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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Creating Quality Content: The First Pillar of Blogging Success

In our introductory article on the three pillars of blogging success, we ended with this simple equation: content + traffic = money. Here we address the first element, content creation.

Content, as the saying goes, is king. Creating it is the problem. It's really a function of time: you can only write so much. This is where blog networks and group blogs come into play, but that's a more advanced topic so we'll defer it to later.

What to write about

Since time is really key, you should write about something you're doing anyway. If you regularly read the sports page in the newspaper, maybe you should write a sports blog. If you're a financial planner, offer retirement or portfolio diversification advice on your blog. Hobbies are also good areas to look into.

What you want to do is find a topic that you can write about better than 99% of the other bloggers out there.

Persistence

The more low-stress blogging is, the likelier you are to succeed. Why do I say that? Because the successful bloggers have all been around the block a couple of times. They have persevered and tend to have been blogging for a long, long time (in Internet time).

For instance, the very high authority blogs tracked by Technorati have been around for 4 years on average and tend to post on the average of 36 times a month. These authoritative blogs have been linked to by over 4000 other blogs. There's a high correlation between these factors and blogging success.

Emulating these top bloggers is worth a try. The mantra is: post persistently and post often.

Start writing

Once you've found your topic or niche to write about, you need to actually start writing. Subscribe to RSS feeds of news sources and other blogs in your niche. Use Google Blogsearch and Technorati to find out what blogs in your niche are talking about. Find out what's hot and write about it.

The key is to add value to the information you are passing along. Don't report just the facts. Be opinionated or add a stylistic tweak, but don't be obnoxious or offensive.

If you need to polish your writing style, get a copy of The Elements of Style or read The Economist Style Guide for free. Be grammatically correct unless your style is to deliberately violate writing conventions. Read Copyblogger for writing tips.

In the early days, you want to experiment as much as possible to see what works and what doesn't. What kind of posting volume can you handle and keep on handling for the next 12 months? Fail often, but try to do it now. Your blog is your lab.

Coming soon: Getting traffic

We've covered some basic ground as far as content creation is concerned. Next up we'll talk about generating traffic, the second pillar, so all that writing you've done isn't wasted. Stay tuned by subscribing to our full RSS feed if you haven't already.

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