After researching the blog world for many years, here are the top 10 best pieces of advice for developing and sustaining a crowd.

1. Create valuable content.

Is your content worthy of being read by millions of people?  Remember that the purpose of content is to provide value to others.  Do you provide genuine value, and is it the best you’re capable of providing?

2. Create original content.

Content comes in many forms, and you will only know and understand what constitutes good content if you read other blogs.  But the content that is deeply personal, heavily steeped in your own personality, authentic, and reflective of your opinions and values is by far the best stuff.

3. Create timeless content.

Today’s news comes and goes, and has very little value tomorrow.  Creating content that survives the test of time may be very difficult, but it is the most valuable kind.

4. Write for human beings first, computers second.

Much has been written about the optimal strategies for strong search engine rankings in terms of posting frequency and post length.  Best to ignore that advice and write for human beings, not computers.

5. Know why you want a high-traffic site.

Is your purpose in life is to help people become more conscious and aware — to grow as human beings?  For some people their blog is their job.  If your work is driven by this purpose, you have a compelling reason to build a high-traffic web site, one that aligns with your deepest personal values.  More web traffic means you have a bigger impact, reaching more people.  And over the course of the next few decades, this influence has the potential to create a positive change that might alter the future direction of human civilization.

6. Let your audience see the real you.

Your life and your writing need to be intricately intertwined, such that it’s impossible to separate the two.  When someone reads your web site, they’ll eventually come to know a great deal about you as a person.  Usually this creates a skewed and inaccurate impression of who you am today because you change a lot over time — you’re not the same person you were last year — but it’s close enough.

7. Write what is true for you, and learn to live with the consequences.

If the stuff you’ve written means you’ll never be able to run for a political office, you’ll have to learn to live with that.  Being honest should be more important to you than being popular.  But the irony is that because bold honesty is so rare among civilized humans, in the long run this may be the best traffic-building strategy of all.

8. Treat your visitors like real human beings.

Even though you’re sitting at your computer writing, seemingly alone, you must visualize a real human being reading it on the other end.  Readers can’t be just another web stats.  Despite the technology involved and the time-space differential between your writing and our reading, there’s still a human-to-human connection between us that transcends time and space.  And that connection should matters to you.

9. Keep money in perspective.

Money is important.  Obviously we all have bills to pay.  Money pays for your computer, your high-speed internet connection, your house, and your food.  The last time you took a vacation, you needed money to pay for it.  But work when its time to work and play when its time to play.  Your blog can pay for it all if you keep working at it.

10. If you forget the first nine suggestions, just focus on genuinely helping people, and the rest will take care of itself.

One of the great benefits of focusing on helping others is that it gets fear out of the way.  Without fear you become free to just be yourself.  You’re able to take intelligent risks and remain detached from any specific outcome because the journey is more important to you than the specific stops along the way. 

And perhaps the most important piece of advice is to just have fun.  Life is just too short to hate every minute of it.

Good luck.