While I agree with most of them, there are some that I don't, so I thought it was time that I published my own, that is, those that I try myself to abide by.
This won't really be a definitive list. I'm sure that I will omit things that you, my fellow bloggers, think are really important. Let me know what I have left out.
Nor will the points be in strict order of importance. I'll try though.
I've settled on 10.
- Decide what the focus of your blog is.
The focus of mine is crime fiction, and I try to stick to that. I have other blogs where I do other things.
If your blog is basically about books, stick to that. If you need to talk about your family, the cats or the dogs, then create another blog for that. Some people have as many as 6 different blogs. Your readers will stick with you because of your focussed content.
Think about who you are trying to write for.
Your blog doesn't have to be the final authority either.
- How often to blog?
This is where I depart from the guidelines referred to above. Blog regularly. Many of the blogs I read have a new posting daily. I can cope with that. Sometimes I worry when I write more than one posting - hoping I don't offend with over-blogging. But really, you are the writer of your blog. So do what suits you. I avoid extra posts with some of the links I have in the area around my blog, like the blog roll on the right, and the Breaking News at the top. But sometimes there is something I want to pass on, so I post a second or even third time for the day.
- Watch the layout of your posting.
Give it plenty of white space. I'm not the only person I'm sure who has trouble with reading chunks of text. Play around with the blog templates available to you until you find one that suits you. Don't feel held back from changing your layout or images. My friend Petrona delights by refreshing hers on a seemingly regular basis.
Whether to include images or not is up to you, but they do help with layout and to make it look interesting. You might want to get something like XnView to help you with image management.
- Use links in your posting.
If you are writing a book review, do a little bit of research about the author and point to their website if you can. Hyperlink rather than just post in the URL.
- Proof read your posting carefully before publishing.
If I am following your blog by RSS feed, then I don't want to get 5 copies of the same posting with minute changes. I know I'm guilty of this sometimes, but believe me I try not to publish until I am sure there are no changes to be made.
- Don't make your readers jump hurdles to leave comments.
At the beginning of this year I resolved to change my lurking behaviour, and, where possible to make a comment when the blog posting interested me. Nothing is more annoying though than those blogs where you have to be "a member" to post.
You'll notice too, if you go to comment here, that I have turned "word verification" off - this is a trial - under the influence of a couple of fellow bloggers who are leading a movement against the practice. If I get spammed, then I will turn it back on. But perhaps a blog like mine so far down the blogging tree doesn't need such protection.
And when comments are left, try to reply to them.
- Get copies of your own postings.
That might seem to be a bit narcissistic, but it is important that you get to see your blog postings as your readers see them. I'm subscribed to my blog by RSS feed and by email.
Check what the RSS feed of your blog is delivering. Some are set so that all you get is the headlines. It is an extra click and upload for me then to read your actual posting, and I am likely not to bother.
Make sure also that you get copies of the comments by email.
- Feel free to add gadgets to make your blog more interesting. For example I find that visitors to my site, whom I monitor via Feedjit often go off on one of the links in my blogroll. Have a look also at the Clustr Map
I've been using polls in my blog to give people something to do when they get here.
I've also included blocks on the side that show particular things that I am doing such as the Forgotten Books links, and the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
Have a look at what other people do on their blogs for ideas.
- Use labels and tags.
I've seen anti-tagging movements that I just don't understand. Tags will help people search your blog for similar entries to the one they are reading. I don't display all the tags on mass though, it made my blog page far too long.
- Set up some sort of counter.
This will help you monitor how many people come to your blog. You'll see that I have Sitemeter, Feedjit, and Free Counter running.
I like Sitemeter because it gives me a weekly report and through it I know that I have about 58 visitors a day, and that they are spending about 2 minutes on average on my blog. Feedjit tells me what postings people are finding and how they are getting there (their Google searches etc).
I find the counters are an incentive for me to do better, and in some ways a re-assurance that there are people out there who read my blog.
So now, Im off to read. If I don't do any of that, then I won't have anything to write about!