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Blogging Guide

Examples of Custom WordPress Themes

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To give you a sense of all the different kinds of blog themes that are possible, we have hand-selected five of the top blogs from the Internet and are now showcasing their respective themes. As far as we can tell, all five of these sites make use of custom themes and while they may or may not all be powered by WordPress, such layouts and styles are achievable using a WordPress framework.

MEGATechNews: Focused on Reviews

As a technology site, MEGATechNews is inherently catering to people who are perhaps more tech-savvy than the average consumer. These are people who want to know about all the latest news and happenings in the technology world, but they also want comprehensive reviews of these products to help with their purchasing decisions.

For this site, the design allows for a series of featured articles to scroll near the top of the content area, but there are six substantial boxes located beneath that area to highlight the “MegaTech Reviews.” These are the product reviews that serve as the focal point for the site. Below that, readers can look for the latest news and find the latest videos in the sidebar. The theme has also been optimized for advertising, since it is a commercial property with a goal of turning a profit.

The theme is relatively “clean”, but it is robust enough to offer a range of content and enough advertising opportunity as a revenue source.

John Chow dot Com: Two Themes, One Blog

John Chow is perhaps best known online as the “dot com mogul” who makes money online. He has made a name for himself not only as a professional blogger, but also as an affiliate marketer and Internet entrepreneur. He also has two different sets of audiences to consider and that’s why he fundamentally has two themes within the same blog.

On the main John Chow dot Com site, you find a magazine style layout where John is able to show featured articles near the top. Perhaps just as importantly is the slot below that for his “Dot Com Lifestyle” video. This main site caters primarily to people who are new to John’s site and this gives them the best overview of what they can expect from his blog.

If you go to JohnChow.com/blog, however, you’ll find a much more standard reverse chronological configuration for his site. The header, sidebar, and footer areas stay the same, but the style for the content area is more standard. That’s because the “blog” subsection caters more to regular readers and people who are already familiar with Chow and what he does. They don’t need the “overview” or “introduction” that the magazine style aims to achieve.

XKCD: Simplicity of a Webcomic

XKCD is a popular webcomic that is said to offer “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Its aesthetic style is very simple, as the webcomic itself only involves stick figures and speech bubbles. Thsi simplistic style lends itself to a simplistic site layout as well.

The main site for XKCD is single column and displays today’s webcomic. Above and below the webcomic are links for navigating to previous, next, and random webcomics found in the XKCD archives. This simplified interface is perfect for a webcomic that is itself quite simplified. XKCD also has a blog (“blag”), but they are only using the default theme for WordPress. Once again, this speaks to the simplicity that the author is trying to portray for his webcomic.

Joystiq: Consoles, Media, and Networks

A part of the Weblogs, Inc. network owned by AOL, Joystiq aims to combine several key elements into a single blog theme. Since it is a blog that is dedicated to video games, the theme includes a series of icons next to the main logo that indicate each of the major video game consoles.

This is important, because someone who owns an Xbox 360 may not necessarily be interested in news and rumors surrounding products for the PlayStation 3. The site is also highly optimized for advertising and multimedia, both of which are integral to its overall success. The main content takes on a largely conventional reverse chronological design, but the footer lends itself to promoting other blogs in the Weblogs, Inc. network, including Engadget, Autoblog, and Urlesque.

You’ll also notice that the choice of fonts, color scheme, and other features lends itself to a great deal of branding on the Joystiq site. This is important, because the blog needs to set itself apart from the countless other blogs that also write about the video game industry.

Huffington Post: The Internet Newspaper

Calling itself “The Internet Newspaper,” the Huffington Post is essentially “just a blog,” but it has the same kind of stature, reach, and respectability of a conventional newspaper. It presents itself with this same level of professionalism and polish, borrowing elements from some of its larger, corporate counterparts.

The main page for the Huffington Post, for example, features one very large image toward the top of the page, just below the navigational links for different cities and site sections. This is not unlike the front page story that you might find on a newspaper, clearly featured above the fold and designed to draw you deeper into the newspaper. It’s meant to be a selling point and the one that catches your eye before anything else.

