7 Secrets to Make Your Blog Stand Out
Do you ever wish your blog were less “meh” and more mesmerizing?
Back when I first started blogging (as a fashion blogger—ha!), my blog posts were terrible. They rambled on and on about nothing, and I was still using the stiff technical writing from my days as a textbook editor.
And if you go creeping through the Archives, I’m sure you’ll find some mediocre blog posts. Just don’t hold it against me, m’kay?
Now I’ve found my blogging groove, and you can too whether your blog is brand new or older than the seldom-used mustard in my fridge. Just how long has that been there anyway?
I had pleasure of attending the creativeLIVE workshop Build a Successful Creative Blog hosted by the talented April Bowles-Olin from Blacksburg Belle.
Anyhoo, the workshop was phenomenal! Me and the other attendees (including my buddy Jennifer Kennedy from Teach Good Stuff) listened intently, took pages of notes, and brainstormed ways to make our blogs shine.
Want to know all the best tidbits that will turn you into a blogging superstar? Of course, you do.
Here are 7 secrets to make your blog stand out.
1. Write for one person.
It took me forever to learn this lesson. You should write your blog posts as if you’re writing to a specific person, say your best friend, instead of writing for a general audience.
It might seem counter-intuitive to narrow your focus, but by doing so, you’ll attract your ideal readers who’ll be madly obsessed with every post you publish.
Answer these questions about your ideal reader:
- How old is your reader? Is she married? Does she have kids?
- Where does she live? Where does she work?
- What does she read? What movies does she watch?
- What are her dreams and goals?
- What’s the biggest problem she has in her life?
2. Break down your big ideas.
I’m all about having a good breakdown, and it’s essential for you to take your big ideas and divide them into many smaller categories. You get more blog posts and can provide more detailed info, which is of higher value to your readers.
What topic do you want to write about next? Can you think of 5 subcategories or different angles you can take with that topic? Would these posts make a good series?
3. Choose catchy headlines.
Your readers make snap decisions about whether to read your blog posts or not, and your headlines can make or break you. No matter how amazingly helpful your blog post is, no one will read it if the headline is boring.
And here’s a secret: April encouraged us to use the word “secret” and other intriguing words to peak the reader’s curiosity. It got you to read this post, didn’t it?
Look at your last blog headline. How can you rewrite it to make it more exciting?
4. Share your stories.
This is the reason most of us got into blogging in the first place—to share stories about our lives! But if you want to grow your readership, you can’t fill your blog posts with mundane stuff like the sandwich you had for lunch or how much vacuuming you need to do.
You posts must provide value. Your readers want to know what’s in it for them. I talk about productivity a lot, but I like to frame my information with interesting stories from me and my clients. It’s easier to understand a complex idea when you relate it to something that happened in real life.
What stories do you share over and over? How can you relate those stories to the information you share on your blog?
5. Build relationships.
One of the wonderful perks of having a blog is being able to connect with people all over the world. You can build relationships with your readers by asking them questions and encouraging them to leave their answers in the comments.
But here’s the thing: you need to respond in the comments too! I see too many bloggers who NEVER interact in the comments…and then they wonder why their readers don’t stick around. I love reading people’s thoughts about my blog posts, and having a conversation with them helps me form relationships and even get new clients.
How can you build relationships with your blog? What can you do to get to know your readers personally?
6. Get an outside perspective.
Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s not working on your blog because you’re too close to it. When we stare at the same layouts, photos, and fonts for too long, we become blind to what’s in front of us.
Getting an outside perspective from someone you trust will help you keep your blog fresh and avoid repelling the people you want to attract.
Ask a friend to tell you her initial thoughts when looking at your blog. What does she like and what’s not working? Is there anything that doesn’t align with your brand and intentions?
On a side note, this photo perfectly illustrates why the first thing people say when meeting me is usually, “Wow, you’re shorter than I thought you’d be!”
