3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog in 2011

This post is by Leia's Delights

 

With the coming of a new year, we inevitably make resolutions – e.g. get to the gym more often, spend more time with family, go traveling, etc. Why not make a resolution to improve your fashion blog, too? I'm definitely no expert but as I've been blogging for a couple of years and on two different blogs, I thought I'd share a few tips that I picked up along the way in the hopes that they might help you improve your blog in 2011!

1. Remove word verification

You get spam. I get spam. We all get spam. It's annoying, I know, but it only takes a second to delete it (Blogger's new Spam button = fabulous). And removing your spam filter makes it a million times easier for those legitimate commenters to leave you a nice little note. Do it!

Editor's note: If spam is a problem, enable comment moderation. WordPress has a great spam blocker called Akismet that really helps curb the spam.

 

2. Make your contact information easy to find

Readers, other bloggers, and advertisers should be able to easily get in touch with you. Make sure your e-mail address is placed prominently on your blog, and include links to your Twitter/Facebook pages if you use them. Alternatively, you could place all the relevant info in your ‘About' section, as long as the link to that is placed above the fold on your home page.

If you use Blogger, make sure you include your e-mail address on your profile page. That way, if you leave a comment on someone else's blog, they can easily reply to you via e-mail.

3. Take your own pictures

Unless you are posting something that is incredibly rare and unique or trying to illustrate a very specific point, there is really no reason to snag pictures from the web (e.g. Style.com, WeHeartIt, etc.) on a regular basis and use them in your posts. You don't have to post pictures of yourself (although I'm a hearty advocate of outfit photos… and I like to see your faces! 🙂 ) but pictures that you have taken yourself are preferable to any other type of picture.

 

Once you have your own pictures… find the perfect size for them. There is one particular blog that takes ages to load because the pictures are huge. And when (if) they do finally load, I have to scroll down three or four times before I can see the entire outfit. Outfit posts make a much better impact if you can see the entire thing from top to toe!

 

Of course, there are tons more ways to improve your blog, but if you follow these three, you will have original content and you will make it easier for readers to get in touch with you about how amazing your content is. It's win-win!

Wishing you lots of blog success in 2011!

 

Image by by foxandfeathers (maybe IFB needs to start taking our own pics!)

 

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60 Responses

  1. LoveBrownSugar

    Great article Leia! Glad to say I’m doing all three. The contact info one is SO important. Another thing I’d like to add about contact info, speaking from my experiences having to comb through websites for them, is to opt for an actual email address to give people as opposed to a Contact Form. I really hate contact forms, they feel so impersonal :/

    Reply
    • de la Pen

      I agree! I’m also utilizing all these tips as well. Contact forms are only necessary for big companies and even then they turn me off. Whether you’re a million dollar corporation or blogger, people need to feel like they can contact you and please don’t make them feel like you’ll never see their email by using a contact form.

      Reply
  2. Elle

    Great tips Leia! When I first started my blog, I had comment approval on, but a couple of months ago I decided that I could just deal with whatever comments I got and delete them as necessary and I’ve never gotten anything mean or overly spammy… I think I’ve had the opposite problem with my photos in the past- too small to see detail!

    Reply
  3. Leia

    @LoveBrownSugar Not sure if you will see this, but I *totally* agree – e-mail addresses are much better than contact forms! I suppose the latter helps cut down on spam, though (?) – can’t think of any other reason why they would be used.

    Reply
  4. Renee | Beauty Fool

    Great article, Leia! I am trying to take my own photos too since my Dad very kindly bought me a DSLR for Christmas. Like you, I like looking at the blogger’s faces and personal photos seem a bit more real, like what blogging is all about!

    Like the ed’s note, I’ll also have to add that Akismet is superb spam plugin… I’ve never had an spam problems, it’s amazing! Unfortunately it’s only for WordPress users, though, but if there are any WP users, do check it out! 🙂

    xx Renee

    Reply
  5. Leia

    @Renee A DSLR? *seethes with jealousy* I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes blogging to be a bit more personal.

