A task a day, for one month. Some are very little, others will take a little while, all of them will make you (and your blog) better.
Make the next month your best blogging month yet — one day at a time.
Day 1. Write a better ‘About’ page. A more gripping About page will help convert more new visitors into loyal readers. You can almost guarantee an effective About page by answering the question: “What does this blog have to offer?”
Day 2. Start using more images in your posts. Readers like images — they help set the tone of your blog post, illustrate metaphors and generally make your posts more interesting to look at. You can use a free stock photography service, but you can also use sensational Flickr images.
Day 3. Write a week’s worth of posts in advance. Developing the habit of writing in advance will give you a safety net of content to fall back on when you’re lazy, busy or uninspired. Writing and posting in the same time-frame will inevitably lead to an erratic posting habit, because your readers will never know what to expect from you. Write enough posts in advance and you could also earn the right to a blogging holiday.
Day 4. De-clutter your sidebar. Clutter likes a sidebar in the same way that monkeys like trees. If you have less in your sidebar, you can focus bigger chunks of attention on what’s really important (your feed link, categories and popular posts). Remove unnecessary widgets and put your blogroll and archives on their own dedicated page. It can also be a good idea to remove underperforming ads.
Day 5. Highlight your most popular posts. Linking to your blog’s most popular posts in a prominent location is essential practice, because it gives new visitors a place to go. They don’t have time to search around for good content: the want to see the best you have to offer, straight away. Linking to popular posts can help ensure that the links and comments keep coming, even after the post is several months old.
Day 6. Start making friends on a social media service like Digg or StumbleUpon.These services are a great place to network, because you’ll be establishing relationships with people who have the potential to send hundreds of visitors to your articles. If you vote up their content, you may be able to call in a favor later on by asking them to vote up posts you’ve written.
Day 7. Pitch a guest-post idea at the most popular blog in your niche. Guest-posting is a fantastic way to raise your profile and bring targeted traffic back to your blog. Navigate to the most popular blog in your niche and think of a post idea you think would work well there (but make sure it’s one they haven’t posted about before). Pitch your idea to the blogger and offer to write the full article if they’re interested. If not, you can always use the idea on another blog, or on your own blog.
Day 8. Craft a great resource-list. Resource lists are very popular with social media and can be quite easy to make, particularly if you already have the resources on hand. Pick a topic your target audience is keenly interested in and create a list of resources relating to that topic. You can use your own bookmarks if you have enough. If you’re short on links, a del.icio.us search for your topic will return hundreds if useful links people have saved using your chosen topic as a keyword.
Day 9. Offer a free service to your readers (without expecting anything in return).Whether it’s a logo redesign, free post ideas, a design review, social media votes or 15 minutes worth of free consulting, giving something valuable away for free without expecting anything in return will leave a lasting impression on your readers (and might attract a few links, too).
Day 10. Pitch a link to one of your blog posts to three other blogs in your niche.Take the most popular post on your blog and pass along the link to the bloggers behind three popular blogs in your niche. If they like it, they may link to it in their next link round-up.
Day 11. Add social media links to the bottom of your posts and to your feed. While most people will vote for your posts via the toolbar, social media links or icons can remind people to vote for your post if they liked it. It’s even more essential to add these buttons to your feed, because there’s no easy way for people to vote straight out of their feed reader. Using a FeedFlare to put an ‘Add a Comment’ link at the bottom of your feed items is also a good idea. FeedFlares are available under the ‘Publicize’ tab in your Feedburner control panel.
Day 12. Participate in the comments on one of your own blog posts. Readers will feel as if you’re interested in what they have to say, you might learn something, and you’ll also increase the comment count on your post.
Day 13. Work out an editorial calendar for your blog. It’s a lot harder to put off writing a post when you know exactly when your blog is due for an update. Working out an editorial calendar can help give your blog a sense of rhythm. It can also make you more productive through setting firm deadlines for new posts.
Day 14. Prune your feed subscriptions. I suspect some bloggers spend as much time reading feeds as they do writing posts. Pruning your feed collection can help you save quite a bit of time. If you find yourself regularly skipping feed items from a particular blog, or if you can’t think of one thing you’ve learned from reading a particular blog’s posts, it’s probably best if you unsubscribe.
