Is your blog 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional? Growing your blog is a process of building traffic and content. But you always want to find ways to add value and make your blog more well rounded.
Backlinking and writing posts is just the very basics of blogging. You can do this for years on end and build a wonderful blog, but are you taking it to the next level?
What is it that everyone who blogs has in common? They are all posting articles. They are all backlinking. What are you doing differently to separate yourself from the crowd?
Here are 10 characteristics that I’ve seen on blogs that distinguish themselves. They don’t do all of these things, but most employ a combination of these techniques. Keep in mind, all of these techniques have a few things in common. They help build authority, give more value to the readers and build on that sense of community:
1. Create an e-book
Most every successful blogger either has one or is working on one. I’ve been working on one for this blog as we speak. Publishing a book has a sense about it that tells people that you are more than just a fly by night operation. You’ve published a book! Even if it’s just a short book that compiles several of your previous blog posts together, a book just has a sense of permanence about it that tells people that you are going to be around.
I will add that I think there’s a greater sense of authority if you can tell your audience that you have written a book that you are selling in a book store, as opposed to just the free giveaway pdf. While the free gift book still adds that sense of authority, I think most people give a sliding scale of weight between the free ebook to the book in print. A good middle ground for the aspiring blogger is to put together an e-book and publish it to the kindle with a minimal price tag.
2. Respond to your comments
Ok, this one is fairly straightforward, but I’m surprised at how many blogs I see out there that have comments where the author just doesn’t respond. Even some authority blogs out there have this issue.
The benefit to responding to comments is that you are building on your content, while at the same time interacting with your audience. Building that sense of community is invaluable to a blog.
Here’s what one of my blog readers had to say about responding to comments. I think Patricia says it all here:
3. Comment on other blogs
This is external community building, but I think it deserves it’s own section. Commenting on other blogs is more than just link building. I’m talking about leaving valuable comments.
When you leave a valuable, insightful comment on another blog, it is a way to give others a sample of your own content. If you don’t have time to guest post on other blogs yourself, this is a way to still be able to show the community that you have something to offer on your own blog.
Of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you that you want to say more than just “great post” if you want to give people a sample of your content. When you leave a comment that says simply “great post” it simply will not tell the people that read your comment that you have a “great blog.”
4. Invite guest authors
I like blogs that invite guest authors. Guest authors are awesome! They give a different perspective on subjects and can enhance your own content so much.
Not only do you help others present their thoughts on your blog, you are giving added value to your readers. From the standpoint of your audience, it shows that your blog is enough of an authority that people see it as a good forum for sharing. For the author who writes on your blog, they get an opportunity to gain more exposure for themselves. This will encourage them to come back to your blog and also help you promote your blog as well.
Everyone benefits when you open up your blog for guest authors.
If you are interested in adding your value to Riches Corner, read about how to be a guest author here.
5. Make good use of syndication (and social networking)
In general, this is something almost all blogs will do. They will start up social networking accounts and their rss feeds to make sure they are getting as much publicity as possible.
However, I would encourage connecting your rss feeds and your social networking accounts where possible. This way your content is getting out to the social media where you have an opportunity not just to get publicity, but to interact about your content. So, for example, you may get some back and forth interaction about your blog posts.
Here’s an example of a fun exchange eI had on twitter the other day when someone re-tweeted a blog article that I wrote. (the order is from bottom to top)
6. Write more pillar articles
When I first started blogging, I saw some articles about writing pillar articles. The explanations about pillar articles was very vague to me at that time. I think the blog just said that these are the types of articles that are “sticky.”
Pat Flynn gave a much better explanation recently in his blog post and challenge to others to write some pillar articles. Basically, he explained that these are tutorial style articles. The type that shows readers step by step how to do something. These types of articles are in a sense virtually timeless. So readers can come back for years to come and still get value from these kinds of articles. That’s what makes them “pillar.”
Of course, you can expand on that concept to writing anything that is timeless. If your content is so spectacular, that it can be read over and over again then I would say that’s also pillar. But for the most part, writing a good how-to post will give your readers the most value over the course of time.
Now think of it as building a foundation. If you are building a house, the more concrete, the higher quality the foundation that you lay, the longer your house will stand. A blog is the same way.
7. Start a job board
I’m a big proponent of job boards. Especially in particular niches, such as writing, blogging tips, making money online, etc… These are areas where people are looking for ideas and ways to expand their skills and earning power. It just makes sense that you want to do something very tangible with your blog that will help them.
Well, I can’t think of a better way than to set up a system right on your blog that will give people a way to earn a paycheck.
Job boards come in two different flavors as far as how a blogger implements them on their blog. The first is just to set up a way for potential employers to post job listings for a fee.
The second is to have a board with pre-existing listings from outside sources, where the blogger will earn a small commission when someone applies or is hired through their job board.
I personally prefer the latter method. My reasoning has nothing to do with the income potential. More than likely, the first method probably has the potential to earn more. But I want to provide my visitors with the maximum number of job opportunities possible.
I think this helps my community the best way. They have more opportunities to earn a paycheck and it gives them more reason to come back and visit me.
You can read more about why I chose the program that I use to set up my job board and how I implement it on my blog here.
8. Start a forum
There are a few blogs that utilize a forum. Problogger immediately comes to mind. While it takes a certain level of traffic to really have a thriving forum. This is a wonderful way to allow readers to interact with each other and provide additional content to your blog.
9. Create some videos
People have a tendency to enjoy absorbing content in different ways. Ideally if you can share your information visually as well as through the written word, your readers will have a much more enjoyable experience with at your blog. Sometimes even a short video that provides some small entertainment value can work. However, if you are able to do some short tutorial, “pillar” type videos, these are the best.
There are several blogs that really make use of videos well. Check out Yaro Starak’s blog over at Entrepenuer’s Journey to see a wonderful use of videos in blogging.
If you are interested in reading about how to create free screencast videos, check out my post about creating a screencast here.
10. Start a podcast
I love a good podcast! I can listen to them during my commute to work. It gives me a chance to multi-task. If done well, they are just a great joy to listen to.
While I don’t do a podcast myself, as my time and schedule doesn’t permit me to take on that endeavor. I listen to several and they are just packed with information.
Two podcasts that I definitely recommend are Pat Flynn’s podcast from Smart Passive Income and Hector Cuevas’ podcast from hectorjcuevas.com. You can find both their podcasts from itunes or directly from their blogs.
You can really hear a bloggers unique style from their voice and speaking style. It really adds to the atmosphere of the blog to be able to hear their voices and get additional information from a podcast.
If you are interested in learning more about how to start a podcast, you can follow along with David Jackson at The School of Podcasting. You can get free podcasting tips through his podcast which you can find on itunes and at his website.
These are just a few ways that you can really add to the value of your blog. When it comes right down to it, writing your posts and creating backlinks are just the very first steps to blogging. There are so many facets to add to your connectivity and the relationship that you can build within the community. The more dimensions that you can add to your blog the more it will grow to the next level.
What are you doing to take your blog to the next level?