Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things To Think About re: Blogging

Okay, lean in a little closer. Closer... closer... Okay, that's a little too close. *grins* (And I should send you like, a dollar if you know that movie.)

More secrets today. Are you ready? Some of these are not really secrets. Maybe just things to think about. Things that might make your blog easier, faster and more entertaining to read.

Let's start with the basics.


1. Your blog layout.
  • Dude, consider carefully before you use a black background. I used to have a dark bluish one, and I loved it. But I realize it's hard on the eyes, and I like light backgrounds much better.
  • Absolutely no neon type, please. I'm begging.
  • How big is your font? Too small, and I'm skimming from second one. I won't squint to read your blog.
  • Look at your white space. Consider the principles of design found here. (Yeah, I teach these in the computer lab. So sue me.)
  • Look at the length of your paragraphs. Huge blocks of text intimidate me. They make me think I'll be stuck on your blog reading and re-reading that monster graf for the rest of my natural life. And that's never good.

2. Your blog content.

3. Your blog audience.
  • Be yourself. Share a bit of personal stuff without going overboard on the big 3: Religion, politics or sex. Right? Right. Remember your blog audience. 
  • Rants should be saved for private Skypes, chats or emails. Remember your blog audience.
  • Share about your book, successes and whatnot without shoving it down our throats. We all want to celebrate, but we don't want every giveaway to be your book. We don't want every post to be your book signing schedule, etc. Remember your blog audience.
  • Give your blog audience what they want. Don't know what they want? Figure it out. Then deliver. For this, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time. You can insert anything you want for "street sweeper." Writer. Blogger. Whatev.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Tell me what you like about blogs. What do you think of mine? How are you doing on your blog layout, your blog content and your blog audience? Do you consider all three of these things? If not, dude, maybe you should...

I'm going to address something entirely different next week (or whenever I feel like it): "But my blog is for me. I started it for me."

So feel free to leave me your OP on that too. You know I won't hold back!

125 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

Your post was a little long today Elana. Just kidding. You always give great advice and I really appreciate it.

I updated my layout yesterday and it looks WAY better with light background and dark text.

My posts are probably way too long but my blog has started out with a specific format of actual query letters so I hope people skip the paragraphs they've read before and go right to the parts where I make fun of myself.

Amie McCracken said...

Ok, give me more! I'm soaking up this stuff on improving my blogs. Although it seems I'm already following the rules.

Wanted to let you know that I asked my readers if they like replies to comments and how, it's in a poll on my blog as well as a post.
www.iamalivephotos.blogspot.com
I asked because you got me thinking about my blog. We'll see what they say!

KarenG said...

Wow first commenter on Elana's blog today-- that never happens! Usually I have to scroll through 40 other commenters to say my bit. I feel special. Yes, I totally agree with everything except sometimes a long post works. And if it's done well, I will even read all 25 paragraphs. Black backgrounds and neon print-- oh thank you for putting those two in their place--which is never. Just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we should.

KarenG said...

Okay, not the first commenter. Because I wrote so much. Serves me right lol!

~Sheri Larsen~ said...

'K, send me that dollar!!

Text size is a good one. That's why I changed my previous format. Believe it or not, it wouldn't let me change the text size--sure, I'm an html bonehead so maybe it was just me. Ah-ha!! But it's fixed now.

Thanks, Elana.

Bish Denham said...

Your blog is great, Elana, packed full of useful, helpful information.

laurapauling said...

No, I don't read long blog posts with long paragraph. I will definitely skim - most of the time. Depends on the topic.

I heart white space.

Kelly said...

You are full of great advice, Elana!
I try to make my blog as something I would visit: a mix of personal stuff and writing stuff. I do enjoy reading about every day things (family/vacation/funny anecdotes) other than writing from my blogger buds as I feel connected to them after reading their blog for a year. But the thread that keeps most of us blogs together is writing so I do appreciate tips, book recs, and general info about writing as well. But I also like to be entertained.

Tara said...

You just keep plugging on with the good advice.

Kimberly Franklin said...

I skim long posts too! I'm so glad I'm not the only one.

I agree with you on all points. Maybe we should crown you Blogging queen. :)

Mary Brebner said...

