Do you remember the last truly awesome party you attended?
Of course you do. Legendary parties stick in your memory forever.
The people. The music. The atmosphere. The conversations. The hijinks.
Identifying the exact ingredients that come together to create the perfect party is difficult, but you know when you’re at one.
The same is true with popular blogs.
On the surface they look a lot like all the other blogs on the block, but something special sets them apart from the rest.
Some magic combination that makes one blog the place everyone wants to be, while the others fade into the background.
You may even think these blogs have some hidden advantage that gives them an edge over everyone else.
Well, you’re right.
Popular bloggers know that you can’t leave anything to chance.
Just like the host of a great party, you’ve got to be crafty to make sure your blog is where everyone in your niche wants to be.
Fortunately for you, with the right game plan you can learn how to start a blog and be a popular blogger (or an awesome party host). You just need a little effort and planning.
9 Lessons Smart Bloggers Can Learn from Crafty Party Hosts
1. They don’t invite just anyone
I wouldn’t invite my grandma to a bachelor party.
It’s not that I don’t love her; she just wouldn’t find it interesting.
Ok, she’d probably be horrified.
But if I try and throw a party that pleases everyone, I’ll end up pleasing no one.
The same is true for blogs.
Popular bloggers know they can’t do everything for everyone. Content one audience finds invaluable is likely to be totally irrelevant for another – or even worse, it will turn them away.
That’s why popular bloggers concentrate on delivering content to a specific niche.
Now, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same sort of people (that would be kind of boring).
Just like at a great party, bringing together people from different worlds is part of what makes popular blogs so appealing.
The audience should, however, share something in common – a dream, a desire, a mission – that can help build a sense of shared purpose between blogger and reader.
Let’s take Jon, for example…
Lots of people have blogs, so visitors to Smart Blogger could be marketers, artists, cooks, history buffs, or numerous other things.
But whatever their topic, they all share the desire to build an audience.
Jon is guided, as are his readers, by a sincere desire to satisfy this shared need.
It’s the building block of his community.
And people love him for it.
So before you write your next blog post, take some time to figure out who you are writing for and what your shared purpose with them will be.
And be prepared to shut the door on anyone else.
2. They secretly stalk their guests before the party
The perfect party host seems to magically know what people want even before the party starts. But of course it’s not magic.
The secret – they do their homework.
Before even starting to plan the party, they hang around popular places their guests gather, making note of every little detail on what makes the group tick.
They might even sneak into other parties to see what’s working well and not so well (Vodka luge – good. Lederhosen – bad).
The bottom line is that a good party host has to give guests what they want – kids want games, wedding guests want to dance and eat, bachelor party guests want… well, you get the point.
So what do the people reading popular blogs want?
Ultimately a successful blog is really a problem-solving service.
Although on the surface this might sound simple, defining the problems you want to solve can be difficult. It’s incredibly easy to get dragged in too many directions.
And even if you have a good grasp of the problems you want to solve, your audience might not think of these challenges in the same way you do.
That’s why smart bloggers communicate in terms that their audience understands.
This means immersing yourself in the world of your readers and becoming part of the community instead of just a bystander.
Use the following tips to do it:
- Obsessively read blogs that serve similar audiences to yours. Use Alltop.com to map out some of the most successful blogs in your niche, subscribe to them, and read every new post. Pay attention to the kinds of things that get readers excited and then try adding some of that special sauce to your own posts.
- Use Google Keyword Planner to discover frequently used search terms. Knowing which words people are using when searching for answers to their problems can give you some great insights into what challenges your readers need help with – and how they talk about them.
- Hang out in places where your audience is likely to be. Visit forums, online conferences, the comment sections of other blogs, etc. Take detailed notes on the kinds of problems people struggle with and you’ll end up with a near endless supply of post ideas.
3. They’re not afraid of shameless promotion
Imagine if you did everything you needed to do to plan an awesome party – decorations, food, games, etc. – but then never sent out any invitations.
All that time and effort wasted when almost no one shows up to appreciate it.
Well, that’s what most people do with their blogs.
They just post their content and expect people to magically show up.
Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t work that way.
The Internet is way too saturated with content for people to just stumble upon your post on their own – no matter how much of a gem it might be.
