12 Days of Christmas…to a Better Blog in 2011
The fashion blogosphere totally exploded in 2010…don’t you all just love it?! I know I do.
We connected. We learned. We tweeted. We grew. With all those accomplishments, it’s easy to rest on our laurels. And rest during the holidays, we should.
But while you’re sipping spiked egg nog and sashaying your fabulous selves around town, I hope you’ll think of oldie-but-goodie Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. Why? Because it is your guide to an even better blog in 2011…
♪ On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
♪ Twelve Drummers Drumming: Blogroll, please!
If you don’t have a blogroll on your blog, add one. It’s a great way to show other bloggers that you’re a fan…and they are likely to return the favor. If you already have a blogroll:
- List blogs alphabetically in a single list, or alphabetically under categories (for example, “Street Style Bloggers” or “Foodie Blogs”). Is your list a hundred miles long? Say hello to my little friends: The Alphabetizer and i-fubar. The first alphabetizes text, which you can then copy and paste into your post and handcode links. The latter will alphabetize links in HTML…brilliant!
- Test to make sure links are all functional, and behave the same. By that I meant that all links either open in the same browser, or a new one. Even I need to take the time to tidy up my list…I’ll admit it.
And by the way, the effervescent Bella of The Citizen Rosebud, coined the drumroll blogroll, please! expression.
♪ Eleven Pipers Piping: Toot your horn!
Have you been featured on a fashion site or another blog? Have you contributed content or published elsewhere? Be sure to include a section on your blog for tooting your own horn. A simple list of links to features or other publications (like my IFB contributions page, for example) is not bragging—it’s like a blog résumé and demonstrates your cred as a fashion blogger.
And on a related note: You need a visible blog archive. The “older post, newer post” links that are automatically embedded at the bottom of your posts are not enough. New readers may want to explore your blog, so an archive that offers up posts by date, category, or even tags is a must. Without an archive to pique deeper interest, newer readers may not be able to get a feel for your voice and content by clicking through just the last few post using previous or next links.
♪ Ten Lords-a-Leaping: Take a leap of faith!
So you’re petrified about changing blogging platforms, but you’ve outgrown your current home. Hey, you’re not the first to be afraid of losing all your work and you’re not the first person to make the switch. Arm yourself with tutorials (like Blogger-to-WordPress how-to’s from B of Beautifully Invisible), techie friends, martinis—whatever it is you need—and take that leap of faith!
Change is good. Plus, when you change platforms, your old blog stays in tact until you either delete it or redirect from it, so really, you have absolutely nothing to lose. And I promise, you’ll learn a lot in the process.
♪ Nine Ladies Dancing: You can’t dance around a copyright statement!
A copyright statement makes it abundantly clear to the world that your content is your intellectual property, and no one else has the right to pass it off as their own or profit from it without your permission. Make sure you have a clear and visible copyright statement on your blog, especially in light of the recent Ellegate scandal involving Jill of Polka Dot. Read Protecting your blog and copyright by Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy.
♪ Eight Maids-a-Milking: Milk your real estate for all it’s worth!
Real estate? Yeah, your blog real estate. When someone clicks over to your blog, everything they see in the first screen (aka above the fold) is what determines if they will stay. Maximize your blog real estate by using a trim header (no more than 1/4 of your browser window), and place your most important right rail/sidebar items at the top—e.g., social media and RSS icons for following your blog, search, your Bloglovin’ badge, your most recent posts, etc. If blog sponsors are paying you for your premium space, that is a different story. Memberships and anything that points a reader away from your blog should reside below the fold, or toward the bottom of your sidebar(s).
♪ Seven Swans-a-Swimming: Don’t leave your readers lost at sea!
What the hell does that mean? It’s simple. Don’t leave readers swimming around your blog looking for a retweet or share button. Make it easy for readers to follow you and share your brilliance with smack-‘em-in-the-face-obvious RSS, social media, and Twitter icons. Even if you don’t tweet or share (though you should), other people do. So make it a fast and easy process for others who want to toot your horn. Read RSS and Sharing for Dummies—and Lazies to learn more.
And another thing…if you’ve already employed a sharing mechanism on your blog, make sure you tweak Twitter settings so tweets display at optimum level. That means using a URL shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.com, and fine-tuning the verbiage that displays with your tweet.