I wanted to pass along a few things that might be helpful. I realize some of these items will be applicable to Blogger users only, and won't apply to WordPress or Typepad or other blogging platforms.
1. (This one's been beaten to death, but it bears repeating - again.) Please Disable Word Verification. It is extremely difficult to decipher. If you are concerned about spam or inappropriate comments, use Comment Moderation instead.
I have never allowed Anonymous comments on my blog and have had very little spam - ever! I use the comment setting for Registered Users.
Select your comment settings from your Blogger Dashboard by choosing Settings - Posts and Comments - Who Can Comment - then select the 2nd option for Registered Users including Open I.D. This screen also allows you to choose Comment Moderation if you prefer and the very important "NO" option to showing Word Verification.
2. Publish an email address with your Blogger Profile. (This one's been beaten to death, too.) If you ask a question in a comment, the blog author can then respond to it via email directly to you. It is time-consuming to go back to a commenter's blog to leave a response to a question they've asked. I will try to remember to answer it 'the next time' they post, but that's not a reliable method. I know some of you prefer to keep spammers and the like out of your email but you can set up an email address ONLY for your blog use.
Make your email address public through your user profile. Inside your Blog Dashboard, click your profile in the upper right corner, select Blogger Profile, then click the Edit Profile button. Check the 'Show My Email Address' to allow others to contact you.
For those of you who use the Google+ profile instead of Blogger Profile, I have seen it happen to a lot of folks where Google+ disconnects your comment from your return email address and it reverts back to the dreaded 'noreply-comment' non-address. I don't think there's an easy fix to this problem, other than going back to using the Blogger Profile. And for those of you who utilize Google+ for posting and sharing, that's not a fix. If you do utilize the Google+ profile, make certain you have your email shown and your blog address listed as your link on your 'About' page so folks can find you.
3. There are lots of ways to follow blogs. You can sign up to receive feed via email if the blog author has that option enabled. Google Friend Connect (the 'Follow' button) places the blogs you follow in your Reading List on your Blog Dashboard and is very handy unless you follow too many blogs like I do (the number of blogs you can display there is limited to 300, or at least it was). I switched to using Google Reader* a long time ago. It is not infallible, as it sometimes delays feed from a few blogs, but it is the best system I've found to keep all my blogs together in one place with fresh posts continually popping up. It allows me to add blogs from other platforms (like Typepad and Wordpress) directly as a subscription so I don't have to rely on a separate internet feed reader or saving them as favorites, etc. It also automatically translates international blogs for me when I open them.
You can try out Google Reader when you are in your Blog Dashboard, clicking 'My Blogs' in the upper left corner, your Reading List is displayed mid-page. If you click 'View in Google Reader' to the right, it'll open up a new page for you.
*Update: Google is discontinuing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013. If you are looking for an alternative reading tool for your blog lists and subscription feeds, I highly recommend Feedly. It is a free add-on to Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers and will automatically convert your feeds from Google Reader with a few simple clicks. Here's a great starting point: Transitioning from Google Reader to Feedly
Here is an article for other alternatives to Google Reader that you may want to read. Click here.
I choose to keep ads on my blog through Google Adsense. The few cents generated by clicks accumulates over time and helps to offset the cost of frames and postage on my drawing giveaways. I know ads aren't for everyone, and I hope they're not too intrusive.
Be mindful of your readers' time. Continually lengthy, wordy posts containing minute details can be wearing and will probably be scanned through or skipped over (like this post probably is). Additionally, packing too many photos in one post can be sensory overload (I am guilty of this).
5. Participate in Blogging Memes if you want more visitors. I have found delightful blogs with kindred spirits just by joining in link-ups like Wild Bird Wednesday, Friday's Fences, etc. These folks have similar interests in sharing subjects I enjoy. I don't visit every participant that links in each week. Often, I try to link in early, then have to go back later and check for other entries after mine, and often I just don't make the time. However, if you visit me from a meme, I try to at least return the visit and comment. It is a great way to connect with like-minded folks in Blogland. Remember, in order to get comments, you need to give them, too!
As a side note, if you host a meme, it is important to be consistent in your posting and opening of the link-up. Your participants rely on a day of the week and relatively constant post time. Unless you have technical difficulty or have an emergency, your link should go up - or give timely notice that you will not be hosting that week or will be discontinuing the meme, etc. I've seen hosts pre-schedule link-ups for weeks in advance while they are on vacation. You owe this consistency to your participants as they've often scheduled their posts around your meme.
6. One more personal item from me: We have freedoms to express what we want and share what we like. I don't blog to find out how to vote, how to judge people, what causes should be held above others - if I did, I'd follow political forums, religious sites, etc. I recognize and respect your right to share whatever opinion you have, and whether I agree with you or not, if it is not what attracted me to your blog in the first place, I have the right to skip it, and if it becomes too 'in your face', I'll eventually just go away. Respect for our differences in Blogland is important - and it goes both ways.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This is getting plenty preachy and plenty wordy for me. If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. I've been blogging for almost three years and give a lot of my time to it, but I truly enjoy the relationships I've formed through it, the sharing of your days, your photography, your lives from around the world. I truly thank you for sharing in mine.