1. Colour Scheme
Colour schemes are so important. They're one of the main things you notice on a blog, the other being the header which should represent your colours. Pick a few (4 is probably the best) colours that compliment each other and alternate between them. If you're unsure about what colours to use, find a colour wheel and use the two colours beside one of the primary colours and the colour directly opposite.
2. Customize Your Header
Header's don't have to be complicated looking things. In fact, all you have to do is save a white rectangular background (the width of your blog preferably) from Paint as your template, upload it to an editing site with fonts with PicMonkey and away you go. When uploading, go to Dashboard >> Layout >> Click on Header and upload your image choosing the "instead of title and description button" and click Done.
3. Simplicity is best
- Backgrounds: Sometimes, a little colourful background doesn't hurt. If you want something colourful make sure it isn't too bright on the eyes and have the background of the writing columns of your blog white. This makes the posts stand out (which is what you want really) as it creates contrast.
- Fonts: This is a personal pet peeve and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Keep the font of your blog posts simple with the basic fonts like Times, Georgia and Arial. This makes it easier for the readers. Big cursive fonts in bright colours against a white background can be off putting. If you feel like you need to have some cursive, add it in the header or blog titles.
6. Get rid of those widgets!
Widgets can make a blog look crowded and unorganised. You don't need a billion and one widget countdowns. They also make the load up a lot slower. Sometimes, if you have too much then and it takes too long you'll lose readers for that simple fact.
7. Add Social Media Icons
This ties in with #6, but an easy way to save up space, download time, and look good is social media icons. I have a drafted blog post for how to do this which I'll link once it's posted, but these icons are brilliants as they're small, link directly to you (so you don't have to have a large twitter widget displaying your last 5 tweets or an Instagram slideshow) and save up space!
8. Get Rid Of That Navbar!
The Navbar is that little bar on the top of your screen, in between your header and url. I also have a tutorial for that if you're not quite sure how to do it.
Oh, man. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Bad grammar. Some small mistakes are definitely alright, and sometimes aren't even noticed, but those big misspellings? Yeah, they're noticed. It looks lazy because even as I type this and a word is wrong, Blogger lets me know.
10. Download A Template
If you don't want the bustle and hussle of customizing your own template on Blogger, simply download one like I have! This is also pretty good if you don't know HTML but you want more than what the free templates offer. There's thousands of sites that come up in Google search engines when you type in "free blogger templates".
11. Use Your Own Images
I'm still in the process of transferring everything over to the new design, so don't think this is hypocritical of me. But having your own images when you participate in a meme or have a particular blog post (like the picture title above) that matches up with your template and colour scheme just screams that you're pulled together.
12. Be Consistent
Notice how I've capitalised the first letter of all my dot points and not every second or third dot point? This may seem small, but people will notice if you're not consistent. The same goes for your blog titles. Do you do a specific meme or do you post reviews? Don't change from "Review: Insert Title" to "Title- A Review" the next week. Readers will scroll through your archives look for key words, like the first word of a blog post being "Review:___".
13. Custom Domains
If you are serious about blogging in the long run or just want that extra oomph for your blog, definitely consider a custom domain. They boost ratings in search engines (giving your blog better access to readers) and on Blogger it's only $10(USD) for an entire year!
14. Use Your Pages Wisely
This entirely depends on the nature of your blogs, but pages can be extremely effective when use correctly. If you're running a blog that mainly focuses on review (much like mine) have a reviews bar with tabs underneath to guide readers to where they should be.
- FAQ: If your blog is extremely popular it's probably worth setting up a FAQ page. Slushing through questions that you've answered over and over can be both annoying and tiresome. Setting up a Frequently Asked Questions page saves you from repeating yourself and saves readers the time by finding exactly what they need.
- Policies: If you run a reviewing site, policy pages are a must. This is where you list the important stuff like what you do on the blog, what you do and don't accept, and sometimes blog statistics.