    @Bella Q I’m not sure what size is ‘perfect.’ Right now I’m using 640×480 which I think is suitably big to see quite a lot of detail, but not so huge that it takes a long time to load/lots of scrolling to get through. I’m interested to hear what other people think is the ‘perfect’ size, though!

    Reply
  6. Gemma

    Making your contact information easy to find
    is a fantastic idea. I wanted to feature a few other bloggers on my blog and I couldn’t find an email address for them at all and I had to leave a comment instead which takes much longer to respond to.
    Something so simple makes a big difference. As soon as I put an email address in my ‘about me’ on blogger I was contacted by a few companies who wanted to sponsor giveaways.

    I think taking your own pictures is so much better and gives your blog a more unique and personal feel. I love seeing new clothing collections in editorials but I much prefer seeing how people have styled the clothes themselves.

    Reply
  7. Black Gardenia

    Great Suggestions! I keep going back and forth on how many photos to put in postings… you are so right about the size though, it makes all the difference!

    Reply
  8. Fajr | Stylish Thought

    Great practical tips! Especially #3 which I must get better at. Not having a DSLR makes it difficult to take quality photos so getting one is on my must-have list for 2011. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  9. Hayles

    Great post! You’ve mentioned two of my biggest dislikes as well here – comment verification and “stock”/”found” photos.
    I would rather use my own photos to illustrate a blog post if possible, because
    (a) I don’t have to worry that someones going to complain at me for using their photos
    (b) I don’t want to use the same photo as everyone else seems to have (look at the posts saying Happy New Year – in my Google Reader, there were a lot of similar looking posts!)
    (c) Sometimes its actually fun to have to think about what you can use to illustrate the blog post!

    Reply
  10. Hayles

    Oh, and for those saying that they don’t have an SLR – I use my iPhone quite a bit to take photos, usually just using the pictures I sent to Instagram or modifying them with Picnik on my computer (both free to use as well!)

    Reply
  11. Eli

    thanks for the tips – I’ve been meaning to take off the word verification for quite some time now. Done and done.

    Reply
  12. Amy COAFE

    Now that I have a camera, I definitely need to get in to the habit of taking my own photos! A really interesting post, Leia 🙂

    Reply
  13. fuyume

    I agree pretty much with most of what you said. But as for the photo thing I think thats really only applicable in certain case. e.g. if your blog is mainly an ootd blog I feature alot of japanese fashion/designers and due to geography using ‘found’ photos is my only option xx

    Reply
  14. eyeliah

    I totally agree about word verification, they drive me crazy!!
    I use Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin which just has readers click “I am not a robot”, saves me 20 minutes a day of ridding the spam.
    And my facebook “likes” are up 5% in one day of adding a link on my blogs front page.

    Reply
  15. Shope Delano

    Such great tips! Im new to IFB and came across this and your so right! I’ve just added my contact details, and taken my word verification of, and my pictures are slightly small? I think i may make them bigger!

    Thanks – lovely tips, just need to save up for my DSLR in 2011!

    http://londonscloset.blogspot.com

    Reply
  16. Vanja Stace

    Great tips! I take my own photos and the response is always great. Sometimes though it’s good to use collection pics in interviews etc. Photos you take yourself do have to have a level of professionalism (even if it’s just great lighting) otherwise they could look too homemade-family-snap which is a totally different aesthetic.

    I definitely agree re captcha. What I also found stops me from commenting is that many Blogger hosted blogs don’t allow a Name and URL ID as a verification tool. I have a self hosted site and no Open iD or Blogger ID so I can’t comment on many great blogs. That for me is a real shame because a great post deserves feedback.

    Reply
    • Ria

      The no Name/URL feed is my BIGGEST peeve since blogging became popular because a lot of people blog on blogspot but I’ve had my own website/space since I was a kid. It’s not cool to leave out people who actually host themselves/design their own space.

      Luckily I have a Livejournal so I use that as my Open ID if I really feel like commenting but usually I’ll just skip it.

      Reply
  17. JayMarie

    Great tips! #2 is really important became I find it hard at times to contact bloggers about featuring their post in a weekly roundup.

