Most bloggers crave readers. They pounce on reader comments faster than a hot, homemade Toll House cookie just pulled from the oven. Well, some of us do anyway. 😉
Two weeks ago in Successful Blogging I spoke of social media and ways to draw more readers. But how does someone start? How do we add flavor and substance to a bland blog?
Here’s a mini-primer in Blogging 101. Yes, it is basic, but read through and see what you may have missed.
1. Custom Header – A header is the stationary picture at the top of a blog. A custom header helps identify a blog. Does your current template allow for one? If not, change the template to one that does. Then use it. In Dashboard, click Custom Header. Insert a photo you’ve taken, or one that works for your blog. Some bloggers change headers seasonally; others keep it consistent.
2. Custom background – A whole new look is born by changing background margins. Insert a soft picture or a new solid color every few months. I love greens and blues. They go with my header so I vary those colors. Try seasonal colors. Or a photo of ocean waves, clouds, or something else appropriate to your blog’s theme. Experiment until you find what you like. In WordPress go to Appearance; Background.
3. Tagline – “Just another WordPress blog” is on a lot of new WordPress blogs, just below the title. WordPress puts it in the template as a placeholder. It is not meant to be permanent. You are promoting your blog. So, what is your tagline? In a few simple words, what is the focus of your blog? Go to Settings.
4. Categories – A category keeps related posts together. It quickly tells your reader what to expect. Is your post about blogging? Death? Baseball? Halloween? Never let your category read “Uncategorized” or it’ll look like you don’t know what you are writing about. Add the category on the same page where you are typing your blog.
5. Tags – Tags are more specific than categories. They are a string of words that hones in on your main topic. In a search, especially in WP, they help readers find your blog. In my prior post on Successful Blogging, my category was Blogging. My tags were: Blog, Facebook, gaining readers, marketing for writers, social media, Twitter, success, and writer’s resources.
6. Share – I’m repeating this one from an earlier post, and I may repeat it at a later date; it’s that important! Make it easy to pass your blog on to others. Post Share links to Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and others. Include an e-mail link so the reader can send it to a friend. In WordPress, go to Dashboard, Settings, Sharing and follow directions. Be sure to check mark the boxes at the bottom so they show up on all pages. For an example, see my Share buttons below. (Hint: If you liked this article, please pass it on! 🙂)
7. Paragraphs – I’m still surprised how many bloggers write long, unbroken paragraphs. Blogging is like newspaper writing. Paragraphs should be short and easy to read. Find a natural break and use it, even if your old English teacher might wince. Blogs are about readability, not perfect format. After you write your post, review it and look for a way to condense or break up the paragraphs. White space makes easier reading.
8. Links – Links are a bonus for your reader and can be on your sidebar or in the body of your post. For more permanent sidebar links, search for other blogs/sites that complement yours then create a link. Under Widgets, move Links to the sidebar. Then on Dashboard go to Links. Create new links and link categories. By default, link categories are in alpha order so play with your titles. Occasionally test your links to make sure they are still active.
You can also create links to sites within the body of your article, like this one to Lifehacker (no special significance here, just an interesting link I found). In this case, highlight the word, then click the link icon above where you are first typing your post. Insert the URL and click add link.
9. About – If you want readers to connect with your writing, tell them who you are. Use a two-liner and a photo in the sidebar, or a few paragraphs on the “About” or “Bio” page. Preferably both.
10. Contact – Readers should also be able to contact you. Many bloggers shy away from putting an email address on their blog where anyone, including spammers, can see it. Instead, add a contact form box on your blog. A good place to do this is on the About page, where you’ve written your short bio.
Creating a blog is a methodical process. Take it step by step. Readership develops over time. You’re competing with a lot of other blogs. Make yours tasty, sweet and easy to digest and the readers will find you.
How do you add life and professionalism to your blog? What advice would you give to someone new to blogging? ♥