The most important aspect of your platform is your website. Whether it looks top-notch or not says a lot about you as a writer.
Yet not a week goes by in which I encounter a writer's blog or website that speaks pretty poorly of its owner.
Are you one of those writers?
If you are, no worries. Even I've been guilty of some of these.
Here are the top ten things you need to work on to make your blog as professional as it can be.
- The title or tagline of your blog includes one or more of these: musings, rantings, writes, or writes here. These are so overdone. Please choose something unique that fits you or do what I did: just make it your name.
- You make readers go through hula hoops to leave a comment. This is probably one of the reasons why your blog post isn't getting comments. I shouldn't have to have to type in letters and numbers to prove i'm not a robot. Make leaving a comment super easy. You're already asking your readers to give you some of their time and effort by leaving their thoughts and opinions on something you had to say. Don't ask any more of them than you absolutely have to.
- You make it way too hard for me to get my avatar or website to show up or I have to have a certain kind of account. Especially on Blogger sites. I have yet to figure out how to link to my WordPress site from one. So allow anonymous commenting or download a plugin such as Simple Facebook Connect or Simple Twitter Connect to allow readers to comment using their Facebook or Twitter account. Or go for a third-party commenting system such as Disqus.
- You have comments set so that you approve or moderate them.There are few things more annoying than typing out paragraphs of response to an engaging post, hitting submit, and seeing "Your comment is awaiting moderation" instead of having it appear as it should. If you're afraid of spam, either download a plugin to catch it or delete it manually. I wouldn't even worry too much about spam because the blogging services are getting pretty good at catching it.
- You never respond to comments. I leave a question or insight and never get a reply. I don't know about you, but that discourages me from leaving a comment ever again. Make sure you reply to as many comments as you can, even to only thank that person for taking their time to leave input. If you want to go the extra mile, consider having a special thank you page for first-time commenters, such as this one.
- You have white text on a black background. I have come across one or two pretty good blogs like these, and I abandoned them because they were just too difficult to read. This kind of design is more suited towards photography sites so please don't use it for your 500-word or more posts. I value my already poor eye sight.
- You make your blog all about you. We want to know how you're doing (and about that upcoming book launch), but spice it up a little! Consider doing updates once in a while with a WIP excerpt instead. Remember: the key to blogging success is making it about your readers and how they can benefit.
- You blog about writing. Again, a lot of people blog about writing. I'm not saying don't do it. But blog about writing from a new angle. Think about what hasn't been done before. Think about combining writing with another topic. You might think I'm not following my own advice here, but I'm actually about to make a transition.
- Your header or blog post text is illegible or difficult to read because it's some fancy, cursive font or Courier. Stick to fonts that are super easy to read, like Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, etc. They make your blog look way more professional as well.
- You have a gazillion widgets, gadgets, links, and images on your sidebar. I can't even focus on what you have to say because of them. Instead of distracting readers and possibly driving them away, choose your three or four absolute favorites plus your essentials: an email subscription bar, social media icons, an RSS icon, and tag cloud.
11. You don't have About and Contact pages. I'm new at your site but have no idea who you are, what you blog about, or how to ask you a question about your killer child theme. Make it easy to reach you and see what your blog is about. Make sure your personality comes through when you write them as well.
If you need tips on how to write these, take a look at your favorite bloggers' About and Contact pages. That's exactly what I did.
(That means me, right?)
Need more info on how to fix these don'ts? I'd be happy to help.
Do you have any additional author blogging don'ts to offer? Which ones have you been guilty of before?