So this is, of course, my own personal list of preferences. And if a blog has these things, they pretty much rock. Simple as that.
1. WELCOME PHOTO & INTRO
This should be obvious, but I've come across a lot of blogs don't have this. And by "this" I mean a photo of themselves on the landing page of their blog, along with their name and a short intro to themselves and their blogs. This is SO important because this is the very first thing I look for when I stop by a new blog. Before I read anything, I want to see WHO the writer is, and I want to know what their name is. If that is all the info you have in your intro, that's okay. But if you add a little bit about what your blog is about, that's even better!
2. AWESOME 'ABOUT ME' PAGE
As I said, the first thing I look at is the "welcome image/text". The next place I go, is the "about" section, and hopefully I can find it. I LOVE a good "about" page. I love to get to know the blogger better by reading their backstory, where they live, about there husband and career. Do they have kids? If so, what are their names and how old are they? As a Mom, I relate to other bloggers that have kids, so when there are photos/names of family members, it helps me to connect a little better. With this, though, I do understand that some people are more private about their children, which is completely respectable. But if you have a public blog and post any images of your kids, it just doesn't really make sense to hide their names.
3. MAKE THINGS EASILY ACCESSIBLE
Search bar. Do you have a search bar? If the answer to this is "no", get one immediately. Often times when I visit blogs, I'm looking for something specific, and ain't nobody got time to search through your archives. Please add a search bar and make it easy for us all!
Popular posts widget. These are easy to add, and make it super easy for me to find your "best" posts.
Blog tabs. These make it easy to categorize things. Example: Reviews, birth stories, advertising, freebies... etc etc. Also, you can make categories for the things you write about often such as DIY, Recipes, Fashion, Photography... you get the point.
Contact e-mail. I can't tell you how many times I've used the "contact" page of someones blog. I love to be able to easily get in touch with the blogger. You can list your personal e-mail, if that's easiest. Or you can create a separate e-mail specifically for your blog if you want. Oh, and a lot of people (like me) have a contact form directly in my "contact" page, so that people don't have to open another e-mail window if they are being lazy like I usually am. Point is, let people get in touch with you!
4. CLEAN LAYOUT
Holy moly this is a big one! If you have a clean, easy to navigate blog layout, people will appreciate your blog so much more!! Nothing is worse than a cluttered sidebar and messy blog sections.
OH and please, make your font readable. No cursive or handwritten fonts. I know they are pretty to look at, but they tend to hurt my eyes after a sentence or two, so I won't read your blog much if you don't choose a crisp/clean font to write in.
5. ENGAGE YOUR READERS
I've found that my very favorite blogs are the ones that are SUPER engaging. These rockstar bloggers tell lots of personal stories and give me the feeling like I'm a little fly on their wall. Creepy analogy? Maybe. But it's the truth. I like to feel up close & personal with the writer, like they are writing specifically for me. A captivating story goes a long way with engaging your readers. This is something I need to work on, definitely.
6. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
This sort of goes along with number five. Use your social media outlets as a way to connect, not just a way to pimp yourself. Take the time to engage in conversation on twitter, facebook, instagram.. etc. This is a great way to get to know your "followers" (I don't really like that word). So let's call each other friends. Okay? Bottom line, social media is a powerful tool, and it's in place for promotion, yes, but also as a means to actually communicate with each other.
7. RESPOND TO COMMENTS
You're starting to see a theme here huh? The theme is REPLY and RESPOND to the people that take the time to come and visit your blog. Believe me, they appreciate it. I know I do. It can be really disheartening when you frequent a blog and leave thoughtful comments, but they never reply to you. Obviously, it goes without saying that it's nearly impossible to reply to every. single. comment. It just isn't going to happen. But try, when you can, to respond to your comments. Your readers will know you appreciate them and they'll come back.
8. LIMIT SPONSORED POSTS & GIVEAWAYS
A lot of my readers gave me this feedback when I asked a question on my FB page about what turns people off to a blog. A lot of you responded: "too many sponsored posts". I get it. I really do. So before I go any further, this is a sticky subject because some people blog for the sole purpose of making money. And that's coolio, so this doesn't apply to you.
But otherwise... I truly believe that most readers are looking for genuine life experiences and rateable stories. And though I totally support writing a sponsored post, heck I do it from time to time and I enjoy it a lot. But I try to stick with maybe 2-3 sponsored posts a month. So when you do the math, that's about 23/26 posts that are NOT paid content. For me, that's a pretty good balance. So the moral? Finding a balance is key. Balance balance balance.
And that's it. The only other thing that really helps me engage in a blog are big, clean photos. But I totally understand that not everyone has a nice camera/phone, so it isn't always possible. Which is why I didn't list that as a "staple" item. It's just a bonus. :)
So what would you add to this list?!