The humble blog has come a long way in the last decade. What was once merely the hobby of the amateur working away in their basement has morphed into one of the defining themes of Web 2.0.
Some of the most highly trafficked websites on the Internet nowadays are blogs. It’s a flexible way to deliver information and at the same time interact with an audience.
For those just starting out, here are a few tried and true suggestions for making your own personal blog a success.
Know Your Audience
And more importantly, write for them. You can’t write for everyone, so don’t even bother.
While fostering true debate and the free exchange of ideas is terrific, you’ll want to get a feel for who your core demographic is and what they care about. Are they liberal or more conservative? Urban or rural? Country or rock-and-roll? You get the general idea.
Pick a focus, and stick with it
Unfortunately, you can’t be an expert on everything. And if you attempt to write about every idea or issue that pops into your head at any given moment, your site will come off as schizophrenic and lack direction. Choose one area of interest that you’re truly passionate about and explore it in-depth.
It’s all about networking
An important aspect of the social web is that’s it’s, well, social. Interacting with not only your readers but also other blogs and webmasters is a great way to get feedback as well as new subscribers to your site or RSS feed.
Backlinking is a crucial component of driving unique views on your site, so comment on other well known and highly trafficked sites and leave a link in your comment back to your own site.
Function over form
Aesthetics are important, and you’ll find yourself judging other people and other websites based on appeareance alone. While you try not to be superficial, it’s simply a part of human nature and you can’t really help it.
Your blog doesn’t have to look like a million bucks right off the bat, so focus on great content over shiny graphics and layout. You’ll have plenty of time to fiddle with your site’s look later.
Choose your plugins carefully
It’s easy to lose focus on what your site is actually about and supposed to be doing if there’s too much visual information and tools clogging the page.
When you work with a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, it’s easy to keep slapping on plugins for everything from a RSS Feed Manager to a World Clock and everything in between. Just go with the essentials and keep it simple.
Turn your site into a community
Make your readers feel like they’re participating in a discussion rather than just reading a blog. Reply to comments, start conversations, and create forum capabilities on your blog when you get enough followers.
Later, you may well want to consider creating a mobile-only format version of your site for those looking at your blog on a cell phone or tablet computer. While it’s true that they can access the syndicated RSS feed via their e-mail, it’s still a good idea to widen the accessibility of your site.
Don’t go overboard with ads
Monetizing your blog is important and you have every right to make a few bucks off of it. Just keep the ads to a minimum and don’t push the popups and what not in the faces of your readership.
Be Consistent With Your Output
In other words, publish regularly and often. Don’t skimp on quality, because it matters. Just know that if you want to create a following, you need people to know that there will be new content on your blog on a consistent and regular basis, so pace yourself.
Make It Unique
There are many sites out there and you need to make yours stand out from the crowd. Develop your own unique style and voice, and write creative and interesting articles and you’ll get more readers and followers than you know what to do with.
These tips should give you a good idea of how to start out, but from there it’s up to you to make the most of your blog. Tweaking the format is pretty simple and there are plenty of tutorials online about web design and development if you want to add new features and functionality.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the blogging experience. If you like what you do, it will come through loud and clear in your writing and resonate with your followers.
A post by Melissa Tamura.