68 Ways to Make Your Blog Work for You

Pablo's cubism period began at threeWith more than 180 million recognized blogs and countless more not on Technorati’s list, it’s clear that blogging continues to enjoy huge popularity, despite claims to the contrary.

Yet blogging itself isn’t easy – you need to put in love, time, effort, commitment and a whole lot more to really make it work for you. Which is one of the reasons so many bloggers ditch their writing within the first few months.

Business blogs also need to see a return on investment as well (even though much of the real ROI comes from the interaction you build up with your readers who are all potential customers).

To help you in your blogging efforts, personal and business, here’s a list of some tools and tips that you might find useful.

Free Blogging Platforms

Starting a blog has never been easier. Free blogging sites like WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal and Vox help you get started quickly and easily. They have a pretty good range of theme designs as well to help you choose one that fits your personality and needs.

If the idea of blogging and design seems too much like hard work to you, sites like Posterous and Tumblr offer great alternatives to full-on blogging. You can still choose to post yourself, but both sites offer you the option of emailing in your post(s) and attachment(s) and their blog team will do the rest for you.

Self-Hosted (or Premium) Blogging

If you want to go the self-hosted route (where you have more direct control over your blog’s appearance and optimization), you can either download software to help you get your blog going or use your web host’s software.

For web hosts, companies like Bluehost offer an excellent all-in-one option of buying your domain and setting up your monthly web host account. Other options include GoDaddy, JustHost and Host Gator.

WordPress.org, Movable Type, TypePad and Loudblog (excellent for media blogs or podcasts) are all great options when it comes to downloading the software you need to get your blog up and running on your new domain. Squarespace is a solid alternative that lets you buy your domain, monthly package and design your blog from the start.

Theme Your Blog

Syntax Error -  Folded Up Beyond All RecognitionMaking your blog your own is a lot simpler than you might expect. Gone are the days when you needed an in-depth knowledge of HTML or CSS coding skills – now most of the hard work is already done for you behind the scenes.

Blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger and Squarespace offer drag-and-drop options to help you set up your blog’s look easily.

If you’ve gone the paid route, then you can buy a variety of themes to help set your blog apart from others. On WordPress you can buy themes like Headway (used on this blog), Flexx, Lifestyle and numerous others. There are also some excellent premium-styled themes available for free download.

Even Blogger allows you to pay a small fee to upgrade to a premium account which then allows you to design your own theme, either via CSS coding or buying a ready-made premium Blogger theme.

Widgetize Your Blog

Widgets (or plugins) allow you to add anything from popular posts, recent comments, calendars, blog badges and much more. Not only are widgets excellent for helping add depth to your blog, they can help your readers find you online elsewhere.

For example, Twitter widgets are available for all the main blogging platforms like WordPress, TypePad and Blogger. This can help your readers find you on Twitter as well as see your latest updates, search results and more.

As well as the standard widgets available in many blog themes, there are several websites that allow you to design your own. Widgetbox is a great example, as is Yourminis and Wowzio. Toying with widgets and seeing what works for you is a great way to really personalize your blog.

Promoting Your Blog

So you’ve set your blog up, written a few posts and are ready to share it with the world. What next? Apart from your friends and family, how else can you get readers to your blog? Community networking.

There are a host of excellent blog communities around that will help you both promote your own blog and find other bloggers to read and learn from. Scribnia, BlogCatalog, TechnoratiBloggeries, Loaded Web, Alltop, CommunitySpark and others are great starting points.

If you’re on Facebook, then the Networked Blogs application is ideal for letting your friends and their friends know about your blog (and you can place your Networked Blog badge in your blog’s sidebar to let new visitors know you’re on Networked Blogs).

Additionally, offer the option for your readers to share your blog post on Twitter as well as Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, Mixx, Delicious, Newsvine, Netvibes and other social bookmarking sites that will help you gain new visitors and traffic.


