by D’vorah Lansky
During our community wide Blog Hop we had 78 authors submit their posts. This was a celebration to share what each author learned during our Book Marketing Challenge, and how they would be applying these strategies to their books. By writing the articles the authors were able to see, in writing, how much they had learned and retained and by reading the posts by other authors, everyone was able to absorb even more. During the Hop, we “hopped” from site to site, reading posts, sharing comments, asking questions, and joining in the conversation. Hundreds of comments were posted and some great connections were made.
With my professional background as a WordPress blog designer and developer, and as an educator who teaches authors how to streamline their blogs of maximum effectiveness, I must say that I was both alarmed and delighted by what I saw, on the 75+ blogs I visited.
- I was delighted by the quality of the articles and the interaction between readers and blog owners
- I was alarmed by how many blogs were missing out on opportunities because of a few simple things that were NOT included on these blogs
As part of our ongoing “Virtual Cafe Blog Series” I’d like to share my findings, what (in my humble opinion) works, and what can be tweaked and improved, and invite you to join in the conversation.
Tips to Streamline Your Blog for Maximum Reader Engagement
1. Have a warm inviting environment and an Attractive Blog Header Image: When readers visit your blog, you want them to feel drawn in and eager to explore your site. The first way to create interest is to have a colorful graphic banner, at the top of your site.
2. Make sure your photograph and book cover image are visible. To create a connection with your audience, display your head shot photograph and your book cover image on your home page. These can appear in your header graphic or you can have it as part of the first article at the top of the page. The main thing is, you don’t want the reader to have to scroll to find your photo or info about your book, you want all essential aspects to appear “above the fold” on your site.
3. A Few Navigational Tips: Here are important items that you can easily adjust, to make a visit to your site more enjoyable for your readers and more effective for you. Many of these were covered during the first few days of the Book Marketing Challenge.
- When hyperlinking an image, text, or URL, make sure that you check the box for the hyperlink to “display in a new window.” What this does is opens the hyperlink in a new tab while leaving the page open to your site. If you don’t check this box what happens is, when someone clicks on a hyperlink they click away from your site.
- When adding images to your site, there is an option to “link” the image to a URL of your choosing (then going back to set it to open in a new page.) A second option is to set the URL to the URL of the image (media) itself, and a third option is to set the URL to “none.” Unless your intention is for visitors to click on your image and land on a page you want them to go to, the best option for images is the “none” option. Otherwise, when someone clicks on an image on your site, the default is for them to be taken off of the page they are on, and onto a page that JUST has the image on it.
- When you compose your blog posts you have the opportunity to list your post under a specific category. This helps with search engine optimization and makes it easy for your readers to find content. What I found during the blog hop was that many blog owners do not use categories, which means that their posts show up in a category called “uncategorized.” What that tells the viewer is that you are a new blogger, that you don’t care, or that you are not detail oriented.
- When you leave comments on blog posts, you have the opportunity to add your branding and create a connection with other site visitors. You do this by adding a “Gravatar” so your photo shows up on other peoples’ blogs. To set up your gravatar, go to www.Gravatar.com. Make sure to list the email address that you’ll be using when you register your blog comments, on blogs across the internet. When you do this, your photograph will automatically appear when you post comments.
4. Publish key pages to your site so visitors can easily access your content. By including key pages on your site you make it easy for your readers to find out more about you, your book, and your work. You also provide them with a way to contact you, access your media page, and read endorsements and testimonials from your readers.
Rather than describe in detail what an effective author blog can and should look like, I’d like to share a living example, by one of our very own authors Jan Moore. In her Blog Hop article, Jan Moore provides an inspiring recap of her Book Marketing Challenge experience, and her blog is a perfect example of how to create an effective and welcoming environment for visitors. www.WorkOnYourOwnTerms.com
Time to Take Action and Time to Join in the Conversation
As part of our “Virtual Cafe Blog Series” you are invited to scroll down and share your thoughts, questions, ideas, and observations. From there, head over to your site and apply these strategies to streamline your blog, and make it more magnetic. Here’s to your success! D’vorah
D’vorah Lansky, M.Ed., is the bestselling author of several books including Develop Your Author Platform. She has been marketing online since 1994 and has been working exclusively with authors since 2007. D’vorah teaches online book marketing practices to authors across the globe.