Blog Goddess Elana! Great post. I'm an HTML noob so changing the format of the free template I'm using is...difficult. But I'm trying!

Your advice rocks. Thanks!

Jonathon Arntson said...

I'm pretty sure I have the layout down. I have taken advantage of Blogger's pages and decluttered the space. I think I have gone a little overboard with buttons and whatnot, but I think it actually fits my personality.

Content-wise...well, that's why I've taken so many breaks in the past month. I used to have blossoming posts. Now, however, I have resorted to posting about Michigan State disappointing me and how much I hate Nicholas Cage. I believe those two are in complete violation of 3.a. I know what my audience wants. They want to see me trying the writing processes and gimmicks, like I used used to. It was entertaining, for sure, but now I am not in the place in my life to spend all my time writing and blogging about it. Now, I have, like, real life things to do and I am not balancing my time well.

Once I start balancing everything, I think I will once again start meeting the expectations of my audience and my blog can start to grow again.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

Hee hee. I know that movie...but I'm not sayin' what it is. I can keeps a sekrit.

Wen Prior said...

Argh, that quote is going to drive me crazy all day now. I KNOW it. Oh boy, that's going to bug the heck out of me now.

Loved the post, by the way!

Mary Brebner said...

Great post. I'd like to link it to some bloggers who have those huge chunks of text 'cuz my eyes blur when I try to read those!

Aubrie said...

I definitely skim really long posts like you :) And sometimes I do post links to my author interviews and giveaways of my book, but only on occasion. I try to have other author's come to my blog to be interviewed.

Theresa Milstein said...

Black background with any kind of lettering is difficult to read. And I don't like rants, unless it's out of character for the blogger, and then I know it's important. Oh, and big paragraphs fatigue me and make me want to give up.

Your blog is uncluttered, which is amazing since there's so much content. Your font is a little bigger than mine, so I'm considering upping it a notch.

I try to keep my posts within two MS Word pages. My blogs are like essays, so much shorter won't work for me. I used to have a much more difficult blog to look at, but Jane Friedman wrote a post that caused me to reconsider and change it.

Theresa Milstein said...
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Dawn Hullender said...

OHMYGOSH my, like, all time favorite movie! What is a hooka maker anyway? o.O

Okay, on to my comment, which is really hard considering now I want to watch my favorite movie...

Back on track, have you seen my new blog background? Is it too bright? *lower lip quivers* I like it. I wanna keep it...pweeeeeeease?

Dawn Hullender said...
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Jaydee Morgan said...

Always great advice! I've already put so much of it to good use - and it's paying off. Thanks.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wicked advic as usual, Elana!

I love my blog design, but I'm still trying to figure out how to lighten the background. I did make the font larger because the orignal version was toooooo small. And I'm with you about post lengths. Too long and I'm tempted to write 'great post' without actually reading it . . . unless the topic grabs me.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Chin, chin. That's what some Italians say when they toast. I'm not Italian and I'm not really toasting you, but I sure did think this was insightful. ;)
~ Wendy

Crystal Cook said...

Okay, I ranted at my art blog WAY too long the other day. I know shameful. I hope my layouts ok, I made it simple, because I'm a simple person and computers are dangerous animals to me. I love how your blog looks, it's very urban but easy to read and find things too.

I'm trying really hard to apply all of these to my blog. Thanks for posting all this, it's so helpful :)

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Yes! I'm in agreement on all those things! And I keep trying. And Thank you.

Stephanie Faris said...

I just wish people would turn word verification off -- I read so many blogs and it gets annoying after a while. But apparently it cuts down on spam and since I awoke this morning to 149 comments from someone advertising wedding stuff... I do have my posts set to require approval on anything more than 1 day old, so at midnight it all goes into my approval bin...so it's easy to delete them, 50 at a time, but I can see why people want to avoid it!

Falen said...

i've been trying to write shorter blog posts. Because i know they're easier to read (which is important for those of us who follow TONS of blogs) and also because they're quicker to write.

Megan said...
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Christi Goddard said...

