In 2010, the year of the daddy blogger, good and consistent content is not enough. Your readers expect more. Full stop. Period.
What are your readers expecting? Value, relevancy, a visually pleasing and easy to use design and, of course, consistency. How do you make sure that your daddy blog meets your readers’ expectations? Make sure your blog has these 3 must have elements.
Purpose. The most important element of any blog is purpose. Why are you blogging and taking up space on the internet? No, it’s not because people want to know that you made guacamole for your kids today. It isn’t because you’re a good dad and you want the world to know it. If you can’t think of a purpose for your blog, stop blogging. Focus on your family and you’ll be better off. If, you’re really passionate about putting your fatherly experiences online, put some effort to figure out your purpose. Here’s your challenge: why would other dads look forward to reading your blog? This is how you bring value and relevancy to your blog.
Good Design. How would you feel if your friend kept asking you to go to his house to hang out but he lived in an empty, white apartment with only cardboard boxes for seats and no TV or beer? That would suck and get old quick! Good conversation would only go so far especially if you had other friends that were just as interesting AND lived in hip, designer apartments with flat screens and ice cold Stella’s flying around! So, my friends, even if you found your purpose for blogging, you can kill your chances of being relevant by having an atrocious design.
The bones of good modern design are ease of use principles. Your blog needs to be easy to navigate and I need to understand everything on your homepage within 10 seconds of being there. If not, you’ve lost me and now I need to make an effort IF I really think you’re worth it. Between you and me, most people don’t think you’re worth it.
Don’t hit me with all your money-making banners or tell me how “hip” you are by being a member of ever social media website known to man. If you’re interesting to me, I’ll follow, friend and subscribe to you. The Twitter bird or the orange RSS icon should not be what I first see! You need to win me over first (or at least buy me dinner!). I’m not that easy!
Once ease of use is taken care of, your design must communicate your purpose. I need to know why you’re blogging and why I should care to read your stuff. Everything from the color you chose, the images or illustrations, your logo to the font must all work together to communicate purpose. This is key and extremely difficult to do well if you don’t have a graphic design background (or, outsource one). Nevertheless, focus on this and it will pay off in additional readership.
My suggestions on to decide on a color palette and keep the other elements simple and discreet. Minimize the use of photos and banners floating everywhere. Good design flows and is not full of widget boxes. There’s a lot of free tutorials and resources out there. Google is your friend!
Consistency. All of the above is worthless if you are not a consistent blogger. Readers are like a cruel mistress. They’ll leave you quickly if you don’t constantly keep them happy. It’s understandable. Would you keep going to CNN.com if some days there was new content and other days not? So, keep them happy by daily living your purpose and adding purpose-driven content to your blog.
Don’t be intimidated by the pros out there that will throw up 2,000+ word essays daily on their blogs. You don’t need to do that. With content, if you’re consistent, quality trumps quantity. So, focus on giving your readers something every day. That something should be born out of your blog’s purpose and should be filtered through your imagination and creativity so that it’s valuable and relevant to your current and future readers. Sometimes, even a simple iPhone photo is enough.
To wrap up, my fellow dad bloggers, focus on your blog’s purpose, design and consistency and you’ll have a blog that your kids will be proud of. You’ll build an active community of readers that really will bond with you. And, hopefully, in some small way, you will help someone else out and make this world a better place for you and your children.
Now…I need to go work on this blog’s elements so that they fit with everything I told you to do above. Do as I say, not as I do!
All the best, my friends.
Please tell me what you think of these 3 must have elements in the comments below! Remember, lurkers make babies cry.