4 pro blogger tactics to implement now
This year for the first time ConvertKit conducted a survey of bloggers, compiled the results and released a State of the Blogging Industry report. The report compiled the information of over 850 bloggers who fall into the professional bloggers category and the not-yet-professional bloggers category.
With the intention of learning from the very best in an industry, when reading the report I kept my sights on where the professional bloggers habits differed from the not-yet-pro bloggers. There were 4 major takeaways I found which I could directly apply to my blog, and apply them I have! (To ever-increasing success with my blog and business I might add!)
In this post I'll share with you the 4 most actionable and effective tips I took away from the report, and how I've applied them to my blog.
Let's get started!
1. To grow your business, you also need to grow your traffic
"56% of professional bloggers had at least 100,000 users on their sites during the previous twelve months, whereas just 18% of not-yet-professional bloggers had more than 100,000 users."
Mayyyybe you're thinking 'well duh Paige.' While it might sound obvious, this finding reaffirmed to me the importance of content marketing, and growing the traffic to my blog and therefore, my website.
Prior to reading the ConvertKit report, content marketing was already the method I'd chosen to grow my business.
The light bulb around content marketing came last year when I wasn't seeing the business success I wanted. When tossing around ideas to help my business pick up the pace, I came to another (possibly fairly obvious) conclusion.
How can I expect to be reaching the goals I've set if very few people know of me, of what I offer, and of my website?
After noticing over and over from many successful business owners that content marketing was the method that made it happen, I decided to take the path the successful had already gone down, and not try to reinvent the wheel. In January 2017 I set an intention to blog for my business.
Over the past few months I have seen my website traffic grow exponentially, all thanks to the blog. As a result, my business has absolutely picked up the pace from last year, and it's all down to providing valuable information that my ideal clients would find useful.
Takeaway: If you're looking to grow a business, first grow your website traffic with content marketing
2. All bloggers fall short of their publishing goals
"In every case, the average number of posts published for all respondents was less than the intended number of posts published... Everyone struggles to meet their publishing goals, including the pros...
Of the respondents, 52% of bloggers write either the day before or on the same day as they plan to publish. No wonder there’s such a large discrepancy between how often bloggers plan to publish and how often they actually publish!
This data shows us very clearly that bloggers could unlock an entirely new level of consistency by increasing the gap between when they write and when they publish."
The last line there is basically a gift; 'bloggers could unlock an entirely new level of consistency by increasing the gap between when they write and when they publish.'
Everyone who's done some research into blogging will have heard that the 2 keys to blogging success is consistency and providing truly valuable content. Master those two, and there's no question your blog will indeed take off.
But it seems that consistency, and meeting publishing goals is an issue for most bloggers. Of course, as we all know from our own insane lives that unexpected situations arise and things get in the way.
It's to be expected that at some point, or at many points throughout the year, if we're only writing a post the day of or day before it's supposed to go out, a lot of things may derail us from meeting our publishing goals.
The ConvertKit teams suggestion to increase the amount of time between writing and publishing is such a simple and effective way to ensure we're not falling behind.
While this is another seemingly obvious takeaway, it was one of those 'ah-ha!' moments for me. From the day I read the report onwards, I made a plan.
I spent the weekend writing my next 3 planned posts, scheduled them in advance, and then continued to keep to my content calendar, with always having 3 posts prepared and ready to go. As I currently (as of April 2017) publish 2 times a week, that gives me a 1.5 week buffer.
And let me tell you, just in the past 3 months of blogging consistently, I used the full buffer, twice.
The first time my Mac decided to give me the black screen of death and I was a laptop-less website designer & blogger for a week while it was fixed at the Apple store.
Of course, my current clients website project was my first priority. I hopped on friends & family's computers any few hours they weren't using it to ensure I met my web design deadlines, but that left almost no time for blogging too. Right after I got my computer back I pulled some overtime writing 3 buffer posts along with my posts for that week.
The second time I had friends visit me in Europe from Canada for 10 days, and while having friends over is wonderful, I've learned it's a disaster for getting anything done business-wise when you work from home. I again used the full 3 post buffer, and spent the weekend after they left catching back up to having 3 posts scheduled ahead of time.
What I've learned from really truly taking the reports advice is that it's absolutely possible to surpass the pack and meet publishing goals when you make the effort to actually implement the suggestion.
Takeaway: To ensure you meet your publishing goals, increase the amount of time between when you write a post and it's intended publish date.
3. Write longer posts
"The most popular (post) length is between 500 and 1,000 words long... The biggest differences between pros and not-yet-pros are that not-yet-pros are 141% more likely to write posts of 500 words or less. Meanwhile, pros are 69.86% more likely to write posts of 1,000 words or more."
This was something I had a fair knowledge of before, but ConvertKit's report drove home the importance of what I already knew, yet hadn't put a lot of effort into up until that point.
I first started thinking about length of posts after reading SPI's The Backlinking strategy that works post.
In the post it shows the top 10 results on Google range between 2,000 - 2,500 words. Good luck showing up in the top 10 results without a 2,000 word post, clearly!
It took also reading ConverKit's report to make me put this knowledge into action.
I never was a super-short post writer to begin with, but my posts almost always fell in the average length area. While I'm by no means attempting to write 5,000 word posts twice a week, (because that's honestly unrealistic and will lead to more burn out than anything else) I do make an effort in my content calendar to have some lengthier posts.
I've absolutely seen the results of this pay off. My 6,000 word How to use Squarespace to create a website post and 4,000 word Your top 50 Squarespace questions, answered posts both do extremely well, and even led to one reader calling me a 'goddess' for all the valuable info I was providing (which was rather fabulous).
Takeaway: Write longer posts, especially if you want that post to rank well, be sure it's a 2,000 words minimum
4. Focus on organic search over social media
"Not-yet-pros are most likely to generate traffic through social media. Meanwhile, organic search is the number one source of blog traffic for professionals, with 52% of pros using organic search as their number one source compared to 28% of not-yet-pros. That means pros are 84% more likely to use have organic search as their top source of traffic."
I found this basically a wake up call that organic search is really the way to go. Yeah, social media is decent and all, but real long-term success isn't going to be dependent on Facebook's ever changing algorithm. Focusing on organic search, and therefore on SEO is what's going to take things to the pro blogger level.
It's significantly easier to just tweet out a link rather than properly educate ourselves on the current SEO best practices and implementing them. (Such as, say, writing longer posts).
If the pros are bringing in their traffic more from organic search than from social media, and the not-yet-pros are bringing in traffic with the opposite sources, that means something.
Investing in good SEO is clearly well worth the time and effort.
I took away that while social media is lovely, if we don't have the time or desire to dedicate to doing both, increasing organic search traffic is what we should be focusing on.
And I have. If you're also looking to do the same, here's some recommended reading.
The beginners guide to SEO from Moz.com
SEO in 2017: Proven content ideas that attract backlinks on SmartPassiveIncome.com
The advanced guide to SEO on QuickSprout.com
Takeaway: Organic search trumps social media for blog referrals for the pro bloggers. More time and effort should be dedicated to SEO rather than social media.
Here is the full State of the Blogging Industry report. While these 4 bits really resonated with me, there might be other important takeaways you find especially interesting, so go read!