The thing about blogging is that every blogger in the world starts with the exact same audience – zero.
When you're a brand new blogger, there will be days when the only person reading your blog is your mum, or the random internet user in Finland who Googles, "how to get ketchup stains out of silk stockings".
It will take time for the world to discover your blog, and for the first few weeks or months of blogging, you may only get a few visitors each day. But there are some simple things you can do to start to build your audience, and help new readers find your blog:
Think about your blog 'story'.
The best blogs have some kind of central journey, or story, that readers can follow. Readers want to feel involved in your story – whether it's talking about losing weight, trying new recipes, or the search for the key to getting your teenagers out of bed in the morning. Let your readers feel a part of your journey.
It can seem like a waste of time, but every comment on your blog represents a reader starting a conversation with you. And it's the height of bad manners to ignore that. So take time to reply to comments on your blog. Thank people for stopping by, even if you don't agree with what they say.
Make content that's easy to share.
It's easy to add social media icons to your blog posts that allow people to immediately share them with followers on Twitter or Facebook, or submit the post to one of the social bookmarking websites like Del.ici.ous or Reddit. Don't be shy of sharing your own content, too. Networked Blogs is a great way of automatically sharing your new blog posts with your Facebook friends.
Chat to other bloggers.
Using blogging communities like the Tots100 will help you discover other blogs that will inspire you, and provide you with the opportunity to make friends with other bloggers. Comment regularly on their blogs, talk to bloggers on Twitter, take part in blogging link-ups where bloggers can submit posts to a themed round-up, and you'll find your audience numbers will begin to creep upwards.
Make your content search engine friendly.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the art of writing content in a way that makes it easier for people to find via search engines. You can get very involved in SEO but the two most important things to remember are:
1. Write headlines that include the kinds of things people will be looking for in search engines
2. Change your blog's settings so that the blog post address (or permalink) includes the blog name and post title, rather than just a series of numbers.
You don't need to post every day, but it is a good idea to post on your blog at least twice a week. Otherwise, readers won't make you a part of their routine. And don't just post on your own blog – reach out to your newfound blogging friends and offer to write guest posts on other sites. This can be a brilliant way to reach brand new readers.
Engage your readers.
Engagement is a big buzz word in blogging, but it really just means having a conversation with your readers. Don't just present your view and leave it at that. Ask your readers questions. Invite them to comment, ask for their advice, or just see if they can offer a different perspective.
There are lots of analytics websites that will let you monitor who is visiting your blog, and what they're reading. Google Analytics, Sitemeter and Statcounter are all free, and help you to see which of your posts are popular with readers – so you can write more like them!
Get a better design.
It might sound shallow, but people like to read internet content that is easy on the eye. So think about streamlining your design, adding suitable images, sub-headings and clear navigation. Make the act of reading your site a real pleasure. Having a design with lots of white space puts the spotlight on your content, while having a personalised banner image at the top of the site is a simple way to tell readers what your blog is all about, at a glance.
Polish up your writing
Being a great blogger doesn't mean never putting an adverb out of place. But long sentences, confusing grammar and poor spelling makes a blog harder to read. If you know spelling isn't your strong point, use a spell check and proof your posts carefully before you hit publish.
You can read more tips and advice on blogging, plus inspirational blogs, here.