which I knew would be momentous. It then changed over time because I realized that I could marry my desire to be a helpful advice-giving person with my minimalist travel adventures, and maybe, just maybe, turn it into a part-time job. My fundamental goal starting out was centred around creativity, expression and honesty, something I never want to stray from in the pursuit of blogging success. My audience, every day real people (not companies), and the truthfulness of my content, is of my up-most concern. That brings me smoothly to the next point...
Is your blog over-run with self-promotion, external ad's and sponsored posts?
I talked about this topic super in-depth a little while back because it had been majorly bothering me. I get that plenty of the biggest and best blogs out there will have ad's and self-promo in abundance, and that great content can co-exist alongside these things. But for a number of reasons, this can really turn off your readers and distance you from them. I want to be drawn in and delivered something of value on the blog I have chosen to read, and I want to be offered, in small subtle ways, invitations to develop my knowledge, which may be via your affiliate, eBook or course. But I don't want to click on a link, having been tempted by a Pin or tweet, to then find a website I can barely load for all the ad's its running. I won't even read the post in this scenario, I will click off before my browser implodes (my tiny laptop is not built for much).
If you aren't striking a nice balance between furthering your professional goals, and also delivering a readable website with consistent and high-quality content, your readers will suffer, and eventually, you will to. We would love to build an income from our blog, because we're nomads and work is not a stable facet of our lives; we basically need to find a way to make a sustainable living to keep on travelling. But you know what, we currently both work casually and part-time (we often end up washing dishes or doing housekeeping) and we go without, every week, but we still pay our website fee, and we still invest all our free time into this blog. We have turned down numerous sponsored posts and limit our ad's to 2/3 sidebar spots at current, because we have a clear idea on how we want to do this blog.
Our passion costs us time and money that we don't really have, but that's love folks. Love for our audience, love for helping them, love for our creativity, and a belief in a bigger purpose to what we are doing here.
5. Utilize Social Media Scheduling Tools
So this step goes hand in hand with engaging in your communities.
Do you use an automated and efficient sharing process for your own content and that of other people?
Our favourite tools for sharing (and engaging) include Tailwind for Pinterest. We invested in the full paid version because not only is Pinterest our number one traffic source (thanks to some semi-viral minimalism pins that no longer fit our style and look kinda ugly, ha!) but it’s also my favourite place for curating and sharing content I love and can learn from.
I share some pins right away but schedule about 70% into our Tailwind queue. This means I am constantly building our boards at a rate I couldn’t without the scheduler. I also love Tailwind for the analytics as it shows the virality and engagement score for your boards and group boards. This helps us know where our tribe is most active and where we should pin to most regularly.
We use Twitter regularly to chat with fellow bloggers and know it’s where our professional circle spends a lot of time, along with Facebook communities. So I love to use Tweetdeck combined with my twitter lists. Twitter lists are actually my favourite new thing that I have been using to make the crazy nature of Twitter, easier to navigate. I find this is the easiest way to see the latest content from my favourite bloggers and quickly add it to my scheduled tweets, which I then specify to go out at a specific time and date. I try to space these out across the week, and to post early in the morning and late at night (I tweet live during the day).
I see Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter as a great way for curating content that I love, as well getting my own messages out there.
We also use Tweet Jukebox to send out a list of our key important links each week. We edit the tweets weekly as Twitter isn’t a fan of duplicate tweet content! We include things like our Patreon sign-up, our email list sign-up, YouTube channel and 2-3 of our best evergreen posts.
It’s quite obvious that if we are ever-present and providing valuable sharing, beneficial to our readers and our comrades, then we will also create more awareness for our own stuff.
But that’s not to say that the key reason for a solid sharing strategy is to ultimately lead to our own growth, but its a cluster of activity that helps elevate your brand as well as lift others up.
5 things to think about:
Are you automating and spacing out your sharing as much as you can?
Tailwind is great for this purely because everything is added to a schedule which posts your pins to nominated boards in intervals which you can specify. Also, via Twitter and Tweet-deck, I like to live tweet/re-tweet/like throughout the day and have 4-5 things pre-scheduled to go out at other times, so that I am present across the different time zones, and can build engagement in my sleep. We also schedule Facebook updates to ensure our content is seen by the time-zones that our largest demographics come from.
Do you utilize free tools as well as premium sites to help you share consistently?
We love Tailwind but its currently the only paid tool we use. We utilize all the free tools previously mentioned such as Tweetdeck and Tweet-Jukebox as well as Canva and free stock photos for our sharing designs. We are always on the look-out for new free tools because we are still a small-scale operation. But the main justification in our minds for forking out for Tailwind is because Pinterest is our biggest traffic source. If we have any intent of growing then some investment in our social tools is necessary. I believe even bigger bloggers can seek out frugality in the running costs of a blog, but realistically your social tools should reflect your audience size and how well you can manage it and grow it. Don't spend money on social tools if you can do most of the work on the free ones.
