1. Loading Time: This is the biggie! If you’re blog takes a long time to load, it doesn’t matter how good the content is, your potential readers are peacing out. Website speed is the first thing a visitor notices, then website design. But if it takes a while for your site to load, readers will never get to see your design. So first, identify if there is an issue. Test your website speed with Pingdom. You want your site to score an 80 or higher to stay out of the red zone! If you’re slow, identify the problem.
- Image Resolution: Your photos don’t need to be huge to look nice! 18x12in and 72dpi is ideal. Yahoo’s SmushIt plugin will help strip some resolution and speed up your site without you noticing a difference.
- Amount of Images: Blogs that feature full posts on the homepage take longer to load. Consider featuring an image and a Read More button per each post.
- Amount of Posts: WordPress lets you choose how many posts you want to display on your homepage. By default, there is 10. Reducing the number of posts on the homepage will speed up the site.
- Fancy jQuery: If your site has quality, you don’t need fancy bells and whistles to clutter it. Use straightforward widgets and sliders to avoid a jQuery slowdown.
- Delete Plugins: If you aren’t using a plugin, delete that ish! You can’t see them, but they are secretly adding precious seconds to your load speed.
2. Image Quality & Alignment: Arguably the most important part of a blog are the images. They will make or break your posts. Most high-traffic fashion blogs feature six to nine images including full body and detailed shots. As I mentioned, a good rule of thumb for fast-loading, perfectly-aligned images is to set them to 18in x 12in 72dpi for landscape and 12in x 18in 72dpi for portrait. Additionally, make sure your images align with your text and each other. All content within a post should be the same width to be pleasing to the eye. The same goes for your sidebar. Check the settings of all of your widgets to make sure they are the same pixel width.
3. Engagement: There are thousands of websites about fashion on the interwebs. Readers visit blogs because it’s like having a personal friend out there in cyber-space. But if you aren’t responding to your readers, you’re a sh!tty friend and they’ll find a shiny new one. It is beyond flattering that a stranger would be compelled to take time out of their life to comment on your little corner of the web, so you’d better make darn sure to thank them or answer any question they might have. Nurture the relationships with your readers and go the extra mile to keep the conversation going and readers returning.
4. About Me: This is a follow-up to engagement. Your readers want to get to know you, so be sure to include a detailed About Me page on your blog. Letting them know where you’re from, what your career is, what got you into blogging, and how to get in touch with you adds a personal touch. Consider including your height, weight, and clothing size so readers can easily shop the clothes from your site. Your About Me page is also the perfect place for frequently asked questions. This will save you time and further develop the relationship with your readers.
5. Useful Information: Think long and hard about your brand. For me, I gravitate towards southern style at an affordable price, so that’s what I blog about. Figure out what you excel in and share that, in your own voice. Most importantly: create, don’t curate. Show how to style a trend, start your own, or give readers an affordable option to the trend!
6. Uncluttered Sidebar: We all want to make a buck, but don’t clutter your site with ads. You’ll lose visitors and the potential income their click-throughs will provide. Approach your site as a reader would… what do you want to see in the sidebar? For me, it’s social sites, a clear navigation, RewardStyle, and additional posts. A good rule of thumb is to wait until your blog is generating 500+ visitors a day before including advertisements. Until then, try this twitter plugin and this Instagram plugin.
7. Posting Schedule: Consistency is key! If a reader comes back to your blog a couple times and sees nothing new, they’ll move on to the next one. Quality over quantity is important, but one high quality post a year ain’t gonna cut it. Blogs take dedication. If you expect to keep readers coming back, give them something to come back for! I started slow with one post every Wednesday. Now I post outfit photos Tuesday, a collection Wednesday, and blogging tips Friday and have seen my stats increase. Try this free blogging schedule to keep you organized
8. Comparison can be Good: Check out some of your favorite, high-traffic blogs. What makes them different than your site? Don’t ever copy another blog (heck, why would readers need to see two of the same thing?) but learn from them. Is it their images, their consistency, their voice, or maybe their style? Let them inspire you to step up your game! Every blog began with one post and a big goose egg for readers. There’s nothing stopping you from being the next big thing!
9. Give them Something: I don’t mean spam your Instagram with loop giveaways… I mean provide your readers with something they can really use. Reach out to your sponsors and see if they would collaborate for a giveaway or coupon code. Provide them with tips you’ve learned along the way. Your blog isn’t a store, so don’t be selly! It’s an escape or a place for your visitors to learn. Keep this in mind when constructing your posts.
10. Go the Extra Mile: In this age of blogs, it takes a lot to stand out. And though it will take some extra time, readers always appreciate additional info on the products your promoting. How clothes fit, the quality, price, coupon codes, and affordable alternatives make your blog a one-stop shop.
Each one of us has a certain je ne sais quoi. Invest in that and nurture it to grow your readership and keep them hooked.