Monday, June 7, 2010

Improving your Websites and Blogs - a few how tos

Hidee ya'll, Pepper here and I wanted to fill you in on a few tips I learned from author, Jim Rubart, when he presented at The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference a few weeks ago. Great presenter, btw, with lots of helpful info to share. The room was packed to brimming.

First of all, if you haven't visited Literary Agent, Rachelle Gardner's blog, you really need to. It's lovely, and is a good example of a healthy blogsite that has all those 'winning' qualities to keep it popular.

Another great blog to visit is Seekerville, filled with wonderful tips on writing - and just a lot of fun.

Anyway, on to the info :-)

WEBSITES:
People SKIM websites and if you don't get your point across within 7 seconds, the reader usually moves on. Talk about a hook! So what can you do to help people hang around your website? Or at least read it?

1. The top right corner is the prime realestate spot on your page. Make sure you have something very important in that prime spot.
A link to your blog?
Your newest book title.
The link to 'sign up' for your newsletter.
Whatever is the 'catch' for those cyberfish looking for a good read.
Important info on the RIGHT!

2. Write in first person, not third.
Put your bio in first person - conversational tone. First person gives a more welcoming feel to your website. You still want to be professional, but not distant.

3. Think bullet points
What are the most important things about you that you want to describe. Think about the to whom you wish to appeal - what points of interest about you might make them want to learn more?

4. Be creative. Have a message.
On my website, I try to draw people into a conversation. I try to appeal to moms, writers, professionals, and people with a sense of humor. My novels have humor in them, so I want my website to give a hint of what my stories will be like. My 'catch' phrase (or message) is "To Life, Laughter, and the Lord"

5. Be Professional - Jim called your website your "business card on steriods".

6. (MOST IMPORTANT) Your website is really about THE READER, not you. Your job is to get people to like you within 7 seconds, so you appeal to THEM. What will entertain, inspire, or inform them? It's your marketing tool.

BLOGS
The same basic rules apply for blogs, with some changes.
1. Still need a HOOK! Your post needs to grab and hold your readers' attention.
2. Needs to be short - WRITE TIGHT!! A post is considered long if it reaches 450 words (oops). Take all the 'boring' parts out of your post and only put the meat of your topic into it.
3. Have a point to your post.
4. Is it visually stimulating? Lots of text doesn't encourage readers. Placing bullet points, bold, lists, italics, and pictures makes the post more inviting.
5. Blog a minimum of 3 times a week.
6. Give your blog a theme. People come to your blog to learn about....?
7. Be polite - respond to people's comments
8. And remember, the blogs are for THE READER, not you.

A few final tips:
How can you increase blog bites?
1. Comment on other blogs
2. Offer to guest-post for someone or write for free
3. Write interesting things
4. Be consistent
5. Be focused

There are easy ways to create your own blog or website. Blogger and Wordpress are the two top blog options.
What do you find important in a website? Blog?
What turns you off from a website or blog?

7 comments:

Casey said...

Hmmmm. I like an eyecatching website. Not too busy or it takes forever to load, not too dark, not too bright. Something just right. Ha, I'm a poet and I didn't even know it. :D

I agree with what you said about blogging. Continuously blogging and writing short and to the point are what gets the hits! :)

Great post BTW.

Mary Vee said...

You gave great tips, Pepper.

I agree with Casey and Sherrinda about flashing-super-duper, over-achiever-blast 'em-with-whatever so it takes 12 hours to load the site and read one word! Pheeew, that's a mouthful.

I'd like to add one thing to Jim's ideas..too short of a post is equally frustrating. When I go to a site to gather some benefit, I'm looking for more than 3 sentences. The happy middle ground reigns again.

Great post, Pepper.

Karen Lange said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing. Thanks for the links, too.

Pepper Basham said...

Hidee Alley Gals,
I agree Mary, posts shouldn't be too short or two long, unless you are Mary Connealy and can say so much in a few well-chosen words ;-)

I'm not big on flashy blogs and I don't have time for long downloads. My home pc takes enough time to turn on as it is, why cause more trouble ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

Karen,
thanks for stopping by. The links are GREAT - Seekerville is awesome and so is Rachelle's site. Definitely worth the visit. And Mary Connealy is giving away her new book on Seekerville today. Don't forget to check it out!

Diane said...

Great tips. I try to do most of these, but will tighten up! Thanks :O)

Carla Gade said...

Thanks for the great tips!