Should I have welcome post at the top of my blog?
A "welcome post" is an introductory post that sits at the top of your blog. It's the first post that your visitors see - assuming they come in through the front door (the URL to your blog) rather than a side entry (any blog post they've found through a link, a search engine, a social media site etc.)
It stays at the top if you mark it as 'featured'. This means that it always stays at the top, and anything else you post will appear underneath it. It's interesting that when you opt to mark a post as featured Typepad gives you a warning message: are you sure?
It's a good question to ask yourself.
Are you sure you want to have a welcome post?
The reasons for having a welcome post might be:
- To welcome people - sounds obvious, but it's a natural desire to provide a 'welcome' sign
- To explain what the blog's about - especially for non-blog readers who might be used to traditional websites
- To highlight a current issue - a new initiative, special offer, or monthly theme at your blog
But there are some significant drawbacks. Poorly constructed welcome posts:
- Make your reader scroll: If a welcome post is too long - if it goes 'below the fold' - your readers will need to scroll down to find the most recent posts, the current news. This in itself can be enough to lose you new readers - and make your blog look very unprofessional
- Stop your reader reading: Welcome posts don't tend to be the most scintillating copy. Most readers want to explore good content first, then find out more about you and your blog - not the other way round
- Stop your blog looking fresh and current: the first thing a new reader finds is old content. This undoes one of the main benefits of having a blog in the first place
- Get dusty very quickly: A lot of people don't bother to update their welcome posts, which means they start to look out of date, unloved and uncared for (not just the post, the whole blog)
- Put a lid on your blog: This one's a little harder to put my finger on but a welcome post can create a lid, a limit on your blogging. Try taking it off and see if you feel freer and more creative in what you write
There are other, better ways that you can use your blogsite to provide the welcome, the explanation and the information on current promotions - and they're all about using your sidebar.
Now there's an art to doing this - getting the right information above the fold, selecting the right words to pitch your blog, keeping sidebar clutter to a minimum - but that's the most effective way to do it. Really. Truly.
However, if you still want to have a welcome post there are three things you need to do to make it work:
- Keep it really short - a couple of lines max, and make sure your most recent post still shows above the fold
- Keep it fresh - update it regularly, say once a month. It'll stop your blog from looking stale and dusty, give you a chance to tighten up the copy (you'll always notice surplus words) and check that it's in line with your current focus
- Keep it current - if all else fails and you don't have time to change the words, go in and change the date stamp once a month
What's been your experience of using a welcome post? Have you had one, taken it away, changed it, added it back again? What's your reader experience of visiting blogs with welcome posts - does it change your perception of the blog in any way?
TIP: To change the date stamp: open the welcome post from your Typepad dashboard, scroll down to the bottom where it says 'posting status'. In the drop down box, change the status from 'publish now' to 'publish on'. This opens up the calendar - change the date to today's date, hit 'set time' then back in your post, hit 'save'. Your post will be republished, with today's date.
Episodes to date include:
Intro: Showing off Your Content
Part 1: Should I Have A Welcome Post On My Blog?
Part 2: Use Bold And Bullets To Break Up Your Posts
Part 3: Break Up Your Posts With Quotes
Part 4: One Simple Programme That Can Save You Blogging Time
Part 5: "Continue Reading" With Style
Part 6: How Do I Format Links?
Part 7: How A Footer Helps You Blog for Business
If you've got questions or comments about other topics you'd like us to cover here please leave us a message in the comment box and we'll see what we can do...
If you need some hands on help with fixing your welcome post don't forget you can now sign up for coaching and training with Blog Angel Claire Raikes, an hour at a time. Just click on this link to book your slot.