Use your blog platform's spell check. Even better, use the automatic spell check included with Firefox. To enable, choose Tools > Options > Advanced > General tab > check the check box for 'Check my spelling as I type.' Firefox automatically underlines misspelled words with a red dotted line just like typing in a fancy shmancy word processor.
Equally important to spelling, grammar is a little more difficult to wrangle. Word processors like MS Word include a grammar check, but who wants to write their blog posts in Word and then copy and paste them into your blog program?
Instead, write conversationally, the way you would talk. Then, before you publish your blog post, save a copy as a draft and view the draft in the Opera browser. Use the 'speak' function in Opera to read the blog post back to you. This will usually expose any large grammatical errors, much better than simply rereading your post.
3) Write an effective headline
The vast majority of your readers on a given day will view your blog post in an RSS reader, or through a social media outlet like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Delicious. They are sifting through dozens or even hundreds of stories and deciding which ones to read based on your headline. Your headline must succinctly reveal what your story is about in a way that attracts readers to click on it. I've written more about headlines here.
4) Use a photo at the very top of your story
After headlines, photos are the main reason a person might begin to read your post. You should have a photo at the very top of your post because it will appear directly below the headline when viewed in an RSS reader. This one-two punch gives you the maximum chance to have someone click on your story. I've written more about photos here.
5) Clear RSS feed link
Most of your return visitors will be visitors through their RSS reader. Make sure the link to your RSS feed is clearly visible. Don't throw up any obstacles to get in the way of letting your readers subscribe. A link to the feed at the bottom of every post is great too.
There are a few business blogs that might get away without humor. If you are an attorney or doctor, you can probably be all serious and people will still read your blog. For the rest of you, show us your sense of humor. My favorite business blog, El Bloggo Torcido, is a great example of someone acting like a complete nut in the blogoshpere, and getting tons of readers as a result.
Readers must be able to search your blog. The nature of blogs means that the blog will sometimes have hundreds and even thousands of pages read. About half the people on the internet ignore a web site's navigation system and rely exclusively on the search box. If you don't have a search box, they leave. Read my article on adding a Google-powered search box to your blog.
8) Keep your blog fresh
Write at least 2-3 posts a week to make sure Google understands that you are a mover and a shaker, and also to keep RSS readers from automatically unsubscribing from your site due to idleness.
9) Allow comments and trackbacks
One of the most useful parts of a blog is the ability to have an ongoing conversation with your readers through your comments and trackbacks. This is one of the easiest, no-cost methods to get customer feedback you will ever utilize.
10) Please add the 10th guideline in the comments below.
[Photo: Teaching Math or Something by foundphotoslj on Flickr, used with permission under Creative Commons Copyright.]
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