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What every blog needs to be great

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Which of these qualities is most important to a blog’s success?

  • A distinctive voice —  43.41%
  • Compelling exclusive content — 35.66%
  • A unique niche — 11.63%
  • Strong promotion via social-media channels — 5.04%
  • Excellent SEO — 2.71%
  • Connections to famous brands, personalities — 1.55%

The results of this week’s poll took me a little bit by surprise. Given that this question was answered by 295 SmartBrief on Social Media readers, I would have guessed that most people would have favored the niche answer. After all, social media is about building community, and communities thrive in niche environments. Think about your favorite blogs for a second. I’m wiling to bet most of them cater to a pretty specific audience. Niche blogs are lean, focused and easy to pitch to their intended audiences.

But then again, the question was, “Which of these qualities is most important to a blog’s success?” And a solid 43% of you say it all about the voice. I can see why so many people feel it’s so important for a blog’s success. It creates a cohesive feel and a sense that you really know this person. It makes that online connection feel that much more real.

But voice is a tricky thing for a writer. It can be a calling card or a fatal flaw that one refuses to correct in the name of style. For some very distinctive writers, the same characteristics that attract some readers may repel others. It takes time and a lot of practice to develop a voice that really clicks. The good news is, if you’re a regular blogger, you’re going to have plenty of opportunities to practice. If you’re diligent and thoughtful about your writing, developing a voice is something anyone can pull off.

In fact, all of the most popular options are things I feel comfortable saying most people could achieve, given a little inspiration and a healthy work ethic. The most specialized attributes — self-promotion, SEO and access to big names — garnered less than 10% of the vote. SmartBrief on Social Media readers clearly feel that blog success is all about the content, and I have to agree. If you can take care of your voice, your niche and your content, the rest should be easy.

What defines a great blogging voice? Who are some bloggers whose voice you admire?