Starting a blog can seem overwhelming, but in truth, it’s one of the simplest ways to join the online community. Follow these tips to ensure your blog is positioned for success.
1. Define Your Goals
Before you start a new blog, it’s essential that you define your goals for it. Your blog has a greater chance of success if you know from the beginning what you hope to accomplish with it. Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in your field? Are you trying to promote your business? Are you simply blogging for fun and to share your ideas and opinions? Your short and long term goals for your blog are dependent on the reason why you’re starting your blog. Think ahead to what you’d like to gain from your blog in six months, one year and three years. Then design, write and market your blog to meet those goals.
2. Know Your Audience
Your blog’s design and content should reflect the expectations of your audience. For example, if your intended audience is teenagers, the design and content would be quite different than a blog targeted to corporate professionals. Your audience will have inherent expectations for your blog. Don’t confuse them but rather meet and exceed those expectations to gain reader loyalty.
3. Be Consistent
Your blog is a brand. Just like popular brands such as Coke or Nike, your blog represents a specific message and image to your audience, which is your brand. Your blog’s design and content should consistently communicate your blog’s overall brand image and message. Being consistent allows you to meet your audience’s expectations and create a secure place for them to visit again and again. That consistency will be rewarded with reader loyalty.
4. Be Persistent
A busy blog is a useful blog. Blogs that are not updated frequently are perceived by their audiences as static web pages. The usefulness of blogs comes from their timeliness. While it’s important not to publish meaningless posts else you may bore your audience, it’s essential that you update your blog frequently. The best way to keep readers coming back is to always have something new (and meaningful) for them to see.
5. Be Inviting
One of the most unique aspects of blogging is its social impact. Therefore, it’s essential that your blog welcomes readers and invites them to join a two-way conversation. Ask your readers to leave comments by posing questions than respond to comments from your readers. Doing so will show your readers that you value them, and it will keep the conversation going. Continue the conversation by leaving comments on other blogs inviting new readers to visit your blog for more lively discussions. Your blog’s success is partially dependent on your readers’ loyalties to it. Make sure they understand how much you appreciate them by involving them and recognizing them through meaningful two-way conversation.
6. Be Visible
Much of your blog’s success relies on your efforts outside your blog. Those efforts include finding like-minded bloggers and commenting on their blogs, participating in social bookmarking through sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon, and joining social networking sites such as Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn. Blogging is not a demonstration of, “if you build it, they will come.” Instead, developing a successful blog requires hard work by creating compelling content on your blog as well as working outside of your blog to promote it and develop a community around it.
7. Take Risks
Beginner bloggers are often afraid of the new blogging tools and features available to them. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things on your blog. From adding a new plug-in to holding your first blog contest, it’s important that you keep your blog fresh by implementing changes that will enhance your blog. Alternatively, don’t fall prey to every new bell and whistle that becomes available for your blog. Instead, review each potential enhancement in terms of how it will help you reach your goals for your blog and how your audience will respond to it.
8. Ask for Help
Even the most experienced bloggers understand the blogosphere is an ever-changing place and no one knows everything there is to know about blogging. Most importantly, bloggers are part of a close-knit community, and the majority of bloggers understand that everyone is a beginner at some point. In fact, bloggers are some of the most approachable and helpful people you can find. Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow bloggers for help. Remember, the success of the blogosphere relies on networking, and most bloggers are always willing to expand their networks regardless of whether you’re a beginner blogger or seasoned pro.
9. Keep Learning
It seems like everyday there are new tools available to bloggers. The Internet changes quickly, and the blogosphere is not an exception to that rule. As you develop your blog, take the time to research new tools and features, and keep an eye on the latest news from the blogosphere. You never know when a new tool will roll out that can make your life easier or enhance your readers’ experiences on your blog.
10. Be Yourself
Remember, your blog is an extension of you and your brand, and your loyal readers will keep coming back to hear what you have to say. Inject your personality into your blog and adapt a consistent tone for your posts. Determine whether your blog and brand will be more effective with a corporate tone, a youthful tone or a snarky tone. Then stay consistent with that tone in all your blog communications. People don’t read blogs simply to get the news. They could read a newspaper for news reports. Instead, people read blogs to get bloggers’ opinions on the news, the world, life and more. Don’t blog like a reporter. Blog like you’re having a conversation with each of your readers. Blog from your heart.