Launching and managing a weblog these days could seem like a fool's errand, what with all the flashy, real-time, click-bait driven content that fills the tubes of the 'Net.
There is still a place, however, for more thoughtful, long-form, engaging content (and there likely always will be) but success with blogging today means concentrating one's energies on those things that ultimately matter the most - understanding users, being organized, focusing on the quality of the experience and the channels that contribute to success, testing your digital assumptions and measuring performance along the way.
Most individuals and enterprises that engage in a blogging initiative will fail, however, because they ignore these fundamental aspects of the process. If you're serious about success with blogging, consider the following before getting started.
Consumer Persona Identification
It can seem like a waste of time but remember that you're not producing content for everyone, but rather a small subset of the broader general population and as such it only makes sense to develop and distribute content to the audience segment that will find the content appealing. Take the time to develop (ideate) customer personas (the types of consumers you aim to attract with your blogging) - complete with interest targeting research (the topics those consumers are interested in) - so that when the time comes to actually sit down and develop content, you know who is going to read or consume it and their motivation for doing so.
Content Planning & Development
One of the things that most people get wrong about blogging, and the main reason they fail in my opinion, is the failure to establish a plan for developing and processing content. Having a backup stash of article or post ideas and even a few full-length articles will be useful on those days when the motivation to create something new just isn't there. Remember that there are two types of content - timeless and timely - and successful blogs will be those that plan for the development of both. In the least, schedule posts for 30, 60 and 90 days just so that you can get an idea of the potential effort required.
The trend toward minimalism in digital design is leading many bloggers to ignore a crucial element to their 'Net success - conversion. While it is sometimes a rather unpopular opinion, all design elements should ultimately guide users toward primary or secondary conversion instances - from submitting their email address through a form, to entering their credit card details in order to purchase something. The reason design is considered an art is because it's necessary to sublimely achieve this while avoiding seeming heavy handed in the process.
There's really only a handful of ways that you can get traffic to your website - email, social, advertising and search, and more than any other, it is search engines that will enable those just starting out (or those interested in growing their audience and usefulness of their blog to the business) to attract an audience initially and scale (grow) their traffic over time. Organic search optimization requires several things - content, promotion and time - so realize that a combination of effort and patience will be required (along with an understanding of user interest, planning and design quality).
Measurement & Analytics
Businesses that blog (or independent bloggers) won't know if they have failed (or how much they have succeeded) if they don't measure - or worse, they may get an inaccurate understanding of their performance. A failure to measure what customers are buying, what content is most appealing and what elements are encouraging conversion is a sure fire way to fail at blogging; if you're serious about success, measurement will prove essential.