Tuesday, 5 February 2013

4 Ways To Improve Your Blog Today

Whether you blog for personal enjoyment or to promote your business, there are lots of ways to give your readership a boost and get people wanting to come back for more. Some of the tips and tricks that I have shared before take a little while to see results but here are 5 ways you can make a difference right away

What qualifies me to give this advice?

I am a full-time social media strategist who works with companies looking to improve the awareness of their brand online. On top of this I have been blogging for 7 years. I have closed my original 'online diary' as it's pretty hideous, lots of ranting about boys and clothes and complaining. Things have moved on since then :-)

The main thing that turns me off from blogs is bad grammar and spelling. Your/You're and Their/There are two of the most easily confused ones. I'm not some sort of spelling and grammar police, but when even your titles are misspelt it really will turn people off your blog. One of the hardest things is to proofread text when you have used incorrect words that are still other words. Business blogs should have everything checked by a professional proofreader. This is a service that I provide and you can email me on katyclouds@outlook.com if you want to chat about that, but if you are running a personal blog I would still recommend having a triple read through before posting your blog. If you are someone who really struggles with spelling and knows it, it's nothing to be ashamed off, you just have to think slightly outside the box. Could you produce a weekly podcast? That's a great way to circumvent the whole spelling issue. Getting a friend or even another blogger to read your post before posting it is a simple case of copying and pasting it into an email. 

If you think you may have been guilty of this, set yourself a goal of looking over your posts, a few a day, and correcting grammar and spelling. Read up on rules and install a spell checking toolbar such as the Google one.

Long batches of text are dull. Breaking up your text with bullet points and banners is a great way of making your posts and articles seem instantly readable, especially if you don't have any photos to go with it. I use Picmonkey to edit my instagram photos and use them as post headers, and I've used Picmonkey in this post to make the title banners. Don't you think it looks a little nicer than just a big old block of text? It's really easy aswell, just open up any old random image, and use a big white square to give you a blank canvas. Then crop to the size you want your heading. I've used the 'Banner' shape to make my pointy-ended headers. Their choice of fonts is excellent and everyone knows that a good font adds life to an otherwise dull article.

I would recommend read this post by one of my favourite bloggers that talks about combining fonts. and then having a look here at this AMAZING list of free and totally awesome fonts that you can download and use right away. I think Shuffle and Yellow Cream are my favourites!

I'll tell you a secret. I really, really dislike having my photo taken. I think I have a terrible jawline and that I always look crosseyed and pale. However, having a photo of yourself on your blog gives your page a real boost. It means the reader has a visual reference for your voice, which makes your words seem more believable. There is a lot of psychology behind it, I'm no expert. I do know that I usually find myself trying to find a picture of someone on the screen and I'm disappointed if there isn't one.

If you also don't like your face, that sucks. I would try one of these:

  • Use an instagram photo - grainy quality + attractive filter will take away nearly all imperfections.

  • A side view is usually better than direct full on - get someone else to take a side--on photo

  • Black and white filters have the added bonus of making you look more professional.

If you are writing for a company or business blog, or you are a contributor, set it up so that your post is linked to your photo. Adding a face to your voice is really strong way to make you stand out from the other millions of people writing things about stuff on the internet. You don't have to be good looking, or photogenic. It's not about that. Giving your voice a face is the key :-)

Blogging is about sharing. Sharing your knowledge, sharing your life. Whatever you choose to share with the internet world, it helps to apply a certain set of rules. I like to ask myself the following questions before I post an article.

1. Have I shared too much?

Some topics should always be off limits for a professional blog. If you are looking to monetize your blog in the future, sponsors will want you to have some decorum about certain aspects of your life. Blogging about SEO and then throwing in photos from your trip to a fetish party isn't going to work. Likewise, customers aren't going to want to read about the argument you had with your other half. If you want to write about personal stuff, then you need to keep it within limitations. If you need a place to vent, set up a personal blog where you can rant and swear as much as you like. Don't make the face of your business/blog inappropriate for your target audience.

2. Is what I writing about Fun, Inspiring or Informative?

I wrote a post a little while ago about writing content that fulfils these three remits. Have a look at it here. I try not to post very short or pointless entries because I want everything in my blog to be useful and relevant content. I try to use a mixture of 'evergreen' (content that will still be  relevant in two or three years) and trendy stuff, like ways to use the latest apps and fashion or wishlist posts. Mixing things up and providing a range of content that still delights, inspires or informs is a great way to keep your whole blog gaining readers and not just your more recent posts. 

3. Have I made the post look as nice as it can?

Are all my pictures the same size? Have I broken up the text? Have a look at the preview of your post before you fully post it, you can check for anything that doesn't look quite right. It's important to do this before the post goes live, because if you have anything set up to post the link automatically like twitterfeed or Google+, those first few people who come along will be seeing the not-quite-perfect post.

I hope these tips have given you a little inspiration for improving your blog today, please do let me know if you have any questions or have found this helpful <3

Have a great day!!

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