7 silly things you really shouldn't forget to do... (EduBlogging)

string on finger
Traveling through the 'sphere this afternoon, while foraging about for a guest-post I'll be writing for the ELT Blogathon, I noticed some very basic errors made by a number of bloggers, both the newbies and the oldies...

Here's my list of common things you really shouldn't forget to have on your main blog page:

1. RSS feed or email subscription option
Many people don't have the time to enter in your URL each time they want to read one of your posts. Most of the time they can't remember it anyway.   :-)

Providing a link to these enables your readers to either read your blog posts within their readers comfortably (e.g. with GoogleReader) or within their inboxes via Feedburner or the like.    

Place the button to this on the top of your page and again at the side to ensure that your readers can find it easily and subscribe.  Set it to "full" so that they can read the entire post  via this or even their i-googles before deciding if the post is worth popping over to in order to comment, bookmark for later perusal or perhaps even share with friends.

There's nothing quite so annoying, however, as someone who has put the RSS button on their page but has limited the reading to just the headlines.  To be honest, when this happens, I usually unsubscribe.

If you're on Facebook, consider joining NetworkedBlogs and adding this badge to your page so that your readers can follow you there.

2. An "About Me" page
If it's not immediately obvious who you are and what you do, your readers generally want to get an idea of whether or not you really do know what you are talking about!  This is not to be mean, it's just that there are folks out there who are basically not even educators, don't know much about teaching English or who are scammers  just  jumping-on-the-English-is-a-global-language-bandwagon-let-me-see-if-I-can-make-some-money-with-Google-Ads...

As the internet expands exponentially, it is increasingly becoming very important to apply critical thinking and to check up on authority. 

Therefore, consider writing a short summary of your background, add a photo if you're not too shy, embed slides from old presentations (load into a document sharing site like Scribd/Slideshare or GoogleDocs) and provide links to your LinkedIn profile or wherever else you are located within the Social Media realm.  

3. A tag-line or short description of what you blog about
What do you usually write about?  Is it immediately obvious?   

Like the About Me page, a sentence or two describing the sort of topics you write about (or don't write about) is very useful for targetting the sort of people who will be sincerely interested in regularly reading and subscribing to what you have to say.

4. My top posts or favorite posts widget
What were your most visited pages?   Which did you receive the most comments on?   There is a good chance that those posts will also be enjoyed by new visitors so be sure to provide a way for them to easily get to the best of your work.

Regularly check your Google Analytics for these statistics or use a Post-rank widget

5. A menu bar or side-bar links
If you write on a variety of topics you may well be missing out on the opportunity to reach certain readers. 

Having a navigational bar along the top or on the side which clearly indicates the range of your  entire body of work is very important.  Some of your readers will not know how to get around a blog and  they may want to:  it's your responsibility to make this as easy as possible for them to do so.  

Also, the first time they visit  your blog it's actually possible that it was on a day you'd published an article on a topic they're simply not that interested in.  Don't forget that you can use the labels, tags or categories that you normally use to organize your posts to create a list of special links they can get to easily -  this practice also helps to hold a variety of posts written over a long stretch of time together.

Above all, don't forget to leave a way for readers to get back to your HOME page.   

6. Link your like-posts
Remember that your visitors via Google will probably have no idea how to find these older posts and there's nothing worse than reading that this is #5 of a series of 8 and them not being able to find post 2 or post 6.

Whenever you write a series of posts or you're following up on something you had written about two or three or even six months ago, don't forget to tie them all together.

You should be doing this anyway using the tags (labels/categories) function however many of your readers won't know that they can click on these.   One of my favorite widgets in "LinkedWithin" which unfortunately I can no longer use with this template!

p.s Going back and linking the newer posts to these older posts is an area I have to work on too!

