I started blogging in September 2008 & it’s been an amazing journey. My blogging technique and the tools I use to blog has drastically changed over the last two years. Through many successes, there are failures. I’ve fell on my face quite a few times, was ignorant about blogging & had very little knowledge of what Blogger, WordPress or any other platforms were or how they worked. I only knew what blogging was from a reader’s perspective.

I’ve learned so much in my short blogging stint! I truly believe to fully succeed, you must first fail.  Of course how you deal with these challenges will better define your success. As I’ve made countless mistakes, I’ve became a much better blogger by working my way through each blunder and applying my knowledge to the site.
Getting Started With The Basics

1. Blog About Your Passion – Blog about what interests you the most. Blogging is tough work & it’s easy to run out of ideas or get bored. If you stick with your passion, you’ll be able to rediscover that inspiration to post after burnouts or blogger’s block.

2. Find your Niche & Target Audience – It’s very easy to lose focus & go too many different directions. My original idea changed from great resources & humor to focusing on great resources. Try these sites for ideas 100 Useful Niche Search Engines.

3. Use a Visually Appealing Design – Use a design that will work for you and be appealing to your audience. There are plenty of free and unique blogging themes, regardless of the platform.

4. Learn All You Can – I learn something each day I blog. It may be something minor, but the key is to continually progress. I had no clue about blogging when I started, but have quickly learned from fellow bloggers and sites like Problogger, BlogDoctor, Warrior Forums, Digital Point and Authority Blogger.

5. Be Unique – There’s far too many blogs on the net, so understanding what makes your blog unique is extremely important. I continually assess my site & ask myself what it is that differentiates the site from the rest. This helps me strive to be different. Try interjecting your personality to put a unique spin on your content.

6. Stay Focused – Try to have a central focus that ties in with your site concept.

7. Use a Traffic Analysis Tool – By using a traffic analysis tool, you’ll be able to analyze your visitors & traffic. This will help you see everything you need about your visitors, top content, trends, etc. I use Google Analytics and Quantcast, which are free tools that accomplishes this goal and then some.

8. Establish a Posting Schedule – Keep readers coming back for more by publishing new content on a schedule. I started blogging & posting 3 or 4 posts a day, which was impossible for me to keep up with with the research I have to put in for each post. I set a posting schedule of 4 to 5 post per week. I also post a weekly “favorite bookmarks” entry. Avoid the “I’m finally posting again” type posts.

9. Don’t Blog to Make Money – When I started blogging, I was in the process of job hunting, I had thoughts of trying to blog full-time & make money, that that just doesn’t work for a new blog. Rather than destroying my site with annoying ads everywhere, I opted to just shoot for making a return on what I spend on the site. These days, I do just fine with displaying only one AdSense Ad. I prefer to keep it that way, so readers can focus on the content and not annoying ads.

10. Make People Think – I’m still looking to improve upon this, but by asking interesting questions or posting thought provoking content, it will help to pique further interest, conversation, etc.

11. Focus on Your Post Titles – Which would you rather click to read, “Sites For Shopping” or something like “10 Money Saving Sites That’ll Knock Your Socks Off”? Think in terms of article titles you’d like to read. If your title stinks, your content will go unread. People judge a book by it’s cover, so give them a flashy cover to make them want to see what’s inside.

12. Be Human – Show your profile, social networking links, etc. Talk to those who comment & don’t be afraid to tell readers about yourself. I’ve attempted to improve this by adding an About Me section & The Story Behind Eazy Cheezy.

13. Use RSS & Display it Near the Top of Your Site – Make your RSS easy to find. This gives your readers different methods to obtain your content as it’s published. Flexibility allows readers to pick the reader of their choice. I recommend using some fancy RSS Icons & Feedburner, although there are other great options. I noticed by moving my RSS to the top, I’ve increased subscribers.

14. Submit Your Site to Search Engines & Directories – This will help your content show up in search results and to build authority. You can use Add URL, which provides direct Links to Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc and Top 55 Best Blog Directories & RSS Submission Sites.

