Six Simple Tips For Making Your Blog Stand Out
The decision to start a fashion or lifestyle blog may have been easy, but if you have created a website, you no doubt know the effort (and money) you've put into it to make it worthwhile and successful. The total number of fashion blogs in existence today is actually uncounted, but suffice it to say that there are a lot, and you want to draw as many eyes to your blog as you can.
How can you make your blog stand out in the crowd? Read on to learn easy-to-implement ways to show off the high quality of your content on your attractive and professional-looking site.
"Wear my Ed Hardy shirt with fluorescent orange pants." -Weird Al, "Tacky"
Pop music comedy star “Weird Al” Yankovic had a hit with his parody of Pharrell’s smash, “Happy,” which he called, “Tacky.” Not one to just make light of tacky behavior, “Weird Al” hits on things that are also just darn-right tacky to look at, from badly mismatched clothes and sequined Crocs (the horror!), to a multitude of bumper stickers and résumés in a bad font.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are some things most people will agree on universally, and tacky websites— full of garish colors, unnecessary flash, misspellings, and hard-to-find information that doesn’t display properly— are not beautiful, nor effective, to or for anyone. You want your website to stand out, but for the right reasons; not because people will think that it (and consequentially, you, your opinion, and your products or services) is of poor quality.
The six tips to make your blog stand out are:
Pick your colors and fonts carefully
Prominently display your logo
Pay attention to the layout
Use pictures to grab attention
Correct grammar and have no errors
Make your website look good on all devices
Get Started By Creating a Pleasant Viewing Experience.
• Pick your colors and fonts carefully
Scientists and my mom say that colors have an affect on our state of mind. Consider the dominant colors on your website— do they read well? Do they match the colors of your logo and reinforce your brand? If not, make a quick change. Light text on a dark background with contrasting colors is difficult to read (not black and white or grey and white), ensuring that visitors to your site will miss information that you intend for them to see. Too many colors will have site visitors clicking as fast as they can to get off of the tacky page (MySpace flashbacks, anyone?).
Can people with vision impairments gain greater access to your site? Small fonts and those with serifs can be more difficult to read, so keep that in mind.
In an episode of one of my favorite tv shows, “Orange is the New Black” (no spoilers), Flaca admonishes Draya, who is creating content for the prison newspaper, for not only being literal but for being so tacky about it.
Still from "Orange Is The New Black" S2E7 - "Comic Sans."
I have joined the bandwagon of jokesters who dismiss the cute and popular font, but really— it’s only cute amongst tweens. So unless your site is run by an eleven-year-old for other eleven-year-olds, ditch the cutesy fonts and go for more tried-and-true typesets that look classy and professional, like Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana.
• Prominently display your logo
The purpose of a logo is for identification, for site visitors to know who and what you are, and to differentiate you from the competition and impostors. In a sea of billions of websites and URLs (web addresses) that may be similar or tricky to remember, and amongst everyone else in the fashion and lifestyle world who is trying to stand out, you owe it to your visitors and to yourself to identify your brand with your logo. (Don't forget-- you are your brand, dear blogger!)
Not too big and not too small, your logo should feature prominently on not only your homepage but also on every landing page and everything that links to you. Don’t have a logo? Get help in a flash on Fiverr, or you can reach out to student graphic artists in your area to commission them for a great rate.
• Pay attention to the layout
Look at your blog site through the eyes of a new visitor and consider how easy it is to navigate and to find information. If the most important links are not at the top, you should really reconsider a re-do of your layout.
Users don’t like to scroll down far, and if they have to scroll down for links to contact you, to buy from your affiliate links, or to get your goods or services, you’ve lost them. A new trend in web design is a minimalist, short homepage that requires little to no scrolling. Also, you’ll notice more and more that websites are featuring social media links (via logos) on the left side of the page, making them easily accessible while not taking up valuable real estate at the top of the page.
When you have a superior content, offers, products, or services, you don’t need to muddle your message with unnecessary elements that just take away from what you really want to highlight for your site visitors.
• Use pictures to grab attention
Want to increase the number of impressions for your site by 37%? Add pictures. Pictures reinforce the message you are sending via text as they catch the eye, set an example, and either convey or invoke a feeling.
