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The 7 Secrets of Running a Wildly Popular Blog

Did you ever wonder why some blogs attract tons of readers and others don’t?

Of course you’ve wondered. We all have. Because if you’re reading this blog, you almost certainly have a blog of your own. You think it’s great, and you want lots of other people to think it’s great too.

So what’s the answer? Why do some blogs become more popular than others?

There are lots of reasons why people flock to certain blogs, but I think one of the most important is that popular blogs are written by popular people — the sort of people who attract others.

And becoming a popular person isn’t just a matter of fate or genes. It’s something you can work on.

I’m not saying content isn’t important when you’re creating a popular blog. Content for the best blogs is almost always top-notch, interesting, and informative — and that takes work.

But a blog isn’t just about work or great content.

Think about the most popular person you know in your personal life. What is it about them that attracts other people? Brains? Skill? Knowledge? These things could be part of it, but don’t you also know popular people who aren’t the smartest, the most skilled, or the best-educated?

When giving the commencement speech to the Vassar class of 1983, Meryl Streep said this:

Real Life is actually a lot more like high school. The common denominator prevails. Excellence is not always recognized or rewarded. What we watch on our screens, whom we elect, are determined to a large extent by public polls. Looks count. A lot. And unlike the best of the college experience, when ideas and solutions somehow seem attainable if you just get up early, stay up late, try hard enough, and find the right source or method, things on the outside sometimes seem vast and impossible …

In other words, success isn’t necessarily about competence. It’s often about likeability. People like to spend time with people they like.

The same applies to blogs. Success often depends on likeability. How you come across. Your vibe. Your attitude and personality.

And if I were to break this down into specific tips, I’d say there are 7 secrets for making your blog (and you) more popular.

1. Have a conversation

People don’t like to be lectured or talked down to. They just like to talk. And a blog is really a form of conversation between you and your readers. Even if people don’t always directly communicate with you or leave comments, the tone of your posts should be more or less conversational.

Don’t write like you’re delivering a sermon. Write like you’re chatting with a friend. Keep it easy and informal.

2. Lighten up

You don’t have to tell jokes, but it’s smart to keep things light-hearted. Consider the Men with Pens blog. James always has a lot of fun when writing a post, and her sense of humor makes the information more readable and entertaining.

Your readers are probably having a tough day. Their desk is groaning under the weight of all their projects. The economy is crappy and their life is full of responsibility.

If they read your blog and come away feeling just a little happier, they’ll keep coming back.

3. Be yourself

After all, people are not coming to your blog just to acquire knowledge. They’re dropping by to visit you.

Which means you have to be there.

That means revealing a little about yourself, sharing the occasional personal photo, posting videos where you talk to your readers, letting people know what’s going on with you.

For example, in a recent Pro Copy Tips post, I mentioned that I visited Las Vegas for my sister’s wedding. I show a photo of me standing in front of the famous welcome sign on a sweltering afternoon. I mention playing the slots and losing a little money. (Only a buck. I’m not much of a gambler.)

And all this served as an introduction to thoughts about how writers take risks, so it remained informative and focused on the reader.

4. Be nice

Yes, your mom was right. You have to be nice.

Don’t be a diva. Answer your emails. Respond to comments. Be polite even when a reader makes the occasional stupid remark or a troll flames you for no good reason.

The people who are rude to you are having a bad day, or a bad life, and they want to share their frustration and anger with you. But it’s their problem, not yours. They want to provoke you. Don’t let them.

If anyone gets out of control on your blog, don’t bicker about it. Just delete the comment and move on.

5. Get over yourself

When you think about it, blogs are really kind of egotistical. You have to think pretty highly of yourself to assume other people want to hear what you have to say day after day.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy ego, but your blog really isn’t about you. It’s about your readers.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you cater to your readers needs, the more popular and profitable your blog can become. The more you give, the more you get. The world is full of self-centered and stingy bloggers. Don’t be one of them.

(I realize this might seem to contradict #3. There’s a delicate balance there. You want to share enough of yourself to make a connection, but still keep your focus on your audience.)

6. Help people

Isn’t this the whole point of a blog, especially one that’s wildly popular? Why do you visit Copyblogger or Lifehacker or Chris Brogan, or any of the other top blogs?

Because they offer you lots of stuff without necessarily expecting something in return. The people who run these blogs are constantly thinking about how they can help you.

Again, think about the people in your personal life. You probably know that one person who is always willing to help, no matter what you need.

Why do you keep going back to that person? Because you know they’ll say “yes” when most others will say no. Helpful people are popular people.

7. Stop trying so hard

Yes, you need to work at your blog. You should write good posts. You should offer solid information. You might even put in long hours.

But don’t push too hard. Relax. Enjoy it. Make it part of your life. If you’re desperate for success, that desperation will show.

It’s like dating: there’s a fine line between wooing someone and stalking them. I mean, have you ever had someone get a crush on you and start trailing you like a puppy? It’s annoying. And a little creepy.

No matter how much you want success, just remember that it comes fast for some and slower for others.

There’s a moderately popular blog I used to enjoy. Then the people who run it announced a product. From that day forward, every post was about their product. Every link pointed to a sales page. The blog was no longer a conversation. It was a relentless sales pitch. I don’t visit any more.

Meryl Streep was right. Life is like high school. And success has a lot to do with being popular. So … be popular.

Culled from Entrepreneur

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