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January 10, 2012

Top 8 Blogging Best Practices: A Cheat-Sheet to Blogging Success

by Beth Evans

Are you looking for an all-in-one guide to managing a successful blog, either for your own personal blog or that of a company? I wanted to send an overview like this to a client, but I couldn’t find one that I liked.  Therefore, I decided to compile my own guide based on my years of blogging experience.

How do you define success? You may want to use your blog as a social media home base for interaction with your brand. Maybe you want to increase your readership.  Regardless of your goals, my list of top eight best practices below will help your blog contribute to a successful online brand.

1. Make your blog posts part of a larger social media ecosystem. Assume that people will find out about your blog posts via social media, emails or newsletters instead of by visiting your blog directly or subscribing to it:

  • Make a link to your blog clearly visible from your home page, if your website isn’t a blog itself.
  • Share all of your posts via Twitter and Facebook and, as appropriate, in emails to employees, board members and internal stakeholders.
  • Make it easy for people to share your blog posts by including share buttons at the bottom of every post for Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Google+.
  • Use the full post URL when sharing it on Facebook and Twitter if you have space in character count to do so. Note: This is a controversial tip. See 5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Increase User Engagement and Avoid URL Shortening Services for Business-Related Links.
  • Use social media to interact with people who care about the same topics you blog about.

2. Make sure each post has the principles of a well-written article:

  • Catchy headline and intro
  • Content that is useful or interesting for readers (not sales-pitchy)
  • Good grammar
  • Focused on one topic
  • Either related to current events or offers content readers can’t get anywhere else.

3. Use a combination of text and either images or video in each post. Embed at least two links in each post

4. Make headlines 80 characters or fewer. This way people can easily share them via Twitter.

5. Aim for 200 to 500 words per post. If a post is focused around an image or video, you can write an even shorter post. If you want to write a post much longer than this, turn it into a series.

6. Remain consistent in the topics you blog about and how frequently you publish posts. Try to imagine your audience as one reader. If you want to develop a reputation as an online thought leader or connector, I recommend posting at least three times a week.

7. Publish blog posts, and share them via social media, during times of the day when the time zones for your target readers are awake and online. Good rules of thumb are about 7 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

8. Follow search engine optimization basics. (No web design knowledge required.)

Further reading:
6 Tips for Building a High Quality Blog Following
Creating a Blog Strategy that Works: 10 Tips for Company Bloggers and Teams
How to Write Headlines That Work
5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Increase User Engagement
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
17 Killer YouTube Tactics That Build Your Responsive Online Audience
Helpful Blogging Links: Tips for Better Vlogging (video blogging)

Have a blogging tip or resource that you didn’t see me mention? Let us know in the comments.

[photo via Flickr user owenwbrown]

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