Look at Your Blog as Readers Do
In my first week at Successful-Blog, I wrote a Blog Review Checklist. It remains one of the most popular, most linked to, and most visited documents. As I work on the new design for this blog, I’m reminded that we all should be thinking about the points I defined way back then. . . . So I’ve dusted it off complete with the text that introduced it.
Look as Readers Do
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 embarassing, especially if you don’t know about it.
Blog Review Checklist
Here’s a checklist to make sure your blog’s (ahem) vital parts are covered.
- 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 intutive? 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: 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 feeds?
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.
What will you be doing for your readers today?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
PS Thank you for your patience with the sidebar issue. Fixing it is more complicated than it might seem.