This guest post is by Sarah Von from Yes and Yes.
If you’ve just started a blog you are, no doubt, using your best Google-fu to hunt down every last post giving advice to novice bloggers. There’s heaps of great information out there, but it can get a bit overwhelming for the true beginner. Tweeting and SEO and HTML, oh my! Never fear. Many of the skills that make you an awesome friend/partner/human being will also make you a great blogger!
Work your strong suits
When you sing karaoke, you know you can rock Bob Dylan, and when you’re buying jeans, you know you should stick to boot-cut because they makes your butt look great. The same approach goes for blogging.
We can’t all be Pulitzer-worthy prose writers. Nor does everyone have an unerring eye for good design or a never-ending fount of ideas for amazing posts. But you’re probably pretty good at one of those things, most of the time.
Make the most of your talents! If you’re a good writer but a bad designer, find a good template and then leave it alone. If you’ve got a great eye for design but tremble at the sight of an empty page, maybe you’re meant for tumblr blog rather than something based in Blogger or WordPress. If you’ve got heaps of great ideas but lack the words to convey them, take a writing class or have a writer friend look over your posts in exchange for a nice dinner
Rest assured that very, very few bloggers have got the market cornered on every area of expertise. While there’s always room for improvement for all of us, don’t make yourself crazy sweating the details on an aspect of blogging that doesn’t really interest you.
In real life, you wouldn’t back out of wedding you RSVPed to attend. Hopefully, you’d never forget to pick up your best friend at the airport. Showing the people in your life (whether they’re here in person or out there on the Internet) that you are reliable is super-important.
I am not exaggerating when I say that many of my favorite blogs have a special place in my heart because I know that every morning I will find new content on them. And I will find that new content every day at the same time. It’s such a bummer to find a blog that you love, only stop by on Music Monday or Food Tuesday and just see posts from last week. That’s how blogs get removed from my RSS feeds.
You don’t need to post seven days a week to develop a loyal readership, but if you say you’re going to post new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, well, for the love of Pete, do so! And if your posting is going to be spotty for a while, tell us. People will take you (and your blog) seriously when you take it seriously.
Be a considerate conversationalist
Being able to make conversation can open so many doors for you. And it’s not hard! Ask people questions about themselves, actually listen to their responses and talk about topics that are of interest to both of you (not your Atkins diet or your dog’s health problems).
The same goes for the Internet. It might be tempting to write that post complaining about your coworker who took credit for your new marketing plan. And if you really, really want to, by all means post away! But before you click the Publish button, consider what you’re hoping to accomplish by publishing a negative post, which is probably of interest to a very small group of people.
Many successful bloggers include personal content in their blogs and allow readers a glimpse behind the proverbial curtain. However, unless you are a hilarious and excellent writer, you will probably struggle to find a large readership if your blog consists solely of posts detailing who makes you angry, how you feel about Grey’s Anatomy, and what you bought at Target today.
Write about a topic that interests you and then ask your readers how they feel about it. Respond to their comments. Write posts that are useful to them. If they email you asking for advice, write a post answering their questions. Engage your readers and show them that you value their input.
Make friends and help them out
Life’s a lot more fun with friends, isn’t it? It’s great to have people around you who share your interests and get excited when good things happen to you.
Increasingly, the line between real-life and Internet friends is blurring and one of the greatest things about blogging is all of the wonderful, clever, talented people that you will meet. It’s incredibly easy to make friends through your blog. Leave comments on blogs that you like and respond to your readers’ comments. Email bloggers directly and tell them that you like what they’re doing. Link to great blog posts and include friends in your blog roll. Do post exchanges. Nominate your blogging friends for awards. Let your readers know who your Internet friends are — we all like to be in on the fun!
Be the most attractive version of yourself
I am not possession of rock-hard abs, Michelle Obama arms or a designer wardrobe. However, that doesn’t mean that that I’m ready to throw in the towel and spend the rest of my days in yoga pants and a ponytail. It’s a fact of life that people judge us by our appearance: when we take care of ourselves, people notice.
You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or a stylist to look great, and you don’t need a graphic designer to create a good looking blog. You’d be amazed what you can find by googling “free blog templates.” Keep your page clean and uncluttered and resist the urge to fill up all your whitespace with animated ads or buttons.
Less really is more. Many people will fall all over themselves to navigate away from a blog with tiny white text on a dark background, oddly sized photos and animated flower that keeps blowing kisses at them.
Think about blogs you love and their visual design. Do they have a uniting color scheme? Are their pictures always the same width as the text column? Is the text fully justified? Take a few cues from the bloggers who seem to have it figured out!
There are many, many things you can do to create an great blog. But if you’re already an awesome human being, you’re more than halfway there!
Sarah Von posts daily about travel, style, design, and adventure on Yes and Yes. Sometimes, she really is waiting for you to stop talking about your Atkins diet so she can tell you her funny story.