Blogs are a dime a dozen these days—anyone can create a WordPress or Blogger account and call himself a blogger. But not everyone can create a popular blog. For that, the content has to be top notch; there’s nothing more important than engaging, witty, smart blog posts and good communication between the blogger and commenters. There’s no way to fake good content—and if you try, readers will know it. Before you start a blog, or if you’re looking to breathe new life into your current blog, you’ll want to get to know a few basic rules.
Know your subject
When you choose to blog about a subject, you also choose to present yourself as an expert, so be sure you know your topic well. It’s also important to use reputable source links when you want to show you’ve done your research. Instead of quoting or linking to a smaller blog, use a larger news outlet or an trustworthy website. Web cred counts, and the more authoritative your sources are, the more authoritative you are.
Know your audience
Delivering good content doesn’t mean much if it’s not what your audience wants. So pay attention to what they like and what they don’t respond to; which of your posts get the most comments, and which seem to engage readers and encourage comments. If you feel like you’re getting repetitive, that’s okay: find new ways to talk about the same subjects, to get more in-depth, and to write from different points of view. Finding a niche might limit you, but it’s also a good way to attract readers.
Know your lingo
If there’s a vocabulary that’s specific to your subject, know it, own it, and use it. Few things are more annoying than going to a social media blog and reading a post about “twittering,” or a green blog that doesn’t appear to know what the “CFL” in “CFL light bulbs” stands for (it’s compact fluorescent light, BTW). Get familiar with the lingo of your subject, and use it correctly and often. It’s another way to establish your credibility.
Know your design
You don’t have to get artistic with your blog layout, but it should be easy to navigate and it should flow well. If your blog is primarily text, make sure that each entry is clearly marked and easy to read. If you use graphics or photos, make sure they don’t make the page too busy or distracting. For an idea of what not to do when using graphics for your blog, click here, if you dare.
Know your social media
Social media sites like Twitter, Google + and Facebook do more than just connect you with friends; they help you find new ones. They’re also great ways to promote your blog and get the word out about new posts. But before you go tweeting and G+’ing all willy-nilly, make sure you know how to use the platforms properly. Don’t spam, or repeat posts several times in an hour; don’t send private messages to people you don’t know well; and, for all that is Internet-sacred, do not send mass e-mails. If you want to use e-mail to promote your blog, a simple link in your electronic signature will do.
Starting a new blog is easy, but keeping it updated with good content is harder than many bloggers realize. If you’re serious about building an audience for your blog, get serious about writing well and often.
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.