Saturday, 22 November 2014

Blogging Tips | Don't Make These 7 Common Blogging Mistakes

Don't Make These 7 Common Blogging Mistakes
I haven't published a blogging tips post in a while, so I thought I'd talk about some of the common mistakes that I see. Many bloggers don't realise they're doing them (I think I was probably doing all of these to start with), and over time I've realised certain things either frustrate me when I'm trying to navigate a blog or I know that bloggers just don't know how to change them.

As always everyone's preferences are different so you may not agree with all of them, but some things are based on basic principles of design and some things just make me want to bang my head against a brick wall due to the frustration it causes me! Unfortunately many blogging mistakes are because of the restrictions of Blogger as a platform (don't get me started), but there are ways round it to make the experience easier for your readers. I'm also not saying my blog is perfect - far from it. It's a constant work in progress but I always sit up and take notice when I read things online that I know I could implement, so I hope these points will help some of you.

Some have been mentioned many times before but I think they're important to say again, and others are not mentioned very often at all. I'm starting with the latter.

Mistake 1. Not having a favicon
Not having a what? A favicon is the icon associated with a website shown in the the little tab of the address bar of a browser. It also shows up next to the site name in a list of bookmarks. If you look at the tab for your blog in your window, does it have the generic orange Blogger logo (Blogspot blogs) or a blank/generic icon that's not your avatar or logo for your site? It's really, really easy to change it - click here for a quick 4-point tutorial. It'll make your blog stand out amongst all the other tabs. (I'm assuming that everyone, like me, always has at least 15 tabs open in a window at any one time.)

Mistake 2. Using captcha
On Blogger blogs, the use of captcha on the comments form seems to get bloggers' backs up more than anything, yet so many blogs still have it. Personally I'm not quite as annoyed by it since Google made it a lot easier (now a three-digit number compared to the indecipherable gobbledegook it used to be), but I tweeted about it recently and the general consensus was no, don't use it under any circumstances. If you're not sure whether you've got it switched on, check right now. Go to Settings > Posts and Comments > Show word verification? and make sure it says "No".

Mistake 3. Centering text
Compare the following two paragraphs:

1. A whole block of centered text is hard to read - your eyes can't return to the same starting place on each line as it's constantly changing.
Like white text on a black background (also difficult to read), it messes with your brain's logics.
Text that's difficult to read will put readers off, even if they're only aware of it subconsciously. It's a big graphic design no-no. Novels are never written with centered text, are they...?

2. A whole block of left-aligned text is easy to read - your eyes can return to the same starting place on each line as it never changes. Like black text on a white background (also easy to read), it works with your brain's logics. Text that's easy to read won't put readers off, even if they're only aware of it subconsciously. It's a major graphic design rule. Novels are always written with left-aligned text, aren't they...?

Mistake 4. Not making images the same width
This works on exactly the same principle as the centered text - your brain has to work harder to go back and forth as you scroll down through images. Depending on how you store and upload your images, you can either resize all your images to the same width before uploading them (use picmonkey.com or similar to do this), or resize them proportionately in the HTML. I explained how to do that in this post.

Mistake 5. Not having social media icons on the blog (or having them but with broken links)
If I've found a blog I love, I usually want to connect with the blogger via their social media channels. I want links to their social media accounts to be easy to find and right there in front of me. Likewise if the links take me to an old account that's no longer in use, or the link is broken, I'd have to be really desperate to follow (stalk) them by Googling their social media account. Don't make your readers have to work for it; give it to them on a plate. Wordpress makes creating them easy with plugins, Blogger doesn't, so you'll need a tutorial on how to create them. There are loads online, but if you want to know how I do it, this tutorial is almost exactly how I create mine (and nicely described in layman's terms).

Mistake 6. A blog archive that lists months only - no post titles
The jury's out on this one as I've read some opinions to the contrary, but I often want to search for a particular post in someone's archives. Some blogs I've read say no one wants to read old posts of yours, but I do, so here's what I look for. If you're going to have a Blog Archive, don't just have the months and years listed (or worse - just months where you have several Octobers and you lose track of the year). That's no use to anyone, so if you're going to do that then you might as well not have an archive at all.

If you do provide one (and I'd urge you - DO have one), then make sure the post titles are included. If I want to find that yellow dress outfit post you published sometime in the summer, it should only take me a couple of clicks to find it... I can work out from the titles which one it probably is. A list of months won't help me at all, so I just won't bother looking any further. To add/change it (on Blogger blogs), go to Add a Gadget > Blog Archive > Options and make sure you tick "Show post titles". You can see what it will look like in the preview.

