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Blogging in Brief: Looking Good, Saving Face, Tags and Lags

We all make mistakes, but making mistakes in the media can be costly—especially to your authority!

…Or can it? We all know readers appreciate honesty. And our first story this week is all about that.

Saving face online

Last week, I got my regular flippa.com newsletter … and another a few hours later! The new subject line? “Our newsletter, now with functional links!”

Intrigued, I opened it to see this:
Newsletter

Way to save face after a blooper! If you’ve ever had to apologise for an error you’ve made publicly, online—perhaps even on your blog or with your valued subscribers—we’d love to hear how you handled it in the comments.

Big-block headers revisited

I mentioned last time the growing trend toward big-block header on blogs. This week, I found one that acts simply to pull you through to the latest content, on food blog Peas and Thankyou.

Content feature

This screencapture shows the header on rollover—the opening of each post appears as an overlay on the header. This is a great use of imagery I think, and an excellent way to catch the attention of readers, especially those who are arriving for the first time. On dPS, I use a similar carousel for featured content, but it’s not simply for the latest posts. It really brings attention to your current content.

What do you think of this idea? Could this work for your blog?

Name your own price

The battle to find the best price for a blog product—one that maximizes your profit—can be hard to do. So the approach of letting customers choose their own price is an interesting one. Tara Gentile uses it on her blog:

Set your own price

The product is designed to change customers’ relationship with money, so the tactic is in keeping with the concept.

Seriously

It’s an interesting tactic, and not one I’ve tried. Have you? How did it work? I’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments.

Are your promotions slowing your site?

Many blogs show a popup on page load for first-time users—perhaps offering a download, subscription, or other goody.

But this week I’ve stumbled across a few that are really extremely slow to load as a result.

One of them flashed up the homepage before hiding it—so the screen was blank—for what felt like ages (but was probably 5-10 seconds) before displaying the popup. The popup itself didn’t have the usual close button in the right-top-corner, either, which meant that after the long wait, I had to spend more time trying to work out how to close it so I could access the site content. That finally appeared only once I’d found the Close window link.

Every time you add a new widget, plugin, or promotion to your blog, test the load times for different browsers to make sure your blog’s still accessible and usable for everyone who stops by.

Do tag clouds still matter?

Remember tag clouds? They were popular a few years ago, but they seem to have fallen out of favor now—though I notice the Blog World blog still has one:

Tag cloud

Tag clouds can help users drill down to specific content that isn’t represented in your basic blog navigation, and to reach content in your archives that spans topics. In fact, in some cases it’s a great way to provide users with access to your older material. That said, I don’t use tag clouds—basically because screen real estate is so precious, and a tag cloud never really makes the cut onto my sites.

Are you using a tag cloud? How’s it working for you? We’d love to get an idea of whether you think this mechanism is still relevant to the blogs of today.

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.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

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Comments

  1. Ali zia says:

    Hi Darren,
    I like your point that name your own price. We should kept a price which is affortable to most of visitors in this way we can get more sales
    Thanks for Sharing these tips

    • Sometimes with very strong personal brand, Whatever will we sell are always in demand. but for a brand new building sebuag either large scale or individual will take time, and also techniques and hard work.

  2. Hi Darren, Your carousel on DPS shows one image but the navigation doesn’t work. Great post, just wanted to make sure you know about your one horse carousel. Thanks, Matt

  3. Ryan Kettler says:

    Nice examples Darren. Although we’ve never had to save face like Flippa, it seems like these sorts of blunders are occurring more and more. I’m sure if/when it happens to us, it will be nice to have some references to review. :)

    Never tried the “name your own price” option, although I thought it was cool when Radiohead did that for the In Rainbows album. Might be something to consider in the future.

    ..and yes, I think cloud tags are completely irrelevant..most people who visit your blog come to read something specific and once they’re done, they move on to the next thing. They don’t spend time looking at your cloud to determine what you write on the most. Just provide valuable content and the visitors will come and share.

  4. Sylvio says:

    I’ve always loved the tag cloud because I write about a wide number of subjects so I thought it’ll be good to make most of them accesible, then I change the layout (one more 2013 than 2009) and changed my mind. I think the best use for a cloud isn’t exactly in a cloud format, is like the ProBlogger’s.

    I apologize for copy your idea on my new blog. :) I really think the best way to show tags is showing just the most important ones. Nobody needs to see “Samsung Galaxy” tag, “gadgets”is more useful. But of course, it depends of your content, if the blog is about mobile devices, this example doesn’t apply.

  5. Mary Corbet says:

    A tag list has its uses. I don’t use a tag cloud, but I do have a “Categories” section in my right side bar. This small windowed section features a short list of the most popular “categories” (they’re the tags I use), with an option to click “more categories” – and this takes the reader to a page with a whole list of tags I use. (I use too many, and the list needs to be cleaned up. But that’s a whole nuther issue!)

    There’s quite a bit of searching or browsing of the website from that little category box, so it seems to work for what it’s there for.

    I use the tags a lot, too, when I’m writing about a general subject that I have a tag category for – I link to the tag, and people can see the whole list of articles on that particular subject on the site. It’s helpful.

    But as for tag clouds – personally, I don’t like the discombobulated look of them.

  6. It’s funny you mention tag clouds. I used to use them a lot on all my blogs and websites back in 2008-09, but maybe I should think about adding them again in the footer or bottom sidebars…I’ll test it I guess.

    Also I always test load times of my landing pages – always, and I highly suggest everyone does the same.

    Good post

  7. lag… the ultimate killer. I’ll click on the ‘X’ button coz it is annoying to see the loading animation.