Knowing how search engine optimization (SEO) works is hugely effective at helping your blog stand out in the search engines. While in-depth understanding of SEO really needs a specialist, experts like Lee Odden offer some great free SEO resources for you to use as well as paid consultancy services.

Check out Google’s free keyword tool as well as software like IBP website optimizer.

Open Up and Share

Blog readers love to learn things and read about stuff they might not have seen elsewhere (I know I do, as a reader of numerous blogs myself). So open up and share your blog.

Offer tips and advice that your readers will enjoy. These can be lists like the one you’re currently reading, or how-to features, or even something as simple as a cooking recipe. Share your knowledge and ask for the views of your readers and you’ll soon have a thriving and interactive blog community.

Offer other bloggers guest slots on your blog as well. Not only does this allow your existing readers to hear a new voice and mindset, it also allows your guest blogger to share your blog with their own readers, again opening up your blog to a wider audience. Simply put, the more you share of you, the more of you will be shared.

Measure Your Blog’s Success

While the amount of comments and interaction are a good measure of a blog’s success, they don’t tell the full story. And if you’re a business that’s blogging or you need results from a marketing perspective, then you need to measure your blog’s success.

Free tools like Google Analytics, Woopra, Quantcast, Social Mention, Backtype and StatCounter give you a mix of traffic and what’s being said about your blog online.

If you need more in-depth analysis, there are numerous premium analytic options. Some of the best include Radian6, OmniTure, WebTrends and VisiStat.

Monetize Your Blog

Happy President's DayIf the aim of your blog is to make money, there are various ways to do so.

However, making money blogging isn’t as easy as it sounds so make sure you’re prepared to look elsewhere for income as well.

If you’re looking for paid blogging opportunities (where advertisers pay you to write about them), Pay Per Post, SocialSpark, ReviewMe and SponsoredReviews are just some examples of sites that pay bloggers for their views.

Another way to make money from your blog is by being an Affiliate. By signing up with a company to promote their product, either by on-site advertising or links to their products, you get paid each time one of your visitors clicks the advertiser’s advert or when a sale is made from that click.

Companies like Neverblue, Commission Junction and LinkShare are geared towards bloggers looking to make money from affiliate sales.

These are just some of the ways that you can turn your blog from being just another journal into a fully functional personal or business blog. Yet just like any list, I’m sure I’ve missed a ton of stuff along the way.

What do you use to make your blog work for you? Feel free to share your tips and recommendations in the comments below.

Note: This blog no longer runs on the Headway framework. Instead, it’s a custom WordPress design by Lisa Kalandjian of SceneStealer Graphics.

Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks
Creative Commons License photo credit: Simon Pow
Creative Commons License photo credit: faeriebell
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cayusa

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  1. says

    Just about to get ready to set up a blog so newbie info like this is always helpful.
    You make it sound a lot easier than my mind does. I would love to know how blogs for NPs can be monetized or are they used mostly for driving traffic to their websites?

    • says

      Hi Rebecca,

      I think NP's can use blogs both ways. Obviously they're a great way to raise awareness by driving traffic to either their own site or that of the people they're helping. Yet they can also be monetized through corporate or donor sponsorships.

      You could offer an advertising post on behalf of one of the charity's main supporters, and what their service does. Or offer ad space for businesses that are related to the NP's cause – the higher the relevance, the more likely an ad will be successful.

      You could also see merchandise from the NP via the blog as well.

      Of course, make sure that you disclose where necessary that it is sponsored – but I don't see why a NP wouldn't be able to monetize their blog in some fashion.

  2. says

    Hi Danny: Loved the post, have often toyed with the idea of having a space to express myself, but have never been able to fig out wht it is that i want to write about (read as focus on) any suggessions on how to tackle this dilema, thats basically holding me back ?

    • says

      Hi Mayav,

      That's definitely one of the most frequent reasons that deter someone from starting a blog, is knowing what you want to write about (particularly since every topic under the sun seems to be covered).

