Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Blogging: It’s all about doing the work

When it comes to commercial blogging, sometimes you just need to do the work.

Once your blog has been correctly configured, write the best content you can, as often as you can and make it as easy for people to share as you can. Put your work where the right people will see it, social networking sites are great for this.

Then, keep on doing the work.

The software alone is not enough

I often see people who seem to spend more time changing the design of their blog and the plugins they use, than they spend blogging and improving their writing.

The thing is, it’s the quality of our content and the regularity with which we show up with great content, which makes the difference. This is why you can have blogs like ZenHabits or Seth Godin’s blog, which are extremely plain looking and get hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and blogs that use the latest glossy WordPress theme, which very few people read. Leo and Seth write great content, regularly.

For those who want a bigger, targeted readership for their blogs, there are 2 areas I recommend you focus on.

1. Show up regularly

If people respond well when you write, (i.e they share your posts, link to them and talk about them), but you don’t write very often, increase the frequency of your blogging. Here’s how to write great content every day. The big secret to being able to produce useful content on a regular basis, is to do it. The more you write, the easier it becomes.

2. Show us what you know and what you think

If you write regularly, but people tend not to respond when you write, I suggest you take a look at what you write. People love to read and share blog posts, which offer them some kind of value, either because it makes them think, makes them act or makes them laugh out loud. The best thing you can do is be yourself, rather than try and copy what others are doing. One of the reasons you have not seen me writing about Pinterest or SOPA, is that thousands, maybe millions are already doing that. I can’t add value there. It would be a me too post.

Turn up regularly and do the work. Show us what you know and what you think. Give us a reason to keep coming back for more, to share your work with our friends, and that’s exactly what we will do.

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  1. Like you say Jim, get the site to look the way you want it to, then get focused on kicking out as much high impact work as you can.

    Great point.

    • Thanks, George.

      Content is king and once the site looks professional and works correctly, it’s time to get to work.

    • I agree with George and Jim here. As a keen student of content marketing, I have seen way too little emphasis placed on blog content.

      Here’s my hunch. I think this happens because many of the top content marketing blogs make their living from selling premium plugins, which they claim to be essential kit.

      Their readers trust them and then fill their blogs with plugins, and constantly change their themes, unaware they are simply being sold to like lab rats.

      Just a thought.

  2. Jim,

    While I do agree on the fact that a lot of people waste time perfecting the looks and bringing in more functionality when they should be writing content, it’s not easy to distinguish yourself with content anymore.

    Sure, Seth Godin could do it. But he’s one internet celebrity. Unless you are a published author or have really influential friends in the blogosphere, getting the traction with plain looking boring sites is really getting hard.

    Agreed that content is still the king. But you need to polish the site and make it look good (or at least decent) in order to capture attention.

    One mistake most people do is they buy a theme framework, set it up and think it’s some magic option to get more people to your site.

    The problem is, it’s sick. I am tired of seeing the default thesis theme installation. That being said, I do not represent majority of the audience. But at least, my views will resonate with few people out there (I know a lot of my blogging friends agree with this when i have talked with them regarding this aspect).

    My point is, although writing content is the cornerstone of blogging success, design is also becoming an important factor.

    • Adrash, please reread the start of the post.

      I said Once your blog has been correctly configured THEN focus on content. This means getting the site to look and work the way you need it to. You can also see this restated in the earlier comments.

      • Jim,

        I understood what you meant.

        IMHO, “Once your blog has been correctly configured” is very subjective. I mean, if you are not really experienced, you are bound to get many things wrong (especially in the usability part).

        I have worked with a lot of newbie bloggers who completely miss the point. They “think” they have got things right, but there are so many improvements that can be made to make it better.

        So while focusing on content is essential, I’ll also give enough thought to making design tweaks to my site over a period of time to see which design converts best for me.

        Cheers :)

        • “Correctly configured” means correctly configured.

          Configured my someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, is not doing it correctly.

          • Hi George. Thank you for the clarity.