  8. Max says:

    I like this post. It’s different from all the other posts that go on and on about one topic.

  9. Sean says:

    Call me jaded, but with the increase in “saving face” emails I’ve been receiving over the past few months, I believe many of the blunders are intentional. It gets a second mailing out and it shows how “human” the author is. It’s wearing, just fix your post and pay more attention in the future before publishing.

    • Oh man, I would love to say that this example was intentional. Alas, we had an issue with WordPress scheduling, time zones, and links. Lesson learned! One thing’s for sure — it didn’t have much of an effect on our open rates, so you’d have to be pretty desperate to fake an error like this one.

  10. Liv says:

    I often use the tags to see other things the person might have written about. I actually think people who don’t blog use them while people who do blog don’t see them as useful.

    • DJ says:

      I do this for tags inside of actual blog posts but not in tag clouds. I think using tags inside of your actual posts is very effective for keeping people on your site. But I’m just not too sure how many readers actually use tag clouds. It would be interesting to see some statistics.

  11. Jade Craven says:

    I´ve seen many people use ´pay what you can´ or ´name your price´ effectively. It tends to be used a lot by females who have certain types of businesses. It also tends to be used on celebratory occassions – Danielle Laporte has one on her birthday every year, AND offers payment plans.

    Here is an interesting case study about how it can generate more money: http://www.copyblogger.com/pay-what-you-want-pricing/

    I believe that people should be careful when using it. It depends on a bunch of variables – business model, audience, branding etc. Still, it´s a way to get your content out there without attracting primarily the freebie hunters

  12. Conor says:

    I love the part where you have indicated to name our own price. Furthermore, tag cloud is very essential as it gives the readers a brief overview on what subjects or keywords we are writing about.

    Great post there, Darren.

    Cheers

  13. Tom Moran says:

    Hi Darren, I enjoyed this article and am glad you flagged the tag cloud issue again. This has some relevance for me because Tags (along with Adsense channels) are one of the massive jobs I’ve been meaning to overhaul and have been putting off due to the seeming enormity of it! Basically when I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t really know what tags were, just that I should tag my articles, and as a result ended up tagging them with relevant tags and the most utterly irrelevant ones too, and far too many of them. Now that I do know what I’m doing (sort of!) and my site has grown, I’ve been looking for ways to easily provide my readers with micro-topics, if you like, and older content that they may have missed and like to check out. As a result I was thinking of giving the tag cloud another shot! That said, it will be an experiment – perhaps a time limited one – because as you say blog real estate is precious. But who knows, maybe for my site it could push through more page-views, we’ll see!

    But first of all I feel that I need to trawl through my tags, reassign some and make sure they’re all relevant and somewhat stripped down from the monster mountain that’s there at the moment! It would be interesting to read an article aimed at both new and experienced blogger about how a good tag strategy early on can make a big difference down the road. Perhaps you’ve already written one – I’ll have a look :)

  14. I have seen the same freeze ups with pop-ups I think its a bad idea for any “authority” blog. Its presumptuous to assume that everyone who comes to your blog wants to subscribe to it.

    This is about how it is these days walking through Macy’s. You can’t even get past the perfume counter without some clerk spraying you with a tester. #WhoLikesThis?

    The example that I would like to add about saving face was what happened this year with Godaddy. They were hacked and everyone knows all Godaddy hosted blogs and email was down all day.

    Godaddy saved face when the CEO sent me an email with an explanation of what happened and an automatic credit to my account.

    It was this action that kept me from moving my hosting like so many others did.

    • Credit to your account? Nice! I received the email from Godaddy and even called myself. I was offered 15% off next purchase.

      As far as reponding to the post: I think you should send out a correction, if serious enough, and keep moving. Mistakes happen.

  15. Anurag says:

    Tag cloud is must but it adds mediocrity to the blog’s design that’s why I am not using it now on my website. I always test my loading time myself or sometimes with the help of Google Page Speed Insights.

  16. Best method for saving face online – honesty.

    You come clean and tell the truth. That’s the only way to go about it. People make mistakes and thing happen. Everyone makes mistakes. You just can’t lie and try to hide them.

    It happened to me and I just came out and told the truth. No point for hiding it.

  17. Chris Paulus says:

    Great Feedback on this. I have been use cloud tags but i am not sure of the value.

  18. Lucky Ann says:

    True, in any wordpress blog often use claoud tag, but is it true that it can help the performance of our blog for the better?

  19. Amardeep says:

    I have always tried to avoid Cloud tags. They seem to be a bit of an eyesore to the visitors I guess (or I think so?). Anyway I will definitely try to experiment with cloud tags and see if that really makes a dent.

  20. Tom says:

    Cloud tags never grabbed my interest when I browse the internet.

    It looks like garbage of text fighting for my attention. Noise pollution on a blog.

  21. I still use tags for one very good reason. tags are representatives of our blog. After looking on tags a visitor can easily understand what is in the blog. And it’s not only for human visitors but also robots.

  22. DJ says:

    I don’t use tags for one of the reasons mentioned in this post, screen real estate. I also like to think of it from a reader’s perspective. I frequent blogs all the time and I have never clicked on a tag in a tag cloud. I honestly don’t think they’re that useful.When I want to find a specific topic I either search or go through the blog’s categories. I think we will eventually see an all around end to tag clouds.

    I chuckled a bit at the Flippa email.

  23. Great post, It’s given me a few things to think about as well. I rarely see blogs with cloud tags these days, I don’t think there’s much value in them, to be honest.

  24. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic
    blog!