Blogs are everywhere! You seemingly can’t stumble anywhere on the internet without tripping over a blog. Your granny has a blog (probably) and so do international mega corporations, and a bunch of people in between.
In 2012, there were 59.4 million WordPress sites and 87.8 million Tumblr blogs*. Fast forward to 2014 and you can easily add an extra 50% onto those figures, and those don’t count the myriad of other services such as Blogger, Joomla, etc.
The question nowadays is not should I have a blog, but how can I make my blog stand out?
Here are 3 simple and subtle ways to help make your blog stand out from the crowd.
1. Buy a decent theme
That’s right, buy one! While there are thousands upon thousands of free themes out there, the number of free themes that are consistently updated, maintained and supported is very small indeed.
Purchasing a premium theme in general affords you the following benefits:
- A designer made it so it will normally look pretty sweet
- Support is bundled in, which is great when a plugin makes your theme blow up.
- It is maintained regularly, meaning that bug fixes and security loopholes get resolved in days to weeks, rather than months to never.
- Features are often added over time as WordPress and the theme itself evolve.
All these combined, but in my opinion especially the design aspect, can improve the “ohhh yeah” factor that a visitors feels when visiting your site.
There is also a huge difference in the code of free and premium themes. This might not interest you, but it should! A theme with poor code will generally break more often, conflict with plugins more often and even slow your site down.
A professional theme developer knows how to streamline things.
I want to reiterate though, not all free themes are bad and not all premium themes are good. If you follow the 80/20 rule though, you will find that premium themes are commonly much better than free themes.
ThemeForest is an excellent place to start your search.
2. Buy a logo
A quality logo can do several things for your blog:
- It can help brand the blog
- It can help summarise your blogs focus in a heartbeat
- It can show professionalism
If anyone has ever come across one of my sites, you will see that I don’t follow this rule very often instead I create my own often crappy logo.
Why then am I advising you to buy one? Simple, my logos suck! If you know how to work a graphics editor and have a rough idea what you want, sure you can make one.
Let’s take my site ApinaPress.com as an example. I knew I wanted something that echoes WordPress’ logo, as the site is WP focused. So I created a circle with the letter A in it, really not that hard.
However, on another site I wanted a castle! I tried and tried to make one, but do you know what? My artistic skills are not that good and everything I made was extremely poor.
At that point I had wasted 2 days messing about with a logo, so it was time to buy one.
Courtesy of davidairey.com
Did you look at the middle image and giggle like a school kid? I did! If you only saw something rude, then that underlines how a poor logo can affect your reputation and business. By the way it is meant to be an Asian style house with a red sun in the background.
There are plenty of places where you can get a logo designed:
A little warning about the cheaper end of the market: don’t expect quality. If you pay $5 bucks for a logo, you will get your money’s worth. The less you pay, the more likely the “designer” is going to grab some random clip art (which possibly violates the clip art’s licence) and slap some text on it. The right designer will create something unique, powerful and suitable for you, but it will cost you a whole lot more than five dollars.
Courtesy of ncwinters.com
3. Rent a decent server
Hosting is not just a necessity; it is an integral part of your website. Hosting, alongside the code being run on your site, will determine how fast you site loads, and how well it will cope with an influx of visitors.
Let me quickly break down the core types of hosting.
Shared server: This is a single server (computer) that contains dozens, or hundreds of websites. Each one has a limited and tiny portion of the server’s resources.
Reseller server: This is similar to a shared server, but you are allowed to sell some of your space for profit.
VPS (Virtual Private Server): Still a shared server, but instead of hundreds of other users it is usually far less. More importantly, you get a guaranteed chunk of resources.
Dedicated server: This is a server just for you and no one else.
Having shared hosting when you just start out is still a good idea; it’s cheap and cheerful and helps keep the initial costs down.
However as your site grows and traffic increases, remaining on a shared server is a bad idea.
For example what happens if you get promoted by another, larger site? You will get a spike in traffic, which demands more server processing power.
Now if only your site gets a spike then that’s fine, you will suck up all the resources and get through. What if one of the other sites on that server also gets a spike?
Well then you both try to suck up as much of the resources as possible and the most likely outcome is that visitors on both sites will have a poor experience as you won’t be able to supply information quickly or perhaps at all.
Hosting is not just a cost; it’s an investment for a robust and speedy site, so scrimp at your peril!
Is it just about spending money?
You would think that throwing money at a site, would make it stand out from the crowd, but that’s not true.
You still need to have excellent and relevant content. You still need to engage with your visitors.
It’s just that making the investments outlined above will help to speed up your site and improve how professional the site looks.
Both of these factors allow your site to consciously and subconsciously stand out from the run of the mill blogs out there.
What do you think are the essential aspects of an outstanding blog?