17. Add a Favicon
What's a favicon? It's that little picture you see in the url bar before the url starts. All you need is a square picture less than 100KB. Go to Dashboard >> Layout >> and in the top left of your blue layout is the Favicon gadget. Upload the image and if it's accepted you're off!
18. Remove CAPTCHA
Captcha stands for "Completed Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" and it's the box where you have to type out numbers and letters. My advice? Remove it. If commenting is made difficult, you're less likely to actually get comments. From my experience, I haven't noticed an increase in spam.
19. Have All Pictures the Same Size
If you have a feature or you're a photography blog have them all the same size. The uniform size of all the photos looks organised, well presented, and well... uniformed. Why else would schools make students wear uniforms?
20. Subscribe Links
If you run a newsletter or you particularly want subscribers, put those widgets at the top of the sidebar. Why? Because the top corners are where we first look. I think it's the top right first, but I'm not entirely sure. Humans don't really take in all the middle stuff until later, but if the first thing they notice is how to subscribe that's not a bad thing, right?
21. Contact Page
I should have included this earlier, but oh well. If you go to professional sites, they all have a well visible contact page. Why? Because it generates business. People don't like hassle and having to find things. If you lay a "Contact Page" at the very top then you make life easier for everyone.
Having a search tool is amazing. When I go to a particular blog to find something specific, this saves me hours of scrolling through to find it. Include it, your readers will thank you for it.
23. Related Posts/LinkedIn Plug In
Chances are that if you're familiar with the blogging world you've seen this... And then clicked on one of the advertised pages. Yes, this definitely works. If you don't have a template that includes this or you're using the Blogger templates, I definitely recommend LinkedIn.
24. Limit Advertisements
If you have advertisements, don't overcrowd your blog. The most professional looking blogs are simplistic. Simplicity is key people. Too many advertisements--especially if they're irrelevant to your blog--can be off putting.
- Placement: Placing is everything if you want to generate some extra cash through your blog. I recommend starting here for a basic run down and if you're interested research further.
Logos are your blogs identity when someone isn't actually on your blog. You'll see a lot of people have their logos with html links saying "grab my button/logo!". Create one and do "swaps" with some people. To minimise clutter I would recommend putting all the banners in a slideshow.
27. Google Apps (Customised Email Addresses)
Again, if you're serious about blogging, perhaps a custom email address is something you would like. I've always admired them, but never thought it necessary for me personally, but click here to get started.
28. Feature Slideshow Posts
I have no idea what the official title for this style is, but I'll link you here to what it looks like. These are great ways to advertise certain posts that you want readers to gravitate towards. I absolutely love these and have always wanted one on my blog.
29. Acting Professional Out and About
You may not know it, but people notice immaturity. If people go from following your blog to your social media sites (twitter, facebook, etc) then you have to act professional there too. Anything linked to your blog, you should consider as your blog.
30. Honesty Is the Best Policy
Yes, this is again more about mannerism, but everything you do as the creator of your blog reflects you and your blog. I'm using honest as a very vague word, but essential it means be honest about what you write. If you're writing a review of a product tell reader's your honest opinion, even if that product was given to you for reviewing purposes. Readers will appreciate your honest over a product and so do the companies. They want to improve their products and that can only be achieved with honesty.
31. Acknowledge Sources
Plagiarism is a big no-no in every blogging community and you will be shocked by how quickly people will pounce on you for doing it. Bloggers notice things, people. If somebody inspired a post, acknowledge it with a sentence with a link to that person. It's only polite and professional.
32. Have a Consistent Schedule
This is important because readers are subscribing for something to read, so ideally you should be posting. It's not necessary to post everyday, but you should be consistent.
- Plan Ahead: I plan the core of all my posts a month in advance. That means by the end of February, I have the majority of my core posts for March already to go. Somedays I have absolutely no motivation to blog and then I remember that I already have blog posts ready to go for these exact reasons. It's a lifesaver.
- Blogger Draft: I don't know if many people know this, but blogger actually has a tool that allows you to write and prepare posts and have it published at a scheduled time. It's called Blogger In Draft.
