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?
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 these 5 BIG Blogging Mistakes?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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:
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.
At the end of every post you can add an image with your personalized “signature”. I made mine using PicMonkey (affil link).
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:
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.
This little mini bio box appears at the bottom of every post. This feature is built into my theme (created by Angie Makes – affil 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.
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:
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?
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?
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.
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?