Great minds think alike, I guess. At least that’s what they always say.
I have been doing a little brainstorming about some big changes to the design here at DavidRisley.com. All of it has taken a backburner while I work full out to prepare for the relaunch of PCMech.com’s new design. However, I’m looking forward to doing it.
At the same time, I see a few of my fellow bloggers making some moves which are on parallel to what I was thinking, too. First off, Nathan Hangen’s blog is on the verge of a re-make right now. From my private conversations with Nathan, he is definitely looking to break the usual blogging template. While I don’t want to talk about his ideas before he implements them, I can make note of Jordan Cooper, who’s blog re-make is now public at Not A Pro Blog.
Here’s what I want to make note of about Jordan’s re-design:
- There are no posts on the homepage. Instead, he has an opt-in form.
- His site links clearly link to things which matter and they’re not hidden on a cluttered blog.
- His blog has gone dateless. The typical chronology has gone bye-bye.
Jordan also did a fabulous job of laying out what was on my mind in his post, You’re NOT Only As Good As Your Last Blog Post.
Let’s put it this way…
The Dusty Blog Archives
This blog currently has 835 posts (this very post will make 836). I’ve got some really good stuff back there in those archives! Yet the problem is that the typical reader who comes to this blog is going to make note of just the latest few posts which sit on my homepage. If I went a few days without posting something on this blog, somebody is very likely to come to my homepage and say, “Hmmm….the blog is looking a bit stale.” Why? Because the date might be a few days old and the Internet works on a per-minute basis (especially now that we have stuff like Twitter).
It leads people to ask things I’ve already covered numerous times. It leads me to repeat myself. It leads to more work. And its all rather pointless because what it does is turns my latest blog posts into just my latest tid-bit to feed the masses. And once it disappears off the homepage, it does into oblivion unless somebody happens to find it via search results or related posts.
With the typical blog set up, you ARE only as good as your last post. We’re thinking too much like magazines here and I find that rather ridiculous.
The Tucked Away Opt-In
List building is extremely important. We all know that. However, most bloggers tuck their list opt-ins away in their sidebar. We count on the opt-in fairy to guide our reader’s eyeballs into our opt-in form.
Most good marketers know how workable a squeeze page is. As bloggers, we usually have to create custom pages inside of Wordpress to build squeeze pages. Either that or we use separate domains.
Seems very round-about when you think about it. For that reason, it seems like making your blog homepage into a squeeze page might make sense. Get them on your list with a KILLER opt-in bonus, then bring them into your blog.
Thinking Outside The Box
So, what I’ve been thinking was essentially what Jordan did. Turn the usual idea of a blog on its head by:
- Making the homepage into a squeeze page, with prominent links to the stuff I want new readers to see. Stop depending on the eyeball fairy and start controlling the message visually. Makes for solid branding control, too.
- Remove the dates from my posts and URLs. Simplify the actual blog and feature high-quality content. This will allow posts to be about pure quality rather than feeding into the time demands of blogging that just end up giving us gray hair.
I will note that this wouldn’t work in just any niche. For example, PCMech.com couldn’t go to a non-chronological setup because the tech market is fast changing and more news oriented. However, a post about blogging or marketing really doesn’t change all that much. Most of my 836 posts are still as relevant now as they were when I wrote them.
Also, with Wordpress 3.0, you can easily break it up using custom post types. So, if I post something which is time-sensitive, I can still do it and keep them separate. My timeless posts can go into a different rotation.
I’m going to begin work on this project soon. It won’t be a brand re-making or anything. I like a lot of things about this site, and judging from the many people who always ask me where I found this theme, others like it, too. (BTW, this theme is custom and you can’t find it anywhere). But, some adjustments can be made and I know just the designer to pull it off. Get ready, Shawn. 😉