Here is definition that the Content Marketing Institute gives:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
But how does blogging translate to your bottom line?
A great deal, as it turns out.
Each post you publish is yet another page for Google to crawl and index. Having more pages in the index increases the chances that someone will discover your content in the search results, driving more organic traffic to your landing pages.
More targeted traffic translates to more leads and sales.
Each new post also builds your social media presence. Sharing content on your social profiles is a great way to build a following with your target audience and increase brand awareness.
Another benefit of blogging is that it helps establish your brand as an authority. By creating relevant and engaging content, you essentially become the go to source for information.
Perhaps most importantly is how blogging contributes to the bottomline. B2B marketers that blog on a regular basis receive 67% more leads than those that don’t. The content that you publish has the potential to generate measurable results for your business for years to come.
Here is an infographic that outlines some of the many benefits of blogging:
So then you get started with your own WordPress site.
You’re eager to share your knowledge with the world and you’re excited about the potential opportunities that your new blog can bring. After following all the steps to install WordPress, this is what you are left with:
A blank canvas with incredible potential.
But then you think to yourself that you can’t start publishing right away. There are likely tons of sites that use with the default WordPress theme. The largest brands in the world don’t stick with default themes, they have logos and designs that are instantly recognizable. You want your site to be unique to stand out from a sea of competitors.
So then you get to work on tweaking the theme. First you head over to WordPress’ theme depository to see what your options are.
You take a few moments to browse through the Featured and Popular section and you see quite a few themes that you like. Another added bonus is that you can quickly preview the theme that you might be interested in.
But you still can’t quite find the right theme that’s for you.
So you decide to go with a paid theme. Just like with free WordPress themes, there is no shortage of options available with eye-catching designs that are sure to make a lasting impression. Then you finally see a theme that you like so you decide to purchase and install it on your site.
You love the new theme but the color doesn’t quite reflect your brand. Luckily, you have some HTML experience so you can easily edit those files. You start to dig in and change the colors to something more suitable.
And then you start tweaking the logo.
And the typography.
And the widgets.
And the plugins.
Before you know it, you spent a whole day just on the design aspects of your site. Then the cycle continues to repeat itself. You’re agonizing over miniscule details that ultimately don’t matter in the grand scheme of things when what you should really be doing is writing.
An empty WordPress installation won’t get you anywhere. It’s the content that you publish that brings visitors to your landing pages.
Of course, this isn’t to say that mean design doesn’t matter.
It absolutely does.
Online users form impressions about a site in less than two-tenths of a second, according to an eye-tracking study conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Their findings revealed that over 94% of the factors that influenced a subject’s impression about a web page were related to design elements.
These include the:
- Navigation menu
- Search box
- Social networking links
- Site’s main image
- Written content
- Bottom of the site
Here is what the heatmap looked like from the eye-tracking software:
The longer that participants remained on a page, the more favorable their impressions were. The results confirm that professional website design can hold people’s attention for a longer period.
It’s easy to see then why so many businesses fuss about their site’s design. The problem is that overthinking stops forward progress and can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s a common trap especially for new bloggers as they want their new blog to be absolutely perfect. But it can be a colossal waste of time and quickly trap you in an endless cycle of constant tweaking that doesn’t lead anywhere.
Here we look at several ways to escape the overthinking trap and finally launch your new blog.
Settle For Adequate
Probably not the kind of advice you expected to hear. But it’s one that has proven to be effective in the decision making process.
Take the perfectionist for example. This individual combs through every detail, carefully weighs all the options, then makes a final decision. In certain areas like sports, we look at perfectionists with awe as they hold themselves to a higher standard and strive for excellence. They push past boundaries by setting incredible goals that others would shrink away from.
These individuals are similar to maximizers. They spend enormous amounts of energy to make the best possible decisions. In other words, they overthink and want to avoid bad choices at all costs.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have what are called satisficers, a term first coined by economist Herbert Simon in 1956. These are individuals who are content with “good enough.” Unlike maximizers, they look for and choose adequate solutions that fit their needs. One would think that maximizers are content with their choices but research says otherwise. Maximizers tend to be less happy with their decisions whereas satisficers tend to be more pleased.
Takeaway: Overthinking comes at a cost and it can actually lead to dissatisfaction. For now, settle for an adequate design for your blog. You can always change how your site looks later on.