    And #3 is a great tip! I already see the pics on the web, in magazines and on weheartit; I’d like to see other stuff as well!

    Again, great tips!
    <3

    Reply
  18. WendyB

    I bet you don’t get spam like I get spam. The word “Jewelry” is a big draw for spammers — in fact, I’ve been accused of being spam myself by Technorati and Google just because I have the word Jewelry in my blog title. And Akismet doesn’t do anything to stop the really smart spam that I first encountered last year, where actual humans are apparently hired to write often intelligent, even humorous comments that just happen to lead back to bad websites. I’ll keep my word verification, thanks!

    Reply
  19. stylefyles

    I wish everyone followed the word verification tip.

    It literally dissuades me from commenting on certain blogs. …. or at least regularly. Blogs that don’t have word verification get far more comments from me (and I suspect others overall).

    Good tip about a prominent email address, too. My page is in sore need of a redesign and that would be one of my updates!

    Reply
  20. Bree

    Couldn’t agree more with #1! Word verification and CAPTCHAs are essentially comment speed-humps. Slows conversation down, and is off-putting.

    Reply
  21. Suzie Salmon

    Great tips. Thanks.I especially agree that original pictures are preferable to snagging other people’s material, UNLESS you are referencing that material as a jumping off point for something you did and it is followed with your own picture of how that “something” turned out. Even then, that technique should be used sparingly. As for a camera, my iPhone worked great but my DSLR has really added to what I am trying to express. If your content is primarily visual, I think it’s worth the investment.
    Cheers,
    Suzie
    @UrbanCntryStyle

    Reply
  22. JaclynK

    These are great tips. I never thought about removing the spam filter on comments, but it is such a good idea. I know I’ve tried to comment on other people’s blogs before, but I couldn’t post anything because the word verification wouldn’t load correctly.
    Definitely agree about the photos as well. Part of the fun is taking your own shots and tweaking them to tell your own story.

    -Jaclyn
    http://stayinthelines.blogspot.com

    Reply
  23. Style Maniac

    Word verification isn’t ideal but I find it preferable to spam (which slams my site whenever I do disable WV). Comment moderation, however, turns me off. What is it the blog author has to “approve”? Do they really get that many negative comments? Plus, after taking the time to write a comment, don’t you want to make sure it’s actually gone through? That being said, if I love a blog I’ll put up with it.

    Adding easy contact info with an email link is great advice. Really helps to build a community. (note; If you comment using a Blogger Profile, make sure you allow replies to your email address rather than “no-comment blogger” and a link to your site.)

    The photo issue is a tricky one. Bad photos really hurt a blog, I think. I work hard at taking my own photos–and edit them ruthlessly–but I’m certainly no professional photographer. My solution is to mix up the images: some mine, some vintage, some culled from book and magazine archives, some personally requested from artists and photographers, some from a wide variety of online sources. For photos found online, unless it’s a commercial brand I’m essentially giving free PR to, I attempt to trace the photo back to the original source (not always easy or possible) and ask permission for use. So far no one has said no. Even with all that though, I have of course posted an image that then seems to suddenly appear everywhere. But just as classic tales like Romeo & Juliet or Cinderella can be retold countless different ways, when you select carefully and pair your own words and viewpoint with a great image it can become something unique … and wonderful.

    Reply
  24. Style Maniac

    p.s. kind of funny–although it seems my {rather long!} comment has appeared above, under my name is the sentence: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” ???

    Reply
  25. Shilpi

    I agree totally! Although I am guilty of stealing pictures from the web, they’re strictly inspirations though (and I do give them credit).

    Anyways, that was great advice! thanks

    Reply
  26. Alynne

    I agree! I dislike having to type in those silly little words in order to leave a comment 🙁 I’d rather get the spam than lose the opportunity to hear from someone!

    Reply
  27. Emily

    Fab post Leia!! 🙂 I took word verification off a while ago but do have comment moderation as I seem to get an inordinate amount of spam! I have my email address on my About page and Advertising page and people still say they can’t find it!! Might have to add it to my Home page too!!

