Blog roll out: Developing a successful blog format

How to start a new blog?
How to develop a successful roll out concept?

Some blogs get the attention from the start because they have a great format

The standard way of starting a blog is finding a niche and then starting to produce articles. Before doing that most bloggers fiddle around with the design for months.

Bad. Acceptance. Is. The. Consequence!

I have found two blogs with the same blog format which satisfy immediately because of the simple but great blog format.

Let me show you why…

Blog format

In the article Create a structure for your blog posts I spoke about developing a content structure for single articles.

Develop your own design rules for different article types. Reviews, personal notes, link lists and articles in general will all need their own set of rules. The rules should be in form of a ordered checklist. The checklist will make sure that you do some quality control before publishing.

But the same is true when developing a new blog. Before you start a blog you should definitely as much constrict the format as possible. Doing so will create readers trust and your blog will have a high brand recognition.

I am talking about a predefined content architecture and not design.

Two astonishing clones

Please take the following blog format as an example. I have chosen the used blog format because it is so simple to understand on a 1st glance.

The 2nd was 1st but I discovered it because Paul Bradshaw, who maintains Journalism, mentioned the original on his about page.

If you scan the articles you will discover that both websites have three things in common with being a very smart successor (only regarding the blog format):

  1. The astonishing simple article structure concept which is the main success factor of the specific blog format.
  2. Multiple authors are involved from the very 1st beginning.
  3. The strong focus on their specific niche.

The article structure

Both websites use a very simple writing template for their content which are reviews. Writing is done to a review template – a simple six-question format:

  1. What do they say it is?
  2. What do I say it is?
  3. What’s great about it?
  4. What could be better?
  5. How is it going to make money?
  6. Should I pay it any attention?

By using this review template it looks like guest authors are magically driven towards writing reviews because of the constriction and not because of their freedom to create articles like they want to. Astonishing isn’t it?

Guest authors

And then we have the social factor. Both websites allow and invite people to become part of the editor team.

Journalism is a community blog – written and maintained by volunteer contributors. Anyone can join, and how much you contribute is up to you – from helping improve reviews to suggesting leads, through to writing yourself.

The very clear Join In page explains exactly how to become a contributer and what are the rules to follow.

Niche focus

Instead of publishing general ‘review output’ each site concentrates on a very narrow niche.

Journalism Enterprise is definitely a know-how driven site because to write “reviews (about) websites that are attempting to make money from journalism in the new media age” needs outstanding specialists.

The predecessor says that they will “evaluate and unpick new and interesting websites from around the internet that may be of use to independent musicians and the music business” which is a little less narrow niche but still needs good business know-how.

Both sites just meant as examples. What great blog formats do you know?

Promoting the blog (format)

After realizing the blog format and writing some initial reviews Paul Bradshaw used Facebook to send announcements and invitations to his contacts. This way I learned on January 14th about his new project. Look at the site and tell me if it looks like a new project? In fact the 1st article is dated November 21st, 2007.

Before I already was a big fan of his other site, the onlinejournalismblog. As he stays in his journalism niche but only developed a different blog format I am sure that he also had loads of other contacts than Facebook to use for the blog promotion already. Very smart is the idea to combine the new blog announcement on his blog with the force of a blog carnival on Carnival of Journalism in January. That’s what I call timing!

Because of the strong blog format the appearance is mature from the very 1st day! This way blog promotion is a breeze.

The importance of your own blog format

As you can see this article is not so much stuffed with lists of concrete ‘how to do items’ but with a great example of a successful blog format and how to do a powerful roll out. Let me try to list some rules which I find very important when developing a blog format:

  • The most important thing about developing a rigid strategic blog format is to do it much in advance. Don’t rush!
  • Make sure that your blog format is a strategic declaration which survives design changes and allows to add multiple article structures.
  • Define milestones for the roll out. Blog promotion is crucial for a new blog! But don’t overdo it if you are still in the alpha or beta phase. Be patient for some months to let the blog mature!
  • Choosing a nice template is important but playing around with the design is not! Instead develop the article structure and publish real articles to get feedback from ‘beta’ readers.

Did you develop such a blog format in advance?
How is your experience with such work in advance?

7 thoughts on “Blog roll out: Developing a successful blog format

  1. Thanks for the help.

    I think we have found a niche with Automatic Car Hire. also we have managed to insert our booking engine into the site.

    Certainly will be reviewing the format


  2. …a blogger is mere a designer than a writer. A challanging task for someone, who has no knowledge in HTML, CSS and PHP…

    but you are definetly right..

  3. Another page which has a similar very strict strict blog format can be seen here: It might be a kind of concept copy but here we also see the domain name mirroring the blog format. The blog format is ‘Nothing but Top Five lists from multiple authors on multiple subjects’. Even different languages are allowed

    (Comment title stolen from a record created by my friend Axel Dill)

  4. Having one’s own design for customized blog outlay depecting content intention is very much welcome thought. Innovation in design along with uptodate content plus extensive marketing is very essential for blogs success.

  5. Thanks for the compliment. “case study” That’s the term I was looking for all the time (instead of ‘example’).

    Now I will go and smack myself for using to many exaggerated attributes in the article (very important, most important, very narrow, definitely, arghhh). Ryan should write an grammar article about it – tell us the correct grammatical term for ‘very’ – and I could follow up with real life examples easily

  6. Nice case study, Markus.

    I agree that’s important to have a detailed plan before starting a blog. The plan will constrain your blog. And surprisingly, constraints lead to more creativity and better execution, which leads to a unique brand, which leads to traffic and profits

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