Have you looked at your Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook analytics to see if your current schedule is working?
As much as I love Twitter, it is a tiny source of traffic for us. But Twitter has a bigger purpose as we use it for building and maintaining our relationships with other bloggers as well as learning stuff from our favourites. I still have a regular sharing strategy because I know that if you have a large audience on a social network, then some of that audience will be made up of your readers. Being present in a variety of channels that your readers might want to find you is a solid idea, but, we can always play around with social strategy to ensure we balance out being engaging with our counterparts and engaging with our audience. Its important we regularly check if we are reaching certain goals via our current social activities, whatever those goals may be. When your goal is measurable, such as gaining new readers, then reviewing your analytics will help you know where to always show up. When your goal is building business relationships, then it makes sense to change the way you interact on certain platforms.
Could you alter the way you contribute to your social spaces to better meet your core goals?
One thing we have done recently is delete pins on Pinterest to make sure our boards are continually of good quality and engaging. We also like to ensure we are chatty and honest on Twitter so that our followers and fellow creators see us as more than just link generators. Furthermore, we like to do live videos on Facebook as this is a rapidly growing feature that we want to take advantage of to actually share the travel side of our blog. Basically, each social space is different and can be curated to show different sides of your blog and your personality, when used correctly.
Have you looked at expanding your reach to different social networks e.g. Stumble-upon, Google+, Snap-chat or Periscope?
We have taken a few light steps in Stumble-upon and are still none-the-wiser to Periscope so this step is advice we too need to act on. I think it's all too easy to stick to what you know works or to believe that you are already adequately reaching your audience, but you could at least experiment in these different spaces. Your audience are often trying out new social networks, so it's probably wise that you follow suit. But you can still have a strategy in mind, and look at the optimal ways to deliver value in these new spaces, not just replicate your strategy from other social networks.
Step 6. Create great content upgrades
I'm super new to this, mainly because when we were travelling non-stop (before we took a travel pause to work and save up) I had barely enough time or internet to upload a post let alone create a content upgrade.
I have tried recently to focus more on this because not only is it an incentive for email list sign-ups but it provides your audience with double the value they expected to receive. You deliver something great, and then some. That 'then some' can set you apart, or just better imprint you in the memory of your readers.
Even if I don’t always read or use the content upgrade I might find on my favourite posts from other bloggers, it is suggestive of a quality and committed creator who wants to help me as much as they can. And, they want to do it mostly for free.
5 things to consider:
Would some of your older posts which still deliver traffic benefit from an email list content upgrade?
I am currently in the process of creating some content upgrades for older posts, be they just a downloadable PDF (which requires email sign-up) or an activity workbook, but for me, its a slow process. The best way to go about this might be to review your top-performing posts and see if they might also convert readers to email sign-ups. Do these posts max out on value or could value be added with an upgrade?
Are your current content upgrades converting in some way, and if not, how could you make them better?
We recently published a post in our super popular minimalism section which included a content upgrade. It has resulted in a few email sign-ups but not a whole lot. I think the best way to overcome this is to give the post some time to grow its audience (being that is reasonably new) and see over time if it converts to sign-ups. But if it doesn't convert we will probably adjust the sign-up link text to make it more enticing. We might look at the placing of the sign-up and ensure that it will be seen as a highly relevant solution to the problem discussed in that part of the post.
Have you isolated the best content for upgrades or do you place them across all your postings?
It might seem that placing upgrades on all your posts or just the ones which get the most views is the way to go, but those posts might not actually be suited to an upgrade. I think its probably wiser to spend time on one amazing upgrade that is completely useful within a given post, even if it isn't a highly popular post. This is a great way of improving an older post and driving new traffic to it, meaning that when you go to re-share it on social media you can make mention of the new awesome content upgrade.
Are your content upgrades actually good and something you yourself would want to download?
Taking on the challenge of bringing in content upgrades can add a lot of stress but not necessarily a lot of value. If you allocate a lot of time to develop your upgrades, and want it to build your audience engagement significantly, you want your sign-ups to receive something they will be more than satisfied with. Focus less on developing multiple upgrades for multiple posts and instead, build occasional upgrades which are extremely in-depth and useful. It takes a lot of time and energy to construct a blog post that people will love and share, so it makes sense to not try and add to this commitment by creating too many sub-par upgrades.
Have you considered creating one great upgrade applicable to more than one blog post or topic?
