Welcome to lesson #6 in our multi-part discussion of how to build a long-term, profitable blog. If you haven’t read ANY of the previous posts, you can catch up here.
What are we covering in today’s lesson? Well, I’d like to cover my thoughts on basic blog design and layout. Specifically how your look can make or break your success.
Now, this is one of those gray areas. Many of the people reading this will probably disagree with what I’m about to say. But, I’ve learned a lot of these lessons (the hard way) after building two successful online businesses.
With that said, let’s take a look a few simple rules I recommend for designing your blog:
#14- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
If you looked at this site, you’d see it’s pretty basic. I don’t have any flashy buttons advertising any affiliate programs. There’s only a few categories of links on the sidebar, and at the end of each post is a simple P.S. which links to my review of an affiliate marketing course.
One might say that my blog is pretty boring. And you know what? I like it that way. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not going to win a major design award. But I have a really good reason it’s done this way…
Remember in the last lesson how I talked about the Most Wanted Response (MWR)? From the beginning, I’ve designed this site to have two outcomes: build a list and promote affiliate offers.
Right now, I can’t demonstrate all that I’m doing because there are a few ‘MWR tools’ that haven’t been put into place. So it’s hard to really see the big picture here.
My point is this. A money-making blog doesn’t need a fancy layout to achieve a desired outcome. If your content is good enough, then a basic WordPress theme will do the trick!
#15- Have a “Reason Why” For Everything
In addition to having a simple design, I recommend you do the following exercise….
Take a look at everything on your blog and ask “why” you have it there. If you can’t come up with a good enough reason, then it should be removed.
In my opinion, most blogs have way too many distractions. If someone is clicking away from your content, then it better be for a good reason. Here’s a list of what I consider to be the links you want people to click on:
Reader loyalty– Links to related articles, other sites as a reward for regularly commenting, mini-courses that go beyond a typical post, and navigation to find past articles.
List Building– Any device the gets people to join your opt-in list or subscribe to your RSS feed.
Traffic Building– Tools to help drive more traffic to your site. Like buttons to social media, bookmarking, and related services. Done properly, these tools can increase the popularity of your posts, and get more eyeballs to your website.
Monetization– There should be parts of your site dedicated to making you money. The trick here is to avoid what I call the “Las Vegas Effect.”
If your site is filled with a bunch of little flashy, advertisements to different products, then you’re not effectively using your space. The truth is most people have tunnel vision when it comes to ads. Odds are, they’re probably not going to click on most of the images that make you money.
My advice would be to find the best one or two programs to promote and dedicate all of your efforts to push traffic towards them.
Personality– At their core, blogs are supposed to be about YOU. That’s why it’s important to add a little personality to your site. So be sure to have some stuff on your site that reveals more about who you are as a person and what you have to offer readers.
This is going to sound harsh, but I urge you think carefully about everything that’s on your site.
Blogroll? Ditch it.
Link to whomever designed WordPress Theme? Get rid of it!
Calendars? Current time? Scrolling RSS Feeds? Buh-Bye.
A pictorial of your Aunt Maude’s Tea Kettle Collection? Unless your blog is about Tea Kettles, it’s time to scrape those pics.
Remember if you want to treat your blog like a business, then sometimes you have to make hard business decisions.
#16- Have a Uniform Look to Your Overall Message
I recommend you spend a little money and get a customized header graphic (or logo) for your blog. If you look at mine, you’d see that it’s not really fancy. So don’t worry about having the perfect image. Just get it up there!
Next, try to incorporate this graphic or logo into all of the social media and bookmarking sites. This will help with branding. Plus it’ll create a feeling of sameness when people come check out your blog. For instance, if you look at my Twitter page, you would see it’s pretty similar to this blog.
Lastly I recommend sticking with a set color, font, and size for your text. A set look to your site helps keep consistency with your regular readers. (I know, I know. This is something I have to fix on my site.)
Like I said, I’m definitely not a web designer and the fanciest site I’ve put together is through Frontpage.
I’ve learned through experience that sometimes the most effective website is the one that has a simple layout and focuses on getting readers to take direct action. There’s nothing wrong with having great graphics and a cool look. However, you want to make sure that your design isn’t preventing you from having incredible success with your blog.Take Action. Get Results.