Day 15. Write a 10-page report or mini eBook. A few hours work will result in a free report you can distribute to feed subscribers only, give out to your readers and encourage them to share, or otherwise leverage to bring more traffic back to your blog. If it’s really useful, it might even go viral.
Day 16. Try adding a new income stream to your blog. If it wasn’t clear already, blog advertising programs can be unreliable. You might be on to a sweet thing with one form of advertising at the moment, but what if the service changes, or goes bust — taking your income with it? If you’re monetizing your blog it’s a good idea to have at least two strong income streams in place, so that if something goes wrong with one, you’ve still got backup.
Day 17. Think up 20 post ideas you can use. Once you know what you’ve got to write, starting becomes a lot easier. Set aside a day to brainstorm 20 post ideas you could definitely see yourself using on your blog. Alternately, you could just use twenty of Mark’s pre-made blog post ideas.
Day 18. Thank your readers. Set aside a day to say thank you to your readers — even if it’s just a short sentence at the bottom of your latest post. Of course, if you can be innovative in the way you say thanks to your readers, it’s a lot more likely to leave an impression.
Day 19. Update your blogging software to its latest version. Out of date blogging software can be vulnerable to bugs and attacks from hackers. Just make sure to back up your previous install (and that you know what you’re doing). You might need to spend some time researching the transition before you actually begin the process.
Day 20. Create strong, alpha-neumeric passwords for all your accounts. If any of your blogging related passwords are single, Dictionary words or letters only, it would be quite easy for a determined hacker to break into one of your accounts. Set aside this day to strengthen your passwords by using combinations of letters, numbers and punctuation that exceed 8 characters in length. Make sure to keep your new passwords written down somewhere in a safe place (and write them down carefully).
Day 21. Sit down and analyze your stats for the last month. Statistics can tell you a lot about what worked and what didn’t. Analyzing stats over an extended period can reveal visitor trends, popular posts and which of the promotional activities you undertook were worth doing.
Day 22. Ask someone to guest-post on your own blog. If you’re friendly with another blogger, invite them to write on your own blog. If your blog is more popular than theirs you’ll have a better chance of being accepted. A guest-poster can inject a bit of freshness into your blog and, most importantly, allow you to focus on tasks other than content creation for a day.
Day 23. Do some SEO on your blog. SEO can be tricky, but if you know a little bit about it, set aside a day to revise and tweak your blog’s SEO. Alternately, you can take the time to learn how to optimize your blog for search engines.
Day 24. Buy a $5 StumbleUpon advertising campaign for your best post. $5 buys roughly 300 visitors. If some of those StumbleUpon visitors end up adding more votes to your article, the result could be a traffic snowball much larger than the one you paid for! Before you start, you can read this post at ProBlogger on advertising with StumbleUpon.
Day 25. Design a custom logo for your blog, or get someone to do it for you. Blog branding is essential. If you’re using a free theme without any distinct branding, your blog will probably end up looking like at least a dozen other blogs using the same theme. If you have any ability with image editing software, design a custom logo. Even using a distinctive, free font to write your blog’s name in big letters can do the job adequately. If you want to go the extra step, you can pay a freelancer or logo design company to brand your blog.
Day 26. Join a popular forum in your niche. A link back to your blog in your forum signature can generate more incoming traffic than a dozen comments spread over multiple blogs.
Day 27. Spend two hours or more on a single post. If you spend a lot of time on a single post you’re likely to end up with a lot of value in one place. Investing extra time in a post can result in some pretty cool rewards.
Day 28. Process your email inbox to empty. You’ll need to answer your emails eventually, so why not do it today? An empty inbox is a welcome sight for any blogger.
Day 29. Start a dialogue with another blogger in your niche. Say hello, offer your help, comment on a post they’ve written — however you do it, send an email to another blogger in your niche and don’t ask anything of them. If you can strike up a conversation (or at least a connection) there may be future opportunities where you can do a favor for the other blogger and, later, have that favor returned.
Day 30. Hold a small competition with a modest prize. Whether it’s an eBook, a free consultation, a DVD or a CD, a small prize and a small competition can help boost reader engagement and participation in your blog without denting your finances too much.
Day 31. Take a day off blogging. You’ve earned it! Set aside some time to reflect on the thirty things you’ve done this month to improve your blog. You really should be proud of yourself.