When it comes to a blog, I am definitely visually-oriented, and am initially attracted by a blog’s visual aesthetics. Before I even delve into any of the text I am first checking out header images and logos, font choices for headings and general text, and of course, color schemes. By far my favorite look for a layout consists of the following:
- white background
- medium gray text
- darker gray text for headings as well as bold and italicized text
- generous line spacing
- arial or trebuchet ms for fonts
- pink, orange, green, or yellow for links and other non-gray colors
It’s no surprise that these elements repeat themselves over and over again in the majority of the layouts I put together for In My Bag (my product review blog) and Jenn.nu (my personal blog). But after 12+ years of making layouts for my personal blog, and 5+ years of making layouts for multiple blogs, I won’t lie: I’m in a bit of a rut. More and more time goes between one layout and the next, and my more recent layouts look a lot like one another. Oh well. I guess what really counts, mroe than anything, is that I still have a passion for what I do, and my layouts have “my” signature look to them. ♥
Social media is where it’s at, and if you’re not there, you need to get there, stat. The social networks you definitely want to be hooked up with are: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I also recommend Flickr (not so much for any SEO/SMO benefits, because all of Flickr’s outgoing links are nofollow, but for the visitor/traffic potential) and YouTube, simply because they’re great communities to be a part of.
Today’s 5 tips for Friday are related to social media networking, and they are as follows:
- Check in often! Even if you don’t update every X amount of hours, or every day, try to send in a status update several times a week, so your followers know that you’re still around, and that you’re still worth following.
- If you maintain multiple social networking profiles, make sure that your profiles are consistent in terms of profile blurbs and photos.
- Find new followers! Don’t sit and wait for people to find you.
- If you’re a company, post coupon codes or other special deals to entice your followers to see what you’ve got to offer.
- Even if you’re not a company, share deals and great finds anyway!
Through the years several bloggers have written books. Off the top of my head I can think of a few: Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, Ree Drummond of ThePioneerWoman.com, Maggie Mason of MightyGirl.com, and most recently, Jenny Lawson of TheBloggess.com.
I’m not sure how I feel about bloggers writing books. Well, let me re-phrase. I don’t care if bloggers write books. More power to them. But I probably won’t buy them. Too many times bloggers are guilty of regurgitating their blog content into books – Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com is certainly guilty of that, as are a few others. How can you do that? It’s one thing to include a few memorable anecdotes (and include links to the actual posts the anecdotes were taken from), but it’s quite another to basically print out entire posts from your blog and stick them between the front and back of a book.
It’s for that reason that I will most likely never purchase a blogger’s book. As the old saying goes: why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free?
Pinterest is a small obsession of mine. I say small because I try very hard not to devote a lot of attention to it. I’m afraid if I did that I would wind up being a total pin-aholic with hundreds of boards and thousands of pins. So even though I have Pinterest bookmarked, I’ve got the Pinterest bookmarklet in my browser bookmarks, and I have the app on both my Android phone and on my iPod Touch, I only spend maybe an hour a week on Pinterest.
But that hour gives me plenty of time to find cute things, as evidenced by the following:
Are you on Pinterest? If so, add me – I’m kissmykitty.
If you’re not ready to commit to a domain name, whether for financial reasons or just for plain commitment reasons, then choosing a free blog host is the preferable alternative. Free hosts are still around these days, though they’re not quite as prevalent as they were in the past. Here are the top rated and used ones:
Of these, Blogger is probably the best choice in terms of freedom of layout customization and widget usage. WordPress.com allows you to install free themes, but charges premium fees for the use of premium themes, or if you’d like to edit stylesheets or other theme files. Tumblr offers both free and paid themes, with some customization choices for both. LiveJournal uses its own strictly-proprietary platform, and its strong community feel can be off-putting to non-registered visitors to LiveJournal-hosted blogs.
As far as my personal recommendation, I would honestly recommend WordPress. Chances are you’ll wind up using the self-hosted version of the content management system, so it makes sense to use it when just starting out with your blog. Plus, you can easily migrate a free-hosted WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress installation. If anything, the limitations with themes may inspire and motivate you to settle on a domain name and “upgrade” to your own space a little sooner.