The blue pill tips

Make your blog fast and snappy with a lightweight theme

After choosing a blogging platform, your next task is to look for a theme to represent your brand. This is actually the part where blogging can get really fun. If you went with a site builder like Squarespace or Wix, you’ll have hundreds of professional-looking themes to choose from. But if you’re like most bloggers and went with WordPress, you’re looking at thousands of themes across multiple marketplaces. Exciting, isn’t it? In just a few clicks, you now have a visually aesthetic and functional blog up and running. There are only a few guidelines you ought to remember when choosing a theme for your blog:

  • Go Lean — The less visual elements there are on a page, the faster the blog will load. Since user experience should be your top priority, pick a theme that only has the barebones of what you need.
  • Avoid Outdated Themes — A theme that’s recently updated is far less likely to have issues with the current version of your blogging platform. It’s also a good indication that the developers are still active — ready to patch errors or provide assistance whenever necessary.
  • Look at Ratings and Reviews — If you plan to use a free theme, it’s ideal to test and evaluate it yourself. But if you are looking to buy a premium theme, always check the ratings and reviews of other users.

Have a to-do list

As I begin my work duties each day, there’s one app that I always launch first. No — I’m not talking about my word processing app or internet browser. Before I write a single word, I always make sure to use Trello to plan my day ahead. It’s a list-making tool that lets you turn your daily tasks into trackable cards, which can be organized into lists. I use Trello every day to break down large tasks into smaller chunks, prioritize them, and set deadlines. I can also add attachments, create mini checklists, and add labels for easier task management. Despite all these features, Trello is completely free to use. Regardless, you’re free to use other alternatives like the built-in “Reminders” app for Mac and “Sticky Notes” for Windows.

Choose the right blogging platform or CMS

When you decided to be a blogger, you should understand that every decision you take moving forward is crucial. This includes choosing the blogging platform or Content Management System you want to work with. That’s a decision you should never, ever rush. Once your blog goes live on one platform, it’ll be extremely tricky and inconvenient to switch. To help you make the right choice from the get-go, allow me to present the top platforms in the market:

  • WordPress.org
  • WordPress.com
  • Wix
  • Squarespace For a detailed comparison of these platforms, check out my post on the best blogging platforms. Just for the record, I use WordPress myself due to its versatility, scalability, and the price tag of free. It’s not exactly the most user-friendly CMS around, but the learning curve isn’t too steep, either. Plus, the internet is teeming with free learning resources that can help WordPress newbies learn the ropes.

Know where to place keywords

Curating a list of keywords for your content idea is just a small piece of the puzzle. When you’re actually writing your draft, you must also know where to insert your keywords. The general rule for all keywords is to mention them at least once in the article. As for the placements, here are the things you should remember:

  • Insert your focus keyword in the introduction — A post’s introduction helps both search engines and human users determine what it’s about. When writing one, it only makes sense to mention your focus keyword — preferably near the beginning.
  • Add keywords to subheadings — Subheadings improve your content’s scannability and are prime spots for your target keywords. I’ll tell you more about subheadings in a while.
  • If possible, add your focus keyword to your post’s title — Inserting keywords in the post’s title has been the norm for a long time, but it mustn’t be forced. A simple trick to slide your keyword into your post’s title is to use dashes. There are other important places to put your keywords if you want to optimize your site for SEO. They are each post’s meta description and internal link anchor texts. We will cover both steps in the “Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines” section later.

Look at content ideas that worked for your competitors

We all know that doing content research for your blog is time-consuming. Even if you spend hours generating topic ideas, there’s no guarantee that your content will get the attention it deserves. Borrowing your competitor’s top content ideas is a reliable way to eliminate the risks involved in content research. It basically lets you benefit from the content research your competitor already did. Furthermore, it will give you more time to create something more updated and polished. To do content research, use a tool that can identify your competitor’s top content in terms of links and traffic. SEMrush, for example, can pinpoint your competitor’s posts that are responsible for the most traffic. Once you find your competitor’s best posts, the next step is to create pieces that are better in every way. To achieve this goal, the following four tips should help greatly.

