Blog Formats and Features and Their Purposes

useful blog formats and features for making money

It’s easy as a blogger to think the majority of your audience is either in your field of work (PR, social media, blogging), or very familiar with the business of blogging. But the thing is, even though the majority of comments may come from those in your field, the majority of those reading quietly don’t know much about what goes to make your blog run; many have never seen another blog other than your own.  I often get questions from readers as to why I or other bloggers do some weird, stupid, or odd things. I’ve never been one to keep secret about the business of blogging; while my experience may not be the same for all bloggers, I hope my insights can help you understand why bloggers do some of the things they do. Today's post is about the blog itself – the format, the template, and how you readers access it.

Why Do Bloggers  Make me Click to Read More?

As blogs grow in popularity and improve their layouts and templates (often replicating those of magazines), more and more are choosing to truncate their posts, offering a link to read a post in its entirety. There’s a few reasons why bloggers do this:

  • Front Page Organization. Many bloggers, especially those with long posts or lots of photos choose to truncate their posts to keep the main page of their blog clean and organized. Having a single photo and a bit of text gives enough for readers to decide if they wish to read more. Many bloggers choose to have their most recent post in its entirety on the main page, and then truncate any old ones to save space. Blogs that are clean and well organized do better in regards to gaining readers and also gaining brand partnerships/making money.
  • Faster Loading. If a blogger chooses to use a ton of big high-resolution photos in a post, it can slow down the load time for a blog. By having each load on its own page, it speeds up load time. Honestly, I think this is a dated reason; with bloggers self-hosting and having access to user-friendly (and free) tools like PicMonkey to reduce the file size of photos without losing size or quality, it really shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
  • Content, not Current. If a blogger doesn't post with regularity, having an “old school” layout of full posts in chronological order can quickly show that their site is not recently updated. Choosing to have all posts truncated without visible dates encourages a visitor to choose to read based upon content, not what is newest. This is also used by bloggers who have phenomenal content that isn’t current; by being able to bring it up front it gets a second life and a new audience.
  • Pageviews. When a brand or company approaches you to do a partnership, they always ask how many pageviews (how many times a month a page on your blog has been opened/viewed) you receive. When you sell adspace on your blog, you figure out the price by CPM (cost per mille/thousand). Pageviews matter, and there’s a lot of ways we bloggers try to get more pageviews. I often link to previous posts in my posts, I have the widget at the bottom of posts that suggests other content you may wish to peruse, and many use the “click to continue” to increase pageviews.

Why Do Blogs Change its Layout? I Can’t Find Anything!

While you hate the new layout, newer blog readers love it. They like to be able to just read beauty posts or articles on home décor and want to bypass the book reviews or posts about motherhood. They want to know the life behind the blogger and want to easily find their social media accounts.

Creating a magazine-like layout is good for the person who wants to grow from blogger to editor of a website or web magazine. If you build it, they will come. New visitors will be impressed because even if there’s only 500 pageviews a month it LOOKS as though it’s big and important. But also there’s room to add columnists and new topics and whatever new-fangled trend hits the blogosphere without affecting the look and functions of the site.

I recommend readers pipe up when they don’t like something new on a site. We bloggers don’t know unless you tell us, analytics only show part of the picture. We don’t want you to stop visiting because it’s hard to navigate or hard on the eyes. In turn, please also let us know what you do like so we can be sure to keep it up!

Why Can I Only Read Part of a Blog Post on Feedly/by Email?

You find a blog you adore. You choose to subscribe to the blog via an RSS reader like Feedly, or even subscribe by email. You go to read the first post through your subscription tool and the text cuts off before the first paragraph is finished. There’s two reasons for this:

  • Scrapers. Back in the day, weird blogs would pop up that would steal content from bloggers. You could tell by the formatting that they were scraping the RSS feed and dropping it right in their site. They’d do this to make money off adspace, text links, and other weird things I never ever got. It happened to me quite often, and for a while I truncated my RSS feed to prevent it. However, Google has gotten smart and ad revenue isn’t what it used to be so these blogs hardly exist anymore. Truncating your feed to prevent scrapers in 2015 is the equivalent of still having the blog-standard comment tool of a hard-to-read captcha and moderating comments just to prevent possible spam. While it still will happen from time to time, it doesn’t make sense to inconvenience your actual readers for the chance of an issue.
  • The Full Experience. While it’s fine and good to have a bunch of subscribers (brands and PR folks do ask for those numbers), blogging success comes down to the actual blog. Here is where people are more likely to click on links, here is where people can comment and be part of the community, here is where the reader can truly see how the blogger wants the content to look and be laid out. Visiting the site gives the reader the full experience.
  • Pageviews.  For some it’s just about increasing those pageviews to impress brands and advertisers.

Why Do Bloggers Also Have Newsletters?

Google Reader disappeared. Facebook has changed their algorithms so you may not see posts from your favorite blog. Who knows in a few years which social media sites will still be in existence (hello Friendster). Creating an email list means the blogger can stay connected even if Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr is no longer, if Facebook and Twitter become the next MySpace, if BlogLovin decides to move onto greener web-based pastures. It’s a security measure to ensure they can keep in touch with you.

Another reason is why I started one – there’s more content than what I can put on this blog. I need to consider that while I have many long-time readers, each day I get new ones. Each new post is my calling card for a minimum of 24 hours, the way someone will judge my site. The newsletter is a place where I can share random thoughts and ideas, reviews and rants and it’s only once a month, and to an audience who has made a decision to subscribe and read it. And in a way I am using it for the same reason as the previous paragraph – I similar types of content on Facebook and Twitter but have seen with the changes in algorithms and increase in popularity of these tools that engagement has dropped drastically. I think my blabbering gets lost in the crowd. A newsletter is just to those who care about my blabbering, and I am not competing with Upworthy or Buzzfeed.

