by Suzie Eller
A writing friend asked me to visit her blog. I was excited because I loved her writing.
When I clicked on the URL she sent, I was surprised to find a series of long blog posts written in blocks of text. For a few moments, I wasn’t certain I was at the right place. Her name was nowhere to be found. There was no tag line. It was difficult to determine what this blog was about, or for whom it was written.
Yet when I started reading, I found my friend. She is a great writer. I loved her content. It was compelling in all the right ways. Concise. Witty. Insightful. Deep.
Later, she asked me if I visited her blog.
When I told her that I had, she said, “I know I’m writing words that make a difference, but my blog isn’t growing and I don’t know what to do.”
Maybe you are experiencing the same thing. You are writing your heart out, but you watch as other blogs flourish.
In today’s Tuesday Tip, we’ll share why a successful blog is a combination of compelling content and design.
In a time when people make a decision to stay or leave any Internet site in less than 10 seconds, it’s key that we capture both the eye and the heart of our reader.
We have trained our eyes to (unconsciously) assess who, what, why a site is before reading the content.
Of course, writing is primary. Great content posted consistently will build your community, but you have to draw them in with your formatting and design.
Let’s look at a few tips to do just that!
Choose an eye-catching, non-distracting font.
As a browsing culture, our eyes are weary. We won’t give 3 seconds to a site that is busy, too hard to read, or distracting. To avoid that, use one of the top four fonts used by blog designers:
- Lucida Sans Unicode
Break up your text.
A blog is not a book. Readers don’t have highlighters poised to underline. They are looking for quick encouragement, teaching, or connectivity. Break up your text into short paragraphs. Use bold sticky statements. Be you, but be concise. Use headings to highlight your main points.
Use images to highlight your sticky statement, scripture, or main point.
Images are a beautiful accessory that bring a message to life. You may not be a designer, but free programs such as Canva.com or Picmonkey.com make it easy to add a message to an image. You can pay for images within those programs, use photos that you have taken, or choose images from free, non-royalty sources such as Unsplash.com or Pixabay.com.
As you update your blog, keep these in mind:
- Allow sufficient whitespace.
- Your overall design should reflect you, as well as your message.
- Your name and tag line should be prominent, without overwhelming the space.
- Make it easy for your community to interact. For example: Some make it really hard for a person to comment, with sign-ins and hoops to jump over before they can just say, “I really love this blog.”
Should you hire a blog designer?
If you are a skilled designer, there are great themes you can choose in WordPress and other hosting sites that are easy to upload and beautiful. This is a great option, especially if you are still deciding who you are as a blogger.
However, a great designer can create a presence for you that will compliment your content and message. They can add plug-ins and options that make your site professional and inviting, and even commerce-friendly. To find a designer, check out a handful of your favorite bloggers. The name of the designer is normally at the bottom of the page. Click that link to inquire about availability, as well as pricing. Check several, as prices vary.
Share your thoughts on the COMPEL blog about the changes you plan on making to your blog based on Suzie’s tips. Take a critical look at your blog: does it look and sound like you? Can your audience automatically determine this is your space? Don’t forget to post a link of a blog you think got it right in the design department!
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I need to work on adding images to my posts.
This post was very helpful. I haven’t made my blog “live” yet. I have been avoiding social media completely (I have found it a huge “turn off” in the past). Yet even today I feel God’s thumb in my back that I need to get the blog up and running. I guess I am scared!
Well, I finally finished the redesign of my blog site based on the suggestions written in this article. I did find a site I liked and reached out to the site designers to no avail. I also located a local designer yet another dead end. That was okay. I decided that was my clue to roll up my sleeves and get it done. I’m still working through a thing or two but wanted to share. I was not able to transfer my past 6 plus years of blogs but did go back a quarter and key them in. Here is the site. http://www.ezra728.org Thanks for the helpful insights and knowledge Suzie. Great motivation for me.
I just took a look at your blog. It encouraged me that I can do this!
Thank you for this! I need to re-vamp my blog and even though it was never about getting a big audience, I do want to reach more people. On to a new year of writing and blessing others. Your site is a wonder and so helpful. Appreciate you all so much.
This was very helpful.
Suzie – Thanks for this. I have known for some time my blog site needs a facelift. Thanks for the nudge and the insight on how to move forward. Much appreciated.
God has called me to write adult-thoughts at a child’s reading level, on my blog and in my Bible studies. Almost half of adult Americans read below the high school level, and I include them in my target audience. If these reluctant readers are at all confused in their first seconds, I suspect, they’ll give up. So I keep the font big, the sentences short and the blog simple. I post M-F. which sounds intimidating–but I keep each post to a single screen, no scrolling (a week’s worth of my posts is fewer words than most writers’ weekly post). I know that my niche is unique, and I’m not recommending it for everyone. It didn’t look this way when I started; God gradually stripped away my desire to use more words. My message to others: your idea doesn’t have to be perfect before you launch. Your blog is always a work in progress.
I love this idea for your blog! I volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, and one thing we have discovered is that the reading level of our clients is very low. It is a struggle for them to read the Bible much less do a full on Bible study. As we engage in discipleship, we start very simple and very patiently. I am thankful that God has given you a sensitivity to this need.
I just started blogging last May and am still trying to find my way. I am praying about how to improve my website. This is one of my goals for this year! I am looking forward to applying these tips and am planning on using this post as a continual reference.
I really loved this blog post. I am taking the ideas and looking over my website. I am going to attempt to apply some of those things to my blogs. I am also going to do a few blog posts about the website itself. I desire to build interaction on my website. I have places for people to share prayer request and also to share their testimonies. I am going to blog about prayer, the importance of prayer and praying for one another . I will add in there where they can go to write out their prayer requests. I am also going to write a blog post about the power of our testimonies and how God uses them to show others who He is. I will direct them to the place on the website where they can go to share theirs. I really want to develop a community atmosphere and one the is interactive.
I find the timing of this blog post a little funny because I just let my social media peeps know that I would be posting once a week there and I was focusing on the website more. I want to encourage subscribers more than I do followers. I am praying about how to do that. I want the focus more on my blog and my website, especially as I am more serious about the book writing.
So many of these points apply to my writing. Less words, more white space. I have a pleasing font and I believe the design is OK. I don’t have any affiliate links or anything like that so it’s very simple. Thank you for giving the resources in your ideas for photos. I use Unsplash unless I use my own photos. I have a paid subscription to Canva. I didn’t know about Pixabay and thought PicMonkey was only for iPhone. I do want visitors to say “I really love this blog.” But most of all, I want to encourage readers to find God’s love and rise above the broken pieces of this world that we slog through every day.
God is so faithful! It is simply no coincidence that I have been praying for the last couple of weeks, doing research, contemplating how to create a space on the internet. A place to share my heart, to connect with and encourage other women, to tell what God is doing in my life. I have attempted a few times before, but have been unsuccessful because I find technology so overwhelming. I know it’s the right step, but I was not sure how to get started. Then this article showed up in my email this morning. It answered several of the questions I had about navigating a website. Thank you for sharing these tips! Your words are such an encouragement! This was confirmation for me today!
It’s interesting how God speaks from sources we wouldn’t expect. It sounds like you have some ideas of what you want to do. Someone told me once that if you want to go forward you can’t keep your car in park. Get it, girl.