Blogging Tips

A while back, a friend asked me to critique her fledgling blog. She wanted a larger audience and wasn’t sure how to get one. So I, having a loyal readership of maybe half a dozen people, decided I was clearly qualified to help her out. Then I realized that maybe those same six people might like to increase traffic to their own blogs. And thus this post was born.

First off, I’m going to assume you’ve already picked a blog theme, hosting service, and layout. I can’t help you with any of that anyway, since my blog has no theme, I host my own blog, and my layout is intentionally sparse. But before I get started on more of the nitty-gritty, here are my two main pieces of advice:

  1. Read blogs with a theme similar to yours, and comment regularly. Note that I do not mean commenting just to ask people to visit your blog. Comment on the content of the post like you would anywhere else. Repeatedly advertising your blog is a good way to get people to avoid it.
  2. Link to other blogs, especially individual entries. Bloggers often check out their trackbacks.

Seriously. If you link to them, they will come. People can’t visit your blog if they don’t know about it. Telling all your friends is fine, but sooner or later you have to actually join the blogging community. The more you link to others, the more likely it is they will link to you. Most of the new blogs I find are through other blogs.

Here are some other tips, in no particular order. I tried focus on things to do, as opposed to things not to do.

  • Participate in blog carnivals and community blogging efforts like Bloggiesta, Blog Action Day, NaNoBloMo, or Blogtoberfest.
  • Go through the steps outlined in 31 Days to Building a Better Blog from ProBlogger. (That site is full of good information, actually.) For more, check out the challenge inspired by the original program.
  • Join blog directories such as BlogHer. Chances are there’s a Ning group aligned with your blog’s theme too. Likewise, add notable (and related) blogs to your own blogroll. I have, on several occasions, visited every single link on the blogroll of a blog I enjoy, and ended up subscribing to a few of them.
  • Practice your elevator speech. That is, if you had to sum up your blog’s content in a sentence or two, how would you do it?
  • Post often and consistently. I schedule posts so I only have one a day, which offsets the annoying tendency I have to write a bunch of posts at once and then nothing for weeks. By spreading them out, my posting habits come across as more consistent without flooding anyone’s RSS feed. My husband, on the other hand, has a set content schedule: a new comic MWF, new art on Tuesdays, new music on Thursdays, and at least one other post sometime during the weekend. Pick something that works for you.
  • Write a few back-up posts to use when you’re out of ideas and/or too busy to write. I also keep a running document of ideas and fragments, many of which are later expanded into full posts.
  • Add your blog URL to your signature on email and forums.
  • Use tags and categories to their fullest extent. Not only does this enable your readers to quickly find posts related to the one they’re reading, they also provide extra keywords for search engines to find.
  • Remember that every post could be someone’s introduction to your blog. Never start a post with an apology for not posting. If you have a set schedule, try to announce ahead of time if you will be missing a day.
  • Make it easy to share your posts, whether via an AddThis widget or something else. Add your site to places like Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit.
  • Add RSS feed options and make them obvious. FeedBurner is a handy site for things like email subscriptions. Since I’m already active there, I also have a LiveJournal feed.
  • Respond to the comments you receive, and visit the sites your commenters link to.
  • Consider interactive posts: open threads, guest posts, blog tours, interviews of/by other bloggers, giveaways, etc.
  • If you get stuck for content, respond to blog challenges and memes, and then leave a comment on the original post with a link to your entry. (Do this sparingly. Too many memes drive readers away.)

What it really comes down to is giving people a reason to visit your blog, and that starts with letting people know it’s available to visit. You’ll notice that I blithely disregard most of these tips in my own blog. And I know it. But that doesn’t make it bad advice.

Any other tips from the peanut gallery?

And no, “blog” doesn’t look like a word anymore, why do you ask?

  1. I’ve been waiting for this post, and it’s every bit as good as I expected it to be. Very useful pointers! I’m going to add a link to it from the FAQ on my own blog, and pretend that people ask me for advice and I sent them to you instead. Then we both profit! (Theoretically…)

    In all seriousness, though, great job and I’ll definitely check out those blog community links you posted.

  2. This is a wonderfully comprehensive list with lots of great links! I think you hit everything I’d suggest. Thanks!

  3. Thanks again for this — at your suggestion I listed my blog at BlogHer, and according to my stats, that’s been the source of some new readers!

  4. I LOVE these tips!!! You are so funny about saying you don’t follow your own advice…sounds like me :D :D I am now going to ADD YOU TO my following list!! I also want to tag this post as “LIKE” in my google reader cuz then it’s so much easier for me to find.

    So glad you said “Hi” this morning :D :D

  5. I’ve got some of these, I need to do some of them, and some probably aren’t worth my energy right now. I would like to add something: don’t have a header that is so big visitors have to scroll to see *any* of your content. Just a pet peeve of mine. I live with it for some things (nostomanic, most notably) but it’s not something that makes me feel like loading the site often!

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