This is the third part of the 101 Ways to Promote Your Blog for Free Series. The first part are about the things to do before starting a blog and the second part is things to do during the early stage of blogging. In this post, we are going to discuss tips about the design and structure of your blog.
The structure and appearance of your blog represents you (I read this from somewhere and I agree with it); this is the first thing that your readers see. If you are a restaurant owner, you probably may want to display mouth-watering photos of food in front of your restaurant.
This is one way to captivate visitors. The taste of course is another matter.
Although content is most important, the presentation and the organization of blogs also matter to many.
Here are some general tips on the appearance, structure and organization blogs.
- First impression lasts. That is why you should also be conscious of how your blog looks. You should 28make your blog pleasant-looking and attractive. 29The design, theme, and color of your blog should, of course, be appropriate to your topic. If you blog about flowers, you may want to choose bright colors over dark ones. 30Also, avoid offensive colors.
- 31A picture is worth a thousand words. This is one way of saying that an all-text blog is boring. With all the blogging tools nowadays, it’s very easy to 32insert multimedia on blog posts: photos, audios, videos, applets, animations, and more.
- 33Be organized. If I were to rewrite Math and Multimedia, one of the things that I will reorganize are my categories. That way my categories widget will not be as tall as the Empire State building. 34Your widgets should also be organized. Although it is not a must, but sometimes, widgets are better grouped — email subscriptions box and RSS feeds buttons should go together; recent posts widgets and calendar of posts widget should also go together, etc.
Aside from the general appearance of your blog, there are three things that you should do to your index/main/home page: create as many internal links as you can , add buttons that will let your readers share your blog, and add buttons so that readers can follow your blog. It’s simple mathematics: the more links you have, the more chances of getting clicked. The more number of shares, the more potential readers. The more regular readers, the more traffic. This is basically the framework of most of the tips below.
Here the things that you should put on your blog’s home page. I am not saying you include them all, but you might want to experiment to see their effect to your traffic.
- Post List Tab/Page. 35As early as one month, create a Post List tab or Page. This will enable you to organize your post list better. If your blog has grown much, 36you may want to create a page for each ‘big’ category of post list such as the tabs of Math and Multimedia. My post lists are divided into four: Mathematics, Multimedia, GeoGebra, and All for Free.
- Top Posts/Best Posts widget. 37If I were to visit a blog with a lot of posts, aside from searching in the search text box, I would probably take a peek at the Top Posts. I’m sure, most readers would do the same.
- Related Posts widget. 38Readers who have a read a particular post may be interested to read related posts so this widget will likely increase traffic on your blog. In fact, it’s my number one source of traffic.
- Search Box. 39This is very important since your blog will definitely grow over the years, and as a blog grows, browsing will be getting harder and harder.
- Follow Me on Twitter Button. Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging software on the internet, so it is a must to 40have a Follow me on Twitter button. If you don’t want to tweet the blog on your personal Twitter account, 41you can create a Twitter solely dedicated to your blog like the Twitter account of Math and Multimedia. 42You also have to tweet (much better if automatically) all your posts to your Twitter.
- 43Like Me on Facebook Button. Again, this is a very effective way of promoting, but before you can do this, you must create a Facebook Page (Like Math and Multimedia’s Facebook on the side bar to access it’s Facebook Page). Automatically post your articles to you Facebook Page (tip#19).
- 44Share buttons at the end of each post. This is also very important. If readers like your post, they will share it on Twitter, Facebook, Stumble upon and other social networking site. Note that this should be different from the share buttons on your side bar.
- 45Blogroll. Your blogroll is the list of blogs that you follow. If you place other blogs, they might include you in their blogroll as well.
- 46Email Subscription box. This is the box where your readers can follow you via email.
- 47RSS Feed button. This is also one of the most popular ways of following blogs. We will discuss this in a separate post.
- 48Tag/Category Cloud. This is not probably very popular, but this can also be a source of good traffic.
- 49About Me/About Blog page. Most bloggers would not tell you who they are, but I think the readers deserve to know who they are reading.
- 50Public Email. One of the common mistakes of bloggers is not putting their email address on their blog. If you don’t want to be contacted via email, at least, put something where readers can reach you. If you people are impressed by your blog, you might get a part time or even a better full-time job.