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Blog Your Business To Success A MESSAGE FROM THE FOUNDERS OF UNIQUE BLOG DESIGNS When most people unfamiliar to blogging are asked to define what a blog is, their definition usually revolves around a personal journal or a social networking tool mostly used by young adults and teens. Anyone familiar with blogging knows that blogging is NOT just a personal journal, in fact, far from it. A blog is a powerful marketing tool which both businesses and individuals are using to establish brand recognition and connect more intimately with a super-targeted group of clients, consumers or customers. The number of blogs are increasing at an earth-shattering rate! There are now over 100 million active blogs in existence and over 160,000 blogs started everyday! More and more people are finding that they can market their personal brand or businesses exclusively through blogging, thereby saving thousands of dollars on traditional marketing costs. The business of Unique Blog Designs living proof to that - in our first three months in business, we worked with over 250 clients to help them establish blogs for their personal brands and/or businesses; and we did not spend any money to
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attract these targeted consumers! With a properly setup blog, your clients will find you, instead of vice versa! Our business has benefited HUGELY from blogging. Yours can too. Our own business was built exclusively through establishing credibility and trust in the blogosphere. In fact, our founder, Nate Whitehill始s personal blog helped launched the business. Nate has only been blogging since January of 2007, but in that time, he has managed to teach thousands of new bloggers how they can use their blogs to leverage their brands and more effectively market their products and services. Let us help YOU establish a World-class blog. Our goal at Unique Blog Designs is to help you or your business establish a world-class blog through the implementation of a Unique Design. We also possess the knowledge, power, and understanding to help you market your blog to your target audience. This guide contains dozens of blogging tips, tricks, and marketing practices that will help you avoid the pitfalls of other bloggers and develop your blog into a highly-effective marketing tool. This guide focuses primarily of the topics of blog sustainability, building a readership, and readability, layout and design. Future volumes will focus on the topics of marketing, traffic building, and search engine optimization techniques. Whether you are brand new to blogging or a seasoned blogger looking to take your business to the next level, we encourage you to contact us should you have 3 www.uniqueblogdesigns.com 漏 2010 Unique Blog Designs, LLC. All rights reserved.
any questions, comments, or need assistance starting your journey towards blogging success. To Your Success, Nate Whitehill, Josh Mullineaux & Matt Blancarte Founders of Unique Blog Designs, LLC email: email@example.com
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Why Do Most Blogs Drop Oﬀ? Understand why blogs don’t last in order to avoid the common mistakes and persevere under the pressure to consistently update your blog.
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Before you are able to author a successful blog, you must understand the reasons that most bloggers do not persist beyond the three-month mark. Why is that most bloggers give up after a few short months? Even though the number of blogs created in this past year has increased by more than 30 million, the number of active blogs continues to stand still at around 15 million, excluding quasi-blogs, such as Myspace. Take a look at the following chart to see this in action:
So, why is it that most blogs get abandoned sooner or later? Here are the top five reasons why most blogs don始t last. Hopefully, new bloggers will keep some of these points in mind when beginning their blogging career.
