Posts Tagged ‘reader’

Content And Usability Before Blog Promotion

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I occasionally come across new bloggers who are eager to generate traffic to their blog.  They become focused on blog promotion and SEO before their blog is ready. I applaud their efforts, but I think it’s a mistake to promote your blog to prematurely.

Photo by Kelly Asmodee via Flickr

A good web site should serves a purpose.  For instance, a commercial site’s purpose might be selling some sort of products.  Without a well designed site, catalog of products, easy-to-use navigation, and secure eCommerce system, there’s no point in promoting the site because all the effort will be for naught.  Likewise, your blog serves a purpose — may be you want it to tell your story, share your interest or your expertise.  The commonality is that all blogs need some kind of content; as such, you should have at least a few good posts on your blog before you even attempt to promote it. And don’t even worry about SEO until you have sizable number of posts.

In addition to content, you should also design the blog for usability.  In general, blogs are well designed out of the box, but there are a few things you could do to improve it further:

  • Choose a professional looking theme
  • Navigation is clear and consistent
  • Feed subscription button is clearly visible, preferably above the fold
  • Search box is available and easy to find
  • Archive is easily accessible (I prefer a simple link in the navigation bar that links to a full archive page)
  • There is no unfinished posts
  • All links are working

By focusing on your content and usability first, you are giving your visitors good reasons to become readers, and hopefully, they’ll come back in the future.

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Want to be a Good Blogger? Be a Good Reader

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

One of the most important concepts in producing successful creative works is to know your audience. If you know what they want, and what will encourage them to do what you want, then you know what to produce.


Photo by delgaudm via Flickr

In blogging, once you get going, you can know your audience by their comments. But what about the early stages, before your blog has many commentators? The simple solution is to become your audience — read widely in the niche that you want to write in, and then think about why you act on them in the way that you do.

Ideas to Try Out

Subscribe to a few blogs in your niche

Check out any link roundups, and think about whether you want to subscribe to the blogs linked. Use Social Media sites, vote up and down based on what you like.

Go to actual blog sites in your niche

What are you drawn to, how have they structured their information, what interests you, do you want to subscribe, and if not, why not? what do you want to know on your first visit? do you want to comment on a post? did you actually leave a comment? how do you find new blogs?

Using your experiences, look at your own blog as you were a first time visitor

Click on all the sidebar links and check that they go where you want them to. Think about where someone would naturally look to contact you, find out more about you, or read more posts. Look at how your commenting is set up. Compare your content to other people’s content that you like in your niche.

Real Life Examples

Social Media

Normally, I’m not a very visual person, and when I started blogging I didn’t really use any pictures. As I became involved in StumbleUpon, I noticed that one of the features that encouraged me to read the post were the pictures at the top of the posts. After a while, text all looks the same, whereas pictures are much more eye-catching. Since then, I’ve started using pictures more and more on both of my sites.


I started blogging because I started commenting. I used to read a lot of great posts, but would always be put off when you had to log in to comment. I felt like the writer was telling me that I wasn’t important enough to be allowed onto their site, and I didn’t register on a single one of those sites. When I started my blogs, I made it as easy as possible for someone to comment — there’s no registering and no default captchas.

Technical Stuff

When I first started Plonkee Money, I didn’t know anything about RSS, other than that it was a good thing to have. So, I burnt a feed at FeedBurner and then collected some HTML code to add to my blog. Unfortunately, I generated code that linked not to my feed, but to the FeedBurner home page by mistake. It stayed like this for at least month.

I may never have realised that I done this if I hadn’t looked at my own site as a first time visitor might and clicked on all the buttons. Once I realised what I’d done, it was very easy to fix, but no wonder I didn’t have any subscribers for a long time.

If you want to be a good blogger, become a good reader.