Journalism isn’t what it used to be. What was once just a way for nerds to put their daily journals online has become a viable industry: blogging is now one of the most popular ways for people to make themselves heard. The versatility of blogs has been recognized by businesses and traditional news outlets as well: everyone from CNN to CBS News uses blogs to post breaking news and to give viewers and readers a chance to contribute their opinions and insights into stories.
From personal pages to corporate websites, all successful blogs have one thing in common: engaging, well-written content. And if you want to make your blog a real source of income, building a community of readers must begin with the desire to give readers a story they care about. Without an interesting hook or a narrative that readers can identify with, a blog is sure to be lost among the millions of other blogs battling for attention.
Blogging for dollars
Blogging has become a major revenue source for many people; using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and strategically placing keywords into posts can be a moneymaker, if it’s done right. But what many bloggers are learning is that simply loading keywords onto a page doesn’t give readers an incentive to click. Blogs that are designed around keywords are also being penalized by search engines like Google for not being relevant or for being spammy. The best way to avoid this kind of penalization is to provide interesting, engaging, real content with every new post. If that means you have to get other writers to provide consistently good content, then that’s the way to go. The better your content, the more visitors you’ll get.
The fine art of linking
Providing your own original content is the first, most important step toward maintaining a popular blog. But another part of good blog etiquette is supporting your points with valid information from trusted partners. Providing links to your sources does two things: it shows that you’ve researched your topic well; and it allows you to drive traffic to sites you enjoy or find particularly helpful. If you’re doing research on, say, healthy eating, be sure to provide links that are relevant to cooking, to choosing healthy restaurants, and to resources for creating healthy weekly menus.
Tending your comments
The comments section on blogs can be a scary place: some readers use comments sections to pick fights with other readers, while others spam the comments with useless links and nonsensical posts. It’s important that you allow your commenters to engage with each other, but you should also weed out the comments that are offensive, spam, or comments that don’t contribute to the conversation. Also, creating a quick comments policy is a good way to nip problem commenters in the bud: post a few lines about what you expect from your commenters and most of them will be happy to follow your rules.
Blogs have changed the landscape of the Internet, and many are now considered respected sources for news and information. Making your blog a popular online destination requires that you post content that makes readers want to come back, that you provide reliable and respected sources, and that you give your readers the freedom to speak their minds. Starting with a thought-provoking story or engrossing news is the best way to build a captive and engaged audience.