Someone emailed me yesterday asking for some blogging advice, and as I prepared to respond, it occured to me it would be much easier to share it here. I have gotten several of these emails in the past, and I love helping people in whatever small way I can; however, instead of replying to multiple emails, it's much more timely for me to share them here, for anyone and everyone.
I have to preface this with the fact that I am in no ways a blogging expert, and any advice I may share is simply what I've learned through the past 4 1/2 years that I have been blogging. That said, however, I have picked up in a few things that I think are particularly essential.
1. Design (I'm aware this could be considered advertisement. I promise it's not. :)
A good design is like dressing well - it makes reading what you have to say enjoyable, instead of distracting from your content, and it is often the difference between readers that will stay and readers that will go. If the first impression someone gets from your blog is that the design is clunky, they might not stay around to realize how fantastic your content is. That's the sad truth.
2. Consistency of Purpose
When people read your blog, they begin to expect a certain style or general range of topics from you. If they keep coming back, odds are they like it - so don't change it. Try to keep a consistant style and post about the same topics - writing, fashion, fitness - you choose, just stick with it. Dovetailing with this, try to keep to a posting schedule if at all possible (this is the hardest for me). Maybe you always post on Monday mornings, or you share monthly snippets of writing, or you host a recurring event (Chatterbox is a brilliant example). Find your niche, and stick with it.
I am, as you can probably tell, a very minimalistic girl. You could attribute this to many factors - I am both claustrophic and OCD, which if you're psycologically-inclined, you could probably trail it back to - however, it is important to add color and interest to your blog. I know we as writers can easily get caught up in the words, and that is very important; it's just as important to break things up with a picture here and there. Keep your pages short and to-the-point, and limit, where possible, the length of your posts as well. I only want to spend so much time looking at a screen per day, and if your post does not feasibly fit into that length, I might have to forgo it.
4. Cleanliness & Housekeeping
Proofread your posts. Try to avoid typos and run-on sentences. Know the basic rules of grammar, and try to formatt things fairly decently (tip: it's better to go basic). Update your pages regularly. Keep your sidebar items to a minimum. If I have to struggle to understand a post due to technical issues, odds are I won't stick around long. Don't make your readers work to understand you; it's just common courtesy, like keeping your house clean.
5. Be Gracious
My favorite blogs are the ones in which the authors interact with the readers; it makes blogging more of a community, and some of my best friendships have been formed this way. It doesn't take long to tell someone thank you, reply to a comment, or read a post. If you want people to promote your blog when you have Special Things happening, it's important to reciprocate. Help other people! Don't get into catfights in the comments section! Remember that people took time out of their day to comment on your blog, even though they didn't have to. You can't build up a readership, frienships, or audiences without helping other people too. The street goes both ways.
Anything you'd like to add? Let's chat!