Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Setting up a blog and writing on it for a few weeks or months is one thing, but keeping that blog alive and building a community of active readers is another thing. Struggling to produce the best content for your audience and keeping up a regular blogging schedule can be challenging, but if you incorporate some of these guidelines, you’ll be able to grow your blog from just a website to an online community.

Make a Blogging Schedule

Instead of coming up with blog post ideas on the spot, create a blogging schedule or content calendar that outlines what kind of posts you’ll add to your blog over the next month or several months. This takes the guesswork out of blogging and can help you create a strategic plan.

When you plan this way, it’s easier to see the bigger picture and find ways to incorporate a running theme or message throughout your blog posts. A calendar also makes it easier to plan multiple-part posts and to use your blog in conjunction with things like holidays and other marketing campaigns you are running.

Plan Ahead

Part of the beauty of creating a schedule is that you will save time planning. Sit down for an hour or so and list as many blog topics as you can think of. You can add these to your calendar or you can simply refer to this list when you are in a pinch and need a topic quickly. As you list topics, think about your audience and what it wants to read and also consider what your goals are and why you stated blogging to begin with.

Facilitate Discussion

You can’t just post content and then expect people to leave a comment. Write about interesting things like industry news or company developments that will spark a conversation. When people do leave comments on your posts, participate in the conversation by replying or asking questions. This shows your readers you care about their opinions and that you value their comments. Sometimes, all it takes is an active conversation thread with comments from the post author to inspire another reader to leave a comment.

Change with Your Readers

As you build a community of readers, be willing to change your blog based on what they want and what kinds of readers you are attracting. Of course, you shouldn’t abandon your business goals or your overall purpose of blogging, but you can use your readers’ interests to help you come up with new post ideas. Pay attention to what kinds of content people interact with and then brainstorm ideas for similar types of content.

Sometimes, blogs evolve as a business changes or as they attract a new kind of reader. You can find out who your readers are by reading comments or doing surveys. Then, make sure the content you are posting will be valuable to these readers. Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy to meet your readers’ needs.

Maintaining an active blog will help you build a community, which in turn will help you build your business. Blogging will help you boost your search rankings, get your message out there, connect with your potential customers and drive traffic to other pages on your site.

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