Are you making these 5 BIG blogging mistakes?

As a blogger, I make a real effort to visit as many other blogs as I can.  Live From Julie’s House is a fairly new project (6 months), but I had 2 other DIY/decorating blogs back in the mid 2000’s and part of my “day job” for the last 5 years has been setting up WordPress blogs/websites for clients.

So while there is always more to learn, I’m not a complete amateur – even if it feels that way some days. 🙂

I visit your blog to get DIY inspiration, but I also like to see how you are doing things in your little corner of the blogosphere. I’m trying to get to know people in my niche after my 10 year break from blogging. It’s interesting and fun, but pretty frustrating too. I’m visiting your blog with the express intention of leaving a comment and possibly sharing your post on my social media channels, so tell me…..

WHY ARE YOU MAKING IT SO DAMN HARD??!?

I know you have a shit ton of stuff to deal with as a blogger, trust me, I do. Aside from writing your posts, worrying about your photography, SEO and social media promotion, not to mention actually making/cooking the projects you’re writing about, I know you’re probably maxed out (maybe even stressed out) and pretty sure you can’t add one more thing to your To Do list without losing your mind. But hear me out.

I want to connect with you. Your other readers want to connect with you, and if you’re lucky they want to spread your awesomeness far and wide and maybe even leave you a lovely comment. Shouldn’t you make those 2 things as easy as possible?

There are bloggers who have made a conscious choice to stop accepting comments on their blogs. Danielle LaPorte is one notable example, you can read her post about how she came to that decision HERE. 

PS – if you’re a creative, you should be following her anyway

But most of us are trying to build our own tribes and find our online people and connect with them in some meaningful way. I don’t know about you, but if I’m on a blog and I like what I see, I will try to leave a comment and I will likely share your post at least one social media channel….that is, if I can do it without beating my head on the computer screen in sheer frustration. I’m busy, we are all busy – and if you make it difficult for me to these things, I will abandon your site and probably not come back.

And I’m probably super annoyed too….not a great way to make friends and connections, is it?

Are you making theses 5 BIG Blogging Mistakes? Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?

Are you making these 5 BIG Blogging Mistakes?

  1. WHERE THE HECK IS YOUR COMMENT FORM?? –  Is it easy to find your comment form? YOU know where it is because you spend a lot of time on your blog, but can your readers find it? I’ve noticed on a lot of blogs that it’s camouflaged in teeny-tiny 5 point font buried underneath ads and related posts, something like “2 comments” or “No Comments”. Make a button that says “LEAVE A COMMENT” or “SPEAK YOUR MIND” and make it BIG! There are a couple of sites that I visit regularly for link parties that I struggle with every single week to find a way to leave a comment. It’s only polite to thank your party host, but what if you can’t even find her?
  2. YOUR FIRST NAME IS MISSING (or well hidden) – When I leave a comment, I like to address you by name – it’s the polite thing to do. I like that when I land on your blog I am able to make a connection with the person writing it, getting to know you through your writing and projects. As I spend more time in the blogosphere I am connecting more names, faces and blogs and building my community, and I love that. But I’m regularly amazed at how many bloggers don’t have their name ANYWHERE. Which makes the whole commenting thing awkward. And while you’re at it – post a nice clear photo of your face. How can I get to know you if you are a ghost?
  3. YOUR PROFILE NAME IS SET TO YOUR AIM HANDLE FROM 1993 (or something equally nonsensical) – on the flip side, let’s say another blogger is kind enough to leave a comment on your blog. You want to thank her and maybe continue the conversation, but her name is listed in the comment box as something like “CuTiEgurrlXOXO” or “mstachniko9272”. Where do you go from there? “Um, thanks….mstachniko9272?”
  4. YOU’RE MISSING SHARE BUTTONS – So, I love, love, LOVE your post and want to share it everywhere. I genuinely dig what you did, plus I am always on the lookout for good quality content to share with my readers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. Yay! That’s what you want, right? But – I’m hunting around and there are no share buttons to be found. BIG.FAT.FAIL. If I am bound and determined, I can share your post manually, but why not let me do it in one click? I’m probably annoyed again. I’m extra annoyed if you’re missing share buttons AND you don’t even have a Pinit hover button for Pinterest.
  5. POOR QUALITY PHOTOS/NO DESCRIPTION – I definitely have a way to go on my photography (still saving up for my first DSLR), but I know how important decent pictures are, and they are even more critical for Pinterest. If I’m trying to add content to my Pinterest boards, I’m looking for a good quality, VERTICAL Pinterest friendly image to pin, and it should have a good description attached. If you don’t have anything like this, I’m probably going to skip sharing it.