35. Stick to a Template
I'm absolutely horrible at this, but I do see its advantages so hear me out. Your blogger button and your image can be successfully built around the design of your template and the colour scheme you choose. This is why I would recommend finding one you absolutely love and stick to it for as long as you can.
36. Avatar Image
A lot of the time, you'll recognise someone's avatar image before you even look at their name. That's why it's important to have an avatar and spread that out across your social media sites. If you change one, change them all that way you're consistent and people won't mistake you for an impersonator.
37. Mobile Friendly
These days almost everything is done on our smartphones. That's why it's totally important for you to make sure you make sure your blog has a mobile friendly format and that it reads well. To check go to Dashboard >> Template and next to the "Live on Blog" image is Mobile.
YouTube is being used by everyone and everywhere. It's a great way to increase traffic, subscribers, and sometimes hearing someone's voice is so much easier than reading a blob of writing. A lot of the time when I'm watching YouTube I'm really just listening to their voice and scrolling through other sites.
These isn't just for fourms, folks. Nope. Incorporate a signature to the end of your blog posts where you can include a small bio and some links just like that science guy who has a PhD. See what I mean?
40. No Music
How many times have you jumped when you've landed on a site and there's music suddenly blasting from your speakers? For all our eardrums, no automatic music or advertisements.
41. Educate Your Readers
There's nothing really more professional then sharing your advice. Readers love learning things. If it's something they can incorporate into their daily blogging lives then I'd recommend sharing.
42. Use Labels Sparingly
Like most blogging things, labels can be extremely beneficial to any blog. I'd recommend only using broad labels. There's no need to have a label for every kind of animal like "dog", "cat", "rat" if you only post under it once. Instead, use a broader label like "animal". If you think a label is going to be used often, then be specific. I personally have a label for each rating I give my reviews--but that's an integral part of my blog and is used often.
- List Labels: Under your label gadget in the "layout" section of your blog, you can customise your labels into multiple lists. If you have quite a few, I'd recommend diving them into topics.
For exmaple, I had three topics. One was "Reviews" where I included my ratings (1-5 stars) and my broad labels. Then I had a topic for "Memes" where I had my weekly posts and lastly an "Ellen's Interest" topic where I included large labels about things outside of my reading/blogging love. I just think this is a great organisation system. It may not be for you, but I hope it helps!
44. Use Jump Break/Read More
Do you ever see that "read more" button on a blog post where it only shows a paragraph or two before it goes to the next post and wonder where that is? It's more simply than you think. In the tool bar where you write your Blogger posts and inbetween the "Insert a Video" and "Alignment" icon is an icon called "Jump Break". Simply click that where you want the "Read More" button to go and you're on your way.
I love jump breaks because they're a great way to make bigger blog posts take up less space and you can show more blog posts on the one page using this method.
45. Contact Box
If you want to take contacting you one step further and easier, include a contact box. These are used often when businesses want feedback on their website, especially if it's new or getting a re-design.
46. Welcome Page
A welcome page is pretty self-explanatory, but basically it's the greeting page instead of the actual blog. Here you can include a small bio, tell people about the blog and make a good first impression. It's like the welcome mat on your front porch, really.
47. Guest Posts
I remember when I first started blogging and seeing blogs have exclusive interviews and guest posts. When I actually got into blogging, I realised that the people who interviews were those who had the followers and the correct mannerism.
48. No Fancy Cursors
Oh, man. There are so many websites that I come across that have fancy cursors with glitter dripping from them and all over the screen when you move it. Yeah, it looks great in theory, but in reality it creates lag and is just irritating to some people.
49. Have Fun!
Yes, this is one of my items. People say that winners are those who have found what they love and turned it into a career. Whether you want blogging to be a profession or a hobby, you should have fun with it.
50. Be Unique
There are a billion and one (plus a few more) blogs and websites out there. You want to stand out for the right reasons. Have quality, not quantity and be yourself. People will come back if they've enjoyed your posts.
Labels: Blogging Advice