…because good design helps sell your ideas.

BLOG DESIGN JOURNAL


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How Blog Design Can Help or Hinder Your Readership

Posted on August 22, 2011 by

Regardless of whether the blog you are reading is a personal account marking an anecdote in somebody’s life or whether the blog relates to an advertising campaign presented by an international company to make prospective customers aware of their products, template design for these blogs is important. With a blog you can read a lighthearted, newsy account of somebody’s day with product advertising strategically slotted into that same blog. In other words, a prospective customer is reading about a product you might want to sell without your advertising appearing particularly overt or ‘in-your-face’.

Email Advertising
Essentially, in such a case as advertising products through the use of blogging, embedded links, linking the blog reader back to an official product website is essential – and an essential component of the blogging template design. Subscribing to a blog newsletter is an ideal way of building your subscriber list to enable you to legitimately pursue the lucrative email marketing sector which is fraught with dangers to the unwary marketer following the CAN-SPAM campaign.

Product Reviews
Many people assiduously write a daily blog as a way of getting something ‘off their chests’. When it comes to product reviews, this can be an enormous help to other readers, giving them a true indication about a product and even about the customer service generated after the sale of that product. It is true that some product reviews are written by paid individuals but this is not the norm and professional reviews written as blogs are very much in the minority.

The upside of blogging about a product comes when you are attempting to market your product. If you have lots of readers who regularly read your blog then, on the laws of averages you will also have many potential customers to interest about the product you are selling.

Advertising your Blog
Nobody likes to be overtly sold to so, in focusing on generating extra traffic to your blog instead of trying to build your marketing list by pushing your product at them, you are likely to get a lot of indirect interest in your product. This really is one of the beauties associated with blogging. People just seem to love reading blogs! Another way of advertising your blog is to become a member of the many affiliate sites which encourage you to join their affiliate program.

In return your blog will be entered in their catalogue under a relevant category name. The main advantage to this is that the advertising is free: you will not be charged by the affiliate programs for listing the URL associated with your blog. There are lots of other websites that will list your blog. Some of these charge a fee, so it is advisable to ‘Google’ all the websites offering free advertising, even if you have to disguise your advertising by incorporating that advertising into a storyline in your blog. This is actually a very effective way of promoting any products you may have for sale.

Return Visitors to your Blog
A recurring income is generated by previous clients returning to you. Similarly, readers who like your blog and return time after time to read what you have to say will slowly build up your clientele. As your blog traffic increases you need to continually present new material within your blog in order to keep your regular readers satisfied and wanting to read more. This will encourage them to recommend you to their friends as well. The way to keep your readers’ interest is to provide a continuous supply of articles relevant to the product you are selling, incorporating strategic links that will take your readers to your marketing landing page where they can find out more information about the product you are selling if they click on that link set within your blog articles.

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Obtaining a Steady Stream of Articles
This is fairly easy to do as there are innumerable numbers of websites offering free articles they will allow you to use – usually as long as you leave their byline and URL in situ at the end of each article. In fact, what they are doing is similar to you are intending to do: using their article to advertise their presence in the same way that you intend using their article to advertise your presence. It all works well if you all acknowledge the rules of the game!

The rules of the game is to attract potential customers. However, your intention will be completely different to the owner of the article so, the article author can allow you to use their article in the certain knowledge that you are only going to benefit them: they want customers for their articles; you want customers for the product you are selling.

Whilst on the subject of customers, you could also subscribe to Google Adsense and arrange to have a strategically placed advertisement placed on your blog. This, in itself, could either help or hinder your attempt to gain followers. However, make sure that, when you arrange to place an advert on your webpage, it doesn’t interfere with the text you have written. The last thing you want is to interfere with your readers’ enjoyment of your article or disturb the context, detracting from any benefits your article might contribute to.

