6 Pillars of a Successful Blog

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While I don’t believe much in dwelling on failures and mistakes, I do believe we can learn from them.  Often other people can learn from your failures as well. By sharing these experiences we keep history from repeating itself.  Every year I like to take a look back at my blogging efforts and examine what I’d do differently if I was building my platform today. These mistakes have helped me to determine what I consider the pillars of a successful blog.


1. Purpose/Message/Mission

Knowing the purpose, message, and mission behind your blog when you start is a bit of a double edged sword. If you know what this is when you start consider yourself lucky.  But, you also have to be open to the possibility that it will change because building a platform  is a voyage of self discovery. It’s a professional journey as much as it as a spiritual one.

If you don’t know the purpose, message or mission behind your blog, don’t  worry. In many cases it reveals itself to you. If you’re a business owner you may be thinking this doesn’t apply. If that’s the case I encourage you to go back and the read what corporate blogs could learn from personal blogs.  Once you become clear on the purpose, mission and message of your content, the right people show up in droves. It’s when things go from message to a movement.

 2. Email Newsletter

In a world where people spend half their days on Facebook, it might seem odd that an email newsletter would be so important. Every single blogger or content creator I’ve ever talked to has said that biggest mistake they’ve made was not building their email list sooner.  A book marketing strategist for a New York Times best selling author told me that emails resulted in ten times more book sales than social media.  They may not see your latest status update or tweet but email gives you direct contact to your potential reader or buyer. Another thing to consider about email is that people tend to reveal quite a bit more through email correspondence because it’s private.

3. A Free E-Book/Manifesto

Besides the fact that it will help you build your email list, a free book or manifesto can have several other benefits. We’ve all had those friends who show up at our house late when we’re watching a movie and make us pause the movie to explain what’s happening. In the case of your blog you don’t have the option to pause and do this for every new reader that shows up. A free e-book gives you the option to catch the reader up on your ongoing narrative. It can also cause your ideas to spread:

4. A Product/Business Model

As you build a platform you have to think about what value you’re going to create in exchange for money. There’s no right answer to this. It’s going to be different in every case. But if all you do is produce really good content and build a blog that gets a decent amount of traffic, that doesn’t equate to revenue.

There’s nothing wrong with packaging your content and selling it. In that case one kind of value you create is convenience.  Packaging and repurposing content is how some of the world’s biggest media companies generate tons of revenue. Examples include books turned into movies,  movies released on DVD and tv shows turned into boxed sets. Maybe your model is services.  You might be an expert in a particular field, and your blog serves as a way to market your expertise.

The bottom line is this. It might seem obvious, but you have to sell something on your site to make money.

5. Site Design

In the online world people judge a book by its cover.  I’ve seen people who have really impressive bios with terrible site design. The lousy site design made me question their credibility and lose interest in their content.  Good design completely alters brand perception

  •  If you can afford to do it, hire a skilled designer. It will be one of the best possible investments you could make  in your platform.
  • If you can’t afford to hire a designer, embrace simplicity. Use a premium wordpress theme and make the site as clean as possible.

One other mistake I made in the design of my own site was designing based on what I thought would look good.  A valuable lesson I learned was that you need to design your site based on the actions  you want people to take.

6. Effective Self Promotion

If you create something and don’t tell anybody about it, it’s kind of useless. Self promotion gets  a bit of bad rap in the online world. When people hear that they go to the other extreme and don’t do any self promotion. A friend the other day told me we need to get over this idea that it’s bad to sell via social media. It’s a bit of a balancing act.

  •  If you wrote a book and think it would be of value to your followers, feel free to tweet it out once a week.
  •  Share a tip from the book, but include a link back to the book.
  • Do the same for your services or information products.

If you don’t promote your content you can’t expect anybody else to. If you don’t think it’s worth sharing why should anybody else?

If you look at any successful blog, you’ll see that all these pillars are in place. Are you missing any? What could you do today to solidify the foundation of your platform.







Srinivas Rao
Srinivas Rao is the host and cofounder of BlogcastFM where he's interviewed over 300 bloggers, authors, and entrepreneurs. Pick up his free guide on How... Read Full Bio
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  • Thomas

    I’ve also heard the advice on setting up an email newsletter from Jason Calacanis on This Week in Startups.
    I think it’s great advice and a great way of staying on peoples minds.

  • Rinkesh

    One thing that I’ve missed is building a subscriber base from the beginning itself. I realized it quite late it is essential to have a strong reader base to become an authority blog. I redesigned my site, wrote a Ebook for my users and slowly started building email subscriber list.

    • Srinivas Rao


      That’s awesome and glad to hear you’re making progress. The other thing I’d add is to make communicating with that list a priority. The list can go cold if you’re not communication with people on it. Also, I’d say eventually you want to eliminate the term “list” and figure out a name for the tribe or community that you lead,

  • Brittanie

    The only problem that I’ve seen with newsletters is that you really need to make sure that the info you are presenting is interesting for the customer. It is so easy for them to just immediately delete the email so you ned to make sure it’s something they actually want to read.

    • Srinivas Rao

      Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned in the comment above, you have to deliver value in some form. It could be entertainment. Just because you’re selling it doesnt’ mean you have to be boring,

  • paola elizaga

    Great post thanks a lot!!! I will implement each and every one of these tips.

    Which plugin do you recommend for Newsletter building in WordPress?

  • Derek Fischer

    E-mail newsletters are an aspect of online marketing that many bloggers seem to miss more than any other. Once you have done the hard work of building the list of e-mail subscribers it is just a waste of effort unless you do something to leverage that list. It is still the best way to market yourself to an already targeted audience of people who have shown that they are interested in you and your product.