Think of your blog like your home.
Your home reflects you, your style, your personality. You want to invite others to come over and visit. You want them to feel relaxed and enjoy visiting you.
You want your home to be more than just a cream box. You want to fill it with things that are useful and beautiful, meaningful to you. If you have visitors you probably sweep the floor and tidy away the clutter, serve up some home-baked goodies, coffee or tea.
So it is with your blog.
You want others to enjoy visiting and want to return?? Make your blog-home a warm, welcoming place serving up good stuff. It doesn't have to be the height of fashion with bells and whistles - it just needs to reflect you.
Beautify your Bloggy-home
The Template: Explore Blogger's new Template Designer. In one click you can add a colourful background, play around with fonts and colours, adjust your blog width and alter your layout. Sick of one sidebar? Add another one with one click. Want bigger photos? Adjust the widths using the slider. You can also get rid of your extra column with one click. You won't lose your widgets. You'll just have to drag and drop them to re-arrange them where you want them. Fun!
Fonts and Colours: Readability is the name of the game! I recommend a white or light-coloured post background for readability. Grey, black and other neutral colours are easiest to read for page text. Avoid bright colours, contrasting colours or busy backgrounds. People will click away if your text is too hard to read or hurts their eyes with its garish glare! Also, now that Blogger has a bunch of new webfonts to choose from, make sure your body text is easily readable - some browsers display fonts differently (e.g. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox display text a bit rough and jaggedy, making the new webfonts difficult to read). Just saying. (I recommend sticking to the regular fonts for body text and jazz things up by using webfonts for headings and sidebar gadgets. A change I sadly had to make myself once I realised that not all browsers show up nicely).
A Header: I make my headers in Photoshop, but you don't need Photoshop to make a really great header that fits with your blog's style. Play around in PicMonkey or PhotoScape (Download for free here) A header is the first thing people see. It's like your kerb-appeal. Don't underestimate the importance of a header that's unique to you. If you are a bit artistically challenged, you can adapt ready made headers with your own photos, from places like ShabbyBlogs.com
Photos: A picture is worth a thousand words. Use pictures! The bigger the better, I think. At least, start each post with an image. Use a camera phone if you don't have a digital camera. Scan in old photos (or take photos of them on macro). Use google images to search for pictures (and give a photo credit at the end of the post). Break up long text with pictures. Too much text will put readers off (the same way friends get put off if we hog the conversation and talk incessantly about ourselves)Photograph everything. And I mean everything.
Grab a set of my cute social media buttons and make yourself easy to follow.
BLOGGER: Make "buttons" to match your blog's style in a photo editing programme. You can use the "picture" gadget to make clickable links to your favourite posts. Click on the post (or label) you want people to visit. Copy the URL address and paste it into the picture gadget where it says: "URL you want to link to". Or make a list of your recipe posts. Or Crafty posts. Or funniest posts. Whatever is unique to you and your blog.
Put your email address somewhere people can find it to contact you. I recommend setting up a free webmail account just for blog related emails, e.g. hotmail or gmail. De-Clutter regularly. Forget Adsense. Is the .20c a month you might get worth the ugliness that it brings??? Regularly spring clean.
How to grow your readership...
The most important thing about having a great blog is of course content. Be yourself. Write the way you would talk. Let your personality shine through. Don't set yourself up as an expert (unless you actually are a child psychologist with a PhD, but even then, think twice). Laugh at yourself.
Once you have decided you want to grow your readership, here is the most important principle for you: If you want a friend, be a friend.
Want readers?? Want followers? Want comments? You will have to go out there and read, follow, comment. BUT don't become obsessed about it. Do what you do well, be friendly and interactive and you will see your numbers grow. Here's a few tips...
Use bloggy etiquette whenever possible within allowing it to become a burden. If someone comments, make an effort to reply back. The Blogger commenting system is still a bit awkward, but there are ways around it. Under Settings (Comments) set up your blog to email you whenever you receive a comment. Then you can click on that emailed comment and reply to the sender (if they have an email showing up). Otherwise, leave a comment in your own comment section, or go visit their blog and comment there. It's a bit of work. But think of it as if you are new in town. Just as in a new neighbourhood, you want to meet your neighbours and show yourself friendly. Put yourself out there and make yourself known. The community we build is the joy of blogging.
Add the LinkWithin Widget
This widget selects a list of links to earlier stories, which display at the bottom of each post, with the invitation to read more: "You Might Also Like...". This is a great way to encourage readers to keep on reading. Just follow the easy instructions here. :)
Find out who is reading your blog. Not many people comment, so just because you don't have many comments doesn't mean no-one is reading. It's fun to know, but don't get too hung up on it.
Use Social Networking
Make the most of online communities to spread the word about your blog. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the most popular ones, though Google+ is starting to grow too. A Facebook Fan Page is NOT linked to your personal profile so strangers can't access you private profile from it. You can also sign your blog up to Networked Blogs on Facebook and have your posts publish automatically to your FB profile and/OR your Fan Page and to Twitter. I'm not personally a Twitterer, but I do have a Twitter account to which all my blog posts get posted automatically. Pinterest is particularly useful if you are writing posts which others will find interesting or helpful, like craft, baking, parties or other how-to's.
Join In: Networks and Link-Ups
The beauty of nicknames is that it is less confusing and more personal than say, "Master 7", because Master 7 will soon be Master 8 etc etc. Plus having an online alias is fun. My kids love their bloggy nicknames!
Blogging can become addictive. Try to not get obsessed about numbers and comments; that will steal the joy, guaranteed. JUST ENJOY.
I hope you have found this useful in the process of Bloggy DIY. Leave me a comment with any other questions you have... Blog On!
My Other Blog Tips: