Can we talk about looks for a moment? No, I’m not talking about the latest fashion looks, or the weird look your son gave you this morning before he left for school. I’m talking about the look of a blog. Your creative blog. Everyone (almost!) seems to know that you need awesome content to keep it real and interesting for your readers. But looks do matter.
I can’t help it. I’m guilty of it. I don’t judge other blogs, but I do look at their style and know what I like. The Shed is barely five months young, yet I have a mega-long laundry list of things I want to do here on this blog. Although most edits and tweaks I make will appear to be cosmetic changes, they will benefit you as readers too.
One look that I have always liked is those neat little clickable thumbnails at the bottom of a blog post, that direct the reader to similar topics in that blog or to similar topics elsewhere in the giant worldwide interwebs. Like this screen shot I took from Dollar Store Crafts – an awesome crafty blog you need to check out if you’re not yet a fan:
It’s a professional and clean way to share more of your blog content with your readers, and/or share relevant content from outside of your blog. I have seen many variations of this idea, so I was super excited when asked to try out the Related Content plugin from nRelate that would (hopefully!) give me the look I was going for, and give my readers easier access to my posts.
What is it? Well, in nRelate’s own words:
We service everyone from casual bloggers up to large media organizations. We make sure that your articles are never lost in the archives, so that your readers can easily enjoy more of your content than ever before. We will circulate those older posts by linking to them from your new articles keeping your readers engaged with the full body of your content. Engaged readers click more, spend more time on your site, and will come back more often.
Sign me up – that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for!
I consider myself crafty and creative, willing to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. But when it comes to computer code, I not only don’t consider myself savvy, I actually want to stay in my own little comfort zone. Maybe because I fear that one wrong push of a button and Poof: there goes my blog disappearing into the interweb atmosphere!
Well, I am super happy to report that the nRelate plugin was easy to install. Seriously? Yes, this plugin was up and running on my blog within about 30 minutes. As of this writing, the Related Content Plugin is available for Blogger, WordPress and Tumbler. But don’t worry: nRelate is currently working on plugins for other platforms too. (At the end of this post you can click on links to learn more.) Did I mention how easy it was to install? Honestly, I can’t emphasize that enough!
The Related Content plugin also gave me the exact look I wanted for this blog, and gave me style choices on the type of look I wanted. Style choices? We love choices!
I chose the “default” style, which is what you see at the bottom of my posts including this one. The company offers several styles, and I think all of them provide a clean and streamlined look, which is – to me – a very important feature for a content plugin to have. Not only can you choose between styles, you can choose the size of the thumbnail pictures, how many thumbnails you would like, and where those thumbnails come from. For creative bloggers, having these choices is important so that you can tailor this plugin to match the look of your blog. Nothing looks cookie cutter, not even the “default” style, which probably needs a better name because it is definitely not a boring default choice.
Friendly emails, and an amazing Support Forum are available. Why is the Support Forum amazing? Because I did a few searches and actually came up with the answers that I needed. There’s a much larger company that comes to mind, common initials are FB, where I can type in search queries ’til the cows come home, and still never quite find the answers I need.
‘Til the cows come home? I don’t know where that came from – I’m only on my first cup of tea this morning as I type this!
There’s also two places that you can easily check on the status of the plugin. Is it off-line? Down? Any problems? I’ve yet to encounter any reason to check the status (which is a great thing, obviously) – but – knowing there are two very simple places to look (on their blog and on their main support forum page) is a wonderful feature for a busy blogger.
nRelate’s Related Content plugin does way more than help your readers discover more interesting content within your own blog. If you have more than one blog, you can set the plugin to share content from those blogs thus directing your traffic among your blogs. If you have a blogroll of your favorite crafty bloggers, you can set the plugin to pull interesting and relevant content from those blogs as well – a way to share the love (the traffic) with those you admire.
Yes, that word can be a scary word not only for bloggers – who don’t want their blogs to look like virtual billboards for random companies – but also for readers who don’t want to be hit over the head with ads. Your readers come to your blog for your content. Well, nRelate gives you the option of showing ads or not showing ads. Again – your choice. And if you choose to show ads, like I have? You get some really cool related ads. For example, here’s a screenshot of the bottom of one of my gardening posts about container gardening. And look what pops up from HGTV:
Pretty cool, right?
With nRelate’s Related Content plugin your page views will increase. Doesn’t that sound like a typical promise you’d expect to see? However, with nRelate they have done their homework and can tell you that your page views will increase somewhere between 5% – 12% generally. That might not sound like a lot, but it is more than I started with, right? Page views are the holy grail of numbers to creative bloggers, so I think any increase is a good thing. And it all goes back to providing good content: the more valuable content you have to share on your blog, the more time your readers will spend on your blog clicking around to read more posts.
My overall impressions?
It has a good beat and I can dance to it. Can’t wait until it comes out on video. In all seriousness, I love this plugin and will definitely continue using it here on The Shed. Why?
- Installing nRelate was easy.
- Customer service is available and helpful.
- You get choices of styles to coordinate with the look of your blog.
- Your readers are treated to an easy way to discover more relevant content within your blog, on your additional blogs, or from some of your favorite blogs.
- And if you want to include ads, you can. Your choice.
Want to check out nRelate for your own blog?
Here are some clickable links for you to learn more about what nRelate offers:
Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with nRelate and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are 100% my own.