How To Blog By Giving Readers an Easy Button

We’re nearly through our Think Like a Marketer class! For all you itching for homework, today’s your day! Be sure to check out your assignment at the end of this post. If you missed the previous lessons, you can find Lesson 1: How to Blog Using Successful Branding here, Lesson 2: How to Create Brilliant Ideas & Brainstorm here and Lesson 3: What’s In It For Me & The Customer Experience here.

By the way, sign-up for this class is now closed, but you can still get loads of info from the posts and in the forum… so keep on reading!

Lesson 4: Making Things Easy for Your Readers

easy-navigation-and-functionalityIn Lesson 3, we talked about some about the user experience. Today we dig in even deeper. Got your shovels?

When we focus on improving our blogs, we typically think of two areas: our content and our blog’s design. But there’s a super invisible force behind your blog’s greatness: functionality and navigation.

Now before your eyes glaze over, how many times have you left someone’s blog without:

  • leaving a comment because the word verification was too hard to read?
  • tweeting someone’s incredible post because there was no “retweet” button?
  • subscribing to someone’s blog because you couldn’t figure out where to subscribe?

You left that blog because they made it too hard on you. While you may hang around and seek out the answer from time to time, most of time you’ll move on. Your to-do list is a mile long and stalking someone’s site just to find out their Twitter name isn’t helping.

It’s Not Always Easy to Make It Easy

I’m not going to lie—improving your blog’s navigation and functionality is going to require a little backend work from you. And not to mention time. For example, you may spend an hour or two picking out some snazzy social media buttons, downloading them to your computer, uploading them to your blog and then linking them to all your various profiles. But what’s the payoff for your hard work?

You’ve now made it easy for readers to find you with one click. What if you didn’t have that… think they’re going to go to Facebook and search for your fan page, or try to figure out your Twitter name? Doubt it. Make it easy for them!

Look at the entire experience someone new may go through on your blog and give your readers an Easy Button to:

…Find Out More About You

For most websites, the About page is the most viewed page after the homepage.

Someone just read your spectacular post and they’re like, “Dang, this girl is pretty awesome. I wanna know more!” Or maybe a company wants to work with bloggers on a new social media campaign and you were recommended by a friend. They both try to find your About page but it’s missing.

Create an About page that gives readers (and brands) a sense of who you are, what you write about and don’t forget to answer the question “What’s In It For Me?” (helloooo lesson 3). This will be the hardest page you have to write but it’s also one that can make or break it with your readers or brands.

Also, decide if you want to include your real name or use a nickname. Then put it somewhere: on your sidebar, on your About page, or wherever else you see fit. Whether real or fake, people need names to connect with people… and to know how to address you.

…Find Your Best Posts

Again, someone read ANOTHER spectacular post of yours (man, you’re good!) and they’re DYING to read more. That’s great because you want to convert a new visitor to a fan, subscriber or president of your fan club, right? A few ways to make this easy on your readers:

Use a gadget/plugin
Popular Posts gadget for Blogger and the Popular Post plugin for WordPress pull your most popular posts by views, comments or average daily views. You can even exclude categories such as reviews or giveaways.

Create a tab in your main menu
You could create a “Popular Post” page that shows off your most popular posts and link it to them.

Manually link to them in your sidebar
You could simply add links to your sidebar of your favorite posts as well. Just remember to update them so you readers aren’t seeing a post about your sweet new baby who’s now eight.

…Share Your Content

I’m sure you can recall a time where you’ve wanted to share a post and gave up because it was such a hassle. No one wants to copy a post URL, then go over to Facebook, click on the status update field, paste that URL, flip through the gazillion thumbnail choices and finally hit “share.” (Although I do this for my Facebook fan page links because I like to say why I’m sharing it). Give it to them in less than two clicks with sharing features on your blog.

How? The easiest thing to do is add a sharing plugin to your blog. A few popular ones :

AddThis


SexyBookmarks


Digg Digg (WordPress only)

If you’re code savvy, you can also add these buttons at the end of each post with a little coding magic.

