My daughter is hooked on those pet rescue shows on Animal Planet. What I’ve learned from my more occasional viewing is that despite the many joys of pet ownership, not everyone is cut out for it. By the same token, despite the many benefits of a business blog, not everyone should rush into it. Like owning a pet, writing a blog isn’t rocket science but does require a certain level of care and attention, lest the effort end up among the millions of abandoned, forgotten and neglected blogs littering the online landscape. Here are seven tips for a healthy blog and a happy blogger.
Post regularly. A healthy blog thrives on fresh content, at least once per week, more often if possible. If it’s difficult for you to maintain that schedule on your own, consider a group blog where several authors provide content, easing the load on each. A blog with fresh content looks vibrant; a blog with no posts for several months appears neglected or abandoned to the lonely back streets of the web.
Maintain your blog. Make sure sidebar links are current and working, and keep your plugins updated. A blog with obsolete (e.g. promoting an event that is already past) or dead links, buttons that don’t work, or features that don’t function looks scruffy and uncared for.
Moderate and respond to comments. The best blogs communicate with readers rather than just broadcasting to them. Encourage comments, and when you get thoughtful comments or questions, respond and keep the conversation going. But being social doesn’t mean permitting every comment to be posted; obvious link spam or other worthless input should be rejected like the annoying parasites who leave them.
Provide contact information. There will be times when someone (such as a prospect with a product or pricing question, or a journalist looking for the right expert to quote) needs to contact you directly rather than just posting a comment. You can post your email address, use a WordPress contact form plugin, or incorporate an interactive business card (see the upper-right of this blog for an example) on your blog. A blog without contact information is like a lost pet with no ID tag.
Link out. Blogging is a social activity. No matter what topic you write about, there are other smart, insightful bloggers addressing it as well. Link to other posts that support a point you’re making, provide additional information or present a different point of view. It’s helpful to your readers as well as to the bloggers you link to, and often leads to some “link love” coming back to your blog in return.
Acknowledge those who link to you. Links are good things; they drive direct traffic to your blog as well as helping improve your rank in the search engines. When someone is thoughtful enough to link to your blog, show your appreciation: leave a comment on their blog, link to their post from your blog or from Twitter, Digg their post, send them a quick note, do something to affirm the recognition. There are certain over-inflated egos in the worlds of SEO and online marketing who are very poor at this. To be successful in social media, act more like a friendly pooch than an aloof feline.
Be patient! The animals on Pet Stars didn’t learn to do those amazing tricks overnight, and you shouldn’t expect your blog to attract a massive audience right away either. Like pet training, growing the readership for a blog requires using the right techniques and takes some time.
By following these tips for the proper care and feeding of your blog you’ll increase your odds of blogging success. And you won’t need a visit from Victoria Stilwell.