15. Get a Technorati account & Submit your blog. Technorati is like Google for Blogs. Here’s my Technorati Account. Learn more about Technorati.

16. Post Quality Over Quantity – I’ve heard arguments from both sides, but SEO or not, sloppy posts could find people unsubscribing & you can lose readers.

17. Find & Participate in Forums In Your Niche – If your niche is something like Career Assistance, you’d want to participate in discussions at LinkedIn, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc. You’ll build relationships with those offering similar services & gain trust in your target audience by helping solve their problem.

18. Ping directories after each post – This will ensure each directly you submitted your blog to catches the lates entries. Try PingMyBlog.

19. Add “Related Posts” & “Popular Posts” – To get more page views & offer relevant content to the reader, add a “Related Posts” section below your article with all the relevant links. You can add a Popular Posts section on your site to give easy access to your best and most popular work. I love the YARPP WordPress Plugin.

20. Use Images – Vector images and graphics are appealing to the eye. A big personal turn-off for me is a site with all text and no pictures. Images can help to enhance the look and feel of your site and posts. Here’s an amazing resource of Free Vector Images.

21. Use Social Networking & Bookmarking Sites – Twitter,  Stumble Upon, Facebook, LinkedIn & many other social networking sites can bring a significant amount of traffic to your site.

22. Add Social Networking Badges to Your Site – Make it easier for readers to submit or bookmark your content. I recommend ShareThis.

23. Get Involved in Social Networks – Rather than just submitting articles, you’ll probably fail if you don’t involve yourself in the communities of Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, etc. Find other sites in your niche as & take the time to comment. Many blogs who you support will support you as well. You can always further network.

24. Use Effective Keyword Tags – Using effective keywords will help your site appear when others Google their keywords. Try Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find the keywords you should be using.

25. Promote your Blog – Add your link or RSS Feed (as appropriate) to your e-mail, message board signatures and RSS or widget on social networking sites. Just make sure you follow message board policies & don’t do this in a spammy way. If you can use your link or logo in signature blocks.

26. Use Performance Plugins – I highly recommend using a Caching plugin, if you blog with WordPress. It makes a significant difference in page loading times. Try W3 Total Cache.

27. Widget Control – Be careful adding too many widgets or plugins can make your webpage crawl. Seconds seem like a lifetime when you are browsing the web. You’ll definitely lose those readers with slower connections.

It’s All About Your Readers
28. Accept Reader Input & Feedback – I was able to extend and improve quite a few posts by listening to valuable reader feedback.

29. Appreciate Your Readers & Followers – If someone takes the time to comment on a post, be sure to respond to them (provided it’s an actual comment & not self promotion or spam). If you can, visit their site & comment on an article of theirs you like.

30. Show Your Appreciation – Show appreciation to those select readers who always return & interact on your site. Realize that they are spending their valuable time on your site. Try a post that offers something for your reader, such as “Share Your Best Blog Post” every once in a while. You’ll get more comments and readers love that stuff.

31. Respect Your Readers – Always be respectful to your readers & in turn you’ll earn their respect.

32. Think In Terms of Your Readers – You have to know your audience & stay on top of trends to really figure out what your readers may want to read about? Try to stay up on sites that are in your niche. If you write about a given topic, keep yourself informed on that topic.

33. Help Readers Solve Problems – If you post a “How To” or provide tips, try to do everything you can to help any of your readers solve problems they may have. Chances are, if you gain their trust by helping them to their satisfaction, they’ll come back for more. Quite a few of my posts have been written based off questions I’ve received by readers. Also, if you are trying to find an answer and there isn’t a good source to help you solve your problem, that’s your queue to fill the void. Chances are, many other readers are Googling the same question.

Become a Blogging Ninja!
34. Play Like the Pros – Take a look at your favorite sites. What widgets or social networking badges do they use? How do they communicate with their readers? What kind of design do they have? Observe & borrow some of your favorite elements to help take your site to another level.

