This is a guest contribution from Daniel Glickman of Emaze.
How your blog looks when visitors first visit has a powerful effect on their interpretation of the quality of your content. However, when designing your blog, it may be difficult to know what’s most important. Is it better to look professional and risk looking like every other company blog, or to focus on being unique so that you stand out from the rest? The truth is, neither is most important – what’s most important is creativity.
Communicating creativity shows that you are not ordinary. It shows you are capable of thinking outside of the box to deliver fresh content that offers something different than the rest. This is valuable no matter what niche your blog is in, so how do you capitalize on creativity and start making your blog look creative in no time?
Step 1: Understand creativity doesn’t equal off-the-wall.
Creativity doesn’t mean sharing purposeless viral dog videos or snazzy online presentations just because you think it will make you stand out from your competition. In fact, this is the opposite of creativity. Creativity is working with purpose to do what everyone else is doing in a unique way.
Even the most professional website can be creative just by taking a different approach to classic design. In fact, the best instances of creativity come due to the element of surprise. If your audience expects you to use a certain font, create advertisement campaigns similar to those you have in the past, or make the same offer as every other blog, you won’t be creative if you serve them what you want. For instance, if every business blog in your niche is offering a helpful marketing manual or white paper, be creative and think of what else you can offer. Once you understand what creativity is, you can outline what creativity looks like on your website.
Step 2: Outline what creativity means to you.
To determine what creativity means for you and your blog’s brand, there is no better place to look than around you to see how your competition is succeeding – or failing – at being creative. Some questions to ask yourself…
- What similarities do you see across other blogs in your niche?
- Do they all share the same content or have look-alike landing pages?
- Is there one that is distinct among the rest?
- What are they doing right – do they have a killer video advertising campaign or a logo you can’t get out of your head?
- Where is there room for improvement? Are you a travel blogger and notice every other blog has great photos, but few videos or presentations? Or perhaps you notice all the other startup’s company blogs have generic logos or that everyone in your niche is sharing the same content on social media. Find weak spots among your competition to identify where to begin.
Use this to decide how you will bring creativity to your blog. Of course, your plan can (and should) evolve as you see what works and what doesn’t, but starting here is a good place to begin.
Step 3: Start communicating creativity before audiences ever reach your content.
Think about how many opportunities you have to plant ideas about your brand in your audience’s head before they even reach your content. To start, think of how they get to your site. How can you make your advertisements more creative, either by integrating creative touches within the ad content or using creative methods to reach new viewer? How is your blog’s meta-description language different from the others who come up in Google search results? What do you do that screams, “Come to my blog over the rest!” Integrate creative tactics for every step of your blog, including those leading to a visitor landing on your blog.
And of course, remember, landing pages matter. A lot! A creative landing page is one of the single most important moments for sticking your brand in your audiences’ mind. Integrating videos and highlighting focus keywords through design and font are all great ways to catch your audiences’ eyes.
Step 4: Don’t forget the little touches.
When creating a brand image, every little thing matters, and it’s important to ensure that they all fit with your desired message. Creativity doesn’t have to be grandiose – it can be as small as a rare social media link graphic or a dash of humor in your About Me page. Creativity is all about catching the visitor off guard – and making everything different is over-the-top and can defy this purpose. For example, pay attention to your logo to ensure it’s in line with the rest of your branding, and then add an unexpected touch of color to your color scheme or pick a unique font for standout content on your landing page. Creativity relies on little touches that draw the viewer’s eye and set you apart. Just like putting too much content can create an impression of clutter, so too can adding too many details because you think they are “creative.” Creativity is best when subtle, which is what makes it so powerful.
Step 5: Look at every piece of content you absorb through a creative lens.
When looking at others’ content online, start seeing the world through a creative lens. Notice what makes you pay attention and ask yourself why this company or advertisement was able to grab your focus. Chances are, you’ll notice a large part of it is due to good old creativity.
Let creativity funnel into every aspect of your blog. Use original marketing techniques and social media posts so you continuously communicate your ability to re-imagine the typical ways of doing things. An audience’s perception of you often comes from many different sources – an amazing Tweet you shared, a great logo, or an awesomely different landing page – every piece matters for creating the whole.
Daniel Glickman is the CMO of emaze. He loves analyzing marketing data and building strategic and tactical plans.