Attempting to design ten blogs in five days has focussed my attention on the importance of a killer tag line. Successful blogging made simple, the Upstart Blogger tag line, immediately gives the viewer a clear idea of what to expect. And that’s what a good tag line does, it prepares the ground and invites potential readers, potential subscribers and potential customers to take that all important step towards a relationship with you, the blogger.
To create a killer tag line start by attempting to sum up your blog in one line.
Next, consider adding action words to your line, the words that make your potential readers sit up and take notice. Look again at the Upstart Blogger tag line. The words that peak the interest in that line are ‘successful’ and ‘simple’. The word ‘blogging’ simply descirbes the niche.
The trick is to make sure that your tag line entices people whilst at the same time giving them an honest and factual description.
If you can provide a hook that you know will be irresistible to your target audience, so much the better.
In writing a tag line for my personal blog, Brass Revolver, one of the ten blogs I’m designing this week, I added what I believe will be such an irresistible hook, a hook that I’m sure will make my target audience smile and want to visit my blog.
Here’s the tag line, I’ll explain why I think the hook works after the quote.
This is Brass Revolver, a blog by Ashley Morgan about jazz, trumpets, the music industry, photography, blogging, Apple, technology, culture and anything else that belongs under the heading of ‘what a professional trumpet player really does to make a decent living’.
The information is hopefully clear, the tag line states that the blog is personal in nature and is authored by a professional trumpet player. The hook is the phrase at the end.
‘what a professional trumpet player really does to make a decent living’.
Professional musicians are always interested in how other professional musicians make money. This is something I know from personal experience. I make a respectable amount of money from blogging. An amount that many musicians can only dream of. That’s not meant to be arrogance, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t come across that way, it’s just a fact. Many musicians struggle to make a good living, indeed, I used to struggle. And it sucked! If someone had shown me that tag line when I was in my early twenties, hustling for gigs, trying to make ends meet, I would have wanted to know more.
More than that, I would have wanted to know who wrote the line and how I could connect with them.
That’s the recipe for a killer tag line. Find the hook that appeals to your audience, add descriptive facts and arrange in a single sentence.
Blog design is important, very important. And one of the most prominent components in any blog design is the choice of typeface. Get it right and your readers smile and grow in number. Get it wrong and they reach for the close button, their eyes watering and their heads aching.
If you have a text only blog, with no major graphical design components, like Upstart Blogger, then your choice of fonts is partly limited by your audience.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the conventional tried and tested typefaces that wandered blearily onto the web all those years ago.
I won’t bore you with all the psycho-babble about which fonts portray you as cool, which portray you as business minded and all that other nonsense that keeps all those ‘top ten fonts you must have’ lists spinning around the blogosphere. Choosing a typeface for your blog must be your decision. And to make that choice you simply need to know what fonts are available, choose the one that suits you, choose a couple of others for your style sheet to fall back on just in case some of your audience doesn’t have your first choice installed, and away you go.
For instance, the Upstart Blogger font stack specifies Hoefler Text, followed by Georgia, followed simply by Serif to make sure the text gets displayed no matter what. It’s a simple arrangement that allows me to specify a gorgeous but relatively rare font, since it is only standard on Mac, to begin with, followed by a font that is available on Mac, Windows and Linux, and then, just in case, whatever generic serif the system has knocking around.
Other good serif fonts that stand a good chance of being seen are Palatino (known as Palatino Linotype on Windows) and Times New Roman. For the more esoteric option take a look at Miller Text, Adobe Caslon Pro or my personal choice, Hoefler Text.
If sans serif is more your thing then don’t, whatever you do, specify Arial. It’s a nasty, cheap knockoff of Helvetica. Thankfully there are plenty of sans serif fonts to choose from. At the high end consider Myriad Pro, which is installed on a lot of systems along with most Adobe software, including Acrobat Reader. It’s a beautifully cool, in the literal sense of the word, typeface. From there you can go to Gill Sans, Optima and Lucida Grande. A trio of fonts that could happily grace the most stylish of blogs. For a more Swiss style consider Helvetica. The only reason I don’t include this in my front line of sans serif typefaces is that the default Windows alternative to Helvetica is Arial, and you know how I feel about that. And then, if all else fails, you’ll still find Geneva and Verdana on most operating systems, before you land at the bottom of the pile in the mongrel kennel with Arial and Trebuchet MS.
Of course, there will be other fonts available on different installations. You just have to make a choice that allows you to deliver your chosen style to as many screens as possible whilst making sure all the other screens still enjoy your blog, even if they don’t have your first choice of typeface.
If you have graphical text, perhaps adorning a photographic header, then the sky is the limit and you can choose whatever typeface you wish. And the only advice I will give you here is to always choose quality. Don’t waste your time with freebies or knock offs, and of course, don’t use Arial. But you know that already, right?
I’ll leave you with a number of font foundries that should be in your bookmarks for easy access whenever you need a typeface. This list is by no means exhaustive, and feel free to add to it in the comments, but all of these foundries are high quality.
In no particular order, and with no superfluous descriptions, Emigre, Font Bureau, Porchez (currently open in my browser with one very beautiful typeface being charged to my credit card ready for use in around half of the ten blogs I’m working on), Underware, House Industries and Joshua Darden.
Aim high, go for quality and your blog will shine.
‘Good morning. Lovely day isn’t it.’
Damn, I thought. Damn! Damn! Damn!
