Thu

27

Aug

2015

Starting a Blog with Jimdo: Part 2

Promoting blog posts on your website


Earlier this week I talked about how to create each individual blog post using Jimdo. All by themselves, these blog posts are just like standalone pages of your website. Next we need to find a way to get website visitors to find and read the posts and connect each post in a blog roll.

Create a Blog with Jimdo Part 2

First, is your website template blog-friendly?


If your blog is just a small addendum to your website, you can probably ignore this short section. If your blog is the central piece of your site, then definitely take a moment to consider if the template you are using is the best one possible for a blog. A very active blog will need areas for an archive and maybe even a search function. You might also have categories that you want your visitors to easily be able to access.

 

If you want links to these areas to be visible at all times, you will want a template with a sidebar like Reykjavik, Milano, or St. Petersburg. Alternatively, if you are using your blog to showcase images and need a wider area, consider a template like Zurich, Berlin, or Singapore.

 


Just a Wee Music Blog Just A Wee Music Blog uses the Rome template to showcase large photos and a "sticky" topbar that makes sure you can always access the navigation.

 


Using the Blog Display element


At the end of Part 1 of this post, I quickly mentioned that Jimdo will automatically create a Blog Display element on your homepage after you publish your very first blog post. This tends to confuse some people who don't want it to appear there or get worried that they lost all of their blog posts when they intentionally or accidentally delete the Blog Display element. This could be Jimdo's most misunderstood element so I'll take a moment here to demystify Blog Display.

 

First, I'd like be crystal clear about this one fact: your blog posts live in a completely different "flow" than any other part of your Jimdo website. The only way to edit or delete a blog post is to log into your website and click on the Blog button in the Site Admin and then make your change.

 

The Blog Display element is simply a bridge between the normal elements that live on the pages of your website and the "blog directory" of your website. Because of this, it's not possible to add a Blog Display element to an actual Blog Post. But don't worry, the Blog Display element is very flexible and gives you options to customize the way that you share your posts with your readers.

 

Blog teaser settings Jimdo's Blog Display element and its settings.

 


Your Blog Display settings


To best understand Blog Display, let's break down the settings that you see when adding or editing the element. There are two main options (displayed as tabs) for each Blog Display element. You must choose to display either just the beginning of each blog post or the entire post.
  • Teaser Select this tab to just display the beginning of each blog post and then a "read more" link. I prefer this option in most cases.

  • Posts Selecting this tab will display the entire blog post in the Blog Display element. One reason I normally recommend not using this option is because it will not display the comments for a post. To leave a comment or view them, visitors will still need to click the headline of the blog to be taken to the blog post page.

  • Blog Posts This tells the Blog Display element how many posts to show in the element. You can set this to be 1 to just show the most recent blog post, or you can display a maximum of 100 posts. Displaying a large number of posts on one page can drastically slow down your website, especially if you are displaying full posts instead of teasers.

  • Spacing Use this option to set how many pixels of space should separate each blog entry in the display.

  • Sort This is a two-way toggle where you can set whether you display the newest post first or the oldest. Traditionally blogs display the newest post first.

  • Teaser Length This is where you can set how much of a teaser you show for each post. Set to the number of elements you want to display. Your blog posts should be comprised of many elements, but sometimes new users try to make the entire blog post inside of one text element and then get confused why the teaser shows everything.

     

    If you want just a one sentence description to show up for a teaser, just make a separate Text element that is only one sentence long at the top of your blog post. If you place another Text element directly beneath the first with more text in it, the difference won't be visible to readers, but the Blog Display element will "know" to only display the first Text element as your teaser.

     

    Blog Display Here's an example of how a Blog Display element could appear on your site, using a Text with Photo element as the first element of each blog post.

     


    For a clean, minimal look, you can set the teaser length to be 0. This will show just the title. Another option is setting the length to 1 and making the first element on each blog post be a Text with Photo element (see image above). If you are consistent with the size that you make your image and the amount of text you use, you can create a very nice looking array in your Blog Display element.

  • Tags The tags field in the Blog Display element is one of the biggest keys to flexibility. You can use tags to create categories for your blog posts or even use it to make an archive system. Leave this field blank to show all blog posts, or enter the name of a tag to only show posts with this tag.

 

Create your own blog pages

Now that we better understand the Blog Display element, what's the best way to use it on your website? Remember, you can have more than one Blog Display element on your website and use it to display blog posts in different ways. The answer obviously depends on your website goals and content, but here are some suggestions:
  • Make a "Latest News" section on the bottom of your homepage and add a Blog Display element that shows a teaser for the two most recent posts.

  • Create a new page of your site called "Blog" and add a more robust Blog Display element that shows teasers for the last 20 blog posts.

  • Create separate pages for 2-4 categories. Then on each of those pages, add a Blog Display element that shows teasers for the 20 most recent posts with the correct tag. Another option would be to make the category pages into subpages of the blog page.

 

Alternatives to the Blog Display element

A very important thing to remember about blog posts is that after they are published, each one is essentially just another page of your website, complete with its own URL. This means that you can link to it like any other page of your website (or any other page on the entire web). So what's the benefit in that? Again, the answer is flexibility. Try some of these options:
  • Display a vertical list of text links in a column or sidebar.

  • Make a large feature image with text rendered on it (you could try a free graphics resource like Canva to create your own), place it at the top of your homepage as a Photo element, and link the image to your most recent blog post.

  • Create feature images for each blog post, and place the images in a Photo Gallery element. Set the Gallery to display in Slider mode. Now make each image into a link to the corresponding blog post.

 

Just One Way Ticket Just One Way Ticket uses the Photo Gallery slider option on the homepage to showcase the ten most recent blog posts.

 

Hint: When editing your Photo Gallery, switch the Admin View to "list" in order to add links to the images.


 

Add some advanced features

If you are planning to have a really active blog, I'd suggest taking the time to implement some additional methods for your readers to find exactly the content they are looking for. One easy, yet powerful suggestion is to implement a search box on your Jimdo website. While this is not a built-in feature of Jimdo, it is very easy to add a very powerful search engine to your website using a third-party widget from Swiftype.

 

There is a tutorial right on the Swiftype page for how to add their tool to your website. And don't just take our word for the quality of their product, we actually use their tool to power the search box on our Support Center.

 

Another common feature of blogs is an archive. Luckily, using the things we've already discussed in this blog post, you already have all the knowledge to create your archives. Start by tagging every blog post with a year or month and year. Then make a page called "Archives" with subpages for every year or month (depending on your publishing frequency). Finally, use the Blog Display element on each page to show the teasers for the correctly dated posts. Read the full tutorial for making blog archives on our Support Center.

 

Wrapping it up

In Part 1 of this post I walked you through all the important steps to create great blog posts on Jimdo. In this post, I covered how to promote your new blog posts on your website. Don't stop there though. The key to a good blog is to be persistent. Write often and promote heavily, and not just on your website. Promote your posts on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, whichever social media platforms you think you can best reach your readers.

 

Do you have your own special tricks for blogging on Jimdo or do you have more questions about the process? Leave a comment and let us know.

 


Brent Gummow

Brent Gummow

Multi-talento at Jimdo

 

Brent Gummow has been building websites for small businesses, non-profits, artists, and educators for the past 17 years in both Ohio and California.

He currently serves as the Multi-talento in Jimdo's San Francisco office, solving problems, educating users, and helping to grow awareness about Jimdo, the easiest website builder on the web.