…Find You Elsewhere

Can someone easily find links to your Facebook fan page, your Twitter profile or your RSS feed? Make sure your social media buttons are easy to find. Most people typically look in your header or at the top of your sidebar(s). Consider keeping your social media buttons “above the fold,” the part of your blog a reader sees when they first land on your page. You only have a few seconds to make an impression!

If you need some cute social media icons, I have a post on Momcomm with links to some great ones.

…Contact You

Readers sometimes want to ask you a question. Or perhaps a PR rep is looking to work with you in some capacity. Every blog needs a contact page so people know how to get in touch with you.
One caution though about listing your full email address like name@blog.com. Spammers have spiders that scan sites for email addresses so I’d encourage you to either write it like YOU(at)BLOG (dot)com or better yet, just use a little HTML and link it to your email as in:
<a href=”mailto:NAME@BLOG.com”>shoot me an email</a>

…Search Your Content

Someone told you about a great recipe that Blogger Suzy posted a few weeks ago so you hop over to her blog. You go to her home page but how do you get to the recipe? You can try categories. Or perhaps the archives. But the easiest thing would be to search the blog.

You can typically add a search box either by using code, a widget or a plugin. Another popular option is Lijit search which also provides search statistics for you.

…Leave Comments

If there’s one thing you do to improve your blog, it’s to make it easy for your readers to leave comments. Here are a few of the most common “hard ways” I’ve seen:

  • Having your “leave a comment” link at the top of a post. People expect it at the bottom, not having to scroll all the way back to the top to comment. If you like it at the top, try putting it in both places.
  • Word verification AND comment moderation turned on: if you want to moderate comments, don’t make your readers have to enter word verification.
  • Word verification that comes up after your reader hits “submit.” I’ve heard many bloggers say they’ve hit the back button or closed a window right as they saw it pop up and completely lost the comment they typed up.
  • Speaking of word verification, the best thing would be if you don’t even have it at all! Have you tried removing it? Did your spam get overwhelming? If you’re on WordPress, a plugin like Akismet will catch 99% of it for you. As of late 2010, Blogger has a built-in spam catcher.
  • Not offering Name/URL on Blogger. While you can comment on Blogger with your Gmail account, if you don’t have a Blogger profile set up, the link of your name goes to an error page. Setting up a Blogger profile requires you to actually set up a Blogspot blog, which as a WordPress blogger, there’s no reason for me to do. Give readers the option to enter Name/URL, even if it means you won’t know their email address.
HOMEWORK

Ask your group to find 2-3 ways you’re making things harder on your readers. Do the same for your group members and offer suggestions to fix it. Now, go tweak your blog to improve its navigation and functionality!

Download your lesson handout here so you have it for easy reference.

If you have a question about today’s lesson or assignment, hop on over to the Think Like a Marketer section of the forum and ask away! You can also find us on Twitter by using the hashtag #SITSClass and by following me on Twitter @momcommblog.

Stay tuned for our last lesson: The delicate balance when it comes to giving your readers choices.

More From the Think Like a Marketer Class

Be sure you don’t miss a single post from this series. The Think Like a Marketer Class is guaranteed to help you learn how to blog better!

#SITSClass: Give Readers Choices... But Not Too Many
#SITSClass What's In It For Me & the Customer Experience

Comments

  1. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about How to Blog | Blog Marketing | Blogger Help | Traffic For Blog .

  2. I’m doing most of these tips..just wondering if I have the relevant bookmarks for others to bookmark my posts.

  3. I added a widget to my site but what I find is after loading it, it works for some browsers and not others or they no longer work…

    Thanks for the tips, i do believe this will help those just starting out!

  4. This is such a wonderfully succinct post. I am seriously saving this one! OK, now I’ve GOT to finish my goal of creating the “easy buttons” for my beautiful readers!
    Thank you thank you for all your hard work for all of us SITS!

