8 Steps to Publishing a Better Blog

Tips for creating more successful online articles

Adding a blog, or any kind of regularly updated content channel, to a website is often accomplished through the use of a CMS (Content Management System). This software makes it simple for people to manage their blog’s content and publish new articles as needed, but this is just the first step in creating a successful website blog. Being able to use that blog and knowing how to work with it effectively are two very different things.

Sadly, many blog initiatives fail because people underestimate the time and dedication that is needed to make them a success. They also often fail to follow some basics steps that can help them in  publishing a better blog. Let’s take a look at 8 of those steps that you should be following for your own blog or online article initiatives:

1. Focus on Your Area of Expertise

The best blogs have a clearly defined focus on what they are about.  The broader your topic area is, the harder it may be to find a dedicated audience. This may seem backwards, after all, if you go with a broad subject matter and cast a wide net, it likely seems like you will catch a wider audience. In practice, however, this rarely works out.

A blog that is overly broad comes across as unfocused and readers are unsure of what to expect from it. In contrast, a blog that is focused on one topic (or a small number of closely related topics) lets readers know exactly what to expect and it encourages people who are interested in that topic to return to the blog again and again or to subscribe for regular updates.

2. Find Your Unique Angle

No matter what topic you plan to write about for your site, there will be other people online already writing about that same topic. To stand out from the pack and offer readers something new, all blog authors should have a unique voice and angle to the content they create. This unique angle is what many readers will use to determine which authors they favor and follow.

When I first began blogging about web design on my own site, I decided to use my personal life as the base from which I would draw inspiration. Stories about travel, raising my two kids, and my love of the holidays became fodder from which I would spin lessons relevant to website design. This unique approach to the subject matter is what set my articles apart from others and it helped me establish myself with a readership who enjoyed my unique angle and perspective.

As you begin planning out your blog strategy, consider not only the subject you want to write about, but also think about what you can bring to the table that will set you apart and give your readers something that they will not find anywhere else.

3. Set A Realistic Schedule

For a blog to be successful, it needs to have content that is published on a regular basis. This means that you will need to set a regular schedule for when you will add new articles to the site – one that is realistic and which you can meet. Many people try to overdo it with their new blog and they attempt to publish at an unrealistic pace. This is doomed to fail. Whether you decide to publish daily, weekly, or even monthly, you need to set a schedule that you can maintain so your readers will know when to expect new articles.

4. Give Yourself a Base to Work From

An established schedule is great, but the reality is that life is unpredictable and you will not always be able to keep to that schedule. This is why it is important to have a base of articles to work from before you begin publishing. If you start with a bank of 6 to 12 (the number that makes sense for you will depend on your publishing calendar) articles in reserve, and you continue to write new articles all the time, you will find that if something does creep up preventing you from publishing according to your normal schedule, you still have articles that you can use to keep yourself on track. This is very important, because once you fall off your schedule, it can be brutally hard to get back to it.

5. Enlist Multiple Authors

You can make your life much easier by having a team of authors contributing to a blog.

This spreads the workload out across multiple people so that no one person becomes overwhelmed. Multiple authors also bring a variety of ideas and voices to a blog, which can really add so much to the overall presentation of the content.

6. Be Aware of Current Events

It’s great to publish general articles that are relevant to your topic, but you should also be mindful of current events and publish content related to those events as appropriate.  This can be a great way to keep your content relevant, and if a current event is really prominent in the public forum, having an article that discusses that event from your perspective can get you some new readership who may have not found you otherwise.

7. Add Visuals

Text content is important, but text alone can make for a somewhat bland online presentation. By adding images to your articles, you can liven them up and make the overall presentation of the blog more attractive.

Sometimes, these images may simply be a general graphic meant to advertise the article (similar to what is done here on the main page of the About.com web design section). Other times, the images may be critical to the content and the article may reference these graphics that help carry the content of the piece (like what you see in this article on CSS Grid Layout). Either way, visuals can be an important part of successful and attractive blog articles.

8. Keep At It

Blog success does not happen overnight. Many people give up on blogs because they do not see immediate results.

This is a mistake. If you want a blog to be successful, you need to be consistent over a period of time. If the content is good, the readers will come, so you need to be in this for the long haul and be committed to keeping that blog going even if the initial traffic to the blog is lower than you had hoped for.

Edited by Jeremy Girard on 1/14/17