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1. Blogging consistently is NOT easy. It certainly is easy to set up a Blogspot account or even install WordPress, but unfortunately, most blogs donʼt go much farther than that. Many people find that writing informative and original articles consistently is difficult, and they are right - it is difficult. However, most experienced bloggers will tell you that it takes a while to build up that elusive blogging rhythm - the one in which you easily weave together insightful and unique posts. 2. New blogs see little to no financial return, initially. Many people start blogging because they see John Chow [http://www.johnchow.com] and Problogger [http://www.problogger.com] pulling thousands each month from Adsense. These superbloggers make it look easy, but the fact remains, John Chow and Darren Rowse have been blogging for YEARS. It is extremely rare for a blog to make very much money before its three-month mark. 3. Consistent web traffic takes time to build. Be patient. I'll admit itʼs hard to feel motivated to blog when you know not many people are reading your work. However, this early stage of blogging is arguably the most crucial. The first three months are the time to show everyone that despite not having tons of comments or a large number of RSS subscribers, you write interesting, original, link-worthy articles. 4. Lack passion for your blog? Wave your blogging career goodbye. Many new “make money online” blogs have popped up over the past few months. How many of those people actually make money online and are passionate about it? John Chow didnʼt start writing about how to make money online exclusively - he initially just used his blog to talk about his passions, only one of which was making that online dough. Our passions are business and web development, and only since we have been blogging has our passion for blog development emerged. Now, “blogging” is one of our favorite topics to write about. 5. Time management must be practiced seriously. Itʼs no secret - most people would love to quit their day job and blog full time. So, they start
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blogging but find that, like anything, it takes a considerable amount of time. Add that to their already busy lives and it is something that often gets put off and eventually abandoned. When anyone adds blogging to their busy life, they must start practicing time management much more seriously. we find that it doesn始t take me much longer than 20-40 minutes to write a solid post, so we make sure to carve out that time at least 5x per week. Just like going to the gym, blogging takes months of hard work to see any noticeable benefits. In our year of blogging, only recently am we starting to see these benefits including financial return, people linking to our posts, and a decent number of subscribers, readers, etc. In conclusion, the number one lesson we have learned from blogging is that hard work over time pays off. With time comes experience and respect. we respect people who have been blogging for at least six months - that takes some serious dedication. The longer you have been blogging, the more people will see you as an expert or authority about your blog topics. There is a lot of power in published work. Blogging has taught me that to see measurable results in ANYTHING, you must work hard, stay ultra-dedicated, and perhaps most importantly, be patient.
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Establishing Authority Through Blogging Utilize the power of blogging to become an expert in your niche or area of specialization.
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While many people still think of a blog as a personal journal, many businesses and individuals are now using this powerful marketing tool to establish authority in their respective niches and to produce record-setting profits in far less time than had ever been done previously. How is this so? The most powerful tool in the new online media is blogging. Simply put, blogging is one of the most revolutionary marketing tools seen in the past 50 years. Through the vast network that is the Internet, businesses and individuals are promoting themselves, their products and their services in every niche possible with increasing transparency in their communication. Through dedicated and innovative marketing, these pioneers are using blogging as a tool to establish authority in their respective niches, thereby receiving vital recognition and raking in increasing profits at the same time. The importance of establishing authority Why is establishing authority so important? As mentioned earlier, through the Internet, there are consumers for every type of product and service. There are now many more business opportunities than there have ever been in the past, all thanks to the new online media. When you establish authority in your particular niche, you become an industry leader and, from that, consumers start to seek out your products and services instead of the traditional marketing process, where marketers seek out consumers. Establishing authority through blogging is completely opposite to the old way of generating business. In the past, businesses marketing a product had to interrupt your activity to bring a product or service to your attention. For example, a TV commercial interrupts the show
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you are watching and may be perceived as an annoyance. Now, for every online product and service, consumers are seeking out the business. When someone types in your product or service into Google, are you on the front page? It doesnʼt matter whether you sell concrete or provide a freelance service; every type of business or service can benefit from engaging the endless supply of niche consumers that exist online. How do you establish authority? Authority is not something that comes easily or quickly. However, it can take far less time to establish authority than by marketing to traditional media outlets such as television, radio, and newspaper. Most authorities in the blogosphere, for example, have only been blogging for a few years. For example, letʼs take some well-known bloggers in the “make money online” niche, such as Problogger [http://www.problogger.com], Shoemoney [http://www.shoemoney.com], and John Chow [http://www.johnchow.com]. All of them have been blogging for less than three years, but they are linked to endlessly and are seen as authority figures in their respective niches. Of course, it is not only about the amount of time it takes to be perceived as an authority figure -- the authors of the above sites have been blogging with a goal of not just engaging, but helping their readers and by marketing themselves and their products in continually innovative ways. Establish authority by gaining credibility Many people are now starting blogs to simply “make money online,” but if you can delay the temptation for instant monetary gratification (e.g., plastering Adsense Ads on your site), you will establish credibility and long-term trust at a much faster rate. Remember, before you gain authority you must gain credibility. By sacrificing short-term profit, you will show your target audience that you are committed to the greater good of
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serving your audience instead of bombarding them with ads. Ultimately, to gain credibility, you must help people and not just advertise to them. Conclusion Whatever niche you are in, take the time to become an authority. Start by building your community of followers and by implementing an intelligently conceived marketing plan. The barriers to entering the world of online business are extremely low, so more people are hopping onboard everyday. Remember this, and do everything you can to implement your master plan for success! We highly recommend â€œThe New Rules of Marketing and PRâ€? by David Meerman Scott for further information about The New Rules.
