I’ve been spending a lot of time in recent weeks reading blogs, looking at blogs, writing my own blog posts and more. I have seen some good, some bad and some very bad design and layout.
(Double disclaimer here: I am not a Web design expert by trade AND I don’t love my own layout here on katywidrick.com — so this is a bit of do as I say, don’t do as I do)
Why so much attention on what y’all are doing, and often not doing?
Jess, my Fitbloggin’ partner-in-crime, and I are doing two major social media makeovers for our presentation, and several mini-makeovers for people who applied but didn’t get the whole package.
And in the hours that we’ve spent around the Internet, there are a few questions that we’ve asked our bloggers to consider. Now it’s your turn.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Blog
1. Do people know what I look like?
- Do you have a good, high-quality picture that is visible on your main page? If not, do you at least have a good picture on your About page?
For better or worse, we all tend to trust and relate to people whose names have faces — even if we’ll never meet those people in real life. So find a good picture of yourself (something recent, please!) and consider adding it to your sidebar. If you don’t have the real estate, or would prefer to keep it off the homepage, at least consider putting a shot on your About page.
In addition to giving new readers a way to remember you, it’s a good way to let return visitors be sure they’re in the right place.
2. Do people know what I stand for?
- Have you listed your mission statement somewhere on the website? Will a first-time visitor know what to expect in terms of your writing?
There are so many bloggers out there (millions!) that you need to be very clear what you stand for, what you typically write about, what your point of view is and why readers should come back. T
I also use the Author Box on WordPress to give readers a reminder at the bottom of every post:
(fyi — I just unlocked that feature in my theme, but there are also plugins you can use)
3. Can fans share with one click?
- If a reader likes something that you have written, how many steps does he or she have to take to put it on her Facebook page, Twitter, StumbleUpon or send via email?
I can tell you from experience — if I have to jump through even ONE hoop to share your content…I won’t do it. Unless you’re my husband. But even Lucas finally got sick of me saying
“…do you know that to post your links on Facebook I have to copy the URL, open a new tab and log into Faceboook, find my status section, post the link…”
and let me install the Sexy Bookmarks plugin. There are other good options (Sociable, TweetMeme, Facebook Social Plugins come to mind) but I really love the easy of installation and customization.
Sexy Bookmarks + FB Social Plugins looks like this:
4. Can readers easily subscribe to my content?
- When a new reader comes to your website, it should be easy for them to get updates automatically pinged to his or her email address or feed reader — can he or she do it with just one click?
One word for you. Feedburner.
Now a few more words. Please please PLEASE make it easy for me to add you to my Google Reader! You just need to add an RSS icon to your homepage, and in many cases, it will be there for you as soon as you install your theme. I urge you to go one step further and burn your feed through Feedburner so you can get analytics and can add that cool “subscribe by email” widget to your sidebar.
5. Would I read my own blog?
- Here’s the biggie — would you come back to your own website? Is it too busy? Too plain? Doesn’t have any of the above features?
If the answer is no…just make some changes! I guarantee you, when you write blog posts that YOU would read, you’ll enjoy writing them that much more. I’ve talked a lot about my decision to basically start over in the spring of 2010. I’d gotten sick of myself, and had really started to think about quitting the blogging gig altogether.
The minute I gave myself permission to make a course correction, I not only found more joy, I found more readers. Like, a lot more readers.
There are more questions, but those are for another day.
Now I want to know — why should *I* read your blog? Make a good case in the comments and I’ll add you to my reader…providing you make it easy.