A good blog is like a major home appliance that keeps working for you while you're busy elsewhere. We know how a dishwasher does this, but how can we be sure our blog is working well for us behind the scenes?
1. Comments. Your comments are like little signposts leading people back to you. So visit other blogs and leave comments. One who takes the time to leave thoughtful, clever, original comments will get followers and comments back.
2. Declutter. Make sure things are tidy and attractive for visitors. Sidebars can get really crowded! And viewing the blog daily, we get used to the mess. Declutter once a month and determine what needs to stay and what can go. Imagine how a new person viewing your site for the first time might see it.
3. Platform. Every blogger whether a career writer or not should have a platform, regardless of how informal it might be. Why are you here? What's your focus? What kinds of people do you want to attract? Once that's settled, make sure everything in your blog reflects you and the platform you've chosen, from your profile photo and bio to your design and even the arrangement of gadgets on the sidebar. That doesn't mean you can't branch out now and then and fly your freak flag, because a blog should reflect the personality of the owner. But someone stopping by should be able to tell fairly quickly who you are and what you're all about.
4. Posts. Once a post is written it stays in place until deleted. Long after the blogger has forgotten they even wrote it, someone can find it and decide if your blog is worth their time just by that one post. So take care with what you write, and if you have nothing to say, don't say it. Why stick to some arbitrary schedule if you have nothing? Or if you're on a roll, go ahead and publish daily. A good post will continue working for you as long as your blog exists, so the more excellent posts you have in your file, the harder they'll be working for you and your blog! But let me repeat: That doesn't mean you can't branch out now and then and fly your freak flag, because a blog should reflect the personality of the owner. So don't get paranoid and think everything you write has to be perfect and meaningful. Let loose now and then, nothing wrong with that!
5. Label and Index. When I first started blogging, I discovered a few publishing blogs that were full of such great information that I went in and read everything. On Blogger, there's a place for labels at the bottom of each post. You can then choose which labels you want displayed in the Index on your sidebar. Ideally, each post should carry labels according to subject matter. My labels are chosen with emphasis placed on the key words that relate to my platform. Like: bad reviews, blog tour, booksellers, editing, editors, selling books, rejection..... You get the idea. My labels reflect my platform. So that just in case someone wants to thoroughly research my blog and go through my old posts to get information, I organized it for them!
6. Selling Your Book. Your blog can help sell your book, but make sure it's easy for visitors to click on the links where they can buy it in various formats. I like these Kindle and Nook buttons. Suddenly one day I realized they needed to be near the top of my blog instead of buried down below somewhere, so I changed to a two-column format that makes more sense for me.
These are a few of the ways that a blog can keep working for you while you're off enjoying your vacation, or writing your book, or eating dinner, or down with the flu. There's no need to hover and be constantly present online. Set up your site carefully and thoughtfully and then let it hum along doing its job! Because the internet never sleeps.