It’s not hard to build a blog, but it is hard to improve a blog and refine it enough to cultivate an audience and make money. You may be able to put together a basic website in a matter of minutes, but you could spend years writing new articles and never see a single blip of increased traffic.
This isn’t a reflection of your personal ability or your potential; you may be a talented writer and an insightful web designer, but if you don’t know how to target an audience, how to build reader loyalty, and how to consistently offer better content over time, you won’t be able to succeed.
All of these things can be learned, but not through intuition or guesswork. You’ll need to rely on the expertise of others, as well as objective data, if you want to get better.
Learning How to Improve
These are the best ways you can learn to improve your blog:
1. Instructional websites. First, realize there are blogs about blogging that can give you expert recommendations on everything from how to build your blog to how to rebrand after years of consistent performance. Top10WebsiteBuilders.com, for example, has an impressive archive of blog entries dedicated to helping pro and amateur bloggers find success in their respective fields. You’ll also want to check out the blogs of top content marketing authorities, including Hubspot and Content Marketing Institute.
2. Blogs that are already successful. You’ll also want to take a look at some blogs that are already massively successful, preferably related to your industry. If you’re a photographer or an artist, for example, you might take a look at Digital Photography School, which has nearly a million subscribers. What is it about this site that makes it so popular? What topics does it currently cover, and how does it cover them? How do they engage with their audience? And if you can, do some research and try to figure out what the site was like in the early days, so you can learn how it scaled to where it is today.
3. Other bloggers and influencers (in your industry). If you want to take things a step further, look for influencers and bloggers in your industry at different levels of performance. You can use a site like BuzzSumo to quickly identify some of the most popular personal brands and voices on social media, and find out what they’re saying about your industry. Hopefully, you’ll be able to identify some key elements that successful bloggers in your community have in common, and some areas that need some improvement. Competitive analysis is one of the best ways to learn how to make your blog successful.
4. Analytics and traffic patterns. If you’ve been running your blog for more than a few weeks, you can use Google Analytics or a similar platform to analyze how your traffic patterns have taken shape. Are there specific posts on your blog that have received a disproportionate share of traffic? Are there some with a particularly high bounce rate? Use these objective data points to form conclusions about the quality of your content, and how your articles compare to one another. Do visual posts perform better? Does a humorous writing style win over more readers than a dry one? Apply these insights to your future editorial calendar.
5. Subjective reviews and information. If you’re just starting out, you won’t have a wide enough readership to justify collecting subjective reviews. However, if you have a few thousand readers or more, consider using surveys and interviews to learn more about individual perspectives of your followers. For example, do people think that your information isn’t original enough? Do they wish you covered a different range of topics? Are there a handful of key characteristics that keep them coming back for more? These points of feedback are critical in learning how to shape your work in the future.
Trial and Error
Even with all the information in front of you, it’s nearly impossible to make surefire changes that improve your blog’s inbound traffic and reader retention. Upon interpreting your new data, you’ll need to form reasonable conclusions. Then, experiment with ideas based on those conclusions. They may or may not work immediately, so keep checking the pulse of your blog’s development, and don’t hesitate to switch gears if something isn’t working the way you expected.