Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Reader-friendly Blog

Sometimes I stalk authors. If an author posts a particularly intriguing article on a blog, or if an author interacts with me on a social media platform, I might get curious about the author’s work. I want to find out more about their books. I might even want to buy one of their novels. If I’m already on an author’s blog, I expect to see their books either listed on the sidebar or on a separate page. If I don’t see their books listed on their blog, I’ll go to Amazon and search for the author’s name.

I’m pretty persistent. If I really want to find a book, I’ll find it.

Unfortunately, some readers aren’t that persistent. There are lots of demands on our time. It’s easy to get distracted. Kids demand our attention. Cats knock over a potted plant. The phone rings. By the time we return to our computer, we forget what we were looking for, and suddenly, that book we thought we’d check out might not seem so important.

Hundreds of books are published every day. If a reader can’t find yours, they won’t have any trouble finding something else to read. If you’ve been fortunate enough to attract a reader’s attention, don’t drive them away. Don’t make the reader have to search for fifteen minutes to find your books. They shouldn’t have to scroll down to the bottom of your blog or have to search through multiple posts in order to find information on your most recent publication. They shouldn’t have to leave your blog in order to find you on Amazon. Everything the reader is looking for should be right at their fingertips.

Your blog or website should be a one-stop-shop for all your books and social media links. In other words, your books should be accessible with a few clicks of the mouse. The fewer clicks, the better.

Things to consider when setting up your blog or website:

  • Font: Size matters. So does readability. I personally like something similar to 12 pt Times New Roman, but everyone has their preferences. Just be sure your readers don’t have to squint in order to read teeny-tiny print.
  • Links: Keep them short and streamlined. Don’t post paragraph-length links that clutter up your page. WordPress, Weebly, and Blogger have features you can use both in the sidebars and within your posts that create clean, easy-to-click links. Also, make sure you don’t have broken links that lead to nowhere.
  • Social media: If readers want to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, make it easy for them to find you. You can list your social media links on your sidebar, on a separate page, or you can even jazz things up by using download-able badges and logos. Some blog templates offer nifty buttons where readers can click to be connected to you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other sites. How you choose to set this up is totally up to you, but keep it clean. If you have a ton of social media links, you might consider separating them into categories. Remember: Not all social media sites are created equal. Popular sites such as Facebook or Twitter should be displayed above a link to your profile page on an obscure site most readers have never heard of.
  • Pages & Sidebars: Pages are a great organizational tool, but not absolutely necessary. If you choose to have pages, keep them neat and organized. Too many pages can be overwhelming. If you have multiple pages, consider using a drop-down menu to organize pages into categories. Some platforms (Blogger) do not support drop-down menus. If you use too many pages on Blogger, things get wonky. (Trust me, I’ve been there.) Other platforms, such as WordPress, allow you to add multiple pages until you have an entire screen full of page after page after page. Moral of the story: Keep it neat and organized. If you choose to forgo the use of pages, you can keep essential information on the sidebar of your blog. Keep the important information as close to the top as possible and keep the clutter to a minimum.
  • Badges, blinkies & clutter-bunnies: Badges and blinkies can jazz up a blog or a website, but if you have too many things that flash and blink, you run the risk of giving your reader a seizure. If you must use blinkies, take a “less is more” approach. And if you use badges, don’t dump and run. Arrange your badges neatly in organized columns, or on your sidebar. Don’t let the clutter-bunnies chase your readers away.
  • Bio: Your author bio can be as long or short as you’d like. It can be listed on a separate page or placed in the sidebar. Just make sure your readers (or potential agents and publishers) know who you are and where to find you out in cyberspace.
  • Books: How can your readers buy your books if they can’t find them? You can create pages for your books, or you can list them in your sidebar. Whatever you choose, be sure to include links to at least one buying source.
  • Updates: If you have a static website, be sure to update it occasionally. When you publish a new book, add it. Don’t have a “Coming Soon” heading for a book you released six months ago.

Basically, there are a million ways to organize your blog or website. You can jazz it up or keep it simple. Have multiple pages, or a one-page, streamlined blog. Just remember your blog or site is for your readers, so make it as reader-friendly as possible. Have fun with your blog, put your personal stamp on it, and make it uniquely yours.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. Yes, there are logs which touch the heart at once and it is goood to follow them. Regards