When you’re learning how to start your own blog, the idea is to build a relationship with your readers so that they want to come back time after time to read more about what you have to say. Blogging is different from just building a website because you’re not simply there to try to sell the reader something and not caring if they ever come back.
Don’t worry about monetizing your blog right away. Blogging is about an ongoing dialogue with your readers. Because of this, you want to make sure that your website is both engaging and welcoming to new readers.
Make it Welcoming
There are many ways to make sure that your blog is welcoming to people when they first come onto the site. First of all, you want to talk to them in a conversational tone. You don’t want everything to seem very technical or overly academic so that people don’t feel welcome.
Remember that you don’t know if the person coming to your site is brand-new to the topic or very experienced, so you need to make sure that your content and layout is welcoming to them no matter what level of experience or knowledge they have about the subject matter.
Is it Easy to Read?
The first thing you need to make sure of is that your theme and layout are designed in such a way as to make people feel at home. For instance, it has been proven that having a light background with dark text is much more readable for people than having a dark background with light text.
You don’t want people to have to squint to read your site, so make sure to look at it from an objective standpoint after you build it. If it is too difficult for people to read because the text is too small or the coloring is not right, take the time to make sure that all of that is resolved before launching your blog for the first time.
Occasionally you might also see weird characters on your WordPress site. Don’t panic. It’s easily fixable and just requires that you pay attention to details.
Have A Nice Website Header
Another way that you can make your blog more welcoming is by having a nice header designed for the top of the site. Show your personality here and make the blog more individualized. Remember that you’re trying to build a relationship, and part of that is branding yourself as an expert on the topic that your blog is about.
By creating a header, you can brand yourself in such a way as to make people believe that you are the expert in your particular topic. You wanted to look professional, yet engaging. Headers can be outsourced for less than $25, so invest in branding yourself.
This goes back to creating a logo that’s representative of your brand, of who you are.
What Would Seth Godin Do Plugin
There is also a free WordPress plugin called “What would Seth Godin do”. You can search for this plug-in in your WordPress dashboard. Simply put, it creates a text box at the top of your screen with pre-written information to welcome the visitor. You can set it up to say whatever you want, and you can even program it to give a special message to new visitors and a different message to returning visitors. You might invite the person to join your mailing list, subscribe to your RSS feed or just tell them that your glad they have visited your site.
One way to make it more engaging to readers is to allow comments. When people read your blog posts, you don’t want them to simply read it and move on with their day. You want to engage them by making the content entertaining, informative and maybe even a bit controversial.
That’s not to say that you should go out of your way to irritate your readers or try to create controversy. But you don’t want to blog about boring or mediocre topics where you have no original slant. Let’s face it: if you don’t have anything original to say then maybe you shouldn’t have a blog on the topic.
By allowing comments, even moderated ones, this will not only help your readers to interact with you more effectively but it will also give the search engines more content to help you rank. You can set up the comments so that you have to approve them before they’re posted which will give you the right to delete any comments which are inappropriate or simple spam.
Blog commenting is very popular right now, so closing your comments completely really doesn’t help you to achieve a loyal following. Not only should you allow comments, but you should respond to the comments professionally so that people know that there is a person behind the blog. This helps to develop trust and loyalty between you and your readers.
You should check out the DISQUS plugin. It allows real-time commenting, notification of response, full integration with media services such as YouTube, Flickr, and compatibility with mobile websites for commenting while on the go.
Do Your Research
Another way to be more welcoming and engaging to every reader is by doing your research. You want to make sure that not only do you provide a unique perspective on what you’re discussing, but you also have the most up-to-date information about your niche. If news stories have been released relating to the topic, you want to include that information so that you’re also informing your readers. If you could become their “go to” person for the topic, you can develop quite a huge list of readers.
You may also want to entertain the idea of setting up a mailing list so that people can subscribe to your monthly newsletter and updates. Again, this is another way for you to stay in direct contact with those people who are following what you have to say on your blog.
Have Easy Layouts
As far as the layout, you want to make certain that it’s easy for people to navigate and find information that they want to read. Have a search box so that people can go back and look for particular keywords to find more information on blog posts you may have written in the past. You may also want to have a list of your pages and categories in the sidebar so that people can refer back to topics that interest them. You could also have a list of your most recent blog posts so that people can see what you’ve been writing about lately.