The 5 Key Elements of a Successful Blog

By | July 20, 2011

For far too many people on the Internet, their “blog” reads more like a diary. They give their thoughts and opinions without actually considering the value they’re creating for their readers. Sometimes, this can be valuable, of course – if you don’t care about how many people visit your blog.

But most of us do care. In fact, that’s exactly how we define a successful blog – by how many people take the time to read it every day. And if that’s the kind of success you’ve wanted to see out of your blog, then this post is for you. We’re going to examine five key elements to blogging that actually attracts visitors. If you want to write a diary, we suggest you log off and buy a notebook. It’s time to learn how real blogging is done.

Element #1: Excellent content.

No matter which way you slice it, your blog is not going to attract readers, attract links, or attract buzz if it’s rehashing content that’s seen a million times in a million other blogs. Being unique is not enough: you have to be good, as well. There’s an old phrase in the world of SEO (at least, as “old” as a phrase can be in a relatively new profession) that says “content is king.” In many cases, it is. Having good content means you have content that will market itself through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations. You may be able to get your content seen by a lot of people through some Internet trickery, but if your content is bad, your efforts will be in vain – online, all visitors have to do is click the “back” button and they’re off of your site. That’s why good content that grabs people is so important to bringing people to your blog – and have them returning on a regular basis.

Element #2: A sense of community or interaction.

Be honest: how many times have you read an interesting blog post only to discount the blog because no one ever comments on those same posts? It’s called social proof: we tend to assume that something is worth our while if other people view it as worth their while. And when you read a blog with no comments, you start to think “Hmm…why doesn’t anyone else read this stuff?” It’s not always fair, but it’s true.

That’s why strong blogs will have a solid sense of community or interaction. Even the “housekeeping” posts might attract a dozen comments. You can join in by signing up to a newsletter or a forum. You can interact with other readers through the comments. The blog writer himself will respond to comments and feedback occasionally. People like to think they have an “in” with a blog, so why not help them feel that way?

Element #3: Easy navigation.

Without easy and simple-to-use navigation, your blog isn’t going to get very far at all – and you certainly won’t be able to build that sense of community that we just talked about. Your archives should be easy to explore, your “About” page should be simple and one click away – just try to get out of your visitors’ way with all of your design ideas and view your web page as a content delivery system. Sure, you can make it look nice, but at the end of the day, simplicity is the name of the game.

Element #4: A well-defined niche.

You don’t have to be a blog about one obscure topic, but you should be able to tell people the “theme” of your blog without confusing them. And try not to make the “niche” all-encompassing. A personal finance blog with a theme of “personal finance” will get lost in the shuffle – but if the angle of your personal finance blog is building your credit, then there’s a better chance that you’ll have a unique selling point that resonates with certain people. Remember that your niche doesn’t have to define your entire blog – you can write posts that break out of the mold – but it’s important that potential readers know what they’re going to be reading.

Element #5: Honesty.

Revealing things about yourself that you often don’t even reveal to your friends can be engaging, and can really help you to expand on the first two key elements we introduced here. People often find it riveting when you share your vulnerabilities and feel tempted to reveal theirs in return – thus creating engaging content that also attracts a community-like following.

If you have a website and are more interested in starting a new blog, list it for sale at and you’ll be able to get starting money for your new venture. But if you don’t stick to these blog-building concepts, don’t ask us why you aren’t able to attract an audience!