9 Keys to Blogging Success from A-List Bloggers

by Joel Friedlander on July 25, 2012 · 35 comments

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When you start an author blog, you’re likely to begin by reading the work of other bloggers. Like any other field, people who have already had success doing what we’re trying to do show us the path to our goal.

On the way, there are lots of lessons to learn, and gleaning these from top bloggers can be a powerful help on your own road to blog stardom.

On my journey, many bloggers have influenced and inspired me, and there are some whose styles I’ve tried to imitate outright when I saw how effective they were in certain areas.

In the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve built my site into a trusted resource for thousands of writers, designers, publishers, and authors. The following are some of the basic lessons that have guided me on my journey. I hope some of them will inspire you, too.

9 Lessons from A-List Bloggers

  1. Produce evergreen content.

    This lesson came to me from Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs-journey.com, a blog about doing business online. Yaro does this himself and taught it in the blogging course I took with him. The idea is to explore the details of your category, genre or niche and write articles that supply basic definitions, describe common processes, or show the history and rationale behind why things are the way they are. This is the kind of content that attracts visitors from search engines, and will be valuable one, two or five years from now. It’s kind of the foundation on which the rest of your content is built.

  2. Write with a plan.

    No blogger I know of does this better than Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com, a blog about copywriting. It seems that almost every post he writes is part of a series of instructional articles, and each fits into the overall strategies he teaches on his site. With a page that gathers these series together, he has focused instruction and a great place to send visitors looking for these subjects.

  3. Build community.

    When it comes to creating a community of raving fans, I look to best-selling author Jonathan Fields of TribalAuthor.com. Jonathan has run programs, launched books, and offered training through his popular blog, and his ability to connect with people is one of the elements that draws people in.

  4. Foster interaction.

    Writer Jeff Goins has built a super blog at Goinswriter.com, recently named the top blog for writers by Writetodone.com partly through his honest and helpful articles, and partly through his commitment to his readers. No one I know takes as much time and trouble to answer comments on his blog the way Goins does, and it has worked out very well for him.

  5. Build a list.

    Jon Morrow, an editor at Copyblogger and a top blogger in his own right, knows the value of a list of subscribers and constantly shows people how to quickly ramp up the number of people you have following your posts. His blog at Boostblogtraffic.com is a great example, as he amassed thousands of subscribers almost the same day he launched it.

  6. Give readers a path to follow.

    One of the most effective ways to engage with readers is to invite them to follow along as you learn your way in a new field. I’ve learned this lesson from author Joanna Penn at Thecreativepenn.com, who constantly has the courage to reveal not only her successes but her failures, so that her readers can profit from her experience.

  7. Build traffic with guest blogging.

    One of the best ways to build the audience for your writing is by appearing as a guest author on other blogs. This strategy has worked for lots of bloggers like Bamidele Onibalusi of Youngprepro.com, where he built a high-traffic blog almost entirely through hundreds of articles written for other sites.

  8. Write what’s right.

    There’s a lot of nonsense online about how long or short blog posts should be, and here’s why it’s nonsense: you can make any length work for you. Two of the bloggers I follow closely are marketing guru Seth Godin at sethgodin.typepad.com, whose posts are often under 300 words, and internet marketer Glenn Alssopp of Viperchill.com, who recently posted an article somewhere around 5,000 words. Both are incredibly successful.

  9. Provide practical help.

    No one I know provides as much practical, nuts-and-bolts help for bloggers as Darren Rowse of Problogger.net. Darren explains the what, the why, and the how of everything he does on his blogs, which have over half a million subscribers.

Well, there you have it: 9 ways you can build a top blog of your own. These lessons never stop giving your blog more authority, more readers, and more satisfaction to you, the blogger.

How many of these practices do you use? Are they working? Leave a comment and let us know.

