What Makes a Successful Blog?
Many bloggers dream of seeing their Web stats skyrocket out of nowhere. But while every blogger wants this, most have no idea how to achieve it.
Is this success something one must work toward, or is it just good luck?
Our recent #ConnectChat may have shed light on the answer to that question. The conversation was led by Bryce Gruber (@BryceGruber), co-founder of TheLuxurySpot.com. For serious bloggers, this was definitely a conversation you did not want to miss – but in case you did, here’s a recap:
So, first question: I heard you studied medicine at Florida Atlantic University. How and why did you get into writing?
Great question. I always loved the technical aspect of things – medicine, science, writing, etc. Also, I always loved science and so much of beauty writing is science! I went to school for medicine, but found my happiness in writing.
Which platform do you think is the best to start a blog (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, etc.), and why?
I’ve found WordPress easiest!
Do the ads on WordPress ever get in the way of your blog?
I guess it depends on the reader – but they definitely don’t get in the way of keeping the lights on.
I was wondering how you get your blog to stand out from the 100+ others that also cover lifestyle topics.
I think the first step is being totally authentic – don’t try to mirror what other people are doing. Only cover what inspires you – the honesty usually resonates with other people!
Can you make a living blogging? Does it pay the bills, or is this a myth?
Yes, you can make a serious income via blogging – but like anything else, it boils down to numbers. You need high traffic before your ads even generate enough money to pay for your servers, never mind your mortgage. Generating serious, authentic traffic is the only way. Consider traffic like friendships. Real is the only way.
Some people assume freelancers just party and lunch. Can you share what a typical work day looks like?
A typical day for a high traffic blogger/freelancers = longer than 9-to-5 hours. If you’re getting into blogging thinking you’ll work light and earn big, no – you’ll work hard, just on your own terms.
Other than working harder on your own terms, what is your No. 1 piece of advice for earning with a blog?
Building strong relationships, even virtually. You catch more flies with honey.
If blog revenue boils down to numbers, what do you think generates the most traffic to your blog?
Don’t try to copy a major magazine. Don’t cave to mega corporation advertisers. Write what you would want to read. Major print magazines fold all the time, but your blog has the benefit of you. Build traffic like you’d build friendships. Finally, create content nobody else has. Stop all the re-blogging, *please*.
In the very beginning, how often did you post? How often do you post now?
In the beginning I personally posted 1-2 times per day, but my team has since expanded. Now we usually have 3-4 pieces go live each day, but I personally write about one each day. I recently told a friend of mine starting a blog to just say whatever the hell she wants to say for the first 10 posts. Just pick your topic, and get it all out. The writing will start to come more naturally then. But don’t profess to be the leader in any information if you’ve never blogged before. No ego, mmkay?
Between contributing articles to various pubs and being a mom of three, how do you keep a consistent blogging schedule?
Balancing parenting with any career is a real juggling act! Sometimes, I take a kid or two to an event! I like to involve my kids in my work though – I’ll ask my daughter, “OK, you pick the nail polishes I write about today.” My sons are really good about contributing food ideas: “Mom, why don’t you write about French fries? That’s what people want.”
Many people start a blog, but fail to keep the fire burning. What keeps you inspired and your blog alive?
Consistency is everything! Would you stop calling your lover or spouse for a few days? Your blog is your side lover. But really, if you don’t put the work in, you don’t get to the top. Blog daily. Otherwise people find Internet love elsewhere.
What are your feelings towards Instagram and microblogging? Do you think it takes away from the essence of “real” blogging? Or enhances it?
I think Instagram is a great *add-on* to real blogging. Not everyone can read, or in your language, so pictures are great.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in the past as a blogger – any mistakes new bloggers can avoid?
My biggest mistake in the beginning was using a voice I thought was like the big magazines. I’m not a big magazine though. I’m me. I wish I found my real, authentic voice from day one, but I guess that’s trial and error!
What was your inspiration behind TheLuxurySpot.com?
I was pregnant at 24 years old and sick as a dog. I had to find at-home work. TheLuxurySpot.com and my son are the same age. Also, I just felt like a “no BS” voice was missing in the women’s lifestyle space – Jane magazine was gone. Blogs were hardly a thing.
What’s the best way to grow your network as a blogger?
Talk to people on social media and be *encouraging* of other people’s work. The Internet is a lot like real life, but without makeup. Don’t be catty. Also, it never hurts to collaborate with other bloggers!
What would you say is the hardest part of being a blogger?
The hardest part of being a blogger is when you get five times more traffic than a print magazine, but you’re taken half as seriously.
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Melissa Ibarra is an online community services specialist at ProfNet, a service that connects journalists with expert sources. In the past, she has worked for CBS Sports and News 12 NJ and done freelance reporting for New Jersey News Room and Reel Reporting. She specializes in social media, graphic design, and video production. Follow her media journey @melibarraTV.