I’m an honest person. You have stank breath? I’ll let you know. Is your underwear tucked into your skirt? I’ll tell you that too. Did I eat that entire jar of cookie butter on my own? Why yes, it was delicious, it went great with that Sparkling Rose you bought, and Grey’s Anatomy.
My honesty has gotten me into trouble on multiple occasions, yet I consider it one of my best qualities…I’m like Ned Stark with my head still on or Jon Snow without all those ugly stab wounds. Actually, they aren’t ugly. He still manages to look good with them….I mean they do sort of accentuate his abs.
Anyway reader, I tell you this because I want you to know that I’m not being humble when I say that I have no idea how to run a good blog. None. Nada. Zilch. They say that anyone can start a blog; Bob the Builder, Jenny from the Block, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And this may be true; starting a blog is easy enough. You enter a few details about yourself, you come up with an unique name (or an average name followed by 45712345321….) and then hit enter. BAM! You’re in; you’re officially a blogger. But does this make you a good blogger? Probably not.
You see, blogging takes more than just typing out your daily woes or creating a recipe. You’ve got to consider how things look, how they sound, how the elements on the page fit together in relationship to one another, etc etc etc. Sound boring? It would be if I continued to rattle on like this. But lucky for you, I’ve got a short attention span. So, dear reader, in order to learn more about blogging and to fulfill the requirements for my class assignment (ha! I bet you never even knew that this is what you were reading…an assignment for class) I am going to present you with the top 5 things that every good blogger should consider that I learned from analyzing the rhetoric of two exponentially more successful blogs; A Cup of Jo and The Global Grasshopper. Both are technically considered lifestyle blogs, however, The Global Grasshopper focuses on travel while A Cup of Jo covers Style, Food, Design, Travel, Relationships, and Motherhood.
When becoming a blogger, you have to make sure that you’re an author that seems credible.However, another thing that can make you a better author is considering likability. Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo is likeable because she uses language and design elements that are so relatable and cute. When you scroll down her home page you see photographs of her with her husband, her with her baby, and her with her sister. Obviously this lady is family oriented which appeals to readers’ “pathos” or emotions. Wanna know if she’s credible? Just check out her About Me Page. Here she tells you all about her work with Cosmopolitan and other famous publications. Clearly this lady knows what she’s talking about. Or at least, she presented herself in a way that makes readers think that she does.
Becky from Global Grasshopper operates somewhat differently. From her About Section on the righthand side of the home page as well as the dozens of credentials, you get a sense that she wants to establish some sort of authority right off the bat. She immediately mentions an award she won, and says that she has, “joined a team of self-confessed travel snobs.” For some, this sort of language establishes credibility and makes them want to read on. For me, the credibility comes from the polished layout of the blog along with the stunning photography. She isn’t likeable in the way that Joanna is, but the language that she uses as well as the teal, black, and white colors ooze coolness.
Try as I may, but I couldn’t find A Cup of Jo’s purpose explicitly stated. However, by covering topics such as Style, Food, Design, Family, Relationships, and Motherhood, it is fair to say that she wants us to live a good, well-rounded life. The primarily cream and black color scheme suggests that she wants to help us do so in a way that is casual rather than high energy (like reading a newspaper in a cafe vs watching a japanese anime). The decent amount of spacing between photos and articles throughout her site also has a huge impact on the perceived purpose. Spacing between elements is the equivalent of giving someone (or something) room to breathe, and in graphic design class we were told that space means luxury. This spacing adds to the idea that she wants our lives to be as streamlined as possible; by visiting her blog we can all take a breath of fresh air and make our lives that much less messy.
Global Grasshopper says that their goal is to present readers with awesome articles about “the road less travelled.” This mission is emphasized by the slew of articles that are available on the first page which have language such as “under-the-radar” and by the photos of places that most of us will never see in our lifetime. The proximity between elements is way different on this blog than A Cup of Jo; everything seems much closer together which would usually make a blog (or business) seem cheap. However, the brightness and contrast of the photos they use have been edited so that they look luxurious, thus making up for the crowded layout. This ultra-luxurious effect adds to the idea that they are discussing places that may just be out of most people’s reach, so you might as well read about them and live vicariously.
If you want to blog well, you need to choose a target audience and stick with it.
A Cup of Jo is clearly intended for people in their late twenties through their thirties who are looking to settle down. Just look at the categories again and “motherhood” should jump out at you. If the target audience were teenagers, the author wouldn’t emphasize motherhood as much, if at all, because most teenagers don’t want to read about the ups and downs of having a family. The same goes with an audience older than their thirties…most middle-aged people have gone through the early stages of motherhood and don’t care to read about it. If you want more proof of how Joanna keeps her audience in mind, consider the color scheme again. It is elegant and mature, which is what people from her target audience are associated with being. Even the subjects in her photographs point to a target audience, as they themselves appear to be in that age range!
In contrast, Global Grasshopper’s target audience is most likely people in their twenties who have a sense of wanderlust! They’re the one’s who don’t want to settle down yet, because there’s just so much cool stuff to see! Her photographs are instagram-worthy shots of people assumably in their twenties. She uses the same language as younger, less settled people use on a daily basis such as “hacks,” “funky,” “snob,” and “confession.”
If you’re going to write a blog, you’ve got to pick a genre and stick to it. Car-buffs might not want to read about motherhood. And foodies might not care about cars.
As mentioned previously, A Cup of Jo and Global Grasshopper are both lifestyle blogs. However, Global Grasshopper is more accurately considered a travel blog. Establishing genre is pretty simple. Cup of Jo writes about all of the topics that I’ve mentioned previously which have to do with life. Her images, layout and language reflects these topics. Global Grasshopper writes about travelling places. Again, her images, layout and language reflects these topics. No need to beat a dead horse; just make sure everything you put on your blog compliments everything else. If you need help with this, phone a friend!
Context is super important but often neglected. Basically, you’ve got to consider the medium you’re using to communicate, the location, the historical conventions, the current culture, etc. You’ve even got to consider whether what you post fits within the context that you established via the rest of your blog.
Both A Cup of Jo and Global Grasshopper chose to communicate via a blog. This, in itself, has a whole bunch of advantages and limitations. Neither of them are going to write articles for people who don’t own computers because these people probably won’t be reading their blog anytime soon. However, they may write articles assuming that their audience is capable of understanding and using technology. For instance, Cup of Jo includes a video about style, knowing that this medium allows her to do so and that her followers will know how to operate this video. Another example of considering context is on Global Grasshopper’s blog. One of her articles is on testing a new smartphone gadget that travellers may want to try. If this gadget had come out ten years ago, it would be silly to write about it because no one would care. Most people like to read and see design elements about what is happening here and now…not what already occurred (unless it is a history blog..but even then you shouldn’t use 90’s clipart).
I do not own or claim rights to the photographs that are included in this post; they are screenshots taken from the blogs mentioned above.
Header photo courtesy of solopreneursidekick
Disclaimer: I am not a blogging professional, or a magical guru that can solve all of your problems. I cannot be held liable for triumphs, failures, or anything else that occurred to you as a result of reading the content on my blog.