Some things make a blog great while other things make a blog stink. Luckily, the things that make a blog stink are not only easy to recognize, but also easy to fix. While I wouldn't go so far as to say my blog is great, I am pretty sure it doesn't stink.
But it used to stink, and that's why I know what to do to make sure it never stinks again. Here are 10 things that make a blog stink. Don't do them.
- No pictures. A blog post with no graphic illustrations is boring and hard on the eyes. Good quality photos do not have to be expensive. You can take some yourself or get them from 123RF or Fotolia. You can also grab free photos from Flickr via Creative Commons license. Every blog post should have an accompanying graphic that illustrates the main points of the post.
- No video. Now and then, it's good to break things up with video. It doesn't have to be fancy and scripted to be interesting. The babbling brook by your house, you drawing names of the winners of your latest contest, you opening up the package containing your newly designed labels or business cards. Make your blog move and shake with the reality that is you and your brand. Do this from time to time to add punch, pizzazz and personality to your blog.
- No sidebar content. The sidebar(s) of your blog should contain interesting content that complements the main content at your blog. Add your Flickr photo stream. Add a widget with an RSS feed of other blogs. (This one feeds blog posts of IBN members. You can see it in my right bottom sidebar.) Add your favorite books using the Amazon widget. Add the FaceBook Page Like Box.
Sidebar content gives your readers additional reasons to visit your blog regularly. They take a few minutes to add, but they are fantastic at adding new content to your blog automatically. Technology rocks. Make it your slave.
- No link love. People come to your blog to be entertained and to learn new and interesting things. You don't have a corner on that market and you cannot possibly teach people anything without linking to sources and examples for further information. If you share openly, people will remember you for that. They will trust you, and trust always precedes purchase.
- No variety. If every (or nearly every) blog post is about your products, then your blog is not a blog. It's an advertisement. And that stinks.
- No “you”. An effective blog is a personal blog. People are interested in buying from you because they trust you. They can't trust you unless they know something about you. Give them what they need to trust you more. Share a bit about who you are, what you like and don't like. Make your blog a mini-reality show about the things that matter to you and to your readers. They will be happy and your blog won't stink.
- No way to easily subscribe. An invitation to subscribe to your blog should be visible somewhere near the top of your blog — usually somewhere around the top right portion. Let people know they can have your blog delivered to them by RSS or email, then tell them how to subscribe. If you don't tell them, they won't do it. (Here's how to subscribe to my blog.)
- Nothing to do. Give readers something to do! End each post with a question. Include a poll now and then. (They are free at Poll Daddy and a few other places.) Don't just talk at people. Engage them. Ask them what they think. Invite them to give you feedback and share their ideas, likes and dislikes with you and your other readers. This kind of interaction makes a blog fun. It also makes your more interesting because the information there comes from others, not just you.
- No useful RSS feed. If you feed your blog via RSS, don't just feed excerpts. Feed the whole post! People use RSS readers to aggregate blog content in one place, so they can scan dozens (or even hundreds) of blogs quickly and efficiently. Trying to force them to leave the reader where there is a lot of content to go to your blog where there is a little bit of content is presumptuous and won't make you any friends.
(No matter how interesting an excerpt is, I never leave my reader to read a post. I only leave my reader if I want to leave a comment post on Twitter or FaceBook, and I won't do either if you've made it hard for me to read your post.)
Your blog is about your readers, not you. Make it easy for them to digest your content and they will reward you with comments, likes, referrals and other things that will help your business grow.
- No search box. Make it easy for people to find things at your blog. If you can, add Categories or Topics so you can categories your posts into easily accessible sections. This makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for. If you cannot create categories, at least have a search box somewhere at the top right side of the blog so people can search for information using key words. This search tool will come in handy for you too!
Question: What did I miss? What other things make a blog stink?