15 minutes to a better blog

This is is the second post in a new weekly series by Tori Bowman of That Pair of Crutches. To see the first click here.

When you read a blog, what’s the first thing you notice? What details make you keep reading and which ones make you think that this blog might not be that professional and keep you from going back a second time? Little things like the name, the design, too little (or too much!) information crowding the sidebars… With so many things for readers to love or hate about a blog, here are a few tips to keep your readers coming back and loving what they see. 
1. Chuck the “husband and wife” title. Unless you’re writing for an audience made up of only friends and family, or you really do co-author the blog with your spouse, don’t call your blog after the two of you. Ditch the titles that include last names, stop saying “we” in your about page, and while personal posts are wonderful, start thinking about what else you have to offer the blogging world. Yes, bloggers who blog entirely about their personal lives (like Naomi of Rockstar Diaries) have created a large following and created amazing blogs, and readers DO want to know about your life outside of the internet, but they also want to be inspired and gain something from your little space. Try to give them something for supporting your blog. 
2. Customize your template. Get rid of the shadows behind photos that come standard with new Blogger templates. Create a separate “about” widget rather than using the pre-made one provided by your hosting site. Pick a new color scheme. Make your blog your own rather than just going with a template that thousands of other blogs are already using. It’s a simple way to get your blog noticed and help your readers to trust you and your content more. 
3. Get rid of the Google Friend Connect widget. Google has suspended the service for blogs other than those hosted by Blogger. It has become a less than convenient way for readers to follow blogs because they can no longer follow ALL their blogs through it. Most have switched to other readers so that they don’t have to use more than one platform. Remove the widget and make other ways of following you more apparent. A link to your Facebook and Twitter, a customized email subscription form, a beautifully designed marquee that says “Please keep reading!” You can even explain the change in a post, highlighting the other ways that readers can keep up with you. The people who really want to keep up with your blog will stick around, don’t worry! 
What keeps you reading your favorite blogs? What is the first thing you notice about a blog, and what keeps you there or turns you away?

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