I'm a writer from Melbourne about to launch a year-long experiment - 365 days of following the advice and teachings of the world's most famous self-help books, with myself as the guinea pig.
I want to see what my life will look like at the other end, I want to see if it's true I can make money fall out of the sky by thinking about it really, really hard, and I want to see if this self-help stuff is everything Tony Robbins and Rhonda Byrne claim it is. While the core content of the site will be journal-style entries of this process, I'll also be interviewing life coaches, fitness instructors, psychologists, yogis and gurus, and recruiting self-help guest bloggers along the way to give a broader perspective.
I'm hoping the site will also reflect a sense of personality and fun, because that's how I'll be approaching the topic - attached is an author photo - which doesn't have to, but certainly can - feature on the site.
Fun does not, however, equal cartoon puppies.
Not even one.
I'm looking at younger Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys, predominantly in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and, especially, the US. Those are pretty broad groups, but the concept of self-help is pretty familiar to audiences these days; my ideal consumer is a tech-savvy professional in their mid-20s to late 30s who knows about the existence of self-help material and is curious to see if someone can pull an experiment like this off.
Especially, I want to engage with the audience and let them know what has worked for me, what hasn't, and how that can be replicated. I want to detail the process so someone else can come in and do exactly the same thing, and get the same results.
I also want to appeal to people who may have experimented with self-help-type programs before and not gotten the results they wanted, for whatever reason.
It's a pre-existing market in a lot of ways, but I want to try a new, and engaging and friendly, spin on approaching it. The design will be important here - letting my audience know that this is, at heart, a light-hearted project.
Basically, my target audience is people who like this guy, A. J. Jacobs, who conducts similar (but different) lifestyle experiments on himself:
I want the site to be primarily text-driven, as that's how I'll be documenting most of my work. My thinking at this point in time is a vertical two-column setup - one larger column for text, and one column next to that featuring breakout boxes for video, additional interviews, guest blogs, and images.
Ideally, when someone lands on the site, they'd see:
- the latest post, in all its glory
- a breakout box link to the latest guest blog (text)
- a breakout box link to the latest interview (text)
- a featured image of the book of the month, which will click through to a review
- a breakout box link (or embedded) video for video content
The attached jpg is a starting place only!
As well as your standard WP blogroll, page navigation, categories, etc.
Some examples of the functionality I'm looking for:
The Studiopress Magazine Theme:
The Nervous Breakdown:
The Happiness Project:
Studiopress and The Nervous Breakdown are way heavier in terms of functionality than I need them to be; but providing a lot of text content in an easy-to-access way is going to be key.
My feeling is that lighter colours are better, but if something leaps out as a really great combination, go with it. My preference for layout is vertical, horizontal navigation bar across the top.