Popular bloggers are experts at promotion because they know that, without it, no one will ever read their stuff.
They also spend a lot of their time building connections and doing useful things for others because, at the end of the day, this is what builds the kind of authority that gets you noticed.
Get yourself heard with the following tips:
- Write guest posts for popular blogs – Go find a successful blogger with a similar audience to yours, build up a relationship with him or her, and then offer to write a guest blog post that addresses a specific problem their audience faces. This strategy works so well because it’s mutually beneficial: the popular blogger gets content their audience loves, and you receive instant authority through association.
- Ask influencers for links and shares – One of the other great things about guest blogging is that once you’ve built a relationship with other bloggers in your niche, you can ask them to share your stuff. Of course, don’t abuse this practice. Remember that the content has to be something their readers will love – and even then, you should err on the cautious side. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you do more for others than you ask them to do for you.
- Promote your blog via social media – As you start building a following, make sure to tell them when you’ve got something new. Whether through email, social media, or some other channel, focus on explaining what’s in it for the readers. It also helps to write killer headlines that grab the reader’s attention to make clicking that link irresistible.
4. They’re not above bribing people to show up
Even if you do all the right things to plan the perfect party and get all the invitations out, it never hurts to throw a little added incentive into the mix.
A crafty party host might promise free beer, a guaranteed seat in the hot tub, or simply an introduction to that girl (or boy) you’ve had your eye on. The most exclusive parties even have goodie bags with gifts worth hundreds of dollars.
Similarly, most popular bloggers out there offer a giveaway to entice readers to come check out their site – and to subscribe.
This kind of giveaway can take many forms – guides, videos, courses, manifestos, etc. – but the best ones are practical tools that the reader can apply instantly.
These freebies usually take one of two forms. Either they help solve a specific problem (such as Jon’s Headline Hacks guide for writing killer headlines) or they give the reader a proven strategy for success (such as my 5 Step Guide for Building a Customer Community).
5. They get their guests hooked on highly-addictive substances
Getting people to show up at a party is one thing.
But once those guests walk through the door, what’s stopping them from turning right back around and heading to the possibly cooler party down the street?
The crafty party host knows exactly what’s required to stop guests from straying.
Maybe it’s a hot new DJ whose killer beats keep dragging them back to the dance floor.
Or it could be a dedicated games room where the console junkies can get their fix.
Or maybe it’s even a little something special in the hot, fresh brownies coming out of the kitchen.
Whatever it is, the host must offer something that makes staying at that party irresistible.
And that’s the same way you want people to feel about your blog.
When you read a post from a popular blogger, you hang on every word because they take the time to get it right.
Instead of posting every random thought that comes in their head, they spend hours (sometimes much longer) coming up with the perfect idea and seducing you with perfectly crafted prose.
Their openings slap you in the face and each subsequent sentence deftly moves you through the piece like an enchanting spell.
And when you reach the end, you’re left craving more.
Use the following tips to do the same:
- If you aren’t a great writer yet, practice. There’s no other way to get better. Readers want substance, and they want it delivered in epic proportions through beautiful writing.
- Find out what your audience is already addicted to. Study the paths and actions people take (or don’t take) when they visit your site using a tool like Google Analytics. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
- Learn to seduce your readers, slowly. Instead of being a know-it-all jerk or a pushy salesman, realize that building a successful blog will be a product of building great relationships – because, as in real life, genuinely rewarding relationships are addictive.
6. They know when to shut up and let others speak
A party host who does nothing but talk about him or herself is annoying, no matter how smart they are.
Talking at people (instead of with them) is a great way to get people looking for the nearest exit.
That’s why popular bloggers see their blog not as a bullhorn for their own thoughts but as a platform for building a community conversation.
When readers share their voice and feel you are listening to what they have to say, they are more likely to become engaged members of your community.
Try the following approaches to get your community talking:
- Craft emotionally compelling content. The kind that drives an audience to leave comments. Encourage people to share their own ideas, stories, and approaches.
- Invite people to write guest posts on your blog. Find people who will add a unique perspective and who have an audience that you want to connect with – as they are likely to widely share anything they create.
