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 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. 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.
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.
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
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.