Many blog publishers seem to subscribe to the view of the "If you build it, they will come" mentality which unfortunately isn't the case in 99% of blogs. Some people write blogs to air their own opinions, some write about a particular passion and some write as a job or about their business. So how do you get people to your blog and keep them there?
I think the first thing you have to consider is why you want people to come to your blog. We all think we have interesting things to say but is it actually relevant to other people? Are you trying to get a message across or just sounding off? Will they want to come back?
If the answer to some of the above questions is "yes" then you're already on the right track – a few little tweaks and you'll be in the big-blogs-league!
Get the name right
If you get a blog with TypePad, Blogger, BlogSpot etc. then you are quite often forced to have yourusername.blogspot.com or www.blogger.com/username, Consider investing in a domain name, this gives your site a more professional look as well as being a name is relevant to the type of blog you're producing and that people can remember.
Once you've chosen the domain name, make sure that the blog design shows this and mirrors the "feel" of the name, branding is all important.
Choose your content wisely
Make sure that you keep your posts on roughly similar themes, there's no harm in putting personal posts in amongst your business related ones – in fact it may benefit you as your readers get to know the real "you" - however if you find that you are writing posts on a variety of different subjects for example technology news, DVD reviews and recipes then it may be worth while starting a separate blog for each one.
Keeping your content relevant will help provide your readers with content that they know they will find interesting and this will therefore keep them coming back.
Where do you want to go today?
Your blog posts should ideally take your readers on some form of "journey" whether that be spiritual, physical or mental. The want to feel rewarded for reading your blog, also the journey will keep them returning to your site.
Business or pleasure?
Depending on the focus of your posts, the language and content type will change, the type of blog will also drive the type of readers you attract, therefore if you run a professional business blog then expect professional business people to read it – sounds simple but a lot of people write content aimed at "professionals" in a very slap-dash manner which will put a lot of prospective readers off.
Spelling and grammar are king
A big downfall of most blogs is that no one bothers to spell check them, or if they do it's a "yes to all" policy and words that are completely wrong are entered. I know I'm not perfect but I find a grammatically poor blog difficult to read and 99% of the time I won't return.
Always give your reader the option to click on a "Permalink". A permalink is a "Permanent Link which allows a reader to bookmark a post directly rather than having to wade through your entire blog to try and find it again. They are also useful if you submit specific posts to search engines/forums and can be spidered by websites very easily.
Getting it out there
You may have written the best post in the world ever but if no one can find it then they're not going to read it. You can submit your posts to the social news site Digg for example which will drive visitors to your site, look for similar posts on the internet and leave a comment on their sites mentioning your post, ping the various web catalogues so they know you've updated your site, consider putting an "email me when this site is updated" form on your blog and finally add an RSS feed so that readers automatically have access to your new posts (more on this in another entry).
You should really try to post once or more a day, Darren Rowse at Problogger has some good advice about how regularly you should post - and this guy should know, he makes a mint from blogging!
Show me the money!
Make sure that any ads you show are relevant to your content otherwise no one will bother clicking on them.
If you're using Adsense then don't forget you can use the filtering tool to get rid of adverts from competitors sites/sites that you don't want to have advertised.
Consider adding more that one ad type to your site such as running Adsense with Chitika (in non-contextual mode).
Done all that? How do you know they're there?
Sign up for a free web-based stats service such as:
* NextGenStats (free but limited)
* Statcounter (measures last 100 visits)
Or see if your web host provides stats. They are useful for seeing where your visitors are coming from, what specific posts they're reading, how long they're spending on your site etc. This will allow you to target your posts and advertising to your readers, increasing your return rate and your revenue.
Katy Whitton has over 10 years experience of web development and web design. Find more articles about blogging, productivity, marketing, software and more at her blog http://www.flippingheck.com or download her latest programs, code and tutorials at http://www.katywhitton.com