I love beginnings. The excitement of starting a new project, planning a big trip … or building a blog from the ground up. And creating a blog is one experience we all share. It’s our common ground.
Do you remember the challenge of constructing your blog? Maybe you had previous experience, but I bet most of you were like us – rank amateurs! All the decisions you had to make: What theme do I choose, how do I add a header, where do I upload photos, when do I add the words … and who do I contact if I can’t figure it out? By the end of the first day your head was spinning. But you persevered and got it done.
We’re not just blog writers … we’re also blog readers. And many of us choose to blog on WordPress.com. So to help us, WordPress created the handy Reader. All you have to do is “Follow” a blog and WordPress will let know when your favorite bloggers have added a new post. Then you can quickly scan all the offerings on your Reader to decide where you want to start.
But once you click on a post on the Reader, you’ve entered the land of blog homogeneity. One after the other, all of our posts look just the same.
Gone is the beautiful header you worked so hard to select. Your unique font, distinctive logo, sequenced slider, special awards, and clever footer. Even that Easter Egg you hoped someone would discover … all gone!
Why? Because we don’t come in through the front door.
If you only access someone’s blog via the Reader, then you miss all the small details and fascinating quirks that bloggers have worked hard to incorporate into their sites. Everything has been homogenized on the Reader.
Don’t get me wrong. I love WordPress, our Community, and I think the Reader is a great tool for busy people. It’s like slipping into someone’s house through the side door. But are we really too busy to click a few more times to go in through the Front Door – the Home Page of a blog – to discover what the author really wanted us to see?
So how do you do that on the Reader? First click on the Blog Title highlighted in blue (not the Post Title). Then click on the Blog Title once more – and Voila! You just entered the Front Door.
The Pandemic Lockdown was the perfect opportunity to explore blogs – looking for all the creative ways you make your site unique. These 7 reasons are why you should think about going in through the front door. Just knock and walk in.
So first, CLICK HERE AND COME IN OUR FRONT DOOR. Then you will:
1. MEET THE REAL BLOGGER
Do you ever wonder what the story is behind a blog’s Title and Tagline? Would you like to get more of the backstory? The home page is a blogger’s opportunity to present their authentic self.
- When you open the front door to Beth’s blog, it screams one thing – FUN! With a fanciful header, smile-inducing title and tagline, all on a quirky layout, you know you’re in for a treat.
2. SAMPLE THEIR MOUTHWATERING MENUS
Many of us have a bill of fare at the top of our blogs designed to lead readers to specific content. And when authors get creative with their choices – even better!
- Tracey has something irresistible on her menu: Around the World in 80 Cafes! How can you NOT click on that?
- Jo’s A-Z Lists are amazingly creative and a great introduction to a country’s culture.
- Not to be outdone, Curt has a menu item titled Meet Bone: World Traveler, Fearless Adventurer, and Sex Symbol. I know you can’t resist!
3. UNEARTH THEIR FIRST POSTS
You know the saying, “You’ll never forget your first?” How true. Do you remember the very first post you ever wrote all those years ago? Thanks to the handy “Archive Widget” many of you made it easy for me to go back through time to read the words that launched your blog. There are some gems out there.
“I do not profess to be an expert on anything,
just a human being, on a journey, making some attempt
at all there is to experience within my grasp.
And so, I begin!” —Lynn, Life After 50
- Lynn stole our hearts with her 2013 Let’s Begin.
- In 2009, Amit began by explaining the significance of the previous 9 months of her life that lead to her healing journey.
- Alison launched her blog in 2010 with a tale of traveling from Vancouver, Canada to her hometown of Canberra, Australia after a 7 year absence.
- Darlene launched her blog in 2010 when she made a dream come true in a hot air balloon.
4. FIND ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
Ask bloggers why they blog and one overriding answer is “I want to help others.” Often we go to blogs with questions or problems, hoping the author has encountered the same situation and can help.
- Gilda’s 2015 trip around Iceland in a camper van is an inspiration. I wondered what it would cost to do the same thing. There’s a great piece of information in her home page menu where she spelled out the Travel Costs (under Categories) .
- Liesbet and Mark have mastered the art of living on the road full-time, and are experts at doing it affordably. On their home page, the feature titled And Living Frugally documents their monthly expenses – truly inspiring!
5. DISCOVER YOUR SHARED INTERESTS
When I do a deep dive into a blog I’m often pleasantly surprised by what we have in common.
- I was thrilled to learn that Kelly and I share a longtime love affair with Jim Thompson – and if you love silk and amazing food, you won’t want to miss her post from 2011.
- In 2012, Bama confirmed that we share a love of Lao food.
6. STUMBLE ACROSS HIDDEN GEMS
I love surprises. For me, going to a new blog is like being a kid in a candy story. I want to explore every corner and see what goodies are there for me to discover.
- Rusha has a beautiful new blog theme that will reward you with surprises. My favorite touch is that when you scroll all the way down to her footer, you can delight in Taking a Selfie at Angkor Wat. Be sure to click on the monk.
- Ray and Alie share their excellent Rules for Life’s Journey. My favorite is “Wag more, bark less.”
- Laura has a link in her menu inviting you to Sleep Around. Who can resist clicking on that?
7. DIG FOR GOLD IN THE ARCHIVES
We all have a treasure trove of fascinating posts buried deep in our Archives. It takes curiosity and work for our readers to discover them. But once you go exploring, the bounty is endless.
- Always the daredevils, Sue and Dave live an adventurous life. I had to chuckle when I remembered their antics at the Polar Bear Plunge in 2015.
- Henry isn’t afraid to tackle challenging situations. in 2017 he wrote about his Amazing Students of Kurdistan.
- Soon after launching her blog, Lexie told a touching teenage coming-of-age tale of visiting her grandfather’s Greek village.
- In 2015, intrepid travelers Susan and John wrote about the bittersweet experience of becoming expats for the first time – and oh boy! could we relate to that!
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So here’s the challenge: How do you get people to explore your blog, dig deep, and see more of you as a person and a writer or photographer over the years?
What post do you have buried in your Archives that you really wish people would discover? Or what feature have you built in to your blog that we’re missing? Let us know in the comments and we’ll share your link in our next post … along with some tips we learned from our recent blog update.
How about if we go first to get the ball rolling …
James wishes that you would read his post: Witness to a Coup: Khartoum Sudan
Terri wishes that you would read her post: Finding Common Ground
But most of all we’d love for you to come in The Front Door. Then you’ll see that we’ve added a new fun feature. All we can say is, “Please click on the yellow cup.” 🙂
Terri & James
P.S. And check out all the great bloggers down below … and go in their Front Doors. 🙂
Photo Credits: 1. Jan Tinneberg