10 Proven Strategies that Make for Highly Successful Blog Posts
How do you boost your web traffic, land new customers and position yourself as an expert all at once?
By creating high-quality content.
Since we began blogging regularly we've seen our site traffic increase out the wazoo: The one-two punch of content-rich blog posts and a ramped-up social media presence has proven to be a winner for biz.
But we've gained far more than just hits and followers. The amount of insight into our audience, marketing strategies, and sales we've been able to gain from our blogging experience has been mind-blowing.
And we've learned the key strategies to creating highly successful blog posts again and again.
We've got in-depth strategies for implementing each of these topics in your own blog and a downloadable PDF quick view of each topic.
Ready for the roundup?! Let's go! ↓↓↓
Here are our top 10 proven strategies that make for highly successful blog posts.
Don't forget to grab our PDF quick view, too! Let's do this:
#10: offer real solutions to real problems
Readers are drawn to topics that offer utility: Whether it's delivering feelings of happiness (ahem, Buzzfeed puppy articles) or showing readers strategies to save time in the morning, readers click when an article offers clear benefits.
But here's the thing:
Readers want to know the benefit your post provides upfront.
It's essential to highlight the real solutions to real problems that you're tackling in your post from the get-go. Define the problem and indicate the solution right in the headline and then follow through in your post.
→ Proven example: One of our top performing posts of 2015 was our 5 Most Useful Apps to Maintain Your Sanity roundup where we followed this strategy precisely.
We tackled a pretty widespread problem among twenty- and thirty-somethings – feeling like you're about to lose it as the world swirls around you – and offered a concise solution: 5 apps that we use on a regular basis to keep it together. The post was a hit, and we've started some great conversations on the role of technology in managing life.
💡 How to use problems and solutions to boost your website traffic:
What's a real problem related to your field? Create content centered around your tried-and-true solutions to this topic. In your blog post, make sure to clearly identify the benefit your reader will achieve in the post's title. You want to let your reader know exactly what they'll gain from the get-go!
#9: bring in a guest expert
You know a LOT to share with your readers. But you can't be a master of everything. Bringing in an expert is a great way to give readers compelling insight into a new area.
→ Success story: Meditate like a Baller: What 32 Years of Meditation Looks like on You is another one of our top-performing blog posts. Kristen interviewed an expert on meditation to bring our readers strategies on calming the chaos that is running a small business.
Once again, we needed to let readers know the benefit they'd get from the content right from the start: the ability to meditate like a baller.
With this guest post, we were testing the waters to see if our readers would be interested in some business-boosting self help. And they were! Now we've added self-care while running a biz to our list of regular blog topics.
💡 How to put this guest posting blog strategy into place to increase your readers:
You definitely know an expert in something related to your field! Choose a 'tangent' topic that to think readers might find appealing and try it out. You can conduct your guest expert post as an interview (like we did) or invite your guest to write the post all on their own. Give it a try!
#8: create numbered lists
Lists. Lists, lists, lists. Readers love reading lists. And writers love writing lists. In fact, a full six out of our 10 top-performing blog posts have been in lists. It seems like everyone loves a good list! Why is that?
Well, readers are looking for utility and ease of consumption in your problem-focused blog posts.
You attract readers with clearly stated, easily digestible information.
Lists offer just that with their built-in, to-the-point structure.
→ Proven example: 3 Tips for Starting Your Own Mastermind Group is just one out of our six list-based posts that has performed exceptionally well.
This is a great example of a post that we reformatted to create a numbered list. Though the topic lends itself to a narrative format, we decided to create a list of steps instead to organize the post and draw readers in.
💡 How to boost your blog success by harnessing the power of lists:
Consider reformatting a past blog post into a clear, numbered list or re-thinking the structure of a piece you're currently working on: could what you're offering be represented in list format? If so, work step-by-step to present the information in a list structure to your readers.
[Related article: 10 Steps to Writing an Awesome Blog Post]
Readers want the juicy details.
They want the scoop on controversy – especially if you may be personally implicated.
→ Case in point: Our let-the-truth-out So I might need a PC translator... post was both one of our earliest posts after really starting to go HAM on this blog game and one of our most revealing.
