This is a guest post by Tony Hue. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Over a week ago, we welcomed the arrival of a new year with much anticipation. Last year was a year many people simply wanted to forget and move on from. For bloggers everywhere, the beginning of a new year is a reinvigorating time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the promise of the future ahead.
So, how did your blog fare last year? Regardless of the level of success you achieved there is always room to improve. Let’s take a look at 18 timeless blogging tips on how to improve your blog and stand above the competition.
1. Judge a blog by its cover – If it doesn’t look pretty, people have a hard time focusing on what you have to say. Take a look at the home page of your blog, focusing on the uppermost region (without scrolling down). Would you want to take a look around after arriving on the home page as a new visitor?
2. Comment smartly and consistently – Bloggers are tired of seeing the overused “Nice post!” or “This is really interesting!” Stand out by trying to put some thought into your comments and, most importantly, make it sound like you actually read the article.
3. Get a Gravatar- Before you start commenting on blogs, it’s a good idea to register your own gravatar. If you follow step 2, readers and blog owners will become familiar with you for better or for worse.
4. Show your personality in your writing – Establishing a voice in your writing is a crucial element is producing content that people will want to keep coming back over and over again for more. Don’t be that Average Joe in a sea of Average Joes.
5. Use plenty of pictures in your blog posts – No one wants to see endless blocks of text, especially while reading online. The moment your readers’ mind wanders off, they’ll be jumping to another site before you know it. Here are some great sources for finding images: Flickr, Photobucket, picapp, Google Image Search.
6. Study SEO like your life depended on it – Driving traffic to your blog through search engines is what you call “organic traffic.” Other types include referral sites, and direct traffic. Of the three mentioned, organic traffic is what you need to be able to sustain long-term visibility of your blog. To help you get started, take a look at this comprehensive guide on SEO: The Definitive Guide to Higher Rankings For Your Blog.
7. Start with a WordPress.com blog and then switch over to a self-hosted WordPress blog – Three reasons to use WordPress: 1) Lots of people use it 2) Recognition and reputation 3) Strong support. If you are just started blogging, I recommend you get a free WordPress.com blog to get your feet wet. It can’t hurt you to do so and besides, what’s the rush?
8. Avoid grammar mistakes by proofreading – One thing that really annoys me about a blog is poor grammar. If you were listening to your teacher lecture about quantum physics and his grammar is dreadful, you would want to leave that class in a heartbeat. Same thing with blogs. You came looking for value but it’s all mixed up with a misplaced “has” and “their” and terrible spelling. Would you want to keep reading? Probably not.
9. Make you blog content rich in media – In my Studio Art class last quarter, we studied about human culture and psychology (Shrug). It would’ve been the most boring class in my entire schedule if my professor had not included numerous videos and other media into out 1- 1/2 hour long lectures. It kept me attentive and engaged. and helped me connect topics more cohesively. In other words, utilize the power of Youtube and other media sources and incorporate them accordingly into your blog content.
10. Figure out your niche and stick to it – If someone asked you what your blog was about, would you be able to answer without hesitation? If not, write down in 140 characters or less(no pun intended) a succinct and clear definition of what your blog is about. E.g: Pet Food Blog- The Blog where Pet Owners can Learn How to Better Feed Their Beloved Pets. The second important thing is “to keep the main the main thing.” If you feel like writing a post about electron polarization and its effect on our ecosystem (shrug), do you really think that readers to your Pet Food Blog would appreciate it?
11. Blog on a set schedule – There is no right answer to how often one should blog. Whatever schedule you start out with, make sure you stick with it every week. Take for example, Mashable. After visiting the site a couple of times, you can safely expect to see a new article every single day. The important thing is that they stick with that routine.
12. Reply to comments on your blog – Replying to questions or comments from readers is your way of letting people know that your blog is “alive.” It gives readers the opportunity to interact and engage in conversation. Best thing of all? It artificially inflates the true number of people who comment on your blog. Very sweeeeeet.
13. Make it easy for readers to navigate your blog – If it takes more than 3 seconds to look for a search bar or category list on your blog, than your site’s navigation needs to be improved. No one likes the feeling of being in an unfamiliar place with no directions to their destination. They feel desperate, unhappy, and hopeless. The thing with being lost in an unfamiliar site as opposed to being lost in a shopping mall is that readers can easily exit with a single click of a button. This will definitely not help your blog traffic.
14. Put an author section in your blog posts – No one wants to read material written by a face-less author, let alone by one without a name. Check out this article by Chris Spooner on how you to create your own author section.
15. Forget about the stats – How much time do you spend checking the stats of traffic to your blog? You’ll be amazed by how much more productive you will be if you focus on maximizing the time you spend writing new blog posts instead. One method to fight off your debilitating addiction for numbers is to disconnect your computer from the internet. Say what?! Yep, that’s right. If you can’t get online, you can’t get look at your stats. Pull out Microsoft Word and start writing your next blog post there. It’ll work out. Trust me.
16. Don’t think about making money…at first – If making money from your blog is your primary goal, I will not argue against that. The problem with focusing solely on money in the beginning is that you lose sight of the far more significant goal every new blog must reach first: quality content. What good will you provide your readers if you only post hundreds of affiliate links and self-promotional articles in the hope of winning people’s credit card numbers? Don’t be greedy. Money is great but don’t let it destroy your blog.
17. Write killer headlines – With eye-catching headlines, you have effectively completed over 50% of your blog’s advertising. Tell me, would you rather read an article titled, “How to Cook Delicious Spaghetti Sauce” or “How to Make Your Spaghetti Sauce Taste Orgasmic” ? (I apologize if you were eating) Anyways, the point is to avoid the overused and generic blog titles and strive for ones that are unique and thought-provoking.
18. Guest post – Don’t let the thought of submitting your written articles to other reputable blogs intimidate you. Remember, if you don’t try, how can you possibly succeed?
So what are you waiting for? The year is almost over! Time waits for nobody!
Tony Hue is a broke college student mired hopelessly in mountains of debt. Send him a check by visiting his blog LonePlacebo, where he writes about social media, technology, and his hilariously sad life. He’s also on Twitter @loneplacebo.