Regardless of your blog's niche, you have to take care of your readers. Here are five pages every blog needs.
If you want people to come back to your blog or buy a product from you, it's important to establish trust.The reader who just found your site from a search engine query doesn't know anything about you or why she should do business with you.
That's because of the unfortunate precedent set by a number of unscrupulous bloggers who preyed upon folks rather than working to engage them.
In the USA, the Federal Trade Commission established requirements for bloggers who peddle their influence in exchange for compensation.
Five Pages Every Blog Needs
The issue goes a bit deeper than complying with the law, though. It's simply good business and good human nature to let folks know how you operate your site.
One of the best ways to start earning your reader's trust is to create an About page. Here's an important concept to keep in mind, though.
Remember that your content must be useful. If your blog is about woodworking, then tell the reader how you're going to help them with their woodworking problems. It's OK to share your experience to let them know you're qualified. In fact, some testimonials or social proof helps persuade them that your site is one to visit over and over for woodworking advice!
Just make sure that it's done in context. The information you share in your About page is to demonstrate authenticity and establish trust.
I received this wonderful testimonial on my Facebook photography page. It's probably great to include on my About page for my photography blog. On this blog, it's useful as an example in a post, but it wouldn't be good for my About page here.
Context is important.
One of the nice things about a blog is that you get to write what you want without interruption. This is your platform. Share your thoughts, experience, advice or art with the world.
Sometimes the world may want to reach back. Give them a conduit to do so.
Comments on individual blog posts are one way to start, but they aren't always the appropriate tool for every message. A Contact page is a private channel from your reader to you and it doesn't require you to share your email address.
Don't be afraid of private contact! I've received business inquiries about the use of my photos and some wonderful testimonials through the Contact page on my photography blog.
Sometimes you may receive a request for help. If you can, help them. It's a great way to create a raving fan who will spread the word about you and your site.
Never miss a chance to satisfy your guests. In fact, offer them incentive to ask you for help. Here's my example.
I occasionally sell affiliate products on my blogs. When I do, I point out the fact that the link is for an affiliate relationship where I make a small commission at no additional cost.
Then I take it another step. I offer to support any product bought from an affiliate link on my blogs. If you buy from me, I stand behind the products I recommend.
Yes, recommend. I don't enter affiliate relationships if I don't have experience with the product. I use the things that I share as an affiliate link, which is why I can make a recommendation with a clear conscience and provide support if needed. That's because I know the vendor and the products I recommend.
If someone needs my help, all they have to do is visit my Contact page to reach me.
You want people to become engrossed in your site, jumping from one article to the next. It's part of building an audience. Why not make it easy for them to find your content?
An archive page breaks down your site in a logical fashion so they can find useful content by different criteria.
Some of the ways to allow your visitors to explore your archives are by:
Your archives provide a navigational tool for people to explore your site.
Every web site collects information. There are logs of IP addresses that visit your site. Some people voluntarily provide information by registering for email updates or leaving comments. WordPress Stats and Google Analytics can give you information about the kind of browser and operating system they used, what pages they visited on your site, even geographic information about the user.
You may wish to take this a step further and include a Comment Policy that outlines rules and expectations for people who contribute to your site via the comments.
5: Disclosure Statement
The disclosure statement is a way for you to comply with the US Federal Trade Commission's requirements for bloggers. The good news is that there are tools to help you construct a meaningful disclosure statement. The WordPress plugin called WP-Insert can help you create a disclosure statement.
Where do you place the disclosure statement? Here's part of the FTC FAQ about the guides for bloggers:
As for where to place a disclosure, the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous. Putting disclosures in obscure places – for example, buried on an ABOUT US or GENERAL INFO page, behind a poorly labeled hyperlink or in a terms of service agreement – isn’t good enough. The average person who visits your site must be able to notice your disclosure, read it and understand it.
Although a disclosure statement covers you for banner links and advertisements, you may need to provide more disclosure in reviews of products to show your relationship, if any.
The concern is consumer protection and letting them know information of any relationship you have with the product you're endorsing. It lets the reader decide if that relationship will impact the trust they place in your review.
It's All About Building Trust
Be honest with your reviews and disclosures. That's an essential component of establishing your authenticity and trust relationship with your readers. Be sure to add these five pages every blog needs to start building that relationship with your readers.