Top tips for a successful blog

With so many amazing arts, heritage, and creative blogs out there already, how do you make yours stand out? How do you get people returning for more, and how do you increase visitor numbers and build a loyal following? There are plenty of tips and tricks to get your own creative blog rocking, raising your profile, and helping you win more business. Here are my top 20 tips for a successful creative blog, but if you can think of any more, please comment below and help me make this the best list on the web.

Getting started

Choosing a blogging platform is your first challenge. There are lots of free options out there, including WordPress, Tumblr, TypePad, and Blogger. All of them offer free design themes so that you can customize your own blog, so it’s straightforward to get started. And if you’re not sure how to use them? There’s plenty of online video tutorials to be found on the web – for example, WordPress has its very own lesson list to help get you started.

Consider integration

From an SEO point of view, it’s worth getting your blog integrated with your existing website to build content and make the search engines love you even more. After all, SEO (search engine optimization) is all about content. But if you’re not able to do this or can’t afford to hire a web developer to sort, then start a free blog and make sure you include links to your main website or other links, for example, to your artistic portfolio.

Find a niche

When choosing a creative topic to blog about, try to find a niche. Make your blog about something particular, and you’ll please both the search engines and your readers. Try not to be too general and really focus on one specialist topic and stick to it. Find your own niche and go for it – remember to stay on topic.

Write about what you love.

Write about something you love. Otherwise, you’ll show no passion in your writing. And if there’s no passion, your content will suffer, so find a topic you are comfortable with and only write about that. For example, if you’re a museum curator, talk about the industry, emerging trends, and other museums or exhibitions you love. And if you’re a theatre director, you could write about industry folk you admire or share your working day with your followers.

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Offer value

If you don’t provide something the public wants, your creative blog will never succeed. Give people what they’re after and offer real value to their web browsing experience. What do I mean by this? Well, value is demonstrated in the content you publish. If your content isn’t, valuable people won’t read it or return to read more. Really think about what you’re putting out there and give the people what they want.

Focus on marketing

If you launch a blog, you won’t get anywhere and hope that people will come without any marketing effort. You have to market your blog actively, and you can do that in a variety of ways. You can start chatting with other bloggers by leaving valuable comments on other people’s blog posts – this will help draw people back to your own site. Or you can make use of the search engines and write about topics that are popular in the searches, like this very feature. Or you could even offer to contribute to influential e-zines or blogs to help raise your profile. Whatever you choose to do, get out there and market yourself like mad. There’s really no excuse not to.

Encourage interaction

Get people talking on your blog. Ask them to add their comments on various articles, as I’ve done with this post. Encourage interaction wherever possible. Ask for feedback, respond to people’s contributions, build a community and be nice. People love to interact, so make sure you’re friendly and welcoming.

Make commenting easy

Just be aware that there are many reasons why people might not comment on your blog posts. It could be anything from not providing easy access to log a comment to writing about negative things people don’t want to be a part of. Bottom line? Make commenting easily accessible and write about stuff that gets people talking positively. If people can interact on your blog, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Don’t worry about negativity.

Occasionally you may get the odd negative comment on your blog. Don’t let it put you off or scare you away from blogging. Any comments you’re not happy with can be deleted or responded to positively. You’ll rarely face negativity despite what people say, so don’t worry about it too much.

Don’t get stage fright, and believe in yourself.

Once your blog starts to get more than 1,000 visitors per month, it’s only natural that you may lose confidence in yourself and you’re writing. Don’t get stage fright, and keep at it! There is a reason why you have so many visitors, so believe in yourself and keep writing fantastic content. People love images. Some of the most popular arts and creative blogs in the world include a lot of imagery. This is partly because people love to scan through web pages quickly, and they enjoy seeing photographs and pictures that help break up text and add visual interest. When writing a creative blog, images are essential, so provide as many as possible and give your audience many things to enjoy.

Provide easy reading

Research suggests that people view and scan web pages rather than read every last bit of copy. Therefore, try to keep your articles as easy, quick reads. Provide lists wherever possible and break up the text. From an SEO point of view, you want to provide at least 250 words of copy. But it’s also good to stick to this number for your readers — unless, of course, you’re writing an article such as this one – in which case, add in bullet points or lists because it will hold people’s attention more.

Give your posts punchy titles.

When thinking about blogging, write articles that have punchy titles that people search for through search engines and appealing and catchy titles. You want to draw people in and inspire their curiosity.

Keep it regular

A blog is almost like an online journal and suggests a regular focus. Try to keep your blog updated with at least two articles a week. Ideally, you need to blog every day, especially if SEO is one of your key priorities. Otherwise, try to keep things going. And if you go on holiday, make the best use of scheduling tools on your blog so you can post articles automatically while you’re away from your desk.

Avoid clutter

When designing your blog — either creating one from scratch or using any free blogging platforms online — try to keep the layout clean, fresh, and uncluttered. Avoid adding lots of unnecessary features. Keep it easy on the eye, and you’ll please your blog visitors and have them coming back for more.

Get social

Don’t neglect social media elsewhere like Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you hook these up to your blog’s RSS feed and update your followers and fans with your latest post. Twitterfeed is a great tool that automatically publishes your posts to your Twitter and Facebook accounts — great for Twitter but looks a bit spammy for Facebook at present. Test everything first and make sure you’re happy with the automatic updates and tweets you’re putting out there.

Keep an eye on the analytics.

Please keep track of how people are landing on your blog and how they’re finding you. You can then tailor your blog posts to your readers’ needs and make the best use of those external sources that are really drawing people in. If you invest in any online advertising, your analytics will also help determine your ROI (return of investment) and whether it’s working or not. Keep an eye on your web analytics and ensure your blog is working as powerfully as it should be.

Allow easy following

Place follow badges on your blog wherever possible. For example, you can add a free blog widget that encourages people to follow your blog in their own Google readers. Tumblr has something similar, but this is already integrated. Make sure you provide an easy follow option on your own blog, even if it’s just clear links to your RSS feed.

Get personal

Reveal more about who you are in your posts, and your audience will love you for it. People want to follow people, not brands. Include an about section if possible and a photograph of yourself. By offering a personal slant, you’ll be encouraging people to like you, and by tapping into their emotions, you’ll encourage loyalty hence happy, returning visitors. A really great example is Ana Kinsella, a fashion blogger from Ireland. Her Ripped Knees blog is mixed with many fashion news, but the personal slant is when she posts pictures of her own outfits. Stylebubble is very similar and hugely popular. Add a personal touch to your own blog.

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Writer. Pop culture buff. Certified alcohol trailblazer. Tv nerd. Music fanatic. Professional problem solver. Explorer. Uniquely-equipped for working on Easter candy in Las Vegas, NV. Uniquely-equipped for analyzing toy monkeys for the government. Spent a year testing the market for action figures in Minneapolis, MN. Spent high school summers donating walnuts in Phoenix, AZ. Earned praised for my work researching human brains in Orlando, FL. Spent college summers writing about pubic lice in Washington, DC.