As you can imagine, a blog is a very customized thing. A person’s site is just as individual as the person running it. That said, when I first visit a blog, there are certain key elements I expect to see on every single one. It’s generally how I can tell a personal site from a business site.
What’s Your Name?
You’ll want a header with your blog’s name. It’s your first impression, so make sure it portrays exactly what you are aiming for. This may change with time, and that is okay. I know my normal header and holiday headers are all a little cartoonish and fun. That may not be great for everybody, but it is what my site is all about. Find your voice through your header and writing style.
Who Are You?
An “About” page or tab is a must! If I log onto a site and can’t find some background info to help me get to know you, then I assume it’s a business site and move on. A good “About Me” page gives just enough info to get me to connect with you without becoming blabby. It’s a great place to highlight the big points and fit in some personal bits that will help readers like me connect and want to read more.
What Do You Like?
You’ll want a category list and/or an archives page that make your past posts easily accessible. Readers looking for general categories like debt or budgeting can easily flip through that way. Or people who want to try to read your stuff from the beginning can find a quick place to start.
How Can We Connect?
Subscription buttons so readers can at least subscribe to your RSS Feed, Twitter account, and/or Facebook account. I use a WordPress plugin called “Subscription Options” to help me place my set on the top of my right sidebar. If they can subscribe, they can keep in touch with your writing even on the days they don’t have time to stop by like usual.
How Can I Find More?
A search box is a must. I wrote a whole post about this here – http://howimakemoneyblogging.com/let-me-taste-your-soup-the-importance-of-a-search-box/. But just know that you must have a search box of some sort.
If your blog has these basics, it can survive right from the start while you build it up. If you don’t give yourself a “hook” that will catch interested readers, it will be hard to build a following no matter how hard you work.
What else would you consider a blogging basic?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!