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