- Content - Know what you want to say and why it will help others. Unless you're a celebrity, people aren't interested in what you had for breakfast. Your blog shouldn't be a place to rant and complain about your personal circumstances or the drama you might be enduring from other people in your life. What expertise can you offer that will benefit others? It doesn't have to be writing-related. It can be parenting, a particular ministry, cooking--something that you enjoy, have an interest in doing or learning, and sharing.
- Schedule - Be consistent so people will know what to expect from you. It isn't necessary to blog every day, but you need to blog at least once a week to a few times each week. Random posts will not lure regular readers. If you post nothing for several weeks or months, why should readers bother coming back to read nothing? If your blog covers a few related topics, it would be a good idea to schedule particular posts on specific days. For instance, Mondays can be for one topic and Wednesdays could be for another related topic. I've said this before, people are creatures of habits, get them in the habit of visiting your blog.
- Design & Layout - It should be appealing and easy to navigate and read. The color of the text should compliment the background, but be enough of a contrast to read without creating sore eyes or making readers squint, which means large enough text and a simple font for those needing reading glasses. Make sure your static web pages are easy to find and the links work. Also, give people the option to share your blog posts on their Social Media accounts. They may not have anything to say, but they might like your post enough to share it with others and this is what you want. Often, I may not have a comment on my blog, but I've had readers share my posts on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter and this is important. It's still considered engagement.
- Don't Give Up - If you really want to blog and build an online readership, keep blogging even if it's irregular. Don't get discouraged, if you have trouble keeping a regular blogging schedule for a while, you can always get back into the swing of things. Don't quit and lose the readership you've worked so hard to gain. It's much easier to re-engage readers who still follow your irregular blog posts than to start all over from scratch a year later and try to find them again after they've stopped following your blog or you closed it down.
I can look at my blogging history and see how much better I did with a consistent blogging schedule in 2009-2010 than I did in 2011-2012. Things will happen to distract you, and sometimes you have to set priorities. For me, I choose to skip a few blog posts when we were experiencing the loss of a loved one, my mom's battle with cancer, an unexpected move, and then the onset of my daughter's epilepsy these past five months, plus book deadlines.
My blog may not have have grown in readership as I would have liked, but I didn't lose any readers. I was honest and transparent in letting them know some of my challenges without allowing my blog to become a public complaint board. When I did post something, it was an update, a praise report, or a request for prayer. I kept these blog posts to quarterly or every couple of months so that my blog didn't become about ME.
Other ways to grow your readership is to comment on other blogs, host giveaways, and bring in guest bloggers who have a following. What about you? How have you grown your blog?