I've been doing this blogging thing for a little over three years now, crazy huh? And while I've taken my fair share of blogging breaks and hiatuses, I've learned a thing or two in the process. But less as a blogger and more as a blog reader. Even on my most extended breaks, I've always continuously and regularly read my favorite blogs, and still scrolled through Pinterest and Facebook clicking on new posts that caught my eye.
But so many times I find even some of my favorite blogs commit these blogging faux-pas, and I've been noticing the same mistakes being "committed" over and over again, by newbies and professionals alike! So I rounded up a list of ten mistakes that I've seen being made and then wrote this post of things that every blog should have (and most definitely needs!). Is your blog guilty of making these same mistakes?
// an about me section: this one should go without saying, but most readers are trying to get to know you as a blogger when they visit your blog, so failing to have a section or page basically prevents that from happening. A lot of times, I'll find a new blog that I love, but can't find out this blogger's name for the life of me.. or their age.. or basically anything.
// a search bar: OMG THIS ONE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! I cannot tell you HOW MANY bloggers don't have a search bar! I'm the worst at saving links I want to go back to, and so many times I just remember the blog I read the post on.. so I think, how easy.. I'll go to the blog and just search the gist of the post until I find it. But nope, no search bar. It's the most frustrating thing because I'm certainly not going to scroll through 52 pages of archives trying to find one post.
// links to your social media channels: this one is also super important because when you love a blog, you're going to want to follow them in any way possible. For me, if it's a lifestyle blogger, it'll be Twitter so I can see their posts and get their witty comments in 140 characters too.. if it's a fashion blogger, I'll follow them on Instagram.. but finding a blog you like and then having to manually search social media for them just makes it ten times harder and the likelihood of doing that decreases. I keep my links both on the sidebar and in my post signature so readers can always find it!
// categories: I tend to blog about many different topics.. and most bloggers do that! Categorizing your content makes it easier for your readers to find similar posts, and it increases the likelihood of them staying and clicking around on your site. I have over a dozen different categories, though I only show a handful on the sidebar on the right (but once I update the blog, I'll fix that..)
// a photo of you: this should definitely be included in your about page, but I encourage even having one on your homepage or in your sidebars.. What does this do? Honestly, it just puts a face to the name! When I'm reading a post, I like to visualize who the blogger is, and sometimes I can't for the life imagine who this person is, and I become less interested in the post. I keep mine with a little blurb about me, and actually link it to the about page so if anyone wants to learn more, they can!
// contact information: this is important not only for your readers, but for potential advertisers. Imagine someone visits your page, loves your work and wants to reach out to you for advice, to leave a nice comment or to potentially work with you.. but they cannot find an email anywhere. While it's important to practice internet safety, you need to have a way for readers/anyone interested to contact you (and if you're concerned about safety, there are comment forms you can install!)
// consistency throughout the blog: with this, I'm mostly referring to your social media channels and keeping the usernames consistent. No one is going to remember that you're thecarodiaries on twitter, but you're the_caro_diaries on Instagram! Try to find a username that's available on every platform so you can remain consistent and readers/fans can more easily remember you!
// large, high-quality photos: so many times, I see blogs with photos set to size "medium" or "large", but are still so much smaller than the page width. I used to do this too (look back at one of my first posts), but I've learned that it's definitely important to re-size photos properly. Even if you aren't using a professional camera, resizing photos taken on your iPhone can still do wonders for your blog (but ditch the blurry photos!)
// content that is share-able: when people like your post, they're going to want to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so it's our job as bloggers to make the content share-able. No, I'm not talking about creating "viral" posts.. I'm talking about pulling out all the stops that ensures readers can share the post if they enjoyed it. For me, that means adding social media share buttons at the bottom of every post, so they can share it in any way, shape or form they'd like. I also swear by having a pin-it hover button over all my images.. Pinterest truly is the gift that keeps on giving!
// reply-blogger set up: this is more for when you're interacting with other bloggers (which is definitely the key to doing blogging right, might I add!) but so so so many bloggers are no-reply bloggers, meaning that when you comment on a post, the blogger can't respond to you through email because your email isn't linked with your account that replied. I wrote a whole post about fixing the issue (in only five steps!) because I see it happen so often.. last week, out of 15 comments, 13 were no-reply bloggers, making it difficult for me to interact with them or create relationships with them as readers or co-bloggers. Seriously, go double check if you're an offender.. you probably are if you don't even know!
There are plenty more that every blogger must-have for their blog: a simple, easy-to-maneuver blog design, links that are differentiated from regular text, widgets for social media channels, among many others.. but those go without saying :)
What do you think? Did I miss any "must-haves" for a successful blog?