Home » The Saturday Series » How To Blog » Must Have On Your Blog (5/10)

Must Have On Your Blog (5/10)

Wel­come to my new “How To Blog” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowl­edge to good use and shed some light on the basic of blog­ging. You will learn how to set up a self-hosted blog, what are the must-have plu­g­ins, how to attract read­ers, how to mon­e­tize your blog etc. I’ll pub­lish a new “How To Blog” post every Saturday.

We’ve already cov­ered a few sub­jects in this series, and today, I wanted to high­light how impor­tant it is to have a few basic infor­ma­tions on your blog.

Although it’s by no mean a rule, I’d sug­gest you imple­ment the following:

  • An “About Me” // “About this blog” sec­tion
  • Archives
  • Cat­e­gories
  • A tag system
  • An feed sub­scrip­tion button/ link

These will likely enhance your read­ers’ expe­ri­ence with your blog and will help them under­stand your work, fol­low­ing it and keep­ing track of it.

An “About Me”/ “About this blog” sec­tion: Even though we all like to stay mys­te­ri­ous, I strongly encour­age you to explain your read­ers who you are, why you blog, and what is your blog’s gen­eral theme. We’re not talk­ing about putting a real name (user names or nick­names are per­fectly fine!) or a full-length pic­tures! But it’s nice to get to know each other a bit, isn’t it? Blog­ger comes with a build in “about me” sec­tion, but it can be a bit short. You could cre­ate a new post, set the date way back in the past (so that it doesn’t show it the mid­dle of your cur­rent posts) and link to it in your side­bar. Word­Press users can just cre­ate a page, like my “About me” and “About This Blog”. Some peo­ple also com­pile memes they get tagged for (like the “things about me”) and link to it.

Archives: This is extremely impor­tant. You want peo­ple to read your cur­rent post, but don’t you want them to dig into the old ones as well? Most blogs today come with a build in archive sys­tem, but it will likely be a chrono­log­i­cal archives (by months, by years etc.). This doesn’t make it easy for your read­ers, because most peo­ple will rather like to browse your archives by post titles. So, for Word­Press users, I per­son­ally love the AWSOM Drop Down Archive plu­gin (you can see it in action on top of each of my post). I also like the Extended Live Archive plu­gin, to imple­ment on a sep­a­rate page (see my Archive Page). And for Blog­ger users, you can also imple­ment a drop down menu sys­tem with a bit of HTML tweak­ing — I did it when I was on Blogger.

Cat­e­gories: This is another impor­tant part of your blog. Just make sure you don’t have too many cat­e­gories, which can be extremely con­fus­ing for read­ers. Don’t cre­ate one cat­e­gory per item. Instead, try to group your cat­e­gories into a few sub­jects. I’d say you shouldn’t have more than 20 cat­e­gories. For Word­Press users, I have a few plu­g­ins which make cat­e­gories fun. First, the Cat­e­gory Icon plu­gin, which I recently imple­mented on my blog. It will asso­ciate a unique icon of your choice with each of the cat­e­gory. Warn­ing: this plu­gin can be a bit dif­fi­cult to set up and tweak… I spent a few hours on it! You can also check out the Cat­e­gory Cloud Wid­get plu­gin or the Cat­e­gory Order plu­gin that allows you to reor­ga­nize your cat­e­gories the way you like.

A tag sys­tem: a tag is a hyper linked key­word you can use to describe a spe­cific post. For exam­ple, I tagged this post with the “how to blog” and “tuto­ri­als” tags. They help your read­ers find all the con­tent avail­able on your blog on a spe­cific sub­ject, much like cat­e­gories. How­ever, unlike cat­e­gories, you can use as many tags as you wish… they are a bit like sub-categories. Word­Press 2.5 comes with a build-in tag sys­tem, which I find extremely use­ful (if you haven’t upgraded yet, check out the Ulti­mate Tag War­rior). Tag help your blog nav­i­ga­tion. You can dis­play your tags in your side­bar as lists, in a cloud like me… To my knowl­edge, tags don’t exist on Blog­ger blogs.

An RSS sub­scrip­tion but­ton: Most peo­ple will fol­low up your blog with a feed reader, so it’s very impor­tant for you to imple­ment a sub­scrip­tion but­ton in a promi­nent place on your blog. Not a design spe­cial­ist? You can down­load beau­ti­ful sets of icons for free: try Feed Icons, or check out this great list of over 35 styles of feed icons. Once you picked an icon, link it to your blog feed, usu­ally some­thing like “http://www.yoursite.com/feed/”. There are many Word­Press plu­g­ins for your feed. Let’s men­tion Feed­burner Feed­smith (which detect all ways to access your feed and redi­rect them to Feed­Burner to bet­ter track sub­scribers), Bet­ter Feed (exten­sive feed cus­tomiza­tion), and Sub­scribe Me (encour­ages sub­scrip­tions).

So, do you have all that on your blog? Any­thing else you find is a must-have on blogs?

16 comments

  1. Hi Zhu!

    I just wanted to drop a com­ment that I really like this series you are doing. Lots of good tips and infor­ma­tion. I need to take your advice on my blog.

    Angela Mays last great read…Brain­wash­ing or Teaching?

  2. Hey Zhu!

    About tags on blog­ger: indeed they don’t have tags, but you know what I did? I use my labels as tags: I have deter­mined some cat­e­gories which I put in proper arti­cles; that way when some­one clicks on the labels they can see all the arti­cles related with that label.

    I still don’t have the feeds sub­scriber on my side­bar, but after this advice I will add one :tongue: !

    Thanks for the tips!
    Cheers

    Max Coutin­hos last great read…Deceiv­ing Perceptions

  3. Love your tips, I’ll make sure to use some when I am redesign­ing my blog :D

    And your blog has really improved so much since I vis­ited it a long time ago ^_^

    Fengs last great read…A Lit­tle Less Thought, A Lit­tle Less Effort..

  4. Bon­jour,

    Merci pour votre arti­cle inter­es­sant j’aime bien votre blog à bien­tot manga x

  5. Good advise. Our new site has been online for a while, but I didn’t attempt to pro­mote it until I had an ‘About Me’ section.

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