Written by Si Quan Ong –
Started a blog but can’t get any readers? Let’s fix that.
I started blogging in 2015. From a blog about breakdancing to being a professional content marketer, I’ve learned a lot along the way.
In this post, I’ll share the 20 blogging tips I wish I had known when I started.
Let’s get to it.
Don’t mess around on the blogosphere on things you don’t care about. You won’t stick with it.
Plus, your content will likely also be the same as everyone else’s, which makes competing hard. So choose something you love.
If the top-ranking articles consistently grind your gears because they’re wrong or give bad advice, this is a sign of a good niche. Make it your task to set the record straight.
Ideally, the niche should be profitable. By that, I mean that there are actual people paying for products and services.
Google your niche (or relevant keywords) and see if the ranking sites are monetizing. It can be from ads, affiliate marketing, products (courses, e-commerce, books, etc.), software, and services (consulting, actual execution, speaking, etc.). If they are monetizing, it probably means there is a market.
For example, if your niche is teaching Korean, you’ll find sites on Google selling books, courses, apps, tutoring, and educational subscriptions.
Imagine spending all your time and effort creating tons of useful content, yet no one can ever find it. Does it feel like it already hurts somewhere? I feel you.
But it can happen. It can be as simple as a rogue noindex tag on your website, and you won’t even show up in search engines.
Technical issues can wreak havoc on your site. So make sure you fix them.
The simplest way to do this is to sign up for our free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) and run a crawl of your site. If there are any technical issues, the tool will flag them out for you.
It’ll also explain why something is an issue and how you can fix it:
If you want consistent, passive traffic coming to your site, the best way is to rank high on Google. To do that, you’ll need to target topics people are searching for.
Here’s how to find these topics:
- Enter one or a few relevant keywords into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
- Go to the Matching terms report
- Switch the tab to Questions
Ideally, you’d want to tackle topics that are:
- High in Traffic Potential (TP) – TP is the estimated amount of search traffic you can potentially gain if you rank #1 for that topic. We calculate it by estimating the amount of search traffic the #1 page currently gets.
- Low in Keyword Difficulty (KD) – KD is how difficult it is to rank for the keyword in the top 10 organic search results.
You can narrow down the list by using the filters. For example, you can set a KD filter to a maximum of 10 and a TP filter to a minimum of 500.
Then pick out those keywords that are relevant to your site.
Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs
Imagine if you had a crystal ball that could see exactly which of your competitors’ articles got the most traffic. You’d be able to tackle the same topics and (hopefully) replicate their success.
Well, you can.
Here’s how to do it:
- Enter your competitor’s domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
- Go to the Top pages report
This report shows you which articles send your competitor the most organic search traffic.
For example, we can see that Beardbrand’s article on beard styles gets an estimated 35,373 organic visits per month in the U.S. And out of the 4,349 keywords it ranks for, “beard styles” sends it the most traffic.
If you’re competing with Beardbrand, this is a great way to find topics to write about.
Some of these keywords will be difficult to rank for. But if they’re important to you, you should target them anyway. It just may not be now. Keep them in mind and target them when your site has grown.
Links are an important Google ranking factor. Generally speaking, the more high-quality links you have, the higher your page will rank.
Let’s extrapolate from that idea. If a page doesn’t have many backlinks but still ranks high on Google, it means it’s a low-competition topic. And we can find these topics using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer:
- Enter a relevant keyword
- Set a Referring domains filter to max. 10
- Set a Page traffic filter to min. 500
Click Details and then the Organic keywords tab to see which keywords those pages are ranking for.
These are potential keywords you can target.
Google aims to provide its users with the most relevant results for their queries. So if you want to rank high on Google, you need to be the most relevant result.
In the real world, that means creating content that matches search intent.
What is search intent? Search intent is basically the why behind a query. And since Google works to show the most relevant results, we can look at the top-ranking pages to figure out the three Cs of search intent:
- Content type – Is there a dominant type of content on the SERP, such as blog posts, product pages, videos, or landing pages?