Every blog post in the left-most column before this clearly has its “section” highlighted too, just as you would find in the different sections of a conventional newspaper, whether it be world, entertainment, or business. The other two columns are more image-heavy, as multimedia is much more important in the Internet-based arena. The site reads like a newspaper, but for the modern age.

Completely Different Designs for Completely Different Sites

Every blog is different and every blog should be different. If you want to give your blog the best possible chance for success, you really do want to invest in a custom blog theme that best suits your type of content, the “brand” that you want to portray, and the preferences you have that would provide for the best experience given your target audience. These five examples are a good launching point for you to ponder these considerations.

This blog post is part of the BloggingTips.com Complete Guide to Blogging. Be sure to visit our Blogging Guide for the full break down of all chapters and posts in this series.

Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Blogging Guide

How to Set Up Landing Page and Sales Process on Blog

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how to set up landing page and sales process on blog

Wondering why your blog doesn’t seem to rake in the amount of revenue you want?

Well, if you haven’t whipped up an exceptional landing page for your blog, you shouldn’t expect too much.

Creating high-converting landing pages, after all, is how you can get your target audience to pay attention.

In this article, let’s learn how to set up landing pages that will turn your visitors into subscribers then into paying customers.

In the end, you’ll know how to complete the sales process of your blog. And once that’s taken care of, you could sell a product or service or monetize your blog however you want!

Understand the important types of landing pages

Landing pages are sometimes called lead capture pages and destination pages. It’s up to you to call them whatever you want because the name matters less. It’s what they can do that you should focus on.

What they can do is this:

Appear as a result of search engine optimization to increase conversion rates and sales.

In simple terms, they have the power to help every online business inch closer toward success.

Of more than ten types of landing pages, you need at least two types.

A squeeze page is the first one that you need.

As its name suggests, its purpose is to “squeeze” an email address from a visitor so he becomes a subscriber. If you look past this basic purpose, you’ll notice that you can use it to do more.

Apart from simply handing out their email addresses, an A+ squeeze page pats visitors on the back, too. Then it tells them why it’s an awesome idea to share their personal information.

The second is a sales page.

Its main purpose? Secure the sale of your product.

So if you want nothing more than to attract people to your product, craft a great sales page.

Install tools

To get the ball rolling, you need a landing page builder to help you create landing pages. Your options include LeadPages and GetResponse.

Not only can you easily set up landing pages with this tool, but it also supports useful features. It offers mobile-responsive pages and streamlined analytics dashboards.

But while this tool is a winner, creating landing pages is only a part of the equation. So other than a landing page builder, you also need a tool for email marketing and marketing automation like Drip.

drip

Drip helps you grow your email list. It does this by automating email marketing campaigns. With its help, you can just sit back and relax as it takes care of matters automatically.

Create a connection

Are you part of the 20% of businesses without an effective strategy? If so, it’s time to change that.

For potential customers to go home with your product, you can’t just come up to them and tell them upfront to buy your product. If you’re often this rash, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise to you if you’re not winning customers over.

Well, technically, you can approach them directly. But that is a tactless approach. And it won’t fly and won’t get you the results you want.

So do the opposite of going the easy way out. And that’s by turning to how modern sales funnels do their magic.

You need to build a solid connection with potential customers beforehand. And it’s up to you to build them up first, which means you have to put some value on the table.

Once they can easily see something of value for them, getting them to see value in your product will come easy.

Give something valuable in return

You shouldn’t just let your visitors subscribe to your email list and leave them to walk away with nothing. It won’t get them anywhere. Nor will it do anything in your favor

Instead, use the opportunity to your advantage. It’s at this stage where you can communicate with them and offer them something in return.

If you want a golden piece of advice on how to communicate effectively, understand the customer value proposition. Listen to them and find out what it is that they want. Then give it to them — plain and simple.

If it’s what they want, you could reward them with exclusive content or an ebook. How you play this out is up to you. As long as you provide them with something of value.

Conclusion

Don’t set aside the need to craft landing pages that are nothing short of exceptional.

