I’ve found that if you’re trying to build a blog and following the best way is to actually put content on there. I know it sounds obvious but try this experiment for one week.
I’ll have been doing this blogging thing for 10 years next month and I have a smidge of experience here that may be helpful. Lee is absolutely right, and while it does sound obvious, it’s important to reiterate again and again and again and again…
People obsess over the blog engine (WordPress, Ghost, Jekyll, etc.), the design, and incremental details of how their sites run, but here’s the simple truth: no one gives a shit about any of that but you.
Yes, people appreciate a good looking site, and yes, people will even occasionally compliment you on a nicely designed blog, but I’ve made a chart I think will be helpful to aspiring bloggers out there.
All you have to do is be on the right side of that “good enough” point and you’re fine. Don’t use too many ads, and make sure things are legible, and you’re basically good. People don’t subscribe because the sidebar looks slick or because they like the fonts, they subscribe because they like the content.
I’ll remind you that Daring Fireball, maybe the biggest indie Apple blog, still doesn’t have a mobile view.
And remember this as well: many people who do subscribe to your site will read it from their RSS reader, ripping away any of your styling and turning your site into a generic Reeder or Feedly or Unread article.
“Big talk,” you say, “for a guy who just updated the design of his site last week.” Well, sure, you’ve got me there. But I am a web designer by trade, I care about how my stuff looks at work, and I can’t help but care how my personal projects look as well. I have more than enough historical data to know this does nothing to drive traffic, but it makes me happy to see my content displayed on a page that looks exactly how I want (and in a way that can be changed once or twice a year when my tastes evolve).
So if you want your site to grow, write. Post things. Post anything. Get creative. Take risks. Get weird.
Have fun making the content. If you’re having fun, your audience will notice.