Blogging: How to guide your readers

by Julie on July 13, 2009

go-this-way

I was with a client last week and we were setting up their blog. At every turn, they wanted to put the minimum up:

  • Just their picture – no bio
  • Cover of their book – no short summary
  • RSS symbol – no invitation
  • Envelope – no explanation
  • …and on and on.

If you know for sure that your readers are totally blog savvy, then I think this is fine – leave out the directives. But, I’m not sure you could convince me that everyone that comes to your blog is. Not to mention the fact that, while us bloggers do have a lot in common, most every blog is unique in its layout, images and functionality.

I believe it’s best practice to assume people don’t know what to do and they need to be told, that they want to be told. Chris Brogan does a fantastic job of this on his site. Check out these screen shots…

Here’s Chris’s email alert invitation. It’s short and to the point, but still very directive and explanatory:

email

Here’s his subscription information with just enough copy to guide us on our way:

subscribe

His bio lets any visitor to any page or post know exactly who he is and what he does (in otherwords, they won’t get lost and can contact him at any moment):

bio

He even added a note by his retweeting plugin to help his readers understand what to do with this magical button and how to become further involved after they read the post (and it sure does seem to be working as this screen shot came on the heels of a post he had only recently published and there were already 37 comments):

tweets

Notice that Chris’s blog isn’t clogged up, there are no extra words. He’s always kind, sincere and supportive. Go through your blog: sidebars, subscriptions, sharing tools, comments. Can you add a little copy throughout to make your readers feel more comfortable and to show them the way towards optimal interaction? How can you welcome them better? How can you get them to do what you want them to do?

Image credit: Neilio

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dhane July 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Great points! I always make sure I tell my clients to go the extra mile on things similar to this.

I would also say that it’s a good practice to encourage people to subscribe or sign-up for your alerts at the end of each blog post. This is how I have received a lot of my subscribers at my blog.

2 Mark Sherrick July 13, 2009 at 8:35 pm

to put it bluntly, you need to assume your readers are kinda dumb. Assume they don’t know what that picture is of, or what that logo is for, or what that clip art is supposed to symbolize.

Not only that, but a lot of people browsing on smartphones turn pictures off, so you need words to show what everything is and where it is as well.

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