Why is EVERY SINGLE LINK an Affiliate Link?

On my blog, if I link to merchandise, more often than not it’s an affiliate link. That means if you click on the link and buy something, I make a commission. Some bloggers (including me when I am contractually obligated to), use a tool that lets you monetize your Instagram photos; you can sign up for a newsletter and get links to all the merchandise seen in the photos. And some bloggers (me included) use affiliate links when discussing merchandise on Twitter and Facebook.

Magazines aren’t free. Books aren’t free. Blogs technically are free, but it takes a lot of time and yes, money to make quality blogs run. Ad revenue is hardly anything these days so it’s all about affiliate income. The money I make from those links make it so I can continue to run Wardrobe Oxygen and justify the time and money spent on it. I regularly feature merchandise that doesn’t have an affiliate link because I like it and want to share it with you. But if I can make money off a link without sacrificing the quality of the content, I am going to and I don’t blame any person who does the same.

You however, are the one in charge. You can choose whether or not to click on those links. If a blogger features an item and doesn’t share where it’s from and won’t answer your request for information and just tells you to click the link, you have the choice to click the link or Google that image until you find the information yourself. There are many bloggers who choose not to monetize their sites, if it makes you uncomfortable to know your blogger is making money from the entertainment, inspiration, or advice she is offering you there are plenty of other bloggers in the Internet sea.

Why Do Some Bloggers Have the Same Photo Twice in Posts?

This usually happens when they have a WordPress blog, set an image as the “Featured Image” but because they don't see it in their editor, they add the photo again. Also some themes with a slideshow or featured image widget on the main page cause this issue.  Often this duplicate only shows in the RSS feed/email so the blogger may not even know about this issue. Don't be afraid to send a friendly email to tip her off!

Why Do Bloggers Have Ten Photos of Practically the Same Thing?

While the photo of the blogger looking off into the sunset may resonate with some, the photo of the blogger smiling right into the camera may resonate with others. A blogger wants to have photos that nicely feature all the items worn in the post plus full-length photos to show the entire look. On top of this, if brands have gifted merchandise or paid for the post to be written, they will want a certain number of photos featuring their merchandise. Finally, Pinterest. Yes, your favorite time-suck is a big reason why bloggers have photos a certain size, have ten of the same photo, images with the title on them, etc. Pinterest is a fantastic way to reach a new audience, and just as the looking off into the sunset photo may resonate best with a reader, it may be just the photo to be liked, repinned, added to a popular board, or introduce a new reader to the blog.

Why Do Blogs Have that Floating Bar at the Top of the Page?

If you're reading this post on my actual blog, as you scroll down the page a white bar will appear at the top of the blog. There's a mini version of my logo, a couple links to different places on the blog or my social media channels, and a search field. Many blogs and websites have this, be it like mine, a request to sign up for their newsletter, or some other call to action. I chose to add it to my site because I find it very useful when on other blogs. I visit a new blog and really like what I see; without having to scroll back to the top of the page I can click and follow the blogger on Instagram or Twitter, subscribe to her email, or visit her ‘About' page. If I click on a link to a specific post and am scrolling down and want to see more of this blog, I don't have to scroll up – I can just click ‘Home' or the logo and bounce right back to the front page. And you wouldn't believe how many emails I'd get before having it asking what the link was to my social media channels, or how to subscribe to the blog. Once I added the floating menu, I never received another email of that sort. And finally, it's great marketing. While you're reading you're always seeing the logo or name of the site. You're consistently seeing links to get the newsletter or follow on Facebook. There's a better chance you're going to click on that link or remember that blog's name.

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8 Comments

  1. Rachel
    June 2, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    Such interesting timing – one of the sewing bloggers I follow just wrote a post about monetizing the blog. It’s definitely behind the scenes week in blog world for me!

    It was refreshing to hear you talk bluntly about page views. I read through Feedly, and I’ve abandoned all blogs that make me click through. But it’s nice to at least know there’s a reason why they did that. 🙂

  2. Emily
    May 30, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Where’s the link to subscribe to your monthly newsletter? I always ignored it because I thought it was just a summary of the existing content on here but now I want to subscribe it’s no longer popping up! The Subscribe section implies a daily email..? I’m sure I’m just being dense…

  3. May 30, 2015 / 12:49 pm

    Great post! And I love the white bar you have at the top of your post that scrolls down as you read! Very helpful! If you don’t mind me asking, what affiliate program do you use to monetize Instagram?

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

    • May 30, 2015 / 1:47 pm

      When I have a contracted sponsored post with rewardStyle part of the contract is to share the post on Instagramand use their tool LIKEtoKNOW.it. It’s a pretty great tool if you wish to monetize Instagram, has a very user-friendly app to make the posts and see subscribers, sales, and more.

  4. Jenny
    May 30, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    Love your blog, and love that you make money doing it! I do have one question – if I click a link, and don’t buy anything, does that help you at all or do I have to make a purchase? I’ve always wondered about that.

    • May 30, 2015 / 1:45 pm

      Cookies remain on your computer for up to 90 days depending on the program and retailer. You don’t have to buy that item but you do need to buy something to benefit the blogger. If you click on another’s link to the same retailer that cookie overrides one from my site. And just visiting, commenting, following on social media, sharing links with friends and linking on other sites (even comment fields) helps a blogger – a blog’s success is all about its reach and audience size/strength 🙂

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