4 Practical Steps to Creating a Popular Blog

by Ana on November 2, 2011 · 49 comments






4 Practical Steps to Creating a Popular Blog

No one ever starts a blog thinking “I don’t care if anyone ever reads it; I am going to write it anyway”.

The truth is we start blogging to be heard, to share, to interact, and yes, to make money.

Of course, none of it (especially, the “making money” part) is even remotely possible without loyal and active readership that keeps coming back for more.

What Makes Me an Expert?

I run a fairly successful Traffic Generation Cafe, which focuses on… what else?… traffic generation from various and mostly free traffic sources, particularly search engine traffic – that’s my clear favorite.

Just over a year ago no one ever heard of Ana Hoffman or Traffic Generation Cafe.

But now I get questions like this one all the time:

“You have created a huge and successful brand with your blog. What tips would you share with others about attracting and engaging loyal readers?” Ken Pickard, TheNetworkDad.com

And I am glad he asked.

The quickest path to success is finding out what others do well and duplicating it.

Step 1. Create/Join Commenting Tribe

When you are a nobody online, your biggest challenge is to find someone who would pay attention to what you have to say.

Good thing you are not alone – we all have to start at square one, right?

So when my blog came online, one of the very first things I did was started my own commenting tribe.

What is a commenting tribe?

Very simply, it’s a group of people who promote each other’s content online.

What’s the point?

1. To create social proof: there’s nothing worse than having a “dead” blog. The kind of blog where you hear crickets when you get there.

No social media shares, no comments. Quiet. Dead.

No one wants to be the first one to leave a comment.

However, if you already have a few comments on any given post, your new visitors will be more than happy to jump in on it. Basic human psychology.

2. To network with other bloggers: these were some of the strongest online friendships I’ve made. We had each other’s backs and still do.

3. To bring traffic from other members’ blogs: when you comment on other blogs, you get noticed.

But more on that in a second.

Where’s my tribe now?

We had a great run, but as of right now, my tribe is no longer active.

I do have good news though: Dev just started his own tribe on Blokube.com!

I strongly suggest you check it out and get commenting.

Step 2. Comment on Other Blogs

Does commenting on other blogs really work?

Well, it depends on what your goal is.

If you are hoping to bring hordes of traffic to your blog, I’ll tell you upfront: your chances are not great, although it’s been done before.

What blog commenting is great for is getting your face out there, branding yourself and your business, getting noticed by others, and networking with other bloggers.

Be EVERYWHERE and others won’t have a choice but to notice you.

That’s how I brought many people to my blog: not through any one specific comment, but by leaving intelligent comments all over the blogosphere.

A few commenting tips that helped me get there:

  1. Read the posts you are commenting on – goes without saying, yet I am still surprised how many bloggers skip that and end up in spam or trash.
  2. Comment on active blogs – the kind of blogs where the author responds to comments and creates reader discussions.
  3. Respond to other commentators’ comments – if you see someone asking a question, don’t be afraid to jump in and offer your solution. It’s a great way to be noticed by both the commentator and the blog owner. Just don’t overdo it.
  4. Make sure to use an avatar – yet another obvious thing that many commentators neglect. And it’s so easy to do! Just go to Gravatar.com and follow the instructions on how to add your image to the email address you use to comment with. Hint: personal photos work best.

To see the list of quality blogs I use for my personal commenting, check out my CommentLuv enabled blog list.

Step 3. Write for Other Blogs

This is the tune I’ll never get tired of singing.

One of the best ways to become a household name is by guest posting for some of the best blogs in your niche.

Let me give you an example.

My friend Danny Iny of FirepoleMarketing.com.

Just a few short months ago, no one ever heard of the guy.

All of a sudden, his name started popping up just about everywhere around the blogosphere, including blogs like Copyblogger.com, Problogger.com, DIYThemes.com, Kikolani.com, just to name a few.

Actually, his first guest post showed up on Copyblogger.com in the beginning of 2011 – guest posting strategy with a bang!

Result?

Targeted readership most bloggers only dream of, personal connections with many A-listers, interviews with untouchables like Guy Kawasaki, a successful product launch not too long ago, and a book with contributors like Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, Mitch Joel, and many others coming out very soon.

All in LESS THAN A YEAR.

With guest posting being the cornerstone of his marketing strategy.

Moral of the story: don’t ignore this step.

Start today by writing a guest post for Technshare.com.

Step 4. Engage Your Readership

This is the last important step on your way to a popular blog: engage your visitors once you get them to your blog.

Here are some things I do on my blog to encourage my readers:

1. Ask questions. Don’t just talk AT your readers; get them involved. Always end your posts with a question to encourage them to share their opinions.

2. ALWAYS respond to comments. If your readers feel like you don’t care about their opinions, why would they share them?

Responding to comments is what makes your readers want to come back.

