Every blog starts somewhere. Unfortunately because blogs appear and then often disappear it helps to look early on like you’re here for the long haul. There are some easy cosmetic changes that any blogger can make to help give a new blog a more established feel.
Remember you aren’t trying to decieve your readers, you simply don’t want to draw their attention to the fact that the blog is brand new. So assuming you really are going to have the blogging goods to back up your pretensions, here are nine tips to help get a blog off to a quick start:
- Don’t advertise your subscriber numbers
You may be impressed that you have 18 subscribers to your RSS feed, but chances are that noone else is. Nothing else says brand new blog with no readership than an icon proclaiming how few people are subscribed. While having no subscribers doesn’t necessarily equate to bad blog, it does means that you are now combatting the thought “noone else reads this blog, why should I?”
- Get your first 15-25 posts out quickly so theres a decent amount of content on the site.
It is obvious, but I will say it anyway, the faster you get out your initial content the better because nothing makes a site look less worthwhile than it actually not being worthwhile. If your blog is literally brand new you should backdate content so that it doesn’t look like you just put up 20 posts in a single day – unless of course you plan to keep putting up 20 posts every day.
- Get rid of date based archives or anything that immediately shows how new your blog is.
Lists of months with very little in them don’t do anything for you. If you’d like to archive your posts, try using categories instead and keep the categories broad so you only have a few and your limited posts are not spaced out far and wide.
- Either get comments or remove comments.
When you have 20 posts with no comments it is going to look like not much is happening. Either switch them off or get some. How do you get comments on a brand new blog? There are in fact lots of options: comment on other people’s blogs, bribe your friends, create some users and fake them, get some traffic to the site by promoting insightful articles. There are plenty of other ways to get comments, most well documented. Suffice to say that you either need a few comments or if you can’t manage that then it’s better to make ‘no comments’ seem like it was on purpose.
- Jumpstart things with a review, advert or some other traffic source.
As soon you have a few posts on the site, it’s always a good idea to jumpstart the blog by purchasing a review, an advert or if you can manage it traffic from some other source (social media, CSS galleries, other blogs). Since you are going to be investing a lot of time in the blog, it makes sense to invest a little money and pay to bring some people to the site. Visitors, comments and subscribers will quickly make your blog feel more established.
- Have non-post content on the site as well.
Blogs are all about posts, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few static pages on the site as well. Start with an ‘About’ page and a ‘Contact’ page, but also look for other ideas. As you grow you can add pages such as ‘Advertise’ and ‘Top Posts’, but early on you need to be more inventive. Try ideas such as ‘Related Resources’ or ‘Essential Links’ for simple but useful pages.
- Don’t run advertisements in the first month.
Advertising is kind of like a bad hair style. If you’re Brad Pitt you can get away with a bad hair style and maybe even make it look cool. But if you’re a high school dweeb, a bad hair style just makes you look like more of a dweeb. If your blog hasn’t cut its teeth yet, you shouldn’t cover it in ads. Aside from the fact that you won’t be making money anyway, it just makes it harder for potential users to see your content.
- Make sure your content is original!
Although I’ve stressed getting lots of content fast, it should also be stressed that you need ORIGINAL content. If you are just posting news you’ve read on some other blog, there is a good chance users will come to your blog, read it and think “Ain’t nothing here I can’t get somewhere else” and frankly, they’d be right. Don’t be a follower, be a leader. If you want a successful blog, you need to be the blog that other people copy from, not the other way around. Some bloggers take the point of view that they are passing valuable news on to their readers. But remember, you don’t have any readers yet! You need to create valuable news to attract some readers so that later on you can take days off and just post other people’s hard work!
- Use Images and Diagrams
It can be hard to read text only posts, and if a user comes to your site fresh off the bat, using an image can be a great way to draw them in. It also makes your content more dynamic and the blog look richer. So get an image into at least every second post .. of course make sure they are relevant and of good quality! You can find great, cheap images at sites like iStockPhoto.
Of course the reality is that your blog will take time to get established and no amount of cosmetics will fool anyone if the content isn’t there to back it up. But following these guidelines should help your blog avoid shooting itself in the foot.