Second only to content in the blog (and in some cases more important) is the design. A layout that is simple creates an inviting atmosphere for the reader to dine on the information as they wish. Nothing gets me to close a webpage faster than a cluttered mess of text, images, and multicolored links. Unless, that is, the page is black with white text (in some cases it works, but this is rare).
Looking at the Madison Area Arts Council blog, I find that the tattered edges of light gray adds to the ambiance, but stays away from the actual content and doesn't interfere with my ability to read what is there. The titles of the posts are easy to pick out from the other information that may be a little less relevant. Information like who wrote it, which is still there in a lighter gray. We read it, but it does not take away from the bulk of the content.
Once the layout is glued in, the trick is to find a way to get the word out. Now you need posts that people will find interesting and relevant to them. Introducing a blog about art to an audience that is more interested in computers or the outdoors may not get as much publicity as introducing it to other artists (who will pass it on to other artists if they like what they see).
The Madville Times displays a number of stories involving gun control details and detrimental use of Facebook because these are popular, controversial topics that pique the readers' interest. These are also stories that the local paper would likely avoid, which brings the knowledge hungry readers looking for information. This information gets passed around like desserts on holidays to friends and family of the original readers because it's in short supply. To put it simply, Madville Times found a niche that could be filled and gained popularity through doing so.
How do you feel about a company or individual buying a blogger's voice to promote a product, and does the inclusion of money eliminate the possibility of an honest product review? Has your blog allowed you to get in contact with any potential buyers for your own product?