It’s all about Blink and Trust, according to an article I wrote earlier this year.
Blink means the impression you make in the first few seconds; Trust is everything else that is consistent and builds up the impression that you know what you’re talking about and can be relied on to do what you say.
So it’s worth every penny to invest in getting a professionally designed banner for your blog. Denise and I use Heidi Frieder of ArtHead.com to create all our Blog Squad banners, graphic images, and other design work.
We recommend her highly. Denise tells me she works almost exclusively by word-of-mouth referrals, so please tell her we sent you.