Freelance Blog + widgets

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog

During the last few months of 2008, I made a few tweaks to this blog. The casual reader probably hasn't noticed a difference (especially if you're reading this through RSS), but I think/hope these small changes will make things more interesting and accessible.

A few of these ideas were suggested by readers who gave me the gentle nudge I needed to make updates I should have implemented long ago. Sometimes a small, simple change can reignite an interest in blogging and fuel new ideas (I felt practically giddy after implementing #1). Not that all of these items make sense for all blogs, but here are a couple of updates to consider.

1. Add a widget for social bookmarking. This has been on my wish list for quite some time, but Blogger kept eating the code, so I gave up. Then Andy brought it up, and I realized that if I didn't conquer those little HTML gremlins, then I was missing a major marketing opportunity. I tried again. I posted a frantic call for help on a certain writer's forum. Then, finally, I tried the code from AddThis and Blogger didn't destroy it like it had the others. There is now a social bookmarking widget at the end of every post, so by all means, bookmark as much you'd like. (And if you're unfamiliar with the concept, then check out my guest post on 5 Ways to Boost Your Writing with Social Bookmarking.)

2. Put your feed button front and center. Confession time: I didn't even have a feed subscription button until Ryan Paugh pointed it out. Now I'm approaching 800 subscribers. So thanks, Ryan. More recently a reader asked where he could subscribe to posts by email. Activating the email feature in FeedBurner was super-simple. Trust me. If I can do it, so can you. You'll find both of these features in my left sidebar.

3. Include photos in your posts. Steph at Freelancedom* does this all the time, and I love how fresh and colorful her blog looks, so I starting adding images to my blog. Initially I wanted to focus on simply writing interesting posts, but thanks to my web-savvy friend Shannon I've realized that images serve as more than window dressing. If you're deliberate in your naming convention, then you can boost your traffic through image search optimization. Plus, using photos from flickr (but please only post photos available through Creative Commons) gives you a reason to interact with a community that might not otherwise know about your blog. Finding creative ways to illustrate your topic might all help you approach it from a slightly different angle.

4. Flesh out your contact page. Michelle at The Anti 9-to-5 Guide mentioned that creating a more detailed contact page, complete with FAQs, has reduced the volume of email she gets on a daily basis, plus opened the door to some new consulting opportunities. While that approach might seem brusque to some, but I think it's smart and even a little sassy, just like her books. A few readers have noted that it's hard to find my email or contact info, so perhaps I'll look into creating a similar page for myself...

5. Offer a search option. Several times I've gone back to a favorite blog and unsuccessfully tried to find a post from a months ago. Yes, I could skim through the archives or use google to search within that blog's domain. But I'd rather be able to search right on the blog. There are several search widgets available depending on your blogging platform.

What about you? What little changes have made a big impact on your blog? Anything you'd like to see added or updated to this blog?

Photo courtesy of amanky

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog + widgets