Simple Blogger Tips

Did you know that I can look at a blog and tell you exactly why you’re losing traffic? Or not getting the users numbers you wish to see?

^In many cases this is true. The more I poke around blog sites these days at what other authors and writers are doing, the more I see the same mistakes happening over and over again. And guess what? You’re not alone. I also see some of this stuff happening on  large corporate websites, though those cases are a little bit rarer.

In most cases, it’s not the writing. Yay! However, for any bloggers out there who are scratching their heads and trying to figure out why their blog is driving users away instead of pulling them in, here are some quick and dirty blog tips to help you along.

On average, you have 15 seconds to capture your audience. That’s right, just like you have one line, or one pitch, or (if you’re lucky) one chapter to capture an agent’s attention, the same logic applies to readers. Take a peek at this article by Hubspot. Then take a look at your blog site (or website) from an objective stance. What is your site telling the world? Where is the eye immediately drawn?

  1. The design: Is it simple and elegant, or is it screaming at your readers? Color scheme is subjective, but simplicity will take you much further than chaos. Remember the days of marching ants and flashing neon banners? Let’s not go back. The overall design of a site should be as clean and simple as you can get. You want those few highlighting colors to fade into the background while the idea you’re promoting takes front and center. That idea can be anything, but if you’re selling a book, you’re not going to stick a picture of your book over a background of your book with words jumbled all over the top. Try your hand at black and white, letting the stark colors on your book cover shine like a jewel.
  2. Imagery: Is every single one of your images clean and crisp? Or have you taken a medium-sized cover image and stretched it out? This happens so often, and it actually turns users away when the image is stretched, blurry and pixelated. Plus, we can’t read it without squinting or straining our eyes, which gives us a headache, and buh-bye. Don’t worry authors, you’re not alone. I’ve seen large publishing houses put blurry images on their sites. Stand out, show you’re a professional and make sure that your images are showing in the exact dimensions they were intended for. If you’re not certain, roll over it with your mouse and height/width will pop up. If it’s too small for the space allotted, don’t do it. Find another image.
  3. Sign up for my newsletter: This is one thing that’s becoming such a beef for me on a personal level. In the past few weeks I’ve seen so many sites that have half a dozen ways to solicit readers to sign up for the newsletter. Some even had the balls to put up the lightbox solicitation (graying out any actual content) before the site finished loading. This is the equivalent to asking a stranger to have sex before offering to buy them a drink. Don’t. Do. It. If you want users to sign up for your newsletter, then you need to offer them something they want to hear. Your website must generate content they wish to have, or you’re just shooting yourself in the foot ( or being an asshole, take your pick 😛 ). Have one spot on the side to sign up, or let the little bar at the top of the page scroll down as they read. If you absolute must have a lightbox popup (which I don’t recommend to anyone as it just blocks users from your content), don’t generate it till the article is done, or at least readers are halfway through it.
  4. Ads: I work in marketing, so part of my paycheck comes from generating ads. However, when I get on a blog with ads across the top, the side, and the bottom, I immediately click away from the site. Why? Because they are hurting your site. Ads offer nothing to your users, only to you (I see you little paycheck). Look, I understand, everyone’s gotta eat, but how are the ads on your site defining you? Pick one or two spots, mark the area as ‘advertisement’, but the content of your site should still far outweigh ad spots. If there are more ads on your site than content, then you’re driving users away. People don’t watch TV for the commercials. Also, it slows your site load-time way down. You only have 15 seconds to get my attention, remember?
  5. Links: Now, let’s look at the actual content. Are your articles linking to other websites? What happens when you click on those links? Answer: if the tab/window you’re in goes to the new page and your website disappears from the browser completely, you’re doing it wrong. Readers come to your site to read what you have to say. Don’t hand them off to someone else. Luckily, there’s a super easy fix for this. Go to your links and add the following piece of code, without the parentheses: (target=”_blank”). This handy little line of code will universally tell all browsers to open the linked site in a new tab, keeping users on your site as well as the linked article.

Let your work shine through on every page. Engage users with clean aesthetics, easy to see/read images, and relevant content. If you’re promoting your latest book, that cover image should stand out on your page, not be lost in a chaotic sea of other images.

And if anyone in the universe ever reads this page and needs a little help, or a second set of eyes on their site, feel free to contact me anytime. Just click the little @ image to the right and shoot me an email.

Cheers and good luck!

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