Originally published at CreateSpace.com as “9 Lessons from A-List Bloggers.” Photo by Khairil Zhafri

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    { 30 comments… read them below or add one }

    RD Meyer July 25, 2012 at 1:43 am

    One big thing that I didn’t see up there but believe is vital is to be consistent. By that, I mean publish posts on a predictable schedule so your readers know when to show up. Blogs that post once a week for a month, and then go six weeks without new content, break an unwritten agreement with its readers and risk losing any base built. And I think this leads many to learn that it’s easier to build blogging trust than to rebuild it.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins July 25, 2012 at 6:00 am

    That is a great point RD. I could easily be guilty of neglecting a week or two worth of articles or posts on my blog, just because of a busy schedule. One trick I found is this. Most blog platforms allow you to schedule post publication dates for content. When I have time, I can write two or more articles and then schedule them to go out on Monday mornings into the future. At this time, I have articles queued up through November!

    That said, you still have to make sure to answer blog comments and respond to email. Every single day.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 25, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Good point, RD. Consistency is a key, no matter what schedule you blog on, and that could easily be #10.

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    Tracy R. Atkins July 25, 2012 at 5:57 am

    This is one of the best articles you have posted; it’s timely and helps me out in particular. I am just now starting to get settled into blogging and writing articles that are on topic for my niche little platform. Point number one on your list really solidified the direction I think I want to take my author blog. Maybe it can become something more than just a way to talk about my book and marketing it.

    Your blog is a prime example of this concept. You post more on-topic and in-depth articles on self publishing and growing as an independent author than anyone else on the web. It was luck that I found this site, while looking for ideas on cover design. The information you provided made me throw out a cover I spent a month on and go a whole different direction. Information on everything from typesetting, fonts and layout, to the examples in the monthly awards, were invaluable for me. I learned more here in a few months of reading your articles than I could by taking a series of college courses. Thank you so very much for the information you provide.

    Without meandering off the point, I will say that you had to start with one article, years ago. Through the power building your site over time, it has grown into something extraordinary and full of information. Just like writing a book, you take it one chapter at a time and it grows. I think a lot of new author bloggers forget about this concept. Looking at an empty blog seems overwhelming. It just takes time and dedication.

    -Tracy

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thanks, Tracy, that’s awesome. If you hunt around the internet you can find copies of the PDF Yaro Starak produced to promote his blogging program. It’s called the Blog Profits Blueprint. Although the program is no longer available, that PDF is a treasure trove of actionable information on how to position and grow a blog and his ideas were instrumental to what I’ve done here. Thanks for your continued support, and do let me know if you’d like to contribute a guest post here.

    Reply

    Elissa Field July 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

    What a great list, with such great examples. Thanks for posting it.

    Reply

    Turndog Millionaire July 25, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Top list of Bloggers here Joel.

    Lots to learn from all of them :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

    You’ll be on this list soon enough, Matt. Following your Peer vs Fan series, very interesting stuff.

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    Jennifer Ritchie July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Great compilation – found #1 surprising, such simple and perfect advice.
    Thank you!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Simple—I love simple! There’s quite enough complexity in the world already. Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer.

    Reply

    Dianna Bellerose July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Hi and thank you:) It is a wonderful advice, I can add to this having your synopsis translated in different languages helps a lot as well.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Diaanna, that’s an interesting idea I’ve never encountered before. Can you tell us where you put the translations? Right into the blog post?

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    Joanna Penn July 30, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Paulo Coelho also translates his blog posts – sometimes into 3 languages – the guy’s a legend :)

    Reply

    Kerstin Broemer July 26, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Great advise, thanks a lot, Joel!

    I have already known most of the blogs and bloggers you introduced in this post. But looking at your list I have two weak points: guest posting, which I will pursue in near future. And list building still is a blind spot to me. I will have a look at Jon Morrow’s blog. Thank you for the tip!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Kerstin, ignoring list building is probably the most common thing that writers who blog miss out on. Having an email list will change your relations with your readers and can potentially bring you lots of other benefits. It’s fairly simple and inexpensive to get starter, so good luck with that.

    Reply

    Ryan July 28, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Great post Joel.

    I recently launched my blog, so something like this is absolute gold dust right now.

    I think the key to good blogging is making sure you cater to an audience, and not to mistake it for a diary. Too many blogs are introverted to the extreme. They may LOOK pretty, with their cryptic three-word entries and personal content, but does anybody actually read them?

    Create an engaging article, whilst maintaining personality of your own, and you’re on to a winner.

    Keep up the great work Joel. This blog is a fantastic resource for all.

