5 Secrets to Blogging Success

by Craig McBreen · 34 comments · Blogging, Content Marketing

Craig-McBreen-5-Secrets-to-Blogging-SuccessWant to know the secrets of the most successful bloggers?

How have they built the kind of Authority that has people lining up to do business with them?

And … how can you do the same?

Do you want to know the truth?

It’s not complicated AND there’s nothing secret about it.

There are more than a few, um A-listers I follow and they all practice the following …

1. Create a lasting connection with your audience.

To me, this is the the golden rule.

It seems so obvious, right? But here is what many anxious bloggers do: They go for that first, hard kiss before thinking it over. You get your audience to like, know and trust you by courting them over time and wait for it … helping them.

Amazing relationships don’t happen overnight. And don’t you want a long, drawn out love affair that will get you to third base and beyond for all the right reasons?

All good things take time and the online world is no exception.

I can think of no better example of this than Mark Schaefer. He’ll hate me for this, but he really is an A-List blogger, influencer, and social media rock star.

Mark consults with big brands, writes best-selling books, and good lord, the guy is a college professor.

Oh yeah, he also trains, speaks, podcasts, and authors an AdAge 150 blog. He even has his own Wikipedia page. To say he’s busy is an understatement, but he clearly understands the importance of creating lasting connections.

And trust me I know. I’ve emailed him, called him, and talked to him in person and he always took time to offer me advice. Not sugary, “you’re so wonderful,” Pollyanna-like advice. No. It’s more like constructive guidance.

Part of online marketing done right is knowing your audience. The other? Giving.

2. A firm foundation is a must.

You might be thinking, gee, thanks genius, but please pay attention …

Foundational content is NOT you bragging about your accomplishments. No, it’s the expertise and depth of what you’ve done over time infused in your content.

It turns the gears, builds the brand, and educates your audience.

It’s the bedrock everything else is built upon.

And it’s why people return.

Have you heard of Men With Pens? James Chartrand is wickedly creative AND relentless when it comes to saturating the pages of her site with, wait for it … Value.

She does this so well, but it’s an art form you can master. Watching James operate might be the best place to start.

As her bio states, “… she’s partial to strong coffee and fine Shiraz. She loves the color blue, ice skating, Nike sneakers and her two wonderful daughters,” but she also loves her clients. Of this, I am convinced.

Why do I know this? She’s really good at what she does, but she also delivers value-packed, engaging and consistent content — the solid ground the Men With Pens brand is build upon.

Is your expertise fused into your site in a clear and consistent way?

3. Embrace the power of story.

I’ve repeated this ad nauseam, but this is modern content marketing. Taking bits and pieces of your bedrock content and delivering it so people not only pay attention, they fall head over heels in love and can’t wait to share what they’ve learned.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. You build a consistent narrative, a specific tone, and work daily to …

2. Tell that story on your platform. It’s a story crafted to help the reader (your ideal customer) get past a particular problem.

3. Be informative. Be entertaining and distribute your cohesive storyline across all media.

Do you want great examples?

Check out Pamela Wilson’s posts at Copyblogger, her place and her videos.

Helpful and consistent, yes?

Erika Napoletano has built a rock-solid brand based on the power of Unpopular.

Amy Harrison has a content marketing series that is fully inline with the stuff she writes about.

They each have their own way of doing things but what does each storyline have in common?

Helpful. Story-like. Extremely consistent.

Models to emulate.

So … how’s your storyline, kid?

4. Think like a professor (not like a marketer).

Take a deep dive into your client’s world and treat them like a hero and realize your blog can be an invaluable resource, available 24/7 to help them blow past a problem.

In a nutshell: Be great at selling by not selling … kapish?

Gini Dietrich is one of the hardest working people I know. She’s also a very patient teacher.

If you follow her around social media, you’ll soon discover a few things:
She’s self-effacing, has a great sense of humor, and is extremely helpful when it comes to dispensing advice.