I know there are 8 bazillion details to worry about in blogging, and it’s easy to miss something that might be obvious to your readers. Just recently, another blogger pointed out that I had my Shareaholic Twitter share button set to say “via @shareaholic” rather than “via @fromjulieshouse”. It was a silly mistake, but easy to fix in my settings. You can read her post about this HERE

Want to  easily connect with your readers and to encourage them to share your awesome content?

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR BLOG COMMENT FRIENDLY

 – A good theme will have a nice comment form built in. Before you commit to a new theme, be sure to check out how the comment form works – it’s one of the most important aspects of the design. Blogs that use Blogger have an especially clunky comment interface, and in my opinion that alone is a good reason to switch to WordPress. I always cringe a little when I run into them, because I HATE trying to leave a comment through Blogger.

 – Install Disqus. Disqus allows you to connect multiple email addresses to your Disqus profile and avatar and Disqus will pull that info automatically on sites across the web that use it. When you set up your profile, be sure to use either your actual name or something like “Julie @LiveFromJuliesHouse”. I made the switch from using my first and last name after reading THIS blog post. I want people to know my first name AND my blog name. It might seem obvious in my case, but some bloggers use their children’s names – and I don’t want anyone to wonder.

– Install the Comment Email Reply plug in.  When you leave a comment on a blog, how often to actually circle back to see if you got a response? Probably not very often, which makes it tough to get a conversation going. Many blogs have an option to subscribe to the comments, but do you really want a notification every time someone else leaves a note? Installing this plug-in will notify non-Disqus users of your response to their comment via email.

– Your blog is your real estate, and you should spread your name around liberally. It should be in  5 places:

Post Author:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Post Author Screenshot

At the top of your blog post it should show who wrote the post. WordPress defaults to the email address you signed up with, which is not ideal – so you’ll want to go in and change that. Go to USERS>YOUR PROFILE and change the “DISPLAY NAME PUBLICLY AS” box to your first or your first and last name.

Post Signature:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Post signature screenshot

At the end of every post you can add an image with your personalized “signature”. I made mine using PicMonkey (affil link).

Sidebar Profile:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Sidebar profile screenshot

Most readers expect to find a short bio at the top of your sidebar along with a friendly looking head shot. I tell my readers what they can expect to find on my blog, when they can expect new posts and of course my name is listed. The head shot is the same one I use across all my social media channels. And yes, I am aware that I need to upgrade it. 🙂

About Me Page:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
About Me page screenshot

This is the page where you can get into more detail, really let your readers see more of your personality and let them know what you’re all about. If you’re not sure what to write, check out THIS awesome post from Melyssa Griffin. If you want to up your blogging game, follow her immediately.

Author Box:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Author box screenshot

This little mini bio box appears at the bottom of every post. This feature is built into my theme (created by Angie Makesaffil link), but if yours doesn’t have it you can easily add a plug-in to accomplish the same thing. To edit this info go to USERS>ALL USERS then click on the profile you want to edit. You can add biographical info and a head shot on this page. It’s especially handy for multi-author sites and guest posts.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR BLOG SHARE-FRIENDLY

– The very best thing you can do to help your readers share your content is to install a social media sharing plug-in. I love Shareaholic because it has every social media platform you can think of and you can install the bar above or below your content or float it on the side of your blog posts.

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Shareaholic share buttons screenshot

I really like the left side option because I feel like it’s really obvious and easy to see. I also have a simple share button bar at the bottom of my posts that is part of my theme:

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
theme share buttons screenshot

When I started blogging 10 years ago, most blogs displayed their share buttons at the bottom of their post, but these days I feel like readers expect them on the top or side where they are immediately visible and accessible.

– Go to the public side of your blog and hover over a picture. Do you see something like this?

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
Pinit button screenshot

You can get directions on how to make a Save button HERE. You can also customize buttons to match your theme.

– Do you have the Click to Tweet plug-in installed?

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
click to tweet screenshot

I LOVE this plug-in and I’m trying to get into the habit of using it more often. If I’m reading a blog post I like or visiting a party and it has a Click to Tweet box, I will almost always tweet it. That’s a big win! If you make it easy, people are happy to share your work.

– If you are a food blogger (or even if you dabble), you MUST to get a plug-in for recipe cards. This astonishes me. I visit blogs with gorgeous photography and yummy sounding recipes. Cooking appears to the main focus of the blog and yet….there is no way to print a recipe? Whaaaat?

