Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By the Book - A Few Blogging Tips

Pin It There are times I find myself judging blogs by their header and general layout—the cardinal sin in some of my teacher’s eyes while taking part in my own adolescence.

“Never judge books by their covers, you just might be surprised by what you get.” I can recall several teachers saying—most of them sounding like Mrs. Flickenger, from 7th grade homeroom on the third floor of that worn-out brick, middle school building.

I remember making our weekly excursions to the school library; I’d find myself perusing titles, pulling out a few which sounded interesting, but then putting them back if the cover didn’t look quite interesting enough. Rarely would I give a story a chance if it couldn’t catch my eye long enough for more than a quick once-over.

I find that blogs seem to do the same thing for me. There are those that I give the author a chance with one or two posts, but if the layout doesn’t catch my eye, then I find myself clicking over someplace else.

Can I just mention a few things that seem to spruce up a blog and make it a bit more friendly?

Now, these are not – by any means – a comprehensive list. However, these are a few things I’ve learned over the years of reading – and writing – blogs which turn me off to blogs in general which might be of help to you.

Of course, this might just be a list of pet peeves so take it all with a grain of salt.

1. If you choose to have music on your blog, don’t have your player automatically start music when someone arrives at your page. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to another person’s blog and I’m accosted with music. Often when I’m reading, I’m already playing music and find it distracting and annoying when the player on the person’s site automatically starts to belt out tunes—clashing and colliding with that with which I am already listening to. I find myself even more annoyed when I click to another page only to have the same first song in the player start all over again.

Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor…if you choose to have a music player, change the settings so that it doesn’t start automatically. You may think that you’re helping us all out by letting us all listen to your favorite song (or the one you think we should all hear) and while this is all well and good, let your readers decide to push the play button and don’t do it for them; in the end you will end up losing many readers.

2. In your settings, make sure you have the whole text available in your feed. There are days I find myself struggling to keep up with the blogs I am subscribed to. It is so much easier for me to read them in Google Reader instead of clicking on each site. If I have several posts on one blog to read and am only given the first 250 words, I will often not go to the site and will just instead click ‘mark all as read.’ My time is valuable and I don’t want to click on every post. I know that people do this because they want people to come to their blog and perhaps leave a message. Trust me, if I want to say something about what you’ve written, I will. I’ll take the time to come to your blog if I feel so inclined.

3. I love blogs that have an interesting layout. Photos and other media can really spruce up a blog and from there I will usually poke around a bit and decide if it’s someplace I want to frequently visit. However, if your site is buried in ads or cluttered to oblivion, I most usually won’t return unless the content is mesmerizing.

Often, less really is more.


4. If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything. If you are away from your blog for a week, that’s okay. If I enjoy your writing, I don’t need explanations or a quick blog of, “I haven’t been here and I don’t have anything to say.” Good friends don’t need explanations like that – others don’t necessarily want to read over messages like that either. We all have lives away from blogging and if you need to be away for awhile, that’s okay. (I might be guilty of this one a time or two).

5. Spell check.

Whn u dont check you’re speling, it makes ur blog look more like a IM mesage frum a forth gradr

Yeah, enough said on that one.

While these are just a few basic ideas in the realms of blogging, hopefully they will be things that will help you in your own blogging journey. Just remember, your blog is your blog…ultimately, it needs to be a place where you enjoy coming to write, but if you want to have returning visitors, remember try not to do those things which might drive off potential readers.

What did I miss? If there’s a do or don’t you can think of which should have been added, please feel free to mention these in the comment section.

BTW, I am also posting today over at Four Perspectives. Don't worry, it's short and can be read in about 12 seconds.



Rhoda said...

Amen on #1...I'll have to check the rest of my blog for the other ideas. I actually like people giving me advice on what would make something better. Thanks!

Oilfield Trash said...

That is all really great advice. Especially the music bit, that drives me nuts sometimes with all of of the music going on peoples blogs.

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Good list. I keep my computer audio set to "mute" just for musical blogs because they drive me crazy, but one of my favorite bloggers has music.

I would add: don't say anything on your blog that you wouldn't be willing to shout out loud in the middle of the mall. Sometimes I read blogs where people are airing their personal junk and it just makes me feel icky.

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

Amen to the music one. I have to check my post setting for Google Reader. Thanks for the tips.

