Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links from Amazon and other networks which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you’ve so much as thought about starting a blog, book-related or otherwise, chances are you’ve probably thought about this question. What features should I have on my blog?How can I make sure my blog is successful? What are the best things to have on my homepage?
It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? There are so many things to consider with regards to your blog. How is a person ever supposed to make sense of it all?
The golden rule of blogging still applies, content is king. If you’re not consistently providing quality content, people aren’t going to come to your site.
The content is what gets people there, but it’s the features on your page that will keep them there and have them return over and over again.
I’m going to assume you have or will have amazing content. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with that. I can barely keep up with my own blog. But whether or not you have content right now, it’s never too early to start making sure your blog is a pleasant and welcoming place for readers to spend their time.
What Features Should Every Book Blog Have?
Clear and Easy Navigation
An About Me Page and Photo
A way to Subscribe
Links to Social Media Accounts
Social Media Share Buttons
A Contact Page
A Search Bar
A link to your Goodreads profile
Those 11 features will help visitors stay on your site and have the best user experience possible.
1| Clear and Easy Navigation
There are few things worse than finding an awesome blog and not being able to find my way around. When someone comes to your blog, you want to keep them there as long as possible, make it easy for them to get lost in your content, not literally lost, of course.
The About Me page is one of the most popular and useful pages on your website. People want to know you, the person behind the blog.
Include a photo of your beautiful smiling face and tell your readers why they should stick around. Explain all the ways you can help them. Don’t forget to have your social media follow links here too, they may want to follow you elsewhere.
It’s not going to take long before authors, publishers and virtual assistants start asking you to review their books. Let me tell you, the first time an author approaches you is an amazing feeling.
However, you want to make sure you’re getting requests for books you’re actually interested in reading. Your review policy is the place to tell authors what you enjoy reading, how you rate books, what format you review, how long it will take you for you to write your review.
This is also your opportunity to make any demands you may have. I ask questions in my review policy and if they’re not answered in the review request, I don’t consider it. Harsh? Maybe. But there are certain things I prefer not to read about and if they want me to spend hours reading and reviewing their book they can spend 5 minutes answering my questions.
We’ll talk more about how to write an awesome review policy soon.
4| A Subscribe Button
When push comes to shove, your email list is one of the few parts of your blog that exclusively belongs to you. If Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest stopped existing overnight would you have a way to reach your fans? That’s why an email list is important.
Offer a freebie, make subscribing to your blog something that will benefit the subscriber and your list will grow quickly. Give people plenty of opportunities to subscribe. Have a pop-up set to show up a few seconds after they come to your site, have a form in your sidebar, on your about page. Give the options to subscribe, keep it subtle but make sure it’s not something they can miss.
I use MailerLite to streamline this process. They have a drag-and-drop form builder, great customer service, and they’re free for up to 1000 subscribers. Plus, it was super easy to put on my site.
5| Social Buttons
I’ll be honest with you. I can social media stalk someone with the best of them. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll find those pictures of you at that party, you know the one that would make your mother weep in shame. However, I reserve that level of crazy for only the most eligible of suitors.
What I’m saying is make things easy for me. I’ll follow you if you make it convenient. But I refuse to go all possessive non-girlfriend on you without the promise of dinner and a movie.
6| Share Buttons
You want me to share your posts, don’t you? I’m sure you do. After all, that’s how people find them. Make it easy for me. Clear, easy to find buttons that are optimized. It’s a bit awkward when I click on a Pin now button and find the only option is the wrong size.
The bottom line is to make sure your share buttons are working. The tweet button should link back to your twitter account. Your pin button should allow an image that is the ideal size and shape with an already typed description.
This is another page to share your follow links. It’s also a great opportunity to start a conversation, to turn casual visitors into clients or customers. Let your viewers fill out a contact form, let them send you an email, make sure there‘s no excuse for them not to contact you. If they’ve made it that far, they’re interested. Don’t give them a reason to leave.
Bloggers love comments! I do anyway, they always make me smile. I also love leaving comments. But sometimes I can’t! If someone makes it to the end of your article and has a thought they want to share, a point they want to disagree with you on, you need to let them do that. It’s half the fun, plus engagement always good.
Firstly, these two things are a legal requirement. Secondly, they’re necessary if you want to monetize your website. Whether you plan on monetizing with an ad network or sponsored posts. People are going to be hesitant to give you money or even free products if your blog doesn’t meet basic legal requirements.
10| Search Bar
The search bar is a wonderful tool to keep people on your site longer. If I like the article I just read, I will want to read more. Maybe I think you can answer a specific question or I want to see what you’ve written in a particular category. The bottom line is if I want to stay on your site and look at several pages, you need to make it easy for. I’ve been known to get lost in websites for upwards of 20 minutes (think of what that will do for your bounce rate) but you have to make me feel welcome first. A search bar is the perfect subtle way for you to say you don’t want me to leave.
Yes, we talked about links to your social accounts, but this is a bit different and completely book blogger specific. While every other social network has a bookish section, Goodreads is the bookish social network. It can be very social if you use it right. I like following book bloggers on Goodreads because it gives me the opportunity to see every book you’ve reviewed or rated for as long as you’ve had an account. It’s so much easier than trying to sort through blog archive pages.
Goodreads has some awesome widgets that will show what you’re currently reading, recently read or your latest reviews. If you don’t have the room or desire for a social icon, having this will still let me find you on my favorite social network.
With so many websites offering the same thing and so many new ones popping up every day, it’s becoming increasingly important to provide a good user experience on your site. These features will help ensure your visitors have a pleasant stay, lower bounce rates and increase the time people are spending on your site.
That’s pretty awesome, right? I hope I’m not the only one who wants those things!
What features do you think are most important on a blog? What do you look for when you’re visiting other blogs, what makes you come back to a blog again?