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Three Easy (and Free!) Ways to Make Your Blog Your Own

You already know how to choose the perfect blog name and how to update your title and tagline to reflect…

You already know how to choose the perfect blog name and how to update your title and tagline to reflect your site’s personality. Now what?

Maybe you don’t want to jump into the world of premium themes or custom CSS yet, but there are still simple tweaks you can make from right within your dashboard to inject more “you” into your blog and draw readers in. Here are three quick updates to make right now:

Change your widget titles and comment prompt

You’ve poked around your widget options, picked the ones you want to use, and dragged them into your sidebar, but have you tailored them? They don’t have to be called “Recent Posts,” “Archives,” or “Blogs I Follow.” You can configure widgets to give them any title you’d like.

Spice them up with titles that reflect the personality of your blog. Write a television blog? Try “Last Week’s Episodes,” “Previous Seasons,” and “Critics’ Recommendations.” A homeschooling site? How about “Current Assignments,” “Last Month’s Homework,” and “Reading List”? Be punny. Be funny. Be yourself.

This extends to your comment prompt. “Leave a Comment” works just fine for some blogs where a shot of zaniness isn’t wanted or appropriate, but the comment prompt can be another way to add personality to your site. Some we’ve seen and loved are:

  • Speak now or forever hold your piece.
  • Say it, don’t spray it.
  • Your $0.02 gladly accepted here:
  • Penny for your thoughts . . .
  • Are you talkin’ to me?

Head to Settings → Discussion in your dashboard, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, type your custom text into the “Prompt” box, and hit the Save button. It’s one of the last things readers will see, so make it count!

Add your elevator pitch

Readers hopping around the blogosphere have a lot of options. How do you get them to stay put on your site? Adding a short elevator pitch to your home page helps visitors feel confident in making the decision to settle in and keep reading.

What is an elevator pitch? It’s the quick-and-dirty summary of what your blog is about — no more than three sentences letting readers know who you are and what your point of view is. You’re not an internationally-famous name (yet), so you need to clue readers in to what you’re going to give them. If you’re a photographer who loves streetscapes, tacos, and pet rabbits, your elevator pitch might be:

Urban life and decay, through the lens of a shameless tacoaholic owned by Thumbelina the lop-eared bunny. Join my quest to capture the true souls of all 50 American capital cities in pictures.

Add an elevator pitch to your sidebar with a text widget. Don’t worry about getting it perfect; you can tweak it as you go. (You’ll also want to make sure you have an engaging “About” page, something we’ll cover in-depth tomorrow.)

Customize your email to new followers

Most of us use the “Follow By Email” widget to allow readers to opt-in to receiving new posts by email. When a reader clicks Follow, they get an email asking them to confirm their subscription. Here’s what it says by default:

Howdy.

You recently signed up to follow this blog’s posts. This means once you confirm below, you will receive each new post by email.

To activate, click Confirm Follow. If you believe this is an error, ignore this message and nothing more will happen.

It’s a start, and it gets the job done. But wouldn’t you rather create a seamless experience for your readers, where every communication they get from you is unmistakably yours? You can use this message to offer readers a warm thanks for choosing to follow you, tell them a little more about yourself, and encourage them to be active participants on your site.

To change the text, head to Settings → Reading in your dashboard, scroll down to “Blog Follower Comment Text,” make your updates, and click the Save button. Et voilà — you’ve improved your blog’s first impression and created another opportunity for readers to connect with you.

These are all minor changes in the greater scheme of your blog and content, but they make a difference to your readers: now, it’s not just your posts that communicate who you are, it’s everything about your site. They also encourage readers to dig more deeply into your blog to see what other nifty tidbits they can find — they’re your own little Easter Eggs.

You don’t buy a picture frame and display it with the stock photo inside. (We hope!) Why would you do that with your blog? Put your stamp on your site!

73 Comments

  1. Where do I start? How about ‘thank you’ followed by ‘thank you very much.’ I don’t feel ready to drop money on a premium theme, and mess around the widgets to learn how to use them. I started to make some changes to my blog. I really appreciate this…alright I will be quiet now. ;)

  2. Reblogged this on Stacks and Ranges and commented:
    How do I love this post, let me count the three ways. I fooled around some of the themes, thinking I needed a change. What I really needed was more tweaking. This post saved me mucho time messing around. A big ‘Thank You’ to the Word Press posse. Nothing makes a Winnipegger’s heart sing like the word ‘free’.

  3. Leave a comment – come on. You are not seriously suggesting that such tired old clichéed comments are inspiring?

    Elevator pitch???? I don’t know how many times I had to read that. (No, I didn’t know what it meant). What amazing jargon. I’m sure it is really the in-thing but it is totally meaningless. Sounds like a new term for sales pitch.

    A variety of people, including project managers, salespeople, evangelists, and policy-makers commonly rehearse and use elevator pitches to get their point across quickly

    which makes it even more meaningless or worthy of use as a description.

    Appreciate you are catering for a lot of beginning bloggers, but a) keep the language clear and avoid jargon and b) don’t used hackneyed old sayings as great examples.

  4. I really appreciate your text! – It’s always inspiring to see things from another point of view. I guess it’s pretty helpful to get your blog some individual appearance and function.

  5. I find it especially fun to sprinkle easter eggs all throughout my blog to attract the more adventurous readers. For those who don’t pursue them, I guess I sapped the energy from them all thanks to my clunky prose.

      1. They’re hidden messages or items you find in random places. For example, if you click a certain link or button on someones blog it may display a special message that people would normally not see. Easter egg is just a phrase to describe hidden messages.

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