Is Your Blog Dressed For Success?

We’ve all heard it said that if you want to get the job “you have to dress for success.” The obvious point being, that you must present yourself in a way that fits the future you want.

When you treat your blogging as a business and you are trying to appeal to a specific audience, dressing for success should apply to your blog. Of course we can’t dress our blogs in an Armani suit and power-packed tie, but we can dress up the appearance so our visitors are visually influenced the moment they arrive.

First impressions reveal to your readers that you are a serious and successful blogger or that you soon will be. The flip side could set you back if they are met with an unattractive, disorganized blog.

When you do dress for success, you are showing that you are aware of your appearance. You show that you take your job seriously and that you have aspirations. When you start working for a new company, your goal is never to remain right where you are, is it?

Your eyes are often set on a higher position with higher pay – always aspiring to be more, make more money. You wouldn’t go to work in t-shirt and jeans but rather, in a way that helps others visualize you in those more coveted positions.

How You Can “Dress For Success” With Your Blog:

For starters, take a look at some of the top blogs within your niche, then compare those to others within your niche that get very little traffic and have far fewer readers. You’re bound to see major differences without much thought. No doubt, the more successful blogs have the ability to spend more money on their appearance, but that’s not likely to be the biggest difference. In fact, with all of the blog themes and resources teaching how to customize your blog, money shouldn’t be a factor at all.

Now, step back and take a long look at your blog and ask yourself these questions:

Does it look like it fits among the successful blogs or an unsuccessful blogs?

If you could improve the appearance how do you think it would affect your own success?

Success is obviously more dependent on content than design, but your visitor’s first impression, attractiveness will need to serve as the hook. Just like in a real world interview, your ability to perform a job is not determined by your appearance, but if you give a sloppy presentation you will kill your chances of actually getting the job. Just like a sloppy appearance on your blog will kill your chances of getting and keeping the readers.

If your goal is to be in the top blogs within your niche, you must look like you belong there. Visitors are going to know immediately if you belong in the top or not. It IS possible to overcome a bad first impression with exceptional content, but don’t risk missing out on that first impression. It’s just not worth it.

Qualities I’ve noticed in Top Blogs include a very clean, professional look – the design enhances the content – no distractions pulling visitors away from the content and advertisements are carefully chosen and strategically placed.

Images and Theme Customization:

Images are important, although many blogs don’t need photos to accomplish a classy look.

If you’re looking for free stock photos, try stock.xchng. It’s my personal favorite. There are also a number of places to get very affordable, quality stock photos including my preference, iStockPhoto. There are plenty of other image sites, but I’ve learned to limit myself to these two simply because it’s been known to be a major time suck for me if I don’t. (Disclosure: if you join iStockPhoto through the link I’ve provided here, I will earn a small amount that I can use toward future image purchases).

If you’re using a free WordPress theme, learn about themes from the WordPress Codex and forums. There’s tons of helpful information to help make minor changes to a free theme. In most cases the smallest change will set your blog apart.

You may wish to spend a small amount of money and have someone do the coding for you. On occasion, I do provide free blog setup for new blogs. I also like to check with my friends. I have a few designers I turn to when I can’t do the work myself – I’m happy to refer you if you like. If they can’t help, I then check Craigslist – there’s usually someone readily available to get the job done for a small fee.

Now, take a bit of time today, look at your blog and see what changes might be able to “dress it” for the success you want. Focus on changes that will tell your readers you’re serious about your appearance and you’re ready to be a blog they can count on.

Not everyone can be an executive in the corporate world, just like everyone can’t be a highly successful and influential blogger – especially in an extremely crowded market. If you need help with objective views – leave a comment here using your link. I encourage everyone reading to share tips and ideas that will help others push forward to the next step.

As an added bonus, I am making a commitment to my readers. If you leave a comment on any of my posts, I will visit your blog and “share it” in some way whether on StumbleUpon, Twitter or Facebook depending on if I can find a nice fit. This will be my way of saying thank you!

Image: Stock.xchng

Comments

  1. Hi!

    I have to say you’ve got some good advice here and I wouldn’t limit it to blogs. Good web design is important in webcomics too, which often run on blogging software (running WordPress with the ComicPress theme is common, for example). A professional look on a comic can often make the difference between success and failure even if the actual content of the comic and its accompanying blog posts are fantastic.

    Also, thank you for mentioning Stock.xchng. I had not come across this site before but I have now bookmarked it. When I’m blogging, I like to have a picture to accompany the text (I feel it really sets off the article) but I can’t always find one from my own collection that works well. Thank you for saving me many headaches to come!
    Zoe Kirk-Robinson´s last blog post ..All in the name

  2. Thanks for the stock.xchng link! I’m going to have to explore that.

  3. Thanks for the WordPress codex information…some questions I had were answered there!

  4. Excellent advice Gayla, thanks. The stock images will be particularly helpful. I have another question. I have a blog, and I have a lot of content on it. However it is on blogspot.

    Will I be able to get that content over to a new blog with my own domain name on it etc etc? I am thinking about making my own blog as traffic to my site is increasing.
    James Tennant´s last blog post ..Mighty United Edge Brave Saints

    • James – You sure can! There’s a very handy tool that helps you export from Blogspot to WordPress. That’s the only one I’m aware of – though I’m sure there are others. I’m a fan of WordPress and have moved a few blogs off Blogger over the last few years. Now is a good time to make the move if your traffic is still fairly low but you do have a few loyal readers – waiting too long could be a bad deal. If you need help, feel free to let me know!

  5. Gayla, I agree it’s very important to have a professional blog design. I’m fortunate to have a high-quality designer who’s affordable and also accessible for small tweaks and changes.

