Blogging 101 | Make It Easy On Your Audience

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One thing I have learned through running a blog and an Etsy shop is that people do not read. You can have all the information spelled out right in front of them and they will still have questions. I'm just as guilty of this as the next person because I am a skimmer. I skim articles, product listings, etc. This has gotten me into trouble from time to time as well as resulted in a little buyers remorse because I failed to read carefully.

So, if you have a blog, whether it's a hobby, your main source of income, or if you are like me and it is part of your business and brand, the lesson here is to make visiting and reading it as easy as possible. I think all of the tips I listed in the first Blogging 101 (The Anatomy of a Post) apply here, but below are 8 more things you can do to make your blog an enjoyable space.

01 | Keep it visually clean. Less is typically more when it comes to blog design. Be sure that your links and navigation are easy to locate as well as your most recent posts. "Magazine" style blogs are becoming more popular but be sure your readers aren't overwhelmed and that they know where they are supposed to go.

02 | Open external links in new tabs or windows. It's always great to link to your previous posts that may be relevant as well as to outside sources, but please have this link open up in a separate window or tab. If I am reading a blog post and it links to an outside source but does not have this link open up in a new window or tab, chances are I am not going to head back to their blog. I have now had my attention brought to something else and unless I hit the back button, I may never return. Isn't the whole point of putting out great content to get readers to see it and stick around for discussion?

03 | Be yourself and create unique content. There are obviously hundreds of reasons why this is a good rule to follow but for today's sake, do it because you don't want to bore your audience. The blogging market is so heavily saturated with information and you don't want to waste anyone's time sharing information that has already been shared a million times. If you are going to post on a popular topic be sure you are making it your own and sharing with your voice. For example, there are a number of 'blogging tips' posts out there but the topics I'm choosing to focus on are things that I find to be helpful or that are pet peeves of mine. It's all my opinion and how I think blogging can be more enjoyable, not necessarily how someone else will see it.

04 | Ditch the Captcha passwords. It's hard enough to get people to comment even if they really love your content. Why make it any harder on them by adding this annoying step? I understand the reasons people may include them in their comment form, but in my opinion you are pushing away otherwise willing commentators.

05 | Make it easy for viewers to comment. In addition to No. 4, be sure that your audience knows where to go to leave a comment. I have been on some blogs, and because the way the design is set up, I was unable to locate the comment link. You know what happened, I left without leaving a comment and now I can't even remember what blog it was. You are trying to create an active community and if you make it too difficult, your audience won't participate.  

06 | Create headings or lists. I have made this point before, but people are lazy and don't like to read (yours truly included). When you create headings or lists, it breaks up the information and makes it easier for people to skim your post and still (hopefully) get the point you are trying to get across.

07 | Be consistent. Posting daily is not necessary for every blog. Consider your brand as well as your audience and find your sweet spot. For me, I like to post a couple times a week. Blogging isn't my main source of income but it is an important piece of my brand so I want to make sure that I am giving it the time it deserves. If you post too infrequently viewers may think you have gone out of business or have given up on blogging.

08 | Limit the amount of curated posts. Sure, I love to see your favorites of the month, or new products you've come across, but I get bored when all a blogger does is curate. I can find that stuff on my own and if you're curating from things you find on Pinterest alone, chances are your followers have already seen it. Space out your curated posts and maybe share one once a month. The other posts need to be content that you have created.

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