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Anatomy of a Winning Blog: Is Yours Destined to Fail?

by Team Caffeine · 1 comment

Anatomy of a Winning Blog

Why do surgeons cut people open? It’s a dangerous thing to do, but they do it to make people better.

Anatomy comes from the Greek word anatemnō, meaning to cut open. In this post, we’ll cut open successful blogs and see what we find inside. At the same time, you can cut open your blog to make it better.

It might be painful, but it will be worth it.

If your blog is destined for greatness, you’ll discover the following, from gorgeous eyes to weary legs to a stinky nose.

A Skeleton Structure

Successful blogs are always well structured. How do they do this?

  • Successful blogs post to a schedule. Chris Guillebeau grew his A-list blog The Art of Non-Conformity by faithfully posting three times a week. A schedule can be ten times a day, or once every two weeks, but whatever you decide, stick with it. Readers want to know you’ll always be there for them, and with a regular schedule, you show them you will be.
  • Successful blogs use established blog post structures. Danny Iny of Firepole marketing uses one of the best blog post structures. He calls this “the 4 sections of an awesome blog post”. The 4 sections are, in Danny’s own words:
  • The Problem — Where you explain the problem that causes the symptoms you’ve described in the hook.
  • The Underlying Cause of the Problem — A little more detail about why this problem keeps on happening.
  • The Solution — Your brilliant insight into how the problem can be solved.
  • Implementing the Solution — How the reader can turn ideas into actions, and what they should do next in order to apply what you’re teaching them.

Successful blogs are well organized. Posts are categorized and archived. There’s a search bar for people wanting to delve into old posts. SEO is up to scratch so people can find what they’re looking for.

A Thinking, Creative Brain

Blogging requires careful thought and sparks of creativity. Rehashing blog posts published on other blogs won’t cut it. CLICK TO TWEET

You need to deliver original, compelling content, drawing on your own experience and expertise.

How can you keep things fresh, week after week? Have a place you keep ideas. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Darren Rowse of Problogger tucks his ideas away into a Dropbox folder, ready for a slow day when he needs a spark of inspiration. Evernote is another useful option.

A Heart of Gold and Thunder

Your blog will only work in the long run if you’re willing to pour your heart and soul into it.

Blogging takes passion and purpose. CLICK TO TWEET

Passion means writing about a topic you care about. It might be something that’s part of your daily life, your dreams, your home, your kids, your job, your hobbies. If your blog is successful, you’ll be writing about this for years, so it must interest you and matter to you. That said, there’s no perfect topic. If you’re anything like me, you’re passionate about many different things. Choose one of them and run with it.

Purpose is the desire and drive to succeed. It’s the willingness to push ahead against all the odds. There will be days where you wonder “is this really worth it?” The decisions you make on those days will make or break your blog.

People are drawn to a blog with heart, so spill out your heart and get writing.

Successful Content
Infographic by Skyword

Listening Ears

You need passion to succeed, and you need something that drives you. You must be writing about what matters to you.

But you must also be aware of what matters to your readers.

Listen to them, ask them questions, engage. Knowing what’s important to your readers will give you ideas for what to write about. When you write about topics that touch a nerve and help people out, you will pull in more readers.

By being someone who listens and cares, you blog will grow.

One of the easiest ways to listen to your audience and track what they want is to pay attention to your metrics.

Gorgeous Eyes

“Never judge a book by its cover.” We say this because people do judge books by their cover. People also judge websites by how they look. I’m not throwing stones here, just saying we all do it.

If your blog has a lousy design, people will assume your content is lousy too. It’s not fair, but it’s the way of the world. First impressions matter. CLICK TO TWEET

Nowadays, there’s no excuse for poor design. If you can’t afford to shell out for a professional web designer, you can browse the hundreds of free and paid WordPress themes. You can make your blog a stunner for less than fifty bucks.

To find out more about how to design a good looking blog, take a look at this post from Nicholas Tart. It covers everything you need to know in a way even design newbies can understand.

A Stunning Smile

If you want people to like you, if you want to grow an audience, you must be likable.

