Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time promoting myself and my blog, Circlebox Blog. During that time I have picked up a lot of things, good and bad. The blog is growing very well now and due to that I feel I know enough to share with you eight of the many tips that can help towards making your blog a successful one.
Tip #1 – Your Content Is King
Since reading an article on DesignBump Originals called ‘If Content is Really King, Then What is Design?’, I have been calling the content on my blog ‘King’. Without good content, no-one will want to be on your site. Sure, you have a nice design, but having a nice design isn’t going to make people sit at their desks and stare at it all day long. Whereas, however, content can.
If you have enough quality content, it can rule your target-audience, no questions asked – it is the King, after all. Keep your readers engaged and if possible post gripping content frequently. If you’re only blogging part-time and find you don’t have the time to post frequently, then don’t – the chances are you’ll be rushing, and your readers will most probably become aware of that. Instead spend a longer period of time on a very high-standard article.
Tip #2 – Your Design Is Queen
Although your content is the main people want to visit your blog, that doesn’t stop you from having an attractive and sexy design. If you’re on a tight budget there are some excellent free themes about. If you have little budget, purchase a subscription to a premium theme site or purchase an individual theme. There is of course one problem with this; the theme isn’t unique to you. Most free and premium themes do allow you to make as many changes as you want so long as you keep the link back to the original designer/developer in the footer of your blog.
Having a unique and fresh design specifically for your blog is always the best way to go, though. Sure, it takes a lot of time as there is a huge list of things to be done: planning, sketching, designing, developing, testing, fixing, releasing… and this doesn’t involve any complications a long the way, which in one way or another you are bound to cross at least once or twice. Don’t be scared to ask for a helping hand. Can’t design? Hire a designer! Can’t code? Hire a developer! Don’t have the time? Hire both! If you want your blog to be successful you need the three main ingredients: time, money and lots of hard work.
Tip #3 – Promote Your Design
If you decided to design and code your own blog theme, then you will want to promote it. If it’s good, it will get accepted to design gallery sites such as UniqueCSS, CSSMania and SiteInspire, so be sure to submit it! Many blog writers browse these sites on a weekly basis looking for fresh and unique web designs to showcase on their own blogs, so this is a great way to get a little exposure!
Tip #4 – Don’t Keep Your Personal Life Locked Away
This is one thing I know a lot of people are scared of doing. You look up to big sites, lets say Smashing Magazine and HongKiat, which are both incredibly successful and popular blogs. It’s always good to look up to such big sites, think big and never look back. But (there’s always a but!), if you’re reading this you’re probably a one-man show – don’t be scared of adding a personal touch to your blog! Write articles about what you think and your opinions, what not the community think: you may find this is more likely to attract people commenting on your posts, causing deep discussions and debates.
Let people know what you are doing! Where did you go on vacation this year? Did you spot anything different about their design trends such as logos, shop window decorations, etc? Share your photos! Be individual, be yourself, be unique!
Tip #5 – Be Active In The Community
I’m not talking about your daily exercises, although that is important too! What I’m talking about is the online design, art and photography community. You expect people to comment on your blog yet you never comment on theirs, or anyone elses for that matter? Commenting on other blogs can be a great way to attract loyal and genuine subscribers to your blog, there’s an incredibly likely chance they will like the content on your blog if they found you though another blog in the creative niche.
Don’t comment with one-liners! Be productive, share your opinion on the post with the other readers, what did you like, what didn’t you like? What do you agree with, what don’t you agree with? It’s all about discussion! Oh, and remember to get a Gravatar! Having an avatar will increase the chances of people becoming familiar with you, making it more likely for them to click on your name and be taken through to your blog.
Tip #6 – Use Voting Sites
Voting sites are a superb way of promoting your blog and it’s new content. You can submit a post and leave it up to the users of the particular site to promote your post. If it has a catchy title and the content is superb, it will get promoted – no questions asked. Some great voting sites they are commonly used in this niche are Digg, DesignBump and DesignMoo.
Your loyal readers will help promote your content, so include networking buttons at the bottom of your posts. Digg, DesignBump and DesignMoo all use self-updating buttons that don’t even require a user (so long as they are logged into the voting site) to leave your post, making them much more likely to click it. So you’ve got a few hundred or more RSS subscribers but your posts are only getting a few votes? That’s common! A great solution to this is to get involved with your audience, respond to their comments and don’t be afraid to ask them to help promote your post! If they like your content they will only be too happy to help you out in return.
Tip #7 – Write Detailed Tutorials
Tutorials, so long as they are of a good quality and are helpful, are virtually always guaranteed traffic. I was reading Photoshop tutorials from the young age of 11, and that is really where my passion for design started, so allowing people to see how you work can really inspire them. You can submit your tutorials to tutorial archive sites such as Good-Tutorials and Pixel2Life. Once submitted, if your tutorial is good, expect a thousand or so hits to flood in within the first 24 hours. If only 1% of them subscribe, you’ve gained 10 subscribers. Keep them engaged in your blog by following Tip #1, and you’ll be gaining readers quicker than you could ever imagine!
Tip #8 – Write For Other Blogs
Once you have a few successful articles on your blog you should maybe think about writing for some other blogs. Other blogs in the niche are your friend, not your rival. They can, after all, be an excellent source of traffic. There are plenty of blogs out there that accept guest authors, some in return for author links, some in return for a small payment, some in return for a very good payment.
I had an accepted tutorial on Tutorial9 a couple of months back. I got paid $150, got a good response from the readers, an increase in my traffic count and a huge confidence boost. Since then I have become an author for Smashing Magazine, Six Revisions and the Tuts+ Network. With my blog and writing for these other well-known blogs, my name is becoming more and more known in the online community, until there became a point where I actually felt I could earn a full-time living from home – I felt strongly about this and quit my job a few days after! I recently compiled a list of articles on self-employment and how to become a better designer, so if you want to find out more about that be sure to check them out!
Hopefully you’ve picked up a little bit of useful information from this post. Please do discuss my points below, I’d love to hear what you think. Is there something you do that really works when promoting your blog, or something that you’ve done in the past that did the complete opposite? My readers and I would love to hear your story. And remember… don’t be scared to experiment. Try something new, if it doesn’t work then tough luck, if it does you might just be on to something!
“He who is afraid of making mistakes, is afraid to succeed”
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