32 Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less (Blog World 2010)
This is a summary of a presentation given by Scott Hanselman at Blog World Expo 2010.
1) Know your audience. Analytic programs were developed for a reason. You cannot provide content that your audience wants if you do not know who your audience is and where they are coming from. If your audience is international, look at the words and acronyms that you use and bring them to a level that all of your users can understand.
2) Keep overtly personal information off your blog. Anyone can take a latitude and longitude and pull up a street address. If you don’t want users (and stalkers) to show up at your door with questions or rob your home when you are on vacation, keep your location off your website.
3) Don’t apologize for not blogging enough. There comes a time and every blogger’s life when they take a mini blogging vacation. Family problems, broken computer, rabies, it doesn’t matter, when you take a hiatus from blogging, don’t make your first post back an apology. It takes up space that could be used for a more solid post.
4) Steer clear of politics (unless that’s your thing). Politics are good for one thing, splitting your audience in half. Regardless of how wonderfully stated your post is, bringing politics into an unpolitical blog is like signing your death warrant. Keep your followers, leave the politics.
5) Don’t blog bile. Everyone gets angry. Your blog is your voice to the world and it is easy to spit out a post that is angry. But in the morning when your comment section explodes and you regret what you said that little moment of anger will not seem worth it anymore. Be aware of the messages you put into the world and think long and hard before you blog something negative.
6) Think before you blog. Make sure that each thing you post is relevant and is something that your audience wants.
7) Don’t post throwaways. If a post is not sizable enough to really be a post tweet it. Or Facebook it. Have a minimum length for your posts and stick to it. Don’t post junk that’s not worth the time of your users.
8) Avoid “excessive quoting.” When a post is 30% or more copied from someone else it is no longer your post. Own the words that you create, don’t steal the words of someone else.
9) Use spell check. Your blog is your identity on the web. Be professional and take the two seconds to spell check your blog posts. Misspellings make you look careless, and you should never be careless.
10) Pay attention to formatting. Good content looks bad when your formatting is careless. Even little things like offsetting your text from your images makes a big difference to your users. Make your site look well put together and it will not only make your blog look good, but it will make you look good.
11) Turn on comments. If you have no comments on your blog, then it is no point to having a blog. Yes, spammers will try to spam your comments, but it is better to deal with the spam then lose your interaction with your audience.
12) Solve comment spam. Get rid of your CAPTCHA and look into Akismet or similar programs. That will solve your problems.
13) Claim your feed. Your feed is floating around the internet waiting for you to claim it. Websites like Bloglines or Technorati let you claim your feeds. Claiming that not only puts a feather in your hat, but gives you the tools to do some really awesome things and get feedback in return.
14) Decide what your blog’s URL is and stick with it. When you have a blog for a long time, sometimes your develop four or five (or in Scott’s case, 11) ways to get to your blog. Whether it is through old domains that are forwarding to your new site, or a switch to a sub-domain specifically from your blog, try to consolidate. Pick one URL for your blog and stick with it.
15) Use simple URLs for your popular posts. Do you have a post that people just go crazy for? Take the time to get a personal short URL for that post. That way when you direct someone have just met to a really awesome post, they can write the URL down quickly.
16) Have a brain garage sale. Sort through your mind and pull out all those little ideas that you have done nothing with. Write them all down and see what you can make of them.
17) License your blog. Research the Creative Commons license and decide how you want people to use your content. If you don’t license it, you take the chance of your content ending up who knows where without any attribution to you.
18) Make it easy to subscribe and read. RSS feeds are great, but most people still prefer email. Make your subscription buttons large and make your subscription process easy. Also, look into mobile versions of your website. If people can’t read your website on their phone, that cuts your readership drastically.
19) Have your contact info somewhere. A blog is nothing without feedback from your users. Have your contact information somewhere so that people know how to contact you when they have a question or suggestion.
20) Have an About Me page. Why should I trust you to give me travel advice? Or advice on the best coffee maker? Or about raising children? Have an about me page so your users get to know who you really are and why they heck they should trust you.
21) Use a social bookmarking site. This allows you to share links with other people, get ideas from popular links, and accumulate information for a post or project without much work. It also allows you to take your bookmarks with you everywhere instead of latching them to your computer. Have to write a post on the road? Well your bookmarked research is right there on your profile without you having to take that extra step.
22) Decide what’s above the fold. The fold does matter. Put the most important things up top so that you put your best foot forward. Think about what is most important to you and put that up top.
23) Integrate search. Use Google’s theming tools to put a real search box into your website that looks like your site and not like Google.
24) Get the message out – by any means necessary. Use your feed, Facebook, Twitter, or Feedblitz to get the word about about your content. If you don’t who will?
25) Tune your bandwidth. Use analytics to monitor your bandwidth usage. Sometimes even small things, like a Favicon, can use more bandwidth then you expect.
26) “This blog has moved.” Don’t post messages about moving your blog. Users are just going to get annoyed with each extra click you make them do. Use 301 redirects to make your life and the life of your user easier. No one wants to update thie
27) Don’t break links – maintain permalinks at all costs.
28) Avoid split brain at all costs – Pick a blog and stay there.
28a) Avoid cross posting.
29) Conserve your keystrokes.
30) Know where your content travels.
31) Don’t blog to get rich.
32) Blog interesting.
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