Blogging – the what and how; co-post with Jesse Fewell
I’ve mentioned blogging as an important part of your personal brand numerous times. If you’ve been following my earlier posts, I talk about blogger’s block, and securing your domain for a blog. But what does a good blog look like? How should you make your blog stand out to gain readership? I have a few ideas and I also reached out to my good friend and successful Agile blogger, Jesse Fewell, (@jessefewell) to get his thoughts.
First, there are a ton of options for hosting your blog on certain platforms, you know how to research so I’m not going to waste time on that. I use WordPress.org so I can have my own domain that I purchased (not to be confused with WordPress.com) and have it hosted externally by a hosting service that I pay for monthly. There are free services but the offer less customization. Here is some more detail on WordPress blogs because I have a bias. But once that is set up, what else does a blog need?
Customization of templates is fun but not for everyone. Luckily most platforms make it pretty easy. If you’re using WordPress.org I’d suggest using the Jetpack plugin to hook it up the features on WordPress.com like share and “like” buttons and much more. Some of the important features I suggest for a good blog are:
- Blogroll or “Blogs I follow” section – you can partner with others and drive cross site traffic
- Twitter Feed – Twitter has a great API (https://twitter.com/settings/widgets) you can generate and place in your blog
- Contact section with links to all your social media (that you set up after the last post, right?)
- Gravatar card – WordPress add in that allows your picture and contact info to show up on comments on WordPress blogs
- An “About me” or “About this blog” page – who are you and why should people listen? (Make sure to include your headshot!)
- Pictures on posts – not excessive but enough to break up the page and add visual interest
- Favicon – that little icon to the left of your blog title in the browser tab (mine is a purple infinity symbol) – you can create it here
- Archive page of past blogs – can be modified with some code or a user interface to display how you want it
- Recent/Popular posts listing in navigation – drives more clicks and time spent on your site
- Subscribe feature to allow people to follow your new content more easily (Most blogs have a widget or plugin for this – Jetpack for WordPress)
I would also suggest setting up Google Analytics or something through your blog platform to track traffic to your site, page views, and time spent on posts. As far as other customization and pages, the sky is the limit. Many people have pages for when they are going to be speaking next, custom contact forms, search boxes, resumes, certifications, anything you want really – after all it is your blog.
For how to blog – there is no one right way. Jesse did have a tip though:
—“#1 just write…That’s it.