The “very helpful” part is a long-term strategy that’s paid off, but it’s not the least bit calculated.

So, stop pushing. If you can’t, it might benefit you to see how this business-minded, but generous blogger operates.

5. Pay attention.

Do. Learn. Keep repeating. Do again. (this is caveman speak for blogging done right)

Be Agile and adapt. Over-deliver and keep refining how you do it.

Don’t ignore your potential clients. Study your audience and take feedback from your readers.

The work to deliver the best services, products, advice.

Stop focusing on meaningless metrics. Instead work to focus on the data that can actually help you get better.

Through data you can find your ideal persona, find where they live online, and start to build content inline with their wants and needs.

Like Danny Brown told me – your potential customers are out there sharing their preferences, buying signals and showing you (through data) what impacts them to make the big decision. Work to get better at this or just read Danny’s blog and learn from one of the best.

If you have an email list and a community of commenters, why not analyze and utilize what they have to say? Take advantage of their smarts and constructive advice to improve your business.

How well are you watching and listening?

So, to sum it all up, let’s call these practices, five steps to a healthy client list.

That customer you seek has a problem, something they must get past, a point of pain.

Work daily to master the art of framing those points so your desired customer finds them and then comes back for more.

Really work to connect with your audience.

Have a firm foundation.

Embrace the power of story.

Think like a teacher.

And please pay attention. That is all for today.

p.s. All the fine folks mentioned above are in my upcoming eBook. If you want in just use the handy dandy sign-up form above, under that giant red book.

Craig McBreen is Principal of McBreen Design. A Puget Sound area branding and visual design firm which helps small companies bring their purpose to life with branding, graphic design, content marketing and web design services. Get in touch.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Takis Athanassiou September 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

Excellent post Craig. I particular like your story and teacher suggestions and I believe that there are 2 clause we should embrace in the whole spectrum of each ones business. We really need to develop more firm foundations, to function more as growth hackers and interact more meaningfully with our audience.

Thank you for sharing Craig.
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Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Hi Takis,

Thank you, Sir! I’m always harping on story, but all the people I follow who are making big things happen are teachers first, marketers second.

Appreciate you stopping in!


Takis Athanassiou September 14, 2013 at 10:46 am

Thank you, Craig, for the share and your comments.
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Pamela Wilson September 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Craig, thanks for the mention here: what an honor!
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Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hi Pamela,

You’re most welcome. Love to highlight those who can teach others :)


Jeevan Jacob John September 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Upcoming eBook, huh? Great :D

I think the most powerful tip is to build long lasting relationships. There is no way around that. And as for story telling, as I have mentioned before, I am trying to develop a new voice, a new style for me to story tell?

I am working on couple of skills – drawing, digital painting etc. Perhaps I could use these skills for my upcoming blog.

Use a comic to tell a story? Or maybe some photo manipulation :D

“Think like a professor”

That’s awesome. I am getting some new ideas about my upcoming blog. Going to Evernote now ;)

Loved the image by the way :) I am taking archery lessons right now. Saw the message and I had to compare blogging and archery – both require time, effort and strategy :D


Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hi Jeevan,


Yes, fostering great relationships is so important.

Wow, sounds like you’re one busy man these days. Keep expanding that creativity … trust me, all this helps with your writing too :)

I love that image too, but if I tried to use a bow and arrow I might seriously hurt somebody … or myself ;)


Jeevan Jacob John September 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

Good luck :)

Indeed, I am busy, but I also have a lot of free time (I feel that the days are longer. Studies prove that learning something new everyday makes our brain think that time is moving slower, or we have more time :D).

My instructor told me there hasn’t been any injuries in archery sports. I suppose that is just professional archery. But, from my own practice, it is really hard to hurt someone (unless you are trying to hurt them).


Craig McBreen September 13, 2013 at 10:48 am

But the older you get the more time seems to just fly on by ;)

I still wouldn’t trust myself with a weapon ;)


Josh September 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Gini is not discriminatory in kissing- it helps. I hope she reads that. :)

Engagement is critical because it is where you transition from nameless, faceless entity to real person.

