Setting up your blog for success

Great! All the technical stuff is done and you can now start filling up your blog with content. We suggest that you at least have 10-20 posts before you even start thinking about telling people about your blog. A blog with no or little content will get nobody excited but yourself. If your blog at least looks the part, visitors will get the idea that they are dealing with an established blogger, someone that could teach them a thing or two, so they’ll be back.

You don’t want to be perceived as the new kid on the block because readers just can’t be bothered with yet another new blogger. Appearance is everything!

Speaking of appearance, make sure that you double check the facts for each and every post before you publish. You don’t want to get caught with your pants down, when it turns out that something you’ve been telling your readers isn’t true. Don’t think people will bother visiting again when they find out you’ve got no idea what you’re blogging about. After the facts, make use of your spelling checker. Nothing turns a reader off more than bad grammar. (Luckily for us, English isn’t our first language, so we can get away with the odd mistake here and there).

With sufficient content in place, you can now start looking for visitors. Networking with peers in your niche is key here. Seek out established bloggers and make sure you start leaving interesting comments on their posts. We say interesting; because that is the only way you will spark their reader’s curiosity. If they feel your comment was a good addition to the whole discussion about the topic, they will hit up your blog to see what else you’ve got to say. Just be genuine with your comments and do not become a comment spam whore, as most readers will be on to you in a second and never visit your blog, EVER.

Remember – “if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”.

There are tons of ways to get your name out in the blogosphere. Sign up with blog communities. In time these sites will help with your name recognition and branding. Do not expect a lot of visitors from them straight away, but it is important that you become a familiar face. Make sure you use only one avatar and stick with that all over the place. Preferably something in your blog’s colors. If you have a mascot like us, use it!

Another powerful tool us bloggers have at our disposal are the social networks that are all around us. If you use the right approach, these can give you tons of visitors from outside the somewhat restricted blogosphere. Here you will find all sorts of Internet users, not only savvy webmasters and bloggers. Why is this good? Because they have probably not heard of whatever affiliate scheme you’re promoting, and they might actually sign up, unlike your peers! Yes, you need to find and target the right crowd if you want to make money online.

Be sure to use the big social media sites like Digg.com, Reddit.com and Del.icio.us with care. Do NOT go around submitting your every post. You’ll be banned before you can say hello, cutting yourself off from a great deal of potential exposure in the future. Preferably, don’t even submit a single one of your own posts, just make sure your readers have a quick option to submit it for you. Use a social plugin for your wordpress blog, perhaps something a little visual, to remind them that they can share whatever post they think is worth sharing. If it’s worthy of sharing, it will be shared. Oh, and don’t forget to ask your online friends for favors, just make sure you don’t start spamming them with requests!

So now you’re commenting on all the right blogs (popular blogs in your niche), you’ve signed up with the blog communities and you’re getting a bit of traffic coming in from social media sites. Well done, on to the next step – contests.

A contest is a great way to get others to write about you. As you are in charge of the entry rules, so you can have other bloggers write about your contest! (e.g to win this fantastic prize XYZ, all you have to do is write a little post on your blog about this contest.) Needless to say; The bigger the prize, the more participants and the more exposure you’ll get. Besides the linkbacks in their post, you could ask them to link back to you with a specific anchor text to increase your SERPS for that keyword. (Careful with this one, Google frowns upon these kind of link building tactics.) Try to find a sponsor – a company that has a lot in common with your blog’s niche. You’ll always have NO if you don’t ask!

Checklist:

Make sure you have plenty of content for new readers before you start your self-promotion. No content equals not interesting equals not coming back.
Quality control. Enough said.
Network with your peers. Comment on the right blogs. Get your name on the blog networks. Use social media with care.
Organize a contest, preferably sponsored by a company in your niche. (Companies have the money to put up a big prize, and big prizes attract big crowds!)