Are you tempted to “gussy up” your blog content? The term means to dress up in fancy clothes, usually for an important event. When applied to your blog, today’s hip young readers might say, you’re “pimping” your blog. Recently that verb has come to mean flashy and decorative. But many people are still uncomfortable, and ask when did pimp become a positive word? So let’s stick with ‘gussy up.’
Why would you even think about doing such a thing?
You’re been working hard to promote your blog, knowing that content can not live in a vacuum. Some even say ‘content is not king‘, but that’s another post! Soon visitors will be knocking on your door through referrals, so you take a long hard look at your blog’s appearance. Time to throw on some paint and put out the welcome mat. You put the ‘good stuff’ up front so visitors don’t turn and run — those fickle and bouncy random visitors. You need to grab their attention and keep them coming back for more (blog posts that is!).
But let’s be clear. We’re not talking about glossing over content flaws or ‘tricking out’ your blog! “To ‘trick out’ is to take an average or below average object and increase its value by adding premium or above average modifications. – UrbanDictionary.com” We’re talking about the process of dressing for success — enhancing the good qualities your blog already has.
How to add flare and light-up your post content
Some of the tips below involve using the ‘html’ view of your Editor. Don’t panic. Similar to driving a car, it’s best to know something about what lies under the hood. The page source or html instructs the browser how to display your home or individual post pages. You write the post content, but everything else comes from the blogging platform and template code. They work magic behind the scenes and most of us could care less. If you want to see html for this post then right click the page, select ‘view page source’ and close it quickly before you’re blinded! Now your eyes will not glaze over if you see a simple line in an html tutorial: < li style=“list-style-type: square;” > See, was that so bad?
Our tips here focus on lighting up a blog post, not the entire blog. It could be the landing page you use as the backlink for comments on other blogs. Or a special post about your blog’s anniversary. Or maybe it’s that pillar post everyone will surely Stumble and Digg. What are the small things you can do to further draw in your random visitors? Beckon them closer and closer until they have their noses in that great content!
Spice up your post title
Use interesting and descriptive phrasing. The title should scream ‘read me first.’ Similar to a display shelf in a store or an ad in a newspaper, you need to first grab the buyer’s eye. After that it’s up to the content to retain interest and sell the story. Looking at the list on the right, which one would you click first?
Most folks will take a second look at this post’s title just out of curiosity for the words ‘gussy up.’ Keep it ‘bite size’ (short); avoid telling the story in a long title. It’s okay to be outrageous, but be careful. I had second thoughts about calling this ‘pimping your blog posts.’ Yet, it could have worked in some blog niches. And could I have left out the words “how to” ?
Add (sub)headings to separate key points
Headings are those < H1, H2, H3, > tags that style the Title and other major sub-sections of the post. Search engines use H1 and H2 in giving importance to words on the page. H1 is used for the title only, while H2 can be used several times. From a style point of view, I used H2 for the bullet points in this list of styling tips. The default styling for H2 in our template draws a thin horizontal line across the page. It draws the reader’s eye as they scan the page, hopefully stopping to read further.
In WordPress, highlight text, use the dropdown ‘Format” icon and select heading 1 to 6.
In Blogger, use the ‘Edit Html” tab and key the html tags.
< h2 >(Your Title Here)< /h2 >
Use images to reflect your thoughts
There are many sites where you can find just the right image as eye candy for your best posts. We use Zemanta and Flickr.com (creative commons only). If you notice in the tip above, I used small images of WP and Blogger logos to offset the different instructions for the two platforms. The images are left aligned so that text lines wrap to the right.
Repeat that great logo in a bullet list
Why not reuse the header logo or favicon in some unexpected places? Here’s how your favicon can become a bullet image:
Most bullet images are the height of an average line or 12px. Let’s use the Blogging with Success icon resized at 20px for legibility.
Here’s how you make a custom bullet list in WP and Blogger:
– In WP, use the HTML mode; in Blogger use Compose or Edit Html.
– Copy the code and paste below. Just substitute your text and repeat the second line as often as needed
Space and frame post content
For this you can divide sections and use borders to accent particular lines. Here’s how:
<div style=”border: 3px dashed #d4e2eb; text-align: center; width: 80%;”>Create borders around important text blocks</div>
—- This one is 3 px wide, dashed and a bluish color (use your ColorZilla or other color picker). You can adjust the width in percentages or fixed px. These are the other border styles to use instead of dashed: dotted, double, groove, inset, outset, ridge, solid, or none. To add a color in the box use “background-color: #d4e2eb;” or any color you want.
These ‘in-line’ styling tips do not require theme changes, but they can be tedious. That’s why you would only make the effort for special posts, , Archives or Table of Contents pages. However, if you find something you want to cascade throughout your blog, then you can update your blog’s theme/html with the equivalent CSS. Print out this handy CSS Cheat Sheet to refer to when you experiment with custom styling. Try it in a test post first.
Here are some ways to promote your best posts:
- Add an announcement on BlogCatalog for your latest great post. Mention that pillar post to help someone in a group discussion.
- Drop a shout out note about individual posts to friends — this means you know about them and their blogs.
- Similarly, send selected posts to SU friends, but don’t flood them. I keep notes of which posts I send to which friends, along with the date. Read their reviews — can let you see where you’re wasting time or need to build a relationship.
- Use a popular posts widget to show your best blog posts. Consider a ‘featured’ blurb about one you don’t want them to miss — stick it at the top of all posts, in the menu or sidebar.
- Use CommentLuv and claim your blog so you can choose which post shows under comments you make on other blogs. Choose your readers’ favorite posts.
So, have you done your best to promote and spruce up that special blog post lately? If not drop a comment and start right now!