13 November, 2009

Blogging is your opportunity to connect with readers. Building a relationship of trust with them is critical. Therefore, you should never lie or exaggerate your income, popularity, stats, subscribers, or anything else on your blog.

However, you can also be too honest. For instance, blogging about your lack of experience as a blogger, or the fact that your site is new and does not have a big following yet would both be something you don't want to mention -- either directly or indirectly.

Keep frustrations about low visitor counts to yourself and treat every blog post in a positive, professional manner. This is your opportunity to "sell". This doesn't mean to use sales-speak, which can turn readers off immediately. But rather, always put your best foot forward. Never comment on low blog reader turnout on the blog itself. No one wants to hang out where they're being told upfront that it's an unpopular place! If you're struggling with low readership, find out why no one is visiting -- and fix it!

Take a look at other blogs in your niche. Pay close attention to those you find professional -- and those you don't. Compare these to your site, focusing on the graphics, presentation, layout and their handling of advertising. Also notice if they have a professional (pay) theme for their blog, if they've created their own in-house, or if they're using a free theme.

When you find a blog you like, don't clone it, but do learn from it. In the same manner, when you spot a blog that you don't like, ask yourself why. Is it a lack of professional design? Does the site have too many advertisements? Does it use flashing or gaudy graphics? These observations will be valuable when analyzing what your blog should look like. Visiting the competition is vital because it also shows you immediately what your own readers will be reading. Your blog has to stack up.

There are many wonderful, professional looking free themes out there, but you will need to dig around and choose carefully. You should also make it your own by customizing it. Never use a free theme straight out of the box. Most themes make it easy to incorporate a new header and logo at the very least. You also should be able to change the color scheme without too much effort. You don't want your site looking exactly like thousands of others out there. This is critical if you use a free blogging platform like Blogger.com or Wordpress.com. These sites have a very small selection of standard themes, and your blog will virtually disappear in your reader's minds if you don't customize!

Yes, when you start your new blog your visitor stats will be sparse. There really isn’t anything you can do about that, but don't advertise it! For example, don't put up a Feedburner widget advertising that you have 6 subscribers. Stats like this should only be shared when they reach the hundreds or even thousands -- depending on the audience you want to reach. Look and see if other blogs like yours share those stats. As with just about everything, there is a difference of opinion about showing off stats. But bottom line: before putting anything on your blog think about how it will look to readers.

You should never create fake comments and post them on your blog. People can tell. It is virtually impossible to make fake comments sound genuine, and you shouldn't try. It's dishonest and will break the trust you're trying to build with your readers. It is okay, however, to ask friends to comment on your blogs, but make sure they have a genuine interest. Otherwise, it will show. Blog readers are savvy these days and can smell a fake a mile away. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of being so desperate for comments that you resort to lying to your audience.

The best way to get comments on your blog is to leave comments on relevant blogs. When you comment on a blog, you'll be allowed to leave a link back to your own website or blog. Typically the blog owner will visit your site to see who you are, and likely their readers will visit, too. This method is time-consuming, but it works. Just remember that once those comments are out there, you can't take them back, so be professional.

Once you have built a growing audience, you will be able to devote less time to hand-commenting, but you should never forget the fact that blogging is a community event -- not a one-man megaphone.

Here are a few rules to always keep in mind:
  • NEVER fake stats. People can tell.
  • ALWAYS talk up your successes, achievements, and what you learn along the way.
  • NEVER talk yourself, your company, or your blog down and never talk your readers down. You will very likely have lurkers, and complaining or insulting them and can guarantee they won't come back.
  • ALWAYS thank your reader for feedback, invite them to comment by asking questions in posts, and be sure your blog is a place open to give and take.
  • NEVER give up! It can take a year to build a good blog following, but if you keep plugging away, they will come.
  • ALWAYS keep posting. Even if you're not getting comments, those blog posts will add up, and be indexed by Google, eventually driving people to your site. A good blog post is never wasted.

Blogging is a rewarding way to not only drive business to your website, but connect with readers and customers. It's difficult in the beginning, especially when it feels as though no one is visiting and reading your posts. However, keep at it on a consistent basis and success will come. Be patient, and participate in a community of bloggers who all write about the same topic, and soon you will find your visitor stats building day after day. (Terry Green)

6 comments:

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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eko said...

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