Set a Time Limit
Parkinson’s Law states that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
A seemingly straightforward task that would normally take few hours to complete expands in complexity and takes more to complete if you give yourself longer to complete it. Understanding this principle can go a long way towards increasing productivity and staying on task.
Here is how you can make Parkinson’s Law to work for you:
- Make a list of the tasks you need to complete for your site (e.g. choosing a theme, etc.)
- Set and enforce a strict time to complete those tasks
- Work on those tasks and treat the time as a deadline
Taking this approach can help you escape the overthinking trap that many bloggers fall into. By setting a time limit, you are actually using Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Tasks that would normally have taken several days to complete can be done in much less. It also forces you to settle for an adequate solution instead of agonizing over tiny details that distract from the bigger picture.
Takeaway: Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the allotted time. Use this principle to your advantage by setting and enforcing strict time limits on tasks that relate to your blog.
Just Ship It
Steve Jobs famously said, “Real artists ship.”
What he meant was that everyone has bold and daring ideas. But real artists are those that expand on their ideas and ship products out.
Perhaps the biggest reason why people overthink and fail to ship out is fear of failure. Failure elicits powerful emotions: Anger, frustration, disappointment, regret. And these feelings can be incredibly immobilizing. It explains how anxiety about a situation causes even some of the best athletes in the world to choke under pressure.
So perfectionists spend enormous energy tweaking and polishing. The reality though is that new products and services are rarely perfect out of the gate.
Just take a look at how Twitter (originally called Twttr) looked when it first launched:
The original design was rather rudimentary but the company launched the product anyway. Twitter has since changed its site and product design a great deal, and is one one of the most popular social networks today.
Shipping the first version of your site not only helps combat overthinking but also gives you the benefit of receiving actual feedback from your audience. If certain design aspects of your blog don’t pan out, you can use that data to pivot and change course.
Takeaway: One way to stop overthinking is to simply ship the first version of your blog’s design. Then tweak and optimize as you go with feedback from your audience.
Here we look at how to get started with a professional design for your blog.
Choose a minimal theme with a white background
It’s easy to get distracted with choosing a theme. But overthinking this step can trap you in an endless cycle and waste enormous amounts of time. For now you’ll want to choose a theme with an elegant design and a white background.
Here is an example from the WordPress theme depository called OnePress:
If you don’t mind spending a little extra money, ThemeForest offers an excellent selection of elegant and professional WordPress themes that you can choose from. It’s easy to spend a lot of time choosing a theme but settle for an adequate solution for now. You can always change your theme later on.
Effective web design is much more than aesthetics. Your site also has to be usable for your visitors. Adding breadcrumb navigation is a great way to enhance the usability of your site and is an effective visual aid that shows where visitors are.
Download and install the Breadcrumb NavXT plugin to add breadcrumbs to your site:
What makes the plugin so versatile is that it can be easily customized to suit your needs.
Add a navigation menu
Navigation menus are simply a must as as they allow visitors to quickly navigate to the appropriate section of your website. Menus are typically placed at the top although some sites choose to have them on the right or left side.
Here is an example of a simple navigation menu:
As the number of categories and subcategories on your site grows, you’ll inevitably want a navigation menu to better structure your site.
Optimize your images
Images make your content pop out and far more engaging. But dumping images from your digital camera directly to your blog posts is not recommended. Large images take longer to load which affects the performance of your site.
There are two options: Use photo editing software like Photoshop to optimize your images before uploading to your site or use a plugin Smush to compress and remove the unnecessary data from your images.
Loading times is absolutely important as online users expect pages to load quickly. Be sure that any images you use on your blog posts are optimized.
Don’t overthink your logo design
A good logo is one that that makes your business memorable. Some of the largest brands in the world including Amazon, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Nike all have logos that are instantly recognizable. While you certainly want a well designed logo to make a lasting impression with your visitors, it’s also important not to overthink this aspect of your website. Instead, opt for a simple logo that reflects your business.
It’s easy to get lost in the details.
But each second you spend on your site’s design is time that could have been spent more productively on producing content for your blog. The reality though is that constant tweaking gives a false sense of accomplishment and focusing on these details (e.g. themes, colors, etc.) can make you lose sight of the bigger picture. Follow the steps as outlined here to escape the overthinking trap and to get started with a professional design for your blog.