Will Britney Spears ever have another successful song? Probably not. Are there any lessons we can learn from her in order to build a successful and profitable blog? Definitely! So before you find yourself saying, “Oops! I did it again…” follow these 6 simple lessons to help your blog succeed: 1. Be bold. Be unique. Be different. If you want to get people’s attention, you need to be different. The “Make Money with Adsense” gurus will tell you that once you‟ve built a site, you can fill it with free articles, news feeds and a few links and start making money right away. They are 100% WRONG! Sites designed like this are plagued with a number of problems. Firstly, the quality of the free articles are generally quite low and they are often quite short in length. Many of the articles I‟ve read on these sites provide nothing more than a basic introduction to the topics they discuss and rarely tell me anything that I didn‟t know already. Needless to say, I don‟t return or bookmark these sites. Secondly, while a small incoming news feed can be useful for some blogs, generally you are providing information that people can find on a better scale elsewhere. For example, if your site is filled with information gathered from a Yahoo news feed, why should people come to your site instead of going straight to the Yahoo News site where they can find greater coverage? You are not providing anything for your visitors that they can not get elsewhere! The solution: Original, unique content. Your site is YOUR site so YOU must do the majority of the writing for the site. Yes, it means you‟ll have to write a lot and it means that it will take a lot of time. But do you really expect to have a successful site just by cutting and pasting other people‟s material? Being bold and unique gets people‟s attention. 2. Look after your baby A child without a seat belt says a lot about the mother. A blog that is neglected says nothing. How often do you post to your blog or update your site? Two times a day? Daily? Weekly? While there is no steadfast rule as to how often a site should be updated for it to be successful, you must ensure that your site does not look neglected. The key to updating frequency is to ensure that your visitors can receive the latest information on what they‟re looking for. If you have a baseball site and a major trade occurs - blog about it. If you have a “make money online” site and a new company starts up promising to pay members - blog about it. One of the key things I look at when I first visit a blog is it‟s „archives‟ list. If the site has regular updates, I know I should check back soon or maybe even subscribe to it. If the updates are few and far apart, I know that I don‟t need to come back any time soon. Recently I was asked for a link exchange to another blog. When I visited the blog, I found that the author had not posted for over three months! Why would I link to a site that had obviously been neglected by it‟s owner and didn‟t offer anything new for my readers? But you can post too much. When this happens, the quality of your articles drops and less people start leaving comments. This means that you‟re losing the relationships with your visitors, which leads in to lesson 3. Check out Problogger‟s great article about post frequency here. 3. Keep good relationships Ending a great relationship can start a downhill slide. Profitable businesses and profitable blogs have one key thing in common - great people relationships. One of the key reasons that the „Made for Adsense‟ sites don‟t succeed is that they are „built and forgotten‟ and are therefore unable to build relationships with their readers.So how are relationships created? Easily. Offer advice to other bloggers. Post comments on other people‟s blogs. Join social networking sites such as MyBlogLog. Respond to comments on your site. Answer all your e-mails promptly. Ask questions to your readers. Post and comment on related forums These tips are particularly important in the early days of your site. You will not be ranked strongly in the search engines at this stage and will need all the help that you can get to start your traffic flowing in. But even once you‟ve started getting a lot of referrals from the search engines, be careful not to burn any bridges or end any relationships abruptly. You never know when you may need a favor from another webmaster - be it a simple link exchange or asking for advice or help on a particular topic. If you lose a relationship with one of your visitors or another webmaster, they may start visiting Cameron Diaz or Scarlett Johannson sites instead! 4. Be careful who you associate with If you hang around with trash, you may be considered to be trash as well. Be very careful with who you do your link exchanges and traffic building techniques with. Of course, it‟s great to have a nice big link to your blog on the front of somebody else‟s, but if that site is a splog or filled with junk, you‟re not really doing yourself a service. One of the keys to building traffic is to attract visitors who are interested in the topic of your site. For example, if people are being directed to your baseball site via a site about flower pressing, they are not likely to come back to your site again. You want to get visitors from sites related to yours. If you can get links from sites that are also about baseball, the visitors are a lot more likely to be interested in your blog and may become repeat visitors. Conversely, be careful with who you link to on your own site. You must portray your site as being one of the best sites on the topic or visitors will leave and seek out the sites that are the best. So if your movie blog has links to a dog training blog, are your visitors really going to believe that your site is the most informative movie site on the internet? They are more likely to believe that you‟re not sure what‟s going on with the direction of your site and that you‟re just filling some space. 5. Keep your site looking good You never know when you may be seen. One of the great things about the internet is that it‟s global and it‟s running 24/7. That means that you never know when somebody may come in visit your site. Therefore, it‟s important to have your site looking great all the time. If your site is filled with error messages or the layout isn‟t quite right - fix it! Immediately! Don‟t go to bed until it‟s done, because as soon as you go to bed, the other half of the world will wake up and start surfing your site. Someone may visit your site who is a potential repeat visitor but because your site is filled with errors or poorly spaced, you may turn them off ever returning again. Even worse, your site may be visited by a big name blogger who is looking for sites to link to in their next post. If your site is cluttered with ads or generally unreadable, they‟ll probably pass on your site. I recently visited a site that featured a large analog clock showing me the current time in my city. While it was a nice looking clock, it cluttered the blog‟s sidebar and wasn‟t telling me anything I couldn‟t find out by simply looking at my own clock. I‟m not keen to return to that site. Ultimately, by making sure that your site looks it‟s best, you‟re also showing your visitors that you care about your site and that it is well-maintained. It shows that you are truly interested in your topic and that the content you write is insightful and passionate. An ugly site can easily scare away your visitors. 6. Always wear underwear Your mother told you to do it. And whether you‟re a blogger or not - you should always do it!
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