- Content format – Is there a dominant content format on the SERP, such as guides, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, or reviews?
- Content angle – Is there a dominant angle on the SERP, such as freshly updated content or content aimed at beginners?
For example, let’s analyze the three Cs for the topic, “best wireless headphones.”
- Content type – They’re all blog posts.
- Content format – They’re mostly listicles.
- Content angle – They’re mostly fresh, i.e., updated to the latest year.
So if you’re targeting this keyword, you’ll likely have to create something similar—a listicle updated to the latest year.
Recommended reading: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners
In theory, every reader will share your content with at least one or two friends, thereby creating a “viral sensation.”
In reality, virality rarely works this way. Instead, most “viral” content is kickstarted by amplifiers: Individuals who have the ability to get many people to see and share.
Typically, these amplifiers are people who have a large audience. Examples of amplifiers include journalists, influencers, YouTubers, podcasters, and more.
To create content that amplifiers want to share, it has to be unique—unique data, perspectives, tips, etc.
A story from our chief marketing officer, Tim Soulo, perfectly illustrates this. Years ago, he reached out to marketing influencer Rand Fishkin about his epic 5,000-word guide to strategic writing. Rand said no to sharing it.
The difference: Our content is unique.
How do you create unique content? Here are some ideas:
- Do you have personal experience with something? Write about it. If you don’t, can you experience or test it somehow?
- Do you have access to data, or can you work with someone who has? Analyze the data and present your findings.
- Can you interview experts? It’s OK if you don’t have the prerequisite knowledge—you can always talk to thought leaders in your field.
Forget your schooling days. Blogging on the web is not like writing an academic paper. Nothing sends people off to dreamland faster than having to read an abstract, an introduction, a methodology, results, and a conclusion.
You don’t have to be stiff and formal. Good web copy is casual. Write as if you’re talking to a friend.
Don’t be afraid to disappoint your English teacher, for even grammar rules can sometimes be bent—just like how it is in real life.
Let’s be real. No one is clamoring to read your article. They’d rather be on Netflix.
Therefore, it’s your job as a blogger to get them to start reading. As famous copywriter Bond Halbert said, “Good writing creates effortless reading.”
Here’s how you can transform your user’s reading experience:
- Use short paragraphs – Huge chunks of text daunt readers, but short ones invite them in. Use Hemingway to fix this.
- Break up long sentences – Long sentences are hard to follow. Break them up by finding instances where you used words like “and,” “because,” and “that.”
- Insert multimedia – Videos, images, GIFs, etc., can help illustrate your points without adding more words.
- Use formatting – Bold, italics, quotes, and lists break up chunks of copy and add extra emphasis.
- Read your copy out loud – This pinpoints areas where your content doesn’t flow smoothly.
On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.
People will decide whether to read your content based on your headline. This makes the headline the most crucial part.
Use the ABC formula to craft compelling headlines that reel readers in:
- A – Adjective
- B – Benefit
- C – Confidence booster
Here’s how it works in the real world:
Your headline has done its job. The reader has arrived at your post. Now, it’s the introduction’s time to shine—it has to hook them in and get them to actually read the post.
How do you do that? Consider using the PAS formula:
Here’s an example on how to use it:
As you’re creating your content, it’s inevitable that you’ll mention someone or link to one of their content pieces. You should reach out and let them know after you’ve published it.
Most of them will be delighted to hear they’ve been featured. They may even share it on social media or link to it.
Regardless of whether they do, what’s more important is that you start building a relationship with them. This is how you create a network of like-minded friends in the industry.
To do this, just go through your blog post and make a note whenever you link elsewhere. Then, find their emails (or their social media accounts) and reach out to let them know.
If you’re building your following on third-party platforms like Twitter or YouTube, don’t be surprised if they suddenly ban you, delete your account, or limit your reach.
They have their own policies, and control is out of your hands.
