Unless you’re a newcomer to the world of blogging, chances are that you’ve experienced some ups and downs in planning, designing, managing and promoting your blog.

If not, you’re either not being honest or you should be “teaching the class” and writing this post. Chances are good that every blogger has encountered some of the same problems and faced many of the same concerns.

If you have a WordPress blog, you have a lot of friends; an estimated 70 million WordPress blogs exist, and there’s good reason for their popularity. The variety of available themes, the relative ease of setting up and navigating through the infrastructure and the ease with which you can post, make changes, add plug-ins and create your own identity all contribute to their proliferation. In addition, there are myriad ways to gain expertise through tutorials and support articles. A successful blog is not child’s play, but it shouldn’t be a mystery.

1. Get a Stable Platform

Perhaps the most important decision you make regarding your blog entails the choice of a host – if you’ve decided to opt for a self-hosted blog, that is. Readers should be confident that they can easily access your site and that there will be minimum downtime. It’s also good to know yourself that if you have any issues with your host, these are going to be rectified quickly through excellent, reliable support, for example. Before you make a decision, it would be wise to utilize a free comparison service such as WhoIsHostingThis.com, to read actual user comments and to ascertain the best web hosting service for your WordPress blog.

2. Consider Theme and Format

Choosing a theme can be a simple matter if you select one of the standard options available; or you may have specific needs which necessitate a custom theme, with the addition of a personalized logo, specialized graphics or an custom layout.ThemeForest.com often proves a great place to start generating ideas of buying themes. Whatever you choose, it is recommended that you make a decision and stick with it. Your readers appreciate consistency and, although you can make additions and alterations as you develop and refine your blog, forgo the temptation to sample themes on a continuing basis.

3. Acurate That Content

How you present your content is a vital component of your success. So you’ll need to know the marketplace. This assumes that you started your blog for a specific reason, and your targeted audience is expecting you to deliver content that will inform, entertain, answer questions, provoke thought, promote action – whatever it is you hope to achieve. In order to meet the objective you need to choose content with the audience in mind. When you can do that effectively and consistently you will have a winning blog.

4. Have a Brilliant “About” Page

What should that page say? First, it should tell the reason for the site. It should give information not only about the product, service or “cause,” but it should also introduce the people or team behind them. It should be a quick capsule version of the site itself. And it should offer some validation for its claims, either through pictures, testimonials or social proofs. In other words, it should tell the reader what the site will provide, how it will do it, and what it or the person or group behind it has done for others.

If the About Page does its job well, visitors will explore the rest of the blog.

5. Get Social Media Buttons

Install social sharing buttons with a site such as ShareThis.com. Pick the ones you like, or pick them all. Make it easy for your readers to share, like, follow or email your content. Link to other social media sites and be sure to link to your website. Pick the plug-ins you like.

6. Collect Email Signup

Particularly if you’re not selling a product, consider collecting email signups for an e-newsletter. Make it voluntary. Send announcements, updates, notifications about new posts, and subscriber-only content via email. It is recommended that you use a service so you won’t be bounced back as spam.

7. Look at the Evidence

As you seek ways in which to improve your blog, you will find that there is almost too much information available. However, much of it can be distilled into general categories. In a case study of a successful blog, analyst Dan Shure details eight things the specific blog under the microscope does well. He goes on to address three challenges to be overcome, and finally he outlines six recommendations to lift that blog higher.

Three of the tips are applicable to all blog sites:

8. Set Goals

Regardless of the subject or the purpose of your blog, you should set specific and measurable goals; write them down and refer to them often. Then, once you have defined goals,

9. Find Ways to Measure Effectiveness

You can count subscribers; tally button clicks or track event sign-ups; monitor requests for information, keep track of comments; run contests or judge your following through links to other sites. Whatever you do, track your achievements against your goals and find a way to generate reports. It’s important information, and it’s information that you can act on to improve your blog even more.

10. Build a Community

What you want to do is connect with your audience. Explore some options. Perhaps you could host a Google Hangout, or maybe start a podcast. Be creative, and tailor your efforts to your site, your product or service, or your general topic.