My social media adventure kicked off with building my first blog. With the goal of exploring my writing voice in mind, evaluation of the best platform began. I thought of it like building a house: The foundation must be a solid base for the home. It is more difficult to move after construction is complete, so making the right choice up-front is ideal. My assessment began with two questions:
1. Do I embed the blog in my existing website or use a different site?
2. If a different site, do I register a URL and build it myself or utilize an existing blog service?
Since the future of my blog was uncertain, I did not want to marry it to my business website. I conceived and registered a domain name (website name), then began to build an independent blog site. After a few hours struggling with format and structure, I decided to leave web-design to the professionals. I joined BlogSpot.
TIP: If selling your blog is a future possibility, register the domain name.
Working with a blog publishing service provided an abundance of choice for template, layout and colour scheme. Experts recommend using simple yet unique designs. Ease of navigation and viewing clarity take precedent over style; however, the design needed to be distinctly mine.
This was a time-consuming endeavor. Shortcuts are not advisable when building a nest worthy of your words. After reading through the self-learning tutorials and viewing other blog sites, I was left with three principles to guide my design:
1. The image needed to match the name, “JustMomSensations”, suggesting impressions of a Mom with supreme common sense.
2. Clean lines and easy to read font. As a 40-something Mom, my content could attract a similar audience, who may also appreciate reading glasses.
3. An ‘advertising friendly’ structure. Consider the page layouts for potential ad opportunities.
The right choice did not jump off the screen immediately. It was like shopping for a new outfit: I would find something that spoke to me, try it on and evaluate the fit. I settled on a design that complemented my content and began to focus on structure and presentation.
I ‘wore’ my site design for the first few posts, until a message from a follower sparked reconsideration. My marketing background dictates understanding of the audience. As a PC user for most internet activity, I had completely neglected consideration of mobile and tablet users.
My initial design was too busy for a mobile user. Since a fan of my writing took the time to contact me and explain her issue, I switched the template that very evening. I had fallen into the trap of appearance over substance. I found a new template that strayed further away from ‘lipstick and rouge’ to realign with my design principles.
Another bonus of a pre-structured blog service is the analytical tool. It provides insight on the readers, breaking down by posts, traffic sources and audience, over multiple date ranges. Through use of my blog statistics, I am now aware that 40% of my readers use mobile or tablet. The ability to sort post topics by viewer stats provided the exact information I needed to gauge interest in subject matter.
TIP: configure analytical tool to ignore your own page views.
With the blog built, surely an audience would magically appear with the vast reach of the internet – right? It is not as simple as ‘build it and they will come’. The next two steps proved to be my greatest leaps in blogging; crafting compelling content and sourcing methods to pull readers in.
Next column: Adventures in Blogging – Does This Make Sense?