Is your blog looking a bit stale? Would you like to freshen things up a bit?
Would you like to give your own blog a makeover, without hiring anyone? Just so, it is looking brand new and sparkling for the people visiting for the first time?
It’s not that hard if you know exactly what to look for, and to look at your blog from a newcomer’s point of view. You need a checklist and a block of uninterrupted time. Anywhere from half and hour to forty minutes is ideal to start things of.
Keep a paper/pencil handy if you want to take notes the traditional way, or open up a new text document and type away. (Don’t ignore this, because you will forget things so it is better to write those down as you go).
1. Look at your blog title. What is it telling your readers? If you are still on a free domain and thinking about moving to self hosted site, think long and hard about your blog name.
2. Getting your tagline just right is extremely important. It speaks volumes about your blog. It tells the first time visitors what is it about and what’s in it for them. Aim to make it descriptive rather then creative.
3. Showcase a clutter free design. Install a premium theme to make it look really professional. You are only looking at one time cost but it will really help your blog stand out. You can easily tweak things to make your design look exactly the way you want.
4. Add a brief author bio and image to your sidebar. This way anyone landing on it for the first time can see at a glance who writes it. Again emphasize on why you write this blog.
5. Show your most popular posts on the sidebar. This way your best content is always available for newcomers.
6. Place your email sign up form in a prominent position. A top bar works well. Another good position is to add it to your sidebar. Be careful that it is above the fold and the reader doesn’t have to scroll down to find it.
7. Make it super easy for your readers to contact you. Add a stand alone Contact Me tab on your main navigation or add this information on your About Me page. Don’t make readers jump hoops to get in touch with you either.
8. If you are accepting guest posts, it is a good idea to display your guideless in an easy to locate position. Think about adding a Write for Us or Guest Post Guidelines tab on main navigation. If you accept guest posts by invitation only, say so.
9. Add links to your Social Media profiles on your sidebar. Be consistent with your choice of icons.
10. Work on your About Me page until you are happy with the result. After your home page, this is the most frequently visited page of your blog. It needs to tell the visitor who you are, why you are writing this blog and why should they care. Meaning what makes you qualified to write on this topic. Don’t forget to add your opt-in form.
11. Add a subscription form after every post to remind your readers. Add other relevant plug-ins that will display similar posts.
12. Add social share buttons at the end of your posts so that people can share them easily. Don’t add too many to confuse them. Select a few networks that you are active on yourself so you can respond and keep an eye on what’s happening.
13. Create your ideal reader profiles. Go into detail and write a few personas. Make sure you appeal to at least one type of reader when writing your blog posts.
14. Headlines can make or break your post. They need to make somebody curious enough to click on it. Spell out the benefit and try to stay away from formulaic ones.
15. Hook your reader in with an irresistible intro. Perhaps make a startling revelation or share a shocking statistic? Ask a pressing question or say something totally unexpected.
16. Make your content screen friendly. Short paragraphs, subheadings, bulleted lists, images, screen shots and lots of white space. Every single element will go a long way in making it highly scannable.
17. Practice the principles of effective communication. Blogging is much more about writing. Remember to be clear, concise and connect with your audience.
18. Add a relevant call to action to your home page (subscription form) or at the end of your blog posts (Share, comment, link, buy something). Don’t overwhelm readers with unnecessary choices.
19. Create ‘linkbait’. Examples of these are round up type posts, interview posts, long lists — in short, posts that a lot of people would be interested in linking to. They are excellent ways to build authority and show off some social proof (tweets, likes, comments, links etc).
20. Install Reply Me type plugin. This sends an automatic email when you respond to a comment. The commentator doesn’t have to check any boxes to receive updates. More over, the person only receives the response and not all the comments in the thread. They never miss your response and it helps build engagement.
21. Show that you truly care about your community and always respond to their questions and any relevant comments.
22. Offer a freebie to get people to sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your blog. Nothing entices anyone than a relevant freebie. This can take a form of a short report, an ebook or even a link to a video. Make sure you deliver high value content to get people to sign up.
23. Add a hire me page if you have any services on sale and list all the details for easy access. Don’t bury this information.
24. Place testimonials and raving customer feedback on your site to add credibility and authority.
25. Thank your advocates and your biggest supporters. People who always take time out to comment and share your stuff.
26. Have fun. Come across as a positive, passionate and fun loving blogger. Don’t paint a picture of gloom and doom.
There you have it. Go through the list, make notes and then take action. Keep coming back to it when you need to.
And share it with others so they can improve theirs too.
Marya Jan is a proud content creator for Open Colleges. When she is not busy blogging for them, she can be found helping other small business owners revamp their blog content at Writing Happiness. Check it out and grab the free ebook ‘How to Write Blog Content that Works’.
L.J Melville @guiltfree20s says
Spot on information, just what I was looking for! Especially for a newbie blogger like myself. I’m making subtle changes everyday until my blog looks and feels exactly how I envision it.
Shameer Shah says
I completely agree with point no 10. ‘About Me’ should very much elaborate to the point where the reader understands where you are coming from and why your experience has driven you to start up the blog. I have been working on mine for about 6 months believe or not, but what I’m trying to include is everything from my childhood to my present day existence and as you can imagine this takes time to relay. About Me is a very important page and indeed needs to be concise and a ‘stand out’ page!
Dean Saliba says
I don’t believe you can just limit this to new bloggers, I know quite a few ‘experienced’ bloggers who could learn from this post. 🙂
All the points are simply great. Its always good to bring some freshness in blogs. No one loves a stale blog.
Marya | Writing Happiness says
You misunderstood me, or perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. The purpose of installing Reply Me plugin is to avoid precisely what you are saying here. By doing this, the commentator will only get a response if you or somebody responded to their message. They won’t get all the replies to the original post. This is fantastic, because they don’t have to come back to check whether their comment got any response. Also, many people comment and then forget about it (hardly any ever check that little box) so it is a nice surprise for them. Hope this makes sense. 🙂
Ehsan Ullah says
Hey Marya, But don’t you think sending an email every time to a commentator when their comment got replied will annoy them?
BTW, These are really great tips.
My main takeaway is to target the blog post to the audience for interest which is usually the most difficult part.
Ian Eberle says
I read an article last night about your blog title and Google AdSense. Apparently, your title has a big factor in what you get paid from AdSense and how the ads recognize your niche. For example, the title of my blog is “Omega Web – It’s All Geek To Me” provides absolutely no help in telling AdSesne or the reader what the blog is about. But if I use “Omega Web – WordPress, Internet Marketing, SEO, and Blogging Tips” then it is more clear of what my site is about… I am going to be changing this very soon.
Trent Dyrsmid says
It’s good to find tips for new bloggers out there. I also always try to think of them whenever I write posts or produce podcasts. Helping others is what we do here.