Your blog should reflect you and your brand. No doubt about it. But there are some things all blogs (read: your blog) should definitely have. And it isn’t topless pictures of Joseph Gordon Levitt…. Though I wouldn’t complain too much about that. Though it’s highly likely your followers aren’t looking for soft-core A-list actor porn (though again, I’m not sure why not).
That’s what today’s post – part 6 of 10 in my Be A Blogger series – is all about. I want to make sure your blogs have everything they need to attract an audience, maintain that viewership and ultimately be successful. And to keep it simple, I’ve created a free snazzy infographic for easy reference when you review your own site.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
1. A clear purpose. When I click onto blogs, I want to know what I’m looking at. You need to make your intentions clear. This can be accomplished in 3 key ways: Title. Tagline. Content. Make it all relevant to the overall theme of your blog and stay on that topic at least 80% of the time. Otherwise, you’ll meander and lose me. The same goes for your audience.
2. Blogging goals. Deciding a blogs goals isn’t always easy and you don’t need to know the A-Z direction of it. But you should think about right now and the near foreseeable future. What do you want to get out of your blog? Is it purely personal? Professional? Do you want to monetize eventually? Create a forum for discussion? Meet new people? Network with fellow antique clock collectors? Having at least a basic idea of where you want your blog to go will affect which platform you choose, whether you want your own domain name, etc…and will lead you to point number 3…
3. A plan. Blogs that are successful are only successful if maintained in a strategic manner both on the blog and off the blog. This means creating a blog schedule for the day to day and an outline of how you will achieve your ultimate blogging goals. Think small picture/big picture – how will you make it happen? Be specific.
4. A clean, SEO optimized & responsive design. Mamma’s gotta look good when she hits the town! As I mentioned above, your blogs should absolutely reflect your brand and the “mood” you want to portray along with it – but there are general aesthetics that people find pleasing. This is something to think about when developing your site. This goes not only for your audience, but with respect to what looks good to Google. That’s right – you want Google’s fuzzy little fingers crawling all over your shit. This means optimizing SEO (even beginner’s can do this!) and ensuring people can view your site on the go – after all, most people do most of their web browsing on devices that fit in their back pockets these days.
5. Visible (preferably branded) social media icons & social sharing buttons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked onto blogs I’ve loved, wanted to connect further, and couldn’t for the life of me, find accessible social media account buttons. The same has happened when I wanted to share their content and they had no Tweet, Pin or Google+ buttons. This is a rookie mistake that even rookies can’t get away with. Even if you aren’t on those platforms, other people are. If you want them to find your blog, get them.
Side note: Brand your personal social media icons. You want to promote your blogs aesthetic and brand – not the social media platform. This is a simple thing you can do yourself to add a bit of pizazz to your site or if you don’t feel ready for that, hire a professional – it’s fairly inexpensive and can usually be done the same day.
6. An intuitive & clean navigation menu. This falls into the same category as numero cinco: Rookie. Your navigation menu needs to be pristine! This is how your readers will find their way around your site, discovering your content, services and everything else. Blogs with messy navigation menus leave me at a loss – and them too. A loss of traffic. Make sure your navigation menu is clean, intuitive, organized and simple.
7. A comprehensive yet short “About” section with a clear way to contact you. The second thing almost every person who doesn’t bounce from your blog will click to? The “About” page. But these people also don’t have a ton of time to waste reading your entire life story. Just as your title, tagline and content should be relevant to your blog, so should your “About” page. Blogs with succinct yet interestingly written bios are what your audience connects with. Think of it like post content – does what’s on this page matter to your viewership? Keep it relevant and of course, be creative! Have fun with it. Use the “About” page as an opportunity for people (with only a few minutes to spare) to put a face to the blog.
8. Comment replies. Ah, comments. The holy grail of blogging. Most blogs want more comments. So how do we get ’em? One of the key ways is to make sure you reply in a thoughtful way to the ones that you do get. Be sure to validate what the person said and provide some unique insight to what they had to say to you. Of course, all that hard work is for nothing if they don’t know you’ve replied. WordPress offers Comment Reply Notification or Disqus, 2 plugins that will alert the comment happy folks when you’ve answered their comments. On Blogger you can reply directly to the commenter as long as they’ve included their email address on their Blogger account – otherwise there’s no notification system. However, it looks good on the page if you always reply to comments – people may even check back to see if you’ve said anything.
9. A backup. And I don’t mean the morning after pill. Backing up your blog will save your life in case anything ever goes wrong. It happens. Believe me. You accidentally trample over one of Google’s content rules or mess up something in your HTML or PHP code, you’re gonna be one sorry mo’fo if you didn’t back up. I use UpDraft Plus for WordPress and have it set to back up my entire blog every week to a Google Drive. Even if you only download your template file and copy/paste your posts into a Word document, back that ass up. Err, blog up.
When If everything disappears one day, you’ll thank yourself.
10. You. Duh. Of all of points we’ve discussed so far, this one is the most important. Blogs without personality, in a word, suck. You can be the smartest, most qualified individual in your field but if I don’t hear YOU in the posts, you’re unlikely to hold my attention. When I think of the blogs that entice me to come back time and time again, they’re the ones that make me feel something. Laughter. Sadness. At times, confusion. In essence, I want to read about your topics, but I want to hear them from you. Think of it like a party – a room blasting out 80’s hits and full of balloons, disco balls and jello shots doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun alone…. (who knows? Maybe it does. But that’s unlikely). Bring YOU to the party; you ARE the party.
What do you think? What should blogs definitely have? Do you agree with my points? Have others to offer? What makes a blog attractive to you? What stops you from coming back?
In the meantime, read:
- Part 1: 10 Reasons Why You Need A Blog
- Part 2: 7 Easy Steps to Start A Blog
- Part 3: How To Create A Blog Schedule (Free Printables!)
- Part 4: How to Write Great Shit (& Own It!)
- Part 5: How to Build Your Blog Audience
- Part 6: 10 Things your Blog Should Definitely Have (Free Infographic!)
- Part 7: Keep Your Blog Fresh!
- Part 8: What NOT To Do To Your Blog
- Part 9: Beyond Blogging: What To Do Moving Forward
- Part 10: How to Do It: Free Ebook for Entrepreneurs, Bloggers and Brands!