As Neil Patel puts it, high-converting landing pages can be the foundation of a successful online business.

While they may just be single web pages, make no mistake: they contribute a significant value that will help your blog gear up for its highest potential.

For your efforts to increase conversion rates and sell products through your blog to work, these pages hold the key. How you create and set them up puts a dent on your blog’s overall performance.

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Blogging Guide

How to Create a Landing Page that Converts with Spark CMS [Step-by-Step Guide + Tips]

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spark cms homepage

A landing page is one of the critical pages to have on your blog. It’s what helps you grow your email list and get your visitors to buy the products and services you’re promoting.

Yet, it may surprise you how many bloggers—and even professional marketers—don’t maximize landing pages. In fact, according to the 2nd edition of Marketing Sherpa’s Landing Page Handbook, 44% of B2B businesses direct their leads to their website’s homepage instead of a dedicated landing page. Another 62% of them have less than 6 landing pages on their website!

Why the disconnect?

As it turns out, the reason even though brands and bloggers don’t utilize landing pages despite recognizing its importance lies in the fact that they find the process of creating a landing page intimidating.

The good news is that those days are long gone. There are now lots of companies that’ll allow you to create a landing page in minutes without even knowing a single string of code. One such company is  Spark CMS.

What is Spark CMS?

Spark CMS was created to solve a fundamental problem that many bloggers face: having a blog that’ll wow their readers, give them all the features they need to make money from it, and not have to spend a fortune.

If you’re dead serious about making money from your blog, you got to invest money to make that happen., that amount can set you back as much as $245 in your first three months!

Spark CMS is a self-hosting content management system. That means it doesn’t just help you create landing pages. You can also have a self-hosted blog with a stunning theme and a custom domain and even integrate a host of other features.

Why should bloggers use Spark CMS for their landing pages?

Easy landing page customization

This video below shows you just how easy it is to create a landing page on Spark’s CMS.

Quick integration

Spark’s landing pages integrates with the most used blogging tools and apps like Google Analytics, Facebook, Drift, and other with just one click.

They are optimized for search engines

In addition to being mobile-friendly, Spark’s user-friendly interface helps you optimize your landing page so that the keywords you want to rank to appear in the right places. That way, your landing page will rank higher than those belonging to other bloggers.

Ultra-fast loading speeds

How fast your landing page loads can affect its ability to convert and your blog’s bounce rate.

You need to make sure that your landing page should load within 2.4 seconds. Otherwise, it’ll decrease its ability to convert your readers by as much as 68.42%!

Steps to create a landing page using Spark CMS

Step #1: Be clear about your goals

Before you create your landing page, you need to have a specific and concrete goal that you want to achieve. Without this, you have no way of knowing whether it’s giving you the results you expect.

Ask yourself why you are creating this landing page. Is it to grow your email list and send them a follow up email to get the balls rolling? Or perhaps you’re doing some affiliate marketing, and you’re looking for a way to make more money? Maybe you’re a freelancer, and you’re trying to get more clients?

Your answer will give you a clearer idea not only of how your landing page should look like but also the different elements you’ll include here.

Step #2: Choose a template

The next step is to choose the right landing page template to help you meet the goals you set.

Most landing page builders and CMS platforms list their templates based on their designs. Spark CMS categorizes its templates based on their functionality.

spark cms templates

By doing this, they not only make it easier for you to find a template design that you like, but you’re also sure that it’s got all the elements needed to make it effective.

Step #3: Tweak the template to match your branding

One of the most critical landing page creation best practices to remember is that it should give your visitors the same look and feel that they’d get if they visit any other page of your website.

If the landing page your create looks very different from the rest of your website, your visitors may feel lost and wonder if they perhaps went to a different site altogether.

You can make sure that doesn’t happen by tweaking the landing page template you’ve chosen to use the “Elements” feature in the Spark CMS dashboard.

polygon

Here, you can change the colors on the landing page template so it matches your brand colors. This is also where you can add your logo to your landing page and change the font to match the one on your website.