I work 8 hours a day in front of programs with black background and white writing (DOS based) so it never occurred to me that it's troublesome to the eyes for others that my page is black w/white. I can't figure out how to make just the blog/comment section a different color, though, and I hate white. Having a white page is against my character. I'm too dark for bright colors.

storyqueen said...

I have more difficulty reading black on white than white on black....

Hmmmm....maybe my eyes are just weird.

Shelley

Kara said...

I love your posts, Elana, because you write with the type of confidence that makes me feel like I can put my trust into what you're saying. Where can I get some of that? ;)

Jen said...

I'm with you on the blog layout though I love a lot of the dark ones and it would be perfect for my novel I would still like to maintain my personality but not make it hard on the eyes so I went with something cute and flirty with easy to read font! I love your blog it's simple and too the point!

I try and keep my content short when posting however if it's a long one I make sure you can at least read half and comment or I put pictures to distract you!!! Muahahaha!!! I think my blog maintains my image and personality and I just hope that others continue to enjoy it!

Charity Bradford said...

I love your blog! All of your posts have helped me tremendously in my journey to being a better blogger. It is thanks to you that I have made an effort to comment more frequently, and subsequently gained new followers myself.

So, thanks! and keep up the great work.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

So so happy you mentioned the layout. I've been directed to blogs that have been black background with bright purple text. I read two sentences and thought, 'no way I'm putting my eyes through this', and logged off.
Great post!

Also re length. Tell me about it. I don't have time to sit and read 30 paragraphs. 2 -5 is great. And I'd really like to be able to read everything becasue I value my followers - so yes - keep them decently sized!

I think i've made a pretty good effort with my blog. I started one month ago today and I've already got 50 followers! Whoo-hoo! Celebrate! They're all awesome too :) So I make sure I get myself to theirs pretty much every day :)

Stephanie Faris said...

OH...and I tagged you on my blog today. Forgot to add that!

Christine Fonseca said...

You are the blogging queen - so I appreciate all the advic you're willing to give :D

Darlyn said...

Great advice! I'll try to keep all your tips in mind.

Actually, your blog follows all your rules. The text is clear and easy to read. :)

Lydia Kang said...

Hm, may need to change my font size. That'll take some HTML speak, gack.
I love your blog Elana. Easy on the eyes and always great content!

Georgiana said...

TOTALLY true. I especially agree on the large chunk paragraphs--I have to skim those. Shorter posts are golden and blogs are a great place to write tight.

VR Barkowski said...

Another excellent post. I don't care for long posts either, although my posts about process always seem to go on too long.

Today's is 470 words. *cringing and hiding face in shame*

Cheree said...

Great advice (as always) Elana. I'm still working on perfecting my blog layout, it's a template at the moment but at least it's better than the black background I started out with.

And, why do you have to ask what we love about your blog? Entertaining and educational all wrapped up in one.

Natalie said...

This is such great advice Elana! I especially love the bullet about keeping it short. If I go to a blog and see a post I have to scroll three times to read, I don't read it (unless it's a topic I'm REALLY interested in). There are only so many hours in the day. :)

Jen said...

Great post. I have a very basic template at the moment which really needs to be updated, but every thing in its season (and right now I'm hoping for Spring so I can get my garden in. The snow doesn't seem to agree.)

The movie was Aladdin...

I want to chime in with don't have background music on your blog. It's annoying. If you must share a song, do it within one post where people can choose to listen or not.

Christina Lee said...

I didn't know MLK wrote that quote!

Okay well I too prefer lighter, softer backgrounds and lots of white space in between paragraphs (I also do this on my blog and in my WIP's).

Another things that really irks me (eek, I dont want to offend anyone) is when you click on a blog and there is music playing. It really is jarring! I either have to be in the mood or love your song of choice. So I'll reach for the volume button every time.

Good Stuff, Elena J!

Susan R. Mills said...

Great points! Thanks for the shout out. I prefer short posts myself, so I try to keep mine short. Sometimes they run a little long, though.

Jess of All Trades said...

"It also makes Jullianne Fries! (sp?)" (Can I have a dollar?)

I struggle with short posts.

And short comments.

So that is all.

;)

Kristi Helvig said...