And real people build authority.
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Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm


Good to know … ;)

Engagement is critical, but some forget that. Gotta maintain those relationships.


Adrienne September 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Well you definitely know I’m going to agree with everything you shared here Craig plus the amazing people you mentioned. They all do really well in this area and I know that I hate it when people call me an expert in anything so I won’t use that particular word for them but you know where I’m going with this.

My post tomorrow is along this same type of subject although more about why relationships are so important and how they can help you even if you don’t think they can.

Gosh if only! If only people paid attention more to what’s really important I think they’d really “get it” ya know! Once you have those connections it’s just amazing.

Great share Craig, thanks my friend. Have an awesome end to this week.

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Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Hello Adrienne,

Glad you agree and good peeps all!

I need to head on over to that post and I have a feeling I’ll completely agree with you.

Keep giving and foster great relationships and see where it gets you … I preach to a choir of one ;)

Thanks for stopping in. Appreciate it as always and you have an awesome end to this week as well!


Ryan Biddulph September 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

Well said Craig! Patience rules in the blogging game. Make friends. Promote people. Publish epic content. Really, really, really good stuff which forces people to take notice. If you follow these tips you will succeed in the blogging game. Thanks for sharing!
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Craig McBreen September 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Hi Ryan,

Thank you, Sir! Well you know I agree with everything you wrote … and yes, you have to be very, very patient. Good things do come in time.

Thanks for stopping in.


Cassie September 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm

This is really an interesting post. It’s also very informative. Thank you for sharing this.


Mark W. Schaefer September 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm

No, I don’t hate you. : ) You can call me anything except late to supper.
Superb post. It has been wonderful to see you grow and excel as a blogger. Month by month you are also building a great community. Great job Craig!
Mark W. Schaefer recently posted..Research: The 3 social media secrets of B2B buyersMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

Hi Mark,

Thanks :) I know you’re not big on titles … and I would never call you late for anything ;)

Appreciate the kind words and help along the way of course. Good to know you, Sir, and hope you have a great weekend!


Marlow September 13, 2013 at 12:24 am

In social media marketing you need to connect with brands that can earn you money and promote your blog and get you noticed.


Ralph September 17, 2013 at 3:49 am

So, what you’re saying is James is a girl. Huh. Who’d a thunk it?
What I take away from this is something that I have struggled with my entire career and that’s networking. Not that it’s difficult but that it takes more effort than it Seems.

That’s all I’ve got today. Besides good work Mr. McB.
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Craig McBreen September 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Yes, and James is a kick-ass entrepreneur too ;)

I’ve always struggled a bit with networking too, but I think I finally, gotta handle on it ;) Kinda, sorta.



Prathwish September 21, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thanks For sharing the secrets Criag, I did not know these secrets and it really helped me


Mike Martinez September 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Great post. I especially like your first point of creating a lasting connection with your audience. That is the key to developing your audience. I think many bloggers get lost in the shuffle and miss this important point.
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Yusri Big November 9, 2013 at 12:44 am

Top bloggers have been blogging for a long time and they’ve learned many secrets along the way. It’s time for us to learn some of those tricks, too. Top bloggers understand the importance of internal linking, particularly at the beginning of a blog post. Those internal links are great for search engine optimization and they help to keep people on our blog longer, so be sure to link to other posts in our blog archive early in our blog posts. Also, try to hold off on including external links in our blog posts until at least after the first paragraph, and don’t use keyword phrases in the anchor text for external links. Save those keyword phrases for internal links.


kasim November 27, 2014 at 1:51 am

Nice one. U really educated alot of us outthere today. Keep it up.


kasim November 27, 2014 at 2:01 am

Nice one. U really educated alot of us outthere today. Keep it up.
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1) Be clear that the therapist is not responsible for fixing your relationship. He/she will guide you to making the necessary changes on your own, which occur mostly outside the office…@www.coolminds2.blogspot.com
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