02 September 2013

8 ways to rock the socks off of your blog!

I'm not the Queen of blogging or anything, but, I'd like to think that I know a little bit about the subject! And recently (okay a long time ago, but this post has taken me forever to finish!), I was thinking about ways that you can make your blog a more inviting place to visit. And for me, there are a few "staples" that make some blogs standout from others. Because let's face it, we all wanna be a standout, right?

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.

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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?!

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32 comments:

Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] said...

I agree 100% with every single point - well done, Mandy! Not knowing who the blogger is, no search bar (drives me NUTS) and no contact info?....likely I'm not coming back. A big one for me too is if the text isn't big enough or if the font is hard to read...I'm can't read it!

Cheltee T. said...

This was an amazing read, thank you for sharing I will be making some adjustments to my blog.

Amber said...

Great post, Mandy! I definitely need to update my "about me" page!

Dara @ Not In Jersey said...

I hate when a blog doesn't have archives available. I don't want to go through all the posts if I'm looking for something specific!

Keri-Anne said...

Loved this post! It's always great to see what attracts other people to your blog. xxx

Lauren Davison said...

100% agree and 100% am guilty! I desperately want a search bar and archives tab...I have no idea how to do it. Is my only option paying someone to set up the whole blog? Sorry if this is a stupid queston, I'm so not tech savvy :p
Lauren

Gretchen said...

Best tips! I totally agree :) And am even working on a blog re-do to fix some issues I've had in the past!

Gracie Lathrop said...

These are great tips! I'm trying to grow my blog and connect more in the blogging world and the biggest things that I've seen a difference in is 1. I got a new CLEAN design 2. I started really talking with other bloggers via comments 3. I kicked it all off with a pretty decent giveaway to draw people in and most importantly 4. I started posting on a regular basis! I wish I could post daily but I'm not there yet, i decided to edit my posts down and provide my new bloggy friends with 3 posts a week. As it grows hopefully i can add more but I think 3 a week is pretty good :)
Thanks for posting this, it makes me feel better about the track I'm on!

Fran said...

Great tips, I think my two biggest ones are the "about"/photo in the sidebar and a search bar

Julia Anderson said...

Thank so much for this post. It has really helped me out as a new blogger! Some things I read before but others I hadn't even thought of or come across, so thanks again. I am applying as I speak :)

Karly Gomez said...

Oh man, I get so annoyed with blogs that have photos of family members, but then lists them with single letters. Like this is my daughter R, and my husband F. Just say their name, please! Unless you seriously, honestly, call your family members by single letters in real life on a daily basis. Then whatever, more power to you. But otherwise it just drives me crazy.

My other biggest pet peeve: white on black. My eyes are too old and crappy to be burned out by reading white text on a black background.

xxdeenaxx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rachel said...

I 100% agree with this! I love good "About me" pages but for some reason I'm always the least confident about mine. I do believe that it's really important for bloggers to be personal and to engage with their readers! And it's true that too many sponsored posts drive away readers.

Ashley said...

Great tips! As a new blogger, I am really taking these to heart.

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

Lauren, if you use the blogger platform, you should be able to add a search bar and an archives tab right from your layout screen. You just "add widget" and you should see them pop up!

Robin M said...

Thank you :D I Love how easy you have written this. I just got my blog in better order then it was. WEEEEE!!!

Chloe West said...

I agree with every single one of these! Especially the clean layout and font. The design of a blog is the first thing anyone sees, and if it's crowded or just plain bad, nothing makes me click the "X" button faster!

Ashlea with an a said...

Love this list! I completely agree with these, the photo is my main thing, it drives me crazy if I don't know who I'm reading about.

alittletypical said...

This list is very useful. I totally agreed with clean layout. I'm a very visual person. If the blog is very messy, font very small, no pictures with long paragraphs, I would not even bother to read. By the way, I like your layout. Will feature it on my pinterest board.

Cydney Helsdown said...

i found this really helpful, i've only had my blog roughly 4 months and i think i've ticked most of these boxes: i spent a whole weekend going over my about me section before i published my blog because to me that's the most important part! i'm really enjoying reading your blog at the moment, and without sounding spammy i would love if you could check out mine and maybe give a little constructive criticism :)
http://cydneyhelsdown.blogspot.co.uk/

Deanna said...

Love this list and I'm glad I'm rockin almost all of them! :-) I'm definitely going to look into a contact page, but I do have my email listed. I think a contact form would be simpler....I'm lazy too! :-)

Alessandra Ferguson said...

This is a great list! Definitely going to keep these things in mind as I continue in my blogging venture. Thank you!

Julie S. said...

Great list! My About Me was SO SO hard to write. I need to take a look at it again!

JenniferAStreet said...

This list was SO HELPFUL I just gave myself a little blog makeover including as many as the above as possible :) Thanks for helping me rock the socks off my blog Mandy!

Jen
Life According to the Streets

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

Great list. You had me checking out some of those things to see if I had them on my blog and I mostly do. It did make me aware that I needed to update my About Me page. Thanks.

Clarissa Hooper said...

I'm still learning the blogging game but I know the #1 turn off for me is cluttered space and a busy layout! Thanks for posting these tips, I know I have a lot of improvements to make! :)

Unknown said...

I need to work on updating my "about" page. It's been a while since I have done that. Thank you for the reminder. Great tips!

Power, Love, and Self Discipline said...

Thank you so much for this post! I just started blogging last week, so I am trying to learn as much as I can! There is so much that is completely over my head, so I appreciate any help I can get. Thank you!

Anna said...

Thanks so much for these tips! I'm going to keep these in mind as my blog is relatively new and I'm still navigating through all the details. :)

Reveal Natural Health said...

I have been following your blog for a while now, but I just found this post when it was featured on Help for Blogging Moms. I just added a popular posts widget to my sidebar because of your recommendation :)

Kimmy (Beauty Isles) said...

Thank you for all of the helpful information! Thankfully, although I'm new, I practise many of these already. My About Page could use some sprucing up - alhough I have certain limitations. Thanks for this post, dear. :-) I think it's so incredible how we all try to help each other out with these useful tips!

hya21 said...

Hi Mandy
I just started following you on bloglovin. I really enjoyed this read and am happy to let you know that I went immediately to my blog to make the recommended changes. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the magic to happen!!! LOL.
I'm looking forward to reading more from you. Thanks for tips and for bringing back your top sellers.