I’ve started writing this post and I’ve notices it’s going to be quite large. I can’t help it, I have to get all this out of me and share with you guys! Just to make it easier, though I’m going to list the topics I’ll be writing about:
- Responsive web design
- Post titles
- The font issue
- Let’s talk about sharing
- Email notifications
- SEO and stuff
As you can see from this list I won’t be talking
After few months of blogging I realized there are some things that might help to keep people on your site, to grab their attention, to gather more followers. Yes, I’ve read few articles, check out some infographics, etc before I even started this blog. These helped a bit, but now I actually know what all those tips and tricks they were talking about meant. I also noticed many of the blogs I follow ignore some of those rules and, even though they have probably more followers than I do, are harder to read/share.
Let’s start with something that people these days should really think about while creating their own site:
1. Responsive web design
Believe it or now, but it’s very important. I don’t alway sit in front of my PC when I browse through new blog posts. Quite often I use my phone. And you have no idea how annoying it is to try to zoom in properly a certain part of a page when it should actually be shown on big screen instead of a phone. My eyes aren’t capable of reading font size 1 or 2 and that’s what it looks like.
Most of you guys are using WordPress and one of their themes, probably personalized as much as you wanted/knew how. Some of those themes aren’t really responsive and I’d suggest keeping away from these.
I know that creating a web page from scraps isn’t easy, but if you’re doing so it’s better to do it right the first time! If you’ll have a nice base with all the important setting on, you can change themes and modify it as much as you like.
Yes, I admit I’m one of the lazy, so I’m using a simple theme with minimal modifications and it works. That’s the important part. No matter if I’ll open my blog on a big computer screen or on a smart phone it still looks fine.
2. Post titles
And by that I don’t mean that you should use some naming convention or write super long titles that describe everything. What I’m talking about are the names that are pointless or boring. I could split this to few categories:
- numbered posts – like when you only write a number in your post title – a number that shows which post it is. It’s fine that you like to count your posts this way, but instead of leaving just the number, try adding also a title. How do you even track your drafts if you just number them? Or maybe you don’t use drafts, simply write and post?
- the same name for every post of a certain type, like when you simply write “Thoughts” or “daily updates”. It’s fine if you have one or two posts like that a month, but if there’re too many people simply will stop checking them to see what the next one is about. I have few blogs on my watch list and after months of receiving these types of posts I simply started ignoring them. Just like with the first point – try to add some variety to these names, maybe write what are those thoughts about? I know I have some weekly posts that seemingly have the same titles – the Top 5 Wednesday and Grimm Fairy Tales. I admit with the second one I am guilty of using boring, repeatable names as I simply change the episode number. Well… I might think about it, but it will most likely stay like this because the stories I’m reading rarely have one unique thing in common. For the T5W, I’m adding what’s this top 5 is about in given week, so you can instantly check if it’s graphic novels, books covers or anything else.
3. The font issue
We could probably talk for ages about this one. I know everyone has their preference for the font they like using and reading. I like what you see here – clear, visible, simple and yet nice enough. But most importantly – READABLE.
If you want people to stay on your blog and make them actually read what you wrote, try to make their reading comfortable. Yes, not everyone will like your font style, but this you’ll have to live with. Every person is different. There are few things that I think will be universal for all of us:
- the size – the font you’ll choose can’t be too small. How many of you are already wearing glasses from the all night reading or staring too close into your screen/reader/phone/TV? I know I do and I find small fonts really annoying. Add to that too small spacing between lines, no space between paragraphs and I’ll quickly say “no” to reading your text. Unless I really want to know what it’s about and I’ll simply zoom in, but I don’t think that’s the point.
- the color – or rather the contrast between your background and the text. There’re milliards of options here, but again the important thing is readability. If you’ll use light green background and a yellow font no one will even try to read it. Let’s face it – most people won’t even stay on a page with a background that kills their eyes. But there’s also another thing to think about here – using too many colors also isn’t good. I get it that you might want to distinguish a part of your post, but if they’re 10 parts that you want to mark differently it simply won’t work. I try to keep to 3-5 colors that aren’t “fighting” each other, so I’m mostly using standard black (or almost black), red, kind of orange-brown colors and lighter gray if I want to make something less visible, like spoilers.