35. Add a Contact & About Page – All well established sites have About & Contact pages. If you use Blogger, you’re a little more limited but there are still many different tools to use. I use the WordPress Plugin Contact Form 7.

36. Take Chances – I’ve taken chances by modifying my design & tweaking my logo multiple times. The biggest risk I’ve taken was moving to a domain and from Blogger to WordPress to SquareSpace, then back to WordPress. This proved to be a better long-term decision. WordPress is the platform for me.

37. Guest Blog – I’ve guest blogged at quite a few sites, which has helped me reach a larger audience. In addition to my guest blogging, I’ve hosted several guest bloggers. I’ve developed relationships through social networks & by following several blogs and the best relationships I’ve attained is typically with the bloggers I’ve collaborated with. This is an exciting way to reach a larger audience & get a fresh point of view. Cross-promotion is very valuable. Here’s on of my personal favorite guest author posts for example. Technological Innovations That Will Help Us Change the World.

38. Get Your Site Reviewed – I’ve had my site reviewed at Warrior Forum, Digital Point and Blog Catalog. Each review has given me a different perspective in pointing out ways for me to improve. The reviews were honest & extremely effective. Take a look at 15 Sites That Give Free Blog Reviews.

39. Work To Get Returning Visitors – Getting people to visit your site is the starting point, but in reality a small percentage will actually return. This goes back to setting yourself apart & understanding the value you bring to your readers. There’s no magical formula, but one thing that’s worked best for me is helping newer bloggers in forums/e-mail as well as frequently visiting my favorite blogging sites. Being active in social networking communities & building relationships is key.

40. Conduct & Publish an Interview – Conducting an interview is an excellent experience & one that can help bring unique and intriguing content to your site. Don’t be afraid to approach other authors for an interview, but be sure to do your homework, limit your questions, show them why they should want to have an interview published on your site & be very respectful. Take a look at my most recent interview, Q&A with Rick Richter, CEO of Ruckus Media.

Blogging Resources
100 Killer WordPress Resources – Steffan Antona’s Blog: 100+ Killer Resources for WordPress Hackers, Designers and Powerbloggers.
Blogger Toolbox: 100+ Tools and Themes – Mashable: An extensive guide to over 100 free and premium tools, themes, and shortcuts for Blogger.com users.
Blogging Toolbox: 120+ Resources for BloggersMashable: An aspiring blogger can be overwhelmed with the vast amount of resources, tools, and advice for bloggers available on the net.
A – Z of Professional Blogging – Problogger: A – Z of Professional Blogging Tools
Top 10 Tools to Get Blogging Done – Lifehacker: Writing your blog should be a fun way to stretch your mind and stay connected.
My 50 Favorite Blogging Resources – Pronet Advertising: There are thousands of blogging related resources on the Internet which can create an overwhelming experience for anyone looking to get into blogging.
101 Essential Blogging Resources – Blogtrepreneur: Update: There are now 122 resources.
Time to Check: Are You Using the Right Blogging Platform – OJR: Blogs are one of the hottest publishing tools around, but picking blog software can be confusing and frustrating. Use this primer to get a feel for what’s available and what will work best for you.

Blogging Platforms
Blogger: Free Blogging Platform.
TypePad: TypePad charges between $4.95 – $14.95 monthly, depending on level of service chosen.
Blogware: Charges between $8-$15 per month, depending on reseller.
WordPress: Free Blogging Platform.
Movabletype: Normal users will pay $69.95 or higher & Commercial users pay at least $199.95.
Terapad: Various pricing options. Free, Standard for $14.15 per month & Pro for $49.15 per month.
Habari Project: Next-generation blogging.
Lifetype: Open Source Blogging Platform.
Drupal: Open Source Content Management.
Squarespace: Starts at $8 per month.

What have you learned about your blogging experience? What’s your platform of choice? This is a post that is a collection of many of the aspects about blogging that I’ve learned thus far. I still learn something new almost everyday. My weakness is in SEO or Search Engine Optimization, but I’m starting to learn more and grow. I hope you find this helpful to your blogging experience. Please do share your stories, experiences, etc.