By Leo Babauta
How can you stand out from the crowd … and not become just a drop in the immense sea of blogs?
Look at some of the most popular blogs out there today. How are they different? How are they similar?
Although many blogs have a lot of things in common — usually a blog title, headlines, new posts at the top, a sidebar or two — the most successful blogs are the ones that establish a distinct style. Unless it develops a unique “look and feel,” a blog simply becomes one of thousands and thousands of blogs published every day.
Blogs, in this way, are like people — they can blend in with the crowd by choosing to be the same as everyone else, or they can let shine their distinctive personality. The more memorable the better. Blogs like Zen Habits, Goodlife Zen, The Art of Non-Conformity, and Copyblogger all have very unique, recognizable styles.
What defines the Style of a Blog?
We’ve talked about why it’s important to develop a consistent brand for your blog, to build a message that’s communicated in everything you do. The style and voice of a blog is very much a part of that message.
Style is the unified impression that your blog gives a visitor.
Some of the factors that make up the style:
- Your theme or design. A theme is the “skin” of your blog, which gives it a particular look and feel. Different themes will have different layouts, navigational systems, and even different functions. They each give the blog a look that communicates something about the blog: profession, calm, loud, minimalist, quirky, feminine, and so on.
- Your voice. If your blog looks and reads just like every other blog in your niche, you’ll have a hard time making any sort of impact. Establishing a unique voice is a very important part of defining your blog’s style. Reading bloggers you admire is a good way to learn about the importance of voice – but remember, the most effective voice that you can have on your blog is your own. Your honest, unedited, authentic voice.
- Your topics and philosophy. Very similar to voice. The things you choose to write about, and the perspective you bring to those topics, are also a part of the style.
- Your images. The types of images you choose for your blog can contribute a great deal to having a distinct style. For example, compare the images on Zen Habits to the images on The Art of Manliness. Images on Zen Habits tend to be clean, bright, and high-resolution, while images on The Art of Manliness tend to be old-fashioned, sepia-toned, and somewhat rough. Both blogs have managed to convey a distinctive style through their choice of images.
- Your format. Are you a videoblogger? A podcaster? A writing blogger? Or perhaps a combination of all three? The format in which you choose to deliver your content makes a big difference. It’s important that you choose a format with which you feel comfortable. Feel free to expand your boundaries, but don’t be afraid to choose one format over another if it allows you to really communicate with your audience.
- How can you express your core branding message through style? Make short notes on each of the points above to define your style.
- Study these points on other blogs, especially those that convey messages similar to yours. How do they convey this message? Are there elements you can adopt?