If you've been following along for the past few weeks, we've been breaking down the elements of a good blog each Tuesday. [For reference, here's the past three posts on Design & Template, Content Editing & Widgets.]
In this, the fourth and final installment, I'm going to wrap things up with our picks for the finishing touches that really round-out a “good blog.” We've covered what I believe are the meat-and-potatoes of a solid blog foundation. When you've got a great layout, your content is compelling, quick and gramatically correct and your site is a synch to navigate, you're ready to start adding what I'll call the cherry on top. Although, a cherry on top of meat and potatoes does not sound appatizing to me at all. But you get the idea.
7 Final Touches For A Good Blog:
1. Use Original Photos.
When I first started blogging, I didn't really have any back-log of images to post. I hadn't taken any outfit photos or anything like that. To create my content, I did what most of us do (and I still do sometimes): I pulled images from the internet. I used them to illustrate my points, round up trend ideas and make collages. Everyone does this, and it's a totally legitimate component to any style blog. What I'm saying is this: take it a step beyond. Start taking your own photos. Outfit posts are an easy way to start, as is taking your own street style photos. Does a DSLR help? Sure. Is it necessary? No way. Use a photo editor to enhance point-and-shoot images.
2. Own Your Social Media.
We have talked ad-nosium about the importance of social media, but I think it bears repeating that it's an indespensible tool for bloggers. Develop your voice and personality and be active! [Here's my post on tips for being a social media butterfly.]
3. Buy your URL.
As you start to build your blog's brand, owning your URL (taking off the .blogspot or .wordpress) is a powerful component of your total package. It makes it easier for people to find you through search engines and follow all aspects of your online persona. Visit sites like Go Daddy or Register.com to look into buying a URL.
4. Compelling Blog Name & Post Titles.
At this point you've probably already named your blog, and I bet it's brilliant. It should be short, snappy, cute, and enticing! For help with coming up with great post titles, see Debie and I's video post.
5. Commenting & Responding To Readers.
Keeping up with the people who keep up with you is a key part of growing your blog and establishing a great network. Make sure you're reading your comments and take note of people who take the time to keep returning and leaving notes. If it's relevant, return the favor or give them a shout out on Twitter. On that same note, it's polite and professional to respond to reader emails within a day, or two days at the most.
6. Make It Easy To Find Older Posts.
Using a widget, gadget or advanced search tool is a great way to make it easier for your readers to access older posts. Many blogs have a feature where at the end of each post, there's a list of suggested posts with similar content.
7. Build Your Network.
There's an expression I frequently use when it comes to blogging: putting the cart before the horse. Grace explained this brilliantly in her post last week, but you've got to build great content and then great community. Any business-person will tell you it's important to have a great product before you start marketing it. Once you're confident that you can sell your blog as an amazing, well-written, gorgeous and easy-to-use site, then get out there and werk it.