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The 5 key elements your blog’s ‘Start Here’ page must have

Posted By Kelly Exeter 7th of October 2015 Blog Design, General 0 Comments

The 5 key elements your blog’s ‘Start Here’ page must have: on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Kelly Exeter.

Imagine this: you’ve written a killer blog post and it’s being shared all over the place. Woo hoo! Your traffic is going through the roof and it’s great fun watching those numbers climb. There’s just one problem; all those new readers are reading that one viral post and then leaving your site, never to be seen again.

Or this: you’ve been blogging for seven years. There’s a LOT of content on your site. And new readers are finding you via Google every single day. But your site’s bounce rate is high. Those new readers are sticking around long enough to read the one post Google sent them to and then they’re gone.

How do we stop this happening? How do we capture these readers and turn them into repeat visitors?

The answer is: with a killer Start Here page. One that brings all the important stuff buried deep in your site up to the surface, and offers it up to the reader in a logical way.

What does a killer Start Here page have on it? Glad you asked!

Here are the five most important things it needs in the order in which they should appear:

  1. A very clear statement about who your site is for

If someone’s landed on your site and they’re not your ideal reader, don’t waste their time or yours. Make it clear this is not the place for them.

If they ARE your ideal reader? Then this first part of the page should make them feel at home; like you ‘get them’. This bit need not be more than a paragraph or two.

Here’s what Pat Flynn has at the top of his Start Here page:

“I’m Pat Flynn, creator of Smart Passive Income. If you’re new to the world of online business, blogging, and passive income, this page is for you! It contains the information you need to get up to speed quickly and start your own venture confidently!”

This is what kicks off Michael Hyatt’s:

“If you’re like most of my readers, you’re a successful, high-achiever. You are committed to winning at work, and—equally important—succeeding at life. You strive to grow, get better, and reach your potential. You want to leave a lasting impact on your world.”

While Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids states:

“Planning With Kids is about productivity for families. Getting organised at home so you can spend more time on the good and fun bits of family life.”

  1. Now tell them a little bit about you

Just a little bit. Like a paragraph. If they’ve read past the first paragraph they’re thinking your blog is going to be useful to them in some way. So use this bit to quickly and easily establish some rapport – show them why you ‘get them’.

Here’s Michael Hyatt again:

“I know what it feels like to be in over your head—to have your success outpace your ability to manage it, while still attending to the things that matter most—family, health, faith, and community.

For years, I, too, struggled to get off the treadmill. Too often, my success came at the expense of my health and my most valuable relationships.”

  1. Give them the opportunity to buy something from you

Now I know some people are going to vehemently disagree with me here, but I’ll stand strong on this. Some people will be so sold on you at this stage they want to throw money at you. Let them!

Do you have a book? Offer an online course in something? Link it up!

At best, they will buy. At worst, you’re signalling to the reader right from the word ‘go’ that you’ve created something valuable enough it’s worth paying actual money for (which gives you instant credibility).

Immediately after introducing himself on his First visit? Click here! page, Chris Ducker establishes himself as an authority on the topic of Virtual Staff and Outsourcing … and then says “I wrote a book about this!” I bet a lot of people don’t get much past this bit of the page because they’ve hurried over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy.

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on ProBlogger.net

  1. Give them something for free (+ bonus social proof)

Ok, they’re not ready to buy from you just yet, but they’re still here. Now’s the time to offer them something great for free to get them on your list. If you don’t … what a wasted opportunity!

Here’s what Pat Flynn offers:

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on ProBlogger.net

If you can offer some social proof in with your free offer like Pat does (‘this book has been downloaded 15,000 times’), all the better. Us humans like to belong so if we see that lots of other people are doing something, we feel both compelled to and comfortable in doing that thing too.

Here’s another form of social proof from Chris Ducker (when he talks about his free 7-day New Business Bootcamp):

I get approximately 150-200 emails a day from entrepreneurs that want to start growing their business the right way for today’s economy.

And here’s James Clear offering two kinds of social proof: the rather large number of email subscribers he has, along with the logos of the big online publications he’s written for.

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on ProBlogger.net

  1. Links to your favourite blog posts/things that tell your story

The final element on your Start Here page is arguably the most important. If someone’s got to this point, they want to know more of your story. They want to know more about YOU. So this is where you both showcase your best content and offer up blog posts that tell your story/share your journey in a logical fashion.

Michael Hyatt lists his favourite blog posts under specific categories and offers subtle social proof by noting they’re his most popular posts.

Pat Flynn shares three podcasts and also adds in social proof along with a guarantee!

SPI fans tell me all the time how much these episodes helped them understand the types of passive income opportunities. I guarantee they’ll help you too.”

The Minimalists link and link and link (in a useful fashion).

So does Leo Babauta on the Zen habits site.

And, although it’s not a specific Start Here page, Bron from Maxabella Loves does a magic job telling her story/sharing her base philosophies through the links on her About page.

