I wish someone had given me tips on what to do and what not to do a year ago when I started blogging! : ) So keep in mind I’m no expert – these are just some tips that I’ve learned through trial-and-error. (And thanks to those readers who’ve finally “made” me turn these into an actual post AND to ClothedMuch*, for becoming my inspiration for this post!)
DON’T blog for the money. Do it because you love doing it. If money comes in later, then awesome! If not, then know you’re doing it because you actually enjoy expressing yourself through this medium. You may not get financially compensated, but you’ll definitely get other, perhaps, more valuable rewards.
DO have a clean layout. Keep a simple neutral-colored background. That means no colorful backgrounds with big prints. If you do want to use a patterned background, make sure it’s a small print and, again, a neutral color. There is a reason newspapers are a light gray with black font–it is easier on the eyes. Also, use a legible font. Cutesy isn’t legible, sorry. Keep the font size mature. And overall, keep your blog professional!!! Find more style tips for bloggers here.
DO keep your sidebars clean. Only include what’s relevant. Unnecessary stuff only adds to the page loading time. Remember, you want to keep readers on your blog–NOT confuse them with 100+ other websites you linked to that they can go to and get lost in!! If you are having trouble keeping your sidebars clean, start using pages. It’ll open up the blog a lot more. You can create pages by going to your Blogger dashboard, then to Edit Posts. Click on Edit Pages. Click on New Page.
DO check your blog in different browsers and screen sizes. It could look good in Firefox but look horrible in Internet Explorer. Check out ViewLike.Us to see your blog in different resolutions (Sidewalk Chalk).
DO get rid of “Posted by” and timestamps. I get it. Post signatures are pretty. But if you’re your blog’s sole writer, are they really necessary?* Unless you work on a team blog, there is no reason to have “Posted by” or post signatures because everyone will know who is writing the blog. Timestamps are also unnecessary because your blog will be read by people from different countries–to whom timestamps are irrelevant. You can eliminate them by going to your Blogger dashboard >> Design >> Page Elements >> Edit button >> Blog Posts link >> Uncheck the Posted by and Posted at boxes.
* If your signature doesn’t have any “follow” links, then it’s just a pointless picture.
DO be yourself!!! Don’t copy some other blogger. There’s only one you so why waste that by trying to be somebody else? Adapt from other bloggers, but always (always!) give credit where credit is due. (Hint: When an idea is sort of common knowledge, then citing isn’t a necessity/requirement. When a novel idea/image, then do cite. Learn how to properly cite images and other posts here.)
To reiterate: Don’t copy or steal other bloggers’ ideas! With the internet, it’s easy to save anything onto your computer and not remember where you got it. If you use that content WITHOUT referencing your sources, it’s stealing. If you want to use another bloggers’ content or pictures, ASK and it’s nice to link to their site.
DO have an About Me page. When checking out a new blog, it is usually the first page I go to because I want to get to know you. Therefore, write it from the perspective of a new reader who wants to learn more about you. Include snippets of your personality and a way for us to contact you if you don’t have a separate “Contact”page.
DON’T have music play automatically upon launch!!!! … unless you’re writing a music blog.
DO make it easy for new readers to follow you. Keep coming back. Place the follower buttons at a visible location.
DO make your content GOOD. Keep your blog to as few or as many topics as you’d like. Have text. If you don’t have any text, search engines can’t direct people to your blog. (Learn more about optimizing your posts for search engines here.) Don’t know what to write about? Respond to comments from your last post or talk about your outfit. Also, post as often as you’re comfortable with!
If you have any DIY projects or tutorials, share them! What is easy for you because you did it so many times may not be easy for someone who’s only seen it once on your blog!
DO COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT!!!! Some bloggers are lucky enough to gain readers overnight. Some have to work a long time for it. Commenting is the best way to attract new readers. It lets you meet new people, join great communities, and build future relationships–not just a few extra page hits. Comment in your blog niche.
When commenting, don’t forget to CARE. Write a genuine, relevant comment. None of this copy-and-paste “Great post! Follow my blog!!!” nonsense. When commenting, use a comment signature. Nothing fancy and nothing more than a line or two. It should just be your blog and maybe your name – nothing more is required. Learn more about writing better comments here.
Comment signatures are great when someone has a ton of blogs listed on their profile and you don’t know which one to go to. It’s also easier for people to click on the link instead of going to your profile and then to your blog. You can create a comment signature by using the HTML link code: <*a href="your link here">your text here<*/a> … and take out the asterisks.
DO be active in your social networks. Some people have either a Twitter feed or a Facebook profile so it’s good to use both to update your readers on new posts or just to say “hi” and create small talk. Place social network buttons clearly in your blog to make it easier for your readers to connect with you. Also have social media “Share” buttons at the end of each post so readers can save it for another time or share it with their friends online.
If you’re up for it, DO get business cards with your blog URL and perhaps your email and hand them out. Everybody is a potential reader.
DO keep track of your stats and numbers… but don’t obsess over them! They’re useful for advertising in the future but that’s it.
DO know what to charge advertising and sponsors. If you don’t know what price to ask, start with something reasonable. If you’re getting a lot of requests, you’re obviously charging too little. If you’re not getting a lot of emails, you’re charging too much. Find that medium. It takes a while, but don’t rush it.
What some advertisers look for is the best cost per mille (CPM)–mille means 1,000 in Latin. You calculate your CPM by dividing the advertising cost by your monthly traffic in the thousands. For example, if you have 100,000 monthly page views and you are charging $100 for an ad you would do this: $100 / 100 views = $1 CPM. It’s good to stay around the $1 CPM range.
Lastly, DO be nice, make friends, and have fun!