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How to Format Your Blog

blogher-food-09

Yesterday was the first ever Blogher Food Conference.  I spoke on a panel called, “How Blogging Best Practices Apply, No Matter Your Blogging Niche,” which was a lot of fun.

The moderator of our 75 minute panel was Alanna of kitchenparade.  Other bloggers on the panel were Kalyn from kalynskitchen.com, Michele from wine-girl.net and the adorable Lolo from veganyumyum.com.

Many topics were covered during the discussion of How Best Blogging Practices Apply; the subject I discussed was Macro and Micro Formatting of Your Blog.  Because the panel moved at the speed of light, I thought it would be nice to post some of the strategies I covered yesterday at the Blogher Food Conference here on my own blog.

Everything in the world, in the universe has form and content.  We all need to have a simple, clear structure (form) for our blog in which to present our content (what we write).

First, let’s look at Macro content, the overall content of a blog.  A good blog is well organized, user friendly and easy to navigate.  Further, a good blog is clean, and in my opinion calming.  This is a strange thing to say, so let’s take a minute and look at what makes a blog calming?

Sparse clean design (though of course there are exceptions to this that include the oxymoron “busy clean design;” which would include veggiegirlvegan.blogspot.com and dooce.com.

Calming design, which includes the repetition of format/font will also help you draw in readers-think about meditation which is the repetition of words, or yoga which is the repetition of asana, both of which calm the mind.  By repeating your blog structure consistently via format you create a calming and familiar environment for your readers, which is key to pulling people in, in this busy, fragmented and chaotic world

Next, on a very practical level, let’s discuss what tools are needed in formatting your blog to be simple and easy to use:

  • Consistent url and header
  • Search bar -at upper left or right of blog, underneath the header
  • Clear menu- to help readers navigate your blog
  • Categories for recipes (and printer friendly recipes)
  • Comment section
  • Frequently Asked Question section
  • About page with photo of you
  • Subscription- easy way for readers to subscribe to your blog via email or rss feed

In summary, for overall macro structure of your blog –its format, placing key items such as those above in easy to find open spaces will draw readers to your site.

Blogs have a Macro Structure (the blog format) and a Micro Structure (the post format).

So, for the Micro Structure of your blog, what strategies can you implement in order to simplify the format of each of your posts?

  • Start each post with keywords that sum up the entire post; this is good writing style and will also improve your “searchability
  • After summarizing the topic at hand I like to add a personal tidbit, something that relates me or my family to the topic (food) at hand
  • Recipe -make it stand out and easy to find, this is the “meat” of your post!  I use a grey drop screen to set it apart
  • Formatting your recipe -format each recipe exactly the same way for the ease of your readers; I use numbered steps
  • Write a conclusion and perhaps add some other bit of news, to sign off to your readers

In sum, format each each post simply and consistently.  Even if your blog and post structures differ from mine, and they will, have the intention of repeating your chosen structure in each post to create a place of home and familiarity for your readers.

Finally, in this busy world where there is so much media content, much of it over stimulating, it will be calming and subliminally attractive to your readers to find a place of peaceful repetition that they can come back to again and again.


posted on September 27, 2009, 16 comments

  1. I enjoyed your panel discussion. Great tips. Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you.

  2. Judith @ eco-place.com

    Today I am putting together blueprints for my up and coming websites. Your sharing of clear and precise information is coming at the most fortuitous time. Hope to link to you in the not to distant future. Appreciate.

  3. Alisa - Frugal Foodie @ onefrugalfoodie.com

    Excellent tips! I am happy with Go Dairy Free right now … for the most part, but my blog needs a major redesign, so I will keep these tips in mind.

  4. Wonderful, useful tips; and wow, is that my blog name mentioned?!??! I’m honored :-D

  5. Linda Simon @ blog.kitchentherapy.us

    Thanks for sharing your portion of the conference. I see I have some more macro formatting to do.

    My blog is still pretty new and I keep learning. I completely agree on a calming site, and yours is. Who needs more distraction?

  6. Elana, I was at the conference, in fact, that’s me in your picture, on the left in the green shirt standing by the wall! Obviously, I didn’t know I was going to be in a picture.
    GREAT conference and great session you were in. Learned a lot. I have been admiring your blog for a couple years now. I love his simple it is, not cluttered and I always LOVE your photos. I am putting together a post about the conference and am listing and linking a bunch of blogs, yours is on the list!
    Thanks!

  7. LOVED LOVED LOVED your panel! It was so great to meet you – and thank you for all your fabulous tips of the book! xo

  8. Brenda Wilkey @ familyfoodies.com

    I am intering right now but when I have spare time I am also designing my own blog. I love the layout and ease of your blog and I find the above tips very useful. Sometimes there is so much chaos going on that blogs end up looking like a myspace layout. I love the idea of clean and simple.

  9. gfe-gluten free easily @ glutenfreeeasily.com

    Hey Elana–You know I loved meeting you finally! And, I loved eating your cookies–thanks! It was so much fun for all of us gf bloggers to spend so much time together. :-) You and the rest of the panel were great. I’m so glad you captured here what you shared … so those who could not attend would have the info and so those of us who did attend could reference this info later. Your simple clean design certainly inspired me from day one, but there was so much more that you and others shared that I need to get busy on.

    BTW, I’m in the photo, too, standing up on the far right.

    Thanks and xo,
    Shirley

  10. Katrina (gluten free gidget) @ glutenfreegidget.blogspot.com

    Wonderful, informative post. I am learning so much through my blogging journey. Thanks for more knowledge!

  11. Your tip on including important words in the beginning paragraph is a great one, something I am going to work on for my own blog. Thanks Elana!

  12. Thank you for sharing these tips – wish I had this guidence earlier this year when starting up. But, never too late to learn!

  13. Beverly Becker @ whatsonmyfood.org

    Any discussion of design (blogs or anything else meant to communicate) that includes the words “yoga” and “asana” and “meditation” is worth applauding. You’ve captured the real reason for restful yet creative design. I will be sharing this with many. Namaste and many thanks.

  14. Dr. Jean Layton @ gfDoctor.com

    Elena,
    Thank you for all your guidance, it was so much fun getting to know you a bit better at the conference.
    Can’t wait to implement many of your tips. I took 4 pages of notes at this panel discussion. felt like I was back in medical school.

  15. hello elena, I as you write a blog about food, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, you should check it out if you can. I never even had read a blog before I started, but I knew it was a good outlet and a way to contact the public, my sister sent me this link, and I have found it very informative, especially for someone so new on the scene. Hope you get a chance to check it out.
    caitlyn

  16. lou

    One of the reasons I like your blog (apart from the scrummy recipes of course!!) is that the layout is very user-friendly and clean and attractive to look at.

    Keep up the good work.

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