I know; I get it. There’s a lot more to blogging than just writing. But – and I think I’ve gone over this before – I’m all about functionality. I don’t like dressing things up without having a reason to show them off. What’s the point of getting your car washed if it doesn’t run? Wouldn’t you want to focus on making it usable before making it look nice?
That’s how I’ve been approaching my blog so far, and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve spent hours and hours creating valuable posts for my (growing) audience, and the responses I’ve gotten in one short week of serious blogging has been great. I know it could be larger (believe me, I’ve read the stories), and I’m hoping it will in time.
But I’m not about to focus on making the blog attractive and presentable before I have anything to present.
Think of the implications of making a blog attractive before it’s ready to be shown off…
Raise your hand if you don’t know who Mark Zuckerberg is.
Put your hand down, you liar!
Since you’re on the Internet, there is a 100% chance you know who he is. And I bet you can picture exactly what he’s wearing right now.
Zuckerberg is one of the richest people in the world, yet he’s wearing the same grey shirt and jeans in almost every picture you see of him.
His reasoning is simple: Why waste time thinking of what to wear? He has much more important things to do with his time.
Not only that, but who does he have to impress? He doesn’t have to wear a suit and tie to make people think he’s important. His accomplishments have made him a household name. He would have been able to do all of that if he wore a flowery muumuu every day of his life.
Okay, I’m no Mark Zuckerberg (yet, anyway). But my outlook on appearances is quite similar. In person, I dress nice enough to not look slovenly – but I don’t go overboard. The same goes for my blog.
Misleading Your Audience
Have you ever had someone try to sell you something you just knew was too good to be true? Did you buy it anyway?
If you’ve fallen for this trick in the past, chances are you’re a little more weary of it now. And I guarantee you’ve avoided that store or service ever since they swindled you.
Now, I’m not even selling anything; I just want to get noticed by an interested readership and potential clients (okay, I guess I am selling something, then).
But imagine if my blog only looked good, but lacked content. What good are promises of valuable information if what I’m giving you is nothing new, and can be found elsewhere?
There is none.
No one is going to click on a blog and think “Great design! The content is terrible (or non-existent), but since it looks really good, I’ll be sure to come back tomorrow!”
As I’m only just getting my blog off the ground, the last thing I want to do is attract people right away, only to have them put me on some sort of personal blacklist, never to return.
I’ll definitely get around to adding more personality to my blog, but for now, I want to focus on creating great content that attracts people willing to dig a little deeper.
I mentioned this the other day. “Personalizing” your blog doesn’t mean changing it just for the sake of change. Returning to the car metaphor, I’m reminded of that episode of The Simpsons when Homer was tasked with designing the blueprint for a car.
If you’ve never seen the episode, you can only imagine the kind of additions he requested for his dream car: a spoiler (on a non-sports car), a horn that played “La Cucaracha,” and one of those orange balls on the antennae so it’s easy to find (on every single one…).
Homer just kept adding things he thought would be awesome, but he only ended up ruining his brother’s business completely.
The point is, do not add anything to your blog unless you have a specific purpose for it. Yes, you can experiment with themes, fonts, and widgets. But if you’re doing so just for the heck of it, stop. Think about what the change you’re about to make means for your overall blog.
Is it something you’re going to want to change tomorrow? Is it something that’s going to change the direction of your blog (in a positive or negative way)? Or is it something you don’t even want, but think you need it because “other blogs have it”?
Just as you need to make every word count in each of your posts, you want to make sure the aesthetic and functional additions you make to your blog improve it for yourself and your audience in a meaningful way.
Honestly, I can’t wait until my blog gets to a point where I can add different widgets and make certain changes that actually mean something to my readers’ overall experience. But that day is not today. For now, I’ll focus on creating the best content I possibly can, and increasing my audience with substance rather than fluff.
(Side note: Two Simpsons references in one post? #goals)