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Get Visitors To Stick To Your Blog Turn passing visitors into loyal readers.
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Here are eight tried and tested methods that successful bloggers have used to get visitors to become regular readers, through subscribing to our RSS feed. 1. Offer a full feed RSS. RSS, also known as Really Simple Syndication, is becoming an increasingly popular way to read blogs and stay up to date on multiple news sources. If you offer a full feed RSS and do not cut off your posts (in your RSS feeds), you will definitely see your readership increase. You may have to sacrifice readers visiting your site to read an article, but the goal is to build readership for the long term, and of course, if they want to leave a comment, they will have to visit your blog anyway. 2. Use a highly visible RSS feed button. Make sure you have a BIG RSS button near the top of your site and also in your sidebar. If you need Feed Icons, check out this web site which has a downloadable package of customizable Feed icons. [http://www.feedicons.com/] 3. Include this magic sentence after each post. As soon as we modified our template to include the following sentence after each post, we saw our RSS subscribers go up significantly. The magic line is: “If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to our RSS Feed.” You can, of course, use a derivative of that, but any time someone finishes reading a post you wrote, that option will be presented directly in front of them.
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3. Install the “Related Posts” WordPress plugin. Any time someone finishes reading an article, what do they do? They either leave a comment, leave your site, or read another article. How do you get them to read another article? 4. Install the Related Articles plugin. we have it set to display seven other related posts readers might be interested in. As soon as we installed that plugin, we saw our P/V ratio (pageviews per visitor) go way up. 5. Ask questions. Asking your readers questions is a great way to interact with your community and show them you care what they think. You can do this a number of ways - respond to their comments with questions, ask questions at the end of a post, or even install a poll and ask them a question which will benefit you, such as, “What do you want to see more of on this blog?” 7. Be easily reachable. Encourage all of yours readers to contact you if they have questions, comments, suggestions, need help, or just want to chat. Try using the handy plugin called Comment Relish [http://www.justinshattuck.com/comment-relish/] to send an email to every new visitor who leaves a comment. In this email, you should include all of your instant messenger usernames and encourage them to contact you about anything. 8. Start a contest. Contests are a great way to give back to your readers and encourage community participation. Try to make the contests interesting and encourage people to talk about it.
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Encourage Bloggers To Link To You! Encourage other bloggers to syndicate your content for you both increasing your traďŹƒc and brand recognition.
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Who doesn’t want more links? Links mean more exposure for you and your blog. There is no better marketing than other people linking to your content. Every time we write a new blog post, we hope that people will not only read our information, but share it, as well. 1. Quality + Consistency + Linkbacks = Lots of Readers Getting linked by a more well-known blog, such as Problogger [http://www.problogger.com], helped propel our blog to a record number of of new readers. Of course, quality and consistency also helped increase our blog’s readership, but there is no question, receiving linkbacks on particular articles can turn into massive jumps in readerships for some blogs. So, the question becomes, what can we do to inspire other bloggers to link to us? Obviously, the most important way is to encourage more linkbacks is to write original and highly useful content. If a blogger finds your post original and useful, there is a much greater chance they will syndicate or share it. That being said, there are a few other tips and tricks to encourage other bloggers to link to your posts. we would like to share five simple ways to encourage other bloggers to link to your posts. 2. Link To Other Blogs. Simply put, what goes around, comes around. If you link to other bloggers, they will most likely notice and possibly link back to you in the future. we give out our link love in a series of posts called “Powerful Posts.” Most of the bloggers whom we link to usually have linked to me in the past or end up linking to me in the future. Now that we think about it, we have a difficult time recalling a blog that we have linked to that didn’t end up linking to me at some point before or after.
