Template: If you are new to blogging, stick with a standard template. Find something you like, something simple and clean. Some templates let you adjust more fonts and colors than others. Edit HTML only if you know what you’re doing. (Save your code first.)
Links: In your sidebar, link to your website and any other blogs you participate in. You can also link to blogs of friends and other authors and often they will agree to link to you as well.
Labels: This feature works like an index. It lets you create topic categories. It invites visitors to read all your posts on a particular topic. If you're doing a personal/slice of life blog, limit your labels to a dozen; long lists are just...too long. Post them in your sidebar. (My list is too long, but I don't care. I'm not doing this for promotional reasons but to make it easy for you to read about particular topics.)
Pictures: Use pictures in your posts and in your sidebar as much as you can. Pictures invite people to read your blog. Some people do a “Picture of the Day/Week” which they change daily/weekly. This keeps your site active and invites the web crawlers. (See note on Pings above.)
Other pictures that are a must on your sidebar are:
- a profile image—an attractive photo of yourself, or at least a cute icon.
- covers of your books—WITH LINKS to where they can be purchased.
- icons for any programs/rings/circles/whatever that you are a member of (discussed in more detail tomorrow)
Archive: There are several ways you can set your archive. Some are space savers and you may be tempted to use them. Don’t. Use the hierachical method because it shows your Post Titles in the sidebar, at a glance. Like the title of your book, the titles of your posts are important. They should stimulate curiosity, interest, invite readers.
Hit Counter: There are several free hit counters out there. I recommend adding one early on. This helps you track visits to your site so you can know if what you’re doing is effective. You can have it be invisible or you can display it on your blog (as I do; scroll down to bottom of my sidebar). Set it to count unique visitors, not page loads. Set the interval to 24 hours.