There are about a million and one different ways to set up a personal blog or website these days. Maybe even a billion and one. Free themes, paid-for-themes, website platforms - if you can imagine it for your blog, it's probably already available.
When you begin a personal blog, the set-up is usually based on what looks good to you. Hey, let's be honest, in those first few months (years), not a lot of people may show up and you should like what you see.
Once you cross the invisible line (it's different for everybody) of blogging for yourself to blogging for your audience, your website/blog isn't just about you anymore. Your website becomes the first thing people will ever know about you. When you've been blogging (or selling books) for a long time, there's a lot of content that readers may never find.
One good way to give new visitors to your website a reason to stick around for a few minutes and get to know you - and maybe subscribe, comment, join your newsletter, oh my! - is to have an organized website that makes it easy to find your best content.
Organize Your Menu/Navigation Bar
Anything you do to organize your website is a bit of a moving target. What works today won't work in six months so you may need to revisit this from time to time.
Make sure people can find different parts of your website easily from the top menu or navigation bar. Link to the categories with your best content for your ideal reader. I have a few "ideal readers" so for me, I've got multiple categories in the navigation menu.
For authors out there, make sure a link to your books for sale - or a page on your website highlighting your books - is prominent.
For sex bloggers, if you're actively looking for toys to review, sponsorships, ad sales, or whatever else, don't bury that at the bottom of your website.
Use the navigation bar area to give people something to click on so they can explore your website and see something more than your most recent posts. And if they land on your site on a specific blog post, this will give them more to read and do.
Simplify Your Sidebar
I'm just as guilty as the next person of cramming everything I've ever wanted to say into the sidebar of my website. In the last redesign it was painful to eliminate certain things, and I have no doubt a few blogging experts would say I still have too much.
Not everything is as important as everything else. The sidebar is often ignored by visitors so there's no point in putting everything and the kitchen sink in it. You can handle your sidebar a few ways:
- Only include things that are extremely important to you.
- Change it out every few months to freshen it up.
- Choose a website template/theme that lets you have different sidebars on different types of pages. (I have this, but I haven't started using it yet.)
When you organize and simplify your sidebar, you make your entire site look cleaner without a lot of effort. At the same time, you give your readers less to focus on, making it easier for them to read and maneuver through your site.
Add Explanatory Pages
These pages can go in your footer, your main menu, or just be used when you need to link to them within a blog post. They're great for sharing information on one topic instead of forcing a new reader to go back through your archives in order to understand what's going on (and very few will ever do that).
What kind of pages should you have?
About: This is a quick little bio of who you are, what you do, and why you started blogging, writing, or whatever it is you're doing online.
Start Here: This one is new for me, but it's been a game-changer. I'm a multi-niche site. Sure, the overall theme is smut, but I write BDSM advice, marketing advice, erotic fiction, reviews, and even more. Different people will come to my site for different reasons. The Start Here page is an introduction to the site and breaks down the different areas, so people go where they want to go instead of aimlessly clicking around or getting frustrated and leaving too soon.
Pages for your categories: If you write about any topic - BDSM or granny sex or tentacles (or whatever) for a specific reason, there's nothing wrong with sharing why in an explanatory page, and then linking to your tentacles category within that page. I've done this with my BDSM writings, Sexy Marketing writings, and others.
Policies: If you allow advertising on your website, include sponsored posts, write reviews, take people's information, or anything that makes your website more than a simple personal blog, you'll need different policies to cover these things.
Note: The most ethical thing (in terms of marketing) is to always disclose affiliate links, advertisements, sponsored posts, and free products in exchange for a review. Yes, even when an advertiser asks if you will leave off the disclosure. (I didn't run a sponsored post for a company because of a request like this.)
If you can think of it, it can likely be a page on your website.
When you want to get more people to read your blog, subscribe to your newsletter, buy your book, or simply follow you online, one of the best ways is a well-organized website that's easy to read and navigate.
Okay, your turn - what have you included in your website to help readers find your best content? Do you have any pages that you've created that get more clicks than others? Share in the comments below!
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