As Tim Sanders, author of The Likability Factor, writes: “Emotionally attractive people win the popularity contests that make up your life.”

How can you make your blog likable?

  • Help people. Always be helpful. The more help you give, the more people will come to your blog.
  • Be funny. Funny is money, as our Lori loves to say. Funny draws people in and makes them think “yes, here’s a good guy, I could work with this person.”
  • Be inspiring. Believe in your readers. Let them know what they are capable of.
  • Engage. That means putting yourself out there on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Comment on other blogs in your niche, too.

Blogs are social places. Be friendly and outgoing. Even if you’re shy in real life, there’s no excuse online. This is the Internet, where you can be your best self.

You get what you give, so give your best. CLICK TO TWEET

Weary Legs

Blogging is a journey. Successful blogs must evolve and adapt with the times. Over the years you blog, you will change, and your blog will change with you.

Don’t freak about this, but see it as a good thing. Your blog can never be perfect. It can only ever be what it is, right now. You can only start from where you are, today.

Blogs have a lot of growing to do. WordPress has only been around for 10 years. Blogging and social media are still infants.

Blogging is as much about learning about yourself through what you write as it is about building an audience. As the Yoda of blogging Seth Godin says:

“It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say. How do you explain yourself to whoever is going to look at it? How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something? If you’re good at it, people are going to read it. If you’re not good at it and you stick with it, you’ll get good at it.”

Vital Organs

We rarely think about our lungs, our liver, or our kidneys, except when they go wrong. Ugly and boring as they are, they’re vital for our survival.

Likewise, successful blogs have ugly, boring but vital organs that keep them going. Ignore these at your peril. CLICK TO TWEET

They include:

  • Security. Having your blog hacked is the worst nightmare of any blogger. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you, because then it probably will. Take precautions and block hackers with a strong password and security plugins.
  • Updates. Keep your blogging platform (usually WordPress), your theme and plugins updated. Not doing so is a security risk, and may slow down your blog.
  • Tags and Categories. Especially for new bloggers, it’s tempting not to bother with categories, or to invent a new category for every post you write. Neither of these approaches is helpful. Instead, create a set of categories, and use them well. Only add new categories if they’re essential. A year down the line, you’ll be glad you did.
  • SEO. Yes, making sure your keyword is in your title and article is a bore, but if you want to attract search engines, it’s got to be done. Social media engagement is increasingly important for SEO, too.
  • Plugins. It’s never fun to manage plugins when you just want to write, but if you don’t keep up with the best plugins, your blog will fall behind. Plugins are whatm ake your blog stand out.

Hands Hard At Work

Passion alone can sustain a blog. Some bloggers write simply because it gives their heart satisfaction.

Yet for other bloggers, they need to know they’re building an audience, or that their blog is earning them a living.

Is your blog doing the work you need it to? What’s your business model? What do you plan to sell? Will you offer products, services or both?

Even if your blog isn’t making money right now, knowing the answers to these questions can help keep you going until your blog is ready to start making money.

Brain of a Blogger
Infographic by Infolinks

A Stinky Nose

Virtual smells are the next big thing. And who wants a blog that reeks like a cesspool? Follow this trend closely or you could kick up a stink.

Okay, I’m kidding on this one.

But seriously, how is your blog’s anatomy? CLICK TO TWEET

Go ahead and take apart your own blog, cut it open and have a prod around. Unlike medics, who have to take care when cutting open the human body, blogs are like Lego, they’re designed to be taken to pieces and put back together.

Related Reading

7 Things that Will Make People Addicted to Your Blog
Blogging Tips

How to Present Yourself as an Expert Online
The Blog Herald

The 5 Things Customers Actually Want
Copyblogger

Stop Wasting Money: How to Get the Most Out of Your Blogging Education
Kikolani

How to Create a Blog Purpose Statement in 3 Simple Steps
Problogger

21 Blog Writing Tips From the Experts
Verve

For More Tips + Tricks

What will you find? Let us know in the comments.

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Like this? You can find more social media tips and tricks in the Social Caffeine Collection, a collection of 24 books on social media marketing.

Team Caffeine

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