When it comes to writing novels, I've heard the advice to write what you love to read. I follow the same thing with my blog -- I write what I like to read about. So I completely agree with your opinion that your blog is ultimately for you.

I'm still working on making my posts shorter - yours are a great length!

Liza said...

I like your blog because you include snippets of helpful information regularly. My blog posts may be a bit long, but I write them to improve my skills, so I'm allowing that. Print size, OK. Background color, not good, I am aware...but I love how it looks, so I'm keeping it for now. It's all fodder to consider again, in the future though.

Tracy said...

Just changed my font to a slightly larger size. Got it!

Will have to work on cutting down the wordiness.

Paul C said...

I really like the header image of your blog and the larger type and font. It fits in well with your themes. True, colours are important in a blog, how they work together. I, too, dislike overly dramatic, dark colours for the posts themselves.

Carol Kilgore said...

I want to change my blog layout, and Blogger now has more options. When I have a couple of hours I'm going to try. I'm so afraid I'll lose content and not know how to get it back. I may yell for help!

My blog is for my readers. My goal is to bring readers and writers together.

Bethany Mattingly said...

You always have incredible advice :) I'm struggling right now with finding a schedule for my blog. As soon as things seem to be running smoothly, I end up with a last minute project from a professor that leaves me with a choice between blogging or writing the paper. *sigh* I'm going to give writing all my post on the weekend a try. Hopefully, that will be my saving grace. :)

Lady Glamis said...

Look who the Blogging Goddess is now! You're doing splendid, my dear. :)

Melissa said...

I'm with ya about the long blog posts. I can tolerate some if the post looks like an interesting topic, but I usually skim the ones that you have to scroll forever. And thanks for the tip about the larger font. I've never thought about that one.

Tamika: said...

Elana I love your voice! I can expect writing instruction and encouragement with each post.

I'm still learning my place in the blogsphere and I'm trying to get a footing for what best relates to who I am as a writer.

Thanks!

Nisa said...

Aladdin!

I love your blog! I love that you say a lot with few words and that you show us both personal writing and the business side. It's a good mix. I love that you're positive and helpful and an awesome person. :)

I keep my posts short, but I think that's about all my blog has going for it... hehe! I keep doing it because I enjoy it.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I've recently corrected my background color. No more black. I am occasionally guilty of #3, point A. For instance, I feel strongly about organics, which becomes very political if we let it. So I have to restrain myself. In regards to #2, point C, I may be guilty of that too. Was my most recent post too long? Guess I better go back and see.

Thanks Elana!

I want to be such a good blogger that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause!!

lotusgirl said...

Great advice. I enjoy your blog because it's easy to read and has helpful tips and a fun voice.

I especially appreciate when blogs are concise. I love to hear what my bloggy friends have to say, but I don't have all day to read them and comment, etc. I'm trying to write, too.

Marybeth Poppins said...

Ahhhh Welcome to Agrabah, city of Mystery...of Enchantment...

Am I close??? ;)

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Gosh, I am a rebel and breaking some rules lol. I love your blog great mix of info and humor. I like to blog for the fun of it and chating.

Elana Johnson said...

Ha ha! So many of you know the movie. You guys are awesome.

And I change my font size with every post. Every single one. I don't know how to do it in the actual template, and it only takes me like, 10 seconds. So that's easy.

And Jen, you are so so so right on the background music! I have another post planned for providing your readers with the best blogging experience. Whenever I get to it...which might be a week or two.

Thanks you guys! I'm glad we're thinking about our blogs. And glad to see you all here today. :) :) :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Thank you! Your blog is easy on the eyes, and the content relevant to writers.

Three-column blogs make me feel like I'm sitting in the middle seat on a plane - squished. It's hard for me to concentrate on the blog post and enjoy it.

I like graphics for each post. They spark my curiosity.

Have you ever thought of doing blog assessments?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Mary Aalgaard said...

I mentioned your blog on mine yesterday. Award day. What do you think about all this awarding? It's nice to connect and honor each other, but it takes extra time. Many of my blog posts have religious messages. I don't think that's bad. I hope mine is a stop for some inspiration and hope. Thanks for all your great tips!

lisanowak said...

I totally agree with you about dark backgrounds, short paragraphs, and font size. The size of your font is one thing I really like about your blog.