What's a PC translator? The reader asks just from glimpsing that headline, And wait, what boundaries did they overstep, anyway?!
Bingo: you want those questions going through potential readers' heads. Curiosity + the possibility of controversy and scandal? That's a win for your blog traffic!
💡 How to put this blogging strategy into action by writing about controversy:
Offer your two cents and an inside glimpse! Think of something that sparks controversy among your peers (example: my firm belief that Color Psychology is Bullsh*t) OR something that sparks controversy directed at you (yep, our So I Might Need a PC Translator post) and pursue that topic.
Tip: Remember to keep your reader curious and compelled in your title!
#6: admit and investigate your own weaknesses
Can you be a badass baller and have human weaknesses? Um, duh. Both/and, my friends, both/and.
You do have weaknesses, and ideally you know you're awesome enough to be able to admit and reflect on them!
Admitting and investigating your own weaknesses makes for great traffic-boosting blog content.
That's because this topic goes hand-in-hand with controversy and utility: Showing that you are, indeed, only human (admitting your weaknesses – the controversy) while walking your readers through ways to improve that weakness (investigating your weaknesses – that's where the utility comes in!) kills two birds with one stone.
→ Success story: 6 Essential Chrome Extensions for Keeping Your Sh*t Together definitely falls into this category.
I know it may look like we're 100% "with it" on the outside, but everyone has those times where *ish just hits the fan. We are NO exception whatsoever.
Essentially, what this post is able to communicate goes something like this: Weakness? YES, we've got them. Solutions? Working on that.
💡 How to admit your weaknesses and STILL benefit your website:
Even the biggest badasses fumble at some things. Fess up and work through your solutions alongside your reader – ideally in a step-by-step or numbered manner.
[Related: Running On Empty When You're the One in Charge – an honest look at what small business burnout really feels like.]
#5: give personal recommendations
Unfortunately, the interwebz can be an impersonal place.
The way to grow a dedicated blog readership is through developing a personal connection with readers.
And personal recommendations that are both helpful (there's that utility again) and true-to-heart are a perfect way to do just that.
→ See the strategy in action: A perfect example of how this approach can make for successful content is Kristen's 9 Podcasts That Will Change Your Business (and Life) post. She has seriously listened to every business-boosting podcast out there and decided to share her best suggestions with readers.
💡 How to use personal recommendations to boost your blog readership:
Choose something related to your field that you enjoy that have concrete suggestions about. What's something that you've tried out a lot that your readers can benefit from? Turn it into a roundup or "best of" list. Your readers will value the time and expertise that your personally tested recommendations will save them. Win.
[Related: The Best Free Writing Resources on the Internet is another take on personal recommendations]
#4: write longform content
What's longform content? Longform content is content that is in-depth. It's long.
While creating this type of content requires a lot of upfront investment, the result can really pay off. Readers appreciate the in-depth look at a big topic and the benefits it entails for them. As Lauren puts it in the awesome course Social Brilliant, one high-quality blog post is worth lots of small fluff articles.
→ Proven example: Our second-best performing post of 2015 was a BIG one for us: 2 Companies that Nail Brand Voice (& 2 Strategies to Steal from Them Right Now) performed so well we were inspired to create longform content on a regular basis.
The whole post pushes 3,000 words of in-depth evaluation and actionable strategies. We really invested energy into giving solid examples and creating a comprehensive investigation into what small businesses can really do to compete with the brand voice strategies of the top dogs.
Though hours upon hours of research, writing, and reflecting went into our evaluation of companies using brand voice, our up-front investment in this long-form content has paid off many times over by increasing our readership, traffic, and expert position in the marketplace.
💡 Ideas for using longform content to improve the quality of your blog and increase your web traffic:
You got into your field because you're passionate about what you do. You think critically about the benefits of different approaches all the time.
What's a topic you've learned a lot of in-depth information about (for your own improvement) that your readers will also benefit from? Organize that intense content in an approachable way to create an awesome in-depth piece with high value.
#3: Be brutally honest
One of your biggest assets in business is your authenticity. No one else can be you. Your image, business, and, yes, even site traffic can benefit from being honest about what you do and what you believe. [Related: Why we even care about YOUR business success]
But brutal honesty takes it to a whole new level. One part authentic, one part juicy. Another recipe for success.
