A successful blog requires exceptional blog content.

Design – While the look of your site may be attractive and very usable, you won’t attract any readers from design alone.

You need to attract them with good content and then hope your design doesn’t scare them away.

But content is really what matters here. If the design isn’t great, but the content is insanely useful, they’ll come, and they’ll stay.

SEO – SEO techniques can help, what matters most in SEO is getting links. If you don’t get a bunch of links, all the SEO optimization in the world won’t do you a bit of good.

SEO really makes the biggest difference when the page in question has a bunch of links coming to it — SEO doesn’t change the ranking of a page with 1 inbound link.

So how do you get those quality links? Great content, and nothing else.

Social media – Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Stumbleupon.

These kinds of sites can help your traffic tremendously. And sure, it helps to have friends and be active on these sites. But all of that doesn’t matter a lick if you don’t write a knock-out post.

Monetizing – All the monetizing in the world won’t get you a dime unless you get traffic, and that traffic won’t come until you start creating a destination site, with amazing content that attracts the readers and keeps them reading.

In fact, a site with ads that aren’t optimized can make more money than a site with optimized ads if the traffic is much higher from great content.
See also How Do You Find Your Blogging Niche?

How do you write great content? It’s actually very simple in concept but takes a lot of practice to perfect.

There are four pillars of exceptional blog writing:

Pillar 1: Be extremely useful.

It all starts with the topic of the post. You need to consider your reader, and center the topic of your post on your reader — not on yourself, your ads, your blogger friends, or anyone else but the reader.

What are his needs, wants, hopes, and dreams? What problems does he have in his daily life that you can solve?

Now choose a topic that will solve one of his problems, help him achieve something he’s always wanted to achieve.

Create a resource for him: an extremely useful set of practical tips, links, tools to solve that problem.

The more practical your tips, the better. It’s not enough to say that the keys to losing weight are eating less and exercising more.

Those are both difficult things to do. Give the reader extremely useful ways of doing those things, and you’ve created a resource.

Pillar 2: Write great headlines.

Once you’ve got a useful topic, crystallize your main point in the headline.

You should write the headline first (and then come back to it to make it better later) so you know in your mind the main point of the post. It helps you keep the post focused.

The few words that make up the headline are the most important few words in your post.

Why? Because most readers will read your post in a feed reader (think Bloglines or Google Reader) or come across it on a site like Digg or another blog that links to your post.

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