My posts tend to be longer than yours, around 800 words, but I don't like to go beyond that. If a post is too long, I just won't read it. I think as bloggers we have to realize that people have busy lives and are doing us a favor by reading our blogs. We should be courteous enough to say what we need to say concisely.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. I am thinking about all these considerations as I try to decide whether to take the plunge. I hope you'll do more posts about this subject, like how do you let people know you have a blog except for on Facebook & telling friends. What are the best strategies for increasing your readers.

I enjoy your blog, especially the practical advice like this post. Thanks.

Jamie D. said...

Isn't it ironic that writers (who are presumably readers as well) prefer shorter blog posts in general? :-)

Personally, I don't mind a longer post, if the information is interesting. I cap mine at around 800 words, and am often scrambling to edit down to that at the last minute with certain subjects.

I should probably break my text up with images...but there's only so much time in the day to take/edit photos (and I won't use a photo off the 'net without express permission). Maybe one of these days I'll get around to that...

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

My kids have been watching that movie on repeat for about a week now. Good times.

I love the tips you give. It's so great to spread the love.

As far as the the "I started my blog for me" thing goes, that may be true. I started my blog for myself, but as soon as I started connecting with people, I started thinking about what would appeal to a lot of people.

Janet Johnson said...

I like you're blog because you're relevant to what I'm interested in. (And you're funny). I learn. Info is nice, but I'm at the "I want to learn" stage. Don't have a lot of extra time for fluff just now. And this is also why I don't have a writing blog yet. :)

Thanks for your great blog!

John Sankovich said...

I love you blog and honestly is the last one I read every morning. You know the whole, "save the best for last" motto. But in regards to my blog, I have been struggling with what to write about honestly. I have schedule for 3 of the days and the other two are just whatever I feel that day. Also, my audience is mainly writers, but also friends and family, so I try to focus on a wide variety of subjects. Such as reviews of things, be it video games, movies, books, etc. Also I have a choose your own adventure thing that is every Monday. So I think maybe my blog is too widespread, what do you think?

www.johnsankovich.blogspot.com

Cynthia Reese said...

As always, EXCELLENT advice, and I love the quote!

KM said...

Short paragraphs are really important, I think. I was taught (in journalism classes in which we published the paper online) that having links is also good, as is graphics and short sentences.

Also, a reader is less likely to read something if they have to scroll.

Oh! And the eye is automatically drawn to the left, so put important info on that side.

Great post! :)

KM said...

Short paragraphs are really important, I think. I was taught (in journalism classes in which we published the paper online) that having links is also good, as is graphics and short sentences.

Also, a reader is less likely to read something if they have to scroll.

Oh! And the eye is automatically drawn to the left, so put important info on that side.

Great post! :)

Angela said...

I recently changed the layout of my blog and was amazed at the difference! I really like it. However, I do often make the mistake of writing posts that are too long, so that's something I need to work on. Oh, yeah--I also made the mistake of posting about religion (actually, the meaning of life...oops), but I did get a lot of hits from it! Just not sure if folks that I was crazy for writing it! LOL.

Liz H. Allen said...

I take all your posts to heart as I know they really are what I should be doing. I am still struggling to find me in the bloggy world. People seem to glom on a bit better to advice and stories than this was my day and blah, blah, blah.

I have to say, I love my layout though. Being a web-designer does that, I guess. I have a huge aversion for dark backgrounds, I always try to talk people out of them. A great read for those beginning to create is The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams (no not that Robin Williams). It's really practical and easy to read.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I need to tweak my layout - it's grown stale to me - but I've been following most of those rules so far. Yeah, long blog posts with multiple long paragraphs scare me, too.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I'm happy with my layout. LOTS of white space. Maybe too much. My blog entries however are half the time unrelated to writing and come to me at least once a week but definitely not on a schedule.

I agree-Shannon, Jessica, and Susan all have great blogs!

Sara B. Larson said...

More great blogging tips. Thanks again for a great insightful post!

G.~ said...

Great advice Elana. I like to do a little for me and a little for my loyal followers.

I remember a follower of mine said something about a couple of long blog posts and I thought about it and have shortened them since.

