If you’ve been writing your blog for any length of time there will be one or two posts that you’re especially proud of. Maybe they sparked a ton of comments or were exceptionally well written or were even linked to by a Big Name blogger. No matter what the reason, they make your chest puff up whenever you think of them.
And if you’ve been writing your blog for any length of time, you’ve sadly watched as the chronological format of the traditional blog caused your AAA post to drop lower and lower on the main page until it eventually disappeared to the land of Archives & Previous Entries.
So what do you do at that point? Hope your readers scour the back issues and stumble upon these gems? Lament the loss of your content while praying to the writing gods for more inspiration? None of the above. Instead you bring your best work to the front of the line, showcasing it in addition to the new stuff you churn out on a regular basis. Since everyone’s style is a bit different, here are 3 ways you can effectively show off your goods.
Sidebar with hand picked content – Mark McGuinness’ “Lateral Action”
This approach works well when displaying your blog’s cornerstone content. These are resource posts (filled with links or tips that people will bookmark and come back to) or flagship content that encapsulates the theme and direction of your blog. As you can see in Lateral Action these posts are part of a static sidebar, easily accessible from the main page and always within visual range of the reader.
You can call this sidebar “Popular Posts” (as seen above) or “Resources” or anything that matches the voice of your blog (Kelly Diels of Cleavage calls hers More Great Cleavage). Run with whatever you think will best capture your reader’s attention. This isn’t an automated option, so only use it if you’re cool with preventing the content from getting stale or if you only want to draw attention to specific posts.
Table of Contents Post – Kristine Rusch’s “Freelancer’s survival guide”
Occasionally one post will spawn a sequel and then morph over time into a sprawling series. This is the kind of content that readers love and keep coming back to. The problem is that a blog’s standard chronological format will bury the beginning of your series deep within its bowels, making it difficult for readers to find all the pieces or start from the beginning. One way of keeping things convenient is by creating a Table of Contents or ToC post.
Kristine Rusch knew her Freelancer’s Survival Guide would be a huge series of posts, so she gave her readers one easy bookmark to keep, allowing them to find all the content with minimal fuss. And if someone came late to the party a link to this post would quickly bring them up to speed. Again this is not an automated option. A setup like this would favor longer running series that could eventually be turned into e-books.
Nav bar drop down menu – Gabriel Novo’s “Cuban Nomad”
If all this talk of manual updates has your eyes rolling in the back of your head (welcome to the club) then this option would work best for you. Leveraging WordPress’ category feature you can automate the process so you don’t have to futz around with HTML or keep appending a single post. Using a parent category as your menu heading, you put your content in a child category. Then you add an entry to your navigation menu for that parent category and viola. For instance, I created the parent category TOPICS and made all my other categories its children.
You can name the parent category anything you want and tie as many or as few categories underneath it as you like. As long as you categorize your posts appropriately this will be a fully automated solution. Thesis worked like a champ for me with this, but YMMV.
Depending on your theme and blogging platform, some of these options will be easier to implement than others. No matter which method you use, it’s always a good idea to bring your best work to the forefront, giving even the most casual reader a chance to discover your diamonds in the rough.