Design and Layout
Blogging is very popular and the many blogging websites are invariably inundated with potential bloggers. That, in itself, is not a problem: whatever you write will always get published. From your point of view, however, you need to ensure maximum exposure. If you are selling a product you want to make sure that as many people as possible read your blog and, unless you already have a large and avid following of readers, you need to take steps to ensure your blog stands out from the hoi polloi!

How to Make your Blog Stand Out
The name of the game is ‘customize’! You are competing for readership from innumerable other blogs so, to get a good readership behind you it is essential for you to make your blog stand out from the others. One way is to alter your banner so that it is individually customized. This is quite easy to do: you simply use the original dimensions of the generic banner and insert your own graphics, made to the same size as the generic banner.

Graphics are the Answer
Once in place you can then edit this graphic and insert your own blog title into it. If you are unable to do this yourself, visit one of the freelance work websites and insert an advert requesting a person to do this for you: try Freelancer.com. Posting photos onto your blog is pretty usual. However, personalizing those photos first can really help to make your blog stand out from the run-of-the-mill rest of the blogs. One way of personalizing photos is to add an interesting border. In fact, if you choose a blog design template with a unique border, this will help to make your blog stand out as well.
Continuing with the graphics’ theme, why not consider adding a favicon to your blog? Favicons are actually nothing more than little icons located in front of your URL on the address bar. These graphics are really easy to insert when you make use of one of the many effective editing software programs. Again, if you are unsure, either ‘Google’ a tutorial online telling you how to do it, or employ somebody to do it for you by visiting Freelancer.com.

Layouts and Backgrounds
Following through with the idea of blog border, why not take a look at the various layouts available to you from the many blog templates available online. You don’t just have to rely on the templates available to you from the blogging community you belong to. There are loads of different websites that offer a really diverse range of templates, with huge choices of different skins and textures all designed to make your blog look unique and completely individual.

Get to Grips with RSS Feed
It really is worth learning about RSS feeds. Once again, ‘Google’ for a tutorial: it is pretty straightforward to get the hang of this. RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and, as its name suggests, it really is simple to use. Basically, RSS is a way of automatically updating information on a website. Each time a website is updated, you will find out about it via RSS. This useful little piece of technology is also referred to as a ‘newsfeed’ and, in order to be advised of updates to websites through RSS you will need to be subscribed to an RSS Reader.

As a website is updated you will be notified of the update via email. So, before you go any further, get yourself subscribed to an RSS Feed Reader. If you are unsure which one to pick, you can’t go far wrong by subscribing to Bloglines. Another good one is the Google Reader but there are many other ones available.

Go Audio
Whether you stream mp3, playlists or radio stations through your blog, audio will certainly help to personalize it and, for those readers who actually like a blog with audio, you can be sure of a steady stream of returning visitors. Be aware, though that there are many people who cannot stand blogs that spout music at them: these people go online for a quiet read and, the minute they hear audio blasted at them, they will log off: swings and roundabouts – or, put another way, you win some, you lose some!

Don’t Just Follow the Crowd
When it comes to increasing your readership and attracting visitors to your website you are aiming for a greater following. Although many of the methods suggested above are well tried and tested, it is important for you to consider each method carefully before deciding which to implement. After all, no matter how well one method may work elsewhere, if it isn’t proving advantageous to you, why bother with it? This goes for anything from graphics to advertising. The golden rule, when it comes to online marketing of any sort, is to test the market. Testing the market is also invaluable when it comes to blogging and the importance of a blog design as well as the methods you are going to use to increase the readership of your blogs.

Peter Fitzgerald has been involved in online, affiliate and internet marketing for over seven years with various projects. He freely admits that he was knocking his head against the wall for the first three years. Success came to him some five years ago after taking a six month break in order to study the subject of online marketing with some of the leading authorities on the subject. Peter says: “Investing in my self to improve my worth to others is the most profitable thing I ever did.” Peter now runs several blogging websites. He also enjoys article marketing, finds both activities compliment each other and will show you how to build a free web site
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