If it's not a problem for me to take a suggestion, it's my pleasure to accommodate.

Abby Stevens said...

Great advice as always, Elana.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Hehe, now you've got me all paranoid about my blog--but only because you make so much sense. I am working on the shorter posts thing (word count is ALWAYS an issue for me, even in my book) :) and I try to break up the text with lots of pictures, but I'm sure I could still be doing more. Thanks for all the pointers and advice. I will see how much of it I can absorb and apply. ;)

JEM said...

Excellent post, and good advice! Thanks, Elana :)

Kate said...

Thanks for your posts about blogging. I've enjoyed learning from you.

Portia said...

I used to have a black background. It looked very ominous and cool, but the white type is just mean to readers! :-)

E. Elle said...

I just try to make my blog a fun place to go, where people don't feel pressured or awkward.

I think the movie is "Aladdin," by the way. Could be wrong but I think it is. :o)

kathrynjankowski said...

Great advice, Elana.
With all the blogs to choose from and limited time to read them, you have to make choices. I won't read blogs with light text on a dark background. Ditto for posts that go on, screen after screen. Strunk and White, people.
;-)

Caledonia Lass said...

Of course I like your blog. It is easy to read and fun as well!
I think I have finally tweaked mine enough to fit. I just wish I could make my own background. Le sigh.

Oh well. Great post! Thanks for the tips. :D

B. Miller said...

Ah, salaam and good evening to you Elana! Would you like to see some famous Dead Sea Tupperware?

Now where's my dollar!! ;)

Seriously, loved this post. My blog background is black... Thought it does have a light blue shade behind it. I was diggin' on it until you said something. Wonder if you can take a gander at it and tell me if it needs changes?

Thanks for all the tips. You are seriously helping me become a better blogger and writer! THANK YOU!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hey, girlfriend! I'm a little later on my rounds today - 85 people beat me to it!

I love the way you aren't afraid to say what so many of us are thinking. I HATE dark backgrounds - hate them. They look cool, but they are so difficult to read, especially with the red or blue font. I also agree with you about the rants. A little ranting here or there is no prob. But when it's a daily whine fest, that gets old quick.

I'd say you nailed ALL of my blogging pet peeves (now if everyone would just take your advice about the word verifications!).

Thanks for the surprise shout-out. You totally made me day! :-)

Talli Roland said...

I absolutely detest black backgrounds and neon fonts! Ouch! So I really like your clean, easy-to-read lay-out.

Thanks for the great tips!

Amalia T. said...

My blog started out as a science blog, but my readership does not love the science posts, so I've cut back on them. Sometimes this makes me feel like a sell out-- other times, I don't mind if it does :) So yes, I guess I keep all that stuff in mind. Certainly I have an eye on my hits, for better or worse.

christi said...

Great post, lots to think about.

I think my blog format works, though I wish I could do something more about the font (I don't think I can fiddle with it much in wordpress, being the low-tech person I am).

Discovering what my audience wants is another challenge. I post regularly on Wed's, a plan that seemed to work well at first. But lately my hits have died down on that day. I hate to stop the Wed theme (I know a few people like it), but I also hate to pursue something that might not work so well anymore.

Long story short: I'm in a quandary on that one.

I also need to stick with shorter blogs posts, too (and maybe brief comments...). Thanks for that reminder!

tropixgirl said...

Love your blog, Elena. It was the first blog I've ever subscribed to, and it's an info gold mine for me.

As for mine: Ugh! I violate every rule! My blog is dark, wordy, and a lil ranty. Good thing it's brand-spankin' baby new and the only ones reading it are family and friends for now. That gives me a cushion to make adjustments.

I prefer minimalist design, so I don't want to abandon my theme, but after I can upgrade my account to edit CSS, I'll change fonts and work with the colors.

I'm one of those who hate the white background (not to be confused with the all-important "white space"). It has its place, but mostly don't like it. And I hate to scroll as well, but I'll get past that if I ever get around to buying a mouse for my laptop.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Faith Pray said...

As always, thank you for the sound words on blogging. You're such a pro.
And yes, who's kidding who? It's no fun to read something that frizzes out your eyes or makes you feel like you're reading History 101 textbooks.