  5. Thanks for sharing the “Add This” button! :) I just added it to my blog and I’m intrigued to see how often people use it.

  6. Great tips. I’m going to get to work on making improvements.

  7. It’s so frustrating when I would love to comment on a Blogger blog and they don’t have the option for Name/URL. It’s a bit of a turn off for me because I probably won’t go back if I can’t interact. I recently changed my About Me page and I’ve seen a steady growth in people reading it. I made it much more visible, so hopefully you guys like the girl behind the words! Thanks for the tips!

  8. Wow! These are some great tips. I am so glad I found this early on while my blog is still new. I am getting ready to make some improvements now. Especially have to get working on the “About” page.

  9. I love these postings. I just removed the word verification and double checked the placement of comments. I don’t have a facebook page for my blog, so I will get one up and running. It just seems overwhelming to have so many social mediums for one thing – but I understand they are layers of prospective followers.

    I’m looking forward to your next lesson!
    Michelle

  10. Just added Add This to my blog. Great advice!!

  11. Great tips! I’m going to go check if I’ve got all these covered on my blog! :-)

  12. Yes, yes, yes. I get so frustrated with Blogger users not having the name/url option available. I do have a blogger profile but if I’m commenting on something relevant to my food blog I’d like to leave that url not my other blog.

  13. Great lesson!! If I blog in blogger and I want to give the “post a comment” option at the top, how do I do that? Is that only a wordpress option?

  14. As a WordPress blogger, I get really frustrated at some of the blogspot blogs I visit. Many times I will read but not go thru the trouble of commenting. I have also entered a comment and thought it went thru and click back over later to find that it didn’t complete.
    Thanks for these tips!
    Bernice

  15. Great tips. One common trait I found in some blogs is that the comment button is very hard to find. The blog would be very long with a very tiny comment hidden at the bottom. When I am blog hopping to post comments this aggravates me and I just leave the site without posting a comment.

    • I totally agree. It’s also tough when it’s at the top of the post and you have to scroll all the way back up to see it.

  16. Great tips! And you really hit the nail on the head with things like difficulty posting comments, scrolling back to the top, and allowing people to only use name/URL, etc. Those are the things that turn me off when commenting.

  17. I just spent the last 2 hours tweaking my blog. Whew! It’s funny how important all the little behind the scenes things are! Thanks for helping me make things easier for my readers.

  18. This is exactly why I had Renee over at Studio Bold tweak my site. I not only wanted it to look more professional but also to be easier for connecting with my social media outlets. I think it has really helped.

  19. Thanks for these great tips…I will be doing a little homework tonight!

  20. I am doing ALL of those things already! I have my Gravatar with a quick “about me” at the top left sidebar and the first thing it says is my name. I have an About Me page on the menu bar and a Contact page on the menu bar AND subscribe and follow tabs are on the menu bar too! My social media buttons are right under my Gravatar and I include them at the bottom of every single post as well. I have share and like buttons on all of my posts. I have a search box at the top of my blog and I have popular posts, category and tag clouds, and individual post buttons all on my sidebar. I’m just screaming for people to stalk me. I still have under 100 subscribers…maybe my content sucks (probably) :(

    I hate when people have their social media stuff spread out all over their sidebars instead of right up top. I hate it even more when the only way to follow a blog is through Google Friend Connect, blah. Why don’t people add email subscription?! I’ve found a lot of blogs (even big blogs) that I’d love to email subscribe to, but I don’t see it :(

    • How awesome that you’re doing all this already— score! I also hate with the only way to follow is GFC. I’ve never used it once. I always subscribe via RSS and sometimes email (although I hear people are more likely to do email)!

  21. Great advice. I turned off word verification for my Blogger blog last week and braced myself for the spam onslaught – so far Blogger’s caught every one, so I really didn’t need to be so worried about it. Anything to make it easier for readers to comment!

