(Following up on the immense popularity of the first article of The Complete Idiot's Guide series!)
Ok, so you've decided to start a blog of your own. Everyone else is doing it, and so you thought you'd give it a try as well. After all, how tough can it be, eh?
But then you notice that you aren't getting the hits! The comments aren't coming in and no one seems to care about your blog! Don't worry - read on!
There are two basic aspects to consider if you want to become a popular blogger - content and publicity.
What do you write about on the blog?
There are only three important things to consider when writing a blog - content, content and content! (That's probably the oldest joke in the book, but it never fails!)
As far as possible stick to general topics. Or at least have a wide spread of the topics you write about. For example, I could go on and on about my dog Fifi (actually I couldn't since I don't have one!) but that would be of little or no interest to anyone (unless my dog knew how to use the computer and access the web).
Stay away from obscure topics. A post on the history of Manchester United, though well written, would interest few readers other than hardcore MU fans (and we all know there are only 4 of them)! An equally well-written post on soccer in general would obviously interest considerably more readers.
Sometimes topics that may interest you a lot may not be very popular with the hoi polloi (incidentally, neither are words like 'hoi polloi'!). So before you post something, think twice about whether the average reader who knows nothing about you would be interested in reading what you are about to post.
If you write about something local (like a local TV show) ensure that you give a little outline so that someone halfway across the world can also follow what you are trying to say. Stay away from inside jokes (jokes understood only by your group of friends) and alluding to incidents that only a certain select few would be aware of.
Humor is always the safest bet, so long as it is kept clean and easy to understand (wouldn't want to exclude all the Poles from your readership now, would you?). A humorous article has universal acceptance and the reader need not know anything about you to enjoy it. A funny blog is always a popular blog.
How do you write?
Another important point is how you write your blog. Do not use SMS lingo. There's no shortage of character space here and it is extremely annoying to read. Ensure that you write using proper grammar and spelling. Read your article carefully before posting to get rid of any typographical erors (yeah, of course I did that on purpose!).
Do not let your articles grow too long. Because then unless you manage to captivate the reader with the first few paragraphs, he is unlikely to read on to the end. A shorter article is much more likely to be read.
And always keep the font big and readable! (This is one rule I obviously don’t believe in following, but then I’m not an Idiot!)
It is not necessary that you post everyday, but posting as regularly as possible will certainly improve your readership. Few people will bother checking your blog everyday if they know you post only once a fortnight!
But on the other hand, posting everyday just because you have to post everyday is not going to be of any use. If you have nothing interesting to post, it's better not to post anything at all than to post something boring.
The more the number of people who know about your blog, the more the number of readers you will have. (Simple math, ain't it?) So spread the word around. Let all your relatives know about the blog (especially those who do have access to a computer)! Try to slip your blog into conversations that you have with friends and colleagues. Almost any conversation can be led to your blog if you're skillful enough.
A large percentage of your readership will be fellow bloggers. So the best way to get people to read your blog is to read theirs! Go around surfing through the links and leave comments on the blogs you come across. This is one of the best means of improving readership.
It works in the following way - you read A's blog and leave a comment. Now, A doesn't know if you are going to come back or not. For all he knows you may have forgotten his URL. Remember A is probably as interested in increasing his readership as you are in yours. So A will probably visit your blog and leave a comment there for you. Bingo!
Put up links in your sidebar to other popular blogs (and ensure they reciprocate the action)! Remember this is not a zero-sum situation. In other words, it's not necessarily win-lose. Thus your linking someone else on your blog is not going to reduce your own readership!
(If you're someone out there who has linked me and I haven't linked you, please let me know!)
Ultimately though, you must realize that publicity can only get people to visit your blog the first time. After that it's only the quality of the content that will keep them coming back.
Happy Blogging, Idiots!