|I ♥ My Blog Month: Six Essential Elements Your Blog Needs|
a hot headline
Both the tagline and headlines on your site need to be eye catching, focused, attention grabbing, and brilliant. That probably sounds like an exaggeration … but it really isn’t. Your site’s tagline is your site’s mission: it should tell visitors what your site is about, who and/or what it is for, and what you’re about. To be brilliant, it doesn’t have to be the greatest thing since sliced bread; it just needs to be something that gives your readers that immediate sense of what your site is for that will keep them there long enough to see more. The same goes for your post titles. Make sure they are captivating, and invite people into your words and writing with a title that makes them want to read more.
an amazing about page
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a well-written “About” page. Taking the time to write this page right will do many things for you. First, it tells your readers who you are and what you and your blog are about. Second, it helps you to focus in on what your page is about for yourself. Sit for a while and think: “What am I about?” Ask yourself what this blog or website is really “about.” As you write out the page, be willing to renegotiate your plan for your site as this page develops. In the same way, you should constantly be revising this page as your site develops; add or remove details as they become relevant to what you are trying to do with your site. Make this page inviting, and your readers will feel more and more that they “know” you as they apply what they read on this page to the rest of your site!
You should always tailor your graphics for your site. Whether it’s the buttons you use in your sidebar or the images you use for your posts, your pictures and graphics need to fit the image and brand your site is aiming for. Don’t just grab any old image … make sure they are catered to the look and feel of your site! If you use your own photos, make sure they are high-quality images. If you use outside pictures or graphics, always make sure they are properly credited, and placed well within the post so they are neither overlooked nor overly prominent.
Always, always, always include links to your social media pages! Readers want to be able to engage with you as much as possible. You don’t have to share every detail of your life, but if you have a Twitter account your readers should know about it. If you have a Facebook page, your readers will want to visit it (and you should be sharing your blog posts there, along with other engaging content). If you have a Pinterest profile on which you share pictures, articles, or quotes relevant to your site’s mission, share it! Give your readers more ways to engage with you, and guess what? They’ll engage with you more!
a star to steer her by
Your site must have an easy way for readers to search your site and navigate through your archive. Make sure readers have easy access to older posts. Include relevant “related articles” from your site at the end of posts. Try to find a tool that allows you to automatically share the most popular posts from the site. Use pages to break up content. Make sure your site has a search tool, and a link to your archive so readers can find posts based on publication month, topic, etc. Tag your posts so readers can click a tag to see all your other content written on that same theme.
a killer contact tool
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that in having a site, you are constantly engaging with an audience. You have invited them into your life, and you’ve asked them to share in your journey. It’s only natural that somewhere along the way someone will want to connect with you beyond simply commenting on your site. While you should make sure you make it easy for readers to comment and engage with you directly on the blog, you also want to include some way for them to send you more private messages. Include an email address where readers can reach you, or a “Contact Me” page with a special form for sending you a message. Make sure the email you give is one you don’t mind getting emails sent to; for example, you shouldn’t include your work email, and you may even want to have one separate from your primary personal inbox. You also need to make sure you are responding to messages if you’re inviting people to send them!
Your Turn: These are only a few key elements of a great blog or personal website. Naturally there are others that I haven’t included. Which tools or page elements do you think are “must haves” for a great blog or website?
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