  22. I’ve been wondering how to get those tweet and facebook buttons! I installed them on my blog before I even finished reading this post! I know I sometimes want to tweet someone’s post, but they don’t have the retweet button and I don’t take the time to put a tweet together for them. Or, I want to email a blogger and can’t find an email anywhere! I realized how frustrating that is after I had a giveaway and couldn’t contact one of the winners. I hope many bloggers will take these tips to heart!

    • That’s great, Emily! I SO agree about having the sharing buttons. I’m like 100 times more like to RT when a blogger makes it easy!

  23. Awesome info as usual! I think I have several of these things in place, but we can always improve! :-) Off to do my homework…

  24. Thanks! I’ve been working on a major overhaul of my blog this week (new comment system, template, layout pages, headder) and this works right in. Time to get some homework done!

    Cheers–VB

  25. Great tips! I just spent a couple hours getting my follow buttons in order… it’s worth the time to make it easy to find and contact you. I have been to so many sites that I want to follow via Twitter or FB and the buttons are all over the page instead of in one place. Keeping them in one area gives the reader a quick way to decide how to follow and through which social media outlet. Also, great point regarding the “Contact” email…I’ve had giveaway winners that I couldn’t figure out how to email them (before I moved to WordPress). Make it easy to get contacted! Thanks so much for the tips!!

  26. Useful feedback for bloggers to understand ease of communication.

    The Souper

  27. Great tips! Even though I thought I had some of this in place, it’s always helpful to be reminded that your blog isn’t as easy to use as you think it is. It prompted me to reorder some of my sidebar content and edit/rename my contact page.

  28. Holiday says:

    Genius!

  29. I thought my e-mail addy was enough. But now I’m off to create a full-fledged contact page. YAY!!

    I’ve read in your blog critiques that the comment section should be at the bottom. I know that’s the first place I look to make a comment. But my theme has it at the top of a post, and I don’t know how to change it. Should I change my whole theme??

    • Good question, Holly! I wouldn’t change your whole theme until you get tired of it. :-) That said, maybe you could add a little blurb at the end of each post encouraging the reader to comment and let them know where the button is. Ex: “So, what do you think? Scroll back to the top of this post and click “comment” to let me know!”

  30. Great tips! I am going to implement some of these. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Seems I have not added that Contact page, which is really unusual for me. I make sure I have that on every single site I have ever done! Off to fix that now!

  32. the word verification and all the hoops people have to jump through to leave a comment is super frustrating

  33. I’m making my contact page, since I noticed mine is not very visible. Going to work on that now.

  34. Fabulous tips. Many blogs have lost me as a reader because they made it too difficult. Thanks.

  35. Awesome tips!! Thank you!

  36. It’s funny this was today’s lesson. I wrote a similar post scheduled to go live tomorrow about two of my biggest bloggy pet peeves. #1 is the double comment moderation trap where for some reason blog owners use both comment approval AND capcatcha. I hate capcatcha. lol

  37. I have an “easy button” to all my teen trends posts, but I really need to add the social media icons. I think about then before I do it, I forget. I’ll keep this until I remember and get her done!

  38. Such great tips. Thanks.

  39. Great stuff! I detest word verification, with so many blogs to read and comment on, the extra time taken to type in verification is off putting. Am really enjoying these lessons!

  40. So true! I’ve encountered a number of blogs that I like, but it’s so difficult to leave a comment.

  41. Love this! Great tips. I hate when I want to email a blogger and there is no contact info to be found.

Trackbacks

  1. […] when we talked about adding an easy button for your readers? Inserting a “pin it” button to your blog/posts does just that. It makes it easier for your […]

  2. […] How To Blog By Giving Readers An Easy Button […]

  3. […] Want to keep your blog pet-peeve free? The SITS Girls had a recent series of educational posts about improving your blog; here’s one on making your blog easier to read and interact with: http://www.thesitsgirls.com/2011/05/how-to-blog-by-giving-readers-an-easy-button/ […]

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