Last summer, I researched blogs for my book tour. I spent hours reviewing potential blogs, creating a blog spreadsheet with blogger names and contact information, and developing relationships with fellow bloggers. This year, I’ve added several blogging series to my own blog that use guest bloggers—namely Writers @ Work and Writers Read. So I’ve been back out in the blogosphere searching for new bloggers. As I review blogs, I’ve discovered three simple features that I believe every successful blog must have:
Author Information. In today’s blog market, authenticity matters. Readers want to know about the person behind the blog. Include a bio in your unique voice that tells readers who you are and what you do. Include a great photo bursting with the personality you put into your writing. Finally—and most importantly—make it easy for readers to connect with you via email and the social media sites you frequent (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest). If you hope to get writing gigs or other business from your blog, you must include a way to contact you. If readers cannot connect with you, then you will lose work. It’s that simple.
Readability. Readers who struggle to read your posts will give up after a few sentences. Make sure the print is both big enough and readable for your audience. If you’re writing for the over 50 crowd, avoid the teeny tiny print. Consider the impact of both your font style (some are easier to read than others) and color (I despise white on black, but some people love it). And don’t forget: before you go public, test your blog’s readability on various platforms—mobile phones, iPods, and iPads—because blog followers read on the go.
Social Sharing Tools. Blogs get fans the same way that books get fans. Someone reads it and then tells his or her friends about it. Online, this often means sharing the post via one of the major social media sites. Social sharing tools—buttons that allow readers to easily share posts at Twitter and other sites—make this possible and easy. Without these social media sharing tools, you are missing a key marketing feature.
Your Turn: What are your must-have blog requirements? What blogs do it well? What blogs fall short? Leave your comments below.