Your blog is essentially your personal website and platform for your writing, so it needs to be appealing in three ways: visually, functionally, and content.
What your blog looks like is determined by two factors, your theme which sets the parameters for developing your site and your ability to tweak it within the various options and settings that are available you. On the back end of your WordPress platform, you will find the three most important features for changing the appearance of your blog: theme options, widgets, and plug-ins.
Theme options is the best place to begin. There you will find options for things like your logo, header, color scheme, favicon (the tiny square symbol that represents your site when it is bookmarked), how many posts are on a page, if they are excerpts or entire posts, as well as various menu, category, and lay-out settings.
Widgets are also listed under appearance in WordPress. They set up everything that is in the sidebar of the site. For instance, I have widgets for my photo and bio, social media icons, email subscription, a custom menu, comments, categories, and the logo of an organization I belong to.
Plug-ins are additional features you can add to your blog. On my site, plug-ins enable my favicon, my contact form, the comments in the sidebar, the author info at the end of posts, the related posts at the end of the article, the sharing options, and the social media icons and links in the sidebar. Sometimes the plug-in will enable a widget, like the social media icons. If you discover a feature on another blog that you want to add to yours, search for it and activate it. They are usually free.
The more functionality you can build into your blog the better. Link everything you can, so that the reader can click on something of interest for more information. Go through all of the items under settings to get things the way you want them. SEQ (Search Engine Optimization) is an important part of the set up. Use the Google Key Word Search Tool to help you find the most popular words to list in in your SEQ.
When I first began blogging all of this was pretty overwhelming to me, but it was also fun to create my own site. I would recommend that you methodically go through all of the settings I mentioned until you get your blog looking and functioning the way you want. If you run into a problem, contact me and I will try to help you out.
The heart and soul of your blog is its content.
- Keep it honest, passionate, relevant, and brief (400-700 words). Use important key words, lists, and highlighted text.
- Write with the reader in mind.
- Invite people into the conversation.
- Leave the topic purposely less than completely addressed, so your readers will feel like they have something to add.
- Post 3-5 times per week.
- Know who you are writing for and give them something very compelling.
- Consistent, quality content will keep your readers coming back.
I realize I have just grazed the topic of blogging, but this series is about to get even more interesting, as I move on to discussing writing and self-publishing a book.