Kristina P. said...

I am totally guilty of #2. I need to change my feed. I don't know why I haven't done it. I need to take the leap and finally do it!

Just SO said...

Great information. I agree. I want to go in and give my blog a make-under...just don't have the time. I haven't even had the time to post.

Shannon said...

Is it wrong that I wanted to go back to my blog and change everything to go against your suggestions...just to be rebellious and make waves?

Rachel said...

Phew! You just gave me permission to not have to go and explain on my blog why I've been away for a few days. :D And probably will be for a few more days....... I've got things goin' on man!!

Good points. All of them.

Cherie said...

Right with you on most everything and ESPECIALLY the music and the spelling! Both definate pet peeves of mine.

Joan said...

The music thing drives me nuts. It might sound silly, but I feel almost violated! ;)

Also, I have to say I am so glad my readers stick around, even when I take breaks for weeks at a time.

Connie said...

Great. I don't know how to do #2! However, I agree with #1. Right now I'm listening to my own music and just left a blog that had music playing. Not fun.
#3 There are some blogs that take FOREVER to download because there's so much "stuff" on it!
#5 PET PEEVE!! There's one great blogger who ALWAYS writes definately!!!After typing it, there's a nice squiggly red line under it. Why doesn't she right click on it and change it to the correct spelling?
I like the comment box like yours. You're still able to go back to the blog to check out facts before sending off your comment.
I didn't forget #4. I just don't have anything to say about it! :)
Thanks for the tips Mr. Z.

Laura Anne said...

I completely concur with statement numero uno! I cannot tell you how startling it is to click onto a blog late in the evening and suddenly be reminded that the speakers are on loud from earlier in the day when music starts playing, I'm surprised I haven't had a heart attack.

Mamma has spoken said...

Wanta come see me and help me with my blog layout? Seriously, I am so computer stupid, I don't know how to do half of what you just said :o(

Kelly said...

I totally agree with all of your advise. You are obviously a wise blogger indeed. I am not sure if I do #2 or not... That sounded bad. I mean everyone does number two but that's not what I meant : )

Have a good day.

M-Cat said...

I agree on every single point. And now I should check my blog to make sure I am not too cluttered. I will say, I hate ads. Really hate ads.

Karen said...

I agree with Kristina. She really needs to change her feed.

Actually, I agree with this whole post. The quickest way to guarantee I'll make a hasty exit from a blog is to auto-play the music.

And don't get me started on spell check.

Cheeseboy said...

Great, great advice. I totally agree with it all. I am proud to say that I already do all of that. I too especially HATE the music on blogs when I get there.

Personally, I like a white background. Too glitzy of a background is distracting. Especially polka dots and crud like that.

novidiac said...

Ditto to all. You make some very good points that we could all do well to consider! Perhaps you could offer your services and come give our blogs a grade?? With plenty of constructive criticism comments of course. We're all after improving ourselves I'm sure!

One you didn't mention that I get complaints about is length. But then it's usually family and they're not so tactfully saying, 'get to the point'. But even that is helpful input I find... sometimes.

Stef said...

Alright. My blog is totally not attractive or inviting in any way. I admit it. I don't really know what to do. It doesn't help that I am a cheap skate.

I agree with you on the whole advertising stuff. If there is a load crap on the site, I leave. If I wanted to be bombarded by advertisments, I would turn on the tv.

I read blogs at work so the whole music coming on is not a good thing. I always am scrambling to turn it off.

Teachinfourth said...

Thanks for the great comments, guys. There are a few other things you mentioned that I hadn't thought of when I originally wrote this post. Of course, there was a period of time when I was guilty of several of these.

I was going to mention word verification, but when I turned mine off I was inundated with Spam. Yeah, I'll probably never do that again.

T said...

Oi - have I got some serious work to do on my blog... I mean, I knew that BEFORE... but yeah - SERIOUS work needing to be done (and no time, $, or knowledge of how to accomplish it!)

tammy said...

I'm with you on all of these.

Pedaling said...

love this post so much i'm thinking of linking to it from my site...the music thing- my number one pet peeve!

Life with Kaishon said...

I have a lot of things I don't like : )
So, I will just say this:
I love your blog.
I love what you do with your job...and with your life.

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