When Audrey and I passed the frisky red spaniel this morning he was accompanied by an incredibly huge and rather frightening young man with a cleft chin and slicked-back hair. As they passed by I was tempted to form the immediate assumption that the proliferation of tattoos covering the man’s forearms was to make up for the fact that he did not have a neck.
He had on a tiny black t-shirt with the letters FBI on the back in white; it was so tight on him that it looked as if it were meant for a child: perhaps, on a recent holiday to America, he had stolen it from an adolescent, trainee federal agent.
His limbs bulged as if they were about to burst. I was so taken aback I think I actually broke wind. ‘Is there a circus in town?’ I whispered to Audrey when he was out of earshot.
On returning to the house I took a minute to sit down and clear my head before starting work. I had made myself a milky coffee and watched a programme on the television about clowns.
I have my work cut out for me this week designing ten new blogs. Yes, ten new blogs. My music and personal domains have been under developed for too long and it’s time to get them up and running. And, if that’s not enough work, I have taken on the responsibility of designing personal blogs for a handful of colleagues and friends.
It’s going to be a busy week, an extremely busy week, but if all goes to plan the combined traffic could be quite formidable, and maybe, just maybe, form the foundation for the blog network that has been on and off the Upstart Blogger drawing board for almost a year now.
All of this work will take place behind the scenes while I attempt to maintain my usual blogging schedule.
Before I fire up Photoshop and get an early Sunday evening start to the week, I have a couple of quick news announcements to get out of the way. Firstly, the blogger interviews are still being arranged. If you are on the list you will be contacted very soon. Secondly, Google made some Page Rank updates over the weekend and Upstart Blogger is still displaying a big fat seven. I had hoped for an eight but the gap between seven and eight is, according to a few searches, a pretty big one. Thirdly, a continued thank you to everyone who is helping me with the new Upstart Blogger design, the official thank you post, complete with gratuity links, will be posted once all the tiny errors have been polished away.
Ok, it’s time to get cracking. But first I’m going to have a quick search for a couple of identity fonts. In particular I’m looking for a serif that has bags of character whilst retaining an air of professionalism. If there are any typophiles out there, closet or otherwise, please add your opinions in a comment below.
I tried to take a day off yesterday but ended up being busier than usual.
The thing is, I cannot actually remember doing anything terribly useful; nor can I report that I achieved anything even remotely significant throughout the entire day – despite the fact that I was constantly occupied. My days of rest always seem to turn out this way.
I won’t bore you with the details; suffice it to say that the whole thing started at 8:am when, glancing around the lounge, I told Audrey: ‘Let’s tidy up.’
Our ‘lounge’ is used for storage and is mostly a collection of clutter, a frighteningly confused room that usually looks perfectly set for a chaos gymkhana. I have often thought of inviting the underprivileged children of the parish to the house and charging them fifty pence each to abandon their cares for an afternoon and root frivolously around in the Lawrence Festival of Mess.
That and various other pointless and trivial tasks took up about fifteen hours – fifteen mindless hours spent indoors on what turned out to be a gorgeously sunny September day in rural Englandshire.
Audrey did get her favourite walk around Townend Farm, and I did try to sit down for a few minutes now and again, but generally speaking, the arc of my attempted relaxation formed a singularly swift and very steep downwards parabola.
At 11:pm, feeling somehow defrauded and more tired than usual, I allowed myself a tender sigh before turning out the lights, climbing the stairs with my hairy friend, and burrowing like a homing rodent beneath the downy folds of my king-size continental quilt.
Last night I dreamed my eyes had moved closer together. This upset me so much I had to avoid looking in the mirror while I was shaving, and now my lips are covered in razor cuts.
A few weeks ago one of my hands fell off in a dream; and during the spring I had a recurring nightmare that I had women’s legs – vaguely alluring in an autoerotic sort of way, but disturbing nonetheless.
This situation cannot continue; it is beginning to make demands of my good humour. Time to consult my local MP, methinks.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to keep my tongue between my teeth. Although I’ve successfully persuaded many of my friends and colleagues to start blogs there are still plenty who steadfastly refuse to join the party. The ones who have started blogging are happily promoting their careers, making money directly and indirectly, developing their online skills and generally profiting in many ways from their blogs.
Unsurprisingly, those who haven’t started blogs haven’t made any money online.
So what’s stopping them, and, if you’re not making money online, what’s stopping you?
The two most common reasons given by those who refuse to believe that blogging is potentially the path to the end of the rainbow are lack of time and, oddly, lack of money.
I’ll squash those two straight away. You can happily run a blog with only one hour a day at your disposal and the only cost involved is hosting. The hosting I recommend, and use myself, costs only $6.95 per month and, if you use the coupon code UPSTARTBLOGGER, the first three months are free. That includes a free domain name for life and more extras than anyone will ever need.
Maybe they are not sure what to write about. The answer is simple. Write about anything as long as it is of interest to both the reader and the writer.
Still stuck for a topic? Write about yourself and make it interesting.
The crazy thing is that these people, the friends and colleagues who won’t jump on board, are watching me make thousands of extra dollars per month whilst still maintaining my original career.
I don’t wish to sound critical of these people but it’s just so frustrating. With the world economy going down the drain I don’t think there is anyone who would, or could, frankly, turn down the opportunity to earn extra money but I know there are people reading this blog right now, who still think that blogging isn’t for them.
That’s where I’m left scratching my head. Why aren’t these people, who are intelligent, articulate and interesting individuals, grabbing the bull by the horns?
And if you’re not blogging, or are maybe considering taking the plunge but holding back, what’s stopping you?