There is a reason Ramen noodles are so popular with college students.
You boil water. You add the noodles. You stir in the seasoning packet.
Could it be any simpler?
It’s not just college students who love easy, of course. We all do.
We like quick, we like simple, and we like not having to think too hard.
It’s why self-help tips like “visualize success” and “acknowledge your flaws” get repeated ad nauseam. They’re so easy to do, they don’t require any real time or effort.
Where Kevin is going with this…
Too bad blog tips aren’t like that, though.
Blog tips are usually time consuming and difficult to implement.
“Ditch my WordPress.com blog, buy a domain and get my own web host? Why that sounds…HARD! Can I nap instead?”
If only there was a list of easy blog tips.
If only there were blog tips you could do in a couple minutes.
If only there was a list of blog tips which made blogging simpler rather than harder.
Here are 22 hopefully-easy blog tips broken down into general categories.
Some of these you can do immediately, some you can do the next time you sit down to write. All of them, hopefully, are as easy as a game of checkers.
Just remember: no blog tip, listed here or elsewhere, is right for everyone. Use what works for you. Disregard the rest!
Some quick writing tips for your blog…
1. STOP USING THE WORD “LITERALLY”
The only reason to use it is in instances where the reader could reasonably think you are speaking figuratively when you really aren’t.
So yes, if monkeys actually fly out of a part of your anatomy, use the word “literally” to describe the event.
But then go see a doctor. Actually, go see the doctor first. You can write later.
2. STOP USING THE WORD “THAT”
It’s been said the word “that” could be removed from a sentence and 99% of the time the sentence wouldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but you should definitely use “that” as little as possible.
Depending on how much you use the word, omitting it could significantly clean up your writing.
3. KEEP PARAGRAPHS SHORT
Remember when you were assigned a paper in school and you tried to break sentences into as many paragraphs as possible to stretch the length of your paper?
Teachers didn’t really like it. And they usually took points off your paper for doing it.
Well, as a blogger, this formerly-looked-down-upon tactic is a good thing! It promotes white space. It makes your posts easier to read.
So if you ever bump into your old English teacher, tell her Kevin at BeABetterBlogger.com says it’s a-okay to have as few sentences as possible in a paragraph.
Also, ask her to join my mailing list. You know…because.
4. ADD LINKS WITHIN POSTS TO OTHER POSTS
Unless your blog is brand new with little-to-no material, there’s no reason when you’re writing to not link to other (relevant) posts you’ve written — especially since it’s so effective and so easy.
Want to see me do it again?
Tips for your post’s headlines…
5. USE A HEADLINE GENERATOR
Portent’s Content Idea Generator creates a headline for you based on the subject of your post. Don’t like it? Hit the refresh button and get a new headline.
You’re unlikely to be able to use any suggestion as is, but you’ll get some good ideas.
6. USE ALLITERATION
There is a reason I named this site “Be A Better Blogger.”
And there’s a reason Stan Lee created characters with names like Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, Sue Storm, Pepper Potts and Doctor Doom.
Alliteration is subtle, but memorable. It packs a punch. [tweet this]
Try using alliteration in your next headline.
Blog design & layout tips
Tips for the layout of your blog…
7. MAKE SEARCH BAR EASY TO FIND
Don’t make someone who wants to search through your content — an engaged reader, in other words — have to hunt for your search bar. Make it easy for them.
Top of your blog or near the top of your sidebar are the two preferred choices for search bars. Adding one to your footer, too, isn’t a bad idea.
If you use WordPress, this is as easy as adding (or moving) a search widget.
8. PUT SOCIAL “FOLLOW ME” ICONS ABOVE THE FOLD
Guess what? If someone goes to the trouble of looking for your Twitter, Google+ or Facebook icon, chances are they’re doing so because they want to follow you.
Don’t make it difficult for them.
Add your social “follow me” icons to the top of your blog or near the top of your sidebar. Again, if you’re a WordPress user, this involves adding or moving a widget.
Don’t have social media icons and don’t know where to get them?
Try Iconfinder. Once you fill in what you’re looking for (Example: Twitter), you can filter the search results. Set the price to “Free” and the license type to “no link back.”
With those two settings any icons you find will be free to use and require no citations or links to their authors.
9. HIDE ALL BUT ONE SOCIAL “FOLLOW ME” ICON
Are you trying (and failing) at gaining momentum on multiple social media platforms?
Why be mediocre on several platforms when you can concentrate on one (and hopefully Excel)?
Consider removing all social media “follow me” icons except your preferred one. The one where you’re most active. The one where you want to gain a following.
If that’s Twitter, keep Twitter. If it’s Facebook, keep Facebook.
If it’s MySpace, I’m afraid I cannot help you.
Once you’ve gotten a handle on one social platform, you can add others.
10. ADD CALL TO ACTION AT END OF POSTS
A reader who has made it through to the end of your post (likely) enjoyed what you wrote.
Well, tell them what to do next!
Tell them to leave you a comment. Show them some related posts they might like to read. Ask them to sign up for your mailing list.
It’s your blog — point them in the direction you want them to go.
If you tell them nothing, they will do nothing.
Actually, that’s not true. They’ll leave.
11. REMOVE EXCESS ADVERTISEMENTS
Do you have one or two Google Ads on your blog? That’s fine.
What’s that? You have 27? Yeah, that’s a problem.
Get down to under 4 ads and your blog will be significantly more friendly to your readers.
12. HIDE YOUR RSS FEED ICON
If your priority one is for readers to sign up to your mailing list or follow you on Twitter (or another social media platform), why give them the option of instead following your blog through RSS?
