Homeschool Webmasters

Just another A2Z Homeschool Blogs weblog

How to Build a Successful Blog in 12 Months

Posted by Ann Zeise on April 26, 2012

It is possible to build a blog site here and have some financial independence in about a year. But it does take work. This is a get rich slowly sort of business.

A) Content. Get some content ready to go before you even start building the blog. Go back through emails you have sent and posts you have made, and gather together any you feel were particularly clever. When you have 50 or more you are ready to start.

B) Domain name. The advice used to be to make it unique and brandable. Think “Google” and “YouTube.” Made up words. Though your url here will be a2zhomeschool.com/MyWonderfulBlog, someday you may want us to help you move the blog to its own domain. We are quite willing to help you move the site within our own server, and all the widgets and template you used can go with it. So plan for that day.

C) Site Design. We give you a leg up by offering a good number of templates. Don’t worry if you don’t like the main graphic. It is fairly easy to replace it with one of your own images. As you test out various templates, your content stays in the database. The search engines already love this site. Simple is Cool!

D) Pages. Keep pages and posts fairly small. Divide long content into page 2, 3, etc.

E) Keep Building Content. First two-three months put up 5 pages of content a week. Keep some way of jotting down content ideas with you at all times. Leave voice messages or text messages to yourself when the muse hits.

F) Use Keyword in the Title. I’ve seen blog titles that try to be “cute.” But no one ever searches on cute. Make sure your post and page titles truly reflect what the content of the page is about, and in terms ordinary people would use in search. Spell check your new article.

G) Linking Out. On each page or post, link to a couple of high ranking sites for the keyword you are focusing on. Use the keyword in the linked text.

H) Internal Links. Link between posts and pages on your site. Refer a reader to other resources you have on your site on a similar topic. WordPress can automate some of this if you carefully create parent-child relationships between pages, or carefully tag posts and place them in categories. But at least give a reader two other blog posts directly linked from any one post.

I) Hide Until Ready, then Publish. You can hide you whole blog until it is ready for public viewing. Think of this like getting ready for a big event. You hide out in your bathroom and bedroom until you are sure you look great, and then you come down to meet your date. You can still invite a few beta testers in to see your blog and try it out, then give you feedback.

J) Analytics. You need to know what your community really likes, where they enter and where they go and read before they leave. Here on A2Z we offer Google Analytics. It is free, and well worth it.

K) Put Your Blog Online. Now you are ready to uncheck the “Hide” button and go public. You are not just letting people in, but also spiders. Google is already well aware of this blog site, so your posts and pages will be showing up in Google almost instantly. If you have done the work above, you’ll start getting traffic. Check the Analytics to check that the spiders are visiting every page.

L) Market to Topic Directories. Your blog will show up in A2ZHomeschool search, but you may also want a “hard” link. Contact me, and help me make my job easy by telling me which of my pages best suits your topic. Personally email other large homeschool directory sites.

M) Social Networks. Create personal accounts and blog topic pages in at least Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter. This line will age, and new social outlets will arise. You will be using the social networks to gain traffic. You may connect your posts here to go directly to your Facebook page, and Facebook page posts can be set to feed into Twitter. You can thus spread the word fast.

N) Routinely Add Content. Get into a routine of adding content several times a week. Not that you can’t break the routine should the muse strike, but keep digging through that topic list I talked about in “E.”

O) Create Eye Catchers. Use lots of subheaders and bullet lists, as readers often scan a page to see if it has what they need, and though you page may be perfect, if the information is buried in long text blocks, they won’t find it. Note how easy it is to scan this page.

P) Avoid Gimmicks. Stay clear of fads. Stay clear of anything that appears spammy or unethical. Avoid hyperbole – gross over-exageration.

Q) Requests for Link Backs. If the request seems reasonable, take a look at the site. Try the navigation and see if the internal pages are of high quality. Any site you link to your site should meet your standards. Some times I have to tell a webmaster to make a request when they have added more content or fix bad errors.

R) Building Community. Build conversations around your site. Here you can create a BuddyPress Group, if you’d like. What gets written here, stays here. We don’t recommend friends. You need to invite your own. Allow comments, but be sure to moderate them. Allow some through you don’t agree with, and then respond to those comments, good or bad.

S) Avoid Being a Flyer. A blog is not the same as a printed flyer or brochure. Static information is boring. If you need a static page, say, for your contact information, just put all that stuff off on the “About Us” page. Visitors are coming to your blog to see how you can help them with their concerns.

T) Gather Ideas for More Content. Buy books and subscribe to magazines in your topic. Grow an outline of critical topics you simply must have on your site for credibility. You don’t have to have it all in your first month, but by the end of your first year, you should have just about ever major concern addressed somewhere.

U) Study the Analytic Reports. This is the main way you will be able to find out what topics your visitors are looking for. Build more pages and posts on those topics. Change the titles of some pages to better reflect the search terms used by real visitors. Changing the title will not change the URL.

V) Continue to Market. You’ve been building good content, but few seem to be coming to read it. Give others the ability to “Like” your blog via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. We have a social networking tool available here to add to your blog. AddThis also has buttons to add to your site. I think visitors are expecting to find ways of passing along information to their friends.

W) Read the News. Are there any news stories that can be made into a post on your site? The day after the 2004 tsunami I created a tsunami unit study, complete with lots of free resources for parents and teachers, and several children’s books on the topic. It went viral, sometimes beating the big news sites on the keyword “tsunami.” No one else had prepared any such a way to explain this to children.

X) Split up Long Pages. If a page is more than two scrolls long, consider moving some of the subheaded sections to their own page, linked to from the original page.

Y) Hunt for Sticky Partners. These people have some sort of game or other feature that people want to check every day. Do they have a widget to make this function on your blog, too?

Z) Start to Make Money. Yes, this is last. You aren’t going to make more than pocket change until you reach around 100,000 pages views a month. You’ve been watching your Analytics, so you’ll know when traffic volume will start earning income. Now is the time to add Adsense ads and Amazon affiliate links and appropriate other advertisements to your blog. Google spiders have enough content to know what your site is about, and so can serve appropriate ads. You’ll begin to see which books and other items your community is willing to buy: they’ve been talking about them in your group and on Facebook, etc. You’ll be getting offers of new books from authors. Accept their offers, read and review the book, and then have a contest to give away the book.

by Ann Zeise