The Internet is flooded with blogs. While some become popular, others struggle to capture any attention. So what is it that determines whether a blog will gain a following or not? Some will argue that it all relies on written content, while others will say it's all about good visuals. This article, however, will discuss how it's a bit of both and oh so much more.
First and foremost, you need to make sure your content appeals to a greater audience, not just you, your family and a couple of mates. Before launching your blog, you should clearly define your target audience, and be aware of their interests and trends. Engage them by using the right tone of language, but be careful not to make it sound forced. Most bloggers write about subjects that interest them so the writing doesn't entail stepping out of personal comfort zones. Avoid coming across as patronising and don't offend anyone, whether or not they're a part of your intended target audience.
Written content needs to be fresh and relevant. Don't delay in writing opinion pieces on news events, for example. And don't write reviews for sun tan lotion in the middle of a dark and gloomy winter. Always put yourself in your readers' shoes before publishing an article.
Attention spans online are known to be even shorter than those offline. Reel in your readers with a punchy headline and intriguing first two sentences. Avoid being too general and using generic headlines like "Today at school", and be specific using key phrases popular among your target audience.
Your articles are best accompanied by original photos or videos that really capture the essence of your blog post. A photo with a good caption can sometimes even be enough to serve as a daily update. Make sure you diversify pictures so they don't always feature you and a few friends having fun, or your cat curled up sleeping in your bath, under your bed, on the windowsill etc. If a friend's captured better photos of a recent trip you took, ask to use those instead of your own poor results.
Design and Usability
Whether designing your own website or using a free blogging platform like Blogger or Wordpress, choose a simple layout that's not overly fussy and crowded. Choose a striking logo or photo as a header that illustrates the blog's ethos. Use fonts that are clear to read, and don't experiment with different colours. Keep your blog easy to browse with a maximum of 2-3 pages. Don't overdo it on categorising posts as you want people (and search engines) to instantly find what they're looking for.
Marketing and Advertising
Start with the usual approach of popularising posts via Twitter, Facebook and Digg. For visual posts be sure to use Pinterest. Comment on other bloggers' posts if you think you have something in common and might be attracting similar readers. Develop contacts for guest blogging opportunities too. If someone comments on a blog post of yours, thank them and try to continue the discussion.
Don't forget the all important aspect of search engine optimisation. Use keywords in your headlines and 2-4 times throughout your blog post. If your blogging platform allows you to, personalise meta descriptions and title tags with clear calls to action.
It's not easy to achieve a high readership and it won't happen overnight so be patient. Your best approach is to find a niche that few have explored and blogged about. Combined with excellent content, visuals, design, usability, search engine marketing and advertising, you could be the new rising star of the web.