Categories Are More Than Just a List

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The purpose of categorising posts is to organise your content. You group similar posts into sections, allowing readers to easily find all the posts on a certain topic. However, categories are more than just a list in the sidebar.

How Are Categories Ordered in a New Blog?

When a blog is new, naturally it will have fewer posts. Therefore, posts are grouped into rather broad categories. For instance; this post is currently categorised into the “Blog Usability,” category. Usability in itself is a huge topic, encompassing many sub-sections. As the blog is still new though, there is no need to break into these sub-sections.

Small blogs have a small number of categories.

As Your Blog Grows, Your Categories Grow

Over time, you post more and more, and the blog becomes larger and larger. However, because your blog is virtual, viewable only on a screen, you don’t see that.

Forget about the computer, and think about each post as a written document, and your blog as a filing cabinet. In the beginning, it may be suitable for you to use a separate drawer for each category, however, each page you add is filling up the cabinet. What do you do when there are so many pages that finding a certain one takes forever? You divide up the drawer. You take all of the pages in that drawer, and categories those, e.g. by name, by date or by topic.

Why should blogs be any different?

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Make it a Date

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Blogging Dates Being a dating blogger isn’t easy. Sure, you can turn a lot of eyes, and it’s true that no-one looks better than you in your flashy widget-ready theme, but that on it’s own just isn’t enough. You need to be able to pull-off the first date as well!

There Has to Actually Be a Date

How can you court your reader without having a date in the first place? It is hard to realise when you are writing your post, but ask yourself, will this information still be relevant and useful in a year from now? Two years? Three? A large number of blog posts simply aren’t timeless, not because they were poorly written, but because of the nature of the topic. The posts age, and their value ages with them. If your topic falls under this blanket, then readers will want to know how fresh every post is.

Another reason is that blogging, more than any other type of website, is expected to be transparent. At the very least, you are expected to show the date. Blogging itself is a time-focused process, with posts ordered chronologically. Readers will expect to see the date, and denying them this simple courtesy will do you no favours.

Prepare For the Date Accordingly

Now that you’ve agreed to go on the date, you need to get dressed up. I’m afraid that your default “ This entry was posted on Monday, August 7th, 2007 at 11:22 am and is filed under…” suit just won’t cut it. The important thing to remember about dating pages online is that different customs around the world mean that different people may read the same thing differently.

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Feedburner on The Page, Regardless of Stats

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The feedburner logo. Feedburner provide a free service, whereby they monitor a number of stats about your RSS feed, as well as offer a few other tweaks (Like the email subscription option we offer here). All of these services are fantastic, yes, but arguably the coolest offering Feedburner has is the little subscriber count button. But what do you do when you don’t want your readers nosing into those stats?

NB – This method will only work for Wordpress users.

Why Is the Subscriber Count Button Useful?

  1. The statistic itself is a valuable one. The subscriber count tells you how many people have decided that what you write on your blog is important enough for them to read it regularly. There are many other ways of judging a site’s success, each with their own drawbacks, but for a blogger, what could be better than knowing that someone out there considers your writings to be worth reading?

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Use the Fold To Sell Your Blog on the First Impression

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The ‘fold,’ is defined as the area of the page which a user can see without scrolling down. There is a lot of controversy online about the existence of the fold (Its size differs greatly depending on screen resolution and browser), but there is no need to get into the specifics of where it exists. The concept of the fold is all that matters, and the logic behind it is excruciatingly obvious.

The user sees the top of the page first.

Incredible, eh? In other words, the canvas of your first impression lies in a box just a few hundred pixels high at the top of the page. You need to make the most of this space, and get all the necessary ingredients of your successful first impression into this space.

How Can I Make the Most of This Space?

It is very easy to overdo it, and try to fill as much as possible into the space. The key is self-discipline; put in what is needed, and forget everything else. Consider a warehouse; the building is best used with its contents filed properly in shelves and boxes, with a good amount of space to move around. Of course it’s possible to fill the corridors with many more boxes, but in doing so, you make it much harder to move around and get at the contents of the warehouse at all. The same is true for your blog, if your adverts, promotional copy and sign-up forms are getting in the way of the blog and page titles, you’re wasting your time.

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The Crucial Ingredients of a First Impression

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Not Cooking IngredientsIt is a fact that on the web, users have a ruthlessly short attention span. You might have as little as just a few seconds to sell your blog to the heartless reader, so how can you make the most of those precious seconds?

What do they ‘need’ to get from the first impression?

Everyone is searching for something, a certain piece of information they need. There are billions of web pages online, and the vast majority of those pages do not have the information they need. In the few seconds before they click off onto the next page, you need to convince your reader that you have what they’re after, not just a lot of adverts. This comes down to only two pieces of information:

  1. What this blog is about.
  2. What this page is about.

What is this blog about?

This question is the one most often forgotten by blog owners, for the sole reason that you are far too familiar with your own blog. How could they not know that the blog is about baking secrets? Have you not been writing about every type of pastry under the sun for the past two years?? Well, yes, but they don’t know that.

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