- font type – limit the cute and cuddly fonts to the titles. They do look adorable and lovely, especially if the rest of the page fits, but don’t use them on a large scale. Luckily most of you seem to know that and even though some titles might be hard to read, I personally don’t mind because they’re pretty ;).
4. Let’s talk about sharing
So, you’ve got all those little sharing buttons under each of your posts, pages, etc right? Well, you should! But you can’t simply let them show up and forget about their existence. You need to configure them to actually link to your accounts. Why, you might ask? Because you want people to see what else you might’ve written, you want them to share your posts under your username, not under anonymous or @wordpressdotcom. Go on, click on your Twitter button and see what’s after the @. Is it your username? If yes then you’re set. If no – fix it and do it fast.
And other than that – use those buttons while you visit people’s posts. You like what they wrote? Why not click one of those buttons and share it with your friends and followers.
There’s also one more thing to add in this point when we deal with twitter – tag your posts! The better tagging, the bigger chance to make your post noticeable. I admit, I rarely tag other people’s posts. My fault :(. Up till not so long ago, I barely tagged my own, but I’ve changed that and I’m getting better responses already. It’s really nice when some re-tweet your little message or adds it to favorite!
There’s this little field under or next to your post design window that allows you to write an excerpt of the post you’re working on. It has few applications, but let’s start with the emails.
First of all – you don’t want to send your whole post to your followers. You want them to visit your blog, make those little “views” numbers go up and they won’t visit if they’ll get it all in an email from you. Switch your emails from sending the whole post to send an excerpt.
That, of course, will force you to write an excerpt because otherwise people will get the first 50 or so letters from your posts and I’m pretty sure you might want to customize it a bit. First of all – because simple 50 letters might not present people with what you want to tell them about and second – because it might not look that good.
Work on this part, you can google the guidelines how to use it efficiently.
Plus those little excerpts present way better on your post preview list ;).
6. Email notifications
There’s just one thing I want to mention here – make sure you don’t send people links that won’t work, to the posts that no longer exist or never had, or to the ones that you’ve published by accident. Yes, this happened to me once 🙂 I’ve accidentally published my template post and from that one accident I’m trying to rather schedule the post, before saving it once too many, then to let the publish button tempt me ;).
I did receive quite many notification emails about new posts from people and when I clicked the links – there was nothing there. It is a bit frustrating, so I’ve decided to just let you know to watch for this one.
Oh and one more thing about these – set up your username otherwise you’ll be sending notification as “wordpress” and therefore will not be remembered.
7 SEO and stuff
Just to let you know – I’m not an expert here and you won’t get tons of information about SEO, but I’m going to write about few things I think are worth thinking about and that won’t do themselves (like for example sitemap – WP does this one for you, so be happy).
- Tags – make sure to add the proper ones, the ones you might’ve used in your text. The better you tag your post the bigger chance that people will find it and that Google will see it 🙂
- ALT texts for images – believe it or not, but these count. There might not be that many people who check pages without images, but these also mark your page in google, so make those little text fields count when you’re adding a new image.
- Cathegories – choose the right one and always choose a cathegory, never leave your post in the “no cathegory” zone. And use those correctly, for example, I’m using them in my menu, that way you can simply choose what kind of posts you want to see and you’ll get them.
This is a minor thing and not something you must do, but it’s worth noticing.
If you have tons of posts that you’d love to publish and they are already done, you might think – why not publish them all at once? Well, don’t. I think it’s better to save at least some of them for when you’ll have nothing to write about. Maybe limit yourself to publish a certain amount of posts a day or a week.
Try creating a blogging calendar and use it to schedule your posts, plan what to do next. I know, not everyone wants or needs this, but I find it helpful and I’ve really gotten used to using one. I had no needs for calendars before I’ve started blogging (I’m talking off-work) and now I love them! Especially the ones that have lots of space to write in them too, that way I can write an idea in them, not just when I’m online.
But as I said, that’s not a “must have” I simply think it helps.
That would be all I’ve got for now. I hope this will help some of you. I hope some of you liked it enough to click on one of those sharing buttons ;).
Maybe you have something to add? Maybe you’ve noticed some things that I could work on with my blog? Please tell me and I’ll do my best to fix things.