I recently asked Pushing Social readers to tell me “Why” they blog.
I learned that “PSers” blog to teach, entertain, persuade, and sell. I suspect that many bloggers fall into these same categories.
So tell me something…
Why do most blogs look the same?
Sure colors and logos change but most blog themes have the same wide body column for blog text and the narrow right hand column for sidebar stuff.
A photography blog looks like a foodie blog. A t-shirt ecommerce blog is the mirror image of an essay-type blog.
This doesn’t make sense. It’s like a beauty salon leasing a big-box store, the purpose just doesn’t fit the experience.
Ron Johnson, the former Apple Store architect and new CEO for JC Penny, wrote on the HBR blog…
“People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they’re willing to pay a premium for that.”
The power of “experience” applies to blogging too…
Think about Social Media Examiner, Mike Steltzner has created a social media magazine with a distinct branding and editorial strategy. The site’s meteoric rise is evidence of careful purpose and creative alignment.
How about the 4-Hour Work Week Blog? In one glance you know that you are going to get high-quality, well-researched, body-hacking information that you won’t find anywhere else.
Recently, Copyblogger changed its blog to promote it’s core business purpose – Internet Marketing for Smart People. The Copyblogger experience makes it clear that solid content and smart business goes hand-in-hand.
If your blog is struggling to achieve traction then take a close look at your blog’s design.
The good news is that evolving your blog’s design is getting easier every day.
How to Make Sure Your Blog Sounds and LOOKS Great
I’m a big fan of StudioPress. They have built a well-architected WordPress framework along with beautiful theme designs. Woo Themes also has some great themes that are distinctive and easy to customize.
With that said, I want to show you how to match your blog’s purpose with a theme that will make it resonate with your readers.
Blogs that Teach
These blogs are focused on sharing tutorials, step-by-step instruction, and examples.
Sample Blog Theme: Focus (StudioPress)
Elements to Look For:
– Nested Navigation: Teaching blogs often have different levels of instruction across multiple categories. These blogs require easily understand navigation that can store a lot of information in an easy to understand format.
– Multi-media Friendly: Wide body columns make it easy to embed HD quality video tutorials and presentations.
– Community Widgets: The theme should have easy tools for encouraging readers to interact with one another.
Blogs that Entertain
Your content is meant to excite the senses and keep the reader coming back for more.
Sample Blog Theme: Crystal (StudioPress)
Elements to Look For:
– Visually focused: Your cartoons, videos, photography and art should be the center of attention and everything else should be secondary.
– Caption friendly: You most likely will want your art to speak for itself. Your theme should have layouts that make captions and excerpts easy to write and interesting to read.
– Multimedia friendly: Your theme should make it very easy to embed photography and video with a click of a button. You don’t want a layout that forces you to compromise your content to fit its quirks.
Blogs that Persuade
Every post is intended to challenge, inspire, and change your readers perception of the world. The written word is king.
Sample Blog Theme: Minimum (StudioPress)
Elements to Look For:
– Text friendly: Your readers will be spending a lot of time absorbing your posts, make sure your theme has great typographic options.
– Inviting and Engaging Comments: Although Discus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre provide much of the blogging world’s comment options, your theme should provide excellent options for customizing your comments section.
Blogs that Sell
These blogs have uncluttered designs optimized for showing-off products and generating sales. Over the last couple of years, theme creators have done a great job creating ecommerce-driven blog designs.
Sample Blog Theme: Inspire Commerce (Woo Themes)
– Embedded ecommerce (Paypal, Google Checkout): Blogs themes are usually not built with ecommerce in mind. Make sure that you use a theme that seamlessly integrates payment buttons, ideally with a simple code-snippet.
– Advertising Widgets: You may want to monetize your blog with advertising as well as product sales. Look for sidebar layouts that can accommodate a variety of banner advertising sizes.
– Customized Menus – Look for a theme that makes it easy to customize your menus to fit your product mix. Ideally, you should be able to create multiple navigation bars and place them in a variety of locations.