Also, I've been noticing that blogs with space and pauses give a cleaner, more open layout that doesn't feel too blocky and overwhelming to read.

Sierra Godfrey said...

In addition to the pain of dark backgrounds, blogs that are overly graphical or bright pink or play music without my permission are tough to take at work, which is where I do a lot of my blog reading. If the blog is tough then I have to go read it in Google Reader. And if I do that, then there is less chance of me commenting.

Incidentally, my own blog is heavy on red and definitely not good for discreet work day reading. However, my sparkling wit and lively discussions make up for it. (That is a jokey joke.)

People shouldn't feel bad if they can't get this stuff quite right. There's a reason designers exist and command big bucks -- because they know intuitively what an audience wants and how people read.

Jana Hutcheson said...

When I read blogs, I'm usually looking for encouragement or helpful advice (like what I get here). I tend to skim blogs that lean toward the "just letting you know what I'm doing today" side.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Your blog is always so helpful, and as a new blogger I appreciate all these tips. Thank you!

Grammy said...

Wowee! What a lot of comments. You must be the queen of comments made on a blog. Great advice on how to do a blog, though. Thanks ever so much. I think I follow most of them, but maybe am a little too verbose. Regards to you,
Ruby

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I like the following things about your blog:

I am the 100th commenter today. I should get a prizespice!

I like the big-ish font.
I like that you usually write short paragraphs.
I like that you typically pose a question at the end of each post.
I like the headings which are in a different color.
I like that your voice is conversational, and not overly preachy.
I like the content.

I like you. I really like you!

insidethewritersstudio said...

These are all very good tips. Black blogs make me batty.

Yours is easy to read, seems highly interactive, and has engaged me already on a first visit.

Casey McCormick said...

Great post as usual, Elana! My biggest concern with my blog is all the clutter. I have a lot of link lists, and I could see that being very overwhelming for someone new to my blog.

Karen Lange said...

Good stuff, as always, Elana. Like the clean look of your blog. And the content, too, of course:)

Been thinking about redoing the background of my blog for a while now but have been too busy. When things settle down, it's on the list. Have to agree with your thoughts on colors and stuff. You can grade me when I get around to changing mine...

Palindrome said...

I like your blog, it's very easy to navigate and if I'm looking for additional content, it's never more than a scroll, click away!

I stated right away what my blog was going to be about and it's part of my heading so if people don't like that, they won't follow it.

I could never write about just one thing but I do write Monday through Friday. I try to keep off on the weekends. I prewrite a lot of my blogs and they all post around exactly the same time.

Great post!! And yes, I do love and enjoy the fact that your blog is short and sweet. :) It's quality not quantity.

Em-Musing said...

You/yours:Great! Me/Mine:??? Can't wait till next week.

beth said...

Confession time: I judge people based on their website/blog design. If your design looks like a high school sophomore made it for a class project, with random bold, a header picture that doesn't fit the layout, and generic links...I think less of you.

(Of course, YOUR design is classic awesome. I'm just sayin, in general, if a blogger layout = lame, I'm out.)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm agreeing with you again :)

I have eye issues which are getting worse as I get older - and the black backgrounds are tough - they take me much longer to read.

I also prefer short posts - I read a lot of blogs & don't have time for pages and pages. I also glaze over completely with long paragraphs.

I'll persevere for my buddies, but I like when they make it easier for me :)

AchingHope said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said. The only thing is the whole font thing. Huge font bothers my eyes. Of course, I can understand not having tiny, tiny font. Hm. Something I'll have to think about.

Journaling Woman said...

Great information.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Okay, so I went and gave you a most unusual award on my blog. Really. You'll see.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

You rock! I think I'm good on everything except I have a black background that I LOVE. Rats! I'll rethink it. Thanks!

Shelley Sly said...

Yes. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this.

I don't in any way claim to have the most perfect blog, but I try hard to avoid anything painfully annoying. I try not to have long posts. No black backgrounds with bright text. (Ouch, my eyes hurt when I navigate away from the page...) And as someone else mentioned, no music. I love music, but most of the time I'm listening to my own music on my computer, so it just clashes.

