One of the most important aspects of any blog is its appearance. Most new bloggers will want to pick a theme to suit their blog, style, input and outcome.
To ensure your site attracts both advertising-space and traffic, the first page should have clearly distinctive sections and space for the following components:
These should be divided into three different areas, but generally when you first join-up they may in the same section.
Affiliates are those sites where you get a few cents every time someone clicks on the image or text. So eventually you might push them higher up your page, ensuring your traffic view’s them first and hopefully clicks on the links.
Then you’ll want another section of your screen for sponsors, who may also be affiliates. Sponsors are generally those business who have helped you get started. Sometimes they are small-business-angels, business-mentors, or simply a local business whom you are giving free or subsidising advertising space.
Both Sponsors and Affiliates are Advertising space, but you may advertise a few products where you get no financial gain – you just like them and want other people to know about them. I think this is a great idea – not everything has to be about money!
About You / Contact Me
Personalising your blog brings real people toward your blog. There is nothing more painful than seeing content-scraping sites that reek of sterility and never respond to comments, nor your plea that they discontinue their activities. (BTW: Unless you get very lucky, you’ll never get them to stop. The best you can do is keep blocking their connections to your articles).
So write a few sentences about yourself. It’s a great idea to show a picture of your human-face, but your company logo incorporated into your Bio’ is also idea. This is not a Resume, nor a message to a Date-Service. All you need to do is explain what your blog is about, what you enjoy most on the internet, and preferabbly something humoress.
Something like “… and I enjoy red wine.” or “… and I have four cats” are both great options. But ensure it is a subject you have knowledge about, else you may have to think fast. Nobody hates a faker. (Yet the old adage ‘fake it till you make it’ is still important!)
Don’t forget to include some way of contacting you!
That’s what you want people to continue to revisit and see, and buy! The blog is actually secondary, yet the perfect medium to product every day.
So always ensure the primary product gets pride-of-place somewhere on the page. Towards the top is a good option, then repeated near the bottom of the screen. You’ll notice I have an image link to my Redbubble gallery at the top of the blog, then repeated in the sidebar right at the bottom!
Subscribing can be done in so many ways these days, yet primarily it is RSS. With the plethora of programs that enable people to read RSS readers available, all you need to do is ensure the RSS button is high and prominent!
Follow-buttons are generally aimed at the main-stream Social-Networks – like Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, LinkedIn, plus the various popular places you can find people who may have interest in your product.
Using DandyID, you can collect all your SocNets together and insert their code into your site quickly to display ALL of them!
A good blog enables readers to search on a subject of their liking. Whilst you might write articles are all about specific subjects, there is nothing stopping you from twisting your usual style to incorporate themes and trends.
For instance, the reason I wrote this article is because I find that there are very few WordPress themes that suit photographers. Whilst some of the the free-themes allow self-designed headers, they are often difficult to include additional images without being a very specific width and height.
That paragraph, written in about 30seconds from my thoughts and beliefs about the power of WordPress, is going to get me a lot of traffic through search-engines and my search-bar. Thus proving that any article can be tailored to suit the subject of your website.
These are both important, but I primarily focus on Category’s. It is a weird subject, but both have their place. Tags are those words that merely describe the theme throughout an article, whereas category’s are the subjects the articles focuses on. At least that is the way I see it. Your thoughts on this welcomed.
Either way, these widgets included in your blog somewhere will make it fun for your traffic to click-and-find articles pandering to their personal interest.
If there is only one thing your site includes, it should be archives. If only for your own reminder of what you posted on this day one year ago! Or to link back to similar articles – this keeps people looking at articles on your own site rather than jumping elsewhere.
Ok, that covers all the important components to me. To everyone starting out with a new blog today, I hope this article enables you to see how the first page of your site should appear! I look forward to reading, searching and linking back to sites that are at-least good to look at!
what do you think of the new FTC rules that were introduced at the start of december? about disclosing advertising / affiliate links and also clamping down on certain types of testimonials, i’d be interested to know if that has affected you at all, for the time being i’m not too concerned about it but i may have to tweak my blog in future in order to comply
I was unaware of these rules until you mentioned it. Looks like I have more research, reading and writing to do!
Hello Andrew, glad to have you looking at my journal. In 2010, I plan to write many more articles about photography, cameras and a whole lotta subjects related!