All over the blogs participating in the Blog Improvement Project, I’ve been hearing about Social Media people use: Twitter, StumbleUpon, Technorati, LibraryThing, GoodReads, Shelfari, Ning networks such as NaBloPoMo or BookBlogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Deli.cious, Digg, YouTube, Reddit, Flickr… really the list is endless.
But I have decided to talk about the Social Media outlet that everyone is taking for granted: your blog. Because it is so easy to set up a free blog and run it, many people are unfamiliar with simple practices and habits that make blog surfing, reading, and commenting so much more enjoyable. Your blog is an aspect of social networking and you should not take for granted the small steps you can take to make it more connected.
- Buttons should link to the blog/project/website it is about. When you put a button on your sidebar, or in a post such as here with the Blog Improvement Project button, if you click it, the button should link to the specific website about it. It is completely useless to have your image link to itself (so when you click, it just reloads the image in a new page).
- Not having a button link at all frustrates your visitors if they want to join in the challenge / along / carnival / blog. With most blog interfaces, all you need to do is click on the image so it is selected, and then click the link button on your blog template. Here are some great instructions to make a Button into a Link.
- Where possible, include a link. If you are talking about another blogger, or a website, or some group that has a website. Link to it.
- The second best thing to know with links is targeting. This means where the link opens to. If you don’t specify anything, the link will open on the page the user is currently on (ie. your blog site) So when you insert a link, be sure to target it to “open in a new window or tab” because this way no one is automatically/accidentally removed from your website. You want them to stay there as long as they want and opening any external links in a new window or tab is the best way to ensure this.
- Another thing to remember is to include the full URL from the http:// to the .com. This is important so that your blog doesn’t think you’re trying to link to another page within your blog.
- Be honest with yourself. Your blog is for personal use, creative expression, and public viewing. Be aware that anyone, anywhere in the world, can and may see your blog. Do not put heavily personal stuff on your blog if you don’t want the whole world to see it. An especially touchy situation is when you write about something from your real life (versus online life) and someone IRL sees it. Remember what you say is public and cannot be taken back.
- Hooking your RSS feed up to your content is pretty important. On most free blogs (WordPress.com, Blogspot, etc.) this is done automatically. But if you would like to learn more about optomizing your RSS feed, check out this awesome tutorial.
- Having an easy way for people to find content on your blog is key. There are 3 main ways to address this, and if you look on my blog, you can find all three: 1. Have a search bar (see my top right hand corner); 2. Have your archives linked somewhere (see bottom of my left sidebar); 3. Tag or categorize your blog posts and have a tag cloud or category list (see drop down menu in left sidebar).
- Your blog layout is best clean and simple so as not to detract from the content. Build your blog on what you like, then your design and layout will have a personal slant. If you don’t know how to do design, you can either teach yourself through online tutorials (try Blogging Basics 101) or you can hire someone to do it for you (hint hint nudge nudge)
- One of the most common questions I encounter is “How do I add stuff to my sidebar(s)”. Click here for a very detailed answer with different blogging hosts covered.
- People love visuals. The way we read on the web is drastically different from how we read on paper. On the web people tend to skim and view things in a Z-shape — across the top, down the page, across the bottom.
- Here is a fantastic tutorial on how to add photos to your blog.