8 tips to have a successful blog

A popular platform building method for writers is to host a blog, whether that blog is about their book or a subject related to their book, publishing or writing. But there are thousands of other blogs out there on the same topics. (Well, probably not the topic of your books but there are many blogs about other authors and their books.)

Anyone can start a blog. But building a successful blog take commitment and time. You need the commitment to regularly update your blog just as much as you need to have the time to do write the posts and upload them. And building a following of readers doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. This is why a vast majority of bloggers give up within the first year.

There are plenty of websites out there with tips on how to start a blog or how to be successful. I have taken some to the tips that I found to the most useful to come up with this list.

8 tips to help you create a successful blog

  1. Make a good first impression – Your opening page – and really all of your pages – needs to be appealing and easy to use. You need to balance the text with images so it eye appealing to viewers. Be sure to include an “about you” page as well as a way to contact you. (I get very frustrated to find sites that offer something such as to host a guest blog but you cannot find the way the requirements or even a way to contact them.)
  2. Don’t advertise your blog until you have some posts under your belt – You only have one chance to make a first impression. If people come to your blog and see very little content – say 1 or 2 posts – there will be little incentive to come back. Give them a reason to become a subscriber to your blog. Because of this, I suggest you don’t start advertising your blog until you have at least 5 meaningful posts.
  3. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog – Be sure the link to your RSS feed is easy to find (think top of the page). Subscribers are the lifeblood of your blog so you want it easy for people to subscribe. And don’t forget to offer an e-mail version of your RSS feed.
  4. Leave comments on other blogs in your niche – One sure fire way to get followers is to make intelligent comments on another blogger’s post. By being a contributor to other people’s blogs, you will be building name recognition. But don’t make the mistake of dropping your blog’s name and link in every comment. Prove that you are worthwhile and others will naturally check out your blog.
  5. Put your blog URL in your signature on forums and in your e-mail signature – I know I said not to do this on other blogs, but it never hurts to list your blog’s URL in your signature lineforums (where you are making good, insightful comments) or in your e-mail signature.
  6. Make it easy to share the page – Add Facebook, Twitter and other social media buttons so that readers who like your contact can share it.
  7. Be consistent – If you are going to blog, make sure you post regularly. It doesn’t have to be daily, but I would suggest at least a few times a week. You want people coming back to your site and not having up-to-date information is a sure way to kill your site.
  8. Write quality content – Write information that is useful that people want to click, read and share. The more useful and intriguing your post, the more often it will be shared. And if you write quality information, people will want to keep coming back to your blog. And don’t focus on just the posts. Be sure to write catchy headlines as these are like advertising for your posts. Good titles mean search engines will find you and send more traffic. Useful titles also can entice readers to read your stuff.

So if you are an author and wanting to start a blog to build your platform, go ahead and do it as long as you have the time to commit. And it is easier to maintain an author blog than a blog or website on just one book or one series of books you wrote. Your fans will then only have one place to find you content rather than multiple places to check.

Counting calories to lose weight – it works!

In the beginning of September, I wrote a blog post about counting calories to lose weight. In July, I had been to the doctor and weighed 134 pounds according to their scale. So I decided to start counting calories using the livestrongLivestong.com Calorie Tracker app as a way to lose weight.  My goal was to get back down to 120 pounds. Well, I am now just one pound away from my goal! This means I have lost 13 pounds in just 12 weeks!

Now I won’t say this has been totally easy. As I said in my last post, there were quite a few days I went over my target calorie intake which kept going down slightly as I shed the weight. And then there was my birthday where I refused to count calories and ate whatever I wanted all day long. But most days, I did well with keeping the calories close to their recommended amount. Never once did I feel like I was dieting. It was all about making better choices.

I had originally thought I would add in exercising in September when the kids went back to school but that hasn’t happened.

One of my other concerns when I first started counting calories was keeping up with it. I did awesome for the first 11 weeks. And then it happened. I didn’t enter my calories for the day. Oh well, I thought, I will enter them tomorrow. But nope that didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t entered calories for the past week. But I have still been watching what and how much I eat. I was hesitant to weigh myself this morning, fearing by not counting calories that I had added a pound or so. I was surprised to find that I had still lost weight without diligently tracking each calorie.

So now that I am almost at my target weight and the holidays are approaching, I think I will change the setting to maintaining my weight. (Who am I kidding, I probably won’t even enter calories into the app anymore.) This adds 475 calories to my daily intake goal. Thanks to counting calories, I now have an idea what and how much I can eat and meet this new goal. And I know that going over one or two days is also not the end of the world. Losing weight doesn’t mean starving yourself. In my case it was teaching myself how many calories were in the foods I eat and changing my choices. It was about making lifestyle changes that I can live with.