If you want to take your blogging to a high level, you should make sure you have a blog that is customized to help you advance your specific goals.  My top priorities for this blog are: (1) delivering useful, clear content to my readers, and (2) making it easy for readers to subscribe to my blog.  These may be simple goals, but pursuing them ruthlessly means you need to remove all distracting elements from the blog, and making sure that all elements that remain serve a purpose.  When you have a minimalist style, any dumb parts will stand out like a sore thumb.  

As you know, I started with the default Posterous settings, which are excellent, and made the following customizations:
  1. Rather than keeping the “login” navigation at the top right of the page (above the fold), I moved it to the bottom right, below the fold (which is the same thing that @guykawasaki does with his Alltop page. 
  2. I increased the size of the header by 2x.
  3. I posted a hidden “About me” page, and posted a link to that page to serve as a replacement for the default Posterous “profile” page, which I hid from view.  Posterous’s default profile page is great for the social networking aspects of the platform, but it is a huge distraction and source of confusion to most of my readers, who don’t care that I happen to use Posterous’s platform.
  4. I removed the faint text that said, “Contributors,” along the right side of the page, because I’m the sole writer of this blog.
  5. In addition to letting readers subscribe via Posterous’s default subscription path, I added a Twitter button AND a Feedburner email field.  For some reason it was tricky to get all these options to display consistently whether you were reading from a specific post OR just reading from the blog homepage, but I eventually figured out how to get it right, which is important because for my blog this is part of the “anchor” section, which readers rely on to navigate the site. 
  6. I posted a hidden “Most popular posts” page and put the link beneath the “About me” page.  These are the two “informational anchors” on the site.  Beneath these two links, you have the three “engagement anchors,” which include a Twitter button for people to subscribe via Twitter, a Feedburner email subscription field, and the default Posterous subscription button, for fellow users of Posterous.  (Note: I wanted to keep a link that said “Follow me on Posterous” because that is one of the few nods to Posterous on the blog, and I want to give the platform credit for powering this site.)
  7. I purchased a custom domain name (www.willmarlow.com)
  8. When you view a blog post, rather than seeing the view count and the number of times the post has been “Favorited” in the top part of the page, I moved that information down lower, because I needed that prime real estate for the anchor section (and because the importance of that information is debatable).
  9. I removed the Posterous tag from the top of the page.

I will continue to optimize the blog by making minor changes designed to make the blog more readable and user friendly, and I’m appreciative of any feedback you may have for things I’m doing right and things I’m doing wrong.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think.  And if you share my goals, I’m happy to send you what you need to use my optimized blog template as your Posterous “theme.” 

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Read more about Will Marlow here, or email him at will@alumnifidelity.com.