It’s 2015 and getting started as a blogger has never been easier. Hosting prices have plummeted over the years, and tools like WordPress give you a perfect environment for marshalling your thoughts – along with the ability to publish worldwide at the click of a button.
However, while it’s incredibly simple to get up and running in a technical sense, there are still challenges as a writer in staying consistent, reaching your audience, and standing out from the crowd.
In this article, we’ll cover the tools available to you in Avada for taking control of your blog’s content and putting your best foot forward. Once we’ve covered the powerful set of blogging options on offer, we’ll finish up with five simple steps you can take to blog more professionally and get the word out about your work.
Let’s start by looking at how to use Avada to make your content shine.
Organizing Your Blog Content With Avada
For the purposes of writing this post, we loaded up one of Avada’s pre-packaged demos – the Agency demo – to have some content to work with.
If you’re setting up your blog from scratch, we highly recommend following along with the detailed information on all of the Avada blogging options that we’ll discuss here in the online documentation.
Your main blog settings for Avada are found in Avada > Theme Options > Blog in the backend. As you can see, there are a lot of potential choices to make.
Our first port of call here is the option for Blog Layout. This controls the list view of posts on your site’s blog homepage. Remember, you will need to have your main blog page actually assigned in Settings > Reading for any changes here to take effect.
Avada ships with six core options for you to choose from:
What you go for here will naturally depend on the nature of your blog’s content, so feel free to play around.
Fashion-orientated offerings, for example, could benefit from either of the large options where imagery is very much to the fore. Product review blogs may find the grid a more appropriate usage of available screen real estate. The sleek timeline view is an elegant solution for all manner of content and is pictured below.
Once you’ve got your layout selected, you’ll notice that there are a number of further options to tweak in order to dial in your design. These are mostly self-explanatory, and enable you to control items such as excerpt length and whether the page uses pagination or infinite scroll to break up posts.
It’s worth pointing out that all layout options will responsively adapt for display on mobile so, no matter what layout choice you make, you can be confident of your posts looking great on every device.
Speaking of posts, let’s move on to the per article options.
Styling Individual Posts
Top level settings for single posts are grouped together at Avada > Theme Options > Blog > Blog Single Post Page Options.
Again, most of these are fairly self-explanatory and enable you to make global decisions about items, such as allowing comments and displaying Author Info and Social Sharing boxes. You’ll also be free to override any decisions taken here on individual posts.
Once you’re into an individual post, the world is pretty much your oyster. You’re free to set featured images and videos to embellish your writing, and the full power of the Fusion Page Builder is also at your fingertips.
You’ll find the majority of per post options down in Fusion Page Options > Post but, as you can see in the screenshot below, you also have easy access to settings for the header, footer, sidebar and background.
There are a number of handy features built in when it comes to adding images and videos. For example, add more than one featured image and a slideshow will automatically be created. Video integration with both YouTube and Vimeo is supported in the Video Embed Code box.
It’s also worth noting the presence of the Fusion Shortcodes button in the standard post editor. A quick click on this opens up the full power of Avada Shortcodes for embedding in your post.
An interesting option worth mentioning here is that blogs themselves are available as shortcodes, meaning you can embed your posts throughout a site in a variety of different ways. You can see a full list of available parameters in the online knowledgebase.
You’ll notice a format box in the sidebar with options for standard, gallery, link, image and more. If you’ve selected either the Large Alternate or Medium Alternate layouts, these values will trigger an appropriate icon next to the post in the list view back on your blog homepage, as shown below.
You’ve also got a number of options for displaying related posts in your blog. It’s an excellent way of encouraging readers to explore your content in depth, and you can control these settings from Avada > Theme Options > Extra under the Related Posts / Projects section.
As you can see from even a brief look at the options outlined above, Avada gives you everything you could possibly need to make your blog content shine.
Now let’s look at five quick tips for helping you up your blogging game and take maximum advantage of the power of WordPress and Avada.
1. Do Your Homework
Effective blogging is a skill that can be learned, and the good news is that there is a huge amount of excellent resources out there to help you get good at it.
Sites such as Copyblogger and First Site Guide are packed full of actionable tips, and there is also much to be learned from studying the output of master bloggers such as Seth Godin, Jason Kottke and John Gruber.
If you’re looking for an excellent, real-life guide to taking your beginner blog to the next level, look no further than Chris Guilleabeau’s (free) 279 Days to Overnight Success.
John Saddington’s Developing Great Blog Content series is also highly recommended.
2. Dial in Your SEO
The best blog content in the world is worthless if nobody knows about it. Both WordPress and Avada are excellently organized for SEO out of the box, but you still need to play your part.
Make sure you’re familiar with the basics of on-page SEO, review your existing content for errors, and get some checklists in place for future articles to make sure you’re staying on target.
3. Review Your Output to Date
Rather than just hitting publish and forgetting about it, you should get into the habit of actively reviewing your content. Start with a look at your Analytics figures to isolate where you’ve been succeeding and where you’re falling short.
Then take a selection of your top performing articles and critically review them as if you were analyzing someone else’s work. Note your findings.
If you want to take things a step further, compare your writing on a particular topic to that of the best writers in the field and note the differences.
4. Put Yourself on a Schedule
Setting up a full editorial calendar may be overkill if you’re a one-person blogging operation, but establishing the discipline of a regular posting schedule is a good habit to get into.
Opinions vary about the right frequency for posting but what really counts is quality. Establish a schedule you’re comfortable with and stick to it. Giving yourself a buffer of ready-to-publish posts is also an excellent psychological hack for taking some of the pressure of false urgency off your shoulders.
5. Promote Your Content
Good writing will always find an audience, but the size of that audience will be largely determined by how actively you’re promoting your content.
Guest posting and link-building outreach on specific posts are also superb ways of getting the word out about your work and reaping some SEO rewards.
There’s never been a better time to be a blogger. The tools at your disposal – such as Avada and WordPress – are light years ahead of what was available even five short years ago.
If you’re looking to kick things up a level with Avada, start by getting familiar with the options we discussed:
- Blog layout options.
- Individual post styling.
- The power of shortcodes and the Theme Fusion Editor.
Once you’ve got the basics down, start turning pro by following this simple five-step sequence:
- Do your homework.
- Dial in your SEO.
- Review your output to date.
- Put yourself on a schedule.
- Promote your content.
Image credit: GotCredit