When you first set up our blog so you can begin blogging your book, I recommend not getting too hung up on blog design. As time goes on and you begin to attract readers, you want to consider the visual appeal of your blog so you and your book appear professional. This detail helps you attract and retain readers, as well as agents, acquisitions editors, book buyers, customers, and clients.
A first-time blogger—or even a seasoned blogger—can get quite lost in the myriad of theme choices when setting up a blog. While going the “premium” theme route on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog cuts the choices a bit, if you are using a hosted WordPress.com blog, you have thousands of free themes from which to choose. There are also choices to be made about color, banner and logo and where to place your head shot or email sign-up form, and how many sidebars to have.
Start with the Basics
In the beginning, you won’t have many readers, so stop fretting. Pick a theme. Get everything in place, and focus on content. Remember, content is king. If you write unique, necessary content focused on one topic, you will gain readers.
Once you start getting readers, though, it’s time to start thinking about improving the visual appeal of your blog. You don’t them to leave because they simply hate your design or find it makes reading your posts difficult. For instance, I am known for liking those dark blog backgrounds with white type which are notoriously illegible, and I used many of them starting out. (Don’t make that mistake!) You don’t want an agent or editor to try to read your blogged book and get distracted by the fact that your blog is simply chaotic in terms of design (or lack of it) either.
Get a Blog Review
One of the easiest ways to improve your blog is with a blog review. You can hire a professional to do a review for you. I am in a group run by Chris Garrett, and I jump at the chance to have him review my blogs. Like him, I review blogs for my clients and students or for anyone blogging a book.
An inexpensive way to get a blog review is to simply ask anyone you know—or anyone who knows more than you about blogging—to tell you what is working or not working on your site. Ask them how you can make your blog:
- Easier to read
- Easier to navigate
- More visually appealing
- Less cluttered
- More well-branded
Ask them if your blog:
- Offers a clear message in its title and tag line
- Has elements that distract them from the posts in some way
- Has appealing colors
- Has appealing fonts
- Has visual elements that detract from the blog content
With this survey completed, begin implementing changes to improve the visual appeal of your blog and your blogged book. You may be able to accomplish a lot with a new theme, but it will also take some thought to color use, banner creation and placement of elements.
When you are done, you will be more likely to retain your readers, whether they are potential book buyers, agents and acquisitions editors or clients and customers. And your site will have the professional look every blogged book author wants when they achieve their goal—a successful published book.
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