This guest post is by Angie Picardo of the nerdwallet.
Blogging has evolved into a staple of new print media and become an unavoidable means of digital communication.
Whether for personal, promotional, or corporate use, all blogs act as “voices” in digital space; they represent the person, idea, or brand behind them.
Accordingly, it’s important to make thoughtful decisions regarding their content and appearance. Keeping a blog is a little like going to a job interview; you want to look like, sound like, and communicate the best you to the world.
Here are three rules of thumb that will keep your blog fresh, and make it stand out above the rest.
1. Have intention.
Why are you writing a blog?
Write your answer down.
If you find yourself scribbling a novel, jotting down a few disconnected ideas, or writing nothing at all, it’s time for some reevaluation.
If your mission statement is complicated (or unclear, or frenetic), you won’t communicate the importance of your blog to new readers.
And if they don’t know why they should read it, they won’t.
It may be as simple as, “I want to keep users up-to-date with new developments,” or “I want to post recipes for new moms on the go.”
Like someone who’s interviewing you for a job, your readers will only understand who you are if you do, first.
2. Know your value.
What makes a blog interesting is its ability to offer something of value to its readers.
If you’ve created a successful startup, perhaps the value you bring to your business blog is your personal credibility.
If you want to write about business but don’t have many accolades, readers might find value in your humor, or your willingness to admit the mistakes you’ve made in your own business.
Bloggers stand out in a crowd by playing to their strengths.
Sometimes, they have information no one else has.
Sometimes their experiences are unique and set them apart.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be noticed as a blogger, but you do have to understand what it is about your content that could provide value to potential readers.
When a job interviewer asks, “How could you add value to our company?” they’re not looking for a quality that everyone else has, too.
They’re looking for what you, personally, have to offer.
3. Keep it clean.
Proofread, pare down, and clean up.
Avoiding typos and simple mistakes is a good way to keep your blog looking professional.
The layout should be as clutter-free as possible.
Blog design has become much more streamlined over the past several years, so take advantage of a simple, clean theme that will best feature your content.
The blog’s title should be something creative, not “Tom’s Blog,” or “My Thoughts.”
Titles for each specific post are most effective when they’re clear and use key words that are descriptive of the content.
When you’re interviewing for a job, you want to be presentable.
A messy appearance or sloppy resume detracts from who you are and what you want.
Readers, like potential employers, also appreciate clarity and concision.
Develop a keen eye for detail, and treat the visual element of your blog as a way to showcase your personality, not overshadow it.