Interview with Matthew Hardy of Real Estate Success Tracker
What Makes A Good Blog? How to Blog Series

Anatomy of a Blog - How to Blog Series

Today's post is about the elements and features of a blog.  We will be covering several of these topics later is the series including the blogging software I recommend - Wordpress, Typepad or Blogger.  I use Typepad for this blog.

Design Options

Most of the blogging platforms have a variety of template designs and format options. After deciding on a theme, you’ll want to decide if you want the 1, 2 , or 3 column format.  I prefer the 3 column format.   So, let’s use my blog as the example to describe the various elements.  Starting at the top, you see the header which contains the blog name and tagline.  TIP:  The title and subtitle should tell the reader what to expect in your blog.

Main Section
Next, the middle or main section contains the blog posts.  The most recent at the top and then listed in reverse chronological order.  The posts are your content for the blog – mini-articles, commentary, information, etc.  Each post has a specific title and date. My page is set for a maximum of 10 posts on the front page. 

Other features of the main section:

Categories – relevant keywords or tags for the post.  Categories are a critical navigational and organization tool for your blog.  Choosing the right categories will help readers find your content later.  Note that there is a CATEGORY area in the sidebar for quick navigation to all posts on a specific topic.  You can have multiple categories for a specific post.

Permalink  -  A permanent link (or URL – webpage address) to the specific post.  This allows other bloggers to link to your post on their blog.  It is also a link to the permanent location of the blog post for future reference or use.

Comments – A key distinguinshing feature of a blog vs. a traditional website.  This is where a reader can post their comments to your individual post.  Your blogging software will have options for approving and even allowing comments.

Trackback – A way of tracking a thread of comments/conversation on a particular post.  For example, I write a post on my blog.  You write a post on your blog and include my trackback URL.  My blog will now update the original post with a link to every blog that has tracked back to me, allowing me and my readers to see who has commented on the post and what they have said.

Links to Digg and – two popular social bookmarking sites.  This allows someone who uses these services to create a link/bookmark or vote on my post.

Sidebar Features

Categories – a navigation method to find posts on a topic - discussed above

Archives – links to all posts by date.  Another way to find posts.  Remember, after the front page has 10 posts (or whatever you choose) the older posts can only be found via categories or archives (or if your know the specific Permalink or Trackback URL)

Recent Comments – an option to list the most recent approved comments from readers

BlogRolls – Typepad calls them Typelists.  This is a list of links to your favorite blogs, resources or websites.

Search – many blog platforms have a useful search feature.  (Typepad does not currently have an easy solution for this.)

RSS, email – very important feature!  This is how readers can subscribe to your blog.  All the major blog software platforms have this as an automatic feature. 

Pages -  With this feature I can add specific Pages – much like a website.  I currently have an About Page and pages with quick links to the various series of blog posts I’m publishing.

Misc Widgets – There are a myriad of extras to add to your sidebar.  I have links to recommended books via for example.  I also have incorporated Recent Readers and TopLinks – free services from  MyBlogLog.

Next up:  What Makes a Good Blog?


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