I’ve stumbled upon a lot of blogs which I personally felt were missing something. As a blog visitor, there are a few things I’ve come to expect/enjoy on a blog, and I’m not the only one. So here are a few tips for improving your blog for the general reader, which I’ve learnt from reading other guides, building my own blog, and of course, being a reader myself.
If you’re not sure what to write about, here are a few tips. Get into the habit of taking screenshots of anything that looks interesting, something you might potentially be able to use for a blog post, and take a fair few of them. You probably won’t use them all, but trust me, it will help when you’re looking for images or inspiration. At the end of an evening of playing WoW, look through your recent screenshots, think about what you did ingame, jot a few things down. Perhaps you saw something in general chat that you could share, or maybe you had a particularly nice pug group. Whatever it was, write down a few notes, and write about it if or when you are ready to. Read other blogs for inspiration, you never know what ideas might come to you from somebody else’s post. Any ideas at all, put them down as drafts. Even if you never use a lot of it, it will help you to come up with a few posts.
Writing – Keep your readers enthralled, write about things people will be interested in, whilst also being interested in writing them yourself. If your writing is forced, your readers can tell. Make sure you use good spelling, grammar and punctuation not only in your posts, but your pages and your titles. A spell checker can help you with this, to check over for typos, though you may like to have a friend check for errors also if need be. Also, use paragraphs! Wall of text is much easier to take in if broken up a bit. The longer the post, the more I recommend including images and perhaps sub-headers.
Images – Another viable form of blogging, posting screenshots, photos, art, any kind of imagery, as long as it is interesting and relevant. Of course, images are also a nice aid to blog writing, in fact a post may be more enjoyable to read with images alongside the post.
Relevance – Try to keep what you post relevant to your theme. Your visitors will get used to a certain theme and look forward to reading what you have to say/show. However, if you have an idea for something a little different, don’t be afraid to experiment!
Follow and Subscribe – You will want to add an RSS feed at the top, and sign up for feedburner on google! People like to find RSS feeds easily, and be able to sign up for your feed much easier. Trust me, not everybody who reads your blog will manually check it regularly, compared to those reading via a feed. However, with Google closing down many of its’ useful features at the moment, I personally don’t think it’s a bad thing to keep to your default RSS url so long as it’s easy for readers to find.
And if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or other such web presences, let people know how to follow you! Make it simple and people will come.
Search – Add a search form near the top too. Some people like to search for particular information, or even old posts, so include a search box, and make good use of post tags/categories.
Categories – Easy to navigate categories, try not to add too many, post things under the right categories, do not use ‘Uncategorised’. I personally like to use a dropdown in the sidebar, some people prefer a list, that’s personal preference.
Blogroll – You will want to add a blogroll, preferably in your sidebar but don’t overdo it (I will allow exceptions for Blogger blogrolls which are epically useful). People won’t check every single link, so just a few will do, at least categorise them separately if you have a few. Also, keep it up-to-date, remove dead links. Blogs which aren’t updated anymore but still include a good list of links, a well used forum, decent resources, i.e. Big Red Kitty, are still worth linking to. Generally though, it’s nice to see what people are reading.
Layout – Ensure you have an easy to navigate and look at layout. If your layout is messy and/or overly busy people won’t go through so much effort to take a look at your content and perhaps won’t come back. Images and colours also attract people to read more. If you’re unsure how to go about it, a clean white theme with a simple header can work wonders.
About You – Have an about page. Bloggers and blog readers are nosey and will want to know about you, your blog and perhaps other things related to your blog, character information if you’re a gamer, etc. You may find it weird, but people like to know more about the person whose opinions and thoughts they are reading about.
Contact – Sometimes people will want to contact you, either a page with your contact information, a contact form, or even some information in the sidebar will do, as long as there is something and make sure it’s easy to find.
Comments – Every blogger loves to receive comments so make sure it is easy for visitors to comment. It’s best to have the comment link at the bottom of posts if you can help it, and watch for captchas. They’re difficult to decipher and it does put people off responding if they have to jump through that particular hoop to do so. If you use Blogger, please make sure this is turned off, and that there is a name/url option for commenters.
Truncated Posts – This is when you’re reading in your feedreader and a blog only shows a little bit of their articles. Personally, if a blog uses truncated posts, unless something really grabs my attention from the word go I won’t bother reading past the first section and therefore not bothering clicking through at all. If the entire post is shown on the page, I’m much more likely to read it and consider clicking through to the blog itself to leave a comment. Try to avoid truncated posts.