💀Brutal honesty 💀 is going to look different for each business. But there is a very, very fine line between being honest and burning bridges you must be on guard for with this topic.
→ Success story: Sometimes being brutally honest means toeing that line. Like talking about situations you hate hate hate that may or may not involve common client interactions.
How I saved my business... With a single concept is a smack-on brutally honest blog post covering exactly these topics.
We may, in fact, have burned some bridges with this brutally honest look at business. But we built far more than we burned in the end by embracing this tough look at reality.
💡 How to use the brutal honesty technique to improve your blog posts:
A good rule of thumb for deciding whether or not your 💀 brutal honesty 💀 is worth the bump in traffic is this: Are you blaming others for your own shortcomings?
If your answer is Yes, I am blaming others for my problems and those "others" totally suck, DO NOT PROCEED! Walk away from the brutally honest blog post and don't burn those bridges just because you're not stable enough to admit responsibility for your own actions at this point.
However, if your 💀 brutally honest 💀 piece is a reflection on bad times (even ones connected to your clients) that you can harness and build yourself up from, then go full force ahead with the exposé.
#2: Zero in on topics of curiosity
Is there a hush-hush topic you've got shifting around you? Then we're BACK to the juicy details once more! Readers are curious. Intrigued. Fascinated by topics that are obscured by the magic green curtain of your biz.
A great way to convert that near-taboo intrigue into increased traffic is by zeroing in on those curiosity-provoking topics.
What does that look like?
→ Success story: We've worked with a virtual assistant since making our big, renewed investment in Hoot.
But the concept of hiring a virtual assistant was strange to nearly all business owners in our circles. There was something about the topic that was weird, foreign, and compelling.
And, it turns out, the wider internet was just as intrigued by what a virtual assistant is and does as our biz friends were.
We turned that intense curiosity and scrutiny to our advantage in our post 5 Key Lessons I've Learned from Working With A Virtual Assistant. It's consistently been one of our top-performing pieces of content thanks to exactly that novelty and curiosity.
💡 Now here's how to generate more web traffic by tapping into curiosity:
Identify what sparks curiosity in your audience. What do they find compelling, strange, foreign, or even weird enough to stop by? Create content focused on that topic of curiosity. Then, make sure to keep your reader hooked by offering strategies and tips directly from the post that intrigued them so much!
#1: Create high-value infographics
If there's ONE surprising way to draw traffic to your website, it's through the use of high-value infographics.
What do I mean by high-value? I mean infographics that are...
- Filled with useful content
- Immediately valuable (they're actionable or instantly gratifying)
- Easy to understand
- AND, most importantly, visually appealing!
→ Proven example: One post on our site has gotten over 10x as much traffic as the next piece on our list.
That's right: ten times as much.
Our How to Write an Awesome Newsletter infographic has absolutely kicked butt at driving traffic and growing our readership.
Pinterest has been the driving force behind this post's success. Visually rich content like thigh-value infographics thrive on Pinterest and the millions of pinners out there.
Putting in the upfront investment into creating those infographics (we always recommend Canva to non-designers!) is just one more awesome strategy that can pay for itself in no time at all.
💡 How to make high-value infographics that boost your site traffic:
Infographics are visual. Start thinking visually about a topic that's full of helpful tips: for us it was creating a newsletter, but maybe for you it's about home remedies for getting over a cold or key items customers often forget to bring to an appointment.
Visually break that content down and diagram it out: show each of the parts for what it's worth (the "anatomy" part of our post) and show what the parts can accomplish as a whole (the "awesome newsletter" part of our post). Make sure to pin your content appropriately on Pinterest!
[Related: How to Get Started with Pinterest Analytics – make sure you know how to measure your success!]
To sum it up:
Investing resources into creating high-quality content has been a major game-changer for our business.
And we know it can be for yours, too! By following the recipe of great original content + social outreach on topics that are useful and compelling, you can grow a loyal readership and convert that traffic into sales.
These top ten strategies for creating highly successful blog posts are a great place to get started or a great place to expand your original content library. Full speed ahead!
Until next time,
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.