Whenever I am checking out new sites, I always get thinking about things people shouldn’t do on their own blogs, or the mistakes I made when I first started blogging.
Some are design elements, content formatting and just plain publishing. I’m sure there are a lot more, but as you review your own blog, keep these 13 things in mind.
There is nothing worse than a blog that is not user-friendly. You can have stellar content, but if it’s hard to access, if your blog is clunky and navigation problems turn your readers away, well, what’s the point?
13 Things A Blogger Shouldn’t Do
Don’t clutter your navigation bar with too many choices.
Like the 5-year-old who is offered 12 choices of ice cream flavors, most readers are paralyzed if they are confronted with too many options. And when they pause in indecision, the normal reaction is to just get the heck out of there because things are becoming way too complicated.
Make sure people know who you are and what you do right away.
I’m a fan of knowing what the heck a blog is about when I land on it. Whether it’s your header, the name of your blog or your tagline, give it to me quickly and simply.
Don’t go on bold or italicize overload.
The best use of bolds and italics is when you want to highlight a thought or point. But all italics is very hard to read. Use these formats sparingly and only when you want your readers to focus on an important piece of content.
Don’t add social media connection icons if you aren’t active on those platforms.
This would seem like a no-brainer, but I actually have clients ask me to put “those cool buttons” on their blog. Sometimes when I ask them, “Do you tweet regularly?,” they’ll say, “I don’t actually have a Twitter account, but I noticed them on my friend Mary’s site and I liked them.”
Don’t Bury your contact info deep in the footer in 6-point font.
If it isn’t big and in-their-face, they are not going to search for it. Make it super easy to contact you because if you don’t, well, that defeats the purpose of your blog. At the minimum, make it highly visible—on your homepage, in your navigation bar, and in a link on your about page.
Don’t spell out your email address so the harvesters can sneak in and grab it.
These annoying people are looking for ways to build their email lists, send bulk mail, sell products for profit, and even commit fraud through phishing and other schemes. Some effective ways to stop harvesting are to spell out the words “dot” and “com” or put your email address in an image.
Don’t clutter your sidebars with useless widgets.
Amazing as it seems, some bloggers are still in the world of what-I-like instead of what-my-readers-will-like. Every widget should serve a purpose and contribute to the goal of keeping readers on your site and moving them toward more of your content. So no “Top 10 Elvis Songs,” or “Daily Temperatures in Belize,” unless they have something to do with your site’s content (for instance, a blog about 50s rock and roll or a Central American travel blog).
And consider using custom sidebars.
Don’t forget to make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog.
If you goal is to build an email list, make sure people can easily sign up to your blog. This can be done in the sidebar, at the end of posts, or yes, even a popup. Maybe it’s as simple as a menu item. If not, even a simple RSS icons will suffice.
Don’t show your Facebook or Twitter feed if the last time you posted something was 6 months ago and it was what you ate for breakfast.
Be active and current on the social media platforms you choose to connect with readers. They should serve as voices to extend your blog’s brand. People who visit your blog and decide to follow you will likely be wanting to know more about what you blog about. The people who care about your personal life and pleasures, they will find you anyway.
Don’t forget to add share buttons and make it easy for readers to share your content.
Sure, people aren’t sharing as much via these buttons, but don’t make them search for ways to push your content out when they are ready. If they can do it in one click, they will be more likely to pass your excellent content along to others in their networks.
Don’t use large, dark backgrounds with lots of hard-to-read white text.
Aside from making you look so 1990s, a blog with white letters on a black background will have most people looking cross-eyed after about five seconds. I am surprised at how often I still see this.
Don’t create a stiff and boring About Page.
It if often the second-highest viewed page on your blog, after your homepage. This is your chance to let your readers in closer and show them some of your personality. Remember, your goal is to be so intriguing that they will want to contact you.
And finally, don’t hit that publish button on a blog post until you are ready to send it out into the world.
Remember, once it’s out there, there’s no going back. If you have doubts, refrain from hitting that button right away. Let it sit a while and come back to it.
An audio option for this post.