Very quickly, if I visit your blog, will it stand out and be memorable to me? Will it separate itself from any of the sixty blogs created in the last minute? What about any of the more than 86,000 that will be created today? What about the more than half a million created this week?
If your blog is going to succeed, it has to stand out and be something other than “Just another WordPress (or other blogging system) blog”. Doing that, however, isn’t very easy not because it’s difficult to give your site a custom identity but because, with so many other sites out there, it can take a lot of work to give your site something that no one, or almost no one else, has.
However, if you don’t do it, you risk your good work and your energy going to waste, getting lost in the endless and faceless crowd that is 99% of all blogs created. For your site to succeed, it must have a “face” and a unique presence, something you’re not going to get without rolling up your sleeves and getting a little bit dirty with your theme, logo and your domain.
It might be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but it isn’t half as scary as having millions of twins out there, ready to take your blogging identity in a heartbeat by sheer accident alone.
When it comes to blogging, standing out from the crowd is both one of the most important and one of the most difficult things you have to do. There are many elements to this, including your logo, your theme and your domain, among others.
We’ve talked previously about why you can’t ignore blog design and why you should always own your own domain, and, while these things are individually true, they are merely parts of the larger challenge, creating a blogging identity.
A blogging identity is how your entire site comes together and how the reader feels about the blog as a whole. For example, a person’s identity consists of elements such as their physical appearance, their clothes, their job, their actions, how they talk and what they like to do for fun, you blogging identity has many, if not most, of the same variables.
However, unlike a person, who has an entire lifetime to develop and grow a unique identity, a blog only has a few weeks to find theirs, or at least their initial identity. Without planning in advance, certain elements of your blog’s identity will look stock and fake, causing areas that aren’t to appear the same.
So, before you ever first put words on the screen, you have to pause and take a moment not just to look at the various elements that will make up your online brand, but at how they fit together and whether or not the resulting site will be unique enough to leave the pack behind.
How to Avoid it
Piecing together your blog’s identity requires taking a look at many of your site’s variables and seeing both if and how they work together to create something unique. Though the list of elements is, quite literally, too long for any one article, here are some of the key ones that you need to focus on.
- Niche: What market is your blog serving, who should read your blog and why yours versus someone else’s? Finding a unique niche for your blog is a great start to having a unique identity.
- Content Style: If you’re writing a traditional blog, what is your writing style? Is it informal and friendly or professional and journalistic? If you are doing a video blog or a podcast is your content professionally-produced or more off the cuff?
- Appearance: Does your site have a unique theme and does it match/work with the content that it contains? A unique theme that clashes with your content can harm your site more than help.
- Logo: Your logo is your business card on the Web, would I recognize it if I saw it again and does it convey a message on what your site is about?
- Your Domain: Is your domain unique enough to stand out but easily remembered and spelled? Do any other sites have a domain too close to yours? Having a great domain not only makes your site look more professional, but makes it easier for others to share, especially offline.
However, more important, or at least as important, as each of these items individually is how they work together. These elements, among others, combine to give your reader a feeling and an experience as they read your site. That complete experience is what truly matters to the reader and its what determines if they remember your site and if they come back.
This makes it important not just to look at the elements one at a time, but to also look at them in total. One easy way to do that is to pretend that your site is a person and ask yourself what kind of human it should be. Do you want it to be a wacky sitcom neighbor? A serious professor? A glamorous movie star? Or a nerdy walking encyclopedia?
Then, when you have that vision, you can start picturing how the site should look, sound and feel in order to best meet that expectation. This, in turn, is how you get past details such as what font to use in your theme and start looking at how it all is supposed to work together, something that is much more compelling to your readers.
After all, no one is going to remember if you use Arial or Georgia for the font in your posts, but they will remember if the fonts chosen clash with the words written or the subject of the site, creating a distraction. On the other hand, your readers will also remember if it fits together perfectly and feels like a complete package that was well put together creating a natural experience that they have not seen elsewhere.
The first will drive your visitors away, the second, will keep them consistently coming back for more.
Tying your site’s identity together is easily one of the most difficult things to do as a blogger. Creating an identity that combines all of the elements of your site while providing a unique, cohesive experience is nearly impossible to do but it’s what separates the good blogs from the great ones.
Unfortunately, in this area, there are no shortcuts to success and, sometimes, a lot of what will become your identity has to come out later as you write and work on your blog. Simply put, blogs change direction and it’s best to work with those shifts and not fight them. However, this does mean you may not have a full understanding of what your blog wants and needs to be until months or even years into working on it.
That being said, you should always be thinking about the direction you want your blog to take and how it fits within your site’s identity. If you can maintain cohesion and originality as your blog finds its way, you’ll likely find that your site does far more than do well, it begins to thrive.
After all, while there may be sixty new blogs created every second, almost none of them will stand out or have anything truly unique about them. If you can avoid that pitfall and give your readers a truly unique experience, you’ll already be well ahead of over 99% of the blogs on the Web right now.