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9 Ways to Make Your Blog More Inclusive

Welcome

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?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. katiebird says:

    Darren,
    All points are interesting but, I’ve thought about #6 in particular. Because with weight loss/Nutrition/Weight Control — the spectrum is pretty broad.

    Are you just starting to get inspired (again) to lose weight?
    Have you lost weight, but scared you’ll gain it back?
    Have you started gaining weight back that you worked so hard to lose?
    Are you too discouraged to start again (for the XX time) but sort of dreaming about it?
    Are you doing great, full of enthusiasm with ideas to share?
    Has your weight always been stable, but you’ve got an interest in Nutrition?
    Maybe you have an illness (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes) that is affected by what you eat?
    So I try (not always successfully) to keep this range of audience in mind as I write. Some posts will just naturally appeal to certain parts of my audience more than others. And some, will always be difficult for me to write — I’m at different points on that list on different days and my posts tend to reflect that.

    But, creating categories defining which audience would be most interested in a particular post would probably be a good idea.

    (slinking off to evaluate your other points)

  2. Glen says:

    Great tips. I am finding it hard to get traffic for my particular niche I hope using tips such as this will help out.

  3. brem says:

    I think you’ve tackled it pretty much.

    I sort of disagree with no. 8. I think that there isn’t “always” someone better at a field than us (although pretty much everybody is better than me at everything I do, personally hehe), however, there is almost certainly always someone who knows something complementary.

  4. Lara says:

    Good points. I’ve thrown out a number of terms on my site that would make lots of visitors scratch their heads and now I’m somewhat regretting it. I’m cultivating two sets of information (web tech and St. Louis info), but definitely need to spend more time balancing them.

  5. I think the point about explaining RSS is especially useful, and it’s something readers will probably love once they understand it.

    I know I did!

    I added a page today (oddly enough) which explains RSS. I put two links to this page on my main page.

    1) a simple discreet question mark link, next to the big orange RSS button. With title tags that pop up explaining what it links to.
    2) a “How do I subscribe using RSS” link above all my newsreader buttons (i.e. Newsgator, Bloglines, etc.)

  6. Harrowdrive says:

    Another method is to imagine a “typical” reader and write for that particular person as if it was a 1 to 1 conversation. That is what I have always used.

    However, my niche, club cricket, has quite a lot of specific terminology and perhaps there is more than one typical user.

    Some good ideas for posts are emerging now…

  7. Another thing to do is to use the abbr and acro tags.

  8. Sorry, typo, it’s acronym and not acro…hit submit too quick.

  9. Tillerman says:

    What other strategies do I use to build inclusivity on your blog?

    End a post with a question that will elicit comments.

    Don’t you think that’s a good idea?

  10. Ian Anderson says:

    10. Create original content. Don’t just sit there and rehash the information that is already being talked about on 100 other blogs. Try to explore something that hasn’t been looked at. Or look at something from a different angle.

  11. John Dilbeck says:

    Darren,

    I appreciate these kinds of posts.

    You have a good community here and I enjoy learning from you and then passing along what I can to others.

    Thanks for all you are doing.

    JD

  12. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    Other than saying great post, which it is, I think you should know your adsense ad is overwriting the first paragraph when you come straight to this post.

    Thought you might like to know.

    Joe

  13. Wow. Great, great stuff. I already took some of your ideas and implemented them – and I thought I was an approachable kind of gal!

  14. brem says:

    Thanks Blaine for the abbr acronym tags.

  15. al-fallujah says:

    nice…was just compiling a list of wordpress articles and blah blah for other bloggers who ask questions that can get tiring to answer sometimes :-)

  16. Great ideas, Darren. Another way to increase inclusiveness in your blogging is to participate in other bloggers’ projects and ideas. For example, right now I’m doing a post series on Fortune 500 corporate blogs and am doing what I can to comment at other blogs that are engaged in similar projects, email those bloggers and add my thoughts to their work. In turn, some of them come to my blog to add to the conversation there as well. This enhances the collective conversation and we all benefit from each other.

    As you sow, so shall you reap!

  17. jhay says:

    Wonderful tips. It will surely improve my blog in terms of traffic and popularity, and most of all, meeting new people and making new friends.

  18. Jason Clegg says:

    These are great ideas! Blogs really are about the users, and interactivity is an important part of the user’s experience.

    Here’s to better “welcome mats” in the blogosphere!

  19. Hendry Lee says:

    Darren,

    The 6th point probably deserves its own post. What is considered “space”? Is it a forum? A mailing list? A free blog?

    Or is it just blog posts at different level of expertise? And let the readers themselves choose the posts according to their level of expertise?

  20. Karen says:

    I think layout also is important. Nothing turns anyone off more than a confusing page. But I’m sure thats a given.

    Very thought provoking, both your post Darren and the comments……

  21. Karen says:

    (Adding)

    It all depends on the reader too: I mean, I’m new at all this, and am only just learning the lingo and the jargon that comes with it. I feel intimidated posting comments because I wonder if all the ‘pros’ reading will think I sound like a tool.

    It’s up to the blogger to provide a safe, non-judgemental environment (if he/she chooses too, naturally).

  22. Duncan says:

    How bout don’t use Captchas, or don’t the visually impaired count in being inclusive?

  23. chiyou says:

    I like this picture very much, and I quoted the BLOG

  24. Owlhaven says:

    Regarding #1– I personally am alienated when there is heavy use of foul language. I am not a prude– I can handle judicious swearing. I regularly read bloggers who swear. I swear sometimes myself. But bloggers ought to be aware that overdone it can be very alienating to people. I don’t read some bloggers who, supposedly, are excellent writers, because whenever I visit their sites, I end up feeling like they are using cussing as a crutch, like they somehow think that they cannot be down-to-earth or portray emotion without it. I think writing can be approachable AND portray strong emotion without all the *bleeping* swear words.

    Mary/Owlhaven

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  1. [...] Since I consider myself somewhat of a “clique-buster”, I found Pro-Bloggers list of ways to make your blog more inclusive inspiring. Thought you might too. [...]