Today I am going to be discussing your blog website! I know this is a terrifying thought starting out as a new blogger creating a blog website, and you may not have any idea where to start! Blogging can be a bit of a handful to get your mind around when you first start out, but that’s why we are all here to help with some tips about what your blog website needs!
Or, you maybe you’ve been blogging for some months or years, but still have no clue about how to make your website more attractive. So you stick to the basics? Let’s see what we can learn about improving your blog website with some tips.
The first question you need to ask yourself is: Am I doing this for fun or as a career opportunity?
Which ultimately translates to, am I going with a free option like Tumblr or the basic free WordPress site? Or am I going to start as a self-hosted blogger for my business?
You might not have the answer right now but that’s okay. Keep it in the back of your head as I continue with this post.
You can decide whether or not you want to pay for your own domain and go self-hosted later, it doesn’t have to be right now This requires payment each month or year depending on the plan you choose. Again this is optional if you are unsure about blogging and only want to try it out then I would suggest using a free platform like WordPress.com.
Why WordPress? It’s easy to start with, you can start for free and easily upgrade, there is full support and works with almost any hosting service ever. And when you go self-hosted, they have a HUGE library of free plugins and themes. For under $100 you can get set up with an EXTREMELY professional blog with very little effort or knowledge of the techy-side of blogging.
If you are doing this as a career option, I would highly recommend that you go self-hosted. It’ll be easier for brands to want to work with you as they will be looking at your Domain Authority to choose from the many other bloggers interested in the opportunity.
Are you unsure?
That’s okay! You can start off with a free site and then switch if you decide that this is the best option for you. There is not just one way to blog there are so many ways that I know you will explore and choose which option is best for you.
5 Blog Website Layout Tips
You’re probably sitting there asking yourself how do I set up my website that looks like a blog? I have some tips for you.
Tip number one: Make it easy to navigate.
If your website is difficult to navigate, people will find it tough to find your blog posts. This will leave them frustrated and not want to go onto your site again.
To have your blog easy to navigate I’d suggest that you have a clear and clean menu that list all the pages you have. Using my blog as an example my menu includes
- My Blog with all the different categories of what I write as a subcategory
- Contact page
- My About page (a little about me and the blog)
- And lastly my privacy page (or you could put this in your footer)
The order doesn’t matter too much, as long as it’s easy to read and simple to see. Bonus points for single words in your main navigational menu.
This is still quite a simple navigation but can be used by people who have no idea how to use technology. My Homepage also shows my most recent blog posts that might interest people when they first click onto my website.
Tip number two: Use high-quality pictures.
Have you ever been on a website that uses grainy or blurry images? Most likely you haven’t because it is unattractive and very unprofessional. It will make a lot of people click off your site and never visit it again. This is BAD for business.
You don’t need to have a really fancy, expensive camera to do this. You can use your phone and take some really good pictures. That’s how I take all my images for my blog posts. I use my Iphone 6s.
I’m still learning how to improve my photography. It does take time but if you are determined you will improve. If you don’t want to take your own photos. DO NOT TAKE PICTURES FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S SITES OR OFF GOOGLE. These images are copyrighted and you could end up in a lot of trouble if the owners find out.
A way to get around this is to use stock photos. If I have a post that I can’t take pictures for myself, I use Pixabay to download the picture that I need for my blog. These are photos that you are legally allowed to use for free.
Tip number three: Have a useful but simple sidebar
This goes along with tip number one. Having a clean and organized sidebar that show the most recent actions that have been taken on your blog. For example, if someone has commented on a post. The title of a new post that has gone live.
Make sure it is clean and organized. Having a messy and unprofessional sidebar, if it is cluttered with fifty comments from people or way too many links, (like listing all your blog posts for the past few months or your complete archive). This is a place to help navigate your readers to their “next step”. Use your sidebar areas to tell a little about yourself, encourage them to follow you, subscribe to the blog, and a few more relevant new posts for them to check out while they are there.
If you really want to make the best use of your sidebar with a self-hosted WordPress site, then there are several plugins that can be useful in customizing different sidebars for different purposes! Maybe you write about two different niches, and you want a Parenting sidebar and a DIY sidebar, to offer different resources and relevant content pertaining to those readers. Instead of keeping a generic, simple default sidebar on every page.
Tip number four: Have a subscription form to create an email list of followers
Your email list is VERY important if you want to make a career of your blog. Your email list are your potential clients, your followers, your audience. You can send emails to remind them that you have posted, you can give them special freebies and exclusive insider offers, that are only for the people on your email list.
So when you begin selling products or services they will be more likely to buy from you. Set up your subscription form as soon as you can because the quicker you begin to grow your email list the easier it will be for you to work with brands and begin selling products or a service.
Tip number five: Figure out your brand and stay consistent.
You want to be remembered by your readers so that they continue to come back to your blog for more new content that you write. To be remembered, you should be recognizable and have a solid, branded cover for your book, or in our case, your blog!
This means having consistent colors, fonts, formatting, and writing voice. It also helps to have an official logo and tagline to use for a more official feel of your blog as a business.
We have a whole post dedicated to branding by our Graphic and Design Manager, Kate!
A footer on your blog is very important. When your readers begin to enjoy your blog posts they will read and scroll to the very end. This is where your footer is important. What does your footer need?
Social media links
Newsletter Opt in
I know it seems like a lot! It will make it so much easier for readers to get quick links to your social media, newsletter opt ins etc instead of trying to find small buttons on your page.
Plugins you need to make your life easy
Yoast Seo: this helps with SEO and gives you tips on how to make it more search emerging optimizable.
Pinterest pin it: gives your readers an easy way to pin onto their own Pinterest boards.
Social sharing buttons: this will help your readers share your content if they enjoy it on other social media platforms.
Akismet: this stops spam! It checks comments on your blog and removes them so you don’t have to! I downloaded this plugin when I first started but had no clue how to activate it so I spent a long time manually making comments go into the spam folder. It took so much time!
Policy and disclosure policies
This is a huge topic in itself so I’m only going to mention some of the important tips.
Disclosure policies: You must disclose when you are getting paid for posts and/or receive products. You also have to disclose any form of affiliate links that you may have. This helps build a level of transparency between bloggers and readers.
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