7. Done is better than perfect.
This was the unofficial theme of the workshop. It’s easy for us to get caught up in doing things perfectly, but then we’ll end up wasting time and never actually publish a blog post! Consistency is key to having a popular blog, and that means you can’t get hung up on all the little details.
Where have you been procrastinating? What can you do today to move forward on your next blog post? What can you do imperfectly?
This post focuses on Step 3 of the Life Editing Process, Add Good Habits and Routines. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.
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These are such great tips! I often struggle with writing to a broad audience when in fact I need to really center in on my main audience. Getting the confidence to really brand “creative homemaking” was one of my best moves in blogging. And on another note, I would love to see some of those fashion posts!!!
These are such great tips! I have read lots of “how to blog better” type of posts, but have never heard the tip about writing to your best friend. Such a great idea! I try to please too many people when I write, and then it doesn’t sound like me. I need to change that. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned!
Hi Ashley! It took me a while to stop writing for everyone–I sounded so bland! My writing became much more engaging when I got specific. Keep practicing, and imagine how you would explain the information to your best friend (or ideal reader). Thanks for commenting. 🙂
Sage, you have a wonderful style of writing and I love that you help busy business women get organized! I also loved your header and footer inviting folks to sign up, must adopt that idea, I remember April mentioned it. I was spell bound for 3 days during April’s workshop, she was so ON POINT! I liked the fact she invited you all to participate so we got to know your businesses. You were so engaging and had wonderful ideas.
I’m not a craft person or photographer, so my reasons for blogging are slightly different. I’m a solopreneur, cooking instructor and market a Wok Star Kit to simplify weeknight cooking for busy executives. It’s been very tricky to hone in on my target audience because busy executives don’t blog or do much social media. At least, that’s not where they want to relate with me. It’s usually through email.
So, when I blog or write my newsletters, it’s usually resources, meal ideas, video tips to support new Wok Stars and I get very good feedback. They love hearing what I’m up to and of course all the tips and tricks. I liked ALL of your tips to make my blog stand out which I hope to implement into my blogging routine. My problem is feeling overwhelmed with how much I have to do because I can’t delegate blogging or newsletter to someone else. Maybe I need a life editor?
Hi Eleanor! It’s good to “see” you here. 🙂 I still have pages of notes to go through from April’s workshop. She’s such a good teacher.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take a look at where I’m spending my time. I almost always can find ways to save my wasted minutes or use my most productive hours more effectively. I don’t have a staff or anyone to delegate my blogging and email newsletter to, so I have to be really strategic with my time.
I’m going to send you an email with more info than I can type here. 🙂
Loved the workshop and loved your presence there! 🙂
There’s a few points I was missing out on before, and I think especially the “break it apart”. I tend to cram everything into a single post because I want to write the ULTIMATE blog post to end all blog posts, and for a particular one I was actually told I should pack it into an ebook and offer as an e-mail list opt-in – that’s how information packed it was. Looking back, it’s horrible, if I spill out everything into a single post, what will I write about for years to come? 😀
And besides, it’s terrible from a marketing standpoint. People have short memory and it’s better to remind people over and over about a topic (and put links here and there to your previous posts) than lump it all up into a single post and let people forget about the whole thing.
I also get stuck on “story”. I have no idea what about my stories would interest people, or how that could inspire writing about the topics I normally write. I guess I need to practice that a bit in my journal.
Thanks, Nela! It was a ton of fun being at the workshop. I’m definitely guilty of writing overstuffed posts too. It’s hard to restrain yourself when you have a lot of good info to share!
I write about perfectionism and the fear of failure often on my blog, so the way I incorporate stories is to share times when I’ve messed up. Many of my clients have told me they signed up because my stories showed them that it’s OK to make mistakes.
That’s brilliant! I tackle these topics as well, but in the context of creative process. I need to make a link between the life experience and art/creativity in a way that is not too tacky and overdone 🙂
I can see how that attracts your clients, it’s makes you much easier to relate to.
