After yesterday’s presentation for the Social Online Conference, I was left feeling like I had opened a Pandora’s Box of unanswered questions for some of the viewers. So, instead of increasing the confusion, I wanted to kick off a series here about becoming a better blogger… and make it more focused on section by section improvement.
When I am reaching out to a blogger, there are a couple of things that I keep in mind to determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for my client. Creating a brand is one facet – and one that I know from personal experience is both dauntingly terrifying and extremely rewarding to master on your own.
I’m not asking you to become a web developer here; there are still more things that I don’t know than those I do. But a couple of core ideas – as well as the tools to implement them yourself – will save you time, help you make more money and, above all, allow you to better connect with your readers and focus on content first.
What is so unique about your site? At the end of the day, there’s one big, HUGE selling point for your site: YOU. Is it easy for readers and PR companies alike to find out who you are? How does your site show that you’re not only a credible source, you’re also likeable and friendly? And – most importantly – how can we contact you? When you’re thinking about implementing a new design, you should never undervalue how important it is to be visible on your site. People cannot get to know you without you telling them who you are, and nothing is more frustrating than having to go on an expedition to try to find a single email address.
How does your site reflect your brand? Whether or not you think so, you and your blog are a brand. (You’re also a business if you make money… but that’s a different post.) Does your site reflect the future you want to have? Does it even reflect your present? Take the time to flesh out what your brand looks like, and you may find that there are some things you’ll need to change sooner rather than later
Are you a conductor or a corrector? Conductors lead the symphony, while correctors hang back and clean up the mess left behind by the chaos. You can be a conductor and lead your readers into sharing your content, staying on your site and even interacting more. Or, you can hang back and make sure that when things go wrong, you’ll be there to pick up the pieces. Conductors are in the forefront of the action, so you’re taking more of a risk. But, with more risk comes more reward – you want to let your readers and others around you know that you are able to provide them with what they need, when they need it (and in the way that they want to digest it, too).
Does your site pass the two-second test? That is to say, when a new visitor comes to your site, do they see what you want them to? Where is your eye drawn and directed to within the first two seconds of the visit? One of the simplest tools for directing the eye is contrast – things like pulling your sidebar color all the way up to the top of your page will direct the eye to the center and down.
I’ll touch next on SEO tips for bloggers, but I want to leave you with this thought: if your site were to disappear tomorrow, would the void be filled without missing a step? How do you want to make your mark on the world, on or offline?