How to Become a Successful Blogger

How to become a Successful BloggerWhat is it that makes a successful blog?

Why is it that some blogs get tons of traffic, hundreds of comments and become leaders in their field while others are like bits of dust floating around the internet – they hardly get seen and eventually settle at the bottom of the blogging basement.

These were questions that I quickly needed an answer to, as this blog was fast becoming one of those specks of dust .

We realised it was time for a change. It was time to become one of those ‘successful blogs’.

We have already mentioned in a previous post how we deleted all our old blog posts, articles and comments and started again from scratch.

And why did we take such a drastic step?

Well it was simply because we felt that maybe we hadn’t really provided as much value as we could to our readers. As a result, the blog was really suffering with poor traffic and a basic lack of interest by both us and our visitors. We knew that the only way around it was to start again from scratch and we have to tell you that it’s the best thing we could have done.

So where to begin!

Well we decided to go right back to basics and it was during my research for new templates, plugins and the rest that I also took some time to take a look at some of the most successful blogs in my niche to try and figure out what made them a success. In other words, what makes them stand out from the crowd and get all of that traffic? I figured if they all follow a specific set of standards or rules then by just following these rules, we too could have a successful blog. That’s logical thinking don’t you think?

So my first step was to find a few blogs that were considered ‘successful‘.

But just what is the definition of a successful blog and how do you find them? Is it one that gets a lot of traffic, a lot of blog comments and makes lots of money? Any of those definitions could be close to the mark although I am sure there is more to it than that, but then that was the whole point of my research, to find out what makes a successful blog.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go too far to find them as I just typed in ‘top money making blogs’ into Google and the first result gave me what I was looking for – a list of the top 100 blogs. Now I have been around long enough to know that this list is pretty close to the mark and it was a good place to start.

I took 5 of the blogs from the top 10 of this list – basically they were ones that I had already heard about. Then I had a detailed look at each of them. What I found was that they appeared to follow a consistent approach to blogging – the most common factor being that they all provide value added content and they do it on a consistent basis. But I wanted to delve a little deeper than that and find out all the things these blogs have in common to see if there was some sort of benchmark I could use when developing my blog.

It took quite a bit of research but here are the results – a list of the most common features of these blogs and in the table below is a list of the top 5 blogs followed by the features that each specifically provides.

The Most Common Features of a Successful Blog

These findings were based on the following blogs:

1. Problogger
2. Shoemoney
3. Dosh Dosh
4. Entrepreneurs Journey
5. John Chow

1. Consistent blog posts

What I was looking for here was to see how many times a week they posted to their blog and how consistent it was.

Results: Most posted on a daily basis with some posting multiple times in one day. Dosh Dosh appeared to be the only one that didn’t post as regularly as the others.  The other four blogs posted daily or every 1-2 days.

2. Quality posts.

This one was difficult to measure as some people will get more value out of some posts than others. There wasn’t much else I could do but just base it on my personal view of the article and whether it was helpful or informative to me in some way. I looked at the last 10 blog posts for each blog.

Results: All provided good quality articles with helpful and informative information. I couldn’t fault any of them on this one.

3. Responding to comments

To determine this I checked the last 10 blog posts to see if the blog owner personally responded to any comments left on their blog.

Results: All of the blog owners left comments although not in a big way. Just a few comment were left here and there.

4. Newsletter

Do they offer a newsletter?

Results: Interestingly enough not all of the blogs researched had a newsletter. I found this a bit of a puzzle as building an email list is one of the things that is consistently stressed by the gurus.

They all have an RSS subscription sign up but no real opt-in email list. In fact, only two of them had a newsletter and they were Entrepreneurs Journey and John Chow.

5. Free Newsletter Offer

Do they provide an ebook, free ecourse, free training etc to encourage visitors to sign up?

Results: Only two had any sort of free offer – Entrepreneurs Journey and John Chow – with both offering a free eBook to sign up to their newsletter.

6. Professional template

Is their template professional? This is all in the eye of the beholder of course but I think most people can pick a professional template when they see one.

Results: All had a clean, professional looking template with the predominant colors being blue or red.

7. Photo

Do they provide a photo of themselves?

Result: Four of the blogs researched had a photo of themselves on their homepage, About page or on a separate photo album page. I couldn’t find a photo on the Dosh Dosh blog.

8. About Us page

Do they have an About Us page?

Result: All of the blogs had an About page and in most cases it was quite detailed. Yaro Starak from Entrepeneurs Journey had quite a detailed bio which was quite interesting to read.

9. Guest Writers

Do they accept guest writers? This could only be gauged by an obvious link on their home page. They may accept articles if emailed directly.

