Basic things every blog should have.

You want people to subscribe right?  And comments?  Good!  Ok, then you need some really basic things – and you can leave out other things that you might think are mandatory.

Stuff You Need

1. A description of what the blog is about

I’m not talking about a huge list of what you may or may not talk about ever – just the “main point” of your blog.  Even if you think you don’t have a “point,” you do.  Do you play a specific class mostly?  A specific type (i.e. caster)?  Are you a casual or hard-core player?  Do you PvP or PvE?  Are you a guild leader or officer?

You’d be surprised how many people omit this.  You may think it’s obvious by the posts, pictures, or title – it’s not.

People browsing your blog for the first time don’t want to have to dig for this information.  They don’t want to have to make an educated guess from the first few posts.  They want to see “this blog is about druids and princesses.”  And if they don’t see that, they may not subscribe, even if they want to hear about druids and princesses.

You have a lot of flexibility in where you put this information on your site, how you present the information, and how much information you give.   It’s a matter of personal preference.

Examples

2. A way to find important crap

If you write important and useful stuff, you need it to be obviously findable.

If people see important crap, your best work, while browsing your site for the first time, they might subscribe.  If your important crap is only findable by category or search term, or is buried at the way bottom of the sidebar below your 400-entry blogroll, you’re not showing off your assets.

(If you have a mobile theme, make sure your important crap is also findable there as well.  SO many people browse on their phones.)

Examples

  • SlikRX just created Page TWO
  • Jaedia has a main directory of  Guides and Lists – which link to relevant subpages by category.  This prevents the long-long-long page of stuff if you have a lot of links.
  • SamuelTempus links to both essential posts and leveling guides in the sidebar.
  • Kurn links her Holy-How-To guides in the first box of the sidebar.

Important crap does not necessarily always mean “GUIDES”. It just means stuff you want people to be able to find.

3. Full Feed

Make sure your feed doesn’t cut off and make people go to your website.  I know, I know, you want the hits and possibly ad revenue.

However, a lot of people read their feed reader behind a firewall and can’t get to your site.  Or they are browsing on their phones and it is just too much of a pain to click through.  So in trying to get more hits, you end up losing subscribers.  That’s no good.

4.  A way to comment without logging into anything

Whatever comment system you use, your readers need to be able to leave a comment using only their name and e-mail address.  If people have to go through too much red tape to comment, they won’t comment at all.   We bloggers may have accounts for just about every service, but “the normals” don’t.

Yes, I know, you’re afraid of spam.  There are ways of dealing with spam without requiring a login, including the dreaded “captcha.”

5. Subscribe to comments by email

If someone is nice enough to leave you a comment, you hope he or she will come back to read subsequent comments, right?  Make sure commenters can subscribe by e-mail.

This should be the default in WordPress.com and Blogger blogs, or something you can set from your basic options.  For self-hosted WordPress, I recommend Gurken Subscribe to Comments.  It just adds the simple check box to your comment form so it looks like your basic wordpress-hosted blog.  Except, and this is a big except, you can choose whether or not to do “double opt-in” (default on wordpress.com) which asks the commenter to confirm the subscription via e-mail.

6. A way to contact the author privately

Just post an e-mail address.  It can be any e-mail address you have.  It doesn’t have to be the one you use to login to your blog!   It should not be your battle.net address or one that contains your real name.

You can put it ANYWHERE, not necessarily on your “profile.”   All you have to do is write it SOMEWHERE on your site: Sidebar, about page, whatever.

If you are worried about spam, write your address like Name [at] host [dot] com.  Or open up MSPaint, type your e-mail address into the picture, save as a photo, and display that sucker like you’d display any other photo on your blog.  Easy!

The MSPAINT option in action

Examples:

  • Rhidach has a separate e-mail page.
  • Firespirit includes it in his about page.
  • Cannot be Tamed puts it in the sidebar.
  • A Healadin’s Tear has a gmail image in the left sidebar.   (There are online applications that will generate the image for you, if that’s what you like.)
  • Oddcraft has a nifty contact form, but it’s not necessary to get that fancy unless you want to.
  • Pewter has a nifty contact form and also lists other contact methods on the about page.
  • Windsoar has an e-mail link and a formspring link on the main page.

Stuff You Shouldn’t Feel Compelled to Include

1. Armory links to your toons.

If you want to share this, by all means do it, but if you don’t feel comfortable with it, then don’t.  Some people may question your credentials without an armory link to see how leet you are.  Those people are losers.

Alternatives:

  • If you want to share your gear, spec, or glyphs without divulging other information, you can always make a profile on chardev.org like Kurn did.
  • Or you can describe your characters, like Evensong, without giving names.

2. Real-Life Info or picture.

Again, you can choose to share this, but nobody is going to shun your blog because they don’t know that you’re an accountant.   Unless your articles truly don’t make sense without knowing your personal background information, you are free to omit it.

Happy Blogging!

Comments

Basic things every blog should have. — 14 Comments

  1. Great guide! Sucks that my blog has none of this. I’m going to have to rethink what I’m doing and check this post out for pointers.

    • I think you have most of this stuff.  If you’re not sure how your feed looks, go ahead and subscribe to it yourself, both by reader and by e-mail.

  2. HA!  Lordy lordy, I need to work on my layout, eh?  Maybe I will finally take the time to learn CSS or just stop being freakin cheap and host it myself.
     
    Good points though, I like them.  I would also suggest a code of conduct, however.   Too many dis-honest bloggers out there now days, and seeing a code of conduct (or being able to get to one), is a really nice bonus.

    • Eh you can’t CSS anything on wordpress.com.  I have hosting for like $60/year, but it’s not the most reliable.  If you’re interested in what we do for this blog, check out the website info page.

      Now, as for code of conduct – huh?  Does that mean “I didn’t get paid for this endorsement?”  Do you have an example from another blog?  It’s something I didn’t even think of because I just write and am not a srs bzns blogger.

  3. Woot, I’m being used as an example.
    I would expand point two to “have a way to find crap (of any kind)”. I’m continually boggled by the number of blogs that don’t have any way to browse their archives or search for specific posts beyond clicking “older posts” or whatever it’s called at the bottom of the page twenty zillion times.

  4. Wow, thanks for holding my About page up as an example, it’s really appreciated! This is a fantastic guide as well, a really brilliant compiled resource!

    • Well you have a good “about” page.  There are SO many perfectly valid ways of doing the same thing on a blog that I tried to get a wide array of approaches.

  5. Thanks for the links, Zel! I’m a fan of everyone having this kind of stuff readily-accessible, myself. <3

      • Yeah, in order to discourage people from creeping me, I figured the chardev site would work just as well. Man, I hope they use that… ;)

  6. Thanks for the link. This encouraged me to make my email a little prettier (it’s still in the sidebar though).
     
    I like the new look!