A few weeks ago, I joined a Facebook group called Blog Overhaul, it was basically bootcamp for your blog. It was formed and moderated by a woman known by many as @farmnwife or Judi Graff! If you aren’t following Judi, I highly recommend that you do! She not only runs a farm blog for her and her husband’s farm and livestock operation, Graff Land & Livestock, she also runs and maintains a blog to feature fellow Aggies as well as teach people about blogging basics and beyond, FarmNWife.
I first met Judi at AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 National conference last August where she gave a presentation on blogging. After hearing her presentation, Judi was added to my list of people on my radar. I’ve written before about the beauty of social media bringing people together and Judi is definitely one of those people. She has constantly and consistently shown her willingness to volunteer her time and energy into helping others share their own story. This Blog Overhaul group formed out of the simple goodness of Judi’s heart. One day she either FB posted or tweeted to see if anyone was interested and then the group formed with Judi there to coach & help people update their blogs as she was doing the same for her blog. So today, I’d like to say THANK YOU to Judi. Thank you for taking the time to go through our blogs together, for putting us through blog bootcamp and showing us some tough love when it came to our beloved widgets, and most of all thank you for sharing your knowledge so that more and more people can more effectively share their agriculture story! Judi, we all appreciate it!
And in the spirit of sharing knowledge and helping people more effectively share their story, I’d like to share with you the things I learned from Blog Overhaul:
- Writing an About page: First of all, give the reader a preview.. Tell them what they are going to get from your site. Be sure to include a photo or photos of you. People like to see other people, put a face to the words, not just a blank screen. Have a video introducing yourself? Even better! Make it interesting! Share things that are unique to you. Don’t do the standard, hello I am so-so from x and I do y. Get creative! In closing, don’t just trail off. Direct your readers on what to do next (link to posts, subscribe, follow buttons, etc.). Give your readers somewhere to go from there!
- Contact Page, What to include: Give your readers and easy way to find you and contact you. The easiest way to do this is by adding an email contact form. For those of you who don’t know how to do that on WordPress.com:
Go to dashboard, select the page you want to add it to, click the form icon by add media, customize how you’d like (Ryan Goodman recommended to preset the subject line so when you get an email, you know what it’s referring to), and then add form to page. Easy, simple, and effective! It was amazing how after I added these contact forms HOW many people begun utilizing them! I doubled the amount of emails I get from the blog!
- Sidebars & Widgets: Bottom line, keep it simple!! Too many widgets and things in your sidebars makes your blog cluttered, unattractive, and distracting to the reader. Figure out what the main purpose of your blog is and ditch anything that isn’t helping accomplish this purpose! What are some essential things to include: mini bio with a photo of you, subscription button to site, popular posts, social media buttons, and categories (versus archives and NOT both). Also be sure to TITLE your widgets so it’s very clear what a button or link in your sidebar does! Judi also recommends to dump any widgets that lead AWAY from your blog (this could be a blogroll for some). For me this was some tough love getting rid of things I enjoyed on the blog but in the end it made my sidebars more streamlined and effective for my readers. I also taught myself HOW to make social media buttons and so those were a new addition to my page and allowed me to get rid of my HUGE FB box as well as Twitter stream! How did I make the buttons…? Well I used a simple text widget and coded them using this code: <a href=”LINK TO WHERE”><img src=”IMAGE URL” width=”50″ height=”50″ alt=”ALTERNATE TEXT” /></a> Basically I google searched for FB logo, etc. and they have pages where you can download them directly from the company, uploaded them to my Media Library, used that Image URL, and made sure it linked to my appropriate social media site. You can change the width/height (in pixels) to fit your needs, but 50 x 50 is what I found worked best for my sidebars.
- Categories and Tags: Categories are the topics you address on your blog like the table of contents. Tags are more specific ideas within a category. How many categories are too many…? Judi recommends that your blog should contain no more than 8 to 10 categories. If you have too many categories, you may want to take a look at re-organizing them or possibly streamlining your content to not cover as many topics.
- Look at your Stats, Use them to Create Content: Your analytics for your blog can give you a whole ton of information about your site, who’s looking at it, and what they are looking for! Use them! Go to your keywords and see what keywords are bringing people to your site. Write posts tailored to those keywords. Also if you’re interested, check Google Adwords to see how many people are searching for keywords that some of your posts may address! You may find that you just aren’t using the right combination of words. Using your stats to create content is one of the easiest ways to come up with topics to blog about, your audience is coming up with your topics!
- SEO-ify your photos: After editing your photos for your blog, save them as a small filesize (200-300 KB or 800 px max), change the filename to relevant keywords (for example, don’t leave it as IMG_002 change it to Corn Harvest), while uploading your photos to your blog… use keywords in the Title field AND in the Alt Text field! Doing this will allow your images to more readily show up in Search Engine image searches as well as bringing more traffic to your blog!
- Finally, make sure your blog is MOBILE friendly: Make sure it works on a mobile device and that it’s easy to navitage. One of the big takeaways I had from this was adding Page Breaks (Thanks Janice!) to my posts so that when you are scrolling through my blog on a mobile device, you don’t have to scroll through every single post in its entirety! This can be done by clicking the icon in your toolbar right next to the LINK icon!
Phew, we did it! We got through the Blog Overhaul together and I hope that by sharing this information you were able to update your blog too! If you made some new changes to your blog using the suggestions above, please share the link to them below or email me! I’d love to check it out and give some feedback! And I am sure Judi would as well! Also do you have some additional tips/tricks…? Please share them!
Again, huge thanks to Judi for sharing this wonderful information with us!
To check out what others learned from their Blog Overhaul visit these posts:
- Janice Person does a GREAT writeup on her posts How Do You Make your Blog Better?
- Judi Graff AKA FARMnWIFE Makes me a Better Blogger by Brian Scott
- Back to Blogging by Katie Pratt
- Thank you Judi Graff by Nicole Small
- Blog Overhaul in Progress by Marie Bowers
- New Journeys by Carol Burton Greet
- Silo Skies Thanks Judi! by Ryan Bright
- Lessons Learned from A Blog Overhaul with FARMnWIFE by Jenny Dewey
- From One Farm Wife to Another by Val Wagner
- A Helping Hand by Brandon Hunnicutt