Essential parts of a blog

Essential parts of a blog

There are some things that just have to be part of a blog. Good content is obviously the most important aspect. In addition to that, however, there are some elements that make a blog successful, easy to read and will help you achieve your goals faster.

In this post, I'll go through some elements I consider essential to a blog.

A great looking template 

Choosing a good template is an important step in creating a blog. The template is the face of the blog and will set the mood and style. This can affect how the content is perceived and how much the users enjoy reading your blog. A well designed template will improve the content. On the other hand, a poorly designed template makes it much less likely readers will enjoy your content and come back for more.

Typography

A blog is mostly about content - the written word. So it should be easy to read. I have tried a couple of different styles, but I find that Arial 12px with 160% line spacing (line-spacing:160%;) works well for readability.

I have actually stopped reading a lot of blog posts after a few sentences because the readability was so poor. Too small font, too long lines or too narrow line space - it's all going to scare your readers away.
You might also consider setting your text to the color #111111 (or #333333), not black. This makes the text a little softer on the eyes.

Great images

An image is worth a thousand words, they say. On a blog, images can make a difference between the post being read or ignored. Choosing your images carefully can be well worth the effort.

Social media integration

Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are services people use every day. Having a good integration with these services ensures your posts will be shared easily. This can bring you a lot of traffic for free.

An RSS feed

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (a "feed" or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

Having a good RSS feed on your blog will help users get your content through more channels than just visiting your blog. It can also be used to automatically publish your posts to Facebook and other channels. Most professional bloggers recommend Feedburner for RSS, but more about that in a later chapter.

A good comments system

Leaving comments is the way most users interact with a blog. Thus, having a good comments system in place is very important. Also, you need a comments system that makes it easy to moderate comments. And even better, has built-in spam filtering. There's nothing as unsexy as a blog with comments fields full of ads for replica watches or worse…

Trackbacks

A trackback is one of three types of link-back methods for bloggers to request notification when somebody links to one of their posts. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking, in other words referring, to their work. Some blogging software, such as WordPress, Drupal and Movable Type, supports automatic ping-backs where all the links in a published article can be pinged when the article is published. Joomla itself doesn't have trackback support built-in at this point. The EasyBlog component has trackbacks included, and there are plug-ins available for K2 as well.

Tagging

Another very popular feature on blogs tagging. Tagging functionality will let you attach one or more text tags to a blog post. Tags can be both single words or several words (a phrase). When the post is shown on the blog, this tag becomes a link that leads to a list of posts that have the same tag attached. A blog post can have «unlimited» tags attached, but it's probably best to use at most 5-6 tags for each post.
At this time, Joomla does not have built-in tagging functions. As always, there are several extensions out there that will let you tag your content. Most CCKs and blogging components have tagging built in, including FlexiContent, Zoo, K2 and Easyblog.

A quality web host

Quality web hosting is a very important factor in this game. Joomlablogger.net started out on a shared host. After a while, the load time was just too long. Users were complaining and traffic went down. The site even went down a couple of times because of too much traffic. After some back-and-forth, I decided on Rochen as a new hosting provider. At that point, I had accumulated some income from the blog through advertising, so I could afford it. I have been very happy with their services and support. They have 24/7 support, and I have seldom waited more than a few minutes for any request.

You might want to consider your audience demographic before picking a web host. You can use Google Analytics or similar services to check where your users are located. Because the majority of my readers are in the United States of America, I decided on the Rochen data center in Texas. If most of your users are elsewhere, try to find a host that has a data center close to that area. Rochen has two: Texas, USA and London, UK.

Another hosting company I have heard a lot of good things about is WiredTree. It is affordable and has, as far as I have heard, great uptime.

Get the essentials right

As you can see, there are some essential parts that should be in place on a blog. Some of these parts are in Joomla already. Others will have to be added using extensions.

This post is taken from a chapter in my ebook Blogging with Joomla. In the book, you get a closer look at a some blogging solutions for Joomla. You also learn how these solutions can provide you with each of the essential parts mentioned in this post.

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Read 16059 times Originally published on Friday, 20 July 2012 12:34
Last modified on Saturday, 19 July 2014 14:30
 
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