Advice for Blog Design and Blog Goals

I recently found some notes I took from an interview Darren Rowse (Problogger) did this summer with The Blog Squad and thought I’d share them with you. He has some basic, but unbelievably useful tips. The following are my notes and thoughts from his interview in August. His key points are the bold bullet points. My thoughts follow that bold type. When the notes say I this or that, they are referring to me, Melanie.

Blog Design

  • Think about what is showing above the fold. (Above the fold means the content you see when you first view the blog. It’s anything you don’t have to scroll to see.) You should be showing recent content above the fold. I see many mommy bloggers in particular who have large title banners that take up the entire space above the fold. I would suggest making these banners smaller and focusing on providing your audience with as much info as possible above the fold.
  • Make your blog sticky. Sticky means you are encouraging people to return to your blog. To make your blog sticky, create a path to more of your blog with backlinks to previous (relevant) articles. The more they read, the more likely they are to subscribe to your RSS feed. Another way to make your blog sticky is to invite readers to subscribe to your feed and make your RSS feed available with the click of a button.

Blog Goals and Advice

  • Find a niche. It’s true that there are blogs on every niche. However, if you look, you’ll see that there are holes to be filled. Find a need and fill that need. I started Blogging Basics 101 (at the urging of Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer) because there are many intermediate and advanced tech sites for bloggers, but there wasn’t a place for beginners.
  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote. I think many bloggers (mommy bloggers in particular?) find self-promotion difficult at first. The key is to find a balance between promotion and humility. If you’re in blogging for the long haul and want to make some money, you have to put yourself out there. You’ll need to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to bring attention to yourself. You will have to comment at other blog posts and become part of relevant blogging communities. You will have to toot your own horn sometimes. Be careful not to spam your friends and readers with too much, but don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself when it’s warranted. Why do you think businesses have commercials?
  • Build on what works. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new weekly columns, placement of ads on your site, or guest posts. Use your statistics programs to gauge your readers reactions. If you can’t garner information from your stats program you should a) ditch the stats program and try something new and b) ask your readers for feedback on what they like and don’t like. Then implement any ideas you receive.
  • Look for ways to extend your blog. Problogger suggests considering forums, job boards, newsletters, podcasts, and videos as ways of extending your blog’s reach.
  • Content is King! Everyone says it and it’s true: without compelling and well-written content, your blog will go nowhere. Yes, blog design is important, but they’ll stay if you have great content they need (and that ‘need’ can encompass learning or entertainment).

I have more to share with you. Stay tuned this week!