3. Let them know you responded to their comment. It’s very easy to set up a plugin like ReplyMe, which is what I use on my blog, to let your commentators know when you reply to their comments.

4. Encourage them to share. What better way to leverage your existing readership and to bring in even more readers than by encouraging them to share your posts throughout their social networks?

And the best way I found to do just that is by using CommentLuv Premium.

Since link building is one of the biggest reasons people comment on blogs, why not give them an incentive to choose a CommentLuv link to their latest 10 posts AFTER they share your post via Twitter, or Facebook, or +1 it?

Unfortunately, CommentLuv Premium is currently closed to the new members.

Fortunately, the new launch is coming up on November 7.

And even better, I am running a CommentLuv Premium giveaway on my blog, where you can get your hands on this greatest release of the year on me.

Marketing Takeaway

There’s nothing new under the sun.

If you think that any of the popular bloggers got there because they had a magic trick up their sleeves, you are mistaken.

We all have to pay our dues on the way to online success.

The good news is that these steps are entirely duplicatable and obtainable. The future of your site lies in your hands and how hard you are willing to work for it.

Are you going to do it or sit it out on the sidelines? Comment to show me that you’re alive!

traffic generation cafe



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{ 49 comments }

Danny November 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Hey Ana, thank you for the mention! :)
Danny @ Firepole Marketing´s last blog post ..Announcing My New Book: Engagement from Scratch!

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:06 am

I just couldn’t resist, Danny! LOL
Ana @ Bounce rate´s last blog post ..Internet Marketing Tools

Ashlie Webb November 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Great article and tips you made here. I will be sure to take them onboard. Thanks!

Melanie November 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Commenting tribes and blog tribes are being mentioned more and more, especially by those that seem to be doing well, so there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re a viable way to build a successful blog. I haven’t joined or started one yet, but I am certainly interested in doing so at some point in the future. One thing I am concerned with is being sure to participate with others that either bring something meaningful to the table or have the potential to truly make an impact, otherwise there is a chance that not everyone carries their weight.

Thanks for another great post, Ana :)

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:09 am

That’s precisely why, when I started my own tribe, I made it very small, so that everyone is accountable and it’s easy to keep track of the comments.
Ana @ Blog titles´s last blog post ..Aweber Review

Online Marketing November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Networking with other bloggers on your niche is certainly one of the best ways to make your blog and your self recognizable on the blogosphere. You gave some great tips to achieve this and the first one is new to me I haven’t heard before about commenting tribes and I will certainly try it on blokube.

Another way to create relations with other bloggers is not only to write guest posts but to accept guest on your own blog too, this can bring a lot of traffic to your blog since guest bloggers most of the times promote their own articles and as a result your blog…

Kostas | Opportunities Planet
Online Marketing´s last blog post ..5 Things freelancers need to know

Ana November 3, 2011 at 3:19 am

The problem with accepting guest posts these days is that too few bloggers put their time into writing them the right way.

They approach guest posting as they would article marketing and that won’t fly on my blog. LOL

Theoretically though, yes, it is a good way to network and build friendships.
Ana´s last blog post ..SEMRush: My Answer to Google Blocking Keywords

Ken Pickard November 5, 2011 at 12:09 am

Ana,

This brings up a great point. Do you have a set of guidelines for guest blogging in general? That could turn into a good couple of blog posts.

Ken Pickard
The Network Dad
Ken Pickard´s last blog post ..Content Syndication Twitter Style

arjun November 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

As far as i am concerned, Guest Blogging is best method to get traffic. Write a good article and submit it to high traffic sites like technshare.
arjun@HackingNews´s last blog post ..6 Websites Hacked and Defaced by AnonMasked

Gera November 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Hi Ana,

You’re the Queen of Traffic :)

Today being social is not only necessary in terms of relationships if not also in terms of SEO, in other words, more traffic.

I don’t understand why so many bloggers don’t respond to comments and less have some type of plugin like, ReplyMe, to contact the commenter informing that an answer was made.
At least, to reply to fresh comments or the ones with some type of question.

Joining also tribes like Blokube, BE and others is also a fundamental step in the correct direction.

