(Photo by storyvillegirl via Flickr)
It doesn’t take a social media expert to tell you that some blog posts have “it” – while others miss the mark. While it would be nice to tell you that a blog post that contains X,Y, and Z will be a guaranteed success, there are several variables in the ever-changing blogosphere that prevent anyone from nailing the perfect post every time. There are some things you can do to ensure that your blogging formula is as good as you can make it, however. Here are our tips for finding what works within your niche.
1. Study the Stars – While some articles hit the home page of Digg simply because a top Digg users happens to like it (or a favor has been exchanged somewhere), others are destined to get there because they hit a social media “sweet spot.” Provocative titles, trend-worthy subjects, and a tendency to cause discussion (or in some cases complete comment anarchy) are all characteristics of a typical Digg star. Whatever platform you’re trying to dominate (Reddit, Delicious, etc.), follow the top-performers carefully. There is often a method to the madness.
2. Go with what the Media Likes – If you’ve ever read a particular major media site’s blog, you’ll notice that they tend to favor the same blogs over and over in their roundups or link lists. It’s not that they don’t know there are other blogs out there. They just don’t have the time to scout them out at the expense of being disappointed. Put yourself in the position to be an easy target for their next lineup by executing a little “monkey see, monkey do.” If all the current week’s top links went to posts that featured holiday shopping tips, for example, gear up for the next holiday by pushing out a stellar holiday-themed post of your own, entering it in some niche-related carnivals, and spreading the buzz beforehand. Not only is it great practice, but it puts you in a position to be ready – you know, in case they happen to catch your blog that week.
3. Look for Patterns in your Own Work – This method may seem a bit hokey, but it’s perhaps the most solid way to find a blogging formula that works – and it doesn’t require the good graces of someone picking up your linkbait. Using Google Analytics or another traffic tool, find out which of your posts were best performing over the last 3 months. See any commonalities? Perhaps your “list” posts did the best. Maybe it was when you gave an even number of tips. It could certainly be when you used pop-culture references to entice the curiosities of new readers. Whatever it is, do it all – and do it often. You’ll find that over time, you can nail a popular post (by your own blog standards), most every single time.
4. Listen to Reader Feedback – Just when you thought you figured out exactly how to blog according to formula, you’re likely to get hit with reader comments that suggest otherwise. While I would never recommend pandering to the requests of one or two users (no matter how vocal), if the consensus is that you need to update your formula, you’d better do it. If you are hearing that your lists are too long, your pop-culture references are too “out there,” or your linkbait is too obvious and heavy, make some adjustments. You can keep enough of what works – while showing that you’re responsive – to keep a certain level of success, both within your community and the blogosphere as a whole.
Have you found your blogging “formula?” Once you have it – hold on tight! It may be the most valuable thing you’ve acquired as a blogger.