You have a blog, good job, but that is only half the battle. You have much more work to do if you want to reach greatness. It is a long road to reach greatness. Ranging from the obvious to the complicated, this should serve as a basic checklist for your blog.
Do you know those people who use a zip code, a phone number, a pet name, and any weird but common thing as their password? Well, they are probably the one’s who should take this part very seriously. Your blog might be a hobby, it might be your bread and butter, and it might even be more than that, but if you let a hacker destroy everything, it just makes you seem like a fool.
I use Firefox. Firefox is amazing. Firefox just works. Firefox is, well, Firefox, of course. However, not everyone uses Firefox. Some people use Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Camino, WebKit, Linx, and other available browsers. It wouldn’t be wise to alienate a certain group of people just they use an alternative browser. Unfortunately, people still do this. Don’t be one of them—always check for browser compatibility.
Because some people have no lives or work for people who have no lives, we have to deal with spam on a daily basis. So, of course, those same people with no lives would find ways to exploit the blogosphere as well. Thankfully, Akismet and Defensio are here to help. Install either of these plugins and live (somewhat) spam-free.
Trust me, you want to avoid a horror story like I told when I first joined Performancing. It is truly a devastating experience to lose extremely valuable data. To me, my blog is valuable. I learned the hard way, but I now make daily automated backups and weekly manual backups. You’ll never appreciate this as much until you lose it all, and trust me, you should hope you never have to use them.
Cover Your Assets
People like to know that their opinion is being heard. That, in essence, is what blogging is all about. However, those who read your content should have the ability to voice their opinion as well. Many of these people don’t have the time to create a dedicated blog post just for your efforts. So, make it your objective to allow people to leave feedback. Post links to your email, instant messaging handle, Twitter account, and more. Readers appreciate this sort of thing.
Some of us have the advantage of having a great domain name. Performancing is a great domain name, but, unfortunately, it is doubtful that everyone knows what Performancing is about when first hearing about it. To be brutally honest, it sounds more like a company selling steroids. Well, I can assure you there is no human growth hormone here. However, the moment you visit this site, you can easily see that this blog is about helping bloggers to succeed. Make it this obvious on your blog as well.
FeedBurner is quite interesting, and it does have all those cool statistics and whatnot, but the real reason to use FeedBurner is because it allows you to take your feeds with you no matter where you are blogging from. For example, I had my old blog on WordPress.com, but now I moved my blog to a dedicated domain and server at OnlyJames.com. It didn’t really hurt to make the switch because I was using FeedBurner for my old blog. So, when I made the switch, the transition was seamless.
Make A Logo
Why do logos exist? I’ll tell you why—logos exist to help identify people, products, brands, and companies. The more simple a logo is, the better. While I plan on discussing logo design in a future article, I will say that a logo should be simple and unique. It should stand up to the time.
Manage Your Archives
Archives—oh what the world would be like without them. Just as libraries and museums like to keep and maintain great archives, you should put just as much effort with your blog. The archives should serve as an easy way to find content written in the past. I’d recommend creating a listing of each month that displays the title of each post written. This is a simple solution, but if you have a lot of content, it requires much more attention.
Make an About Page
You have a blog, and while people can get to know you through simply reading your content, it is also nice to have an about page. This page should inform your readers about you, your blog, and ways the user can contact you. If you want a great example, check out my about page on my personal blog. I present details about me and my blog in a creative and interesting way.
Make an “Advertise Here” Page
If you intend on making money, you need to have the proper information on how potential advertisers can do that. However, there is also a lot more information that could be displayed. It is a very complex thing to do, and your job is to market you and your blog well. After all, you want to sell you advertising inventory—the advertising page is the one place to make a lasting impression.
Having plenty of visitors is great, but knowing what they are doing and where they came from is very useful. PMetrics is a great solution. There are also other alternatives like Google Analytics. Regardless of what you use, it is important to use something. This information is also useful to potential advertisers.
Respond to Comments
Comments are a good thing. It shows that there is depth to your articles. It shows that people have been thinking throughout the reading of your article. And, finally, it shows that your readership has an interest in your content. If someone leaves a comment, you should respond. I post on several blogs, but I make a sincere effort to respond to every single comment individually. I also take a look through the archives to see if there are any new comments as well. Responding to comments (and leaving comments on his or her blog) also encourages subscriptions as well.
Promote Existing Content
What good is taking all the time and effort to create an awesome post if you are going to let it get lost with time? While news content probably isn’t worthy of resurrection, case studies, opinions, in-depth research, link-bait, and other types of articles could be great use to your readership months or even years down the road.
Optimize Feed Placement
RSS feeds are an integral part of growing a blog. In many cases, it is similar to how newspapers work. People subscribe to their content and have it delivered on a regular basis. The only difference with RSS is that the subscription is digital and, in most cases, free. Make a good habit of designing your feeds with care. Display them properly so they receive the most exposure possible.
Easy on the Eyes
As internet technology improves, so do the designs of websites. People want to create out-of-this-world mind-blowing designs, and sometimes these people forget that people, in the end, still want to be able to read the content. The number of websites I visit because of a great design can be counted on one hand. Most of these site owners spent months working on these designs as well. So, in any case, make sure your content is easy on the eyes.
Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Delicious are great sites to incorporate into your site’s design. All of these sites offer buttons, graphics, and APIs to do just that. Considering that some websites generate most of their traffic through social sites, it is not something to skip out on. Even a simple text link which utilizes each site’s API located at the end of each post could make a huge difference in page visits.
Being unique within the blogosphere is vital to success. You need to be someone special, someone, well, unique. There are many ways to accomplish this, and a simple way to start is by being yourself. Try to develop your own style for writing content. Format the content in a unique way. Do something that someone else has yet to do. People will remember you for it.
Write Original Content
No longer can you make way by reposting unoriginal content. These days, you must make a sincere effort to get an article noticed. It is crucial for the development of your blog—this is especially true while your blog is in its early growing periods.
Writing content on a regular schedule can be a great way to encourage readership to come back. People don’t want to visit your blog every Monday one week and every Thursday the following week. Those who opt to actually visit your blog, as opposed to subscribing, might become frustrated. Case in point, develop a posting schedule and stick with it.
People, in many cases, like to have some visual stimulus. Images and videos are the easiest way to accomplish this. However, simply adding an image to a post without reason is not worth the time and effort. You don’t want to have images which distract the reader, but instead you want images that compliment the content. The content should always be the focus.
I know there are things that I missed, but thankfully, Performancing readers have great ideas bouncing around in their heads. If you have something that every blogger should do or know any insight you’d like to add to the conversation, please add it in the comments section.