Cheers,

Gera
Gera@Sweets Foods Blog´s last blog post ..Commentluv Plugin Premium Giveaway

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:11 am

I never comment on blogs where the author doesn’t respond to comments, Gera – makes me feel like I am talking to myself.
Ana´s last blog post ..SEMRush: My Answer to Google Blocking Keywords

Marie November 3, 2011 at 12:38 am

Fabulous suggestions! Really needed these. Especially the guest blogging one, I would love to write a guest blog somewhere, now, to find a place…

Thanks!
Marie
Marie´s last blog post ..Negative Space

Jasmine November 3, 2011 at 3:35 am

Wow, informative post. You have shared a few great tips… I am seriously considering to install CommentLuv plugin, and maybe even the premium version on my blog. What do you think? Will you post your comments on my blog? :)
Jasmine@Top Web Hosts´s last blog post ..HostUpon Coupon Code – 50% Off Any Hosting Plan

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:12 am

Depends on how good your content is, Jasmine. LOL

Erin Williams November 3, 2011 at 3:49 am

This is a great post- I’m starting a new blog, and even though I HATE blogging, I know it’s what I need to get my site noticed. Thanks for the info :)

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:13 am

I am right there with you, Erin – I hate writing. Yet here I am…

Jane November 3, 2011 at 4:27 am

Great tips as always Ana. Since they worked for you, it should work for any blogger, provided they take it seriously :)
Jane @ commentluv features´s last blog post ..Facebook Fan Page Customization: How To Add A Twitter Tab

goa carnival November 3, 2011 at 6:26 am

Hi,

When any newbie blogger start blogging he/she wants to get good number of comment on his blog post but some bloggers achieve that and some others don’t achieve that because they don’t have enough knowledge what all tactics he/she should apply in their blog post so this is the good post for them and i am sure if they will follow these kind of tactics in their blog post then definitely they will get good result in that.

Beside that i most believe in that thing if any bloggers wants to get huge traffic on his/her blog post then he/she should do Guest blogging which will also give backlinks to him.
goa carnival´s last blog post ..Goa Carnival 2012

Tanya Sachdev November 3, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hey, I have started commenting on other blogs..hope it’ll help me build traffic on my blog.My blog link is mentioned ,wud be great if u can go thru the same and share your feedback.

M.sai - Dailyblogtools.com November 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

nice pointing view ana and your trafficgenaration cafe blog is also very nice :)
M.sai – Dailyblogtools.com´s last blog post ..Free Download Shopping Cart Template For Blogger

Sandip November 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Another great post from Ana.

Ana certainly makes sure she follows step 4 and engages her readership. She replied to a personal email I sent her yesterday within a few hours and constantly over delivers. Another example of a great move was for her to reply to the Aweber notification after I subscribed to her posts to let me know she was there to help me with anything I might need.

Going to extra mile like that certainly helps create a popular blog and endorsements such as this.

Keep up the good work :)
Sandip @ Cashback Credit Cards´s last blog post ..Check Your Credit Rating For Free

tushar November 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

i always like commenting on my fellow bloggers’ blog and that makes me happy. it is a good practice
tushar´s last blog post ..Are You Aware Nobody is Reading Your Full Posts?

Stacy November 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Ana,

Those are four essential tips for growing a blog!

Aside from guest blogging I implemented them all early in my blogging and they each made a huge difference in the growth of my blog. My blog would be pretty lifeless without following those steps. Since I’ve been guest blogging I’ve seen an even greater increase in the activity on my blog.

These are tips that all bloggers should be following, new or seasoned!

Stacy
Stacy@Blogging Tips´s last blog post ..5 Tools That I Wouldn’t Go Without

Aarti November 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Hi Ana,

Informative post and agreed we have to start from one point and need to put our honest effort to achieve our goal. The points you have mentioned are commonly used by many bloggers and they’re getting targeted traffic but making good money. :)
Aarti @ Seo Services´s last blog post ..SEO Company

Ana November 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

As I said, Aarti – nothing new under the sun, right?

Aarti November 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Yes, You’re right. :D
Aarti @ Seo Services´s last blog post ..SEO Company

Riya November 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I always feel that guest blogging is great way to attract new readers to your blog plug getting some quality backlinks as well. In blogging also you need to create your relationship with your fellow bloggers so that they’ll help you whenever you need it and vice-versa.
Riya @ Promo Codes´s last blog post ..HostGator Coupon Code

Ana November 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm

You are so right, Riya – guest posting kills 2 birds with one stone: traffic generation and link building.
Ana @ SEMRush review´s last blog post ..Tumblr: How to Get Free PR7 Links Within Minutes

Kavya Hari November 4, 2011 at 6:51 am

From here, i gathered a lot of information about to creating a popular blogs on here. So, i would like to say thanks for given up here :)
Kavya Hari´s last blog post ..Amazing News For Webmasters!

Shower Valves November 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

Hello Anna…agreed 100% as this are the only practical way to increases our blog popularity.

As you mentioned that- Create/Join commenting tribe, Comments on others blogs, Write for others blogs and Engage your readership are one the most effective way to get noticed and building strong online reputation and relationships.

Thanks a lot for this important sharing. Its really works if done properly.

Ryan Biddulph November 4, 2011 at 7:24 am

Power points Ana!

Being all over the place with guest posts and meaningful comments, and sharing the stuffing out of other’s posts works quite well. The more you give, the more you get.