I currently publicize my eBook as a great supplement to my minimalism posts but of course anyone can buy this, they don't need to sign up to my email list to get it. But, you could introduce some short-term incentives for existing products in your inventory, by creating a discount on a paid product, only available via your email sign-up. You could then insert this into relevant posts, see how it performs and adjust it accordingly. If you want to create new products, be it a free eBook or course for example, then these should be something solidly relevant across your whole site.
Providing discount incentive sign-ups on paid products might seem like a bit of a pushy and salesy thing to do, but people can take the offer, or leave it. If you put lots of effort into creating a brilliant product worth buying, which you want to generate passive income on, then a content upgrade will help you do so; you already did a lot of hard work to create your product, make sure you give it the best chance to succeed.
Step 7. Audit and repurpose old content
Those of us that have been in the blogging lark a while are probably regularly auditing our websites, reviewing our traffic, SEO, keywords, meta data and imagery, then making slight improvements to our content along the way.
It’s something I have been majorly lacking on recently; being engaging and social leaves little time for this which I find quite a daunting task. Having produced our blog for over 2 years, there are a lot of pages and posts to audit and edit. There are some things I know desperately need fixing, some I am too afraid to look at, and then others I know could really boost our blog if updated.
The benefit of a blog audit is to know where you are at, how your blog is performing across the board and thus establish where you need to change things. When an audit is combined with repurposing, you can create new content from what you already have, potentially boosting your traffic and improving your brand cohesiveness. Many of your best blog posts will have been buried somewhere down the line, unless they have taken on a viral life of their own. And so many could do with updating to ensure any new visitors land on content that is totally in-line with your current keywords, voice, visuals and of course, your email list sign ups and content upgrades.
In part 1 we used our blog as if we were a reader. We may have isolated different things we needed to immediately change or edit. But within part 7, we can now set aside time to audit, edit and repurpose, one post at a time, one day at a time.
5 ideas to think about:
Are your recent and popular posts the best they can be, in terms of spelling, grammar, layout, visuals, social sharing imagery and of course, calls to action?
We always make sure to review each week which of our most recent and popular posts are gaining the highest traffic, and we proceed to re-read them, edit and ensure that we didn't miss anything when we originally published them. There's nothing worse than a new post gaining great virality, and only then do you realize it isn't the optimal representation of your best creative practise. We combat this by re-reading a post when we go to share it, be it 1, 2 or 3 weeks later.
Have you got old content with great potential but which needs a total revamp?
We most recently altered a super old post which was garnering fresh activity on Pinterest. The post itself is 2 years old, and highly simplistic compared to more recent posts on the same subject. Instead of removing it or changing it drastically, I made sure it was grammatically correct, created a new pin and matching header image, and added a comment at the top inviting people to read our more recent and in-depth posts on the same topic. I basically invited people to the stuff I would prefer they read, which is broadly better, but the post itself still holds some value, so I of course encouraged readers to continue. This post then saw a surge in traffic even though I didn't re-share it in all its up-to-date glory. It most importantly lead readers to the rest of our content on the topic, simply by adding the new opening sentence.
Many of our older or original blog posts lack several things we now include as standard. They don't simply look weird and wrong but they are either extremely short and basic, or just not in line with our current style of delivery. But if we took the time to write on this topic way back when, surely we cared about the idea or thought it was worth discussing. So part of our current auditing process is to pick things from deep in archives, which probably get no reads at current, and completely revamp them, change the publishing date and re-share.
Are you categorizing all your posts clearly meaning people can easily find your different content, not simply your most popular or latest posts?
Of course its important to always re-emphasize your latest creations and direct people to your most popular stuff, because, well, we know there's a high chance they will like it. But we should also make sure that our readers can actually get into our archives and can easily read further into a specific topic if we have talked about it numerous times.
We make sure we have a search bar in our side-bar so people can look up anything on our site. We also have our posts categorized which then display along the top-bar. This helps readers spend more time on the site, which of course builds a deeper connection and helps elevate your brand over time. We are not the sum of only our best offerings, or only appealing and worth reading based on our most recent stuff. Our blogs grow and develop over time, and some people want the chance to experience that, know us on a deeper level and extract value across all our creations.
Do you link to older or similar posts in several places, also including a list at the end of each post for relevant suggested reading?
I don't do this enough, but somewhere I recently implemented this, was on our 'Start Here' page. Instead of just talking about our topics, I straight away list 5 useful posts that people should read, which takes them through our blog purpose and ethos. Our tag-line states that we changed our spending habits, embraced minimalism, ditched the 9-5 and started afresh, so we list 5 posts which help our readers do the same. We also list relevant internal and external links to posts which expand on the given topic (or one particular point within the post). Sometimes one post is highly relevant to another but slightly different in topic matter, but by linking to a relevant read, you are making yourself appear like a bottomless pit of interesting info.
