Think Before You Link

Good friends come to town. You want to show them around. There are so many options, but they have limited time. You consider your choices before making them. Only the best sights for your friends.

That’s the approach you should take to linking your posts. Only the best for your readers. Before you add any link, stop to think about it:

  • Does this link clarify what I’m saying here? If the answer is yes, link. If it’s not, don’t. (Drop it, or put it at the end of the post.)
  • Have my readers seen this link 10 times already? If so then drop it or find another. You’ll gain credibility as a leader.
  • Is this information they will care about? Would you want to go there, if you were the reader? If not, don’t link. Readers are counting on you to value their time.
  • If the link does belong, label the link and credit the writer. Don’t just put a nebulous click here. Readers want to know where they’re going before they go there.
  • Will this link take my readers away forever? You wrote a post filled with good information. Check the link to make sure that readers can get back. If it’s near a key point, maybe you shouldn’t interrupt things. The link might work better at the post’s end.

Keep in mind that too many links make us lose concentration. We literally stop reading completely.

Think before you link. Readers might not know you’re performing this service. But they’ll know they get more for their time when they read you.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related articles:
Checklist for Linking to Quality Blogs
Think Before You Intra-link
Intra-Linking as Promotion

Audience is Your Destination

An airplane traveling from New York to Chicago is off course 98% of the time. Still it gets there. Why? The pilot is always adjusting with his destination in mind.

The audience is your destination. If you’re writing for yourself, you’ll head in a different direction than if you’re writing for people learning what you already know. It may sound obvious, but it’s still worth stating–if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to get there.

Too often bloggers don’t think through who their readers will be. As a result their blogs are all over the place. Ever loved a blog one day and didn’t know why you went there the next? That’s a blogger who hasn’t picked an audience.

Have you really thought through who your audience is? Here are some questions to help you do that. Take a shot at answering them all in one sentence.

  • Who am I writing for?
  • How are they like me and how are they not?
  • Why do they read blogs like mine?

Write down your audience profile. Revisit it every now and then. Adjust it as your readership grows and you get to know them better. Use it to guide what you choose to write about.

Now that you’ve got a clear destination. Other decisions get a whole lot easier. In my next post we’ll put this theory in practice.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Blog Review Checklist

How to Blog Series

When was the last time you looked at your blog the way your readers do? If you write only for yourself, you look at it that way every day. . . . You are your audience. You’re done.

The rest of us are looking for an audience a little bit larger than one.

Humans have unconscious tendencies. We do lots of the things we like to do and ignore the things we don’t. This makes for a blog that looks great from our point of view, but can leave gaping holes–holes that our readers see, holes they probably won’t tell us about.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to leave things out, as long as we know that we’re doing it. Not every blog has to do everything. In fact, most really shouldn’t. But walking around with a hole in your blog could be embarrassing, especially if you don’t know about it.

Here’s a checklist to make sure your blog’s (ahem) vital parts are covered.

Blog Review Checklist

  • Audience: What words would your readers use to describe your blog? What do they like best about your site?
  • Purpose: What is the purpose of your blog? Why does it exist? Is the purpose stated plainly where your readers can see it? How well does your blog meet that purpose?
  • Content: How well does the content support the purpose? Is the content readable, interesting, accurate, entertaining, and appropriate for your audience?
  • Design: How well does the look of the blog communicate the kind of blog it is? Is navigation easy and intuitive? Do items flow naturally from the first to the next? Do the color palette, image, and type choices support the content or call attention away from it?
  • Posts: Do you post on a consistent schedule the information readers came to find? Do your posts reflect the unique purpose and style of your blog? Do they offer variety and interest within your blog’s purpose and theme?
  • Comments: Do you read and respond to comments to form a sense of community? Consider which posts get most comments and which get none. How does that effect the topics that you’re posting on?
  • Technical Issues: Have you checked lately to see whether and how fast your blog loads in other browsers? Have you overdone the use of plug-ins and gadgets, making the experience more confusing than fun?
  • Writing: Is your writing clear and respectful of your readers? Have you established a writing voice that lets readers know who you really are? Is the blog essentially free of errors in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation?
  • Organization: Have you set up your categories to draw readers into your backlist? Do you feature “Golden Oldies” that new readers would have interest in? Do you name your Categories things that readers can understand?
  • Marketing and Social Networks: What are you doing to let readers know that you are here? Are you listed in the right directories? Do you read and comment on other blogs within your readership? Have you included linked to the social networks where your ideal readers spend their time?

Sure it takes time to review your blog. It takes even more to make tweaks and changes. But you invest so much time blogging. Doesn’t it seem worth it?

A rule of good publishing says, Spare the reader not yourself. In the end, you won’t be sorry.

Be irresistible.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

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Clean Message, Clean Blog

From the Archives:

There’s gold in them there hills . . .In addition to adding current links within posts, I’ll be searching the net archives of great sites for interesting articles that extend the conversation or add a new voice, new information, or a new point of view. These will be carried in separate posts like this one. So that you can identify them immediately as non-date dependent information.

From the Blog Herald

While putting together the Blog Review Checklist, I remembered a post Duncan Riley wrote about Spring Cleaning your blog. It was posted early last September.

Speaking of clean . . . notice the clean, clear message. The herald states their purpose there in the logo where readers can’t miss it. The audience knows immediately what they can expect to find on this blog.

Blog Herald Logo

Click the logo to access Duncan’s tips. Be sure to share any that Duncan or I might have missed.

From Joshuaink

This one isn’t from the Archives, it’s from today. But it’s lots of fun. After reading the checklist above. Joshuaink.com answered it. The answer is such a fun read. I thought I should share it with you.

Note again. The purpose of the site is part of the logo. Same drill, click on the logo to go to the site.

Joshuaink logo

–ME “Liz” Strauss