Thanks for sharing!

RB
Ryan Biddulph´s last blog post ..3 Powerful Benefits of Cash Gifting

Ana November 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

You should know, Ryan – half of the blogosphere knows you because of your great comments!
Ana @ Bounce rate´s last blog post ..How to Pick the Best Affiliate Marketing Programs that Pay

TechUpdates November 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

Blog Commenting certainly has its own set of advantages :)

Ken Pickard November 5, 2011 at 12:27 am

Ana,

You had me at the word “Tribe” this is actually part of my passion when it comes to blogs. I started my first tribe in the middle of 2009. I had a need…this thing called traffic, eye balls, energy you name it and I was starting my first blog. When I started to look around on Twitter and Facebook at other blogs I noticed that a lot of people where in my same position as I. New blog looked like a ghost town!

So I reached out to a few people and started a syndication accountability circle. We met on skype every week syndicating each others new content and trading new plugins or marketing tips we learned that week.

The name quickly changed from S.A.C. to the “Empowered Tribe. Within a couple of months people were asking how brand new blogs were getting double digit RT’s and comments. This was even before the Facebook share button came along. From there we quickly grew a membership site, blog support community, and 2 products.

To me a tribe for blog support and commenting is a must for new bloggers. It levels the playing field between new and seasoned blogger. After getting back on the blog bandwagon 3 months ago I’m glad to see that more people are leveraging this model.

Thanks for the great tips on engagement and guest posting as well. Powerful practices for any blogger.

Ken Pickard
The Network Dad
Ken Pickard´s last blog post ..A Content Syndication Strategy To Build Your Rock Star Brand

Ana November 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm

You are certainly a tribe wizard, if there ever was one, Ken.

The sheer number of your tribe shows that you know what you are doing.

I am surprised to know how many people are intimidated by this strategy…
Ana @ Blog titles´s last blog post ..Internet Marketing Tools

tires November 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

Excellent tips, Ana! I really like blogs where the blogger genuinely engages with the readers’ comments. It shows the readers that their words are being read, taken in and responded to and encourages them to participate further in future discussions and posts also.

-Jean
tires´s last blog post ..How to stay safe while driving on wet roads

Ana November 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

And I am surprised how many bloggers still don’t do it, Jean.
Ana @ One way link building´s last blog post ..SEMRush Review: My Answer to Google Blocking Keywords

Gina Reedy November 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Good tips on here!

The basic formula would probably be…

Post good content –> Monetize (with clickbank ads or something similar) –> Get traffic

magicweb November 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm

@Anna,

Awesome post. I am keen to learn more about your step 1. “Commenting Tribe”. I was looking for some social network or groups. Need more info from you about this :-)
magicweb´s last blog post ..Unique Free Tutorial on How to Make a Website
®™. Create it Now!

Ana November 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm

You can find more info about starting a tribe in this post:
http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/drive-traffic-commenting-tribe/
Ana´s last blog post ..Aweber Review

Shiva November 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I think the Blog commenting tribe idea can really do much good for a blog, after all it is all about engagement and relationships at the end, and thanks for sharing about Danny, it is the first time I am hearing about him and it is surely an inspiring story of his. Guest posting surely seems to be a great way of creating a name for oneself.
Shiva @ Blogging Tips´s last blog post ..8 Ways To Get More Backlinks

Ana November 9, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Started a tribe was what gave my blog the initial boost it needed, Shiva.

And Danny is great!
Ana´s last blog post ..Free SEO Report

Grant Brookes November 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

Great points Ana! I like your point of Social presence.. I guess the bloggers like you are really making use of the social media very well, it kinds of inspire beginners like me, who eventually want to shift to full time blogging in the future.

I think Social media can be very effectively used to create an awareness. In present time it is an absolute must to have a good presence in them. Be yourself, be natural and yes, don’t run after money, run after quality,, money will run after you!
Grant Brookes@Cheap Web Design´s last blog post ..The Web Surgery wins at the Richmond Business Awards 2011

Ana November 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Social media definitely carries a lot of power, Grant.

You don’t have to love it, just learn how to use it to your advantage.
Ana´s last blog post ..PDF Traffic Generation: How to Tap into the Untapped

Aaron November 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

Hi Ana, great tips. My new blog is less than a week old and I am glad I read this post early.
Aaron@Facebook Status´s last blog post ..Facebook Status for Birthday

Jym November 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

As is so often the case Ana, you don’t leave many gaps to be plugged with your posts.

Have to say I’m learning a lot from reading ‘between the lines’ of what your doing these days… Very impressive.

Anyway – great round up – Connect, participate, share and engage. We’re all in this together, after all…
Jym @ Marketing Your Blog´s last blog post ..Traffic Generation Strategies Unified: Superstrings for Bloggers

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