Diving deep into your archives and categorising key older posts in this way will take some work. But it will be completely worth it for the way it will allow someone to lose themselves in your site for an hour or two. If you managed to captivate them, you’ve got yourself a brand new super-fan!

About Kelly Exeter
Kelly Exeter is a writer, editor, and designer who’s endlessly fascinated by the power of the stories we tell ourselves. She explores these on her blog and in her books Practical Perfection and Your Best Year Ever. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  1. Thank you for this information.

  2. These all points are very useful and helpful for the beginner like me. Very informative post and I really enjoyed this post.

  3. Hi Kelly,

    I absolutely love #3 and totally revamped my home page to vibe with this piece of advice. How? I link up to all of my 122 eBooks on Amazon, breaking each down by category. I felt the shift because I hadn’t been promoting my eBooks at all. I wrote a bunch and saved the marketing for the 2nd leg of my campaign.

    Listing my eBooks helped me get clearer on my direction. People want to buy stuff from someone who is clear, focused and intent on selling something useful and helpful. Don’t hide away. Don’t shy away. From selling, that is. This weird tendency killed my online career for years. I was far from direct. I hid my products and services under layer after layer of different forms of content, under images, etc. I did not want to sound sales-y – whatever that mean – so I hid my products. Sure enough, I struggled to make money blogging for 5 years because nobody knew what business I was in, or what products or services I offered.

    Our start page is our first impression, whether we like it or not. My visitors will see a shiny pop up form asking them to sign up for my free email updates. After signing up, they will see a list of my eBooks and audio books. I let them know to buy an eBook for 99 cents – or maybe, buy 5 or 10 for 99 cents – on the way in, before visiting my latest posts. This is quick and easy. No fuss, no muss. They can then scroll down to find my latest blog posts if they want to see what I’ve been up to. I love this approach because my eBooks are super inexpensive, and they contain all the secrets, tips and tricks I’ve used to blog from paradise. Win-win for both me and my readers.

    I also dig this approach because it conditions start page visitors to buy an eBook or 5, or maybe a few audio books, before they visit my latest posts. Again, win-win. They will support me and I will support them with dirt cheap, super helpful eBooks and audio books, chock full of practical tips. This first impression also lets them know that I am clear, transparent, and yes, that I sell stuff.

    I recall more than 1 hyper successful blogger who feared monetizing their blog for the first time. Said bloggers had huge, responsive audiences, and some real clout, but they felt bad or embarrassed or worried about making money. Not good, because that fear hurt them financially. If they did monetize, would they suffer through a reader backlash? Of course not. But they had to/have to get through that fear, to run a blogging business. It so helps to detach from making money through your blog yet in the same regard, it so helps to clearly explain that you have both free and paid content to offer, and that in some cases, folks will be paying in dollars for what you have to offer. Let them know via your start page. When they get that experience from Day 1 as your reader, they can figure out exactly where you’re coming from.

    If you can make that Start Page product or service super valuable, affordable and impressive, all the better. Make an impact. Become memorable. People love to be surprised, in a good way. I’m not sure of many “blogging tips” bloggers who have 122 eBooks on their start page, especially those who delve deeper into online business building and personal development topics. I patiently build up my content store and eBook library to make this type of positive, helpful impression, for bloggers who want to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.

    As for the main message/benefit, my blog logo image and tagline are super explicit and direct; the top half of my blog cannot escape your attention so readers know immediately, when visiting any one of my blog pages, what my blog is about and how the blog can benefit them. I also stress on my home page how all of my Blogging from Paradise eBooks are under a buck, which a clear, graphic image of my paperbacks being adorned with 99 cents worth of change. This is one of my selling points so I am clear, transparent and direct in explaining how you can download some serious, helpful, beneficial value, on the cheap.

    Kelly, really awesome post here. Our blogs need these start page elements, for sure, to make a positive impact on first time readers. All noted.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.


  4. thnx for sharing !!! this helped a lot .. i am a blogger too and want to know something really helpul ideas for my blog.. i hope it will work

  5. Even though I run a video blog,the points mentioned by you in this post will help me show to new people coming via google what they will get from my blog

  6. Love this post, Kelly! Awesome points that I’ll definitely keep in mind. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  7. Great tips! I need to work on my site to help it be more engaging from step 1. Thanks!

  8. I agree with you, these points are important key for start a website. Nice post, thank you to share your knowledge, its very helpful

  9. @Stacey Roberts

    These all focuses are extremely valuable and accommodating for the tenderfoot like me. Extremely useful post and I truly delighted in this post.


  10. Of course “start here” is one of the secret strategy to reduce the bounce rate of the blog, because most of the visitors wants to read something about the blog/author. So if you displayed the attractive intro, then it will allow the new visitors to better understand about your blog.
    Thanks for Sharing

  11. @Stacey Roberts

    These all centers are to a great degree profitable and pleasing for the beginner like me. To a great degree helpful post and I genuinely got a kick out of this post.


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