Regularly find and replace outdated information

If your competitor’s top content is over a year old, chances are it contains outdated information that you can update. This alone gives you a chance to make an article that’s objectively more valuable. However, you shouldn’t only do this when borrowing content ideas from competitors. If you want your content to have evergreen value, do it regularly with your own posts. Scan your content library for information that may be outdated and no longer accurate. As for me, I’m constantly on the lookout for articles that need to be revamped.

Offer actionable and well-explained steps

As per my experience, a competitor’s post can always be upgraded by adding more step-by-step information. In most niches, the majority of blog posts contain general guidelines and tips that lack actionable steps. This is more prominent with run-of-the-mill listicles that plenty of bloggers publish often. By providing more fleshed-out, easy-to-follow instructions, your content will be substantially more valuable than your competitor’s. It doesn’t even matter if the original idea was theirs. If you’re wondering how I apply this tactic, I use a screenshot tool called Snagit to visually present instructions. It’s an easy-to-use tool that lets you add annotations, shapes, callouts, and arrows to your screenshots with a few clicks.

Use memes and GIFs

If you’re active on social media, there’s no way you’re not familiar with memes and GIFs. These are bite-sized, humorous images and animations that spread like wildfire. Memes and GIFs are so effective in capturing attention that brands have started utilizing them for marketing. Even I use it from time to time — specifically when I want to give new members of the Master Blogging Community a warm welcome. What makes memes and GIFs so popular is how they’re often used to convey relatable scenarios. They’re also quite easy to make, and you have free tools like Imgflip to thank for that. Don’t feel like creating an original meme? Feel free to share the ones that other people made. All it needs is an original caption from you and it’s ready to be shared with your social media followers. Just don’t overuse memes as they can distract your audience from digesting your core message. Also, be careful and avoid sharing anything that may come off as offensive to certain groups of people.

Create a private group for your audience

To succeed as a blogger, you should know the difference between building traffic and building an audience. The difference is simple, but it definitely changes everything. You see, traffic comes and goes. Your audience, on the other hand, will come, respond, and come back to see more of your content. To build an audience, a dependable strategy is to provide members a sense of exclusivity. Offering gated content, which I already discussed earlier, is one way to accomplish this. An easier approach, however, is to create a private Facebook group. If you’re new around here, you should know that I also manage a private group called the Master Blogging Community. It has the tagline “Blogging Tips and Strategies for Massive Profits,” but there’s more to the group than that. As a sneak peek, I’ve been arranging meetups with members — something that not all Facebook group owners do. Members can also access units and the “Mentorship” feature, which allows them to connect with and learn from marketing professionals. Would you like me to tell you everything about the Master Blogging Community? If you’d like to know more, don’t hesitate to join the group. Did you see what I did there? 😉

Make sharing easier for your readers

If you want to reach more social media users faster, don’t just rely on your own reach. Ask your audience to help spread the word with a CTA and by integrating social sharing buttons into your blog. The most straightforward to do this is to ask your readers to share your post when writing conclusions. Just make sure that it isn’t a hassle by integrating social media sharing buttons in the right places. Sumo Share is a popular social sharing plugin for a reason. It lets you add a responsive floating bar with social sharing buttons to any site — without any coding experience. As of writing this post, Sumo offers streamlined installation for sites built with WordPress, Shopify, Weebly, Tumblr, Blogger, and Squarespace. Alternatively, you can manually integrate the plugin by copying a bit of code and pasting it in your HTML. What’s great about Sumo Share is that it can be used on your website free of charge. If you’re interested in a premium alternative, I recommend the tool Social Snap, which has way more features. Other than sharing buttons, I use it to create tweetable quotes and “pin it” buttons, which I’ll discuss shortly.