Kudos to Tessa Trainor of the blog You & I for being the first person to e-mail me following my How To Start A Blog in 7 Easy Steps post. She wins the gift of 7 Tips for Enhancing Your Blog – for her specific blog. Sorry Tessa. I know public constructive criticism is a terrible prize, but you’re doing a beautiful public service with this. We thank you.
Tessa has been at the blogging game for several years now, has a great voice and focuses her content mostly on recipes (Tessapies, genius) and posts in the lifestyle category. But, as she admits, she hasn’t been entirely consistent and is looking for some tips to re-fresh her site and take it to the next level. Here are my 7 suggestions:
1. Give your blog a look & feel re-fresh
I love the simple header of Tessa’s blog but I think the colors could pop more and she might want to consider a format re-design. WordPress and Blogger both now offer layouts in the “magazine” style (like I now have with several boxes up top to show a variety of content at the top of the page then shift into the traditional scroll-style blog). Plus, re-design is always a good excuse to remind everyone in your life that you write a wonderful blog they should read and pass along to everyone they’ve ever met.
2. Be clearer about the blog focus in the name or subtitle
I’m not suggesting Tessa abandon You & I, but I do think the words directly under that need to be clearer. It currently reads “it’s that simple.” Something more focused on the actual content of the site would be helpful. That way people know exactly what they’re getting when they land on the page. For Tessa that might be: food, fashion and the fun life or food, fun and DIY living or food, fun and everything else that matters to me.
3. Be consistent in your posting!
If you make not a single cosmetic change but simply start posting one or twice per week, you will see an uptick. A regular blogging schedule is critical to building audience, but Tessa knows that so I’m not going to dwell on it. She’s being brave enough by letting me critique her blog in a completely public format.
4. More photos whenever possible
This is a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do piece of advice. Tessa is great about including at least one photo per post (which you MUST), but since she’s focusing on food and recipes sometimes, it would be helpful for her to have more content. If you look at many of the successful food and lifestyle bloggers, they all regularly feature themselves, their cooking companions, their kitchens and the steps they take to complete their products. Reader love feeling a part of that process, and they love getting to know the voice behind the writing. I could do much better with this, but I air on the side of a more private life, likely at the expense of more readers.
Here is a great post from Oh Joy that showcases lots of photos within a post. They tell such a clearer story.
5. Make sure your blog includes an e-mail subscription option
This is a compliment to Tessa because she already has this going! See hers down below on the right. Having a small form for people to subscribe to your blog is really critical to building audience. My e-mail form connects through MailChimp. Here is a whole explanation of how you make that happen.
6. Whenever possible, tie your posts to topical events, dates, holidays, etc.
Tessa does a bunch of this too. She has a 4th of July post with recipes, for example. But this could be even simpler. “Hump Day Junk Food” or “Friday Happy Hour Cocktail Recipes” or “Lazy Sunday Stew.” When you share these posts on social (which I know Tessa is doing), they get more traction because they connect to the immediate thinking of the reader. For lifestyle or personal blogs, connect with news trends, celebrity fashion, or even television/film. Anything to have a larger relevancy.
7. End each and every post with “For more like this see…”
This is the single best way to get people to read more of your blog. That not only gives you better stats and more traffic but it makes readers more inclined to share your content! Here is Oh Joy killing it on the share front, but it’s as simple as a “For more like this” line and then links to previous work.
And it’s as simple as that!
Just kidding. Maintaining a successful blog is incredibly hard, takes hours of time each week and years to truly master. But Tessa is doing it, and so can you. I promise, if you stick with it, it will pay off (but maybe not monetarily…). Good luck!
For more like this see:
How To Start a Blog in 7 Easy Steps
The Four C’s of a Great Blog