Editor’s note: This is a article by Greg Narayan aka The Blogger, a 25-year-old guy from New York who answers about 150 blog questions before breakfast. Go ask him a question now, and find him on Twitter or via email.
As bloggers and content creators we have a lot to share. Your blog is a platform. But do you ever feel like no one is reading? Yet when you look at your Google Analytics account you see plenty of traffic. So, what’s going on?
Sadly, the traditional positions of blog post and sidebars aren’t as effective at delivering a message nowadays. Content consumers are quick to bounce and you must be a bit more creative to get their attention.
Good thing your blog/website contains a valuable spot called the “stage”. What/where is the blog stage? Why is it super-useful? Let’s take a look at how to edit, style, and effectively use one of your blog’s hidden hot spots.
The stage is versatile
Have you heard of a "blog stage”? Well, assuming you didn’t go ballistic on your design and rewired it completely, you should have one.
The stage sits right below the page navigation but above the top post. It’s an ideal place for announcements and subscription forms mostly because it’s where your readers’ eyes naturally go when they visit your blog. The stage is where the majority of readers focus their gaze on your homepage. Think about it, it’s front and dead center.
The cool thing is that the items on your blog stage show up only on the homepage.
Ideas for a blog stage:
- Product giveaways – Product giveaways need attention, you usually want to direct folks to social media pages.
- Capturing subscribers – Lots of blogs place neat forms here that allow readers to opt into a list.
- Soliciting feedback – My stage has an announcement asking for feedback on a recent eBook.
Some easy WordPress coding
Editting the stage is easy – this is definitely beginner-level coding. At the same time it’s a trick you won’t see used too often, so it’s pretty effective.
I should be clear, this won’t work if you use WordPress.org and can’t edit the code. If you use Blogger, you can edit the stage simply by putting an HTML/Text gadget above Blog Posts in the layout tab.
If you use WordPress.org and a reasonable premium theme, this will prove to be easy.
To start, navigate to the dashboard and go to Appearance > Editor. Then go to index.php, and find this code:
Your stage exists immediately below this code and we’ll put the announcement there.
valuable stage items
What are you eagerly awaiting to tell or show readers? Creating a simple message for your stage is crucial but here are three examples of features I’d put there:
I – The Facebook like box
Built a ‘Like’ Box yet? With Facebook’s developer API, it’s easy. Just choose your settings then hit Get Code, select the ‘iFrame’ option, and insert into your blog stage as indicated above.
‘Like’ boxes look pretty, and even more so when there are thousands of faces of fans who have ‘Liked’ your Facebook page, but if you’re just starting out, that box may not get many inline clicks.
Let’s check out other options you can try.
II – The simple announcement
My first announcement was all about a giveaway contest I ran for Adobe CS. By commenting and ‘Liking’ a blog post, they could win a copy of CS Master Collection at my blog. An awesome offer, but not if nobody knew about it.
As a general rule, this part of your blog is super effective for attracting more blog comments on a certain post.
III – Subscription forms
I talk a lot about Aweber in my writing. They let you design beautiful subscription forms where users can enter their email, name and any other information to join your email list.
Sure, you could put anything in your stage space. You could put your favorite song via mp3 download or one of those school bus photo displays of you for each year of schooling you did. It’s totally up to you, so be creative.
Watch The Video Tutorial
If it this is all too hard to swallow, here’s the video tutorial for this page.
Try putting something on your stage now and tweak those messages until you get a winning formula. Remember, keep it simple, simplicity is best. If you have questions, do let me know in the comments.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this WordPress how-to, and stay tuned for more tricks!