This is a super awesome guest post written by Josh Sarz.
Do you know what it takes to build a Master-Class blog?
When you’re new to blogging, you’re bound to make lots of bad choices.
And who can really blame a new blogger? There’s a huge amount of pressure for someone who’s just starting.
Pressure that comes from thoughts about your blog being buried in the dirt, turning into a ghost town. Having lots of posts, but zero comments. I could go on.
So how does a new blogger actually get to build a Master-Class blog?
The secrets to a Master-Class blog is to become… a Pirate!
“What do you mean, a Pirate?!”
In the blogging world, it’s all about capturing your readers’ attention with your magnetic headlines and providing solid content to back it up.
Jon Morrow talked about it in Copyblogger, with his report about using effective headlines to attract traffic to your post. He had mentioned that successful blogs, even famous magazines all over the world, tend to reuse their headlines on more than one occasion. That’s good ol’ fashioned Pirate moves there.
Now let’s talk a little bit more about being like a pirate in blogging.
Learned: Pirate Class +1 Pillaging + 1
1. Zero in on your target
It’s been talked about a lot. Knowing your audience.
You need to figure out who your target reader is if you want to be successful at marketing your blog.
James Chartrand of Men with Pens talked about “writing for Dorothea.”
Or basically, not just writing for a demographic, but actually creating a fictional character with traits, personality, desire, problems, etc. That way, you’ll be writing with utmost detail and are able to zero in on your target.
Skill learned: Perimeter Scan + 1
2. Find out what your readers want the most
Now that we’ve found out who we’re writing to, let’s find out what they really want.
What do your readers want the most? Why are they reading your blog in the first place?
- Do your readers want to learn how to dominate with their marketing strategies?
- Do your readers want to know how to cook the perfect Beef Wellington?
- Do you readers want to lose weight effectively without resorting to diet pills and magic drinks?
One of the best ways to find out your readers’ desires is to plainly ask them. Ask them in a private message, or at the bottom of your post.
If you don’t have that many people in your list yet, then you can opt to check in your comments section. What are your readers saying? Are there negative comments about your previous blog posts? How can you make your future blog posts better, based on that negative comment?
If you’re not getting that many comments yet, because you’re still a beginner blogger, then here’s a neat pirate trick to find out what your readers want.
You visit other related blogs in your niche, and check out THEIR popular posts and THEIR comments section.
Find out what kind of topics Master-Class blogs are currently talking about. Check what’s hot.
Find out what their readers are saying in their blog posts. Are they getting negative comments?
Skill learned: Stalking your Prey +1
3. Stick to your flag
Master-Class pirates have their own image. They have their own flag, their own style, pattern, target preference.
The same should go for blogging.
Be consistent with who you are as a blogger and a writer, with what brand you’re making for yourself.
- Are you blogging about method acting and other arts? Stick to your flag.
- Are you a a blogger who writes about… blogging? Stick to your flag.
- Are you going to write about copywriting and marketing?
Focus on writing about topics related to your niche. This tells your readers that you’re focused on what you do, and they know what to expect from your next posts.
So it’ll make them more open to subscribing to that ever-valuable email list.
Skill learned: Hard stance +1 Poker face +1
4. Invade the Master-Class blogs
Pirates of the high seas don’t just invade defenseless towns. They seek out other pirate ships, invade them, kill their men, recruit some of them, take their loot and gain more pirate fame.
In the blogging world, there’s something similar. It’s called guest posting.
Why should you be writing for someone else when you’re still trying to establish a name for yourself? What’s the deal?
Well, here’s the deal.
When you’re writing awesome guest posts on established blogs, you’re actually leeching off of their fame and influence. Plus, some of their readers might be interested in what you wrote, and decide that they want to read more of your work.
If they liked your guest post, they’ll check out your blog. And what’s more? When you’re guest blogging, you don’t have to be overly strict about sticking to your own niche. Find common areas between your niches and write about them.
What’s so hard about guest posting? If you’ve tried pitching and offering guest posts before, you probably know by now that your proposed topic won’t always be accepted. Do you really have to build a solid relationship with the owner of the blog so you can write a post for them? They won’t let just anyone post on their blog, will they?
The answer is, they do! Some bloggers only accept guest posts from people who are graduates of a certain online course, but the majority of them allow just about anyone to write for them. It’s all in your approach as well as your content.
Here are some quick ways to improve your guest post pitching:
Have your email subject line stand out – When a pirate is in the middle of a crowd, he’s definitely going to stand out. If you’re trying to pitch a guest post for an A-list blogger, chances are they’re getting flooded with emails from other bloggers like yourself. Do yourself a favor by using unique headlines.
“This is the best thing ever!” is generic, spam-like and over-the-top. Subjects like “Guest post proposal” is common.
For this guest post, I emailed Oni with the subject line “I was about to quit, but I saw the light.”
For another guest post on a different blog, I emailed the owner with a subject like this “This part is killing me (Guest Post Proposal)”.
There are lots of ways to write your email subject line, and reception is never always guaranteed regardless of what headline you use. Keep on using different methods and test out which ones work for you.