Oh, and you asked what I think of your blog? Eh, it's all right I guess...

Ha! I kid. It's freaking amazingsauce. Otherwise I wouldn't read it every day. :)

Amie said...

I love your blog. I like that reading your posts feels like a conversation and not just like I'm reading a blog post, if that makes sense.

I love blogs in general, because it gives me a peek inside the minds/worlds/lives of others.. especially like writer's blogs.

My blog layout, I'm not sure I am in love with it... my spouse designed it, as I was tired of the magazine style I had before, but still not sure I like it.. for now it is okay. I feel a need for change coming real soon.

I am still finding my way in the blog... and my audience. I like you though started my blog for me and it's still a WIP. :)

Lynda Young said...

Another great post. I still consider myself as a newbie after 2 months of blogging. You are dead right about neon colours and white text on black backgrounds. My eyes! My eyes!

I hadn't considered text size however. My blog text may be a tad small. I'm not sure how to fix it since the blog is based off a ready-made template which I then tweeked. I'll have to look into it.

Re too much religion.. can't help you with that since my blog is a devotional one ;) But, like you say, know your audience. :)

Lisa K. said...

These are great tips, Elana. Thank you. As a new blogger, I'm still learning. I loved my black background, but changed it when I realized how hard it was on the eyes.

Krista said...

Thanks, Elana, these are good. I guess I'm getting there... There should be Blog critiques like writing critiques.

Erica Chapman said...

Another awesome post Elana! Confession, I can't stand the black backgrounds with white font! "ah my poor eyes." Looks like you covered the good stuff ;o)

Thanks for sharing - what a great series!

Annette Lyon said...

So . . . I guess we need to remember our audience. :D

Great advice!

L.T. Elliot said...

Good old Aladdin. ;)

I like blogs about writing but I like blogs about people too. I'm ecclectic, I suppose. I love to be inspired. I love to be reached.

As for my blog, I'm in the process of considering a revamp. ;)

Alison Stevens said...

I like Krista's suggestion of blog critiques! I'm also considering a revamp.

As an aspiring (read: inexperienced) author, I find it difficult to blog about writing (I can't offer any of Elana's terrific advice).

I tend to focus on other things, centering around creativity in general. But I have this sense that I should be blogging about writing. 'Cause everyone else does.

Terresa said...

I totally agree on NOT using a black background for your blog. Someone once told me it was "saving the environment" or using "less energy" or something. All the same, NOT worth it. :)

I like your point about font size. I think my font size may be too small. I'm going to look into that. Because if it takes extra effort to read my blog, I don't want to be turning anyone away.

As usual, you rock, Elana!!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Awesome overview! And amen on the dark backgrounds with white writing. They look awesome, but it makes me go cross-eyed.

I'm guilty of the longer blog post, but I do try to break it into digestible, bulleted chunks so people can skim if needed.

Amber Lynae said...

I'm sure someone has already said that movie was Aladin and the Genie but I had to say it because I was totally thinking it when i read the first line before you even said anything about naming the movie.

As for blogging. It is funny because I used to blog in big paragraphs in free flow thinking. I never got any readers.


Then I realized even I didn't like reading my posts. So I changed things. I realized I like to have texture to my font sizes and all. It is just my crazy side coming through. I don't know what my readers think... but I will tell you this I have more readers now than I used to.

Christina Farley said...

Oh this was a good post and I got a lot out from all the comments too!

I agree. Short paragraphs, I like a picture personally and big font. Clean is always nice but professional. I tend to judge people by how their blog looks. Eek! I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I tend to!

Janette Harjo said...

This was a very interesting blog about blogging. I also enjoyed your article on the "Principles of Design." I've just built and launched my author's blog site, and along with everything wlse writing related, I'm reading everything I can to make my career and my blog grow. Thank you for all of your valuable insights!

Janette Harjo
www.authorjanetteharjo.blogspot.com

Martha Ramirez said...

Another awesome post, Elana! I am reading ALL your blog posts RE blogs and queries. You rock girl!! Keep up the good work:)

Cristina said...

oh man, I just found your blog and I can't stop reading. you have so much good stuff :)

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