Content is king, but if your design stinks, visitors won't get past the banner. They won't stay, they won't get to know you and they won't subscribe to your blog.
Worse, you could be spending a lot of your valuable time blogging for nothing. Bad blog design = bad marketing = no new business. Stinks, doesn't it?
If you care about attracting the right people, get a professional blog design or theme installed. You can do it yourself on Typepad, but you'll need a graphic designer to supply the banner with a tag line built in.
There are plenty of good freelancers available, but you'll need to know what to tell them. Here are my tips for good blog design and set up.
Design for Branding, Trust, Personality
Everything on your blog should reflect your branding theme, personality, and the problems you solve for your readers. Your banner should clarify what the blog is going to give readers.
These are branding issues that need careful thought. You may even need professional help if you want to get it right.
Joan Stewart is a good example of this. Her blog, at PublicityHound.net, features tips for people seeking PR and media attention. You know this immediately after arriving on the blog.
You should give your blog personality, through using your photo, video, audio and even a catchy persona or animal figure. Joan uses a dog as a "publicity hound." On my other blog, Content for Coaches and Consultants, I use a blue man figure, like the one in this blog post.
Personas and graphic images relieve a site that is heavy with text, and provides humor and levity to serious topics.
The key is to be consistent with your brand and the key solutions you're trying to get known for.
The choices for adding features and widgets to your blog can be overwhelming. Don't confuse your readers by offering too many things to click on that distract from your business.
Do offer them easy navigation, easy ways to find solutions to their problems. Most blog platforms offer a navigation bar across the top. You can include special stand-alone pages you don't want visitors to miss.
Here's a suggested list of must-have items for any small business professional who wants to use a blog for getting business. At the very least, your blog should have:
- An email subscription form, in addition to RSS options
- Your picture
- An About page, that tells your core message, your backstory
- Cornerstone content: free, free for email, and some for fee
- ‘How Can I Help You’ page, clearly giving options for hiring or buying
- Typical clients page: who do you work with?
- Testimonials, showing social proof of what happens as a result of working with you
- Your other accounts, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- A way to see and hear you with a video clip
In addition, these are other features you might want to include:
- Affiliate links & banners
- Blogs you read
- Books you read
- Top blog lists
- Use a Vizu poll to get readers to vote on their biggest challenges
- Or, better yet, use a professional, custom-designed survey
- Use Google analytics or SiteMeter or Feedburner analytics to monitor results
There are other details that are important on your blog. When it comes to look and feel, small things matter. This is just an overview of the big things that matter. If you need a blog review, don't hesitate to contact me. Getting an outside expert's opinion can set you up for success.
Or, don't miss my teleseminar class on Wednesday with Joan Stewart. We'll pack in hundreds of tips, you'll get handouts, and the audio recording. Sign up here… Time-Saving Tips for Smart Blogging.