What a great post i loved the whole workshop and I am more than already to rock my K9 Studio Photography Blog thanks for your tips and experience on been Live at April’s Workshop
Thanks, Kristina! 🙂
Hey Sage! You really nailed the key take-aways from April’s amazing course. Thanks for helping to make the course fantastic for we chatty-pants who followed along. It was so much fun getting to know all of you, from afar.
The ideal reader/ideal client thing is a HUGE one with my clients…and the “Done is better than Perfect” idea is one we can all learn from, I think.
Thanks for the post!
Hi Kris! We should all hang big signs in front of our desks that say “Done is Better Than Perfect!” so we never forget to keep making progress. 🙂
Hello, Sage!! I watched the course and this is how I knew about your blog. It is AMAZING and I am just wondering what were you doing there because your blog looks absolutely super for me. 🙂 I am just starting with the blog of this type (I had others before but the one was more personal like a diary and the send was a collection of my scrapbooking works which I am not doing so frequently to post about it regularly). I enjoyed a lot watching you being in the audience – you have such a lovely personality. And thank you for this post. You know what… I definitely was hooked by the “secret” word though I knew this trick from the workshop. :))))
Hi Varvara! April’s workshop was incredible! I was so impressed with all the information and the simple tips for improving our blogs. Aw, thank you for saying my blog looks good, but I’m still learning too. I did a redesign a couple months ago that really improved the look of my blog.
I make scrapbooks too. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years. It’s a fun hobby, but it can get expensive with all the papers, stickers, and tools.
Yes, using “secret” really works! 🙂 Thanks for commenting.
I have been so thrilled to attend the class and get to know you also. This is such great info to push me on in my blogging journey.
That’s wonderful, Gina! I learned so much in April’s class too–now we just gotta implement our ideas. 🙂
Great tips Sage! I always feel like I’m so boring on my blog and these are some great ways to improve my posts! I definitely agree with you that responding to your comments is crucial. I respond because I love the interaction… it’s actually why I started blogging! I tend to drift away from blogs that don’t reply to my comments. I make a point to respond to every single comments… I may not get a ton but each one is very important to me. I also love the tip of getting an outside perspective. I try to get an outside perspective every once in a while and I definitely see how this helps!
So glad you enjoyed the workshop!
Comment* not comments :X
You’re not boring, Sarah! You never write about vacuuming. 🙂 Admittedly, I’m not always great about replying to comments, but I’ve gotten better with practice. And an outside perspective was what helped me realize my blog needed a rebranding earlier this year.
Loved the course! Love the post! And super excited for our call next week.
In all honestly, you’ve hit on a few of the things I’m working on especially
– done is better than perfect
-write for one person
-have a good breakdown – oh wait, I do that all the time, it’s breaking down the topics and to do list’s into more manageable bites I need to work on. What’s the expression? – how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time
I’m loving seeing all the different perspectives, aha moments, and changes that everyone who participated live or online is sharing
April did such a good job! I was in awe of her the entire time. Yes–I love eating my elephant of a to-do list one bite at a time. 🙂
I’m so pumped after this course! There are so many things I want to implement in the next few months. Baby steps, though!!
I love the takeaways you shared. In addition to the above, I want to start making a cohesive look for my blog. I started this week with taking my own photos! Still need to work on perfecting my technique, but I’m proud of myself! 🙂
(And, thanks for the shout out!! I was SO thrilled that we were able to meet in person!)
Thanks, Jennifer! I’m feelin’ pumped too! 🙂 And I noticed you had an original photo on your most recent blog post. Something I’m working on too.
I love ALL of these tips! My favorite, though, and the one I need to work on the most is writing for one person. The idea of writing specifically for my ideal reader is one I never thought of before, but I can see that it’s key to building a better blog.
Thanks, Lori! It seems strange, but writing for a particular person really works.