Jump right into the action – Avoid taking up a whole paragraph kissing up to the blogger and telling him/her how long you’ve been an avid fan. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Here’s my formula:
Problem > Twist the Knife > Intent > Content of Proposed Guest Post > Who you are (with examples/links of past work) > Reason why it’s benefiial> Close
The first two would take up the first paragraph. The intent and content take up the second paragraph. Third paragraph talks about who you are (keep it short) and some samples of old work. Then the next paragraph includes why the guest post is beneficial to the readers. Then you close your email by thanking him/her for taking time to read your email.
This formula often works for me, but it might not work for you. The most important thing is to test out different methods.
So make sure you step up your game, and try to write the best guest post you can muster up.
Skill learned: Invasion +1 Adaptability +1
5. Dress to Kill
Let’s be honest. Pirates look cool – not the crew members, but the Captains of famous pirate ships.They stand out. You’ll know immediately that they hold a position of power and authority.
No we’re not going to dress up as pirates (unless you want to, of course).
I’m talking about killer blog design.
If you have the money to spend for a great blog design, then go for it.
James Chartrand talked about the split-second test, where you take a look at random sites that come up in Google, and take a split-second to look at their website. No reading, no browsing, just looking at the site for a split-second, and see if it grabs your attention enough for you to stay a little longer.
Then go do it on your own blog. Does your website pass the split-second test?
Why is this important? Because you only have a split second to make first-time visitors to like your site and decide to continue reading your content. If your blog fails this test, your visitors won’t even have the chance to read your master-class content. So you would have been writing for nothing.
Whether you decide to get killer WordPress frameworks and themes like Genesis, Thesis, Woothemes or other premium themes, try to add a personal flavor to it, and try to get your blog to pass the split-second test.
Here are some tips for your blog to pass the split second test:
- Have a banner/header that immediately grabs the attention of your visitors, and example for this is the blog you’re reading this on. Oni’s blog flaunts a header that instantly tells you what his site is about, and makes you want to learn more about what he does.
- Remove unnecessary ads. We’ve all heard before that if you’re running Adsense ads on your blog, it’s a good practice to stick it above the fold for maximum clickability. The problem here is that if you have too many ads on your site, it will look less professional. Plus, ads throw your visitors to external sites. You don’t want to earn pennies with ads and miss out on a loyal subscriber, do you?
- Increase the font size on your website. Your visitors won’t have to read your content to notice that the text on your site is too small to read. Make reading a pleasure for your visitors so that they’ll actually want to stay.
Skill learned: Class + 1
6. Chart your course ahead of time
Pirates don’t just sail along the ocean waiting for unlucky passers-by and pounce on them like hungry wolves. No.
As a blogger, you need to chart your course. This means writing several posts ahead of time, and keeping them as drafts. This might be draining to beginner bloggers, but here are a couple benefits to preparing ahead:
- Having a well-written, proofread post ahead of time assures a consistent flow of quality content on your blog
- Being able to publish a post when you’re suddenly feeling a little under the weather, or when you’re busy with something else
- Having enough time to proofread your draft for possible grammar and formatting mistakes
- Being able to take advantage of the spark of genius that occurs every few mornings by using the motivation and sudden inspiration to get more ideas in creating content
Charting your course isn’t only about planning ahead, but it’s also about research, research and more research.
When Master-class pirates sail the seven seas, they know precisely what they’re getting into, and know how to approach every operation.
Do you know why Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has gotten so much hype in a short span of time? He did massive research on whatever he is blogging about even before he had the blog. He had the data ready before he had to write the content for his blog posts.
Ramit Sethi of Iwillteachyoutoberich.com has spent years upon years of doing massive research on human behavior, job interview strategies, earning money on the side and a lot more. And the thing is, his research shows on his posts and classes.
Here are a couple of things to plan for your blog:
- Who is your target audience? And do they know about you and your work? If so, do they like what you’re producing?
- What type of topics on your niche are good to write about, good enough for people to actually read your work and convert
- Are your conversion strategies working for you? Multiple opt-ins might be a good idea, but if you’re not seeing any difference after doing it, then it might not work for you or your niche
- Do you have sufficient data to backup any shocking claims that you make on my blog posts?
There are many other questions to ask yourself and to use the power of research with. Don’t leave out the important data for your blog posts. Quality is much better than quantity.
7. Be the biggest and baddest Pirate the world has ever seen
How do the Pirates gain notoriety?
They plunder and pillage again and again. And they don’t stop. No matter if they are being hunted down every single day of their lives, they still stand proud and continue to do what they do best.
How can you do this with your blog? How can you become one of the most notorious bloggers in the world? What you do is you rinse and repeat all six of the previous Master-Class Pirate secrets.
You see, when you’re marketing your blog, it doesn’t happen in one go. You’ve got to be consistent at always delivering quality content, geared toward your target audience.
- So forget about ad placement for now.
- Stop worrying about SEO. It’s also important, but there’s lots of time for that later.
Keep writing awesome content, and continue invading other Master-Class blogs with guest posts, and stay true to your brand.
Oh, and with all those Pirate skills that you’ve learned, you’ve finally opened up the Skill tree toward learning the final skill.
Skill available for learning: Master-Class blogging
So what do you think?
Are you ready to be on your way to build a Master-Class blog? Do you have other tips in mind that we can add to the list above? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.
Josh Sarz is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and the founder of Sagoyism, which talks about The Journey with Content Marketing, Storytelling and World Domination . He also likes punk rock and metal, among other things.