Recently, I wrote about several aspects of blogging in “How to get started blogging.” Here I want to talk a little more about one of those aspects: How to choose the best blog environment for your purposes.
All blog systems have themes, but all roads don’t lead to Rome
The saying “all roads leading to Rome” meant that any road you jumped on would take you to the center of the ancient city because all roads wound up there.
In the blogging world, if Rome symbolizes a blog that looks and acts the way you want it to — but not just any road will get you there. You have to make some important decisions.
Assuming you don’t want to build your blog site from scratch (as if most of us know how to do that!), you’ll need to find a content management system or CMS that will fit your needs. Within whatever CMS you go with, you’ll find a lot — or a whole lot — of themes, which are essentially predesigned templates (think “websites”) within which you can build your blog.
I’ll talk about the WordPress system here, but most other blogging platforms offer similar features. The main feature we’re interested in right now is the visual appearance that will best present what you have to say and brand you in a way that makes sense to people who visit.
How should a blog look?
You can go crazy trying to select a theme. WordPress offers more than 1,000 of them. Some themes are elaborate, and others are tragically simple. You’ll find themes with from one to four columns.
You can choose a theme with a large header where you can place a photo or a pre-created banner or logo. Other themes have no header, just a place for your name or the name of your company.
Every color scheme imaginable will pass before your eyes as you peruse theme offerings. That pink and black one would be nice — if you’re Avril Lavigne. There’s an ominous theme that’s almost all black and full of weird design graphics — perfect for an Edgar Allen Poe tribute site.
But you’re an agent, so you’ll want to avoid themes that are too flashy or emotional.
For a professional engaged in a service business, the best blog appearance is one that doesn’t distract readers from the central message.
There’s no need to present yourself in a stripped-down, bare-bones environment. But at the same time, you want to avoid emotionally charged themes that create distraction for readers.
First impressions mean everything
Just like your website, your blog site is your calling card. It’s your first impression, the initial meeting, the place where potential clients come to see what you’re all about. That virtual first impression is every bit as crucial as the real first impression you make when you meet a client.
An initial trip through the WordPress theme catalog will reveal a diverse selection. You can view themes in categories by selecting Featured, Popular or Latest.
You can also open up an extensive filter menu that lets you preview themes with specifics on colors, sidebar placement, custom backgrounds, fixed or fluid layout and plenty more.
Err on the side of conservative
Because there’s no way I can tell you what specific CMS theme you should use, it’s up to you to select the style that you believe best represents your real estate business. Just remember: your blog is a professional place in a field where people spend large amounts of money and aren’t swayed by frills or attracted to overly complex theme arrangements.
Also, remember that the point of your blog is to share information and generate more business — not to entertain the masses with tricky design and tedious navigation. For this reason, it’s probably best to aim for something on the conservative side.
Here are four attractive WordPress blog theme examples that might work well for you:
At the end of the day, it’s your blog, and it’s your choice how you want it to look. Selecting the best theme for you shouldn’t be hard if you focus on a professional purpose rather than extravagance for the sake of extravagance.
Hadar Guibara is a Realtor with Sereno Group of Palo Alto, California. Her blog site is SiliconValleyHomesAndLiving.com.