Mistake 7. Not using your name anywhere
Please put your name somewhere. If you want to remain anonymous that's fine - at the very least use your first name or a pseudonym. Put it on your About page, at the end of your blog posts and on your social media bios/profile. It's very hard to communicate on a personal level when you cannot find a blogger's name easily. I wouldn't write a letter to someone without writing their name, and I wouldn't leave a blog comment without addressing it to them. Not everyone does, I know, but you're putting off those who do want to get to know you without a name.

So that's my 7 for this time - there are loads more I know but these are are my main bugbears. What are your bugbears? (I just wanted to say 'bugbear' again.) Were there any here that you didn't realise you were doing? Do share in the comments!
Catherine x
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P.S. Why not have a read of my posts What 3 Years of Blogging Has Taught Me and 11 Top Blogging Tips From the Experts?

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69 comments

  1. Thank you Catherine, I always thought because I had my picture on my profile that it would show up, did not know what a flavicon was oops, all fixed now. Most of the others I have figured out ( by reading posts like yours) always a great idea for a review like this.

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    1. Yes that is one of those things that we assume will just happen, Linda... it doesn't get mentioned in blogging tips posts like these very often! So glad you've got it now :)

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  2. Thanks, this is the first post of this nature that was actually helpful. I was guilty of three out of seven!

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    1. Aww that's really great to hear, Sara - we're not always aware of things we're doing, so I'm really glad it's been useful for you! x

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  3. I coukdn´t agree more with every single point.
    You are not only brilliant but soooooooo helpful
    Have a fabulous weekend, dear Catherine
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

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    1. Sacramento thank you!!!!!!! Hope your weekend has been great too xx

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  4. These are great tips- most of these I've never thought about! Thanks!

    Lindsey
    Thrift and Shout

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    1. You're very welcome, Lindsey, hope you find them a help! x

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  5. Thanks for sharing Katherine! It's good to assess oneself once in a while! Your post is really interesting, and reassuring too!
    Simply stunning!


    XO

    Jeanne

    http://www.fashionmusingsdiary.com

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  6. Thanks a bunch, this is so helpfull! great how you share your experience. i'll get. to work straight away...

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  7. Nodded my head 7 times, Catherine! So well put together.
    I pay a lot of attention to photos, design and layout in general and all photos being the same size (width) is a must for me.
    And you are so right about the blog archive. In addition I often search for a specific post on other blogs in order to link to it and use the search function a lot, I think that (plus adding labels to a post) is very important too.

    xo
    Annette | Lady of Style

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    1. Ahhhh it'snot just me, then Annette! And yes about the search function - I added mine underneath my blog archive as I thought it made sense to have it there. Thanks hun :))

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  8. Looks like I'm pretty much on track with everything, dearest Catherine...yippee!! Funny, I thought that centered text was only annoying to me; but now that I've read your explanation, it makes perfect sense!! And the "captcha?!" I turned that off before I published my very first post!!

    www.StyleIsMyPudding.blogspot.com

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    1. Well done you, Monika - star pupil! 10 out of 10, hehe ;))

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  9. Thanks so much for these tips! I now have a favicon! I saw the option on my CMS but was never sure what it was. I use Squarespace. I had to convert my picture from jpeg to ICO for my system and then clear my cache and there it was. How fun. All your other tips are on my list to check off. Yeah!

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    1. Brilliant, Cheryl!! That's great that you have one now... I think favicons are really important, makes your blog much more "branded" in my opinion! Good luck with the other tips x

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  10. Thank you Catherine for these great tips! I will be making some changes to my blog to make it easier on the eyes.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidife.com

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  11. you've actually helped a lot! love your tips.

    www.bumascloset.com

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  12. Thanks for the great tips, i hadn't thought about some of these before.

    Diana

    www.aretrobombshellsloves.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You're very welcome, Diana - many of them *are* things we're just not aware of. As I said I was doing most of these when I started, so it's all a big learning curve! Thank you x

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  13. Catherine! I love this post!! Thank you!!