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3. Use the “Link To Me Textbox WordPress Plugin.” [http://www.jimwestergren.com/link-to-me-textbox-wordpess-plugin/] This plugin will set up a “link to me textbox” with HTML code in your blog posts and according to the author, will increase your search engine rankings. All someone has to do is copy and paste the HTML code to link to your article. 4. Thank the bloggers who already link to you. Whenever we receive a trackback, we try to thank every blogger. This act of gratitude is important because it shows that you already appreciate those who do link to you. Showing gratitude is of course a great way to encourage future relationships. 5. Introduce yourself to other bloggers. If you are a new blogger, introducing yourself to other bloggers can be a quick way to “get on the radar.” Getting on other bloggers’ radars is the first step to getting them to link to you. Of course, if you email a particular blogger, it is a good idea to include a link to one of your better posts. Several bloggers have sent emails to me introducing themselves and provided a link to one of their posts. Often it has resulted in our linking to one of their articles. 6. Feature the most recent trackback on the blog homepage. A trackback is a notification from one blog to the other - which shows that blog A linked to blog B. Essentially, it is a way that we can keep track of who is linking to our blogs. It is something that many established sites have been doing for a long time. Basically, these sites provide a link to the site that links to their site the most. Why? It encourages people to link to you. This is basically like an instant advertisement for any site that links to mine. This was implemented using the Get Recent Comments Plugin [http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/get-recent-comments/]
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Conclusion Receiving frequent linkbacks is vital to any new bloggerâ€™s success. If you think about it, a linkback is like a mini-testimonial to the content of your blog. The more testimonials to your site, the better it must be! As we mentioned before, the best way to encourage linkbacks is to consistently write original and highly useful content, but you might want to try some of the things we recommended above.
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Make Your Posts More Readable Communicate professionalism through strategically placed elements within your blog post.
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Have you ever skipped reading a particular blog post simply because it appeared to be too much information all clumped together? Making a post more readable means presenting it in a way that is easier for people to visually scan and process the information. Obviously, one of the primary goals of most bloggers is to get more people to read their articles. Unfortunately, many of their best articles may by skipped over just because they weren始t packaged the right way. In other words, even if someone writes a great article, people may not read it just because of the way it was presented. More often than not, the reason someone chooses NOT to read a given article is because of how it is viewed at first glance. The fact is, someone could write an article about growing grass and people would read it if it were packaged the right way. we am going to show you five proven ways to present your articles so as to make them more readable. 1. Break up your posts into smaller chunks. 2. Separate your posts into 3-4 main sections with bolded sub-headings. 3. Use numbered and bulleted lists. 4. Add quotes from other sources. 5. Use visually interesting pictures.
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At first glance, which of the following articles would you rather read, the one on the left or the one on the right?
