Making tallow soap
What to do with eight acres
How to build a chicken tractor
Determining the gender of young chickens
Neem oil for insect control
Winter Woodfires: Cooking in a woodstove
Worm farm compost
These tips are all for the Blogger platform, as that's what I use, but they probably also apply to other platforms, you'll just have to figure out where to find the options.
1. Use the "search description" and photo "image properties" fields
Even if you don't use Pinterest or Facebook to share your posts, chances are someone else will, and everything will work better and look nicer if you've used the "search description" and "image properties" fields in your post. In Blogger the search description is a text box on the righthand side in the "post" screen between "location" and "options". If you click on the text you will see it opens up a box where you can type anything. When your post is shared in facebook this is the text that appears with your post. If its blank you get the text in the first comment (I figured this out by trial and error). The first comment is not always what you want to see, so I suggest that you write something short in the search description box instead. For example, I usually write something like "eight acres: post about blogging tips".
People can change the text in Pinterest, but if they are in a hurry you have saved them some time as they can just save that pin and move on without thinking what to type. On the topic of Pinterest - do try to include a photo in every post, even something irrelevant is better than nothing - so that people can pin your post if they want to, posts with no pictures cannot be pinned.
2. Design a blog logo (if you want to)
A few people asked me about my new logo so I thought I'd better share how I created it. I don't think a logo is essential, but if its something you are interested in doing there are a few options. I found two different sites that allowed you to design a logo from stock drawings by changing colours and adding text (here and here). You can then purchase either the basic package or more expensive options. For the cheaper package you don't own the logo, they don't take it off the website and other people may use it also, however once you've changed colours and added text it is different to the original. They are similarly priced, so I recommend you search through both and see which has the logo that suits you best. I took the cheap option, so my logo is still available for anyone to use.
A still more expensive option is to have a logo designed by a graphic designer, there are various sites where you can ask for designers to pitch ideas and you buy the one you like. I didn't want to go to that level.
3. Use a custom banner - but not too BIG!
With or without a logo, you blog looks more professional with a banner heading rather than just text. You can create this with photos if you don't have a logo to use. This tutorial explains how to make a banner. I also use Picasa, its free and seems to be a good way to organise my photos. The only thing I was add is try not to make your banner too large. In newspapers they talk about "above and below the fold", meaning that you want your important content to appear high on the page so that people don't have to scroll. If your banner is so large that people need to scroll to get to your content then its more effort, and people are lazy! Make it easy to get to your content by keeping your banner small. Consider also that some people are using smaller screens that you are (see how much of my blog appears above the fold (without scrolling), even with a small banner, its not much. Also make sure you've set up a mobile template so that people can easily view your blog on their phone (go to "template", click on the cog under "Mobile", in the pop up window select the option to "Yes. Show mobile template on mobile devices.")
4. Use images to help people find popular topics
I read somewhere that lists of labels are out of fashion on blogs. You might have noticed that many blogs are using images instead now, and they are really easy to set up. Just pick your popular labels, I currently have knitting, bees, soap, books and herbs. I chose an image for each and made a new image with the words over it and exported them in a standard pixel size to fit on my sidebar. Then you just go to "layout" and add a gadget - select photo from the list of gadgets. Upload your photo and the appropriate link to the label (just click on the label from a post to find the link). Its all explained properly in this post. You can change these regularly to direct people to your areas of interest.
5. Add the email gadget to your blog
There are a few people who only want to read one or two blogs, they just want them to appear in their email, rather than using a reader. Personally I use Bloglovin to read many blogs, however Pete prefers to receive emails for the blogs he reads, and some of my family have also subscribed this way. You might be missing out on these readers if you haven't added the email gadget to your blog. Again, go into "layout", add a gadget and select "follow by email" to add this option.
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