Monday, March 30, 2015

7 Basic Blogging Tips

by Jemi Fraser

I've come across a few things in the bloggy-verse lately that have made me curious, a few things that have made me grind my teeth, and a few things that have made me roll my eyes. I'm most definitely not an expert on blogging, but here's what's been standing out to me lately.

  • Tip #1 - Tell Us Your Name 
    • Why would you run a blog and not tell people who you are???? Sure, you may not want to share your real name, but you need some kind of name. People connect to people. We remember names. When you put out your book, you're going to put a name on it. Start using that name now!
    • in the same vein, use that same name across all your social media platforms. You don't want to be Crazy Hazy Harry on one, Harold Hazar on another and HH on a third. Consistency is important if you're trying to build a presence.
  • Tip #2 - Photo Time
    • for your avatar, a photo of yourself is best. (Yes, I know I don't have one! For more on my struggles with that, pop on over to my blog.) 
    • head shots appear to be the most popular - and for good reason. In a head shot, it's easy to identify the person. And suddenly, you're no longer Crazy Hazy, but a real person with a real face. As humans, we connect to faces. Take advantage of that. You don't have to be beautiful or handsome or tall or short or thin or chubby or anything except YOU. You're special and unique. Show that off!
  • Tip #3 - Sharing Buttons 
    • It's hard to build up an audience. One great way to accomplish that is to have your current readers share your posts to their friends and contacts. Blogger has a handy-dandy bar of icons people can click on to share your posts to various social media (Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and more. Check the bottom of this post for an example.). All your reader has to do is click and your audience has grown. 
    • Some non-Blogger blogs have buttons that you can customize to include your twitter handle along with the post title and link when you share to twitter. This is awesome because that tweet will show up in your Mentions stream and you'll see exactly who is helping you out. (If you can do this in Blogger too, let me know how in the comments!)
  • Tip #4 - Subscription Options
    • make these easy to find and preferably near the top of your blog. The easier it is for people to receive your posts, the more they will read your posts. 
    • offer as many different options as you can. Don't know what RSS is? Add it anyway (although I'd suggest a simple Google search to solve that problem). Don't eliminate an avenue for people to find you simply because you find blog posts in one way and you assume everyone does it the same way
  • Tip #5 - Lure Your Audience to Your Other Platforms
    • make it easy! Include links to your presence on other forms of social media. Again, near the top of your blog is best. Don't make people work to find you.
    • don't worry about joining any and all social media. Not only will you be exhausted, but you'll spread yourself too thin and not do any of them well.
  • Tip #6 - Easy on the Eyes
    • avoid dark backgrounds with light fonts. These are very difficult for some eyes to read
    • keep your blog uncluttered. When an eye is drawn to too many areas, it tires out the reader and there's a sense of relief when the blog disappears - NOT what you want! Less clutter also makes the blog load more quickly.
  • Tip #7 - No Tunes Please
    • I'm a huge music lover, but please, please, please, don't have music playing automatically when someone opens your blog. First off, you might turn off some readers with your taste in music. Second, it makes your blog slower to load. Third, like many other bloggers, I often have music playing in the background as I'm blogging. Two competing songs at the same time does not equal double the fun. 
(Stepping down off my soap box now!)

I think the key is keeping things easy for your reader. Think of them rather than yourself as you're setting up your blog, and make them look forward to coming back.

How about you? Any of my pet peeves match yours? Any tips to add? 

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No photo and my sidebar is a bit full, but check on the other stuff.
Glad you pointed out the name - some people don't make their name obvious.
I'd add make it possible to contact you. An email should be there somewhere and listed in your profile.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think you covered the basics. Music playing always scares the crap out of me if I'm not expecting it.

Mason Canyon said...

Great tips, Jemi. I need to clean up my sidebars and I've been updating my blogroll (something I need to finish). I especially like the first tip and the fact that it doesn't have to be your real name - just something readers can connect with.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good list of pointers.

My pet peeve is black screens and bright colored fonts. Or using several bright font colors in one blog post. So hard on the eyes. There are some blogs like that I can't even visit often because they're hard to read or see.

I've disabled my music. While I like celtic styled music, not everyone does. If I put a player back on the blog it will be one that the reader controls. And you're right, it slows down the loading--which you don't want.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Stephen Tremp said...

I use a white background as it is easy on the eyes. I think this works best.yeah, and no music. Really bothers me to hear a song I don't like

Jemi Fraser said...

Alex - yes! Definitely add an email link!

Diane - exactly! It can drive me nuts :)

Mason - so true - we do like to know who we're 'talking' with :)

Sya - I enjoy Celtic music too - and the reader controls are a great way to share it!

Stephen - it's funny how off-putting that can be to those of us who love music!

JeffO said...

All good points, Jemi. And I, too, hate the auto-music!

DMS said...

When I first started blogging I had music in my background and then I changed it because I realized that not everyone wants to hear music and they could be opening the site from work or when they need quiet.

Great advice about the name on the blog- made me realize I don't have mine on my blog.

Lots to think about!

Shelley Sly said...

Excellent advice! You definitely know what you're talking about. :)

Your points about names and other platforms are important. We kind of have to be like brands, easily recognizable no matter where we are.

Jemi Fraser said...

Jeff - yeah - the music just doesn't cut it :)

Jess - glad to help! I agree - there's always something we don't think about :)

Shelley - thanks! Social media is about connecting but branding is an important part of that!

Heather R. Holden said...

Great tips! #5 is so important...but I still forget to do it sometimes. *shameface* And gosh, I couldn't agree with you more about #7. It's so annoying to have music blare at me out of nowhere when I visit a blog!

I must admit, I disagree with part of #6. Dark backgrounds are so much easier on the eyes to me, while white backgrounds hurt. Then again, my eyes are extremely light sensitive, so I might be biased, LOL.

Jemi Fraser said...

Heather - I didn't realize some eyes found it easier the other way around - good to know! I like a soft background colour, but the harsh black/white can be tough either way I guess :)

Julie Kertesz said...

I found that the best way to attract readers to a blog, is write regularly, for my "Il y a de la vie apr├Ęs 70 ans", it was for 10 years daily, to visit and live comments to other similar blogs, and lately, to publish some of my entries from my CompetentCommunicator blog, on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and even sometimes with a link to Flickr (where I have most followers).

Also of course it is so true "know your audience" or intended one, in my case one was personal so I had to be watchful when all went well not to boast too much, when all went down, not to write only sad entries day after day. For the Communication blog, depending where I go to tell stories or comedy, I change my notes date - so some old good come on the front. It was not possible before, now, it is.

Medeia Sharif said...

These are great. I dislike Google profiles that have no easy to find blog links. I want to reciprocate comments right away.

Jemi Fraser said...

Julie - those are great tips! Thinking of your audience is so important - and regular blogging is huge too. :)

Medeia - that's so true. I want it easy to find as well!

LD Masterson said...

All good points, especially the light print on a dark background. Even worse, a busy print or picture for the background. I've given up following a couple blogs I enjoy because they're too hard on my eyes. I agree on the music, too. Sometimes I'm checking blogs on my phone when I'm places where music is inappropriate.

Jemi Fraser said...

Linda - that could be incredibly awkward! :)
i've had to drop a couple too - just can't read them!