Step #4: Write an eye-catching headline

Your headline’s the most crucial part of your landing page. It’s so vital that legendary David Ogilvy once said that your headline’s worth 80 cents of every dollar you invest in your copy.

The reason’s simple: your headline’s the first thing that your visitors see when they search on Google.

google serps

No matter how amazing your landing page looks, if your headline doesn’t catch the attention of your target market as they scroll through the search results page, you won’t convert them into leads, much less into customers.

One practical tip to make your headlines more eye-catching is to use words that trigger your target market’s emotions, those that’ll touch their pain points.

There are two reasons that a person will take action: loss aversion and gaining pleasure. Of the two, the desire not to lose something is stronger. One study shows that feelings of loss are 2x stronger than feelings of happiness. As a result, when you give your target audience a solution for this, they’re more likely to click and visit your landing page.

Step #5: Focus your ad copy on your target readers

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers and marketers make when writing the copy of their landing page is that they focus too much on them and their offer.

The problem here is that’ll be visiting your landing page don’t care about any of that. They only care about answering one thing: “What’s in it for me?”

It’s true!

Visitors to your landing page are searching for a solution to their problem. So if you want to get them to convert, you got to answer this question right at the beginning of your landing page’s copy.  An effective copywriting technique to use is to follow the Inverted Pyramid model.

Initially used by journalists and reporters, the Inverted Pyramid model immediately lays out to your landing page’s visitor the answer to their question. This is then followed by details to support and justify your answer.

The reason this works is that the attention span of people is short when they’re online. By giving the essential information at the beginning, they’ll be compelled to either read the rest of your copy or make a beeline for your landing page’s call-to-action button.

Professional Wingman’s landing page is an excellent example.

professional wingman

Source

Notice how everything you need to know about the service and the CTA button is right in front of their visitors the moment the landing page loads. Even if they don’t read the whole thing, they’ve read enough to convince them to click the CTA button conveniently provided.

Step #6: Create your opt-in form

This is a relatively easy step to do because all of Spark’s landing page templates come with a pre-designed opt-in form that you can quickly customize.

polygon page builder

The challenge is knowing how much of your visitors’ personal information will you ask on the form.

On the one hand, your visitors should find the amount of information you’re asking is justified by what you’re offering. If you’re asking too much, they’ll not fill out the form altogether.

At the same time, you need to get the information you must help you convert them into paying customers.

To find that balance, you must understand what buyer’s journey stage your landing page belongs. As a rule of thumb, the further into your buyer’s journey, the more justifiable it is to ask for more information.

For example, if you’re creating a landing page that falls in the Awareness stage, a simple opt-in form asking for your visitor’s name and email address would be enough. There’s also this need to use an email verification tool for confirming the emails.

On the other hand, asking for your visitor’s phone number is understandable to them if your landing page offering is a scheduled demo or consultation, which usually happens in the Decision stage.

Step #6: Add a compelling CTA

Next to your headline, your call-to-action is the most vital element of your landing page. It’s that final step that’ll turn your visitors into either a lead or a customer.

Two critical elements go into a compelling CTA:

The first is the text. A compelling CTA should include action words so it prompts your visitors to take the right action. Your CTA’s text should tell your visitors what they’ll be getting when they click it.

The second is its location. Most bloggers and marketers would only add the CTA on the bottom of their landing page’s copy. While that will convert some visitors, not all of them will have the time nor the patience to read everything.

That’s why it’s essential to include a CTA on the upper third of your landing page. This is what they call “above the fold.” This is the first thing that loads on your visitor’s screen the moment they arrive on your landing page.

Combined with the right copy, your visitors won’t feel the need to scroll to the bottom to learn more or to sign up.

Step #7: Test your landing page before publishing

Although you may be excited about launching your landing page, there’s just one last step you must do, and that’s to test its effectiveness.

Most bloggers skip this part because they don’t know how to do it. Marketers do the same because it’s downright tedious.

Spark CMS’ dashboard has an A/B testing tool that’ll allow you to test each section of your landing page to get the most from it the moment it goes live.

