Hey there! You guys asked and I responded. This topic was highly requested in previous tweets of mine I posted a few days back. I figured why not? When I first made a blog, it was not exactly what I wanted or looked how I wanted it to. I’m still editing and learning as I go. I feel like there is always something that could be changed. I do not know everything there is to know about blogs, but hey, I do what works for me. The following are some tips I recommend for you if you a) either want to make a blog, or b) already have one, but want to know how to give it that extra kick.
- First and foremost, when I made my blog I knew immediately I wanted to incorporate the two sides of myself which are: my teaching personality and my writing side. Therefore, I went with, ‘Words By Ms. Dakota.’ My point here is, come up with a name which represents you in one line and tells viewers a little about you and your content. Last thing you want is a title/headline which does not tell readers what they will be reading. Keep it simple. Do not make it too long. If you go by your first and last name, that works. But also make it interesting. You want to pull readers in. Usually the title or headline of something is what either pulls me in or deters me from reading at all. This is just my personal opinion. Everyone is different.
2. Once you have your headline picked and ready to go, find your niche. A certain topic you will be writing about. Ex: if you write poetry only, make that known. If you are a multi-genre writer like me, you can include more than one genre on your blog. I write creative non-fiction mostly, fiction short stories, and poetry when I feel extremely inspired. I have all of those categories individually listed which makes it easier for readers to navigate. I did not intend to publish writing tips to my blog at first. My sole purpose with this blog was to share my writing. However, as I connected with more writers and bloggers, I quickly learned that people are asking the same questions: how can I make my homepage stand out? Or what should I include in my about me page? That is when I decided to add the thoughts/writing tips section of my blog. For those who do not know, I have my BA in English literature & creative writing. I want to be able to take my knowledge/experience and share it with others.
3. Next aspect I would say is most important is your layout. You want to choose something that can be easily navigated and is also visually appealing to the eye. In my personal experience, if I come across a blog or website which has too much content on one page and their feed is very unorganized or too cluttered, chances are I will not read it. You want to keep your audience engaged. I think of it like this, when an employer reads a resume, they read it in about 30 seconds or so especially if there are thousands of applications. You want to be short & sweet, to the point, and make yourself stand out. There is a common misconception where people think more content is better. However, I disagree. It’s more about quality over quantity. Going back to the analogy of a resume, even if you only held 3 jobs in your entire life, add enough description which shows your work ethic which would make the employer say, wow, he/she only had these 3 jobs, but I can see they have an assortment of skills and they’re hardworking. Same goes for a blog. Sometimes less is more. So when creating a home page, make it simple. Include a short description about what your blog is about.
4. To expand from #3, there are two options when choosing which way you wish to organize your blog. I personally chose to include a home page to give readers a little more insight into my world. However, you can go a different route entirely. Some blogs I have followed choose to not include a home page and once you click their link, you are immediately thrown into their content. There are pros and cons to each. Some might say a home page is necessary because they want to know who you are, why your content is important, and why they should read it. However, others might say well, a homepage is unnecessary if you have an about page. I want to see your content almost immediately. It is entirely your preference on what you do here.
5. Similar to the homepage description I just provided, I personally recommend you choose warm & inviting colors when creating or editing your blog. You definitely want to steer clear of using dark colors like black or brown and neon colors like bright green or yellow. I use a light peach color for my blog and I absolutely love it. I’ve seen other bloggers use light pink, light purple, a subtle mint green, etc. Whatever works best for you. Your blog means YOUR preference.
6. Now to move on to your ‘about me’ page if you decide to include one. I highly recommend you do. I always found that you grow a following when people feel like they can relate to you. Aside from my writing content, I’ve had people follow me just because we had things in common like having dogs, or they grew up in the same state as me, etc. Here is what I recommend for your about page. Once again, keep it short and simple. You do not want your readers to read your full biography. I would choose 10 details about yourself, but I would not go over 10. If you want to be more organized, write them in bullet form which also saves your readers time. Try and think of details they would want to know about you like where you grew up, what university you attended, what type of degree you have, etc. Some people even go to the extreme with including facts like their favorite cheese or their favorite movie they could watch countless times. It all depends on YOU and what you wish to share. I also recommend sharing a professional photo of yourself. I chose a photo of me drinking coffee, because hey, that is the core of who I am.
7. Include photos when you can. Now I’m not saying to post pictures every chance you get. What I mean here is, include cover photos to your posts. If you just throw a headline out there with no image, chances are I will not click on it. Lots of people are visual learners. I know I am. I want to see a photo that describes what I am about to read.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA. If you make a blog and you have no social accounts, this is something to consider. This way you drive traffic to your site. There are a variety of options. Facebook is geared towards an older crowd. It’s 50/50, a hit or miss with Facebook, in my opinion. Twitter is the best platform by far in my experience. I have easily connected with other creatives, exchanged and discussed ideas, and it definitely boosts my traffic. Instagram I do not use, but I have heard great things about it. If you wish to share your content in pictures, this platform is for you. However, if you wish to share you content with words, I would recommend Twitter. I’m still fairly new to the Pinterest scene. I have about 50 followers, but I turned my personal account into a business account which was definitely the way to go. If you do not know what I mean here, there are YouTube videos explaining how to do this. LinkedIn is the most professional platform I use. I utilize this platform more for job searches, but I began sharing my writing there as well. This is also an amazing platform to connect with editors/publishers, the works! However, one thing I will say is this. There are so many social platforms you can use. But if you try to tackle them all at once, you will quickly become overwhelmed. Choose 2 or 3 to put your undivided attention into and grow that way. For instance, I mostly use Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest. LinkedIn is here and there.
9. You always want to include a form of contact whether it’s an email or your social accounts. Include a follow button so other users can easily follow you. Make the follow button visible. Place it somewhere at the top of your blog so they can immediately click it. If it is hard to find, you are doing your viewers a disservice.
10. I highly recommend providing a subscribe option for non-blog users. Your contact page should have an option where they can provide their name and email where they can receive posts directly to their inbox. Make that visible to your viewers right away so they can subscribe if they enjoy your content.
11. Always respond to your comments/messages/ & subscribers. You want to remind them you are grateful and appreciative they are engaging with your content. Whichever platform you use whether it is WordPress or Blog Spot, etc., ensure you have your comment option enabled. Lastly, make sure your blog is connected to your social accounts so each time you post, it is also shared elsewhere resulting in more traffic!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. All of these opinions are my own and what I found have worked for me. However, I encourage you to find what works for YOU. I hope you all enjoyed and learned a thing or 2. I am always open to assisting other writers/bloggers with whatever questions they may have. Feel free to email me or tweet me at: @msdakotawrites with feedback and/or comments!