More and more blogs are popping every day, but there are 9 essential things that every blog should have. Does yours have them?
1. A really good blog header
If you click over to a blog, the header is really the first thing you set eyes on… and it’s the first impression you get of a blog, don’t you think? It’s a chance to be creative and have some fun. Mine is particularly understated, but the rest of my blog is so busy I didn’t want to overwhelm the page or design. Some bloggers that have really cool blog headers worth checking out are: The Beetleshack (Emily has a designer recreate the header regularly so it’s worth checking back to see what it is and who created it from time to time), BabyMac (fun and playful, just like Beth), Veggie Mama (such a sweet hand-drawn picture), A Cup of Jo and The Beauty Department.
2. An about me page stamped with your personality
How would you feel if you stumbled across an about me page that said this, “I’m Susan. I am 24 years old and I wrote this blog.” Apart from being jealous of her whipper-snapper age, you’d be falling asleep and finding yourself another blog to read, right? Stamp your About Me page with your personality. Tell your readers who you really are. I like visual things so I made mine to be a graphic that you can read quickly. Other About Me pages worth checking out for inspiration are Love Taza, Ish and Chi and Woogsworld.
3. Links to your social media
Say your readers like what they read on your blog, let them know where else they can find you easily. In the top half of your blog have links to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or which ever social media platforms you’re using at the moment.
4. A profile photo and a few quick words about you
Yes, a photo of YOU. People want to know who they’re reading about when they visit your blog. Get a friend to snap a photo or 600 of you, pick your favourite and turn it into your profile photo. Add a few words underneath. An easy way to do this is to say: Hi, my name is X. I like to X, X and I don’t like X.
5. A design that doesn’t make your eyes burn
I know it’s fun to get creative when designing your blog, particularly the background, but don’t get too crazy. You don’t want to make it hard to look at for readers. So yes, super dooper neons are out. People, by nature, do like a bit of calm in your design. Allow some space for white. If you’re not very clever in the design department, get help. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. You can buy pre-made designs on Etsy, like this one, this one and this one.
6. A contact page (or email me button)
This one seriously makes me cry. So many times, particularly when I worked for Kidspot and we launched the very first Top 50 Bloggers, I’ve been to blogs and they have not a single way to get in touch with the owner. Tears. You’re missing out people. Missing out on readers connecting with you, with opportunities for collaboration, and hearing from other bloggers. You’re missing out. Make sure you have a contact page. If you work with brands, have something in there too about how you like to be approached or how you work with companies.
7. A place to find all your best work
This one has been on my to-do list for a long time, and I will get to it before I retire. Create a page for people to find your best work, the posts that you loved most – or more so that your readers loved most. It will be like a little snap shot for people to find your voice. Share about ten post titles with links to those posts.
8. A way to find all your old stuff
Every blog template has one, a way to get to all your posts from the past. Make sure you include a widget on your home page to your archives. This will allow readers to read all that good stuff you wrote so many moons ago.
9. An easy-to-use commenting system
The very best thing about blogging is the engagement you get from readers, so make sure they can leave a comment on your blog to share their thoughts on something you’ve shared. Allow them to chime in, to be part of the conversation. Disqus is a great one (when it works, it’s been playing up lately) or the default systems for Blogger or WordPress are good too. But please turn of Captcha or those little codes you have to rewrite in order to leave a comment. They’re just too hard most of the time, and so many people turn away as soon as they pop up.