How to Build a Better Blog

I created my blog Impish DIY in 2009 on a whim. I wanted to share my ideas about sewing, cooking and crafting and the do-it-yourself lifestyle with other creative people. What better way to do that then by starting a blog?

I had no idea how to become a successful blogger— I just jumped into it. I got a blog and I started posting and promoting myself on DIY forums. It was a good start, but it could have been better.

Though I no longer actively blog on Impish DIY, it taught me a ton about the blogging world. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years about building a better, more successful blog.

Give It a Catchy Name

Avoid names like “Andrea’s Blog,” or “Just another blog.” Those tell the reader nothing about what to expect. They make your blog seem like any other blog written by any other person. Give your blog a name that’s creative, easy to remember and informative. You don’t need to spell out exactly what your blog is about (no “Bob’s Blog Where He Writes about Cars and Sometimes His Wife Millie”), but a reader should have an idea about your blog’s topic or topics just by reading the title. For example, the title of my blog Impish DIY tells people that I write about DIY and that if they go to it, they can probably find some DIY tutorials and project ideas. This blog, “Rebecca McKeown Writes,” tells people that it’s creator is a writer.

Give Your Blog a Custom Makeover

The first thing you should do after naming your blog is give it a complete makeover. WordPress and Blogger give you some great basic layouts to use and for most people, that’s good enough. But you are not “most people.” You are a successful blogger, right? Successful bloggers don’t have blogs that look like everyone else’s, right? Right.

You don’t need to know a lot about web design, HTML or CSS to customize your blog. You just have to be able to use a program like Paint, Photoshop or GIMP. Using those programs, you can create a colorful background for your blog in your choice of colors or patterns. You can even type your site URLs or info about yourself on the side of the background.

If you like your blog to be simple and without a colored or patterned background, then you can simply create a custom header for your blog. In your blog’s dashboard, find the header widget. It should tell you the dimensions your header needs to be. Open up your editing software and make a canvas that fits the header dimensions.

Pick an interesting and easy-to-read font and type your blog’s name or a tagline in the header. Add a photo of yourself or a logo. Save it and upload to your blog and you’re done.

Promote, Promote, Promote

If you want to make it in the blogging world, you need to get your blog’s name and URL out there. Include links to your blog on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles, as well as on any other social media sites.

One of the best ways to promote your blog is to join forums that focus on the topics you blog about. If the forum allows self-promotion links in your signatures, be sure to post your site’s URL there with a little description like: “My hunting and fishing blog.”

Once you’ve linked to your site, be sure to post often. Every time you post on that forum, you’re advertising to people who directly fit your blog’s market.

Use Social Media

So you’ve already linked your site’s URL on your personal social media profiles, but have you created pages for your actual blog? Create Facebook and Twitter pages for your blog and update them regularly. But don’t just post links to your new posts. People will learn to quickly tune those updates out. Instead, post daily observations, funny thoughts and photos (work appropriate ones only, please). This will get people to interact with your page and see you as a real person they can actually be interested in.

When you do post links to your blog posts, be sure to preface the link with a brief description of the post. Try something like this: “Don’t you hate when the bank charges you to use your debit card? Check out my post on why banks should stop useless fees: http://www.yourlinkhere.com.”

You should also be sure to add Facebook and Twitter boxes or links on your blog so your readers can find you.

Interact With Readers

The internet can be a scary place for bloggers. People hiding behind their computers just love to write nasty anonymous comments on blogs. Don’t let them scare you. For every mean commenter I’ve encountered, I’ve had at least two supportive fans defend my posts. It’s those fans who make me glad to be a blogger, and I always make sure to thank them for their support.

Even if you’re scared of getting bad feedback, enable commenting on your blog. This gives loyal readers a chance to interact with you and tell you what they think. Many readers (including me) are turned off by blogs who don’t allow readers to leave comments. In fact, I won’t stay long on a site that doesn’t allow me to voice my opinion.

That being said, you’ll get all types of comments. Good or bad, be sure to respond politely to all of them. Your readers will gain respect for you and will keep coming back to read your words.

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