Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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5 guidelines in building a successful blog

Over the last two years, blogging (and social sites in general) have been big sellers for Griffio. The short answer is because they work in boosting exposure, influence, and opportunities. But sadly, the blog drop-out rate is ridiculous. I’ve heard as little as 1% of all newly created blogs continue publishing after only a short while. To counter that futile fate, here are (5) guidelines for building a successful blog should you decide to start one:

  1. Planning. A blog without a game plane is dead in the water. This first, most important step answers the question, “What will your blog do?” What type of a blog will you start? Will it be a personal one? A business blog? Will it have multiple authors? Who will read it? Why will they read it? Will the site have ads? What will you do differently than other sites? What type of content (read: informative or entertaining food) will you offer your audience? Leaving this step, you should have a solid understanding of what you want you blog to be.
  2. Architectural design. Now we get into the logistical nitty-gritty. This step answers the question, “How will your blog look?” I’m not talking graphical design, I’m talking about what elements will be used to meet the goals of step one. Will you blog use comments? How will your audience view your content? How will they use and interact with your content? Will you follow traditional standards or try something new? Will you syndicate your RSS via short feeds, or long ones? From an organization standpoint, how will your content be structured. After leaving this step, you should understand “how” your blog will work.
  3. Technical development. Nerds and people dressed in black enter here. This step includes both graphical design and web programming. What interface best suits your content, tone, and audience? Will you use an existing content management framework or build one from scratch? Maybe a hybrid approach should be used. What resources can be leveraged to simplify this step? Regardless, if you’ve done your job during steps one and two, this process should be cake, that is unless you’ve ventured into uncharted territory during planning and architectural design.
  4. Implementation. A blog without a home, is a blog that lives alone (I just made that up, pretty clever, eh?). While you should have already determined where you’re blog will live or be hosted in step one, this step is concerned with how you get your site up and running? What does it take to get it into place? Is it working properly before you take it live? Unless hosted by a do-it-yourself service, this step also requires the wizardry of technical ninjas.
  5. Ongoing updates. No one will visit a blog without fresh content. This isn’t a vault of information (though it can become such). It’s a living, breathing website. Readers come for the catch of the day. Make sure you give it to them. How often will you update your blog? What’s a good daily, weekly, monthly post goal? Will your content evolve over time? How will reader feedback affect what you’re doing? These are all important questions that should be addressed. Note: having this step last is a bit of a misnomer; it is in fact right up there with planning as one of the most important (if not the most important) thing you’ll do as a blogger.

Granted, such a formal procedure may seem a bit overboard. And this isn’t to say you can’t informally or loosely follow the prescribed recommendations. But in doing so, you’ll better optimize the chances of success, and mitigate future headaches. Also, the above guidelines more aptly apply to custom blog development. And even though a hosted, more restrictive “out-of-the-box” solution may be a better fit for your budget (if any) and/or limited technological know-how, said guidelines are sure to reduce the 99% chance that you’ll cease benefiting from the positive effects of blogging.

See also: Eight Things to Avoid While Blogging