    Reply
  28. Estava morioka

    Great post. I have to work on number three as well. A lot of times it’s easier the get pics from the net on the fly. It’s just gonna take a bit more planning on my part.

    Reply
  29. Sophie

    Leia you have made a very god point of using own images, I think its great to see a bit of posing from everybody 🙂 i also think by allowing comments is a grat wa of interacting with anybody that reads your blog, so good post!!

    Reply
  30. Kirstin Marie

    Great tips! I hate the word verification. It makes the comment page take longer to load, sometimes…depending on where I am. Thanks for this article!!

    Reply
  31. de la Pen

    Also for those who can’t afford an SLR, I have a FujiFilm FinePix camera and it’s AMAZING! It takes great photos and it’s not as complex as an SLR. An SLR is great if you’re rich or if you want to become a serious photographer but if you just need to take pics for outfit posts please check it out.

    I got mine at Target for less than $200 and I have 2 year warranty that covers camera damage for 2 years. The warranty only cost $17 dollars. Every pic on my blog since October of 201 was taken with that camera (with the exception of borrowed internet images).

    Reply
  32. natalie

    This is such a helpful list! I started my blog awhile ago, and have been focusing more on shopping and posting other pictures. I feel self-conscious posting pictures of my outfits for some reason, but think as a 2011 resolution need to get over that! Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  33. sarah

    really good post!
    I’m already doing No1, definitely need to get No2 set up and I need to do more of 3.

    Reply
  34. Kam

    I was jsut thinking the same thing about word verifications. :))

    For those interested, i’m starting this thing called FEATURE FRIDAYS on my blog. if you want me to write about your blog, just message me 😀

    Reply
  35. Alexandra

    great pieces of advice. I’ve just realised what size should my photos be and my blog already looks better. Also, I don’t have spam verification, and ever since I took I out I didn’t get any kind of spam. And I haven’t posted any borrowed image so far. And I also try not to in the future.

    alexandra @
    shoependant.blogspot.com

    Reply
  36. commepolly

    This is very helpful. Thanks Leia!
    I have never considered removing the spam filter thing but I will surely take a look at that. Also, I will definitely start taking my own pictures. Not of me, but of small things I enjoy in my life.

    Thanks a lot!

    xcommepolly
    http://commepolly.wordpress.com

    Reply
  37. Lindsey N

    What great suggestions! I’m glad to say I’m trying all three-I need to work on the contact information part! Thanks for the great article!

    Reply
  38. sc

    i think answering a simple math question is not too bad and doesnt detur comments. but the ones that have two very hard to read words are annoying.
    if i go into a store and take pictures of the clothes, do i need to sign a release for that?

    Reply
  39. Jen O

    Thanks Leia for these 3 tips. They are like ‘things only your best friend will tell you about yourself’. Looks like I need to go in and remove that word verification that everyone loves to hate!
    (and pop my email up where it can be found).

    Reply
  40. lisa

    Like Wendy I’ve had experiences with spammers who are actual human beings, so I’m sticking to word verification.

    Reply
  41. Casee Marie

    Such a fantastic and insightful post, Leia! One of my goals for the new year was to start implementing more of my own pictures in my blog. I love personal pictures, though I’ve never felt like I was particularly good at taking them myself. It’s certainly fun to try, though!

    And when I was on Blogger I would get so many spam comments – now that I’ve moved to WordPress I don’t get nearly as much (knock on wood), but I somehow still get e-mail notifications of spam comments from Blogger despite forwarding my account to the WordPress one. It’s terrible!

    Reply
  42. matita

    Thanks for the great advice, Leia.

    I actually find the “word verification” a bit annoying but it is just a necessary evil against spam in some blogs. Fortunately, Akismet works wonderfully on my blog and I don’t have to use it.

    I’m still struggling with the 3rd advice though. But this is one of my blogging goals for 2011: take my own pics to use on the blog. I’m just one of those who’s not comfortable posting pictures of myself so I’ll have to find another subjects to photograph.=)

    Reply
  43. missy vintage

    excellent info. I have only been blogging for 3 months so far so good, but I want to see my blog develop in 2011.

    I will have a think about the word verification too.

    Reply