The best way to combat this is to build an email list. For as long as your fans are subscribed to you, you can communicate with them anytime.
Building an email list requires two ingredients: traffic and something of value.
Following the blogging tips in this post will get you the traffic. This means what you need is something of value to persuade your readers to join your list. At Ahrefs, we keep it simple by offering to deliver more of the content they loved to their inbox.
But the world’s your oyster. You can offer a free ebook, the PDF version of the post, an email course, whatever. All you need is a bit of creativity.
If you’re writing alone, it’s easy to make mistakes and miss things. So it’s worth getting a second pair of eyes on your content before you hit “publish.”
We do this all the time. We take turns to read each other’s content and offer feedback. We identify areas that can be added or removed, points that can be clarified, and sentences that can be worded better.
We’ve even reflected that in each of our blog posts.
Most blog posts follow a common structure. For example, we use this template for listicles:
It’s the exact same template we’re using for this post too. Did you spot it?
Using templates saves you time and keeps your content quality consistent. So you don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this front. Your readers won’t mind at all.
Recommended reading: 4 Simple Blog Post Templates (And When to Use Them)
In all, 4.4 million new blog posts are published every day across all platforms. So don’t expect people to “magically” find your content. You have to promote it and let them know.
You can also turn them into Twitter threads:
Or Reddit posts, Quora answers, IG stories, LinkedIn posts—you’re only limited by your creativity.
Recommended reading: 13 Content Promotion Tactics to Get More Eyeballs on Your Content
As you progress along your blogging journey, your thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and even writing style will improve. You’ll be doing your audience a disservice if you do not update your older content to reflect your newfound knowledge and ideas.
Plus, refreshing your content has an SEO benefit too. We’ve seen many times that an update or rewrite improves our rankings and gets us more search traffic.
For example, we recently updated our post on free SEO tools, and organic traffic spiked:
Once you’ve identified the posts, then it’s a matter of figuring out what you need to update. You can do this by analyzing the top-ranking pages to see what they’re doing better than you.
Sometimes, it’s because certain sections are outdated. Sometimes, it’s because you didn’t include certain subsections or cover certain subtopics. And occasionally, you got the whole thing wrong and need to do a full rewrite (fret not, we do this often too!).
Recommended reading: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO
Here are two quotes from the bestselling author, Morgan Housel:
- “Most good writing is a byproduct of good reading. You’ll never meet a good writer who doesn’t spend most of their time reading.”
- “Good ideas are easy to write, bad ideas are hard. Difficulty is a quality signal, and writer’s block usually indicates more about your ideas than your writing.”
If you’re stuck in your writing or can’t seem to create something unique, it means you’re not exposing yourself to new ideas.
Reading is a cure to that.
I recommend building a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a day. As for what books to read, you can always look toward the thought leaders in your industry and see what they’re recommending.
According to Ryan Holiday, a commonplace book is:
A central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.
As you’re reading and consuming, you need a place to store your notes so you can access and remind yourself of what you’ve already read.
Creating one is simple. For me, I store all my notes on Notion:
As I’m reading a book, I make tons of highlights. After I’m done, I transfer them to a new page in the appropriate category.
If I need something, I can easily navigate to any category or search for the things I’m looking for.
David Bayles and Ted Orland write in “Art & Fear”:
[A] ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class, he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Quantity leads to quality. The more you create, the better you become.
In fact, my biggest jump in improvement came when I committed to sending five emails a week to my breakdance blog subscribers. I eventually wrote over a hundred emails.
So if you want to become a better blogger, I recommend creating a “Do 100” project. Basically, this is a project where you do something 100 times. In this case, you should be aiming to write 100 blog posts.
This will keep you accountable and force you to “practice.”
Blogging is hard work. But the good news is that you’re not alone.
Plenty of bloggers have gone through the ups and downs. With that hard-won experience, they’ve charted the path for you.
All that’s left for you to do is to implement these blogging tips and get to work.
Any questions? Let me know on Twitter.