For some years now blogging has been possibly the easiest way for a person get their content onto the internet. However, it can sometimes be difficult to gather a loyal fan-base and somewhat disheartening when it feels like no-one is reading your posts. There are many things that you should consider before starting a blog, that will make it easier for you to gather readers once your blog is up and running.
Firstly, you need to decide on a topic for your blog, or, if you are doing a personal day-to-day blog, a style of writing. When choosing a topic to focus on, try to make it as specific as possible in order to find a niche. Finding a market that has not already been saturated is key; the fewer people writing about the same subject, the easier it will be to gain loyal readers.
Once you have decided on a subject for your blog, you need to choose which third-party provider (assuming that you want a free blog) you would like to use. There are many different providers out there, the two most popular being Blogger and Wordpress. Both of these blogging sites have their merits; as a vague guide, Blogger is easier to use and is better for people new to blogging and Wordpress is a little more customisable and complex, more suited to an experienced blogger.
When designing how your blog will look, try to keep it as simple as possible; a page that is too cluttered may put readers off as they will instinctively think that the information they are searching for will be too difficult to find. Try to limit yourself to one sidebar for widgets and links, prioritising the ones that will assist your readers most. An archives' widget is always a good idea as it allows readers to find older posts that they may want to re-read without having to scroll through them all. Make sure that the colour scheme of your blog is not too harsh and that text is clear and easy to read. Nothing will put off a potential reader more than having to squint in order to read your work.
The most important thing to consider is interconnectivity; how can other areas of the internet (social networking sites for example) assist you in gaining readers? Link your blog and Facebook, enabling auto-share on Facebook if you wish, so that your blog posts are automatically posted to your profile. Twitter is another good site to use, allowing you to reach the maximum amount of people with minimum effort. Be sure to have an RSS link on your blog so that people may add you to their reader; many people that may pass through on a whim, but may not have the time to have a thorough look, will use this so that they can read through your posts later. Also, an email subscription form is essential, although a little old-fashioned it is still a very popular way of subscribing. The more ways a potential reader has to subscribe, the more likely they are to find one that suits them; any inconvenience may put them off.
Obviously, you want to get yourself and your blog noticed by potential readers. The best way to do this is to comment on other people's blog posts or in associated forums. Do not just post a link to your blog, this is both impolite and annoying to other readers, instead post a reply either praising their work or (constructively) criticising it, perhaps including a question too. If you can spark up a conversation with other bloggers or make them think about what you have said, more often than not, they will visit your site. Another way is to ask your friends to post a link to your site as their Facebook status, this may attract a few new readers and friends-of-friends will often share similar interests. You may post a link on your own Facebook occasionally too but too often and it will become annoying; remember, one post by five friends will be far more effective than five posts from one friend.
When writing on your blog, try to keep your posts short to medium in length, or at least to the point if it must be longer; a post that is too long and goes off on several tangents before reaching its conclusion can become tiresome to read. Post often but try not to over-post; as a guide, four to five medium length posts per week will give your readers more than enough to keep them interested. In the case of blogging, quality really is more important than quantity. Asking questions at the end of a post will encourage your readers to get involved and post comments. The more you involve your readers, the more likely they are to visit your site on a regular basis. Be sure to use language that is appropriate to your demographic. If your posts are aimed at children or young adults, writing in an overly-formal manner that they might find difficult to read or understand will put them off.
Finally, remember that readers can be fickle; if you are going away on holiday or you will not be posting for a period of time for any reason, inform your subscribers; let them know when they can expect you to resume posting and why you will be away. Try to make your first post after an absence interesting and (if appropriate) sensationalise it a little bit in order to get people hooked again.
Blogging should be both fun and rewarding; by following these guidelines you should have a positive experience whether you are a beginner or are more experienced.