There are many ways to keep your blog looking great, user friendly and current. Widgets and Plugins can seem overwhelming though, especially when you are just starting with your blog.
Here are 6 tools to add to your blog that will make it easier for you and your reader. There are many more, but let’s start with 6 easy ones and give you a little homework for the week.
1. Is your RSS subscription accessible and easy to find?
Add your RSS somewhere visible, preferably at the top of your site. Consider having an email option for those who like to get new posts emailed directly.
Set up a Feedburner account if you don’t already have one to get your RSS code. Many WordPress themes (and Blogger) have an option for RSS already built in. (Or try the AddToAny plugin. Also, Feedburner allows you to select sharing options when reading the feed.)
2. Add a ‘tweet me’ and other share buttons to your posts
Make the sharing of your posts as easy for your readers as possible. There are a variety (I currently use Tweet Meme because I like the location and clarity in Google Reader, plus ‘Social Sharing – new icon design’ that incorporates Facebook, StumbleUpon and any other share sites I want).
If you are looking for something simple for Facebook, consider the Facebook Button Plugin. It adds a button that can go to your Facebook page at the top of the post, and a like button which will show up on a reader’s Facebook page.
If I like your post, please make it easy for me to share with readers!
Note: There are a variety of options for this – search ‘social sharing plugin’ and pick one that works best for you, looks best etc.
3. Use threaded comments
When responding to comments, threading the comments means that a reply will appear directly under the original comment. It makes for easier, cleaner conversations in the comment stream. Some themes (like the one on this site) have threaded comments built in, or you can install one like Disqus or Comment Luv (which I’ve been very happy with.)
4. Put your Facebook Page feed in your side bar
Do you have a Facebook page? If so, you can have your recent feed in the sidebar of your blog. It gives readers the chance to like the page plus see what conversations are happening outside of the blog and encourage them to simply like the page. (Facebook Social Plugin page)
5. Have a Search function
Sometimes a reader visits a blog, leaves it for a while then returns to try and find a specific post. Or, they are interested in a specific topic you may have written about. While categories may help in some cases, a search function will make it even easier for the reader to look for their topic.
6. Set up Analytics
While you don’t want to stress about your statistics, they are important to know. They tell stories about your readers – where they are visiting from, what posts are most visited, what search words brought them there and so on. A simple way to start is by setting up a Google Analytics account for your site, then follow the instructions to install your unique tracking code. Some WordPress sites are set up to use your code and track automatically. Note, there are a variety of statistics counters, but research to find one or more that is reliable for you.
Hopefully these tips will help the administrative part of your blogging, which can be time consuming and confusing for many of us.
For the video about my suggestions when first starting a blog (hint: it has a lot to do with writing writing and more writing!) check out the Yummy Mummy Site.
Stay Tuned – more blogging tips and how-tos to come!