Result: I couldn’t find any direct evidence that they accepted guest articles for any of the blogs researched. Note: After writing this blog post, Kevin Muldoon from www.bloggingtips.com advised me that each of these blogs accepts guest writers (see comments).

10. RSS Feed

Which RSS feed do they use?

Result: All used Feedburner and all had the subscribe option at the very top right hand side of the screen.

11. Age of blog?

Result: All of the blogs were at least 2 years old. John Chow was the oldest starting in 2000. I couldn’t find a start date for the Shoemoney blog.

12. Average number of comments per post

In my analysis I looked at the last 10 blog posts.

Result: The average number of blog comments per post for all the blogs combined was 50. Problogger received the highest number of comments with an average of 63 per post. John Chow had the least with an average of 24 comments per post.

13. Dofollow blog

Are they a dofollow blog?

Result: None of the blogs researched were dofollow blogs. All had the nofollow tag attached to their comments.

14. Do they use Google ads?

Result: As far as I could tell only John Chow uses Google Adsense on his blog.

15. Google Pagerank

What is the blog’s pagerank?

Result: The first four blogs I researched had a pagerank of 6 with only the John Chow blog having a pagerank of 3.

Successful Money Making Blogs
[TABLE=2]

Even after all this research, I figure there is still more involved to being a successful blogger than what I have presented above. These bloggers would have put in a lot of work, at least at the start, to generate traffic, to network and so on. Unfortunately I don’t have the ability to find out this sort of information without interviewing each blogger in detail, but I got an inkling from reading the Blog Profit Report developed by fellow Australian, Yaro Starak – this is well worth a read and you can sign up for it on his website.

So what does all of this ultimately tell us? Firstly, as bloggers we need to provide quality posts that offer value to the reader and we need to do it on a consistent basis. Does this mean daily blog posts? Not necessarily as we can see from the table above but at least 4 posts a week at a minimum.

We also need to set up our blog so that it is visually appealing, details a little about us and provides as many options as possible to bring visitors back to our blog. This includes encouraging visitors to subscribe to our RSS feed and perhaps also setting up a newsletter and providing something of value like an eBook or eCourse to encourage visitors to sign up.

All of this is interesting but at this point it still doesn’t tell us how to get traffic to our blog to begin with. We could follow all of the techniques of these successful blogs but if nobody knows where our blog is then we are still that little speck of dust floating around the internet….but that is for another blog post to answer.

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Comments

  1. I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.
    :-)

  2. Very good post Paula. A very good comparison.

    Just a few things to point out.

    * The blogs you mentioned do accept guest posts – problogger and john chow in particular.
    * John Chow’s PR should be higher however Google applied a penalty to his blog because he was sold paid links. Also, his blog was established in 2005, not 2000.

    Again, a very good analysis. The bloggers you mentioned don’t comment as much as they would like I’m sure but they all have busy schedules so no doubt it’s because of that. Also, I think the fact they don’t use do follow in their comment links should help newer bloggers avoid this phenomenon of targeting follow blogs for comments. It’s a complete waste of time.

    :)

  3. Thanks for the info Kevin…I appreciate it. I’ve made the changes in the post above.

  4. very nice research. i think the big thing is to offer quality, easily digestible, insight to your readers, as often as possible. and then make it as easy as possible to return. from there its all consistency, relationship building, and seo. and of course lists are one of the best ways to do this, so i think your headed in the right direction.

    our company blog is not designed to make us money, but I just did a post on top ten easy blogging steps for SEO an the like and it receives our most traffic by far.

  5. Yes I have read on numerous blogs that building list posts are an excellent way to drive traffic so I will be doing a few more of those over the coming weeks.

  6. I just discovered your blog and it looks like there are lot of useful info. Where is that other post that explains how to get that initial visibility? That’s the most pain of it all…page rank takes time and there needs to be some service to bring the blog to the masses.

  7. This is a great in-depth post about blogging. It’s very interesting to see how the top bloggers have done it.

  8. Great article! Found this post by googling “being a successful blogger”. I recently came into the fortune of being one of Blogger’s “Blog of Note”, so that got my blog a lot of attention. I had about 40 readers before, and now I’m steadily reaching 350. It’s insane. I never knew that that many people would care to read my blog.

    Anyway, you’re definitely right about commenting people back. Especially when you have a blog popular blog with lots of comments, it can sometimes discourage people from commenting. People think “well, there’s so many comments here that the author probably won’t reply to mine, much less read it”.

    I like to ensure my readers that I DO read every single comment that is left, and I try my best to reply to most of them.

  9. Excellent information in this article. Thanks for the clarity of your comparison chart. It is critical to see how high frequency ranks along with content quality.

    As a reader of Problogger, I know that Darren reads the comments and works hard with timely replies.

    Not only will I benefit from this article, I will share with my Twitter followers.