7. The Search Bar
Whatever else is missing on your blog, this is probably the most important that you should not forget to add.   After a reader has enjoyed reading something you've written, there's a good chance they may:

a) want to know what else you've written.  The link they had followed on to your page was a direct link from Twitter or LinkedIn. They aren't bloggers so they don't know how to hit the title of your blog and get back to the Home Page.   They don't know how to find the rest of your stuff (see all above tips)... they don't know how to find out if you're ever mentioned something they are really interested in knowing more about, like the Present Perfect...  The search bar will help clear up these issues.
b) want to find a post you wrote about a year ago.  They're in the staff-room having a chat with colleagues and a subject you'd spent some time on crops up... they hit the internet, with a hey "JaneX wrote a funny piece... let me just find it... "  but alas, now there's no way of finding those words again - they have disappeared into the nethersphere and Google's feeling cranky today - who has time to go 10 pages in...  Having a search bar directly on your page will help them get back to your golden gems!

I'm not sure if I've covered it all but in summary try to keep your reading audience in the forefront of your mind and remember that they may need your help at times!

What have you noticed as missing from other bloggers' pages?  
What makes it difficult for you when trying to follow someone's (or my) work regularly?
Share your thoughts with us whether you are a blogger yourself or a reader!


Useful links to previous posts on EduBlogging

Guest Posts

Series: The Best Kept Secrets of Highly Successful Edubloggers

11 Responses to “7 silly things you really shouldn't forget to do... (EduBlogging)”

  • Anna Varna says:
    February 13, 2011

    That was really helpful Karenne! Thanks a lot...

  • Brad Patterson says:
    February 14, 2011

    I 2nd anna's thanks as someone who will soon be starting their own blog. :) Cheers

  • Arjana says:
    February 14, 2011

    Hi Karenne,
    I'm an oldie, but Gosh, there are so many things I haven't paid attention to.
    Thanks for these useful tips.

  • Leahn says:
    February 15, 2011

    Hi Karenne,

    Good advice as always!

    I've copied your list and checked it twice.



  • Darren says:
    February 19, 2011

    I'll add a couple. First off, I like to be able to subscribe to threads once I have comment on a post. If I am interested enough to write a comment, I want to know if anyone else continues the conversation... wordpress offers a little check box so if someone comments on a post after you have commented you will receive an email.

    The second one is that, as a blogger, I like to be able to put in my name and url when I comment. Again, if I am interested enough in what the person has written to leave a comment, I would love that person to come over to my blog and join in too (if they want to, of course!). Basically, as you can probably tell, blogs for me are all about the comments ; D

  • Vicki Hollett says:
    February 20, 2011

    Oh another very helpful post. What a great checklist! Thank you!

  • Anonymous says:
    February 20, 2011

    I just tweeted:
    If you use wordpress.com go to reading settings on your dashboard and tick "full text" next to 'for each article in a feed, show'

    You know why? 'cause I totally agreed with your #1 tip but had my feed setting on the 'summary only' mode, which I think is default on wordpress. I had never really bothered to take a look.

    I hate to open my google reader and then have to click to go somewhere else to read the posts, and mine was one of them for someone else and I didn't know. What a bummer...

  • Anonymous says:
    April 01, 2011

    Good advice Karenne... I think I've got 5 out of 7, so not bad for starters!

  • Jon Sumner says:
    November 24, 2011

    Hi Karenne,
    Great list.
    Another one I would recommend would be some kind of way people can share your posts with other people. Most importantly buttons for Facebook and Twitter. That way if people like what you have written, they can very easily share on those two sites. People are much more likely to share your posts (and give you more visitors) if they don't have to copy your post URL and paste it somewhere. There are lots of plugins on Blogger and Wordpress which can do this.d

    November 24, 2011

    Thanks Jon, yes - you're absolutely right, sometimes I find it a bit frustrating when I can't find a quick link to share something with!

    That said, I better now check mine still work (after changing my template!)

  • Unknown says:
    January 10, 2012

    Can only agree with everybody else. Great.


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