part 1: logistics | part 2: organization | part 3: design | part 4: community | part 5: tips
In yesterday’s blog post you learned how to choose and setup your blog platform. Today, before you even start writing, I want to talk about organization.
The first question you might ask is why do I bother with this now? The answer is that organization is the key to good site navigation. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found a cool post on somebody’s blog and thought to myself, I wonder what other blog posts they’ve written about this topic, and then I couldn’t find an easy way to get there. It is very frustrating. And I’m sure it would be very frustrating to the blogger if they knew they had missed out on a bunch of site views.
5 reasons you should start organizing your posts early
- It will increase traffic because people can click between the same types of posts.
- It will give you ideas of things to write about because you have a set list of topics.
- It will make it easy for you to decide which of your own posts you should be linking back to, because creating internal links is a great way to increase traffic and bump up your search engine optimization. For example, “if you liked this post about painting sunsets, you should check out this one about how to paint beaches.”
- It will give you a clear idea of what types of posts people like to read or share the most by seeing which category is the most read or shared using analytics.
- It will (eventually) make creating archives for you post easier. You can check out my card & parties archives here.
There are two ways to organize your post – by categories and by tags. Categories are broader than tags. On this site my categories are blogging, creative, food and beverages, greeting cards, holidays, life, and parties. Most people would argue that that is even too many categories. Then the tags get even more specific, for example:
Category: Food and beverages
Tags: appetizers, brunch, desserts, drinks, entrees, salads, and wine and cheese.
Tags: 25th birthday, decorations, favors, games, ideas, recaps, tips, table settings, and themed parties.
The only reason my 25th birthday gets a tag is because there were 10 posts written about it. If you have less than 5 posts about a topic, it probably doesn’t warrant its own tag. The easiest examples to think about are sites that break down really easily. For example, a food blog might have categories of recipes, stories, and tips and then tag by type of recipe. A photography blog might categorize by people, landscapes, and events and then tag using words like portraits, weddings, vacations, and travel. And if neither one of those works for you, head over to Real Simple and look at their navigation bar at the top (food & recipes, home & organizing, beautify & fashion, etc), those would be the categories. The drop down that appears when you hover over each of them would be your tags. For example, weddings is broken down into cakes & catering, ceremony, dress & attire, flowers, guests, registry, and etiquette. A Beautiful Mess also has a great navigation bar to browse through.
I have two catch-all categories on my blog: life and creative. These are the two things that make my blog more of a lifestyle blog than a crafting or party blog. Keep in mind if you want to stay in your specific niche, you probably want to make sure all of your categories relate directly to your topic. I do it my way to help avoid blogger burnout. (The struggle is real.)
Three years after starting to blog I finally went in and recategorized and tagged all my posts. It took over a week. Don’t let that happen to yourself, start now. If I were starting over, this is what I would do.
Think about the purpose of your blog
Ideally, your blog will help solve a problem. Start thinking about the problem at the beginning. You may be a great baker in general, but you may also be a great baker who is also a parent and understands what to bake for kids, therefore the problem you are solving is how to make baking simple with children. Maybe you love old cars, but your forte is actually finding the best parts to fix them up, therefore the problem you are solving is how to fix up old cars on a budget. Once you start thinking about it as a problem and solution, you will have a better framework for your site.
Choose your categories
What will people come to your blog to find? Posts about ___, ___, and ___. Make sure these topics have a common theme. If one doesn’t relate to the others, this blog might not be the place for it. Think broad and encompassing. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- Can I think of more than 10 posts to write about this topic?
- Can this be broken down into subcategories?
- Does this help promote the purpose of my blog?
If you answer “no” to any of the above questions, there are a few possible solutions.
- Try to merge categories together to cover more ground.
- Make the category a subcategory and figure out what its real category should be.
- Remove the category, this blog might not be the place for it.
Aim for 3 to 7 categories in your final list.
List your tags
Once you have your categories, the tags should be easy. Every category doesn’t need tags, especially at the beginning, but once you start blogging for a while, you will see that the tags start to come naturally.
Aim for 30 to 60 tags in your final list.
Keep a list
Keep a list of all your categories and tags so that you are consistent. If you are writing about parties and the first time you tag something #party and something else #parties, those items aren’t really grouped together. Once I started keeping a list the organization came to my blog much more naturally and it didn’t feel like as much of a chore.
Promote your categories
Once you have a few posts in each category, create a link to each category in either your navigation or your sidebar to promote browsing through your site.
In case you were wondering what my categories and tags list looks like, here it is:
There’s definitely some room for clean-up in there still. For example, what the heck is “stuff” under Creative, why do I have both bloggers AND an other creatives tags, or does Nickleodeon really need its own tag? Probably not. Also, from this list it’s really easy to see how “life” and “creative became the catch all categories.
One of the best parts of a blog is that it’s constantly changing. You can constantly change things to make them better. The categories and tags that you choose in the beginning may not be the categories and tags you find out you need a few months in. One thing that starting now will do though is make it so that when you do decide to overhaul your site you probably won’t accidentally find yourself with 300 tags that need to be consolidated down to 50. Not that that’s what I had to do or anything…
For those people out there blogging already, do you keep a list similar to this? Have you found other methods that work for you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.