As a small business blogger, you’re constantly looking for new ways to spruce things up. Letting your blog sit stagnant with the same format, the same type of content and the same feel can increase the chances that visitors aren’t reading your blog, but are skimming it or ignoring it instead. To fix that, here are a few easy ways to spruce things up and re-catch readers attention. Some of them simply require downloading a single plugin. I mean, how easy is that?
Got a pen handy?
If you’re not currently using photos to accompany your blogging, you should start! Adding images not only makes your posts more readable by breaking up the text, they also help some people understand what you’re talking about. Many of your readers are probably visual learners and by using graphics to accompany your posts, you help them take in what you’re sharing. Images can also help you set the tone of a post or be used to draw people in by giving them something to catch their eye.
Incorporate Pull Quotes
Pull quotes provide another way for small business bloggers to break up white text and draw in readers. Pull quotes in blogging work the same way they do for magazines. They allow you to highlight a small snippet of text to help you drive home a point or tease someone into finishing the rest of the article. If you’re a WordPress blogger, there are a number of quick plugins you can download like Simple Pull Quote or Graceful Pull-Quotes to help you take advantage of these elements. Or, if you’re feeling really creative, you can create your own quotes in Photoshop and add them as an image. [While I know better who perform the latter, I’d really recommend the plugins.]
Install Threaded Comments
One of the best ways to spice up the conversation happening on your blog is to add a plugin that will allow readers to leave threaded comments. If you’re not familiar, threaded comments allow comments to reply directly to a specific comment/commenter and then have that comment display right under the one they are responding to. This helps create a much stronger dialogue between readers and makes it easier for people to track people responding to them. It’s one of those small changes that packs a powerful punch. If you’re using WordPress, you can use the WordPress Thread Comment plugin to make this happen.
Master the Headline
Mastering headline writing is another surefire way to bring life to your blog. And I tell you this as someone who hopelessly has NOT mastered the art of the snappy headline but keeps trying. Read blogs like Copyblogger and Men With Pens to spruce up your writing and learn how to connect with people right from the start. Learning to write engaging, punchy headlines is a great way to attract people and get them to come check out what you have to say. As far as sprucing up your blog, this is a big one.
Revamp Your Sidebar
Outside of your title, your blog sidebar is one of the strongest elements in your arsenal to help you catch your readers’ eyes. Visitors are trained to check out blog sidebars because they know that’s where bloggers sore all their dynamic bits like popular posts, widgets, buttons, chat boxes, etc. What are you offering up in yours? Better yet, when’s the last time you changed thing around? A good way to spice things up is to do some housecleaning on this under appreciated little area and give it a new look and some new features. The change will not only catch their eye, you’ll hopefully be giving them some new functionality to take advantage of, as well!
Refine your keywords
If you’re not seeing the readership or comments you want, it may be time to take a look at the keywords you’re targeting on your blog. And if you just read that and went, “I’m supposed to be targeting keywords?”, well then you just found your problem. Even if your main goal for your blog isn’t to increase search rankings for a particular term and you’re just blogging for community, you still want to focus on keyword research. Why? Because using the terms your audience is searching for helps them to find your blog and your Web site. Don’t stuff posts with terms, but do use them where appropriately. You’d be surprised how a few rounds of Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool can help bring life back to your blog and connect you with readers.
Want to spice things up? Go off topic on your blog! Stop talking about whatever Google just told you to focus on and write about how life as a small business owner is treating you. Write about your favorite customer. Your plans for the store. The book you just read that knocked your socks off. Sometimes the best way to shake things up is to get out of your comfort zone and let loose. You can go back to blogging about your niche and your keywords tomorrow. Take today off and write about whatever else is on your mind. You may be surprised how positively readers react. Give them something they’re not expecting.
Those are some of my favorite ways to spice up an existing blog. How do you keep the fires burning?
#8 – Show your personality. So many blogs sound the same because the writers don’t show any personality. I grew up on a farm, so I use a lot of farming analogies. Chris Brogan often talks about being a dad. I wholeheartedly believe that most people are somewhat interesting, so let us know what makes you interesting.
#8. Invite a guest blogger to post. Shakes up the routine, gives you a chance to take a break and recharge the creative batteries, and keeps your readers curious as to who will be posting on your blog today.
As a chile-head I started to get hungry when I saw the image… 🙂
Robert: I agree with your additional point. I am a city slicker, so I enjoy to learn from your stories from the farm!
Bobby: I have a blog “break” right now and I have invited guest bloggers and they are spicing things up real time. They “kick it up a notch” during my break and it is interesting to see the feedback and comments.
Just a quick note: threaded comments have been a part of “core” WordPress for a while now. You don’t need a plugin for it — but your theme does need to support it.
I find that targeting keywords while writing is like trying to fix my golf swing in the middle of a round. I’m too involved with the actual activity to try and focus on it. It’s apparently a great marketing technique though. Any ideas on how to do it more effectively?
I run a small business credit marketplace(www.biz2credit.com). We started a blog titled expert column last year (www.biz2credit.com/expertadvice).Generating community driven content has been really helpful as it provide variety as well as authors themselves promote their articles. This has also helped us to create more buzz for the authors as well as for our website.
Very comforting to know that I am doing my blog the way you suggest, Lisa. Now I have to figure out how to use keywords properly.
Revamping your sidebar, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to spice up your blog visually. Our company usually hosts one webinar per month in which we create a webinar button that we put on our blog sidebar two weeks prior to the webinar. We then link it to the webinar landing page. This button not only adds an aesthetically pleasing element to the blog, but it also acts as a promotional tool!
I agree with photos. It says it all. That will make the blog more effective and colorful.
Great post and ideas! I
Well, you live and learn! I thought I had WordPress locked down (in my own mind certainly) and now I’ve suddenly found a world of pull-quote plugins that I knew nothing about.
Anything that helps with the layout of the site and breaking up the text is good in my books.
Cheers for that snippet,