Thursday, November 8, 2012

15 minutes to a better blog


This is is the second post in a new weekly series by Tori Bowman of That Pair of Crutches. To see the first click here.


When you read a blog, what's the first thing you notice? What details make you keep reading and which ones make you think that this blog might not be that professional and keep you from going back a second time? Little things like the name, the design, too little (or too much!) information crowding the sidebars... With so many things for readers to love or hate about a blog, here are a few tips to keep your readers coming back and loving what they see. 

1. Chuck the "husband and wife" title. Unless you're writing for an audience made up of only friends and family, or you really do co-author the blog with your spouse, don't call your blog after the two of you. Ditch the titles that include last names, stop saying "we" in your about page, and while personal posts are wonderful, start thinking about what else you have to offer the blogging world. Yes, bloggers who blog entirely about their personal lives (like Naomi of Rockstar Diaries) have created a large following and created amazing blogs, and readers DO want to know about your life outside of the internet, but they also want to be inspired and gain something from your little space. Try to give them something for supporting your blog. 

2. Customize your template. Get rid of the shadows behind photos that come standard with new Blogger templates. Create a separate "about" widget rather than using the pre-made one provided by your hosting site. Pick a new color scheme. Make your blog your own rather than just going with a template that thousands of other blogs are already using. It's a simple way to get your blog noticed and help your readers to trust you and your content more. 

3. Get rid of the Google Friend Connect widget. Google has suspended the service for blogs other than those hosted by Blogger. It has become a less than convenient way for readers to follow blogs because they can no longer follow ALL their blogs through it. Most have switched to other readers so that they don't have to use more than one platform. Remove the widget and make other ways of following you more apparent. A link to your Facebook and Twitter, a customized email subscription form, a beautifully designed marquee that says "Please keep reading!" You can even explain the change in a post, highlighting the other ways that readers can keep up with you. The people who really want to keep up with your blog will stick around, don't worry! 

What keeps you reading your favorite blogs? What is the first thing you notice about a blog, and what keeps you there or turns you away?

20 comments:

EarthAppleJane said...

Thank you, this article has given me lots to think about....and lots to do!!

The House That Lars Built said...

I'm so glad! It's helpful for me too!

rachael said...

i keep reading a blog if i feel like the writer is being genuine and not telling us what we want to hear. the pictures have to be well done and interesting to look at. i want to feel at least a little inspired. i want to learn something.

jensen taylor said...

I don't feel like the first tip is really an all or nothing. I don't personally have a "husband and wife" title, but I read a few blogs that do and are wildly successful. One great example of this is jeremyandkathleen.blogspot.com Kathleen's husband does none of the blogging, but he's so much a part of who she is and why she does what she does, and it works for her. I think following your heart and doing what works for you is going to make you much better off than just ditching something because your blog isn't just for friends and family. And besides, isn't your blogging community supposed to be considered friends anyway?

willowday said...

Whoo hoo!

Shari said...

Beautiful photographs. Personal, humorous writing style. Interesting location or viewpoint. These are the things that catch my attention in a blog. I will jump on a "This Girl" post any day. I really enjoy those.

kaitlin said...

I kind of disagree with the first tip - I feel like when bloggers start off by trying to be a "real blog" it's not as appealing to me, because I know what their intentions are - to get followers. When they start off with beautiful words and thoughts and then add some of the more logical stuff (fashion tips, giveaways) I'm more into it. I always love real life stuff on the blog - we're all human.

tori said...

I agree, Kait! I love blogs that start out genuine and share bits and pieces about their lives and are open with their readers. I didn't mean for it to sound like you should never have a blog just like that.

willowday said...

Dear "15 minutes to a better blog..."I'm looking at the grey box tip and not certain I'm following but do see mystery grey frames when I see posts on my iphone (although not on my regular posts). Is this what you mean and if so, how does one remove these? I realize that this is just a post and not a private help line! If you ever expand on ideas and this in the future, I'm interested! Sincere thanks! G

Monica @ All Things Lovely said...

Ya, I don't agree with the first point either. There is nothing wrong with saying "we" most people who blog are blogging their life, like a journal, so a 'we' every once in a while is good and more personal. I feel like a lot of blogs/bloggers only blog what they think people want to hear and its so apparent when they are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Also, I don't agree with the GFC followers widget. Using that widget is a way to SEE who are supporting your blog also a way to feel connected to those who are outwardly and publicly following. It's also a way for me as a blogger to go to a blog and show my support for them. I think some bloggers may use it to show their numbers, but I am sure there are many, like myself, who use it as a way for people to feel seen and show their support.

Def the first thing I notice about a blog, I dont care what their layout looks like, is their content and how frequent their content comes. Good frequent content is really hard to come by these days on blogs. There seems to be so much "quick fluff". I have found it really hard to be inspired by a lot of blogs I used to feel inspired me.

I think its also important for a blogger to have a clear voice throughout their blogs...some bloggers seem so wishy washy and just end up being bland. Pump it up!

A lot of bloggers focus to much on their blog looking good, when they should focus on their blog being inspiring and a fun place to be.

That's my peace.

amber said...

I'm attracted to beautiful imagery that is still somehow personal or original — not just yoinked from another blog or Google image search.

As a writer and editor, I'm easily turned off by writers who continually make the same grammar, spelling, and punctuation gaffes without investing a little time in improving their prose or editing it.

I like genuine content that reflects the highs and lows of life — a balance of content.

I can usually tell within 20 seconds whether I 'click' with a blog or not. Not every blog will appeal to every reader, but keeping the layout simple and intuitive to navigate helps.

A x

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Robert Roberts said...

To have a better it's always good to pay attention to the content of your own blog and make sure that your readers will get something from it. That way, you could acquire subscribers who would in turn recommend your blog because they are learning a lot from it. Of course, you should also take some time in improving how your blog looks like to be more appealing to your readers' eye.