Asking how important a style guide is to your blog is like asking how important it is to drink water to keep your body healthy. It’s important! Of course, your blog can survive without a style guide, just like you can survive on soda. But neither you nor your blog will stay healthy for long.
A style guide helps you maintain your brand and gives your audience a clear-cut picture of what they’re going to get from you. Of course, not everyone has a written style guide. Some, especially those who run a blog on their own, may have already set style expectations without realizing it. But writing these down can be helpful.
First, let’s talk about what a style guide is.
What a Style Guide Is
A style guide is a list of rules for how your blog should look and sound. When creating your guide, you should consider your audience and what appeals to them.
What age group are you targeting? Do you want to appeal to an expert or a curious hobbyist? How does your audience talk, think, act, and live? Do your research and then apply it as you approach creating a style guide. Following are some of the basic components of a style guide:
- Font: You’ll want to be consistent with your font. This simplifies things for your reader because inconsistencies can throw people off. Use the same font in the same size for every headline and for the copy of your blog.
- Color schemes and other visuals: All headline images used for your blog should be the same size. You’ll want to be sure the feel of your visuals matches the tone of your writing. If it’s casual, you may want more fun and free-looking images. If your tone is professional, you may want to keep your images simple and impersonal. You may even go so far as to make sure your visuals stick to a certain color scheme. Instagram influencers do this because people see their profiles as a whole, and it helps their profile look neat and cohesive. Blog articles often appear on the screen in a similar manner. An example of a blog with a pretty strict color scheme is Coca-Cola’s Great Britain blog, which uses a lot of reds, browns, and blues. Remember, certain colors create certain moods, so that is something to consider if you decide to use a color scheme.
- Voice: Knowing your audience will determine your voice. Are you sarcastic, witty, funny, or straightforward? Be consistent in every article because having a distinct tone allows you to establish your brand. As part of your voice, you’ll want to determine whether you’re speaking in first or third person. Or are you going to use second person and address the reader directly? Will you use a specific jargon or keep the language of your articles simple? These are all aspects to consider with voice.
- Rating: Disney doesn’t do R-rated movies. Everyone knows that. Likewise, your audience should know what level of language, innuendoes, etc., to expect from your blog.
- Length: Long or short? Even this is important to consider when creating a style guide. If your audience is short on time, on the go, or seeking entertainment from your blog, it may be better to keep it short. But if they need extensive information or are more invested, it may be good to go long. Typical blog articles range from 500 to 1500 words. But going outside that range may work for a specific audience.
- Content Type: Consider what kinds of blog articles you’ll produce: how-to's, news, personal stories, opinions, poetry, etc. You don’t have to do all how-to articles or all personal stories or all fiction, but if you’ve never done a particular type of article before, it may feel off to your readers.
What makes style guides so important?
Style guides help you stay true to your brand.
This is probably the biggest reason to have a style guide. Your blog should appeal to your audience, because if it’s inconsistent, it won’t appeal to anyone. A style guide spells it out for you and helps you stay on track so you don’t accidentally “change personalities” and cause your audience to feel confused about who you are.
Style guides keep things simple.
Really, having a style guide is a time saver. It keeps you from having to make those big decisions again and again: you already know what font to use, how long your article needs to be, and what your photo should look like, so you don’t have to decide again every time. It simplifies things for you.
Style guides are useful for others who write on your blog.
Blogs often have multiple writers. If you have a style guide, it allows bloggers to know your expectations and to follow them. With so many different voices and styles of writing among bloggers, having set rules can keep things consistent. Even with multiple writers, it’s possible to have a brand and fulfill audience expectations when you have a style guide.
Whether intentional or not, you need to have a clear and consistent style audience members can rely on and feel comfortable with. If you haven’t written down your style guide, try it now! Then stick to it.
- A style guide is a list of rules for how your blog looks and sounds.
- There are a variety of elements to consider when creating a style guide: font, color, visuals, voice, rating, length, content type, etc.
- Staying true to your brand is the biggest reason to create a style guide.
- Style guides keep things simple and consistent.
- Style guides are especially useful for blogs with multiple writers.
What does your style guide look like? Why is a style guide important to you? Let us know in the comments section below.