This was originally published (by me) to EzineArticles.
These are ideas you can use to make your site an asset to yourself, as a writer, and a resource to bring others to your site.
Set up a blog on Blogger/ BlogSpot or WordPress. Pick a theme you can add a background and/ or header graphic to. Your blog should look like something you have done, not a clone from another site. Getting your own domain is a huge asset, if you can afford the cost. This will also give you an email address which will use your domain name.
The best thing about a blog on your website is keeping your site freshly updated and making it interactive without too much fuss on your part. You can update daily, or once a week. Quickly add an inspirational quote, a writing tip, jot down a new publisher/ market, load an image you found or scanned or photographed yourself.
However, a blog doesn’t have to be the focus of your site. If you already have a main HTML based web site, make it sidebar blog, a secondary page or a secondary site. Turn a subdomain into the blog if you like. It really does help to keep traffic to your site if they can expect to have something to read when they get there. Avoid link rot, stagnating pages and a bland site in general by adding a blog. Be creative, that’s what we do!
If you are not a great graphic artist a few simple text graphics are really all you need. Look for a font you like and make a banner to head your blog. Add some smaller text graphics as navigation links. You don’t have to be a great artist to add a little colour and graphics to your blog.
Monitor your traffic, read and respond to comments, keep a guest book, a contact form or some form of message boards available. People are more likely to leave a quick note than send an email. Comments are preferred because they are quick (if you don’t go overboard on CAPTCHA and word verification) and people can leave you their links and contact information too.
If you go with the blog plan and turn your site into a resource of some kind (for writers, hobbyists, or a niche topic) you will find it easier to get linkbacks if you are offering original content. If you have a voice of your own and something to say, they will come.
Consider ways of going out to your readers. Post your RSS feed link where it can be easily found. Add your URL to your email signature and your signature links on any forums you join too. Leave comments on other blogs too. Start a newsletter with your best content of the month/ week, depending on how much work you can put into it.
Set yourself up as an expert on your topic/ genre by reaching out to network sites like HubPages, Squidoo, About.com, Suite101 and EzineArticles. Don’t copy and paste content right from your blog to the networks. Make some edits, add some new or different information and try a different slant on the topic. Shift things around.
Add surveys, quizzes and personality test type things to your blog now and then. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Keep them fun. Give freebies of some sort. Site awards were popular once. You can update that idea by offering gamification awards for people who visit your site and comment regularly. If you write books offer desktop wallpaper of the cover art from your latest book. Offer a free eBook with tips you’ve posted in the past.
If you make appearances or attend events keep a schedule available on your site. Of course, keep it updated. You can also keep readers up to date with what you are working on. Let them know you are writing a fresh chapter, proofreading copy, mailing out an article, hearing back from that promising editor, etc. Also, write about professional organizations you are a part of, as they relate to your work. Turn your blog into an information hub for your niche topic or yourself as a writer.
Make sure you also include all your essentials for any freelance business that comes your way: contact information, clips, your writing experience, the services you offer, and so on. Writing is a business, not just an art.
Laura Brown (AKA ThatGrrl) has been a web writer since 1998. She keeps the Word Grrls blog and writes for the HubPages network. In her own time she creates ASCII art and photographs old buildings.