People often ask me what makes a blog successful, and I tend to think there's only one sensible answer to this question: your blog is successful if you're having fun writing it, and it's being read by people who find it interesting and engaging (after all, if we didn't want our blogs to be read, we'd be writing diaries and hiding them under the mattress).
If you want your blog to be successful here are some tips to help you get there:
1. Do use lots of photos on your blog. It looks more fun, and nobody likes reading long chunks of text. You can use your own pictures, or use a website like www.compfight.com to look for "creative commons" pictures on the Internet. Creative commons means photos are free for you to use on your blog, providing you credit the photographer.
2. Don't be afraid to express opinions, but do remember it's notoriously hard to understand someone's tone online, so it's especially important to stay polite. Never resort to personal insults, try and keep a sense of humour and if you do get the odd nasty comment on your blog, just delete it. If someone spoke rudely to you in your house, you'd kick them out – I suggest applying the same rule to your blog.
3. Do back up your blog. If you're using a "hosted" blog on a website like Blogger, Wordpress.com or Typepad, then you don't technically "own" the content. Some bloggers have found their blogs unexpectedly deleted, and have lost their content. Backing up isn't hard – just "export" your posts to a file on your computer every few weeks.
4. Do think carefully about your privacy when you blog. Some bloggers use nicknames for their children and don't use photos of their faces. Other bloggers use false names, or have a policy of not revealing things like the town where they live, or the school that children attend. Be sensible about how much information you share, for security, but also to avoid potentially embarrassing your partner and children!
5. Don't write something you think is boring because you haven't posted for a few days. Nothing kills the "fun" of blogging faster than writing out of obligation. If you're short of inspiration, post a photo, look for a blogging prompt to write about, or just take day off.
6. Do spend time visiting other blogs and commenting if you want to grow your audience. Regularly linking to bloggers who write about similar things, or whose posts you've particularly enjoyed is a great way of building up a rapport with other bloggers.
7. Don't write about friends and family on the blog without their permission, especially if you're upset. You might think they'll never find it, but blog posts can live forever on the Internet and the fallout could be much worse than you imagine.
8. Do be generous with your skills and knowledge. Writing recipes, tutorials and "how to" posts is a brilliant way to find new readers, who will discover your posts through asking search engines everything from how to make a pillowcase to the secret to getting a baby to eat turnip.
9. Don't feel your blog shouldn't ever change. As you change, it's natural your blogging will change, and the best blogs are those that take a journey with their authors. Don't be afraid to write about new subjects, try new styles, or change the look of your blog – most of your readers will stick with you, and you might just gain some new readers along the way.
10. Do think about writing guest posts on other blogs and websites. It's a great way to meet new readers and introduce them to your brilliance. It's also a really fun way to try out writing in different styles and about different topics.
11. Don't get obsessed with statistics. Most blogging platforms can tell you how many people read your blog each day, and there are lots of websites that can tell you even more. It's a great way to see what your readers are enjoying most, but if it starts to upset you, then turn them off! So long as you and your readers enjoy your blog, that's enough.
12. Do take a break once in a while. It's easy to get caught up in blogging, Tweeting, updating social networks and responding to comments. But this can make blogging seem like a chore, and you'll soon burn out. If you find yourself getting too caught up, make a point of getting out of the house every day, and turning off your smartphone when you're with other people!
13. Above all, remember blogging is fun.
More blogging advice on Parentdish:
Blogging: How to Get Started
Have Fun Blogging
Make Money Blogging