    In consultation with my designer, I went with a blog with lots of space, inviting colors, and few distracting links and graphics. I want visitors to engage with my posts, subscribe to my blog, or check out my books.

    I usually use istockphoto.com for pics. It costs money, yes, but there’s a huge selection.
    John Soares´s last blog post ..Why I Won’t Buy Demand Media Stock

    • Hi John – iStockphoto is amazing. I have a few favorite designers on there that I tend to return to. I tend to be loyal that way. The investment is small considering the quality product you get and sometimes exclusive rights too. Thanks for commenting.

  6. I also thank you for the stock.xchng link. I agree with the ‘dress for success’ theme. So far I have not included Ads on my blog site. I did personalize my overall theme header photo with one I got from NASA! Thanks for the tips!
    Martha Wiggins´s last blog post ..The Emptiness of The Abyss

  7. I love the stock photo links. You’re right about making your blog dressed for success… and investing in design doesn’t cost that much. You wouldn’t want to be dressed like everybody else, right? What I mean is that there are thousands of blogging templates on the Web, but to have a customized design makes you look more unique- which is great for branding your business on the Social Web. Cheers!

  8. Hi Gayla,

    Loved this snappy post about how important dressing really is. As a shopping addict myself, I totally agree! ;)

    On serious note, I think your post is much needed in the present-day scenario when blogs are thriving left right center. There’s so many of them, but majority are unsuccessful. A slight tweak results in a whole lot of difference.

    I changed my free theme a while back on advice of a proficient writer on web. She told me how my “About” page was hidden and not easily found and how the font was a little smaller than what would work. I knew these pointers somewhere but still stuck to the old theme merely because I and the readers (or so I thought) were comfy with it. But I was stopping further growth in traffic.

    I think the change has led to more people visiting my blog. I welcome you at my place and hope you like what I have to offer. :) I’d also love any advice about it from you, if at all.

    -BrownEyed
    BrownEyed´s last blog post ..Seven Things No One Told You About Writing

    • Wise choice switching from the free platform. You have great content that should be taken seriously and sometimes, I’ve seen good writers discounted because of platform when they shouldn’t have been.
      On the flip side, I have seen a few writers become highly successful on the free platforms, but those are extremely rare.
      Your blog gave me a good idea for my next post. I think you’ll find some benefit from it too :) Thanks for stopping by. I did stop over and gave you a stumble :)
      Gayla Baer-Taylor´s last blog post ..Paypal Manager – Job Offer Scam Alert

  9. I’m so glad I stumbled across this post–I completely agree with you in terms of the importance of having a high-quality and organized blog design. When I visit other blogs, the first thing I notice is how it looks, and if how it looks doesn’t coincide with the quality of the content, it doesn’t sit well with me. The content better be mind-blowing to make up for the lack of presentation.

    I’ve always been a big believer in “dressing for the job”, and in order to become known in your niche, you need to come off as if you are already exactly where you want to be. It’s a mindset that will take you to great places.

    Thanks also for the resources for where to find good images–I had no idea where to go for quality stock images, and have now bookmarked the sites you have mentioned.
    Krissy Brady | Sell Crazy Someplace Else´s last blog post ..Did You Reach Your January Writing Goals

  10. Agreed!

    It’s difficult sometimes for me to find the balance between creating and improving that perfect space and writing content. Some days feel like design is taking over, but I have found a little inexpensive program that helped me. Have you heard of Artisteer? It isn’t perfect and support has so far been fairly apathetic, but it does give you a lot of options for web page/blog design without much need for HTML or CSS knowledge.

    Anyway, thank you for the post, tips, and reminder to keep the blogs appearance clean.
    Tiffany´s last blog post ..Dinner- Saltimbocca Chicken Breasts

  11. Great advice! I didn’t know about that one stock photo site you mentioned. I use Google Blogger for my blog and have been making tweaks over the past few weeks to try to bring it up to speed. It seems, however, that WordPress might offer more attractive design and layout options. But I do what I can. Any ideas or suggestions most appreciated!
    Mark Chesnut´s last blog post ..Gearing Up for the 4th Annual Whale Shark Festival in Mexico

  12. I recently discovered stock.xchng, and their quality is definitely better than on Flickr, I find.

    Design and usability are REALLY important to site success, but as ‘word’ people, we tend to want to ignore it. It’s also a bottomless pit –there’s always more to add or change or upgrade. But I just keep trying to improve it.

    Clutter seems to be a major problem in turning off visitors. Every time I talk to usability experts, they tell me to take two more things off my sidebars!
    Carol´s last blog post ..Mailbag- How Much Can Freelance Writers Charge for Blogging

  13. Gayla, I love the red dresses with your February 1 “Is Your Blog Dressed For Success?” post. I also really like your open, user-friendly layout for your readers’ comments and your replies.

    One of the reasons I chose Blogger for my diary posts from the 1960s was for its ease of use. I am currently waiting for a Blogger Help Forum reply to my question about how to use the template designer CSS box to fix my name by my About Me photo andto my question about how to restore my readers’ and my photos with their comments and my replies.

    What advice would you have for the way my blog looks?

  14. You’ve given me much to think about. My blog strikes me as welcoming and full of lively information for my designated readers (folks over 50 interested in sex & aging), but not “professional” in the ways you describe. I think you’d view my blog as cluttered, especially the ads, but the light-hearted, sex-positive attitude does draw the narrow niche of readers I’m aiming to attract. I’m curious (and nervous!) to know your reaction.
    Joan Price´s last blog post ..Seasoned Woman Looks Back

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