blogging basicsAs Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is just showing up.”  As it turns out, the actor's advice works for success in blogging as well. Consistent writing (just showing up) is one factor in helping you succeed as a blogger. Other elements include title choice, spell and fact checking and formatting of your post. 

How do we know this? After reviewing the top posts of 2013 among our 100+ guest bloggers, we found ten common traits. While nothing can replace a genius topic and clever writing, investing in these ten basics when blogging will add extra insurance that your time invested will pay off in shares, reach and visits. 

Pick a topic that addresses a common pain point

Before starting a post, ask yourself, whom are you talking to, and what are they worried about? What are the thorny issues of the day? Then, tackle that topic as only you can do. If you are still building your audience, ask yourself: what are YOU worried about? Bring your own expertise to your chosen topic.

Keep your tips specific and actionable

We all live in a busy world where we are 'hacking' our own success. We seek helpful and proven tips to apply to our own situations NOW. Keep the content in your post specific enough that your reader can take action immediately once inspired. 

Write consistently

Write at least once a month if you are guest blogging on an external site, or two times a month on your own, to build a following and hone your voice.

Don’t cast too narrow

Many a valuable blog post has been limited by a title or topic that is too narrow. For example, using an industry or marketing term like 'SMB' will narrow a good general business post. Go as broad as you can without watering down your topic.

Try a fresh angle

Try humor with a staid topic. Or irony. Or parody. Make your topic and writing real by using relatable references at the start of your post. One technique is to choose your topic, and then flip it backwards. Instead of what to do, how about a post about what not to do?

Include stats and credible third party sources

Your blog post will be shared more widely if the reader feels that there is credibility behind your argument. Sharing facts and stats makes them look more credible and helpful to their audiences, and buttresses your point of view.

Absolutely no errors

Any error in a blog post will put the brakes on sharing and comments. Who wants to share a bad apple? Make sure you have proofread your post several times, and if you find an error, fix it fast before your marketing machine kicks into high gear.

Formatting matters

Organize your post for easy scanning using bullet points or bold header text. Indent and space to allow for easy reading. Most readers will be on mobile devices as they scan your post, and will give up if your post looks like a page from Anna Karenina

Optimize your title

Your title needs to be so good that no one, simply no one, can resist clicking on it for fear of missing out. What we've noticed is that having numbers in the title works. Another approach is making your title very simple, or very unexpected. Including SEO-friendly keywords  in your title (when relevant) also helps boost your post in search engines.

Promote shamelessly across social and traditional channels

Once your blog post is published, the fun begins. Tweet your post at least twice the first day, and use a compelling image for a Facebook post. Share it on LinkedIn and Google+ if it's a fit for your audience, and include it in an email list if you can. But don't stop there! Ask any influencers or organizations cited in the post to share it, too. We've noticed greater results from bloggers who have a strong social network to supercharge sharing of their content.

The most powerful advice is simply show up and write. Build an audience that looks forward to your posts and trusts in their value and credibility. That's what seems to be working for our guest bloggers.

Do you have any basic blogging tips that work for you? Share your own in the comments below. And, don't miss our article, Blueprint For the Perfect Blog Post, coming January 13th.