    Reply

    Lisa A. McCombs July 30, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Thank you so much for the insightful information. New to the self-pub business, I am learning (often painfully)…and learning…and learning.

    Reply

    Joanna Penn July 30, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Thanks so much for the mention Joel – I really appreciate being on the list with some superstars!
    I would add that you have to have passion for a topic. The Creative Penn was my 3rd blog as the first 2 fell by the wayside as I ran out of things to say. Both you and I never run out of things to say in this niche because we’re passionate about it. It’s just not sustainable unless you love what you’re talking about – only that sustains you through the first lean year with no traffic and hardly any comments.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Good point, Joanna. As you say, there has to be something driving you to get through those long, lonely months, and there’s nothing better than a passion for your subject.

    Reply

    Roger C. Parker July 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Dear Joel:
    I can’t believe I overlooked this important post last week: thank heavens for archives.

    The conciseness of your comments plus the numerous viewpoints included makes this a prime resource for everyone.

    The only thing I’d add would be the importance of challenging yourself to post as often as possible.

    Once again, I’ve discovered the challenge as well as the overall “electricity” of posting new, quality content every day. Each time I do this, I find myself getting more done in all areas, not just the blog posts.

    Daily posting is a great way to feel good and be more productive in all areas and activities!

    Thanks, again, for sharing these voices and perspectives in your blog.
    Roger

    Reply

    FloridaBorn July 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I love blogging and I’m planning on starting a blog soon. Revealing failures is a great way to laugh at mistakes. Thanks for the excellent ideas!

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    Lillian Brummet August 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Great information here, especially in the comments section where people offered a lot of great tips. I, too, enjoy having guest article submissions and also do occasional interviews. This helps break up the monotony of daily blog posts. I enjoy responding to people who leave comments on our blog, their input really adds meaning to what we do. One tip that I was reminded of recently is to use social networking sites more effectively by letting people there know about guest blogs, articles or interviews that appear on the blog as well. I plan on integrating this with our other promotional efforts.
    Lillian – http://www.brummet.ca

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

    When there’s a particularly strong post or one that’s drawing a lot of comments, I’ll post it on Facebook, Google+ and other social media sites and that seems to be an effective marketing tool.

    Reply

    Karen December 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Oh dear! Why is it that all 9 bloggers are male? Apologies if I missed something. Not a single female on your list! I find that painful & frightening. Are we women doomed? Are the only widely read female bloggers those ghastly mommybloggers? Ugh! Joel, this is the first time I’ve ever left a post on your wonderful site absolutely & profoundly depressed.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins December 10, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I would chalk this one up to a coincidence Karen.

    A sizable portion, if not the majority, of the top writing bloggers are female. Just off the top of my head I can think of Joanna Penn of the “The Creative Penn”, Kristine Kathryn Rusch of “Kris Writes”, Toni and Shannon of “Duo Lit”, Victoria Strauss of “Writer Beware”, Sandra Beckwith of “Build Book Buzz”, just to name a few (I know I missed several top people here).

    Reply

    Karen December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Tracy
    Thanks so much for your response. I am much cheered by your response and list of women whose blogs I must go visit!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Karen,

    You missed #6 (Joanna Penn) so don’t get totally depressed just yet. There are tons more, and I’ll take your comment as a gentle nudge to remind me in the future, so thanks for your input.

    Reply

    karen December 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks Joel!
    I do love your blog. Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

    Reply

    The Savvy Indie December 17, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Whao! A very simple but abundantly helpful post for upcoming author blogger.

    I have followed Joanna of TheCreativePenn.com for a while and I think I love her way of blogging her book publishing success,failures and experience.I believe every beginner can easily start out going this way – you blog about how your journeys goes and other people surely will have one or two thing to learn from the experience.

    Guest blogging might be a little tedious doing for starters in my view.To get blog to guest post for,to write quality and worthwhile posts for more established blogs,that surely isn’t for the fain heart,although it will help in bringing fresh traffic to a blog regularly.

    Lovely post!

    I am bookmarking to come snipping here regularly.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Savvy, keep in mind that blogging about the process of creating a book will mostly be of interest to other writers. If you’re not writing books for writers, it’s questionable exactly how much help that will be when it comes to marketing the book to its intended readers. Thanks for your comment.

    Reply

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