    1. I have finally taken the time to create a favicon for my site. (It was tricky getting rid of the Genesis Framework favicon, but I persisted. It is now gone replaced by me!
    2. I can't stand captcha. Ugh. I don't last long posting on sites with captcha.
    3. Same for centering text--don't really get why people do this. For special titles and such or sometimes for a photo caption I might center but never for text. It's so difficult to read.
    4. Yes, to the same width! So important!! Consistency!!
    5. Got 'em! Follow @krembdelakremb:D
    6. I just added a very similar blog archive as yours! Thanks for this tip. Makes sense.
    7. I just went to make sure my name is very present on my "about" page. Catherine, do you recommend going so far as to including it in the tag line? I'm also contemplating the signage....hmmm. I'll think about it.

    Now I'm going to go review the other blogging tip posts you've provided--just to make sure I'm up to snuff. What a helpful post.

    Thanks again!

    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

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    1. Wow Ann you're a champion blogger - I love your dedication! Well done on your desire to improve, it's impressive. Thanks so much for your kind words :)))

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  14. Thanks for the tips Catherine. My favicon is up already.
    Merci
    www.chic-on-thrift.blogspot.com

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  15. Find them very useful thanks for sharing Catherine! xo Sabina @Oceanblue Style

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  16. Ooo, guilty of #6 .. maybe I'll work on that while on Thanksgiving break ;-) I'm sure there's a plug-in for that.

    Monica, www.pear-shaped-gal.com

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    1. From what I can tell Wordpress has a plugin for just about everything, Monica, so I'm sure you'll find one! It's so handy to be able to look through someone's archives if you know what you're looking for (plus something else is bound to catch your eye while looking)! x

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  17. Thanks Catherine for some great pieces of advice. Now I know what a favicon is!! I'll be working on these tips as I work on my rebrand of the site
    Http://www.ladympresents.co.uk

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    1. Oh I'm glad, Rachel! I didn't know what one was till earlier this year... goes to show there'll *always* be new things to learn! x

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    2. I've done a really good refresh of LadyM Presents now and have learnt a lot
      Once my new header is done it will look fabulous
      how do you do the P.S at the end of your post - is it manual or a widget?

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    3. Yay well done you!!

      When you say how do I do the P.S. I presume you don't mean my usual P.S. which is just text with links(?) So assuming you mean the square "vote for me" image in this instance, it's no different to any of the other pics in my post, it's just smaller in comparison, aligned to the centre and then I gave it a link - to my voting page. If I've completely misunderstood what you meant Rachel let me know!!!

      C x

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    4. I literally did mean the P.S bit. Wondered if it was automated to link to previous posts but seems you do that yourself each time. I think it's a very good idea

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    5. Ahhh I see, Rachel! Yes I make them up each time. I got rid of the Linkwithin thumbnails that a lot of blogs have as the excellent Sarah of Yes and Yes blog advised me that as so many people read blogs on mobiles, they don't see all the sidebar and widget things. (She does a free scan of your blog and suggests three things to change that'll improve it if you sign up to her newsletter.)

      And a lot of people only read the P.S., which is why marketing letters always have them. All interesting stuff!!

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    6. Wow! Thanks so much - pearls of wisdom! and I'll check out Sarah of Yes and Yes

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  18. Great post Catherine!!! I'm SO annoyed that since I moved to Wordpress I can't seem to find a way to get my post names to show up in the Archive list :( I've found only ONE plugin that will do it, and it's just ugly. Which is really really bugging me as I'm sure it's why my PVs have taken a massive dip too :( xx

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Ahhhhhh but two things have happened since you left this comment Katy: You seem to have found a plugin for an archive that DOES have post names, and we've met, yay!!!!!!!!!! It was lovely to meet you at the blogger workshop and put a face to a name. Thanks so much, I'm really glad you like the post :))

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  19. I think I am not annoying you with the above mistakes, at least not that I know of. But I don't have the buttons "older post" and "newer post" at the bottom of my comments. i really should have that installed.
    Greetje

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    1. Hehe no I don't get annoyed, Greetje if anyone does these things - I was doing most of them when I started!! Maybe a little frustrated, that's all, but with understanding that often people don't know how to change things (or that they're doing it). But I agree, if you don't have "older" and "newer" at the bottom it's hard to scroll through posts! x

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  20. I agree, I am always surprised when bloggers don't have a favicon. It's so easy and helps with branding!

