I want to share some advice about something I think is a good idea for anyone who has been blogging for a while. I'm almost up to 200 entries here at my site and I don't expect anyone to want to dig through my archives. That's why I made a "featured posts" section (it's in the navigation by the way) when I started working on this latest design. I think it's great from a blog promotion point of view because for new visitors to my site, digging through monthly or category archives is not a good way to get a quick taste of what my blog is like, nor does it ensure that they will see the best entries. When it comes to blog promotion, take this idea:
99% of your blog's worth is based on your 10 most popular entries.
This may sound crazy, but hear me out. I admit it's not true for every blog, especially not for blogs where every entry is very similar, but I think for most blogs, especially personal blogs, this is right on target. For me it is definitely true, as the 10 most popular entries on my site make up almost all of my inbound links and new visitors.
Another thing to consider is that if you are telling someone about your blog in hopes of convincing them to visit your blog for the first time, you will most likely recommend your most popular entries to them. I would say something like,
"Yes, I have a website at christianmontoya.com, didn't expect that url did you? I write a lot, and my site is doing well. I had a couple entries that were featured on digg, such as one about all-nighters and another about design trends, and I also had one that made it onto del.icio.us most popular about free graphic resources."
Or maybe I would say that if I didn't have a featured posts section. It's quite wordy, and fortunately I do have a featured posts section, because I can just say:
"Yes, I have a website at christianmontoya.com, didn't expect that url did you? I write a lot, and my site is doing well. If you want to see some of my best entries, you can just go to the featured posts section, it's the third link in the navigation."
One more reason why I recommend this page: I was contacted about a week ago about my all-nighters entry by a radio guy who was researching for a segment related to the topic. I guided him over the phone to find my entry again and find the related discussion on digg.com. Since I had my featured posts section, this was very easy, since all I had to do was tell him "if you go to featured posts, there's a link to the original entry and another link to the site digg.com where people talked about it as well." This was great since the guy I was helping had never been to digg before… I saved myself the trouble of having to help him search for the link.
The last reason for having a page like this is because it's a big ego thing. To promote your blog you have to toot your own horn, so to speak, and this is a great way to do it. It's basically saying, "look how popular/influential some of my entries have been."
Some other sites that use this technique in various ways:
- Fast Company has a "most popular entries" section as rated by readers.
- Vitamin has a "favourite features" section on the article pages. The features are rated by the number of comments, which is a little unfair because older features have a better chance of a good rating. A voting system could be better.
- Stylegala has an "all stars" listing as well as a "top rated" listing for the gallery, which is very smart since gallery archives can be really large.
- Similar to Stylegala, I did a "Hall of Fame" section at Liquid Designs.
- And finally, this WordPress plugin makes it very easy to show your most popular posts by views in your sidebar or on a separate page. Jason Clarke's site is a good example of it.
I really like doing my featured posts section by hand, since it allows me total control over the appearance, allows me to use a lot of different criteria (inbound links, comments, and subject), and allows me to include related links of interest. If you are looking for a way to promote your blog and give new visitors a push in the right direction, I recommend this technique to you.