Starting a blog might not be as intimidating as writing a book—but it’s close. Several experts on blogging advise new bloggers that they should be prepared to write a several posts per week for a year before they can have any real hope of getting noticed. That’s a pretty serious investment for something that isn’t even guaranteed to pay off.
But thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to ensure that your blog gets noticed. Here’s a look eight tips that the world’s most successful bloggers use:
1. Forget SEO—at first
This might sound silly, but SEO is next to useless for new bloggers. Your blog starts with a Google PageRank of 0, meaning it gets extremely low priority in Google’s search rankings algorithm. You can write the world’s greatest post with all the right keywords, and a new blog still won’t rank anywhere near the top in Google.
Instead, focus on creating awesome content that people want to read. You can worry about SEO later.
2. Write useful, hilarious, or controversial content
You might have an extremely interesting perspective to offer on important issues, but it’s unlikely to garner a following in today’s media saturated world unless you can make your perspective useful to readers’ everyday lives, so funny that it might go viral, or controversial enough that people will take time out of their day to argue about it.
Not very many people are going to tell all their friends about “that interesting blogger with the thoughtful post about healthcare access.” But introduce dancing kittens, incendiary headlines, or something that makes your readers’ lives easier, and it’s an entirely different matter.
3. Comment on other blogs more than you write on yours
It might seem counterintuitive, but for every post you write on your blog, you should make at least three or four comments on other blogs related to yours. This is a great way to catch the attention of readers who you know are already interested in your topic, and to drive traffic to your site.
4. Forums, too
Find and frequent any popular forums related to your topic. Don’t be obnoxious about linking to your blog, but consider including a link to it in your signature. Look for every opportunity possible to organically include links to your blog posts during the course of discussion.
5. Submit guest blogs
Guest posting is a great way to get your name out into your niche. At first, don't expect A-listers to pay any attention to you. Start looking for guest blogging opportunities with blogs that are established but aren't huge. Before you send any blogger a guest proposal, you absolutely have to spend some time getting to know their site. Read their articles, post a few comments, and only send off an email once you're certain you know what kind of content the blog's readers are interested in.
6. Ask people to share
Whether it’s at the end of every blog post or on Facebook or Twitter, let people know that you want them to share your content. As for your own personal network, don’t be afraid to lay it on thick. Let them know you’re working on a new project and ask for any support that they can give. (Just don’t be so annoying that your pals “defriend” you.)
7. Make sharing easy
Invest the time and/or money (it shouldn’t be much) in adding as many sharing options as possible to your website. At the very minimum, every post should have a Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ button. Digg, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn are great options, too. Also look into adding an RSS feed to your blog so that it shows up in places like Google Reader.
8. Register your blog
There are literally thousands of blog communities, directories, and social bookmarking sites. You don’t have to hit all of them, but you should definitely submit your blog to popular ones like Delicious, BuzzFeed, Slashdot, Scribnia, ComLuv, Gather, BlogEngage, and Blogger Luv. Also look for industry specific directories and communities. An example includes BlogHer for the family and parenting blogging niche.
And don’t forget real life!
Tell your friends about your blog and ask them to visit. Make business cards and don’t be afraid to distribute them everywhere you can think of. Tell people you meet and do business with that you’re a blogger and mention a specific post they might be interested in. Your offline life is potentially just as powerful of a marketing tool as your online personal.
Above all, it’s important to accept that blockbuster blogs aren’t built in a day, a month, or usually even a year. As long as you’re adding content to your blog and picking up the occasional fan or subscriber, then you’re making progress. The number one reason bloggers fail is giving up. So keep on keeping on!