Self hosted WordPress is not necessarily for the novice blogger, since it involves questions of who to choose as a host, where do you get your URL registered and things like that. So unless you savvy about those things or are willing to pay someone to get your blog set up for you, my personal thoughts are to go with one of the free blog sites (Blogspot, WordPress.com, etc.). There are pros and cons to each.
Blogspot allows you to use google connect, which seems to be fairly universal, however with WordPress.com you will have a more difficult time adding in widgets that are not pre-formatted into one of the free templates.
As both a blog reader and a blog writer there are a few things that I have learned along the way. All of my tips are based upon my personal opinions, which may or may not be relevant to you, but here you go anyway.
|I'm still a baby blogger, but have learned a few tricks along the way!|
- Try not to use a dark background with White text (unless you have a photo blog). Dark backgrounds with light text are generally not very user friendly as they are difficult to read.
- Know who you audience is and keep the design appropriate.
- Make sure your font is easy to read, not too small or too large.
- Check out your blog on other computers to see how the colors and layout come across.
- Keep advertisements to a minimum, I know that I will not read some blogs because they have so many ads (pop ups are the worst).
- Try not to have a mandatory pop up ad or sign up box, they are annoying and I know I have turned away from reading a blog because of this.
- If you want readers or followers make sure that it is easy for your reader to "follow you". Have your "follow me" close to the top of your blog, don't make your reader have to search for this feature.
- Use tags on your posts and have a tag listing (alphabetical is best) so that readers can look for articles which interest them.
- Don't play automatic music on your blog, for most readers this is a turn off. For me, unless you have really, really good content I will not follow you.
- If you belong to groups, are an affiliate or advocate a site and want to let your readers know, please list all of your "graphic boxes" in one spot.
- Create your own logo and an add my box widget, which is another chance to get your name out there.
- Make it easy for readers to navigate your blog, adding pages to your blog can help.
- If you have a blog that allows you to provide your readers with an article index, by all means add it in so that readers can easily see what you write about and be able to choose articles to read.
- Add photos, I think most readers are voyeuristic and like the visual glimpse they get into another persons life.
- Make sure to have an About Me section or page or About My Blog/Business, this is especially important if it is not readily apparent what your blog is about.
- Cute designs are o.k. as long as they do not distract readers from the content.
- Try to use consistent fonts, fonts are fun to play with, but if you have to many different styles it makes your blog look too amateurish.
- Spell check.
- Don't plagiarize. Plagiarism takes many forms, it's not limited to copying someone else's content, photos are also included. I have seen quite a few blogs that will try to do the correct thing by citing a link to an article or site, but then they add in a photo from that site - unless you have permission to use their photo you are plagiarizing. This also applies to commercial advertisements and copying of their photos.
- Use photos in your posts, either personal photos or find a site that has "Public Domain" photos available. I use a combination of both personal photos and free "Public Domain" photos. The two I use most frequently are: Public Domain Pictures and Clker.com. All three of the photos I used in this post are from Public Domain Pictures.
- Post regularly so your readers always have something fresh and new to read. I follow a lot of blogs, and yes I do read them all, but if the author doesn't consistently add new content I will drop them from the blogs I follow (I do make exceptions for my personal friend's blogs).
- If you are 100% stuck on new content for your blog, you can use articles from others. I have used Private Label Articles in the past with great success. Use the search term "Free PLR Articles" to see what is available, you will probably be required to post the article in its entirety with applicable links left intact, however if this is what you need to get fresh content to your blog, then go for it. Another idea is to invite fellow bloggers to author articles for your blog.
- Have a facebook page and give your readers easy access to following you on facebook.
- Have a Twitter account and give your readers easy access to following you on Twitter.
- Use applicable widgets, but don't "flood" your page with them.
- Add a most popular posts gadget, not only will this let your readers know what others are reading, it will also serve as another visual tool for your articles.
- Add a My Likes gadget of blogs you follow.
- Add a blog history gadget.
- If you put links into your posts (articles) try to add code so that the reader opens up a new window without having to leave your blog. Why give the reader a chance to voluntarily leave your site? If you don't know where or how to place the code, this is a quick reference: HTML Code Tutorial. WordPress makes it easy for you by asking if you want the link to open a new window, however if you are using blogspot you will have to put the code in yourself. I create my posts, save them and then go back in and Edit HTML to add in the code I need. Be careful when adding logo boxes or buttons to your site as quite a few of them are not coded to open up a new window.
Hopefully these tips will help you become a better blogger, again they are not offered in any professional capacity, but only as I see it.