- Send out reader surveys. Use a service like SurveyMonkey to tap your audience for feedback, such as ideas on which problems you should tackle next. Write a follow-up post that shares some of the best ideas.
7. They talk to all the guests (even the uncool ones)
A good party host knows how to work the room and make each person feel like the guest of honor.
After all, nobody likes to feel as though the person who invited them is spending all their time with other people (even though it’s true).
That’s why – even with their crazy busy schedules – popular bloggers are great about always making time to interact with people, answering questions and replying in kind to thoughtful observations.
This adds a human touch that people remember.
To efficiently and meaningfully interact with your audience, remember:
- Even with all the social media platforms out there, sometimes email is still the best. But popular bloggers use email to do more than just send newsletters. They use it as a two-way channel of conversation, helping them build intimacy with their readers.
- Used properly, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ are great tools for showing people you care. Remember, the reason most people participate in the social media world is because they want to be heard. It’s an easy thing to give them, just by taking the time to respond.
Don’t take for granted the fact that a reader comments on your post. There’s no reason you shouldn’t leave at least a short response to every comment made on your blog.
8. They aren’t afraid to jump in the pool
Nobody likes a boring party host.
You know who I’m talking about. The sort of person who’s desperate to make sure everyone else is having fun, but doesn’t seem to be having any fun themselves.
Whether it’s a party or a blog, people take their lead from the host and if they’re not having a good time, it’s difficult for everyone else to relax and let go.
And on a blog, readers want to feel a connection with the blogger.
They want to be moved.
They want to laugh.
They want to cry.
But, more than anything, they want to have fun.
Jon once said that being a popular blogger is less like being a teacher and more like being a street performer.
Almost every popular blogger I’ve ever seen has one thing in common: charisma.
Life is too short to take yourself too seriously.
Admit to your flaws and don’t be afraid to laugh at your own dumb mistakes.
Share amusing stories from your own life once in a while so people can see the human being behind the blog.
Take opportunities to show your playful side, whether that’s through what you share on social media, how you respond to comments on your blog or even how you describe yourself on your About page.
If you’re not afraid to jump in the pool, chances are people will jump in with you.
9. They’re already planning the next party
It’s a great accomplishment to throw an epic, unforgettable party.
But if you really want to become the undisputed party king or queen, you need to be thinking about the next party – even before this one is over.
Thinking how you can make sure that it’s an even bigger success than the one before.
What you’ll do to get even more people to show up.
Who you’re going to ask to help spread the word even further.
Luckily, once you start to get a reputation, it gets easier. You might even get people banging on your door, asking when the next party is.
Similarly for bloggers, there’s always a new post to write and fresh traffic to find.
And a great place to start is those readers who showed up before.
Use the following tips to get people back to your blog time and time again:
- Let people know you’ve got something new. People are busy, and they aren’t likely to come back to a blog – even a popular one – if they expect to find the same thing that was there last time. In my experience, email is better than RSS. It’s more personal and requires less action on the part of the audience once they’ve subscribed.
- Post regularly, but not every day. Like the cool bar that has a new cocktail to try every Friday, when you post on a regular schedule, you’re programming people to expect something new from you and seek it out. And since you’re not posting every day, spend the extra time transforming your posts into epic pieces of art nobody will forget. Quality over quantity.
- End your posts with a cliffhanger. Leaving your readers hanging makes them hungry to read the next post. Remember that it’s human nature to want to solve a mystery!
The world needs more great parties
Becoming a popular blogger isn’t easy. Like throwing a killer party, it takes intense research, impeccable execution, and an unwavering ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Because it’s so difficult, many of the blogs out there are mediocre at best.
In fact, most of you are going to keep doing the same old stuff, and getting the same tired results.
But I know that a few of you will now go out and do something amazing.
And let’s face it, the world could use a few more brilliant people making great things happen.
Isn’t that why you started a blog in the first place?
Not for personal glory…
But to connect with an audience.
To help people solve problems and empower them to throw their own amazing parties.
And maybe along the way to make the world a better place.
Well, it’s time.
Time for you to get out there and throw the biggest, craziest, most awesome party this world has ever seen.
I’ll be looking for my invitation.