Now that I've been doing this blogging thing for going on three years, I consider myself pretty well-versed on all things bloggy. Not because I'm so smart, but because I read about a thousand blogs...I can see what works well, what catches my eye and what makes me run in the other direction. I read mom blogs, inspirational blogs, funny blogs, fashion blogs and serious blogs. I read big blogs that you all know very well and I read tiny blogs where I am one of only seventeen followers.
It's not the readership that makes a blog successful...it's the content.
And that, my friends, is what I am going to write about today. Content...and some other stuff.
I do feel like I should add a disclaimer before I start...I might not have 5,000 subscribers or make bucket-loads of money here in this space. That's not really my goal. I just like to share my pictures and capture things that God shows me along the way.
Okay, that's a lie. I wouldn't mind having 5,000 subscribers. And having bucket-loads of money?? It sounds pretty rad. So there's that...
You are probably thinking, "Who does this chick think she is?" Well, I happen to think I am pretty awesome. The truth is...I am just an average writer and an average reader. Things that annoy me are likely to annoy other people. And if no one tells you, how will you ever know?
So please, for the love of all things blogalicious...please read this list.
1. Delete Your Automatic Music Player
Let me guess....you really like The Scientist by Coldplay. That's awesome; so do I. But if I am READING your blog, it's kinda sorta hard to focus on YOUR words with the music blaring. Also, if I am creeping on your blog at work, I don't want the dude in the next office to wonder why I started blasting random music out of the blue. If you have an automatic music player, chances are I will remember it and I will not click to go to your site anymore.
2. Guest Posts
Let's say that hypothetically you are going on vacation for a week where you will not have internet connection. Great! Have a good time! Enjoy yourself!! I want to see pictures when you get back! Oh wait...you've lined up people to guest post in your absence? Nope. I'm probably not going to read it. If I wanted to read their thoughts, I would follow their blogs. I realize that sounds kind of cruel...maybe mean...but I think it's presumptuous of you to think that we, your readership, would totally fall apart without daily updates from your site. Oh sure, I get that the Google search algorithm is based on site updates and you want your site to get high ranks. So write a weeks worth of posts yourself and schedule the postings. See? It's a win-win.
There is an exception to this rule, however. If you are writing a series on a particular topic, (infertility, homeschooling, raising a child with special needs, etc.) and you have discovered someone who's story can ADD TO your story...then do it! In my most humble of opinions, that is very different.
3. Be Real
If you write about unicorns and sunshine and rainbows all-day-every-day, eventually I am going to call BS on that and move on. Even the ever-optimistic Kelle Hampton has bad days...and she shares it with us. It's okay to see the glass-half-full. I get it. But I want to know that I am not the only one who sometimes sees the glass half empty. What can I say? Misery loves company. (I kid.)
4. But Not Too Real
No one likes a constant Debbie Downer.
I totally understand why people do reviews. You get free stuff....duh. And who doesn't like free? The thing is, I think it takes away from the credibility of your blog. You might say, "If I don't really like a product, I won't write about it." While that might be true, that's not what I am talking about. Your blog is authentically YOU. If you wouldn't normally write about the greatness of Crest White Strips then writing a review on Crest White Strips doesn't authentically represent who you are. Make sense?
Very few bloggers (i.e. Angie Smith) can write an entire post and hold my attention without the use of pictures. Your blog is a little glimpse into your life...I want to see your family and your husband and the front porch that you recently redecorated. But please....please....unless you have an artsy photography blog, I do not want to see 27 pictures of the same flower. And oh by the way, you don't have to own the latest, greatest DSLR to take good, blog-worthy pictures.
For example, I could TELL you that my mother-in-law grew cucumbers in a bird bath. But it doesn't have the same effect as this:
Also, I could TELL you that Reese Ann wakes up in the mornings with wild and crazy hair (we call them hairbones)...or I could just show you:
See? Pictures make everything better :-)
7. User-Friendly Settings for Blogger
When you initially set up your blog, the options can be overwhelming. It took me a year to think of the title of my blog alone (yes, a year...don't judge). Then I had to decide, two-column versus three-column...design, font, headers...YIKES!! Here are some important items that will make reading your blog easier for other people. First of all, be sure that your email is included in your Blogger profile. If you leave a comment for me, I want to respond...but I can't do it if Blogger doesn't have your email address.
Secondly, please remove the word verification in your comments section. Unless you are being bombarded by spam, this is a nuisance for your readers and they will often skip leaving you a comment because they can't read the word verification...even after 7 tries. (What? Am I the only one who can't read that crap?)
Finally, please do not limit your site feed in Reader. I use Google Reader to read and organize my favorite blogs....all thousand of them. If you only allow a portion of your blog to appear in site feeds (like Google Reader), then I am forced to click on your blog to finish reading. I don't like being forced to do anything and for that reason, I will probably delete you from my feed.
Wow. I have to say...this is very liberating. Do you agree or disagree? Did I forget something? Feel free to chime in and let me know. I'd love to know your thoughts.
I do have one more thing to share and in some weird, twisted way, it is blogalicious in it's own right. I was looking at my stats this morning and noticed that someone found my blog by searching, "ultimate horse barns." Could someone please tell me how in the Sam Hill my blog is related to horse barns?