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Using Bylines on Blogs

200612112158A few months ago I was consulting with a blogger who was getting a reasonable number of visitors to his blog each day but who was getting very low levels of commenting and reader interaction.

Over time we made a number of changes to his blog with some success but one thing I suggested was to move his byline (his name) from the bottom of each post (where it was very small and buried among other details) to the top, just under the post title where it was more prominent.

The result was almost immediate and the blogger concerned reported to me a week later that he started getting much more personal feedback from readers in the form of comments and emails. His overall comment levels jumped by around 50% and they often included his name. It seemed that previously no one really knew who wrote his blog and that just by highlighting his name readers became more sticky and willing to participate.

I wouldn’t guarantee a 50% increase in comments on every blog that did this – but I suspect that it might help.

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. Interesting point. Do you think including a photo would have similar results?

  2. Fitness_Guy says:

    Thats a really good point. I’d love to see a longer list of thngs that can be done to increase reader interaction.

    I found that it wasn’t until I started getting quite opinionated on my blogs about products or events that I got some reader interaction. I had wondered whether layout had anything to do with it too.

  3. I find I get a lot of personally directed comment by having my name being at the top of my page and in the in the “About Ian” section of my blogs

  4. Alex says:

    This seems like a very good idea. I never used a byline at all, and I get very few comments. I think it’s a missed opportunity, b/c commenting draws readers in and gets them involved in a deeper way than just skimming a post can. After reading this suggestion, I’ve added my name to the footers of my posts. I have a TypePad blog, and I’m not sure whether it’s possible to post a byline in the header, but I’ve asked TypePad to see if this can be done.

  5. What about if you have your photo displayed on the blog (which is what I do)?

    Talia Mana
    Centre for Emotional Well-Being
    http://taliamana.blogspot.com

  6. The byline absolutely helps.

    Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t include it in its default themes, and very few themes include it at all.

    Perhaps a how-to for adding the byline is in order. Here’s some sample code:

    By: <?php the_author(); ?>

    Displays your name.

    For multi-author blogs, try this instead:

    By: <?php the_author_posts_link(); ?>

    Displays your name, linked to the “author page” which displays all posts by a single author.

  7. Tammy says:

    If you’re interested in the photo and byline question, take a look at this report by the folks over at MarketingExperiments.com (I have no connection to them whatsoever):

    http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/landing-page-optimization.html

  8. Maria says:

    Well, I feel pretty silly about including a byline on my posts because the site’s URL is my name (marialanger.com), there’s a photo of me on the Home page, and I’m the only writer for the whole site. It should be obvious to readers who’s writing the stuff.

    I often ask for comments in a post, too, so it’s not like I’m trying to scare readers away from commenting.

    Like Fitness_Guy, I also find that I get more comments when something I say is opinionated. Unfortunately, the comments are usually nasty blasts at me for what I have to say. (My posts about the Iraq War and outsourcing usually have that affect.) Not necessarily what I like to see, especially when few readers ever come to my defense.

    Another blog-based site I run has multiple authors. Each article includes not just the byline at the top but a photo of the author. And that doesn’t get many comments either.

    Of course, the hits on these sites might not be what you’d call substantial. Recently, they’re at about 3000 page hits a week. Not bad but certainly not anything to brag about.

    But I definitely agree that reader comments can make a site more valuable to other readers. And to the blogger, too.

  9. That seems to be a promising idea. I shifted the byline and the date right up below the headline from way down after even the tags. The simple word ‘by’ makes for that slight touch of being more personal.

    http://wow.alexanderbecker.net/blog/

    Thanks Darren, we’ll see how it’ll work out.

  10. Hsien Lei says:

    When I visit a new site, if I can’t find an about section or their name, I move on.

  11. Writing style also plays a major part.

    If your posts ‘close down’ the topic, then you’re placing a seed in the mind of the reader that: “‘Nuff said!” And that’s that.

    Trying to finish without of solid conclusion can prompt people to fill in the blanks, but I find this really is topic-specific…

  12. Dave G says:

    I spent some time on this before I even launched one of the blogs I set up. But I went one step further. I have set up the code to load the name AND the PHOTO of the person that wrote the post. In my case, it is myself and my wonderful better half, Sarah.

    You can see it in action over at http://www.EatingBritain.com and it really helps give the personal touch to posts and get direct visitor comment feedback, as you can see by the recent comments in the side bar.

    Another little tip is, don’t show the date of each post. Then if you don’t post for a little while, most readers wont notice ;)

    Dave

  13. David says:

    Amazing how something so seemingly simple and basic can have such a dramatic impact. That must have been great to see a 50% jump in comment levels (reader participation levels) with such a minor tweak. Great post!

  14. David says:

    @maria: although it may seem silly to include a byline in a blog that’s named after yourself, you should consider it room for growth.

    Similar to the other site you mentioned with multiple authors, you may soon invite guest bloggers to write for you, or cover a vacation for you.

    Also, if you are linking up your other sites (like a personal inter-linked network), it may be helpful for people bouncing from one of your sites to the other to always see a byline as something familiar and standard on each of your sites. That way, there’s no guess-work on who wrote something.

  15. I actually killed my name from all the templates of my blog. It is only me that writes there, so I thought it is silly to have every post signatured. On the other hand, I am on the most of the images on the blog and write from the first person view so that should compensate.

  16. Keral Patel says:

    I don’t have comments turned ON at my blog but Yes I try to make it as personal as possible.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 2. Make your blog personal by adding your photo and moving your byline to a more prominent position. If you are wondering why your visitors are not commenting, this might just do the trick. Using Bylines on Blogs Use of Images and Video – Adding Personal Touches to Your Blog [...]