I’m definitely not an expert, but I’ll share what I do know and offer some tips that might help with starting out.
There are definitely some elements that you’ll want on your blog. The design of the blog doesn’t matter very much (except that some of us have trouble reading white words on black backgrounds). But there are some widgets and elements you might want to think about including in your sidebar.
Blog roll: Not only is this a great way to direct traffic to your blogging friends’ sites, but it’s also helpful to writers who are looking for other writing blogs to follow.
RSS feed button: RSS is basically just an easy way for someone to add you to their blog reader by just a couple of clicks. If you put it near the top of your sidebar, it will help encourage folks to follow you.
A follower widget. This could be Networked Blogs (a 3rd party application of Facebook) or the Google follower widget. People like to feel like they belong…I know I look for a follower widget as soon as I visit a new blog.
Are you on Twitter or Facebook? You don’t have to be, but if you are, then add a button to your sidebar to increase interaction with your readers.
Besides blog widgets and buttons, there’s another important area to consider—readers. Be sure to visit others’ blogs and comment. Many will return the favor with a visit to your blog.
I know that folks who participate in blogfests and blog carnivals also find new readers. It’s boggling my mind right now, but I looked for an online dictionary definition of blogfest to link to…and I can’t find one. Bizarre! I’ll give it a go myself, then—a blogfest is a group of blogs who post on a particular topic (usually on one particular day, unless specified for longer) and link to each others’ blogs.
A quick tip—don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you won’t be able to post every day, then don’t. Better to post once a week on a particular day (that you note in your sidebar) or three times a week and be able to keep up with the pace.
I’d also recommend having a good number of blog posts in draft form that you can pull from if you need to. It would be fantastic if you could have an emergency supply of posts before you start your blog, but it’s easy to do a marathon blog-writing session and build up a backlog of them at any time.
I learned a lot from the Blog Book Tour class that Dani offers…and she’s just about to start another one in February, I see. Here’s the info on the class (I got a ton out of it when I took it in 2009): http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com/2011/01/in-with-new-class.html .
Most of y’all who comment here have been long-time bloggers yourselves. Got tips? Please share!