            One of the challenges with a comment enabled site is you end up, as Seth says, either wasting time explaining everything in finite detail via comments to those who don’t get your message, or you have to write enormous blog posts, so there’s little chance for misunderstandings.

          • That’s the problem George.

            People who start out don’t necessarily know whether what they are doing is right or wrong. They might also not have the budget to hire experts to set them up for you.

  3. Jim, you’re definitely demonstrating the way to reach better results and good feedbacks.
    Many successful people started their blogs with very few tools: BUT again, and as you said it a lot, content is essential, content is king. No matter on what subject is your article, the only thing to focus on is the content:
    – Do your readers understand your post?
    – Are you regular…

    Adarsh is talking about Design. Design can attract “people”, but doesn’t attract “readers”.
    Design doesn’t build audience.
    Design is like the cover of a book but not the text inside.
    As a Digital (Creative) Director I definitely cannot agree with his Adarsh’s comments.

    Thanks Jim for your great post!

    • I think I confused everyone with my intention here :)

      The point I am trying to make is that design should not be a one time “set it and forget it” affair. I am not saying design is more important than content!

      You see, why do people do A/B tests and Multivariet tests? So that they can figure out what converts best. In these tests, guess what get’s changed the most? “Design”.

      Although changing text is also one part of CRO, you basically change the site design over a period of time to see which brings in maximum results.

      That is what I am talking about. Your blog content definitely is the most important thing. But you also need to pay attention to design specifics if monetization of lead generation is one of your goals.

      See the latest Google above the fold update. If you basically keep the old adsense ads above the fold, then you risk getting push down in rankings. In this case will you make a design change or just assume content is going to win over Google algorithm if your important source of traffic is Google?

    • Hi Yael. I love your example, of the way design is like a book cover, but the content is what makes the book worthy of your time and money.

      Thanks as always for your feedback.

  4. Jim,

    I received an update to this comment but I am not seeing it here. Anyway you make valid point in there.

    Sorry for “wasting time explaining everything in finite detail via comments” for people like me who obviously “don’t get your message” :)

    Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that “Once your blog has been correctly configured” is extremely subjective. Try asking a person who’s new to blogging and you’ll probably see that he says everything’s set up perfectly. But when you see it, you’d see hundreds of changes that might need to be included in the design to make it “correctly configured”.

    Anyway end of conversation here.

    Cheers :)

  5. Mr Connolly,

    I love that you reply to comments here and in this case, you have shown the patience of a saint.


    • Thanks for the feedback. I’m reviewing the comment policy all the time, to improve the reader experience and make that kind of misunderstanding a thing of the past.

  6. Blog design is important but not crucial to blogs as they are still about the people(writers) and good content and like you already mentioned – content should be written regularly to keep people entertained and loyal to blog.

    Thanks Jim for ideas!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

      My point here, is that design matters, but a poorly written blog with great design will fail. Conversely, a well written site with an average design can achieve incredible results.

  7. Another great post Jim and good to see some sense being talked on blog development.

    I am due to start my first ever blog next month and your work has been invaluable to me.

    Time to do the work as you say.

  8. And I do have first hand experience that looks doesn’t matter. And the internet is full of success that new fresh looks don’t matter. A perfect example is Amazon. They have made changes, but so minor.

    It is also important to write about the right topic. You state you don’t add value to the SOPA discussion. But you do. You’re a marketing guy. But you do add value when you speak your mind. It helps me know more about you and that you have values. You are one more voice telling the politicians your opinion matters, whether you agree or disagree.
    Be well.

  9. hi,

    i think the right way is “balance” between layout, good content and great optimation onpage and offpage (linkbuilding).

    first, you must read many sites about blogging and SEO and test on your own site.
    you find the right way for your visitors and when you have traffic… it`s great!!!

    thanks a lot for sharing your tips.
    i like your site.

  10. And it’s about attracting readers to the blog. WIll writing alone and not marketing bring people to the blog?

  11. Well said! I have been blogging about a year now and have found that when I post regularly, my hits rise and content is share much more often. Although it is just a side-hobby-photo-blog, it still does quite decent :) I just stumbled here and amn digging your posts.

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