Sue’s Jibber-Jabber daily word for today is ENCOURAGE.
Offering Readers the Easy Chair
We all have our friends, right? The folks we like to hang out with. Goths look for other goths; artsy people seek other artsy types; deep thinkers and conservative types try to find other bloggers whose posts give them another look at the serious side of life.
Those of us who blog have set them up to appeal mainly to the type of readers and followers we hope to attract. In this post I’ll make some suggestions on how we can encourage our first-time visitors to settle down and stay awhile.
Right Off the Bat
The things that will draw new readers initially are our post titles, categories and tags. In this post I want to offer a few thoughts on appearance: the “scene” that hits a reader’s eye the minute they land.
It’s great if you can do catchy titles, but if not, at least keep your titles short and to the point.
The title you choose for your post, with hyphens, becomes your post’s address (slug) on the internet. Be it “florida-trip-white-out” or “we-were-headed-for-disney-world-but-got-caught-in-a-snowstorm-in-kentucky-and-spent-three-nights-in-a-school-gym-before-heading-home.
I could have titled this post “Some of the Things a Blogger Can Do to Present and Attractive Appearance to Other Bloggers Coming to Visit.” And that’s way too long!
I could have titled it “Inviting Blogs.” Too brief and unclear.
“Attracting Visitors to Your Blog” would have worked, but this post isn’t so much about attracting. It’s more about offering guests an easy chair and a cup of coffee, then conversing easily with no pressure.
The Header you choose gives an instant picture of your style. Definitely something to keep in mind when you’re choosing headers. Consider these two examples:
If you like the dark one, that’s your taste and may suit your subject matter. Your friends may “love it.” Other bloggers are apt to find the dark, colorless heading depressing and rather see the whimsical second one. (I actually like the frog so much I may use him someday myself. 🙂 )
Olla podrida is a Spanish word that literally means “rotting pot.” Similar to “pot pourri” in French. Nowadays, both these expressions carry the figurative meaning of “mixture.” Like a hash, stew, or mishmash.
Checking out an interesting title, I’ve clicked onto some blogs that were an instant assault to the eyes. A hodge-podge of sidebars and footers full of colorful ads, badges, and whatnot, with a narrow strip of writing in the middle where the actual post appears. My brain couldn’t handle that confusion. Goodbye.
You may like all that color – but you’ll scare away a lot of first-time visitors because they can’t figure out where to put their eyes. And some people detest blog ADS.
Recent Posts Widget
I always encourage bloggers to install a Recent Posts widget. If you have a Home page, your readers will see smaller boxes with the most recent first six or eight posts you’ve published. But once a reader clicks on one and reads that, then what? They likely have to go back to the Home page to find other posts. A Recent Posts widget appears in the sidebar with a list (up to ten, I’d say) of your latest posts, so they can quickly click and read on.
…and it pays to listen
Some of the following ideas on blogging etiquette are my own preferences, while some come from the guidelines of book publishers. I feel these are valid for blog posts as well.
Torpedoed by Typos
Let’s say you write a best seller with an amazing plot and bold and dashing protagonists. You’ve sprinkled it with thrilling plot twists and sympathetic supporting characters galore. You fire the manuscript off to Double Delight, Inc.
And your cover letter starts out, “Dear Aquisitions Editer,”
Your novel is sunk. It will be stuffed back in the envelope and marked “Return to Sender.”
Bloggers are more forgiving and will usually keep reading, but spelling errors grate. Which is not so great. Good spelling and proper grammar are a courtesy to your fellow bloggers.
(I beg of you, please) NOTE:
It’s (it is) likely that a dog will wag its (possessive) tail when it’s (it is) happy.
On the cute side:
One day I was asked to beta read a novel. Though I specifically stated that I never read HORROR or THRILLERS, his was a “thriller” where some teen girls encounter a horror in some castle. He concludes with, “I hope this story will pick your interest.”
It struck me as very fitting that a horror story should “pick” my interest, instead of “pique” it. But I do wonder if his novel is a horror for spelling mistakes. 😉
White Space is IN
So do not…
write long paragraphs…
and be sure to put a space between each.
I’m told that when your manuscript lands on an acquisitions editor’s desk, if they pull it out and see 12 to 15-line paragraphs, they won’t even start. Back into the envelope it goes. “Return to Sender.”
Take a look at any book published in the past twenty years. Attention spans are short. Long descriptions are OUT. Then take a look at the bloggers whose posts you enjoy. How do they write?
I know this is my personal opinion. I’m a feed it to me in small bites type plus I have a problem in long, chunky paragraphs: I lose my way tracking from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. In a book, if I must read it at all, I’ll often use a ruler.
You may be okay with long paragraphs. When I click on a blog post and see paragraphs longer than eight lines I don’t even start – or I skim. For me, six is okay, but eight is max. So my advice will always be:
If you want people to read what you write, keep paragraphs short and posts fairly short. Or break it up into sections. Depending on subject matter, two posts with six to eight paragraphs is better than one with sixteen that no one reads.
Font Size and Style
1001fonts.com has some great fonts you can access. However…
AND DON’T CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING YOU WRITE. THE SUREST WAY TO NOT BE READ IS TO DO YOUR POST IN ALL CAPS.
This is getting too long so I’d best quit. 🙂