De-Blog your Blog and Increase Readers
Today’s the day you’re going to make that big pitch to your boss. The one that will get him to sign off a new project you’re spearheading and will hopefully earn you a big, big raise. Huzzah!
Now do you deliver the presentation using fancy visuals and a professional looking PowerPoint? Or do you hand him the scrunched up napkin you scratched your initial ideas on and let him decipher on his own what’s a graphic and what’s just the remnants of that yummy chocolate dessert you sinfully enjoyed? My guess is that you’d opt for the first. Why? Because presentation matters. It’s why those pretty people get all the good jobs, after all.
Performancing had a post the other day about How to Attract Readers Who Don’t Read Blogs. They talked about things like implementing good search engine optimization, commenting on other sites, issuing press releases, visiting forums and other stuff along those lines. Those are all great suggestions, and I’d recommend them as well, but part of me feels like they really missed the number one factor responsible for converting mainstream blog haters into loyal blog readers.
Do you want to know what it is?
If you want non-bloggers to read your blog, you have to de-blog your blog. Remove all those tacky buttons, nonsensical categories and ugly widgets and make it look like them. There is no blogging commandment that says your blog has to look like a fifth grader’s English project. Step away from the pastels and bubble themes. Declare death on the clever Yahoo avatar. [Please. –Susan]
I’m sure that turning down the flashing neon This-Is-A-Blog lights you’re currently sporting probably sounds trivial, but it really does make a world of difference, especially to those predisposed to turn their arrogant little noses up at blogs. If your blog is using some god awful template from 2001, or worse, even looks like it should be hosted on blogspot.com, well then you’ve just lost any credibility you were hoping to establish.
And you know what I’m talking about here. We’ve all seen those white text on a lavender background blogs. The ones that are guaranteed to have some really hideous centered box with a super clever title, such as "Johnny’s Web Log" or "Joey’s World of Ramblings". They’re pretty, right? Sure, they are. I’d totally buy what they’re selling.
Avoiding the temptation to "blog-up" your blog is crucial to attracting mainstream readers. There are plenty of people out there who have been trained to ignore blogs simply because it’s a blog. After all, what do a bunch of bloggers know? Obviously, nothing. If they had any sort of actual insight or talent they’d have a real job, they’d be like, journalists or something.
Your blog should seamlessly fit into your audience’s online neighborhood. You want it to look and feel like them. Design it with the sites they typically frequent fresh in your mind so that your blog appears trustworthy and reliable. Make them feel confident that your blog will still be there in the morning. You don’t want it to look like you set it up in the middle of the night and decided to add-on every horrible Web 2.0 element that was offered to you.
In case you missed it, yes, I am absolutely telling you that in order to convert readers and reach that high pinnacle of blogging success, it may mean leaving the lollipop theme and giant font size behind. I know, it’s tough, but we’re talking about the value of your blog here. Sacrifices must be made. When visitors land on your blog you want them to feel like they’re at home. Like they have just found that special part of the Web that looks and feels just like them. You can’t do that with animated monkey’s dancing across your screen. Unless, you’re Rhea Drysdale. Then monkeys are totally acceptable, expected even.