'What's Wrong With My Blog?' 29 April, 2007 — 62 comments — Stuart Brown
A guide to common pitfalls, mistakes & faux pas in blogging
Creating a blog is easy - but alas, building a readership is somewhat more difficult. So where do nascent bloggers most commonly go wrong?
Ensure you have enough content
If your blog is still wet behind the ears, it's likely that you don't have a lot of articles on the site. Some readers will be put off by this - new blogs are created all the time and a certain percentage of those never get off the ground. If you have a decent amount of content in your archives, then new readers will be more inclined to stick around and subscribe to your feeds for future material.
Clarify your blog's topic - diversify or focus on a niche if necessary
One trouble with personal blogs is that the topics covered can be very disparate - it's better to focus on a distinct set of topics. Clearly specifying a topic (either through consistent posts, in a tagline, or on an 'about' page) will help tell your readers exactly what you're about.
Accept that some topics are just too marginal
Some topics are more popular than others - if you choose something too obscure, you may struggle to find readers. Niche blogs can be a good way of creating a smaller, more dense and closely-knit readership, but if you're after a large following, you need to write about something with mass appeal.
Controversy doesn't wash well
Building a successful blog based on controversial content can be tricky. If you're writing stuff which a lot of people disagree with, particularly if it's written in a caustic way, then you may evoke a response but you won't find a lasting readership.
Don't use a default theme if you can avoid it
'Kubrick' is a great theme for WordPress. It's also the default one, used by hundreds of thousands of other WordPress installs. Give your blog something to distinguish itself from everything else - install an alternative theme, or better yet - design one from scratch.
Consider your blog's brand
If you can couple your visual identity and content theme, you're onto a winner. Creating a cohesive 'brand' for your blog can be a great way of establishing a clear niche and can help build a solid readership.
Update often, but don't let quality suffer
Regular posts will make your readers want to come back more often - but that doesn't mean that you should post for the sake of it. Essentially this means you need a steady stream of high-quality articles - but you weren't under the impression this was going to be easy, were you?
Links are the most important element to growing a blog. Organic traffic is boosted, traffic elevated and exposure is increased with every link. 'Linkability', then, is ensuring you do everything you can to facilitate the process of getting links.
A few key points: Make sure you blog has permalinks, and make sure they're obvious enough for people to find. Ensure that older content stays in the same location, and isn't deleted, renamed or moved - and if you have to (for instance, if you move your blog to a new platform or domain) - make sure you redirect from old to new. Finally, make sure your content is worth linking to!
If you plaster your blog with AdSense and have no traffic, you're not going to see any revenue. Over monetisation can turn new readers away, particularly on a new blog. It's tempting to cram ads on your site in the early days to try and drum up some cash, but you should consider restraint when it could have an adverse effect on your popularity.
Make sure your SEO is up to scratch
You don't have to don your black hat to be mindful of search engines - but make sure you get the basics right. Write headlines with search engines in mind, ensuring you title your posts with something resembling the search phrases that you'd use to find it. Technical considerations extend to the use of the headline in the page title - something most blog platforms do - and the use of H1 tags to semantically identify the title in the page content itself.
Patience, patience, patience!
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for new bloggers - patience is essential in terms of building a readership. It isn't going to happen overnight - for a new blog on a new domain it takes a spectacular amount of work. A lot of your initial work will be in assembling a set of post archives that will drive organic traffic (= potential new readers) and help you develop and improve your blogging techniques.
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