Day two of boosting your blogging income in just ten days. Part one is here if you missed it.
Creating a Smarter Blog Design
Did you know you can increase your blog’s income just by tweaking a few design features on your blog? Tweaking your blog’s design is simple and you usually can do it yourself. There is no need for outsourcing help or hiring a developer. It’s often a matter of simplifying and toning down your blog. It’s not about adding bells and whistles and an all singing, all dancing theme: It’s about making things easy for your reader to take the action you require. It’s about tweaking your menu and your widgets.
If you don’t have a premium theme on your WordPress site, now might be the time to consider purchasing Thesis or Dynamik, to give you the flexibility and control you’ll need to make to give your blog an income boost. This aspect isn’t essential if what you have right now is working well. If it’s not working, give it some consideration.
Your blog should have simple and easy navigation that makes sense to anyone who visits your site. You should have a main home page with links to categories, posts and pages or the home page as a landing page, both work. The only decision you have to make is what your audience should click next. Everything should be just a link or two away from the home page.
The navigation is simple, the reader lands on the home page is is offered a few simple choices of where to go next. See the image below:
Note: the large red arrows on the image are mine, and not part of Claire’s design.
Another great navigation is from Mary Weaver’s blog – Prime Fitness for Women. Unlike Claire, Mary’s front page is a blog layout and not a landing page layout. This is reassuring to the reader when they land on the site – they can scroll down and easily see Mary’s expertise. But her navigation is really simple and effective, as the eyes are drawn across the top the land upon the “how can I help” section, and they are lured across the top by the offer of freebies
You must place yourself in your least web-savvy visitor’s shoes. If you can’t do that get help – ask your mum or gran to test it, and look where she goes and where she stumbles and hesitates – make notes and correct the stumbles and hesitation. Make your navigation as simple and fluid as Claire’s and as effective as Mary’s. Observation on how someone uses your site is very valuable information, what’s intuitive to you, may not be for your ideal customer.
Easy on the Eyes
Colour choice can make a tremendous difference in how your blog performs. Colours that are too loud or that contrast too sharply can make your blog hard to read and send your readers off to another site without so much as a hello. Muted colors or a simple colour scheme are often a much better choice for your blog.
Newspapers have trained us to read black text on white background, it’s a hard habit to try and break, and it will break you before the newspapers agree and print black pages with white ink You might think it’s cool to stand out from the pack, but it may be affecting your blog’s income. Your design isn’t about what you like, but what your reader does and how comfortable it makes them feel.
If you’ve been reading this blog from it’s early days, you may recall the blood red theme with black flowers and white text… it lasted three months. I loved it. That theme was truly me. Sadly my 3 visitors a day didn’t like it… That soon changed when I changed the theme.
Never put a light colored text on a dark background, it truly makes your eyes bleed to read it. White text on black is a great way to kill your readership and skyrocket your bounce rate. No matter how brilliant your content is, it will not get read if it’s too much work to read it. Reading should be pleasurable. Remember it may look fabulous and fit your personality but your blog isn’t about you…
Spend time testing your colour scheme yourself by reading your blog entries. After a few minutes of reading, you’ll really get a sense of how easy it is on your eyes. If it doesn’t feel right, change it. If this sort of thing fascinates you, and at the very least it should pique your interest, then take a look at this SEO and colour article from Search Engine Land, I love the part about minesweeping
Easy on the Fonts
You’ve seen the most gorgeous font. It looks stunning. If you could create the perfect font, it would be this one. No matter how gorgeous it is don’t use it.
- Not all fonts render in all browsers
- Plain fonts that are large and easy to read work best.
- Not everyone has the same taste as you
Over on Food on the Blog we had a lovely theme and the font that came with it made the words look as if they had been carved in stone. It looked elegant, it made us look like experts or so I thought. Within minutes of going live with the new look both Lisa Attias and Lynn Tulip flagged up that it didn’t look quite right… so it was bye-bye carved font and hello Georgia.
Sure, look at a few fonts and then choose the one that’s simplest. To be on the safe side, choose a font with your mum / grandparents in mind. If they can read it, all of your readers will be able to as well. Make sure that your font is a decent size too. Sure your reader can hit Control and then the Plus button to increase the size, but how many of them do? If you’ve not read Derek Halpern’s article on font size’s check it out here, and remember size 16 is the new size 12. Take on board what Derek shows you about perceptions of skill and the type of font and if you have to have fancy fonts, think about using them as headers rather than the main text.
Think about the nature of your blog’s content and who your readers are. If they are professional or business people, look for fonts that are more traditional (like Arial or Times New Roman). If your readers are the younger and trendier crowd, you’ll probably want a font that’s a little slicker as well as interesting. Whatever you decide it still has to be easy to read
The Call to Action
The ‘call to action’ is a part of every blog that’s often misunderstood. It doesn’t have to be something such as ‘Buy Now’ although sometimes that is the only call to action you should have.
Calls to action can be very subtle yet persuasive simply telling the reader what they need to do in order to receive the benefits you’re offering, whether it’s a place to get more information, a resource that’s helpful, or a product you’re selling.
Your call to action needs to stand out and be clearly understood, but it shouldn’t sound like hype, hype or perceived hype puts everyone off. One good place for a call to action is on the sidebar where you’re making your offer or requesting email addresses. Another location is the very end of each post, often in the P.S. section. This is great for the people who scan posts, they pick out the sub- headers, bullet points and go straight to the PS.
Limit your calls to action – one call to action per post. Do not ask for comments and shares. Ask for one or the other. Asking for both means you will get very little of either. As often as I drill this into my clients, I often have to edit the call to action to just one request. Put yourself in the readers shoes – if the call to action is:
Please Like my post on Facebook and share it on Twitter. I love comments so make sure you leave one and if you want to buy my ebook the link to it is here.
What would you do? 99% of readers will do nothing. Ask just one thing in your call to action.
Try to avoid mixing your calls to action into your main content unless you can manage to do it with great subtlety. There is no law that says it has to go at the end of a post but it takes a skilled writer to add it in the first paragraph and not put people off. Calls to action can also go as the caption under an image.
It’s important that your readers to see you as the most helpful soul, throwing in a few offers here and making a few recommendations there. Your readers are people. If you don’t like pushy sales people, how do you think they like them? Be firm but be gentle.
The Magic of Split Testing
The best way to discover what truly works and doesn’t is to split test. Go and blow your head up with this article here – 27 A/B testing optimization posts and then come back. I’ll wait for you.
This part is where the magic really is – seeing what changes work for you.
Create two versions of your home or landing page with only the design features changed. Then, check your analytics, whether it’s through Google Analytics or any other program that allows you to split test. The results will tell you which design features your readers prefer, and you can then implement them on your blog. Simple, effective and the fast track to better blogging income.
Tomorrow we are going to look at active and passive selling, and what works best for your readers.
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