In blogging, everyone always focuses on content. “Content is king,” or “Content is key,” are frequently said in the blogosphere. And that is absolutely true. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, unless you have good quality content, then you why would anyone, including you, want to read your blog? Bloggers are some of the most self-centered people that I’ve ever met. Not because they think that they’re great, although that is often a problem, but because they spend so much time reading their own blog, agonizing over their content. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I’m sure we all do it to some extent. When you’re reading it, though, I really prod you to look deep into your heart, your brain, and your soul, and ask yourself the following question: “Would I want to read this?” I know it’s a tough question, because it’s almost impossible to judge yourself. In videos, I’ve given up on it, since to me it seems like a lost cause. Content, however, is different. Just read it. See if you find it useful. If not, then why would you want to post it?
I’ll focus a lot on that in the future, but today I want to approach the issue from a different angle, an angle that says the following: Customization is key.
Looking at it from a Different Angle
Now, before you dog on me, saying things like “Oh, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” I want you to think of it from a different perspective. Imagine a door that has three locks. One of them is a padlock. Those three locks, as you might’ve imagined, represent what I consider, the three most important things in blogging: Content, which is the padlock, marketing, and the look of your blog. You need all three keys to open the door, not just one or two of them.
There are Exceptions
Of course, as always, there are various exceptions to every rule, even murder (The Boston Massacre). Blogging is no different. Yes, it is possible to get traffic and become popular without all of these three things. The only way to do that, however, is to do two of the things really well or one of the things AMAZINGLY well, which is very unlikely. Okay, if your content is really all that, then maybe you don’t need to worry about customization as much. However, I’m talking to the average blogger, and the average blogger isn’t going to have that type of content. If they did, then all of the blogs would be equally popular, but we all know that is not the case.
You Need to Compensate
If you don’t have that type of content (if you think that you do, please e-mail me your URL so I can check out the site and give you suggestions), then you need to make up for it. Did you know that the average time spent on a blog is just a bit over one minute? That is also most likely raised up by blogs that they already know and like. If you were talking about first time blogs, I’m not sure that I would even want to know the average time.
People’s First Impression Usually Sticks for a While
You probably know this, but in just over a minute, most people don’t change their impression of a blog. Usually, they’re either sold or they’re not, at least for the time being.
Where does an Impression come from?
First impressions come from the first thing that they see. If they are looking at your blog, they would see your design first. If you cannot customize your design, then how will it be something that people will want to see?
Most free webhosts, not all, do not give you much customization in your blog. Some of them, like Bravenet, my host for years, do, though I used a paid version of it, but it was very cheap. The point is that these webhosts do not give you the freedom to do whatever you want. For example, on most free hosts, you cannot put in ads. That is a HUGE disadvantage if you are trying to make money. Not only that, but how are you possibly going to make money if you can’t get anyone who likes your design, and therefore your blog?
You Need a Paid Host
Based on just that information alone, I would advise I paid host. Not just any paid host, but one that offers you complete customization and control over your blog. Granted, you will still need to know basic code, which I will talk about in a future post.
The first impression that your readers get from looking at your design is one of the most important pieces of your blog. What will your readers first impression be?
Update: I made a video on this: