How to Style Your Blog Like the Pros
Whether you are a small-business or an individual, blogging is a necessity to keep your website relevant in search results and to drive traffic to your site.
Of course, content is king, but the visual appeal of your content is so crucial to whether new readers convert into subscribers or not because it plays such a big role in their experience on your blog.
The best bloggers give readers the best experiences.
They give their readers new information - usually at least one point in their posts are completely original "ah-ha moment" ideas for their readers.
They present information in an easy to digest, clean looking format.
They include related information strategically placed on the page.
In this article, we will be focusing on the last two points as they are the easiest steps for new bloggers to take to improve their readers' experience.
I have laid out five easy steps for beginning bloggers to take in order to structure their posts like the pros. If you are a beginning blogger, I highly recommend you use this post as a guide on how to structure your blog posts.
1. Add Social Sharing Buttons to the Top and Bottom of Your Posts
When you look at big time blogger’s posts, they all have giant colorful social sharing buttons on their articles, and you should too. Sharing is going to be crucial for your blog moving forward so you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content. Don’t be afraid to ask people to share your posts either. I know for me personally even if I really like an article I don’t always think about sharing it right off the bat, and a nudge really helps.
Unfortunately, Squarespace's default social sharing options are not exactly impressive (picture below). The icons are really small, monochrome, and don’t exactly scream “click me.”
Remedy this by using addthis.com. It allows you to create social sharing buttons and then gives you the code to place them in your blog posts. They are big and colorful and much more click friendly than the Squarespace default sharing icons. If you are curious what they look like, it is what I use on my posts!
Learn how to add social sharing buttons to Squarespace here.
2. Make your Blog Post Images Pinnable.
If you didn’t know that Pinterest is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog, then you must be a fellow new blogger! I encourage you to start reading as much as you can about how to grow your audience using Pinterest on your own blog. You can read about how I am using Pinterest as a beginning blogger here.
Making your images pinnable is a great way for people to easily pin your posts to their boards. More boards mean more traffic from people who are probably not in your current audience network. It is a very simple step that has the potential to significantly improve your traffic and grow your audience along with a pinterest strategy.
3. Include A Related Opt-In Incentive Before or After Your Post.
If you are getting ready to launch your blog, make an email opt-in incentive before you do. If you have already launched it, hurry up and and create one.
They are probably the best way to grow your email list. Many people just put a form in their sidebar and ask people to subscribe to be notified of their posts, but this will not convert nearly as many people as if you give them a reason to sign up.
But make sure it is relevant to your post. Don’t offer a beginners guide to Pinterest if your post was about building an email list.
Obviously I am exaggerating there, but the point stands. The email opt in incentive on your home page may not be the same as the incentive in your posts.
The biggest bloggers have several different email incentives for different blog categories.
Different categories of opt-in incentives include:
Email list building
Facebook group building
Website essentials checklists/workbooks
Most professional blogger’s posts are usually semi related to one of these categories so it is a great way for them to convert highly intended readers.
If I just read an article about the importance of Pinterest for driving traffic, I am more likely to give my email for a Pinterest training than if it was just a generic opt-in incentive.
If you want someone to take a specific action, in this case giving you their email, give them a reason to take it. Don’t just hope they sign up for your newsletter.
4. Include Related Articles Below Your Post
This is a must. If you do not have related articles at the bottom of your posts, stop reading this and go put in at least 4 related articles below your articles. Your blog is full of helpful information for your readers. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate through all of your posts on that topic. It sounds really simple because it is: If you want people to read more of your content, make it easy for them!
Learn how to add related articles in Squarespace here.
5. Include Popular or Start Here Articles in Your Sidebar.
You may have some popular articles that you want to drive people to that are not directly related to the current post. You might also have some start here type articles, like how to create a blog for beginners. The sidebar is a great place to include a few eye catching images that link to these posts.
Many people think that the sidebar is a distraction from the main content, and I agree it can be. But it is also a really awesome tool that should be utilized as long as it is providing value to the reader and not taking away from their experience!
I recommend putting a picture and blurb about yourself, an opt-in incentive, and only one or two popular articles in your sidebar. Any more content than this and you can risk distracting your reader and cluttering the page.
Running a popular blog is as simple as creating value for people. Create content that will solve problems, and get it in front of all of the people who have that problem and you will see a huge spike in your audience.
As we just saw, creating value for someone is not limited to what you are writing. A huge part of the value that you create is related to the experience.
Use this post as a guide to make sure your blog posts are structured like the pros and start growing your audience!
Anything you'd add to this list? Anything you are going to try? I'd love to hear it!