Craig's Classroom - Virtual Course Graphics for Bloggers 101 is underway. (course information page, pre-recorded videos, watch at your own pace, enrollment is still OPEN!) We have a nice group signed up! :) I am creating a series of classroom assignments for the students to complete the course. This post is to illustrate a report on Assignment #4 - Inspiration from Others - Themes, Signatures, and Profile Pages
Choose two examples of blog page themes that you like. Theme in this case is in reference to the banner graphic at the top of the page and the background selection (solid color, pattern, or image). Give the URL to the two specific posts where we can see the theme. Give a short narrative about why you like it.
Chose one example of a good blog signature at the bottom of the post. It should have good use of graphics such as a photo, social media buttons, and/or calls to action buttons. Specify the URL of the post so we can see it. Give a short narrative about why you like it.
Chose one example of a good profile page. It should have good use of graphics and not just be a wall of words. Specify the URL of the page so we can see it. Give a short narrative about why you like it.
the following post is an example of what the students need to create
note to students: you do not need to do screenshots, that is just my little addition to my own post :)
(I'm including this post in my own regular blog feed as well as you all might enjoy seeing some good examples for inspiration)
Assignment #4 -
Inspiration from Others - Themes, Signatures, and Profile Pages
The banner of a post should give some basic information about the purpose of your blog. Who are you? Where are you? What is this blog going to be about? Richard Weisser shows that simple is effective. His banner has two images along with text on a solid background. It DOES tell us what his blog is about and it does give us an unmistakable way to contact him. The background of the page also matches and it frames in the blog content. We are NOT distracted by the background as is easily the case and we see with many bloggers!
The second theme that I have chosen for show and tell is that of Judy Jennings. Her banner is a collage of many little squares of local imagery. The intensity level is turned down so it is not overpowering and she has put her blog title text right over the top of it that way. She has a nice secondary tagline text on her banner. Her background is a tiled image, subtle not overpowering.
Moving on to blog signatures... Let's take a look at two (even though the assignment only calls for one). Unfortunately, I have real trouble finding blog signatures that I can give gold stars too. You've written a fantastic blog post, somebody has found you for the first time via a google search, now what! You leave them empty handed!!? Or you give them a page full of keyword stuffed text that nobody reads (is that REALLY helping then?). Signatures should be short and to the point. Is the "footer" of your post taller than the actual blog post? These are things to think about.
Meanwhile, let me show you first Melissa McKinney. The top of her blog signature on the left and right are two call to action buttons. Search for homes and Homes by Email are two things that are relevant to the prospective home buyer. Then she gives links to her website and how to call her. She concludes with ways to connect with her on social media so that interested ones can get to know her better. And YouTube you say? People love videos! What does your YouTube channel look like?
Next, let me show you Todd Clark. If you know Todd, you know he likes baseball. Giving a little of our personal interests in our blogs is a great way to really connect with somebody of similar interest. We don't want to overdo so as not to turn anybody off either, but Todd has a great balance as you read his blogs. He is ready with the "what's next?" question but offering links (as baseball buttons) to his website, a page to search for homes, and his main website.
Are you linking to your IDX in your blog signature? If you have 10 niche domains, please don't link to every one of them. They only confuse everybody. What is your MAIN website?
Finally, we move on to profile pages. When somebody clicks your photo or when you make a great comment and they come over to visit your page what do they see? Is it like when you buy a photo frame and the default photo is still in there? Make it your own! The problem with profile pages is that people fill in their stock text when they first get an account and then never come back to edit. Most leave their pages as walls of words. If you wouldn't do that with a blog post, why is it ok for your profile page? People want images! The other problem is that profile pages are (in my opinion) often way too long. How much time do you think people have these days!! I know I'm always short of time, how about you?
So let's look at the one good example that I picked out which is Ginny Gorman. She has a nice mix a information about her, about her area, and about the real estate locally. She mixes in graphics to make the page much more interesting. She includes testimonials and even includes a video testimonial.
Profile pages need calls to action too. Buttons are good, they are very hard to miss! Give them actions of things they will actually want to click. Think like a consumer!
I have a feeling (I'm hoping) that after all of you finish my class, I'll have lots more good examples of themes, signatures and profile pages to point to and give out more gold stars! :)