They are the same article, but obviously, the one on the left is just a bunch of text while the one on the right is presented in a visually more appealing way, using the five techniques described above (and explained in detail below). Here is how to make your posts more readable: 1. Break up your posts into smaller chunks. No one wants to read big, unorganized chunk of information. People would rather digest information in smaller sections. we try to keep every paragraph we write to a maximum of 4-5 sentences and every blog post to under 500 words, with an average word count of 300-400. Why do you think newspapers use this very same standard? Most frequent Internet surfers scan information instead of reading every word, so by keeping each
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paragraph to a maximum of 4-5 sentences, you are making it visually and mentally easier for people to process what you have written. 2. Separate your posts into 3-4 main sections with bold headings. Just like breaking your paragraphs up into smaller chunks, titling and bolding the sub-headings of articles make it easier for your readers to understand the main themes of your article. Many A-List bloggers do this because it really does make articles that much easier to read. 3. Use numbered and bulleted lists. This is self-explanatory, but just using lists breaks up the rest of the article. Several ways to use lists in an article: • Provide a list of sources • Include several tips • Add a list of benefits 4. Add quotes from other sources. Using indented quotes is another way to break up the rest of the wordage on your post. A good quote only reinforces the main points of your article, as well. we read an interesting quote on a ProBlogger article quoted from Kenny Rogers, of all people. It is from the post The Kenny Rogers Guide to Getting People to Read Your Whole Posts. [http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/01/08/kenny-rogers-blogging/]: “The first word that comes out of your mouth helps people to decide whether to listen to the next word, which in turn helps them work out whether to listen to the next word, which helps them work out whether to listen to the next and so on and so (paraphrased).”
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5. Use visually interesting pictures. Pictures are a great way to not only break up your articles, but also make them more visually interesting as well. we try to design a little banner for every article we write. People have told me that it helps visually break up the blog better. Some of us process information more visually than by written word. A great place to find photos is the royalty-free and free stock photo site, StockXchange [http://www.sxc.hu/]. That is where we source all of our banner photos from. Conclusion By presenting your articles in a structured and visually interesting way, you are ensuring that more people will read your articles and hopefully subscribe to your RSS feed or bookmark your site. By far, the most important points to remember are to break up your article into several titled sections and keep each paragraph to a maximum of 4-5 sentences. Although these are all very simple tips, they may make a world of difference in subtly inviting people to read your whole posts.
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What Does Your Header Graphic Say About You? Grab the attention of your visitors through careful selection of your blog’s most prominent element - the header graphic. 25 www.uniqueblogdesigns.com © 2010 Unique Blog Designs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Most blog templates come with a photo for their header image. Many people change their header image for something they prefer or choose a photo they feel is symbolic of their blogʼs purpose. Header photos of cars have become quite popular since renowned “make money onlline” blogger, John Chow, used a picture of a red Corvette Z06. we would imagine that John chose the photo based on the fact he liked the car. Other than that, what else can a car say about you? …that you like cars? …that you travel in the fast lane? …that you aspire to great wealth? — the cars depicted are not jalopies!
When we first started our blog, we didnʼt put a lot of thought into the choice of header image. We have always liked cars and admired the success of John Chow, so we thought we would emulate his site, johnchow.com and use a car photo of our own. We chose the Aston Martin DB9 because it is a classy car that is not too extreme. We thought the car communicated a sense of power while the surrounding countryside represented tranquility. Other than these reasons, we didnʼt put much thought into what that photo said about me or our blog. Recently we decided to put more thought into the choice of header image, which has caused me to more define carefully the purpose of our blog and to decide exactly what we want the image to communicate. The photo we am using now reflects more accurately where we am at in life and what we seek to convey in our blog.
