Now that you’ve got a respectable stream of readers coming through your blog, the most important thing you want to do now is highlight your best content so they can find it. In order to gain the most benefit from highlighting these posts, it is a good idea to create some solid flagship content before your site ever goes live. In a sense, you should spend a week or two blogging before you ever post any of your articles to get into a rhythm and so that there is something for your readers to stick around for.
Once your blog is live, it is imperative that you maintain a consistent schedule of posting fresh content. If your first readers find value in your flagship content and see that your blog is going to be updated often, there is little reason for them not to come back or even better, subscribe to your RSS feed and visit your blog every day. Increasing your subscriber numbers should be one of your main priorities, if not the top. Subscribers have given you their all-important permission to market to them as long as they are subscribed.
While you are building your subscriber base, it’s a good idea to not publicize the number of people who have added your feed to their readers. The reason for this is that people like to be part of things that are successful. Showing everyone that you only have two subscribers can send the message that no one else is visiting your site. Best practice is to wait until you hit triple digits, but you can add a badge to your site that shows how many subscribers you have whenever you feel you are ready. Just be aware of the possible consequences of appearing to be unpopular. Sadly, the blogosphere is much like high school in this regard.
After a few weeks of blogging, you should have a nice variety of quality articles covering the popular topics in your niche. To find out what topics you should write about, you can use a free keyword tool like Wordtracker, Good Keywords or Google’s Keyword Tool. You can also use filters and have your search engine research uncover some great topics. Using tools like Google Trends, the Lycos 50 and Technorati to see what other people are most interested in on any given day. Between all these tools, you are sure to find plenty of topics to write about. Take advantage of this information and plan out a schedule that will allow you to post about popular topics that have some relation to your products or services.
If you keep up your part of the deal and post quality articles every day, your top posts module should continue to get better and keep your readers around even longer. Install the Top 10 Posts and Popularity Contest plugins if you are using WordPress. By doing so, WordPress will automatically keep track of which of your posts are most popular and how their popularity relates to each other post. You can see the Top 10 Posts plugin in action in the bottom right area of this blog’s footer. You can see how Popularity Contest works by looking at the percentage listed at the end of each post.
Once you have built up your top 10 list to a point, keep an eye on your most popular posts. The posts that get clicked most are a good indicator of the kinds of topics you should write more of. Of course you don’t want to overdo it and pigeonhole yourself into writing all your posts on the same topics, but these posts should give you a good idea about why your readers come to your blog in the first place. One of the easiest forms of marketing is to simply give your readers what they want. You can even ask them what sorts of topics they’d like you to write about next and you’ll probably receive lots of ideas. Write these ideas down and add them to your schedule. If possible, plan them so they correlate with your business goals.
Another thing you may want to do is add affiliate links or some unobtrusive sales pitches in the posts you think will be most popular on your blog. The reason for this is that the posts in your top 10 list are going to continue to get the most clicks because they are your most popular posts and will raise curiosity in your readers. In time, you’ll see that your top 10 posts get a whole lot more clicks than any of your other posts just for being on that list. Plan ahead if possible and use those posts to get your main marketing messages out to the largest audience possible. You can add a poll widget to your site so that your readers can vote on upcoming posts. This will give you plenty of time to figure out how to get the most out of these posts.
As powerful as blogging is, keep in mind that it has some similarities with high school social behaviors. Keep the things on your blog that make it appear small or unsuccessful low profile and play up the things that make your blog appear far bigger than it is. At the beginning, your top 10 posts is about the only thing you can feature that will have this affect, but by consistently marketing these posts on social media sites and in comments on other blogs, they will continue to gain authority on your site and in the search engines. To be successful, you need to get in the habit of leveraging your current strengths and minimizing the other parts of your blog. In a pond of 100,000,000 fish, sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. Focus on publishing quality content on a consistent basis and you won’t need to fake it for long.
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