In a recent guest post from Michelle Minch on Social Media 101, she wrote about tips that advise bloggers to avoid getting caught up in the theme game. She had some great advice that includes the following:
- Simple is better – WP is an amazing platform that has many customization options built right in. I can get almost the same visual effect with my simple theme as I would have gotten with the more complex theme, with a lot fewer headaches.
- Your content is way more important that what your theme looks like. Your readers won’t keep coming back just because your blog looks cool. People won’t hire you because they love your blog theme (unless you’re a web designer).
- Don’t create drama where there is none. You can change your WP theme as often as you change your underwear, so don’t get stuck when trying to pick one.
- Don’t get buried by stuff that really isn’t that important.
As my last post indiciates, a lot of thought often goes into choosing a WordPress theme. At first instinct, my gut told me to disagree with Michelle’s points because I actually do believe that themes can do a lot for bloggers. After thinking about it more, I then concluded that both our theme philosophies are right, but they cater to different types of bloggers.
If you subscirbe to Michelle’s points, then host your blog at WordPress.com. Don’t even bother with getting a self-hosted installation because it might lead you down that dark rabbit hole of choices, maintenance, and cost. In fact, you don’t even have to use WordPress in this case. Blogger is great, as well as the highly underrated LiveJournal.
If you subscribe to my philosophy (see previous post), then you need a self-hosted blog. You want the flexibility to expand, grow, change, and customize. Only a self-hosted blog will allow you the flexibility to do that. However, keep in mind that with great choice, comes great responsibility. You’ll wind up creating more work for yourself that otherwise wouldn’t exist on a non-self-hosted blog.
Regardless of the platform you choose, I’ll leave off with some food for thought…
What kind of blogger are you?
- The Freudian – You spend the majority of your posts pontificating life’s big questions, writing about your parents, and maybe even divulge your many relationship escapades. Some of my favorite bloggers who fall into this category: Stephanie Klein, every teenager who blogs on MySpace
- The Rant-a-holic – We all like to vent, but some of us do this better than others. Rant-a-holics spend the majority of posts complaining or criticizing, but not simply for the sake of standing on a soapbox. Rant-a-holics are passionate, uncensored, and have strong points of view. I find that the demographic of bloggers who do this best – Mommies. Some of my favorites: Queen of Spain, Dooce, etc.
- The Commentator / Analyst – Everyone aspires to fall into this category. This upper echelon of bloggers create content that is fairly balanced, thought-provoking and well-sourced. They deliver on a regular basis and tend to have loyal audiences. Bloggers who fall into this category: Seth Godin, Jeremiah Owyang, etc.
- The Self-Promoter – Online marketers today are some of the best self-promoters around. They’re constantly plugging a new project, event, and always seem to have some “big announcement” right around the corner. It’s easy to hate on this group, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones making money doing this whole online thing. Bloggers who fall into this category: A lot of social media “rockstars” or “experts”
- The Community Evangelist – These bloggers specialize in creating community-based content, meaning they’re all about promoting others. They write about friends, colleagues, what’s going on in a particular industry or setting, and they are all about sharing the positivity. Some of my favorite people who do this: Aaron Strout, Jim Storer, Rachel Happe, etc.
- The Executive – Business leaders are giving this blogging thing a try because it provides another channel to communicate. The execs who do this best publish content that isn’t a rehashed press release, but rather a candid, honest dialogue about what’s going on with their company and industry. Some of the best: Jonathan Schwarts (Sun Microsystems), Tony Hseih (Zappos), etc.
- The Reporter – This category can easily be called “Citizen Journalists,” or people who often write thoughtfully and serve as helpful resources for information (both biased and unbiased). I would also place the collective group of contributors to media platforms like Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. here. Some people who do this well: Steve Garfield, Chris Penn, ProBlogger, etc.
- The Exhibitionist – Your lifestreamers, video bloggers, and web celebs all fall into this category. They have no problem taking what they ate for lunch and posting it on a flickrstream for public consumption. They divulge minutiae that seem meaningless to most, yet have audiences still wanting more. Masters of this: NonSociety girls, iJustine, etc.
- The Fan – These are some of the most fun bloggers because their passion is evident in every post. They manage to take their choice subject and write about it over, and over, and over again. Readers don’t mind because chances are, they’re fans too and revel in the shared experience. Some blogs that do this incredibly well: Perez Hilton (celebrity gossip), Over the Monster (Red Sox fan blog), Green Blogs, Food Blogs, etc.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t fall into a clear category. I feel like my breakdown on this blog is 50% Freudian, 10% Rant-a-holic, 15% Promoter, 15% Community Evangelist, and 10% Commentator. I have other web properties that are 100% Fan and I’d say that the majority of my online activities fall under Exhibitionist.
It’s a fun little exercise to ask yourself where you fit in, and something that I think will affect your blogging strategy down the road as well as impact how you style the presentation of your blog.
If you care to share, leave your blogging breakdown below.