Wednesday of this week marks the third birthday of this blog. Although I in no way claim to be an expert, in those three years I have learned a huge amount about blogging. Nearly everything I’ve learned has been from blog posts where others generously shared their knowledge and insight, so I thought I would try to give back a little of what I’ve received from the blogging community.
This week, in addition to some of my normal content, I’ll be sharing a series of posts on how to improve your blog, starting with this list of the ten most important things you can do to make your blog better. Over the course of the week I’ll expand on some of these topics with links and resources that I’ve found useful.
1. Produce quality content
This is so important that it deserves to be numbers one through five. But what does it mean? We all know that there are some blogs that are better than others, yet it can be tough to put your finger on exactly why. Whether it’s amazing writing, gorgeous photos, innovative graphic design, or inspiring DIY projects, you’ve got to give people something original that they can’t find anywhere else to keep them coming back.
2. Take better photos
This has been my motto lately, and it has made a huge difference. Whether you like it or not, people are visual, and the better the photos on your blog, the better exposure you will get.
3. Use good graphic design
Remember that last part, about people being visual? The graphic design elements on your blog, from fonts to photo captions to the blog template and header, are all incredibly important in helping to make your blog one that people want to return to on a regular basis.
4. Be consistent
Consistency in posting is key to attracting readers. When people know that they can expect quality updates on a regular basis, they are far more likely to visit a site. This requires planning what to post and sticking to a schedule for your updates.
5. Use social media
If you want people to read your blog, you’d better have a grasp of how to use at least a few different social media platforms to engage with readers and publicize your content. Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram seem to be the key sites, but who knows when some amazing upstart will enter the fray and become indispensable.
Free blogging is a great place to start, and in fact I wouldn’t recommend that anyone start out blogging with a self-hosted blog. But eventually you’ll tire of the limitations of a free blog, and be ready to upgrade. I did it earlier this year, and I love all of the options to personalize and optimize my blog that I now have.
7. Clean it up
Make it as easy as possible for readers to navigate your blog and find the information they are interested in. Some splashes of color are great, but a white background with black text and a simple layout looks professional and helps put the focus where it should be, on your content.
8. Pay attention to details
I know I sound like your high school English teacher, but improper spelling and grammar make you look unprofessional (and dumb). Of course nobody is perfect, and mistakes sneak past all of us at one time or another, especially on social media sites where proofreading is less important. But please, at least learn the difference between “it’s” and “its.” Check this list for the other most common grammar mistakes. (If English isn’t your first language, you get a pass.)
9. Know your numbers
In order to increase your readership, you need to know where your links are coming from and what posts are the most popular. Your blog stats are the best way to monitor this information.
10. Set goals
There is always, always room for improvement. Goals help you see where you are, and where you want to be. Maybe you want a prettier layout, a larger readership, or better photos. Set concrete goals (redesign your site, boost visitors by a set amount in a specific amount of time, take at least one photo every day, etc.), and get to work!
Many of the items in this list are ones that I am always trying to improve on this blog. Looking back, I can see that I’ve really increased my skills in some of these areas, but in others I still have plenty of work to do. I made this little graphic to serve as a reminder of ways in which we can all do better. Please feel free to save it, pin it, or share it.
If you’re a blogger, especially a beginner, I hope you find this list useful. Check back this week as I add more specific advice on some of these topics.
If you’re an experienced blogger, what do you think of this list? Is there anything big that I missed, or anything you’d like to add?