Yesterday I raised the topic of exclusive blogging (and blogging cliques) – it was a post identifying a problem. Today I want to suggest 9 ways to make your blog more inclusive.
1. Be Aware of the Language You Use – every niche has it’s language that it’s experts know, use and understand and that beginners or outsiders don’t know. Acronyms are particularly difficult for outsiders to understand.
2. Consider a Glossary – sometimes you just have to use certain words that might exclude some of your readers. If this is the case you might like to consider a glossary of some sort that you link to when you’re aware of using exclusive language. Alternatively you might like to put definitions or explanations in your posts if appropriate).
3. Mix Up the Levels at which you Write – consider mixing up the level at which you write. For example I became aware earlier in the year (through the feedback of readers) that ProBlogger was becoming a little inaccessible to beginner bloggers. My response was to put together a month long series called Blogging for Beginners which covered the basics of blogging.
4. Highlight Posts for First Timers – once you’ve written some more accessible content it’s helpful to find ways of highlighting it to those who it was written for. Since writing my beginner series I added it to my menu’s at the top of this blog (with other introductory articles). This means beginners have a place to start and that hopefully in reading the posts I have there they’ll slowly move from being beginners to being people who are able to engage with the rest of my content.
5. Educate Users in Blogging (and RSS) – one of the problems that I find some users have with my blogs (on non blogging topics) is that some of them are unfamiliar with what a blog is or how to engage with it. As a result it’s necessary to educate your readers in how to use your site. You might want to write an introductory or ‘about’ post to do this that highlights your categories, your search function, your email newsletter (if you have one), your RSS feeds (and how to use them) etc.
6. Create Spaces for Different Levels of Users to form community – some sites (I’ve not seen many blogs do this) create spaces for beginners, intermediate and more advanced readers to find information and interact with each other.
7. Encourage Participation and Interactivity – the best way for someone to get over that hump of feeling like the odd one out is to get them involved. Invite interaction, respond to the comments of new people, give people a job (even a small one) and publicly acknowledge your readers and you’ll create a more inviting and accepting environment.
8. Leave Room for Other Experts – I’ve never read a blogger who has a monopoly on truth in their niche. I have read a few who THINK they do – but the reality is that as much as we know, there is always someone else that has as much, if not more, expertise in our field. Write in a way that leaves room for others to share their experiences, knowledge and ideas rather than in a difinative way which doesn’t leave room for a conversation.
9. Create a Culture of Inclusivity – as the blogger on your blog you hold considerable power. People look to you as an example of how things work on your blog. If you are aggressive in your writing and interaction with readers (in comments and in posts) you’ll probably find that your readers will similarly be aggressive. If you write in a negative tone, you’ll find readers mimicking this. If you’re inclusive, positive and interactive – I find that readers similarly take on this approach. Of course you’ll find some don’t mimic you – but your own tone and style will impact the culture of your blog.
What other strategies do you use to build inclusivity on your blog?