Also, as you can see in the short clip below, it’s straightforward. Just click on the section you want to test, fill in the details, and Spark will do the rest for you.

spark cms 2

Spark CMS makes it easy to create a landing page that converts

Landing pages have now become an integral part of any blog or website. Spark CMS’ platform is a cost-effective and convenient way for professional bloggers and online business owners create a landing page that looks professional and reflects your brand.

However, it’s not enough to have a professional-looking landing page. You also must hone your copywriting skills so you can capture the attention of your target audience and get them to keep reading. Only then can you get them to take action and convert.

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Blogging Guide

How to Develop a Customer Experience Strategy with Your Blog

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Customer Experience Strategy

Customer experience or CX is about the interactions between your company and customers.

These interactions include the moment he navigates your website for the first time and when he buys your product.

If you think giving importance to customer experience won’t make a big difference in your business’ success, think again.

CX is vital to the growth of your business. Feedback from 10,000 consumers shows that customer loyalty levels change based on customer experience.

Therefore, you’ll learn how to develop a customer experience strategy with your blog in this post.

This way, you can turn fairweather site visitors into rabid and loyal customers.

Write a clear About Us page

A brilliant customer experience strategy should start with a clear customer-centric vision.

A part of this is about finding out what your customer wants. And the other part is about creating statements that will serve as guiding principles for him.

For this, turn to the About Us page on your blog.

There, introduce your company and share your vision. Remember to always be clear with your message to avoid misinterpretations.

By writing your core values on your About Us page, readers have tempered expectations on what you publish on your blog.

With every post, they start to understand and familiarize themselves with your company.

To get your creative juices flowing, check out these awesome About Us pages from different brands.

Determine a customer avatar for your blog

Creating a persona helps your customers identify with the person they’re dealing with.

It’s one of the best ways to connect and empathize with each of them.

With a carefully-chosen avatar, you have a clear idea of how to help your target audience from your blog.

You’re also doing something to overcome the different customer misconceptions.

To guide you in the process, here’s what you need to do:

  • Do your research – Find out what characteristics you want your customer avatar to have. Give it depth and purpose
  • Take note of negative personas – Determine the type of people that you don’t want to attract
  • Use a spreadsheet to track the results – List down the results of your research so you can narrow them down easily

Get readers to care about your content

Conducting keyword research or using the right search phrases into your content is the way to go.

By writing about topics that people search for in your niche, you fill in a gap that helps these people improve their lives.

Think about it:

Readers are already on the lookout for certain pieces of content. What the keyword research process will do is to help bring your content to them!

To achieve desirable results, you should use keyword research tools like Ahrefs.

You should also consider leaning towards the use of long-tail keywords because of less competition.

On top of that, remember these things as well:

  • Write unique and updated content – Compared to older content, the newer posts are much more useful for readers and are therefore prioritized by Google on search results
  • Consider questions – Think of how people would turn to Google to ask questions in a natural manner. For example, “how do I increase sales for my product” sounds like something a person would say than “sale increase guide.”
  • Variations matter – The search terms “music file” and “audio file,” for instance, may not be too different. But one receives more keyword hits than the other

Find ways to capture feedback

Interacting with your customers is simple.

It’s also a smart approach to know if you’re delivering customer satisfaction.

So if you head to your blog’s comments section, you can gain actionable insights from what they are saying.

Aside from referring to the comments section, a live chat system or chatbot will help you get useful customer feedback.

customer experience strategy - chatbot

It keeps people engaged and it helps them keep in touch with your brand from your blog.

Some of the tools that you can use are as follows.

Track and measure results

Find out if your customer experience strategy is working.

To get around to it, you should use NPS or Net Promoter Score.

net promoter score

It presents valuable information that can help you measure the effectiveness of your approaches.

It uses a very straightforward question about whether a customer recommends your company to a peer.

If he does and gives your company a high score, you’re in for some good news: your strategy is working!

Conclusion

A winning customer experience raises customer loyalty levels and lets you herd in loyal customers.

And it also gives your company a competitive advantage and significantly drives up revenue!

Therefore, don’t set aside the importance of a great strategy.

If you want to follow the lead of many successful marketers, you should also invest in customer experience.

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