It’s tough because everyone has a different answer to it. Plus, different niches command different essentials. But this question came to me as my blog is undergoing some of its own transformations within the next few weeks.
Consider this an exercise to nail down some blog essentials. Here are a few that would definitely top anyone’s list for having an awesome blog…
- A clearly defined theme. Let me explain this a bit more – if you look at the blog, http://www.terrislittlehaven.com, you’ll notice a few things right off the bat – 1) she is an active blogger (she blogs every day, sometimes twice a day!) and 2) she has a clearly defined “theme” – she does giveaways and product reviews, but also blogs about whatever she wants to. How is this a clearly defined theme? Well, giveaways and product reviews are very clear – if you browse her blog, you will find all sorts of giveaways on her site – from kids products to water filters. She even welcomes guest bloggers, here is my post on her site – http://www.terrislittlehaven.com/2012/01/23/the-way-to-a-bloggers-heart-is-through-guest-post/ So, defining a central theme has got to be one of the essentials of an awesome blog.
- User-friendliness. When readers get to your blog, is it easy to navigate? Does one post lead to another and another? Is the blog layout appropriate for your target audience? Michelle’s blog, over at http://michelleshaeffer.com/ is a great example of a layout that is appropriate for her target audience. She is a blogger, writing for bloggers. See the great welcome message? Then on the sidebars, the top posts feature is a great highlight. It is obvious that if you want to learn about blogging, then you are in the right place.
- Essential opt-in. The opt-in box – another essential piece to any online business. Where to put it? What to say in it? Use a pop-up or not? There are so many ways to entice readers to sign up for your newsletter or latest posts, but the way that works for my blog, may not work for your blog. I suggest trying out a couple of different opt-ins and see which one converts the best. The one over at http://www.amyporterfield.com/ is one of my absolute favorites. It is streamlined so well that you almost don’t recognize it’s an opt-in form. Plus, as soon as visitors arrive on the page, it is right there to greet them. Either way, an opt-in form is definitely essential.
- Your story. Sharing your story is crucial. Creating a business online is about connecting and sharing. Building those relationships with your followers and readers. Your story is an integral part of that. Readers like knowing about you and why they should connect with you.
- Social buttons. These give readers a way to connect with you. See those buttons on the left? Those are social buttons. Now, I do not have a huge following on either Facebook or Twitter, but I have connections with real readers and people in my circle. And that is what matters! So, offer (and encourage) your readers to tweet your post or like it.
- Monetizing. A way to make money directly from your blog or from your blogging efforts is also a piece of the pie. I used to feel guilty offering products or services for sale on my blog. But, ultimately, your blog can be a source of income and it should be. Blogging requires focus and time – the sooner you put a sales funnel into motion the better business person you will become.
- A general “What’s in it for Me” focus. As your blog, and this blog, evolves, a good rule of thumb to base your decisions on is “What’s in it for Me?” Me being your readers. They want to see firsthand what your blog offers them. If they are going to spend any time on it, making them feel welcome is going to have to be a priority.
There are also a ton of WordPress plugins that contribute to a great blog. I simply cannot go into detail on all of them, plus you can find many on my post here.
In the end, visitors have two choices when they land on your blog – stay or go. Give them a reason to stay and they will, no reason and they will be gone in a flash. Whether it’s a greeting or an opt-in or a social toolbar, offering your visitors what they came looking for in the first place is key to an awesome blog.
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