In the first part of A One Year Experiment in Blogging, I told you about the cliche “Content is King” and how I came to realize that it does indeed have merit. But no matter how awesome your content is, if you don’t make it readable and marketable, it might as well be worthless. For the second part of this series, let’s talk about the lessons I learned about blog presentation.
Make It Look Good
I used to think that if people can read the text on a blog, that’s it. Readability achieved! It turns out readability is more than just making text easy to view. It involves color and formatting and images and the overall design, layout, look and feel of your blog. Using the default theme on Tumblr or Blogger or picking the WordPress theme with your favorite color is not good enough. It has to stand out, show your personality and reflect the attitude and theme of your content. Using a minimalist theme on a blog about explosions or zombie movies may not be the best way to go about it.
You may need to do some coding if you want existing themes to work with your content and your blog to stand out from the rest of the blogs using the same theme. You may even find it necessary to create your own unique theme or ask/pay someone to do it for you.
If you’re really serious about blogging, you should consider doing research on branding. I’m still getting acquainted with the concept but so far, I’ve learned that establishing your voice and your identity takes more than just your content. It needs to be on your blog design. Your logo. Your domain name. Give your blog an identity to make it more compelling. It’s not just about branding, but it’s about strong branding.
I’ve written articles for websites and blogs that implement best branding practices but still lack the ever important recall factor. Make your readers remember you not just because of your content but because of the impression your blog made on them as well. Make it clear if you’re all about business or if you’re offering pure dickery or if you’re dabbling with everything in between.
Picking a Domain
I’ve learned that choosing a domain name (subdomains on services like Blogger and Tumblr included) with generic words that clearly show what your blog is about can still work against you if it’s too boring. On the flip side, choosing a vague domain name for the sake of sticking sounding cool and getting people’s attention may prove to be confusing for people who haven’t read your blog. Find the right balance between the two and you will come up with the best domain name for your blog, young grasshopper. If you choose to pick a domain name first and pattern your blog around it, that’s a completely different game.
I’ve dabbled in domaining in the past year and I found out that coming up with a really hip and marketable domain name is not enough to build a really impressive domain portfolio. Yes, you can hit the jackpot if you’re really good at predicting which domains are going to be profitable, but usually, it will take more effort than that. I bought a few domains; some were bought based on research and speculation while others were bought because I had a specific idea in mind in terms of developing them. I parked the generic domains and let Adsense do the work for me. I got about $3 for my effort for the entire year. BAH.
I developed the rest of them into WordPress/Blogger/Tumblr blogs. I learned that your domains will be beneficial for you in the long run if you develop them first. My progress with those blogs is not yet lucrative but their search engine rankings and Adsense income are slowly improving. Yay!
A blog’s design, its logo, its domain and how you format its content are all part of your blog’s presentation. You can communicate your style and identity through it and by doing so, you can build brand recognition and — together with awesome content — a strong reader base. So far, this part of the blogging process is proving to be the most difficult for me mainly because it requires me to read up on branding, design and marketing. I’m a lazy reader. But no pain, no gain, right?
I hope to see you again tomorrow for the third part of A One Year Experiment in Blogging. We’ll talk about the lessons I learned about SEO. And possibly the horrors of Craigslist job listings.