I feel like people are more responsive to a bulleted list of links, titled by what that blog post is about, not simply peppered through as in-text links, because they can sometimes get lost in the process of reading. I have admittedly used in-text links in this post purely because this is a super long read with those links only supplemental to the actual points.
Have you looked at repurposing certain pieces which might work better in video, audio or infographic form?
Blog post repurposing and auditing can go hand-in-hand I believe. If you find a post that could work better or could engage a different audience via another form, then consider why and how. Don't try to convert a blog post into another format just because you can, try to locate things which can be expanded on or explained better in video, audio or infographic form. There are many ideas on what you can repurpose your stuff into, with Darren at Pro-blogger and Melyssa Griffin offering great advice on this tactic.
Step 8. Improving your writing
After all that's said and done, you have looked at the ways you can improve website user friendliness, engage more with fellow creators, refine your newsletter, build a deeper relationship with your audience, simplify your social sharing, devise great content upgrades and improve old blog posts.
You want to boost your blogging strategy, up your game, and just get better at what you love to do, via these proven methods for success.
You've ticked many a box, but this step pales the others in comparison.
If you don't have great writing, you have nothing. Well, you have something, just not something worthy of you or your audience. But you do have something you can build up, change and improve.
No matter what in the blogging game, you can always improve!
I am constantly working on all the other steps but I realized recently that I don't spend enough time educating myself on how to write really, really, well. One thing which got me thinking more deeply about this was a free email course I joined a few weeks back. 'Unboring Your Writing' from Rosie Morley at Hedera House, and its been a great experience for me. I'm sure there are plenty of courses out there and I'm eager to find them too.
Rosie's course got me thinking about my writing beyond the actual story; she got me thinking about the active voice, expletive constructions and contractions, in ways I never had before. I recommend it for anyone who wants to give their writing some real attention.
When forming a blog post, do you edit as you write or let your thoughts flow without a pause?
I recently began brain dumping, something I read about when seeking some blogging inspiration. Basically, you write non-stop, letting everything come out in its organic state, without editing yourself in the process. This seriously helped me with the major blogging block I was having, but it also went against my normal mindful way of writing. I would usually go slower, editing each word even before I had wrote it down, which I now realize works well some of the time. However when it feels right, letting yourself go with the flow, tumbling out your words, and altering it later on, helps bring forth some real gems. If we over-edit ourselves during the writing process we might stunt our creativity and suck the soul from our writing.
Beyond your grammar and spelling, do you structure your sentences to be concise and clear?
I have been known to write crazily long sentences, full of words that don't need to be there. This was a major criticism of my work during my Uni studies, and I think it will always be an issue. But, by spending a bit more time during my writing and editing process, I have learned to craft my sentences better. I now include a mixture of shorter and longer sentences, made easier to read with the right punctuation placement. I have also learned to space my paragraphs to make certain points more impactful. I have also placed more focus on ensuring I don't repeat myself too much and focus on having multiple valid sentences that all have a good reason to be there.
During the editing process, how often and for how long do you re-read your post?
If you stare at one particular word long enough, it starts to look strange. The truth can be said of blogging, that if you read through your own block of content repeatedly without taking a break, it starts to not make sense. You also might fail to spot key errors or notice areas you could expand on or refine. When I finish a blog post, I leave it alone for an hour, or even a day, and then return to it. If any new ideas have come to mind in that time, I will make room for them. I will re-read my post and of course check for grammar and spelling, but also make sure I have said all I truly can. I don't want to press publish and realize 5 days later than I skimmed over certain vital points because I was rushing.
Are you getting across your natural personality and language, tweaking it for a broader reach?
I am generally someone who likes to laugh, to try and be funny, and to wax lyrical. I try to combine all this to create content with personality and value but I don't want to over exaggerate my natural traits and alienate readers. I do this by peppering my post openings with small personal details, delivered in a concise yet conversational manner; I get to the point of the blog post quickly but not without first setting the scene and clearly communicating my vibe and tone. I couldn't write any other way because I am unapologetically me, but I'm not so silly as to think that I can be myself to the nth degree. If you are writing to help, guide and inform a broad sect of people, you have to speak in a way that makes people want to listen.
Do you regularly use a set of specific words to bolster your branding whilst also expanding your vocabulary?
In Rosie's email course, she mentions that we should use certain words or phrases recurrently which helps to define our style and branding. I try to employ certain terms consistently in this manner, but I also like to shake things up by expanding on the descriptive terms I might use, especially in my travel-related stories. This creates a nice balance of language that is predictably 'my style', combined with something fresh, clever and interesting, for myself, and my readers.
If you want to truly up your blogging game, you should want to expand on your knowledge and language, so you can craft better stories that people will want to read, love and share.
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Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!
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