The fabulous KateTakes5 has come up with a cracking theme this week for her listography!
1. Use the same name on your blog as all your social media platforms.
Building up an identity is essential to helping people remember you easily. I follow several people on twitter who use a completely unrelated nickname to that of their blog, and then have a Facebook account that uses their real name. It's really difficult to remember all three, especially if they have obscure spellings. If you want people to find you easily then use the same name for all platforms, make it easy to spell, different to others (there's a lot of 'mummy' names out there) and preferably under ten characters long (saves space on twitter for conversation within 140 characters). And yes I know my name is eleven characters long, but there you go! Do as I say, not as I do.
2. If you want comments, make it easy for your readers.
Don't use word verification like captcha, etc. It is a big, fat inconvenience for your readers. If you are on blogspot, they'll probably give up halfway through because it is a ridiculous process to comment: write comment, fill in details, press publish, enter word verification, press submit, press publish again. It's not encouraging is it? Install Disqus and your readers will love you forever. If you don't have word verification and don't want to use Disqus, then enable the name/url option for commenting, self-hosted blog-owners will appreciate the effort.
And while we're discussing commenting; if you want comments, then you need to comment on other blogs. It's a two-way street!
3. Consider going self-hosted for more freedom
This depends entirely upon your reason for blogging, and the range of subjects that you blog about. I started blogging on 5th December 2010 and within a month had started the 365 photography project. I quickly realised that I wanted the posts on a separate page to my written content, but wordpress.com doesn't allow for separate posts to be made to any page other than the home-page. It was pointed out to me that by photograph 150, it was going to be difficult to find the comment box, and to know which photo each comment related to. By mid-January 2011, I'd transferred to wordpress.org which is self-hosted. It allows me to set up categories/pages and post to them separately, with individual posts and individual comment boxes per post. I hope it's easier for my readers, because it certainly is for me!
4. Subject matters!
Ha, like the pun? Please don't make me explain it to you!
In all seriousness, your blog is for you, yes. However, I strongly disagree with anyone who says that they only blog for themselves, and have had several discussions about this. If the only person that you wanted to read it was yourself, then why not keep a diary? Or make your blog password protected if just for family? The minute you press publish, then you are opening your thoughts up for anyone in the world to read. To think otherwise is naive (meant without offense).
Therefore, think really carefully about what you put on your blog. If you don't want someone to find you, blog anonymously. If you don't want to be open to criticism, then don't post controversial content. If you want your child to still talk to you when he or she is twenty, then don't post that photo of them naked in the garden. If you don't want your child to be the subject of ridicule in the playground, then don't divulge about his problems wetting the bed. If you don't want your in-laws to know about something going on in your life, then don't press publish.
5. Engage with your readers
Use twitter and become a part of the blogging community. I was using twitter before I started blogging, and I thoroughly blame MammyWoo and The Moiderer for getting me into blogging in the first place. They are two of the first 'real' people that I started following, apart from my husband. If you install a 'Follow me on twitter' button in the sidebar of your blog, then it will make it a damn sight easier for people to know who you are and 'talk' to you in 'real' life.
Another way of engaging is to install a plugin which enables your comment replies to be e-mailed directly to your readers. I saw GeekMummy had this and copied her. I've been told that it was a pleasant surprise to have my reply e-mailed across, and it opens up a dialogue and will encourage return visits.
And because it's my blog and I can, I've done another one!
6. Enjoy it!
It's a competitive world out there, full of stats and rankings. It's incredibly easy to get upset if you've found that you've dropped in the rankings, or haven't been invited to a major PR event in London that the world and his wife is going to, but don't. In all reality, could you make it to London for an event that lasted only an hour? Would you want to? Will the drop in rankings stop you from blogging? When you rise, someone else falls and think how that makes them feel. When I climbed 200 places in the Tots100 and made it into the actual 100, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. Until I found out that one of my real-life friends had fallen 150 places. Swings and roundabouts see?
Do you have any more to add to the list?