There are a lot of great blogs out there, strong voices, up and coming leaders in niches, and superb content. Bloggers who really reaches out to their readers, makes an impact, and gains while doing so – be it actual ad or sales revenue, getting spinoff gigs or services, or just by building the brand.
It still baffles me that so many great blogs look like shit.
It baffles me even more that they look like shit because they still use some free crappy theme with a hacked logo at best.
Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a bunch of great free WordPress themes out there. However, most aren’t good, and besides, the whole point of changing from Kubrick with the rounded corners (or whatever’s the default one in your blogging platform of choice) to something else, is of course to distinguish the blog.
You can’t do that if you’re one in a million.
Great content and great voices need at least a decent design, otherwise you’re just obstructing your own brand. I get it that not everyone can afford to hire me, for instance, but there are designers charging less as well. Although the old truth still applies in many (most?) cases – you get what you pay for – what you get is still a great leap forward in terms of managing your brand.
Even if it’s just hacking a decent free theme beyond recognition, bending it to your will, and adapting it for your brand, it’s still a necessary step forward for your brand. You could do it yourself, if you’re so inclined, but chances are you’re just making it worse, with a theme hack that looks amateurish and crappy. Still, it shows you care, and that’s something.
If you’re serious about your blogging, you need to be serious about your design as well. It’s a symbiosis, content and design, and you want to care for both.