Almost every article I write and almost every discussion I have about blogging goes pretty much the same way: If you write a lot of quality content, your blog can’t help but be successful.
Whether your content is self-created, you have staff, or you rely heavily on guest posters, having lots of fresh content is almost a guarantee you will have consistent readership, you will attract new readers who will become loyal readers, and you will open up income streams, some of which you have never thought about or didn’t know exist.
A lot of these criteria are a matter of opinion and perception, but I have tried a few and I am more than willing to share my results.
I hear from other bloggers all the time that they create “a lot” of content, have “plenty” of guest posters, or they post but when I look at their blogs I often feel this is the area where people are confused and don’t put their best foot forward.
When I first started my blog, about three years ago, I wrote a post a day. As I learned the subject matter and my audience started to build (of course it “grew” but when I had three visitors in my first month it’s tough not to grow), I started to get a better feel as to what type of articles they came for. This revelation of finding something that worked was such a rush almost immediately the ideas and thoughts started running through my head.
Within days of my traffic increasing, I was writing two, three, four or more articles every day. My page views always jumped with the more content I had, which meant I was holding my readers and had them looking over the site for more, but I was also bringing in new readers who were looking for a specific thing and found me through the search engines.
One thing that has evolved over time is I have more contributors on my site, I have more content, and my traffic goes up. Because certain things we cover on my site are seasonal and some things are just more popular than others, my traffic is seasonal as well – with the Fall and Winter being my busier times, and the Spring and Summer being a little slower. These cycles aren’t because of anything I am doing or not doing, if anything I branch out more in the slower months as I try and add more parts to make a bigger whole.
I personally don’t think my site would be nearly as successful if I didn’t have multiple articles every day. The number one comment I get from my readers is that they love my site and come back often, because they know every time they visit they will find something new. To me, comments and emails like this are a clear message that what we are focusing on trying to do is working and is what the audience wants to see.
As I said in my last post, I use a team of writers now and I pay them based upon income the site takes in. I received mixed comments on that article and I received some emails about it as well, but it works for me and it helps me reach my goals.
While everyone’s goals are different and everyone’s perception of what is a lot of content is different, for me at 800 articles per month we are putting our best foot forward, and if for some reason we ever failed, it wouldn’t be because we were too lazy to generate enough content or because I was misguided by what a lot of content is, and what is worth paying for.
I pay my writers not because they ask for money (they don’t), not just because they work hard and really treat their role like any other job where they have a commitment, obligation, and show up every day, but really the main reason I compensate them is I think it would be some seriously bad karma for me to sit back and make millions of dollars, and for them to receive nothing in return except a back link or a Sports Chat Place T-Shirt.
I know my site would be successful if it was just me, it was successful when it was just me, but really it comes down to the interpretation of success. Would you rather have a million dollars or half of 10 million for slightly more work? The way I think about it is I am working on the site most of the time anyway, it’s the only thing I really do and what my occupation is, so why stand in the way of letting it grow into whatever it can become? I try not to talk about money too much, I leave that to the “make money blogging” people but trust me on this, I make a pretty good living watching sports and writing all day.
Something I hear all the time is I am lucky to have such a popular niche. While my niche is popular, I also compete with some of the heaviest hitters and biggest budgets anywhere. While people think competing with top bloggers like Yaro, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, and others is tough competition, I lock horns with ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and many others each and every day.
What I have found is that while those sites do a great job covering sports news, it still leaves a lot of ground to cover and plenty of new ways to look at a lot of the same basic fields, and just present it in a way that they don’t. In other words, I don’t go head-to-head trying to cover the news and do recaps of games with these guys, they are way too big and have massive budgets.
My biggest asset is my opinion and the opinion of those who write at the site. It’s something that no matter how big someone’s budget is, they can’t get, and while a lot of the guys on other big sites might be more well-known than I am, I’m not so sure that if they didn’t get the exposure from being on the big news sites if they would be as popular on their own as we are at Sports Chat Place. While I’m not the only site doing what I do, I consider us the best.
Finding out what my readers wanted to see from my site took some time to figure out and it took some pride swallowing as well. My readers don’t care that I went to one of the top schools for Communications and Journalism, they don’t care if every prediction I make comes true, what they do care about is that I deliver what I say I am going to deliver with no strings attached.
While I have a hugely successful Premium Area on my site, I give away more content for free. When I give free content I don’t promise free content and then make my readers triple opt in to a newsletter, submit 37 tweets and Facebook like me, I simply give them the free info right in the article they click on.
While this doesn’t kill six birds with one stone, it does build a loyal following, readership and trust, which I can later use to ask my readers to do all of that other stuff, and many of them, while they are at it, enter their credit card number and join my premium site. I like to believe that it’s because I have delivered and over delivered on what I said I would give them, so they know with the premium section it will be more of the same.
Taking too long to write the article:
Have you ever told yourself you were right the first time or your first instinct is always right? It’s the same with writing. Your article can always be better, but usually the first draft is what you wrote from your heart and passion, no need to dress it up, over clarify, or over edit it, if you have reached the right audience they will care less about the editing work you have done and want to either read your opinion on something or how to solve the problem that had them scouring the internet. The longer you take on one article, the less time you have to produce more content.
Making the article too long:
There are few people talented enough to keep the attention of the bulk of Internet users for more than a minute or so, from the studies I have seen, that’s even a long time. By making your articles too long you really hurt yourself twice. Firstly, you will be creating content that more than likely most of your readers won’t read, and secondly you have wasted an opportunity to create fresh new content for your blog with little to no more time and effort than you have already spent.
If you have an article that is long enough, try breaking it into pieces and if you can, which is even more effective, try and make the pieces their own separate subjects. Try doing at least two but if it’s long enough try three or even more, this is something you’ll get more comfortable with as to what is acceptable over time. This works well on so many levels that you will truly be floored by the results.
Firstly, it gets you indexed multiple times in the search engines for something you would have been indexed only once for the one article. If you title the articles correctly it will also open up new search terms. If you have only been posting one article a day, don’t be afraid to post all of these spate articles the same day, as if you continue to use this method you will have plenty of content every day.
Don’t worry that your readers will miss something, if they are your regulars they won’t and will be appreciative that you are taking your content to a new level. If they are people who came from the search engines, if you have done your meta data and titling correctly, you have probably grabbed some people who would have probably never found you.
Accepting too many guest posts:
If a post doesn’t fit what you are doing at your site, don’t take it. Most guest posters do it for the link, which they will stuff like crazy into the semi-relevant articles they give you. This isn’t worth it in most cases. Be selective and make sure it is original content that isn’t going to other sites.
Google is cracking down on Article Farms and that’s not a list of associations you want to be on these days. If it isn’t original content, you could be turning your readers off as well as they may have seen the same article somewhere else, and then all of the sudden the blog you put so much work into is now categorized as being one of “them”.
Forgetting content really is king:
While everyone says content is king, few people actually practice it. It is content which drives the site and the content which all of those people you spend so much time attracting want to see when they finally get to your site. If you do not have fresh content, people will not come back. I think it’s easier to have people coming to my site once a day or more than to have them check back once a week or so. If you can make visiting your site part of what people do every day, that’s a pretty cool thing.
I have had days where I have had tech issues and people have written to me asking where my new video is as watching it is part of their daily routine, so I can’t help but think I’m doing something right when I read that.
And learn how to build a better blog.