– And my last tip is…..you’ve got to have decent photos. This is definitely a journey for most bloggers unless you’re a professional photographer to begin with. Most of us learn through a lot of trial and error. But even if you’re still developing your photography skills (like me), you can still be sure to include a Pinterest friendly image in every single post. By Pinterest friendly, I mean a vertical image somewhere between 600-800 pixels wide and 1000-2500 pixels long. Make sure it’s not blurry and pick a photo that helps to “sell” your post. Head over to Pinterest and stalk your favorite successful bloggers. Chances are good that they are using eye catching vertical images for all their pins. Vertical images take up more real estate in the feed and are therefore more likely to be clicked on. Did you know that If your images are too small, readers will not be able to pin them at all? True story.  And don’t forget to watermark them!

You also want to make sure that YOUR description is the one that gets picked up when someone pins your image. For a while I couldn’t figure out why I was putting my descriptions into each image, but they weren’t being pulled when the image was pinned.

Are you making these 5 big blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing your posts?
ALT TAG screenshot

I realized that the description you want to show up for your pin does not go in the DESCRIPTION box, which is a little counter-intuitive. Your title and your description should all go in the ALT TEXT box. Once I realized my mistake, I went back and edited most of the photos on my blog.

And that’s pretty much how blogging works – you do the best you can and you keep learning and refining your work, improving as you go along. To quote Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better”. I know she’s referring to how you behave as a person, not blogging, but it applies here too. And I love her. 🙂

For more useful insight into how user-friendly your blog is, head over to Peek.UserTesting.com. Enter your URL and within an hour you’ll get a FREE video that shows you a real user’s impressions of you blog. I was really nervous about doing this, but my review actually came out great, with a couple of helpful minor suggestions.

So how did you do? Are you guilty of any of these 5 big blogging mistakes? What was YOUR biggest mistake when you first got started?

Are you making these 5 BIG blogging mistakes that discourage your readers from commenting and sharing?

I’m linking this post up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.

Julie Briggs signature

About Julie

Julie is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, former newspaper columnist, black belt bargain hunter, voracious reader, gardener, music lover, foodie, wino, avid party thrower, hopeless romantic, closet Parrot Head and DIY machine.

  • Great tips, Julie – thank you for sharing mine! 🙂

  • Stacey Keeling

    Awesome post, Julie! Pinning. 🙂

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  • Merit Weidman Kirkpatrick

    You are so right about leaving a blog where it is too hard to comment. I am ashamed to admit I have even left when their pages take too long to load (short attention span!) but I took away some great tips from your post that will make my blog a better place to visit. Thanks for sharing your blogging wisdom with us at #HomeMattersParty

    • Merit, I know exactly what you mean – and that’s part of why I wrote the post. I feel guilty when I leave without commenting, but what are you supposed to do when you can’t easily figure out how to do it?

  • Sahana

    I should take care of lot of things in my blog.Thank you for sharing this, Julie. I am going to work on it.

  • MICHELLE JAMES

    Thanks Julie! I learned a lot & just tried the test of my blog. Great info!! #HomeMattersParty

  • Crystal Mendez

    Great idea to do the user testing! Going to try it out now. #HomeMattersParty

  • J J

    YES! Thank you for sharing these! Thank you especially for sharing the “please make it easy to leave a comment’ info. I can’t tell you how many blogs I go to and I can’t figure out how to leave a comment. – Jeanne #HomeMattersParty

  • Julie, these are AWESOME tips! I agree, your name and face should be easily visible–one of my pet peeves. Your are spot on with all of these tips. And yes, if there is a Click-To-Tweet, I’m tweeting. Thanks for sharing and co-hosting at the #HomeMattersParty – we appreciate you! 🙂

    ~Lorelai
    Life With Lorelai

  • bee15

    wow! what a comprehensive post! so much great info and tips – especially the note about share buttons being on the side or top now more than bottom. Mine are at the bottom and after reading this, I’m going to look into how to change it to the former. thanks so much for sharing these tips this week at #homemattersparty! xx Bee

    • bee15 – I don’t think there is a right or wrong place to put the share bar. But – if you’ve got a long post with a ton of pictures, it’s a lot easier to grab the buttons at the top rather than having to scroll through everything else.

  • Nicki

    I loved reading this post, and your approach to writing it. Thanks for sharing at the Totally Terrific Tuesday party, please come back again next week! Pinning this!

  • Cynthia Chilson Finger

    These are all great tips. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • DazzleWhileFrazzled

    Ha! I agree about visiting blogs where I have searched high and low for a comment form only to give up and leave. Great series of tips! I don’t have a signature yet. I’ll put it on the list! 🙂

  • Cortne Trout

    Thanks for posting this Julie! I’m a new blog and a minimalist but want my readers to become followers and keep coming back! This is all great info and seriously appreciated!