      It might be an idea to toy with something like Posterous for the time being, writing about all the things that interest you. Then, you may feel yourself gravitate towards one topic in particular, and then you could make that your “full time” topic?

      Of course, there's nothing to stop you from just starting a blog on anything and everything – many personal blogs do this to great success and attract a wide variety of readers because of it!

      Good luck, let me know how you get on :)

  3. TheFirstPlaceToGo says

    Just started up a blog about a week ago. Got a decent plan for monetization. I'm sure it will need a lot of tweaking, but it's something out of the gate. My next goal is to come up with online and offline strategies for building traffic. I will be referring back to the Promoting Your Blog section of this post. I've tried Techorati, but I'm having technical difficulties getting them to complete the claim. I'll be looking into the other sites you reference. I have 6 more posts to complete over the next week and then I want to be ready to start promoting. Thanks for putting this up.

    • says

      Hey, thanks guys! :)

      For small entrepreneurs, I would say either the Community Spark forums or the Blog Catalog option of paid placement (you pay a small monthly fee to be at the top of your topic). The others are also great communities, though, with Scribnia in particular offering blog and author ratings, helping you get recognized and respected in your niche.

      You might also want to have a look at PartnerUp:


      Not quite a community as such but a great networking place for small business owners.

  4. says

    The best part – open up and share. We live in a world of abundance. Building a blog to something profitable takes time, effort and energy. Don't expect to slap up a blog and retire. Write about what you are passionate about. Write about what you would talk to a stop sign about. Something that demands to be released.

    Passion will drive you farther than simple profit.

  5. Seh says

    Blogging seems to be the new trend. I am really considering adding this to my marketing system. Right now I create short, catchy videos that lead viewers back to an offer on an affiliate site. I accumulate a majority of my traffic from posting my videos to Adwido and letting them help me target specific keywords to boost targeted traffic. I wonder what would be the best way to integrate blogging into my system?

  6. Seh says

    Blogging seems to be the new trend. I am really considering adding this to my marketing system. Right now I create short, catchy videos that lead viewers back to an offer on an affiliate site. I accumulate a majority of my traffic from posting my videos to Adwido and letting them help me target specific keywords to boost targeted traffic. I wonder what would be the best way to integrate blogging into my system?

  7. says


    Solid content as always. The first point you made is the best; blogging – like anything else worth doing – is a commitment. No shortcuts here! But when you dedicate yourself to it (or build a team to help you inside a company), the rewards can be great. I'm not buying the “blogging is dead” stuff. I think there's tremendous value in it, for individuals and businesses, and it's something I'll always be passionate about.


    • says

      Hey there Amber,

      Always great to see you around these parts. :)

      I agree – I've been reading with interest the various points being made about blogging and its health. While it will obviously evolve into what works best for individuals, I do believe that the core ideals of blogging – opening up, sharing personal thoughts and ideas, allowing friends, contacts and customers to interact – will remain the same.

      Thanks again!

  8. says

    What a great article, Danny – this should be required reading for bloggers; especially those thinking about starting out.

    Thanks for the link to my community building blog, too :)

    • says

      Hey there Martin, cheers, and you're welcome. Community is a big thing for me – I think it's one of the key factors in any blog, so your blog and ideas are required reading mate.


  9. drlawrencekindo says

    Am setting up a medical blog directed at the medical professional. All tips very handy and well chosen. Thanks for the constant updates on blogging and cool tips to make it worthwhile.

  10. says

    If you’re looking for a similar post that breaks things down into fewer points and gets into more detail about how to actually implement your company’s blog, dos and don’ts, etc., you should really check out this post on this PR blog:

    .-= JD´s most recent blog post …10 Ways to Make Your Blog Work =-.

    • says

      Would that be your own PR blog, Josh? 😉

      I’ve removed the link in the comment as the CommentLuv trackback takes readers to the same post.


  11. says

    Hey Danny Very Informative post about how one should go about blogging..Social bookmarking sites help to get quality one way backlinks and traffic in a short time frame.Keep up the good work