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    1. I have to admit I didn't know what it was till a few months ago, Kristie - it's not often mentioned on blogging tips posts so I think that's why many blogs don't have them! I agree that the branding of your blog is all-important, and a favicon certainly goes a long way towards achieving that :)

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  21. This was so helpful, Catherine! I'm only guilty of one and it's the centered texts, I had no idea it bothered so many people! It's really great to know though, so I can change it! Thanks so much for sharing :)

    Rebecca @ http://behindblonde.blogspot.com/

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    1. I'm glad that you're open to the idea of changing it, Rebecca - I don't think centred text necessarily annoys people, it's just hard to read even if we don't really realise it is. It makes perfect sense when you think about books and magazines and how they always align text to the left - it's never centred...! Glad you liked the post hun:))

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  22. Hi Catherine -
    Thanks for this helpful and informative post - I've done some tweeking - all have been helpful and easily understood. Thanks for making it easy ~ Laxie :)

    http://maturewomenclothingstyles.blogspot.com/

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    1. Laxie that's brilliant - I'm so glad it's helped you!! x

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  23. Jesus... just did the Favicon one and it couldn't have been easier. I think it's hard to know what to do when you don't know the vocab. I remember my first few months, I tried looking for specific problems but I didn't have the words or knowledge so the google search was, well, difficult...

    Valentina
    Valentina Duracinsky Blog

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    1. That's great to hear, Valentina - both that it's worked and that you found it easy! I agree with you about the vocab... I didn't have a clue what a favicon was when I first read about them, and that was only a few months ago! C x

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  24. Great post, I am definitely going to use the tips. I never thought of putting my name everywhere I have it in my bio (I think ).
    Zeynab xx
    The Beautifully Disastrous

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    1. Zeynab that's great to hear - putting your name everywhere is the number one way to help readers get to know you... it makes you a real person. Thanks sweetie! x

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  25. Hi Catherine, thanks for a great post! I'm pleased to know that after 10 months of blogging, the only 'bugbear' I did was #2, which I have now changed. I also have a youtube icon which has no link yet as I haven't created a YT account just yet. Like you, if I find a new blog I like, I love going through the old posts! I like seeing how a blog evolves.

    My bugbears (I'm now over using this word!) are:

    1) Tiny text. This tires out my eyes within 5 minutes
    2) Over sharing of other people's work, I want to read your blog because I like the things you create
    3) Not crediting a source, especially when I know that photo is not yours
    4) Spelling mistakes and bad grammer

    And lastly, this is not a bugbear, but the newest comments appearing at the top rather than at the bottom means less scrolling. I need to do this on my blog =)

    lucylovestoeat.com xx

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    1. Gosh yes I agree about the tiny text, Lucy!! I think a lot of bloggers don't know about crediting a source for photos - that they have to, in other words. And that "Pinterest" isn't a source...!!!
      Thanks for your comment x

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    1. Don't worry, Manisha - I think I made ALL of them when I started! We're all learning all of the time...!

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  27. great tips. But still, I love to use centered text if it's really short, like one sentence or two. It looks nicer :)

    http://streetlifewithstyle.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you Mirna - and yes I agree, I occasionally centre a single sentence for design reasons :))

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  28. Completely agree with Captcha - it turns me off a blog and I hate having to do that before commenting so I really don't bother. Even if they are interesting and thought provoking!

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    1. Captcha is a real turn off for so many bloggers, Laura, it's something that I read the most complaints about...!

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  29. Hi Catherine, if you don't use captcha and comment moderation, how do you deal with spammers? You just delete them one by one after they are published in your site? Isn't that annoying for your readers to see a spam comment even for a little while?

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    1. Hi Marco, I do get some spam (it got bad a while back but is much better now), but yes, I delete them as they appear. Moderating comments would be 100 times more work for me so that's why I don't moderate them. And as so many people are so annoyed by captcha I'm sure the odd spam comment doesn't annoy genuine readers... even if it did it would be a lot less than the Captcha haters!

      The spam is mostly left on old posts that aren't really being read. Goes to show the spam is pointless and has absolutely no effect...!

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    2. Thanks Catherine. I'm gonna give some thought to this before implementing it on my blog. I personally have no problem with Captcha but I hate those spam comment, even when I read other blogs. I guess I don't represent the majority of the population :-)

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    3. I think you have to remember it's not the blogger's fault that they're receiving spam, Marco - no one asks for it, it's not something that bloggers do on purpose...!

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  30. I agree with all this list. Especially the design of the blog & archive part bc I had found that difficult to concentrate in the content & also finding something I really want to read.

    Mafer, Euphoric Wanderlust | Bloglovin x

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  31. Thanks so much for this helpful post! I've already changed my word verification to No, checked my blog archive for showing post titles (I was) and have noted how to make a Favicon. :)

    Di from Max The Unicorn

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