The other day I was talking to a fellow writer about the possible "death" of blogging. At the sound of the word "death," he began shaking his head.
"People who aren't in the world of blogging don't understand," he said. "Blogging isn't dying. It's evolving."
My eyes were opened. He spoke that at a time when I was questioning what I was doing with a "blog." His words came as a relief to me.
For those of you who are looking at your waning blog stats or are wondering whether blogging is worth the hassle, I'm here to tell you that it is. Push back against the people telling you that blogging is dying. Like my friend said, those who are on the outside don't understand the power of a good blog.
But of course, you still need to take seriously the claims. People's concerns about blogs are worth paying attention to, but they're not worth avoiding blogs altogether. What you need is knowledge on how to survive the new content revolution. What you need is a definitive guide on how to navigate the changing blogosphere. Only then will you find the fulfillment and joy that comes from leading a successful website.
Here are some tips to help you enter the blogosphere with the necessary caution to be successful:
1. Find the intersection between authenticity and value.
The truth is, people will always need information. People will always need to know how to do things. On top of that, people will always love a good story. That's why the future of blogs need to hold both story and necessity as the pillars to their success.
A great blog will convey necessary information in an engaging fashion.
If your blog is skipping out on the authenticity of bare personalities and storytelling, then it will likely falter. On the other hand, if your blog is not providing information worth keeping, it will also likely falter. You need both for a successful website.
2. Don't force engagement on your blog. Meet people on social media.
Most blogs measure their success by the amount of engagement in their comments. But the reality is, most people will not be talking about your blog on your blog. They'll be talking about it on social media.
Today, social media is where the magic happens for blogs.
The truth is, while email marketing is still the most effective way to build community amongst a tribe, people are not subscribing to blogs like they used to. Instead, they rely on social media to notify them when there's a new post on your blog.
Here's what you need to do: build a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account or whatever, and build community there. Don't force people to come to your blog to comment. Meet them where they are and master your social media plan.
3. Build loyalty by becoming a contributor for 1-3 websites.
Guest posting is also a changing reality. Before it used to bring in tons of hits. Now, it can only bring in a few. What you need to do is instead of casting your net out to a 100 different websites, focus on contributing to a small handful of about 3 websites. This will build loyalty with the users who are constantly on those websites. They'll start recognizing your name more frequently, and in turn, follow your blog.
4. Avoid edginess for hits. Become a curator instead.
Blogs have a reputation of being popular only because they're edgy. For instance, take The Matt Walsh Blog -- a blog that takes the counter point on every divisive issue.
Yet, the reality is you don't need to be edgy to build a successful blog. You just need to become a curator of information for a specific community. What you need to do is, focus on a niche audience, discover their needs and give them valuable information and services. If you're edgy, you won't have a sustainable plan for growth, because the minute you stop being edgy is the minute your blog will begin declining. Instead, be a curator and how-to person. This will ensure people will keep coming to your website.
5. Have a plan of action.
For a blog to succeed today, it must have a plan of action. Blogs that just start up because they want to inform a cause are blogs that will weaken.
Here's what to do: first, define what success looks like. If your goal is to speak your mind, then you'll have an easy measure for success. But if your goal is to make money, you'll have to do the actions that'll lead toward that end.
Secondly, plan your content months in advance. You'll need to know what you're going to talk about, and how to sustain the conversation if you want your blog to thrive.
Thirdly, know where your audience is and how you'll target them. Come up with creative strategies to ensure that your key audience will become subscribers and continue following you.
Blogging is a risky endeavor, but it is a worthy one. It is still producing large amounts of success for businesses. You just need to know how to leverage the changing terrain.
This article was originally published on Start Creating Stuff.