Blogging tools have made it surprisingly easy for anybody to start a blog, but most blogs are short-lived and often go unnoticed. Getting a loyal audience and a high traffic count delivers countless benefits, including potential for advertising revenue, promoting your own thought leadership in a specific area, or just becoming the most popular kid on the virtual block. Getting those followers can be challenging, especially as new blogs come onto the scene every day. However, with the right approach, you can be the hit of the blogosphere.
Quality and Quantity
Building a popular blog is not a matter of either quality or quantity -- it is both. First of all, while a blog should provide something useful, the nature of the venue is not strictly to educate. A blog is by nature informal and engaging, and the best ones make a direct connection with the audience. Posts that make predictions, such as "The ten most important tech trends of next year," usually get more attention. A compelling blog with an intriguing headline is likely to get picked up and linked to from other sites. At the same time, one-hit wonders disappear off the blogosphere quickly, so fresh content on a regular basis is essential.
Search Engine Optimization
The Web is full of SEO specialists offering high-priced SEO services, and they are mostly useless. SEO is important, but ranks solidly behind quality and quantity in terms of value. So don't fall for advice about packing your blogs full of keywords to achieve a certain percentage density. The only thing that will do is create a lot of bad writing, and it won't get you followers. However, do keep content as SEO-friendly as possible by finding the most appropriate keywords to identify each post, and incorporate those keywords into the title. Perhaps a more important aspect of SEO than keywords is sites that are linking in to your post, and with quality content and steady outreach to other bloggers, these links will come.
Interact With Others
The most popular blogs -- the ones that are bringing in big ad dollars -- are being retweeted, favorite, and liked regularly and in high numbers. Promote your blog on other outlets, on your website and in social networks. Link with other blogs, and take the time to make comments on other blogs that are relevant to your content. Speak with authority in your blog, and you will gain more followers. Always write to inform or entertain others, rather than writing about yourself.
Target Key Influencers
Engaging with your audience, especially key influencers, can help your blog go viral. Outside the blog itself, engage with these individuals in relevant chat rooms and social media platforms. Key influencers are those readers who are in influential positions, who will not only read your blog, but will recommend it to their large group of followers. Find those key influencers by researching other popular blogs and social media personalities who cover the same topic as you. Follow them, and if possible, reach out to them.
Dan Blacharski is CEO of Ugly Dog Media, a full-service marketing and PR firm focusing on emerging technology and disruptive trends. A "dotcom boom" veteran and graduate of University of California, he is at the forefront of the next wave of innovation that is driven by new cloud enabling tech.