Jul 23, 2010

11 Ways to Improve Your Blog

As part of the 31 Days to Build Better Blog challenge (at The Secret Is In The Sauce), I've been analysing my blog and comparing it with successful bloggers from my niche (blogs on writing). I want to share some of my findings with you!

ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL BLOG FOR WRITERS

  1. Design - Less is more. Simple layouts without the clutter (oh oh, I can see I need a clean-up!). Orange and hot pink are not as easy on the eye as white.
  2. Size Matters - Those super wide blogs are hard to read, column width should be easy and quick, you should be able to read the post without scrolling your eyes left and right.
  3. Content - Posts are always topic related and usually helpful to the reader.
  4. Regularity - Posts are frequent and usually short. Some post daily but most update their blogs at least 3 times a week.
  5. Followers - The blogs/websites that impressed me did not use Google Friends or Network Blogs, they used RSS Feeds. Check out ProBlogger's What is RSS? to know more. 
  6. Free Content - Many successful bloggers have free downloads, e-books, widgets or other enticements on their sites.
  7. Blogger vs Wordpress - I see debates about ease of use vs professional image, but the blogs that impressed me were hosted on their own sites (e.g. www.thecreativepenn.com).
  8. Monetizing - I found the best sites free from advertising or at least kept it minimalistic (perhaps a group of sponsors' badges to the sides). I'm not sure about taking away the Amazon link - I keep it to share books that I like with my readers, but I assume most will purchase through their own links anyway.
  9. Promotions - The high-traffic sites are promoted through Twitter and Facebook and receive many retweets (probably because they're helpful articles and worth sharing).
  10. Imagery - The blogs I enjoyed used relevant images, this makes the page easier on the eye than a lot of text.
  11. Multi-media - A lot of the best blogs I found also offered podcasts or videoclips on their site. This would, of course, mean more work.

As you can see, I need to review a few aspects of my blog. Is there anything here you think you'll try for your blog?

20 comments:

  1. Ha, I was going to write a post today about this very subject (because I recently changed my blog design - I wasn't happy with it for a long time). But I ran out of time.

    Great list of suggestions :)

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  2. I just rushed over to have a look - looks great :-)

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  3. Great list. I'm going to have to check out my own blog against it. :)

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  4. You make several great points Charmaine. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. What a timely post for me. I've just changed my design and these are great tips to keep in mind as I work out all the kinks. Thanks!

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  6. in my experience, you do not get credit for purchasing through your own amazon affiliate link so i always look for someone else's link to use

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  7. Great name for your blog, and your post is spot-on! I intend to work on # 6 and develop more free content for writers to download.

    This 31-days, now consumed by the challenge and my novel, was intended to be my post-building month. I couldn't pass up the chance to commune with so many other women writers at this level.

    Delighted to meet another fiction writer! I write thrillers, but that’s a different website. Thanks for stopping by Rave Words.

    Take care.

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  8. Great list! I think you have a great blog already! I'm excited to see if you do other things here differently, though. It makes me wonder if I should be doing different stuff. :D

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  9. What a great list. I think your blog is great and it definitely brings you traffic for a reason! I always hope that my blog is entertaining enough. I'm not very technically savvy so I try and work hard at keeping all things clean cut and nice. I don't know anything about free downloads and I hate to freeze up my blog with just having something like that on there.

    I keep pages for them to learn more about me, more about my current works and rewards that people have given me. Other than that my main page is based with a short post about writing, me or just something random and so far it's worked nicely. I hope that people continue to stop by and enjoy their stay!

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  10. Great list - I'm always terrified of making changes because it often seems like I'm about to cause the world to implode. :)

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  11. Thank you for these tips. I also like to do giveaways. I don't spend tons of money--I give books I've won on other blogs or ask authors I interview if they'll give a book away--they always do.

    Everyone loves to win prizes!

    Happy Weekend,
    Jen

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  12. Great list. I'll have to look into some of these items since I don't do them all. Have a great weekend.

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  13. Sarah Jayne, Mathew, Jaydee, Medeia, Jemi, Jen & Michelle... Thanks for all the great comments! I still have to see how I can apply some of these to my own blog - there's always room for improvement!

    Carrie, good point about amazon, I hadn't really looked into it - I just like having a little showcase of the books I'm reading. I did get sent a voucher recently from them, which I think is due to link sales, so I'll be putting it towards my giveaway coming up really soon.

    Helen, I am loving the 31DBBB challenge! Happy to see you here :-)

    Jeanette, I love hosting giveaways too :-)

    Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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  14. Great advice! I should try offering more helpful/free stuff.

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  15. I agree with your points. The blogger vs wordpress thing, I don’t know. I admit I like blogger for the ease of use and I’ve seen some awesome sites (same with wordpress), but one has to read all the tips and tricks and fiddle around to make it unique. #11 made me laugh. I’m still struggle with my posts I’m not ready for pods or clips!

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  16. I have spent ages thinking about this too.
    I decided that, now I have more free time, I'm going to Blog every day.
    Trying to work out how to get music on the Blog in time for Tuesday's post. How can something, that seems so easy, be so very hard?

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  17. Aubrie - it all takes time, but would be worth. I'm thinking of putting together a booklet of papers and notes that I use when teaching creative writing at high school and adding it as a free download - when time permits! :-)

    Holly - I'm not quite ready for podcasting and such either - it's all about juggling time. And I do think a .com domain is probably more professional, but having said that, I still follow a lot of blogger sites :-)

    Elaine - so cool that you even post music, way beyond me at this point :-)

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  18. Great list, Charmaine!

    I never happy with my blog's design. I change it at least once a month. Probably i should hire a professional, so i could take it easy :)

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  19. yeah,good post
    good tips
    thank you

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  20. On the subject of .com sites I am inclined to say it depends on what you are doing.

    You can run a .com site for around $100 a year, but with that comes the headache of dealing with being your own tech support, of recovering data when your blog is hacked, usually more than once.

    I have run both and now prefer to use a free blogger account that my $10 domain name points to.

    I get more traffic on my blogger blog than on my own self hosted wordpress one.

    My 2c

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