I’m just a random person – a creative person. I like crafts, home decor, DIY . . . you name it. And I like your blog. I visit it regularly to get great ideas and see your newest projects, like the tray you made from pipe cleaners. Now I’m ready to see some other projects. The problem is, your blog isn’t easy to search and, I can’t find projects that are relevant to my interests of the minute. I run out of time and have to go make dinner, so I stop searching. The next day I come back and visit again. This time I decide I want to follow you on social media (I’m a Facebook junkie), so I poke around for a bit. I can’t find that information either. You could have had one more follower, but now I have to go feed the dogs.
The sad thing is that this happens to a lot of craft bloggers on a daily basis. If people get frustrated when they visit your blog, they are going to leave and get inspiration somewhere else. And they might not come back. As a blogger you have a few jobs, but a big one is to make information easy to find. I encourage you to ask yourself right now: “is your blog user friendly?”
I’ve realized that it IS challenging to organize information on your blog in a pleasing way. We’re not all web designers. So I have some suggestions – based on what works for me and what I’ve seen work for others. These are four items that I believe you need in an accessible place on your blog. These items should take priority over other items like badges, your favorite blogs . . . sometimes even ads. Here they are.
1. Search Box – Do you have one on your blog? If you don’t, please get one immediately. Your readers are desperate to find out if you have pompom crafts on your blog, so help them find the pompom hat you made two years ago. You need the page views and they need the project, so it’s a win-win situation. I recommend placing your box at the top just like Marie from Make and Takes. If not at the top, place as close to the top as possible. If you aren’t sure how to make one, they are easy to create at Google Custom Search.
2. Social Media Buttons – I promise you that you will get more likes, follows, pins, views and mentions if you have these buttons (also known as icons) in a very accessible place. Take a peek at Dollar Store Crafts. Heather has them at the top right below her search box. You don’t even need to scroll to see them. The great thing about social media buttons is that they are recognizable, so you don’t need to take up too much room with them. It’s also easy to find free ones on the internet – simply search for “social media buttons” or “social media icons.”
3. Post Tags/Categories/Labels – Depending on what blog platform you use, these have different names. But they are essentially the same thing. A few years ago I did a revamp of my labels (I did a survey of my readers) and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve given my readers an opportunity to find what they NEED – and then see the things they didn’t need but might be interested in. I have a drop down box on my blog now that resides somewhat near the top. It says “FIND PROJECTS HERE.” Make sure that your audience knows where your categories are.
4. Popular Categories at the Top – How well do you know your readers? Do you know what they need access to immediately on a daily basis? If you don’t, Google Analytics is a good source of the pages your readers go to frequently. In addition, you should ALWAYS have your contact information easily accessible. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve been to where I can’t find an e-mail address. Sad! I also like how Jess from How About Orange has her FAQ and advertising information at the top. Advertisers aren’t going to poke around too long before they move on.
My last words of advice? Don’t panic! If you have changes to make to your blog, make them gradually – don’t pressure yourself to make them overnight. Remember that a blog is a work-in-progress (even for bigger bloggers) so do what you can, when you can. We all have to start somewhere!