Day 2 of the A-Z challenge.
D is for distinctiveness
There are a lot of blogs. WordPress, the world’s most popular blog hosting service, saw its users publish more than 70 million posts each month last year. That’s roughly 2 million a day.
If that doesn’t statistic doesn’t knock your socks off, maybe this one will.
More than 600 new WordPress sites get built every day.
Which presents a challenge for every one of us. Every time we push that “publish” button, our words are launched into a vast universe of cyberspace. How do we get our blog to stand out from the millions of others clamouring for reader attention?
There is a knack to this apparently. According to the advice I’ve read you should:
- Select a blog topic that hasn’t already been written about a zillion times. OR write about a popular topic but from an unusual angle
- Have a professionally looking and clear design.
- Make great use of images and graphics.
- Write blog titles that zing.
If only it were that simple. But some of these tips I think are quite hard to put into practice on a book blog.
Find Your Niche
I understand the point that readers get jaded by reading the same thing over and over. I feel that way myself when I see the 20th review of a newly released book pop up in my feedreader. It does make a refreshing change to see reviews of less well known authors or less well-known books from popular authors.
But if they are less well known, they might not attract much interest. I’ve seen that happen myself when I’ve reviewed some authors from Wales.
So to follow the experts’ advice I’d need to find a topic that’s not too popular but not too niche either. That’s too much effort for me. I think I’ll just carry on with what I’m doing.
This is far more doable. All of the blog hosting companies like WordPress and Blogger offer an extensive number of design themes as part of their free service. They’re all you really need to make your site look professional but if you have the time, energy and inclination you can go further.
If you pay for a package If you want more choice, you can opt to pay for a package.
You can then customise the theme further to make it even more distinctive. Just bear in mind a few key principles of good blog design. For example:
- Use plenty of white space. Don’t be tempted to clutter the page with too many elements.
- Choose colour themes carefully. Text which uses bright colours like orange or yellow are very hard to read against a white page background.
- Try to avoid white text on a dark or black background. This can strain the user’s eyes after a time
Good web design of course is about more than just making the site look pretty. It also has to work functionally.
Readers need to be able to easily find the content they want so make your key pages and information highly visible. Put items like “About”, “Contact” in your top menu bar and use your side bar on the home page to explain how to subscribe and how to find you on various social media platforms.
Everything that readers are likely to want, should be available within 2 or 3 clicks at most. There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a blog, searching for information and ending up drilling down page after page to find what you want.
Images And Graphics.
Did you know that blog posts with images get twice as many shares as those that don’t? At the same time as making your blog look visually appealing high quality images also increase engagement.
Visual elements in your posts add a new dimension to what is largely a text based medium and they appeal to those readers who are more visually oriented.
This was something I paid scant attention to when I started BookerTalk.
I just wrote a review, added an image of the book cover and hit publish. Looking at those early posts now I’m struck by how dull the pages appear. The photographs are too small to make any visual impact and they’re surrounded by a sea of text.
Instagram of course has taken this issue of book images into a whole new arena. Though I’m impressed by how much effort a lot of bookstagrammers put into creating unusual and eye-catching images, I know this just isn’t for me. I don’t have enough of a creative to come up with the ideas nor the willingness to invest the time required to look for props etc.
Similarly, as much as I admire the original artwork used on the orangutanlibrarian blogsite, or the cosy book/tea combination HeavenAli often features my own drawing and photography skills are not up to the task.
That doesn’t mean I’m giving up entirely. I’m experimenting with some simpler options for images to accompany book reviews and also trying my hand at creating simple graphics using Canva.com
This is one of my efforts. I think you’ll agree it won’t win any design awards!
Blog Titles That Zing
Use killer headlines to lure readers in. Face it. Without a strong headline, your posts’ chances of getting read are greatly diminished.It’s worth your effort to spend time crafting the best headlines you can.http://www.heidicohen.com
Heidi’s advice is echoed by most social media experts. Killer headlines are make you distinctive. They grab the reader’s attention and draw them by asking a question, promising quick ways to solve a problem or making unusual connections. Killer headlines often convey an emotion.
All well and good, but you try writing one. It’s somewhat easy to do for discussion type topics but much harder with a next book review. I know it’s hard because I’ve tried!
Over the past year I’ve been playing around with my post titles. Yes I can come up with something that shows emotion or contains buzz words. But finding a great post title that also includes the author/book is really, relly tough. It ends up being very long. And that’s a problem for search engines like Google and for any of your subscribers who follow you on a mobile device (they don’t see the full title on their screen).
I’m still wrestling with this one. Stay tuned for more on this topic by the way – it is such a big topic that I’m going to dedicate a future post just to blog titles.
Join The Discussion
Where do you turn when you have a problem with your book blog? I’d love to build a list of resources so please share any websites, blogs or podcasts you’ve found helpful. You can simply leave a comment below or follow the discussion on Twitter using #A2Zbookblogging.