7 Secrets of Running a Wildly Popular Blog

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Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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screaming fansDean Rieck, posted an article on CopyBlogger yesterday titled 7 Secrets of Running a Wildly Popular Blog.  I think it’s brilliant and worth discussing here.

In the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog project we discussed ways to build blog traffic like commenting on other blogs, participating in forums, making sure your content is easy to share, posting regularly, and writing good content.  All those things are helpful, but Dean makes a good case that it’s something entirely different that makes some blogs “wildly popular.”

What to know what it is?


Dean writes:

Success isn’t necessarily about competence. It’s often about likeability. People like to spend time with people they like. The same applies to blogs. Success often depends on likeability. How you come across. Your vibe. Your attitude and personality.

Think about it.  Who do you like to hang out with offline?

It’s not necessarily the smartest or most knowledgeable people, especially if they’re boring, long-winded, critical, negative, self-centered, or arrogant.

If you’re like me, you like to hang out with people who are positive, engaging, good listeners, and helpful.  You probably like people who are serious when they need to be, but have a good sense of humor, can break tension with a joke, and can laugh particularly at themselves.

Now some people are more naturally engaging and likeable, but when it comes to blogging Dean has 7 tips for making your blog more popular.  Things like…

1) Have a conversation. Don’t write like you’re delivering a sermon. Write like you’re chatting with a friend. Keep it easy and informal.

2) Lighten up. You don’t have to tell jokes, but it’s smart to keep things light-hearted.

7) Stop trying so hard. If you’re desperate for success, that desperation will show. It’s like dating: there’s a fine line between wooing someone and stalking them.

Read the full article for the other tips.

I’m not suggesting anyone change their personality (in fact #3 is “be yourself”) or try to become the Justin Bieber of the blogosphere, but your attitude is just as important as your message.  If you want your blog to have any impact, people have to want to engage with you.

For me, yeah, need to lighten up and be a little less serious.  How about you?

How important do you think likability is in blogging?  How likable do you think you are on your blog?  Do you do anything (or are you going to do anything) to be a little more likable, fun, and engaging?

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


    • likability is very important; it will be the reason why people will stay longer, come back, engage and share with others. I try very hard to get this right even for the technical nature in my blog – but I think I try too hard.
      While likability is very important – trying to be too likable can lead to the reversal – desperation, people can smell desperation – and when they do they bounce out.

    • I agree with Phillip on the likeability issue.

      On top of that though I do think that for whatever reason some folks just are never going to be the first picked for a sports team or whatever and that is very likely the same for blogs. Why do some get read and responded too and others don't – I have no idea and I'm sure some of what Dean says is true but equally I think it doesn't matter what or how some folks come over, they just won't get noticed.

      As for me, I'm trying to be more conversational in my blogging style but first I need to get to grips with regular writing first 🙂

      • An additional thought to which I have no answer – Brandon Cox asked on Twitter last night if folks had noticed a drop off in responses to questions they asked.

        I had to giggle initially as 99.9 times out of 100 I don't get a reply to any question whether I ask something serious, fun, whatever … anyway, Brandon said his twitter responses had dropped from an average of 12 to 3 andhe has 15k followers.

        This is likely the same for a blog – for whatever reasons some of the fun, some of the glamour goes out of the blog and consequently you drop readers / responses….!

        • I don't have a definitive answer but here are a few things that could contribute to lower response rates:

          – It's summer and a lot of people are on vacation.
          – The newness of Twitter is starting to wear off and some people are getting bored and leaving.
          – There are more social media experts than ever and hard-core twitter users are following more people than ever. They are tweeting just as much as ever, but dividing their RTs and responses so each expert is getting fewer responses.
          – People get tired of the same old stuff, responses will decline unless you continue to innovate.

      • Hey Stuart, I think there's something to your comment. For a person to be likable they either have to be naturally likable or they have to be intentionally likable by being self-aware, understanding how to connect with people, and doing those things to connect. If a person isn't naturally or intentionally likable, then they probably won't connect with a lot of people.

    • I am reading this book called "50 ways to make Google Love Your Website", the authors talk about the three pillars of visibility, Reputation and Relevance. Getting google to love you website/blog is maybe a workable process, but if people don't like your website/blog then they will leave.
      It seems that google also makes use of likability in determining relevance; so it does not really make long term sense to submit sites to traffic generators if people don't spend lots of time and investigation on your site.

    • Well, I'm a little slow connecting nowdays, but this is a great topic. I tend to be well liked, but not in the "popular" kind of way, but rather in a quiet one on one conversational way. I tend to be well thought of but not usually seen as a person to invite into the "fun" parts of life. I'm a facilitator of others dreams, growth, etc., but the emphasis is always on them and what they dream or want.

      Now writing that I can see that perhaps I am likeable. I have some of the attributes of likeability, but I don't seem to be very "sticky." [Think velcro.]

      Nonetheless there are things here that I can work on. Approach can still be modified without message being lost. I need to be careful about seeming desperate [even though coming out of a major depression – I still often feel desperate to connect and return to life. This is a post I'm going to hang onto for awhile and let God use to rumage around in my soul, my life, and my blog/website life.

    • I just started blogging and while I would love to have a large following, for now I'll have to be content with just being a small blog because most of what I do is not compliant with the seven secrets. My blog is about me. My journey of faith and it's anonymous. I'm writing more to God and hoping for input from others on the same journey. I'm trying to heal! I would love input in the form of comments. I need feedback for a conversation. I would appreciate any advice you could give.