What I Wish I Knew Then

I’ve been blogging for almost two years, and here is a list of things I wish I had known when I was starting out.  If you have any tips to add, please leave them in the comments.

1.  Build your blogroll slowly.  Blogrolls are like rabbits; they have a way of multiplying at an alarming rate.  So add to your blogroll cautiously.   It should be an honor to be on your blogroll, so keep your standards high.  I only add to my blogroll after I’ve been reading a blog for months, and I’ve usually emailed with the blogger quite a bit "behind the scenes".

2. Invest in a personalized design.  I can’t stress this enough.  At the very least, it gives your blog an identity.  I have several readers who use the same free template, and I have a hard time keeping them straight in my mind.  Your blog will be more memorable if you have an original design. 

Besides that, it gives new readers an instant snapshot of your personality.  Much like the clothes you wear, your blog design tells people something about who you are and what you’re about. 

3. Keep your design simple.  You don’t want your design and sidebars to detract from your content.  And black type on what background is ALWAYS easiest to read.  There are some blogs I cannot visit because they use light type on dark backgrounds.  It makes me dizzy.  No matter how good your content is, if it’s difficult to read people aren’t going to stick around.

4.  Write well.   I recently read somewhere to treat every blog post as a job interview.  Don’t be so eager to post every day that you compromise the quality of your writing.  This is definitely a case where "less is more".

5.  Edit.  And edit again.  And before publishing, it’s always a good idea to read your post out loud to yourself.
(Yes, your family might think you’ve lost what little semblance of
sanity you had left, but trust me — you won’t BELIEVE the corrections
you find when you read it out loud.)  And please use spell check for goodness sake.

6.  Use paragraph breaks frequently.  There’s nothing worse than trying to read a blog post that is one giant paragraph.

7.  Be generous with comments and links.  If you desire to grow your readership, participate in the blogging community.  Join blog rings, leave lots of comments, participate in carnivals.  Or better yet, host your own carnival!

8. Be yourself.  Your readers can tell if you aren’t being authentic, and no one wants to hang around someone who is fake. 

9.  On the other hand, don’t feel like you have to share every aspect of your private life with the World Wide Web.  On the contrary, internet security is important.  It’s a good idea not to divulge your exact location, and many bloggers use nicknames for themselves and their family members.  You will also need to decide whether or not to post pictures of your children.  This is a hot topic and one I can’t cover comprehensively here, but there is lots of great information to be found if you search for it.

10.  Above all, HAVE FUN!

What would you add to this list?  What’s the most important thing you would tell a blogger who is just starting out?