Guest Post Alert! I’m excited to host Traci Hayner Vanover, aka The Promo Diva(R), today and know you’ll love this post about how to stand out from the crowd.
Blending in should be reserved for eyeshadow and smoothies, not for blogs.
There are millions of blogs across the net – in niches ranging from ballroom dancing to bedbugs. If you want to claim even a small fraction of the potential readership available, you won’t score them by blending in. You need to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
Forget what your momma told you – looks do matter. Your blog’s appearance is important – its visual appeal will help entice readers to stay and read what you have to say.
Blog themes can take your blog from frumpy to fabulous in just minutes, and most of them don’t require you to know HTML or have any graphic design experience. A growing number of design groups (Woo Themes and StudioPress are two of my favorites) are creating comprehensive dashboard settings that control aspects such as background colors, header graphics, menu rollovers and photo sizing.
Before you select a theme, you owe it to yourself to conduct a bit of due diligence – you may pay a bit more for one of these premium themes, but the time they save in design alone will justify the cost.
While checking out blog design groups, you are likely to run across more than a few that are offering “platforms” or “frameworks.” These terms refer to a comprehensive set of controls that govern specific aspects of a blog, including items such as animated sliders, auto-sizing of photos, color schemes and layout, and the ease with which certain areas of the blog can be changed. Many of the firms that offer frameworks also offer a number of “skins” that can easily be integrated to change the visual look of the blog – still others may offer customized plugins that are specific to their particular frameworks. These are all aspects to consider when selecting the theme that will ultimately represent your blog, as well as your brand, on the web.
The Internet has often be compared to the Wild West, and that comparison is certainly appropriate when it comes to domain names.
Naming a business isn’t something to be taken lightly, and once you’ve decided upon your name, you should immediately take precautions to protect it. Too many bloggers wait until it’s too late to purchase a domain name for their blog, and discover that their “perfect name” has been snapped up by someone else.
In the unfortunate event that your chosen name has already been claimed by someone else, you’ll be best served by selecting a different name altogether. Avoid registering a similar name, or the same name with a different extension such as .net or .info. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons – first, you run the risk of losing traffic to the competitor, as most web users will go to the .com version of a domain first. Second, if the competitor has trademarked the name, you open yourself up to legal liabilities for creating what is referred to as “confusion in the marketplace.” Believe me when I say that you don’t want to go there.
If you are having difficulty coming up with a new name, consider looking to a Thesaurus for inspiration and alternatives to convey the product or service that you offer. Another option is to check out domain auctions, such as the ones listed at GoDaddy. You can often find a diamond in the rough that has been abandoned by its previous owner. One word of caution on domain auction purchases – be sure that you conduct a quick search of the web for the name before purchase. It is important to make sure that the name you purchase is not associated with or similar to an existing trademark or brand. Be sure that you check Google for any similar business entities that may be using the domain name with a different extension, as you don’t want to find yourself splitting traffic with a competitor.
Once you’ve selected and registered your domain name of choice, your next stop should be NameChk. This handy tool will tell you if your selected name is available on any of over 150 social networking and bookmarking sites. If you find that your name is available, snap it up on any sites that you feel are relevant, or may be relevant in the future. Better to secure the name now, rather than regret not doing so later.
This last tip is perhaps the most simple of all, yet it is one that many bloggers struggle with.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that every reader wants to know the answer to one basic question, and that is, “what’s in it for me?” If you can’t provide something of value to readers, you won’t retain them for very long. Get creative with content creation, and consider offering existing content in multiple modalities. This is an excellent way to extend the lifespan of your content and offer options to your readers as to they wish to consume it.
Don’t be content with blending in with the masses of blogs across the net. Success and fortune favor the bold – and there’s no better time to embrace that philosophy than at the beginning. Avoiding the pitfalls that claim many newbie bloggers will catapult you ahead of the competition, and save you time and headaches in the future.
About the Author:
Traci Hayner Vanover, aka The Promo Diva(R), is a brand burgeoner and business consultant that specializes in working with entrepreneurs and authors.
Drawing on over twenty years’ experience in the fields of market research, sales and promotion, Traci’s Propabranda blog focuses on the conception, implementation and promotion of great brands. Traci is known for drawing inspiration from unexpected sources, as well as her ability to convey concepts in a way that is relatable, memorable and fun. Traci is the founder and publisher of Entrepreneur & Self-Employed Business Journal, a daily business magazine.