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Which Road Would You Take? As you can see in the header, there is a picture of two roads, a highway and an exit, separating to form two distinct paths. No one is present on the highway, which to me conveys freedom and mastery. The beautiful sky and terrain are inviting, suggesting limitless possibility. we feel like that is where we am at in life right now: more than any time previously, the master of our fate, cruising at a good speed down the road of progress; as always, there are different routes to take: one must choose carefully. we have heard the photo described as “evocative,” which means “to bring strong feelings to mind.” we agree that the photo has a kind of “dreamy” state to it; over the past several months, our life has often felt dreamlike. To me, this photo also says, “There is no one path to success.” Find Great Header Photos An excellent place to find great photography for headers is StockXchange [http://www.sxc.hu] That is where we source most of the photos for our blog. A great thing about StockXchange is that the photos are all royalty-free, meaning there is no cost to use the photos. They have an incredible collection of stock photos in high resolution. Tips on Choosing a Header 1. Express yourself with an original header. Thousands of people use the same header image. Do you want your blog to be confused with other, similar-looking blogs? we know that when we go to a blog that
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appears to be relatively unoriginal, our first reaction is that the blogger has nothing unique to say because s/he didnʼt make the effort to visually attract readers. If you donʼt know how to change your header photo, then ask someone to help you. It is actually VERY easy and can be done in as little as five minutes. 2. Use an eye-catching photo to capture attention. Remember, this is usually the first image people see when they get to your site. If it is not eye-catching, people may not even read your content because your site did not catch their attention. Donʼt settle - choose a GREAT photo! 3. Select your image for reasons other than you just like the photo. Photos communicate information on many levels. It is important to put serious thought into what your photo says about you. One of the first things we see when we visit a new blog is the header image, so doesnʼt it make sense to put serious thought into what it says about you? 4. Consider using a photo of yourself in your blog. There is a lot of power in putting a “face” to your blog. One key way of improving your blog stickiness is to make yourself more familiar. If readers see your face and read your writing more than twice, they will start to feel as if they know you. That is key when trying to build strong readership. When we added our photo to the top of our header, we noticed our subscriber count go up. Like we said, there is much power in becoming familiar to people; a photo of yourself helps accomplish that.
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Make Your Posts Even MORE Readable! Turn passing visitors into regular readers through careful and clever use of typography, layout and page structure.
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If you are trying to build traffic, it is important to focus on increasing the likelihood that a passing visitor will take the time to read the post based on its initial readability. Several factors come into play to make your articles more readable. The goal is to inspire visitors to read your articles. Make your font size readable. We were guilty once of using a 9pt font on our blog - and most new visitors to our blog either enlarged the text or simply left. Don始t take that chance. Use at least an 11pt size font for your main body text. Additionally, by using a line-height of 1.5, you are making your posts easier to visually digest, as each line is separated a little bit more. Make sure the background contrasts with the body text. Far too often we see a blog with clashing color combinations. Stick to dark text on a white background or white text on a dark background. A new trend among blogs is to use a body text font-color that is a dark gray instead of black. we think a darker gray instead of black makes the text easier on the eyes. Aspire to make your spelling and grammar perfect. Spelling and grammar are often overlooked in the blogosphere. Everything we do, no matter how small, is a statement about ourselves, take the time to ensure that your spelling and grammar are as perfect as you can make them. You are thereby going one step further at conveying professionalism. Make sure your post frequency is aligned with your post length. Too often, we see posts that are either too short or too long for the blogger始s posting frequency. There is nothing wrong with either - if you already have a large, dedicated readership, then do what works. For some people, like Maki from Dosh Dosh
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[http://www.doshdosh.com], his readers have come to expect lengthy, detailed write-ups. Other people, like Shoemoney, get away with more frequent, shorter posts. Since we are somewhere in between them concerning posting frequency, we like to post articles that are not super-lengthy, but not super-short. The rule to remember is that if you post more often (multiple times per day), then make your posts shorter, but if you post only a few times a week, your readers will appreciate lengthier and more detailed write-ups. Our average word count for each post is 400-600 words. Write a compelling introductory paragraph in a larger font. You might have noticed that magazines typically use a larger font size for the first paragraph and then transition to the normal-sized font. we adopted this technique earlier this month and it seems that we am getting more comments, which could indicate more people reading the articles. Of course, the idea behind this is to lure the readers in with the more readable larger font. A Blog Should Be Like a Mini Magazine Our blogs are like mini-magazines and we should make them resemble how magazines are designed. Making your posts more readable is not difficult to do, and it could well lead to a substantial increase in readership.
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CONCLUSION Thank you for for taking the time to read this guide. We hope that it will aid you in your quest to become a better blogger. If you are looking to get started with your blog, please contact us via email or telephone. We look forward to helping you achieve your blogging goals!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.uniqueblogdesigns.com
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