The typical topics of this blog won’t be so mundane as “picking a blog theme.” Or, I don’t know, maybe they will. But “branding” is one of the topics I’ll be discussing, and when it comes to branding one’s blog, there are some concepts to take into consideration.
When I first started blogging in 2005, I chose blogger.com as my platform because, frankly, I didn’t know of any other platforms. I found using blogger.com difficult. I had to sign-in each time, the U.I. (user interface) was clumsy, etc. Coming up with relevant content is hard enough — the publishing portion should be easy! Hey, that’s the philosophy behind our company. What do you know?
Nevertheless, I gave blogger.com the old college try, but eventually, other responsibilities won out over my blog, partly because using blogger was so hard, and my blogger.com blog became yet another statistic in the growing slush pile of blogs that begin with the best of intentions and then fade out slowly over time. In my case, 5 months.
Writing consistently and relevantly is hard work! It’s possible this blog will suffer the same fate, but I’m doing some things differently. Like, first and foremost, I’m using WordPress instead of Blogger. We have a number of blogs for Outskirts Press, including SelfPublishingNews.com and when I first set-up that one, I choose a theme for the blog that I was hesitant about right from the beginning. The header was too large and the way in which the blog subjects were presented was too clunky.
The custom header had already been created for that specific header-size, so I didn’t change the theme, even though I should have. Fast forward a year or so, and I ultimately decided to change the theme for Self Publishing News anyway — at the same time that I registered “selfpublishingnews.com” in our on-going SEO tactics. Up until then, the blog was outskirtspress.wordpress.com – which still works. Just like the current address when I’m writing THIS blog is brentsampson.wordpress.com but will be forwarded via DNS to brentsampson.com by the time this posting goes live.
Ah yes, that reminds me of one of the biggest advantages of wordpress over blogger. WordPress allows you to write blogs and schedule them for post in the future. Blogger doesn’t (or didn’t in 2005 when I was using them).
Anyway, back to the story – We kind of “re-launched” the blog as Self Publishing News and I changed the header at that time. But we had already branded the blog the “old” way, so even though the blog looked better, and it was a better UI for the reader, readers who were used to the “old” look were probably confused by the new one. Perhaps they thought they were in the wrong place. It’s easy to find yourself on the wrong blog on the internet, and since many blogs end up saying the same things anyway, you could easily find yourself wasting an hour on a blog you don’t even want to be on.
Adding insult to injury, the new theme had a narrower “main” column for the content, which means that many of the graphics we created for the old theme are now too wide for the new one, which is only problematic for readers visiting the posting archives, or for those stumbling upon previous blog postings due to successful search engine results (which, let’s face it, is one of the main purposes of a business blog anyway).
Long story, short: branding a blog correctly right off the bat is kind of important. So… I’m trying to settle on a blog theme for this one. I will probably create a custom header for it eventually, but I don’t have time to do that immediately, although I’ve learned my lesson with Self Publishing News and realize I’ll need to do it soon. Fortunately, with the ability to schedule posts ahead of time, I’m writing many of these blog postings all at once, still in 2009, with the expectation that by the time 2010 rolls around, all these little details will be completed.
With yesterday’s initial blog posting I chose a theme I don’t even remember the name of… and then when I saw it, I knew that it wasn’t the one for this blog. With today’s blog I’m trying a theme called “Sapphire” — perhaps it is fate, choosing a theme named after one of our self publishing packages.