    Continued success,
    Gail

  10. Great detail and chart. I’m reviewing it at StumbleUpon and just added a sentence and links to this post in my pillar post Top How to Make Money Blogging Resources. I’ll link it instead of my home page from the website field in this comment to make it easy for you to find it.

    I see that all your research and hard work is paying off and look forward to finding out more from you and linking to more of your great posts.
    .-= Internet Strategist @GrowMap´s last blog ..Today Dec 1, 2009 is the FTC Disclosure Deadline =-.

  11. hi! i read and liked your blog. it was really informative for a newcomer like me. I really have to see how traffic is generated on the blogs.
    thank you
    .-= amresh´s last blog ..Can You Bring The Change For The Modern INDIA ? =-.

  12. Hi Wanda and Paula, I am new to blogging and I just started blogging recently. I just googled how to be a successful blogger just to do a little research and I picked your article. It was interesting and very helpful, My blog is not geared nearly as much to be a big money generator but I still would like it to get some exposure and I want people to feel they didn’t waste their time when they visit there. My blog is about true stories handed down through the generations from my family and about real texas history.I can see from your article that a good Blog takes time to build. thanks ladies, MIke
    .-= michael norwood´s last blog ..Cowboy’s First Love =-.

    • Thanks for visiting Mike. I like your site. If you want to try and make a little money from it I would suggest writing a few articles on tracing your family tree and genealogy as it is related to the stories you write. These could just be informational articles interspersed between your stories. And then you could link to genealogy programs and make a commission from those.

  13. Thanks very much for the information, definitely bookmarked as one to study as I learn. My wife and I started a photography business just shy of three years ago, we struggled with the Blog’s identity or lack thereof and where we wanted it to go…. I’ve recently gotten pretty aggressive with learning how to get it out there. Tons of research and more to go has brought me many places including this one I found through http://www.growmap.com

    I’m day four into my blitz and I look forward to seeing hits increase and study my stat counter to see where they come from to see what is working….

    My motive is to build the business by increasing the awareness, if I make a couple ad bucks from it fine but thats not the primary reason.

  14. Hi Wanda and Paula,

    I found your site through one of your articles on MaxBlooger.

    I have been blogging for a few months now on natural men’s health issues at http://www.menshealthcures.com

    It is reassuring since I am following the same plan that you are, so in time my blog will be at the top and a big money maker.

    I have signed up on your blog to learn more great tips!

    Something else I learned recently. The real successful internet marketers are very willing to share information on how to be successful on line. In addition to your site, I also follow MaxBlogger, Affilorama and Matt Carter (both just happen to also be Aussies)

    Thanks,

    Ken Weiss

  15. This is a very nice post, one that brought some interesting thoughts to my mind about my own blog. It also gave some great links to look at, ones that I will follow up on right after this reply. Thanks.

  16. Thank you for all of the hard data, Paula; I found this to be incredibly informative and useful. A lot of people will give advice on blogging, but very few have the data to back it up, so thank you. I may use my time to ensure my posts are more quality rather than starting a newsletter in the next month now!

    • It might be worth you doing both Nicki. Get the newsletter started – you only need one newsletter to get going and it will take a while for you to build up a list anyway so the earlier you get it going the better. But without quality posts it will be hard to get a good following to begin with so that is definitely a good place to start.

  17. Hi Paula and Wanda,

    Thanks for the valuable information. I noticed all the successful blogs you listed have nofollow tags. This still confuses me a bit. What is the advantage of nofollow vs dofollow tags? I am assuming your blog also has nofollow tags.

    Thanks, Ken

  18. I agree to all of your points Paula, especially having an honest interest and dedication in blogging. For me, these two points keep us from moving on and pursuing our chosen career no matter what odds we come across with. A combination of your tips would definitely result to a successful blogger. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I am agree with your points …
    As per my opinion Strategy is also an important key…..You must have a well defined strategy and stick with it….You need to measure your stat regularly to modify your plan….

    Thanks for the article

  20. These are good points to make a successful blog. Every blogger must pay attention about these. Thanks for your sharing.

  21. I have struggled to create these rules for myself; it is certainly nice to have them laid out in such a succinct manner! Especially since some of these are ones that I hadn’t considered, such as not comparing myself to the pros.

  22. Hi, Paula! I do not beileve in coincidences so with that being said, your blog and it various content is valuable information that I need to succeed in becoming a successful blogger. I have read those blogs that you mentioned and have also wondered what made them successful. I thank you for your detailed analysis. I will keep your points in mind.

    Thanks for the post!

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    What is it that makes a successful blog? Why is it that some blogs get tons of traffic, hundreds of comments and become leaders in their field while others are like bits of dust floating around the internet – they hardly get seen and eventually settle …

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