You can’t (or shouldn’t) prevent people from subscribing to your RSS feed. For some, RSS feeds are still the easiest and best way to keep up with their favorite blogs.
But that doesn’t mean you have to offer a big ol’ RSS icon in your sidebar or top of your blog when what you really want is for readers to subscribe to your newsletter.
Again, you’re pointing the reader in the direction you want them to go (or not go).
13. OFFER A PHOTO OF YOURSELF IN YOUR SIDEBAR OR ABOUT PAGE
No, this isn’t an ego thing.
It’s a trust thing.
Most readers want to know who they are reading. So, offer a head shot.
Be a person, not an ominous voice behind a curtain.
14. REMOVE 40-60% OF ITEMS IN YOUR SIDEBAR
Most bloggers’ sidebars look as though they could be featured in a TV episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. [tweet this]
In other words, it is time to declutter.
15. REMOVE EXCESS COLORS
Count how many different colors you use in your blog design.
Is it more than a handful? If so, if you’re not careful, you could be confusing your readers.
At the very least, you’re making it difficult for your action color to stand out.
Start by eliminating just one color from your design. See what kind of difference it makes.
Tips for using images on your blog…
15. INSTALL WP-SMUSH.IT PLUGIN
For WordPress users, the free WP-Smush.it plugin lets you reduce the file size of the images you upload. You can also “smush” (reduce) images you have uploaded previously.
For you non-Wordpress users, don’t worry: Yahoo lets you use its Smush.it tool via a web browser. No software or installation necessary!
Just go to Smushit.com, upload your image (or images) and click the “smush” button. Then you can download your newly-optimized image and upload it to your non-Wordpress blog.
16. MAKE FUTURE FEATURED IMAGES LARGER
Why? For optimal Pinterest pin size, of course!
Rob Russo, a designer who has run repeated tests on Pinterest pin sizes, currently recommends 735×1102 as the perfect size for Pinterest. Rob seems to know his stuff, so if you’re looking to make your posts more Pinterest friendly this is a good tip to follow.
Aren’t these dimensions quite large, as Henneke Duistermaat points out in her comment? Definitely.
However, if you’re focusing on Pinterest and want your posts to be as Pinterest-friendly as possible, it may be worth it to design your blog around these extra-large featured images.
What do I do? I compromise. The width of my featured images is 735 pixels. The height is whatever makes sense for the particular image I’m using.
Just remember: “bigger is better” with Pinterest. Do what makes sense for you and your blog!
Tips for your post’s content…
17. UPDATE YOUR ABOUT PAGE
For many bloggers, the About page is one of the two pages (the other being the Contact page) created within the first few days of starting your blog.
It’s also one of the two pages on your blog which haven’t been touched since they were created.
If you haven’t updated your About page in a while, look it over and see if everything that’s there is still relevant.
Modify as needed.
18. ADD AN ABOUT PAGE
Every so often, I come across a blog or website without an About page.
And when I do, I usually think of this:
So, in short:
You’re not Ron Swanson of TV’s Parks and Recreation. You’re a blogger. Add an About page. [tweet this]
19. PICK TOPICS USING A GENERATOR
Stumped for blog ideas?
HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator lets you put in three terms you would like to blog about, and it will output five different topics (headlines included).
I entered money, food and sports into the generator and received the following topic ideas:
- The History Of Money
- 27 Things About Food Your Boss Wants To Know
- Think You’re Cut Out For Doing Sports? Take This Quiz
- 10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Money
- 15 Best Blogs To Follow About Food
“The History of Money” sounds like it would be a bear to write and “Think You’re Cut Out For Doing Sports” sounds like something written by someone without a firm grasp of sports (or the English language).
But the others seem like great suggestions for a money or food blogger.
Some quick tips for promoting your blog…
20. ADD GOOGLE AUTHORSHIP
If you haven’t added Google Authorship to your blog yet, it’s time.
If you already have a Google+ account and the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, setting up authorship can take less than 10 minutes.
Need a more in-depth tutorial? Here is the definitive handbook on the subject.
21. ADD CONSENT VERBIAGE TO YOUR FOOTER
True, many bloggers who post excerpts of others’ works don’t bother to find out if they consent to such acts.
However, some do. And if you want to make it easier for these bloggers, and thereby making it easier for your work to be featured and quoted, add consent verbiage somewhere on your blog.
Here at Be A Better Blogger, I offer the following in my footer:
Excerpts of content may be used, provided full & clear credit is given to us with appropriate & specific direction to original content.
What does this mean? It means people are free to use excerpts of my content, but they’re required to give me credit and provide a link to my blog.
22. FIND AN OLD POST AND PROMOTE IT
If you have been blogging for any length of time, you have quite a collection of posts in your archive gathering dust.
Many of your readers don’t even know these gold nuggets of info even exist.
Pick one of them and share it on social media. It doesn’t matter if it’s old, so long as the information is still relevant.
Next week, do the same thing with a different post.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
BONUS: ADD “TWEET THIS” SUGGESTIONS
As pointed out by Eric Deeter in a comment below, another great promotion tip used by many bloggers (including yours truly within this very post) is?adding “tweet this” links next to content you wish to highlight for promotion.
This makes it easy for readers to share.
A person might not want to share your entire post, but they might really like something specific you said within the post!
So, how do you do it?
Personally, I hardcode my “tweet this” links. But for ease of use, try ClicktoTweet.com.
It lets you create links with no coding required.