By Danielle Rodabaugh at Spice Up Your Blog
If you've been managing your blog for some time, chances are you're looking for some ways to improve it. Whether it comes to content development, credibility or reader engagement, the opportunities for improvement are endless. To help you along your way, here are 15 great ways any blog owner can improve his or her publication.
- Stop promoting yourself. If your posts do nothing more than market your business, products or services, then you shouldn't even have a blog. Readers aren't interested in writers who do nothing more than selfishly promote themselves. Time is precious, and they don't want to waste it reading about your latest accomplishments.
- Explain why you do what you do. Readers need to know why they should respect your opinion and value the information you provide. For example, when I write guest articles for my colleagues, I always explain my credentials in the byline. Whether an article is about what surety bonds are, professional writing or online marketing, I always make sure readers respect my authority.
- Write more interesting headlines. You can't get people to engage with your blog if your headlines don't entice them to read your content. As time goes on, writing headlines probably takes up less and less of your time. You're the editor of your blog, so you must spend a legitimate amount of time developing attention-grabbing headlines.
- Feature a relevant photo with every post. Even if you already use photos, chances are some of them have little to do with the content that accompanies it. Be sure that every photo or graphic provides a visual context that improves the post.
- End your posts by asking readers about their opinions. Although straightforward, asking your readers their thoughts is an effective way to increase engagement on your blog.
- Share every new post on your social media profiles. Your readers probably interact more on social media platforms than on your blog itself, so take your information to them. Get feedback on your blog by asking follow-up questions on Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites.
- Cite industry sources. Instead of simply spouting off your opinions on a subject, add credibility to your blog by citing information that backs up your claims. Provide readers with information on relevant resources. Readers will value your content more when you've made the effort to give them factual information rather than wishy-washy opinions.
- Hone your voice. How do you present information to your readers in ways that differ from other bloggers? Tightening your writing voice means your readers will be able to recognize the unique way that you communicate with them.
- Read everything you can about creative journalistic writing. Plenty of bloggers out there manage their sites as a hobby or personal outlet, which means they might not have a background in writing. If you're such a blogger, you'll benefit from reading about different writing formulas that could improve the content you write.
- Reach out to industry experts. Invite your colleagues to write guest posts that you'll feature. If you can build strong relationships, interviewing stakeholders is another great way to improve your blog's credibility. Doing so provides your readers with variety and also shows that you value the viewpoints of others.
- Provide a unique perspective on a hot topic. Don't just regurgitate the same information and opinions everybody else is already sharing online. Read what your competitors are writing and consider how you might add to the conversation. Be sure your readers benefit from reading your take on a subject.
- Edit everything you write at least twice. Even if you're a naturally gifted writer, you should know by now that everybody makes mistakes, be they typos or word usage. Buy the Associated Press Stylebook and other grammatical texts to verify that you're communicating your messages in the most effective and succinct ways.
- Review your archives. If you've managed your blog for a few years, chances are your older posts could use some cleaning up. Categorize them logically and reread them for clarity and grammatical errors. When writing new posts, make the old ones more accessible by linking to them whenever relevant.
- Update consistently. If you don't operate your blog on a regular schedule, how will your readers know when to check your blog for new information? Professional level online publications update their sites consistently so their readers know when to expect information.
- Think outside of your comfort zone. If you feel writers' block coming on, step away from your blog and go read some blogs that you, personally, find interesting and informative. Make note of what keeps you coming back to the publications you like, and consider how your might implement those strategies for your blog.
By Guest Author - Danielle Rodabaugh is the chief editor of the Surety Bond Insider, a publication that tracks surety bond insurance news and explains what surety bonds are. She's a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has been managing the online branding of SuretyBonds.com since its inception in 2009. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.