  • Patty

    These are good reminders for all of us, Julie! I think share buttons really are super important for all bloggers! Thanks for the pointers and the post!

  • Jessica

    These are great tips! You mentioned some things that I see other bloggers doing, but I wasn’t sure how to do, so thanks! I’m pinning for future reference!

  • Hi Julie, Such great tips! I use comment luv. Which I love because it allows bloggers to share a link to their posts when commenting. I’m sure this post will help a lot of bloggers. Again, great tips & recommended plugins. I pinned & shared your post. Thanks so much for sharing it at the #InspriationSpotlight party. See you again soon!

    • You know, I used to use Comment Luv and I really liked it – I stopped because it didn’t play nice with Disqus. I wonder if that has been resolved, do you happen to know?

  • lol, Julie I read your title and “probably” was the word that ran through my head! There is so much to do, and much more to learn. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips! Pinning.
    ~Laurie

  • Excellent post Julie. I also agree with a lot of what you say here. It drives me crazy when I want to leave a comment and do not know the bloggers name because it is so well hidden. Also the share buttons are hidden somewhere or not at all. I love the convenience of having them on the side and they go with you as you scroll, but when someone puts them on the bottom or top it can be a scavenger hunt to find them. I use SumoMe. I am going to share this in a number of groups too because we can all learn a few things.

  • Maria Brittis

    Great post! I think I have most of it covered, but I am sure I am not doing other things to improve my blog, its truly overwhelming
    Maria

  • Can I get a hallelujah! Doing this link party you have no idea how many times I want to leave a (albeit) nice comment saying PLEASE let me login to your damn dashboard fix the width of freaking blog. Or add google analytics or widen your sidebar and add share buttons for pete sake! And my biggest one, the hidden comment system or the blogger who has it set to auto default that when you leave them a comment it signs me up for their damn newsletter. Whew, that felt good to say! LOL Great post Julie!

    • Hahaha….I know what you mean. I’ve ended up subscribing to a lot of newsletters by accident.

      I think the missing share buttons on the biggest issue though. I belong to blog groups that hold weekly share threads and I’m always baffled when someone leaves a link to a great post and says, “I would love Facebook shares or Tweets”, and yet there are no share buttons to be found.

  • Michelle Leslie

    Thank you so much Julie for the great tips. Spot on and there’s definitely a few things I need to look at again.

  • You might also want to copy and paste your description in the TITLE box of the photos because that’s what Tailwind (pinterest scheduler) uses instead of the ALT TAG. I also drop it in to the DESCRIPTION box and I do it for EVERY PHOTO just to be safe.

    • I’ve never tried Tailwind, I didn’t know that Audrey – thanks for the tip! 🙂

      • even if you don’t use it, many people are so it helps to get your message across with one extra paste into the “title” box

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  • Love My Mess

    Excellent tips – I’ve got to be more aware about the alt text in my pictures and making sure they are pin worthy!!!

  • Carol Lander

    Julie, great post. I agree with you on all your points, especially the no~name thing. I hate trying to Pin a post and not finding the Pin hover on an image. Gee I hope I have everything covered. Do you check other people’s posts for them? Thanks so much for sharing at Your Inspired Design Link Party.

  • Keri Roberts

    Julie, these blogging tips are great!! Right now I’m having trouble with my theme’s comment section, as you know, but I hope to remedy that soon. 🙂 I agree with all these tips, they’re all very important to having an awesome blog that people can connect with.

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  • Sherry Nappa

    Great post, Julie. I’m guilty of a couple of these things. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. I pinned your article to my Blogging 101 board.

  • Daphne Bryson

    Good Evening Julie, It is lovely to meet you. I popped over and decided to visit, after finding you, whilst visiting other friends. Oh dear, I can see one thing which I don’t do and that is all the ‘bits and pieces’ you have as a side bar. Facebook, Pinterest etc. I am self taught and I love writing and sharing my blog, but I do find it hard to keep up with the ever changing blogging world.
    With your advice, I am going to install, in the very near future, my Facebook etc. Wish me luck.
    Best wishes
    Daphne

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  • Tania Pelletier

    Great post Julie. I agree with many of these. I do use blogger however and plan to stay with them so I can only hope that they will improve their commenting soon :o)

    Tania

  • Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    Great points, Julie. But I would go a step further with your “Install Disqus.” I would add “and install the ‘I’d rather post as a guest’ option” as you have done. I hate reading a great post, wanting to comment and then not being able to without logging in, using a password, etc. Kudos.