Don’t just write about the serene comfort of a brand's yoga pants— show it with a picture of you in Savasana or One Legged King Pigeon. Beautiful prose can paint a picture in the imagination of your comfortable and inviting bed-and- breakfast, but photographs of the inn, nestled in the woods with a wrap-around porch and patrons enjoying the complimentary breakfast will make the bookings come in faster than words on a screen. Don’t just tell your lifestyle readers why they should visit your highest-rated bar after the big game— show them stills of the bands that headline, the outgoing people having fun with friends and munching on tasty food, and they’ll see why they would have a good time there.
If you are selling your own goods and services, you should use your own photographs on your website. A professional photographer (or even a good student photographer) can make a tremendous difference in the pictures featured on your site. (I also recommend having a photographer take pictures of you for your About section. Everyone likes to see the people behind the pages.)
Sometimes, you can’t (or should not) use your own photographs. There are many good sites which offer stock photographs for you to use, such as: Shutterstock Photos and iStock Photos. Just be sure to pay attention to any royalty fees you may have to pay, copyrights, and be sure to give proper courtesy when using screenshots.
Now, Edit The Text!
• Correct Grammar and No Errors
Unless your site focuses on a specialty that has its own jargon, like a photography or cooking blog, you really should use everyday language in your own voice in all of the writing, all throughout the blog down to the names of headers. Let you (or your brand) shine through. Write as if you are speaking directly to your site visitors.
However, even though your text may not be formal writing, don’t get too casual. Follow the rules of correct grammar (take out that old copy of The Elements of Style for a guide) and spelling. Site visitors can come from all over, and you want your text to be easily understood by everyone.
Misspellings and other errors in your text can be a turn-off when readers simply don’t understand what you are trying to convey, and it also does not reinforce your attention to detail and high quality.
(Here’s an old editing trick I learned as a journalist: read your text backward. It can help you catch mistakes that you would otherwise miss because you know how the text should read going forward the correct way.)
After you have reviewed and edited all of the text on your site, have another set of eyes read it and edit it, too. A trusted colleague can catch mistakes, misspellings, and offer suggestions on rewording and even the length of your text. SynchroEdit is an online tool that allows you to collaboratively edit an online document in real-time, and Google Docs is a popular way to share and edit, too.
It’s also important to update dates, names, etc. on your site, especially if there was a previous error. Don’t lose your quality or credibility because you failed to correct a mistake or to change outdated information.
Make it Mobile Friendly with a Responsive Design.
• Make your website look good on all devices
Did you know that almost 1 in 4 of all Google searches are done on a mobile device? If your blog is not mobile-friendly, you’re losing visitors.
What is responsive design? The most popular way to design a website, responsive design requires having only one coded website that will adapt to all device screen sizes. This is in contrast to creating additional coded websites for mobile devices (which can be intricate and time-consuming).
It drives me crazy when I pull up a website on my iPhone and I have to pinch and scroll to be able to see a non-mobile friendly site. Once I see that a site is not designed to display properly on mobile devices, I’m clicking on to the next one, and that first site has probably lost me as a visitor forever. I’m not alone— 61% of Google users polled said that they would leave a site that’s not optimized for mobile. Don’t lose visitors to your blog (or any potential customers or clients) simply because of the design of your website.
Another reason to have a responsive design for your site is that it’s easier for Google to crawl your site, which improves your SEO. Instead of having more than one coded website, you have just one with a responsive design, which cuts down on SEO errors. In 2012, Google even went on the record to say that they prefer responsive design over mobile templates.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, find a web designer who can help you with the task immediately (once again, students are great resources and they can usually work within your budget!). If you prefer to do this on your own, it’s not difficult with resources like plugins for WordPress.
If a visitor to your blog has a positive experience, s/he is twice as likely to buy-in to your aesthetic and point-of-view, or to buy products or services and to return again. Google’s Think Insights shows that visitors who land on a site that leaves them frustrated, confused, or missing what they are searching for have a 61% chance of immediately leaving the site in search of another. Provide your visitors with high quality that will keep them on your site.
Don’t have visitors to your website singing, “Tacky,” within the first seconds they land on your blog's homepage. Follow these six simple steps and make your website stand out for all of the right reasons, and make your visitors and your bottom-line happy instead.