Once the sole domain of computer geeks and early adopters, blogging has evolved over the past decade to something between social media and journalism. Depending on the type of blog you operate, your audience may expect you to post quality essays, gorgeous art and photos or funny random observations. No matter the subject of your blog, your goal should be to expand your audience and deliver great content with every new post. A few quick tips can help your blog stand out among the millions of pages on the Internet.
Make blogging a part of your schedule
Creating and maintaining a good blog takes time and effort, so put in the time and effort needed to take your blog to the next level. Make a schedule for writing, maintenance, responding to e-mails and other blog-related activities, and stick to it. Whether it’s one day a week or an hour a day, committing time to your blog will ensure that you actually get work done.
Study your favorite blogs
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and you can learn a lot from the owners of your favorite blogs. Make a list of your personal top ten sites, and click through each of them as if you’re visiting for the first time. What jumps out at you as brilliant or original? What makes the blogger’s voice so special? Does the blog do something new or unusual with graphics and fonts? Make another list of the best aspects of each blog, and come up with ways to incorporate those ideas into your own blog.
Brush up on your writing skills
The Internet is gradually changing the nature of both grammar and sentence structure, but basic writing guidelines will never change. If you’re not confident in your writing abilities, do what you can to improve them. Your efforts can be as casual as joining an online writing community or as formal as taking writing classes from your local college or an online university. Find a way to improve your knowledge of the medium: knowing the rules will allow you to break them with style.
Make your blog pretty
Well, it doesn’t have to be pretty exactly, but it does have to be easy to navigate and attractive enough that readers want to hang out there for a while. Avoid busy graphics, music that starts when you click (a cardinal sin) and garish background colors that make it difficult to read the text. Here’s where studying your favorite blogs can also help you: find what visual attributes they all have in common, which fonts they use, which color schemes are the least intrusive or distracting. Use what you learn to make your blog clean, appealing and fun to read.
Engage your audience
You post interesting things on your blog; then people read them and post comments. What can you do to keep people coming back? Engage with them. Make yourself comfortable in the comments section so readers know you’re paying attention to their feedback. Provide a way for readers to contact you—either an e-mail address or a web form—and respond to your e-mails in a timely manner. Few things are more discouraging than trying to contact a blogger and getting radio silence. Finally, be sure to publish your Twitter and Facebook handles on your page so your fans have another way to interact with you.
These tips are a great start, but the rest is up to you. If you want your blog to be a success, you’ll have to put in the time and effort to make that happen. Of course, every blog is different, so do what works best for you—and before you know it, you’ll have a successful and popular blog.
Jesse Langley is a seasoned journalist and blogger. He covers social networking, newsletter and SEO topics and contributes online material on behalf of American InterContinental University.