Updated on 09.28.17

Building a Better Blog

Trent Hamm

The Simple Dollar is running a special series on building a better blog. These posts assume that you’re already blogging, that you have a passion for improving your blog’s long term traffic, and that you’ve gone through many of the ups and downs that come with blogging (big spikes in readers, periods of slow or nonexistent or even negative growth in readership). This series is borne out of the success I’ve had with The Simple Dollar, which is the culmination of many years of lessons learned as a less-successful blogger.

How to Build a Better Blog Series

Without further ado, here are the posts. The goal of these posts is singular: each post is devoted to a specific aspect of building a healthy long-term readership of your blog. I’m not going to write about optimum ad placements or Google keywords or how to cut down on spam comments; there are countless other resources for that. Instead, this series seeks to grow your readership in a healthy fashion, from which will come nothing but success. There’s some more explanation at the end.

1: Essential Reading
2: Love What You Write
3: Addressing Your Readers
4: Define Your Own Success
5: Don’t Leave Them Hanging
6: Don’t Be Insular
7: Keep Something In Reserve
8: Reach Out
9: Be Yourself
10: Length Doesn’t Matter
11: Respond to Comments
12: Inspire Yourself
13: The Content Comes First
14: Money Doesn’t Matter
15: Don’t Give Up
16: Be Lucky
17: Guide Your Users
18: Leverage the Past
19: Search Engine Optimization Doesn’t Matter
20: The Mini Audience
21: Don’t Chase Away Your Readers
22: Social Bookmarking
23: Don’t Know It All
24: Use the Senses
25: Write in Series
26: Post Consistently
27: Engage the Casual Visitor
28: Talking To Other Bloggers
29: Don’t Clutter It Up
30: Don’t Forget the Fundamentals
31: Celebrate With Your Readers

Why write about this topic on a personal finance blog?

The biggest reason is that many bloggers (and especially personal finance bloggers) are interested in long term growth. We’re interested in building a relationship with our readers, one that will grow over time as more and more people find our blog. We’re not in this just to dump out a lot of posts – we want people to be able to find our site, get interested in it, visit it regularly, and tell their friends about it. We want to be able to share our ideas with a wider world.

Hand in hand with that comes the fact that bloggers of all stripes are interested in long term earnings. Along with that relationship and larger reader base comes the potential for more ad revenue, and thus more money earned from the hard work of regular, consistent, quality blogging. We’re not out to become millionaires, but we would like to at least see some return on the investment of our passion.

The biggest reason for blogging (for me, at least) is the desire to teach what I’ve learned to readers who might be interested. A solid slice of the readers of The Simple Dollar are bloggers themselves, who face many of the issues that I also face on a daily basis. I learned many lessons from earlier attempts at blogging, and applying what I learned here at The Simple Dollar (so far) has brought success far beyond what I hoped for – I was hoping for regular traffic at this level around the one year mark, not in just over a month – so it makes sense for me to share what I’ve learned.

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  1. Jonathan says:

    These tips are really spot on, and really incredible coming from a blog that started in October :) You hinted at a previous blog before, but either you are a blogging prodigy or you must have been blogging a while.

  2. Sachleen says:

    Great list, thanks. I am starting on blogging so this was helpful. Thanks

  3. Karoli says:

    Thank you for a lovely New Year’s gift. This is the best collection of “how to blog and blog well” articles I’ve seen!

  4. Hey Trent,

    Thanks a million for doing this over the course of December. A lot of these tips have helped me get over some hurdles that have been causing me grief in the past month or two.

    One thing that made me curious was your stance on social bookmarking links in the footer. Obviously the excessive twelve icons is evil, but I personally use a two icon digg/delicious setup.

    On one hand I completely see your point about them adding to the clutter because experienced users have an extension and new users know nothing about it. I feel they can be integrated without clutter and plugin or not, they are seeing some use.

    I have the del.icio.us plugin for firefox, but if the icon is there on a blog, I’ll use it. I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to make that single left click at the bottom of the post versus a right click then a left click (or left click at the top of the window). Perhaps I’m the lazy exception.


  5. Allen.H says:

    Nice list you’ve got there, i just finished writing and gave my post series some final touches, it will also address building better blogs for the new year, titled “5 blog aspects to revise in 2007″…the first part should be up within hours :)


  6. rhbee says:

    Just a question, since I am going back to read the whole series this weekend, how do you set up your blog so that you can email it to others?

  7. Houston says:

    Listen. Do not have an opinion while you listen because frankly, your opinion doesn?t hold much water outside of Your Universe. Just listen. Listen until their brain has been twisted like a dripping towel and what they have to say is all over the floor.

  8. Lannie says:

    If you can

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