Businesswoman typing.A blog is your chance to connect with a specific audience, so building up a relationship of trust with them is critical.  Therefore, do not ever lie or exaggerate your income, popularity, stats, readers, subscriptions, etc on your blog.  

That being said, there is such a thing as being too honest about your lack of experience as a blog writer, or the fact that your site is new and therefore does not yet have a big following.  This can happen by either having a lack of professionalism in the way your blog website is presented, or by your own posts telling your readers that no one ever visits. 

Keep any frustrations about low visitor counts to yourself, and treat every blog post like a sales presentation.  (This doesn't mean use sales-speak.  That puts readers off immediately.  This means always put your best face forward.)  Never, ever comment on low blog reader turnout on the blog itself.  No one wants to hang out someplace that tells them up front that it is unpopular!  Instead, find out why no one is visiting, and fix it!

Take a look at other websites and blogs in your niche, and note particularly ones you find professional.  Compare this to your site, focusing on the differences in graphics, presentation, layout, and how they handle advertising.  Also notice if they have a professional (pay) theme for their blog, if they've created their own in-house, or if they're using a free theme.  There are many wonderful, professional-looking free themes out there, but you will need to dig around and choose carefully.

When you find a site you like, don't clone it, but do learn from it.  Conversely, when you spot a website that you do not like, ask yourself why.  Is it a lack of professional web design?  Does the site have too many advertisements?  Does it use flashing or gaudy graphics?  These observations will be valuable when analyzing what your blog should look like.  Visiting the competition is vital, because it also shows you immediately what your own readers will be reading.  Your blog has to stack up.

If you do go with a theme created by someone else, make it your own by customizing it.  Never use a free theme straight out of the box.  Most themes make it easy to incorporate a new header and logo at the least, but also you can often change the color scheme without too much effort.  You don't want your site looking exactly like thousands of others out there.  This is critical if you use a free blog platform like Blogger.com or WordPress.com.  These sites have a very small selection of standard themes, and your blog will virtually disappear in your reader's minds if you don't customize them!

In the beginning your stats will be sparse.  Nothing you can do about that, but don't shout it from the rooftops.  For example, don't put up a Feedburner widget advertising that you have 6 subscribers.  Stats like this should only be shared when they reach the hundreds or even thousands, depending on the audience you want to reach.  Look and see if other blogs like yours share those stats.  Some professional bloggers shun showing off stats, but often new bloggers are so excited about the variety of available widgets, they'll stick anything on their blogs without thinking of how it looks to readers.

Comments are the one stat you can't (and shouldn't) fake.  Never ever create fake comments and post them yourself.  People can tell.  It is virtually impossible to make fake comments sound genuine, and you shouldn't try. It's dishonest, and will break the trust you're trying to build up with your blog readers.  It is okay to ask friends to comment on your blogs, but make sure they have a genuine interest, otherwise it will show.  Blog readers are savvy these days, and can smell a fake a mile away.  Don't let yourself fall into the trap of being so desperate for comments that you resort to lying to your audience.

The absolute best way to get comments on your blog is to leave comments on relevant blogs.  When you comment on a blog, you'll be allowed to leave a link back to your own website.  Typically the blog owner will come visit your site to see who you are, and likely their readers will come visit you too.  This method is time-consuming, but it works.  Just remember that once those comments are out there, you can't take them back, so be professional!

Once you have your audience built up, you will be able to devote less time to hand-commenting, but you should never forget the fact that blogging is a community event, not a one-man megaphone.

Here are a few last minute rules to keep in mind:

NEVER fake stats.  People can tell.

ALWAYS talk up your successes, achievements, what you learn along the way.

NEVER talk yourself, your company, or your blog down and never ever talk your readers down.  You will very likely have lurkers and complaining or insulting them guarantees they won't come back.

ALWAYS thank your readers for feedback, invite them to comment by asking questions in posts, and be sure your blog is a place open to give and take.

NEVER give up!  It can take a year to build a good blog following, but if you keep plugging away, they will come.

ALWAYS keep posting.  Even if you're not getting comments, those blog posts will add up, and be indexed by Google, eventually driving people to your site.  A good blog post is never wasted.

Blogging is a rewarding way to not only drive business to your website, but connect with readers and customers.  It's difficult in the beginning, especially when it feels as though no one is visiting and reading your posts.  However, keep at it day after day, and success will come.  Be patient, and participate in a community of bloggers who all write about the same topic, and soon you will find your visitor stats building day after day.