NOTE: This is a special GUEST POST by our great friend, the brilliant Lance Ekum of the Jungle of Life blog, who I’ve asked to share some blogging tips with you that he’s learnt during the course of his super successful blogging journey. Thank you, Lance, and enjoy, Everyone! Naomi
“In the winter of 2008 I jumped into the blogging world with both feet.
Well…maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement! How about this…I tiptoed in, not really having a clue at all on what blogging was prior to that. I just was looking for a place to share some of my thoughts – and didn’t think at all about optimizing my site, creating something that was user-friendly, or a whole host of other [blog things] that could have created a better overall experience both for my readers and for me.
Today I’ll be sharing five things I have learned along the way, that will help you to create a better blog experience for you and for your community.
The FIVE on Site Design
- Looks matter. As much as we might like to think otherwise, looks do matter. While content is what will keep people coming back to your site, that first look of your site could be the factor that determines whether any of your material gets viewed in the first place. Create a look for you site that matches the image you want to portray.
- Clutter-free. This space you have created – it is valuable real estate. Choose wisely in what you display on your site. Really question if that which you are adding – if it adds value, and if it is worth displaying. When in doubt, err on the side of “less is more”. View your site as if you were a first-time visitor. What’s your impression?
- Speed, baby! Have you ever visited a website that is slow to load? If you’re like me (and especially if this is a new site), you’ll speed away in another direction. Do a gut check. Does your page take a long time to load? If it does, look for ways to improve performance.
- Represent YOU. This online presence you have created, in a way – that represents “brand YOU”. Whatever look and feel you choose, choose something that reflects how you want to be represented online.
- You get what you pay for. When I began, I created everything on my site by myself. Today – I still do a large chunk of that. However, when I get to something that I know I’m not good at – I look for outside resources to assist. That can be from the theme you choose to use for your website, to resources to tweak your site, to creating the look and feel, and more. If you want to do this stuff yourself – have at it. Just remember that there are resources out there to assist – and sometimes that can be a very good thing.
Okay – and we never even touched upon the content that’s on your site. While that could be a whole article in itself, the key to it is this: create material that is meaningful to you. Write from a place of meaning, and that comes across to those who follow. Be personal, and you’ve taken it to the next level – connecting at a deeper level with your viewership.
Naomi does this magnificently, sharing photos and stories from her personal life. In those stories, we get to know her – and in that, trust her. From that level of trust, relationships form (business, personal, etc).
My biggest take away from my years online has been how, truly, meaningful relationships can be created from just sharing openly across the Internet. And the thing is, when those online connections veer over into face-to-face connections – it’s like meeting a friend you’ve always known.
So…start with something you’re passionate about, and your material will be meaningful – which comes across in all that you share. From there, put some time into the design of your site – and you’ll be giving yourself a great start toward creating an active community.”
Lance Ekum is a t-shirt wearing guy, living in Wisconsin with his wife and 3 kids. For fun, he throws popcorn in the air and tries to catch it in his mouth. He’s expecting a call from the Olympic committee as soon as popcorn tossing is officially accepted as an Olympic sport. If all that popcorn weren’t enough, he also authors the Jungle of Life blog.
Thanks again, Lance. You’re an inspiration in the blogosphere! We’ll leave you all with another visual reminder, courtesy of Dave’s wildlife photography, of the value of looking before you leap.