Lessons from The Daily Post bloggers
Hi folks. Remember me? I’m the guy who used to pummel you with ideas for blogging every day. I’m back with a report on the awesome things I’ve watched happen here since I left.
Two years ago this blog began as an experiment (see The Daily Post’s first ever post). I started with some coworkers at WordPress.com. We wanted a way to share what we knew about blogging, while learning at the same time, and the daily post competition was a simple way to start. As things rolled along Sara, Daryl, and Erica joined in with posts about photography and writing. And by the time I left the company in May 2012 it was clear there was something valuable here, but we all knew something was missing.
In July 2012 Michelle Weber and Cheri Lucas joined Automattic’s editorial staff. Michelle led the charge to reorganize and refocus the entire Daily Post project. And the results have been dramatic. Traffic and engagement at The Daily Post have more than doubled. Which is awesome to see.
I bet many of you want similar things to happen at your blog.
With that in mind I spent last week interviewing your band of Daily Post hosts and here’s what you can learn from them:
- Ask your readers. If you remember, back in August DP posted a survey and shared the results with you. This helped Michelle and the Daily Post crew refocus the project. It’s easier to create popular content if you know what your readers want. Merely asking your readers’ opinions in a poll is a way to get people who haven’t engaged before to vote, making it more likely they’ll comment or click like something next time.
- Have a schedule. The biggest change I see, from the outside, is how Michelle not only puts together a schedule each week for all the contributors, but acts as a shepherd, nudging and shaping all the contributions to fit together, and to do it on time. Blogs are like newspapers or TV shows in that having a schedule and sticking to it gives readers a rhythm to expect, which makes it easier to tune in and participate. The hosts use a private P2 themed blog to plan future posts and co-ordinate the work.
- Have a team. With eight people making contributions there’s more resources and energy to go around. Depending on what your goals are, partnering up with a few people who have the same interest can transform three fledgling blogs into one vibrant one.
- Find partners. There are definitely advantages to having friends with blogs. Daily Post has gotten some exposure in the sidebar of blog.wordpress.com and a few other places. None of these are ads exactly, since with Daily Post’s renewed focus the content here fits well with what visitors to these other WordPress.com pages are looking for. There’s a good marketing lesson here: exposure to 1000 random people isn’t as valuable as exposure to 100 of the right people who are already interested in what you’re doing.
- A simplified redesign. Over time blogs grow in ways you never expect when you start. As Michelle explained “before, when you landed on DP, it was hard to figure out what it was *for*. Why am I here? What am I going to get out of this?” The redesigned theme clearly states what the team thinks readers want, since now they know after 2 years of running this place. It’s not a grab bag anymore. Daily Post now uses a customized version of the premium Linen theme.
I’m very happy to see The Daily Post doing so well and I hope to drop by with a post now and then. Happy Blogging.