Hey there! Okay, this one’s for some of my friends out there that are just starting out with the whole blogging thing and looking for some tips on how to create your blog design.
Last week, I shared about some blogging tips for anyone that is just starting out or thinking about blogging. Let me just say that I’m not a pro web designer, not a techy nerd, (okay, maybe a little), and I don’t claim to have all or even half the answers. But I will Google anything ya want to know. These tips are just some things that I’ve learned and want to share with anyone that is looking for some guidance.
So, you’ve decided this blogging biz is the best thing since sliced bread (because it is!) and you want more! So now what?
You need to do some basics first. Decide on a topic, a name, a website, and a blogging platform. There are a dozen results out there to help you with all of this if you just search for them. My personal story?? I started on blogger. It’s free, it’s simple, and user-friendly for a first-time blogger. However, after about six months of blogging, I realized this was a “thing” for me. It wasn’t going away and I wanted it to grow. So, I switched to WordPress. After two months of agonizing over what I thought might have been the worst decision ever, I’m happy to say that I’m so glad I got on WordPress early on. So once you decide on your platform, get your site name set up, it’s time to get moving!
I remember sitting at the computer about nine months ago, blog site ready to go, post ideas running through my mind and then staring at the screen thinking, “WHERE DO I START?” First of all, I highly recommend that you read the articles over at Blogging With Amy. She is like the guru of blogging in my book and what’s even cooler? She started out “non-techy” like the rest of us!
Both Blogger and WordPress have some free themes out there you can download that are pretty much outta-the-box ready to go blog designs. But there are still some things you need to consider if you want to grow your readership. And luckily, you don’t have to be a HTML code junkie to do it!
1. Consider using a custom header or logo – If you want to create your own custom header for your blog design, The Blog Guidebook has a great tutorial to walk you through. Keep your header image to no more than 150 – 200 pixels high. Readers want to see your content easily and not have to scroll through pages to get to the good stuff.
2. Make a Killer About Page – I think this one is a moving target for me. As my content grows, I find more ways to beef up my About Page. If you want some key elements in your about page, use a picture. Tell a little about your story. What’s your blog about? Why are you blogging? What’s your purpose? What can I expect to find on your blog? If you’ve got several posts up, show me your top three most popular posts to keep my attention. And tell me how I can contact you.
3. Contact Information – I know this might be hard to believe folks, but people want to connect with you! I’ve visited a ton of blogs and wanted to contact the author directly except there was no contact information. ACK! Let people reach you. You might be surprised at what comes your way. 🙂 The Sits Girls have a great tutorial on how to add social media buttons to your blog. And please, don’t forget to add Pinterest. You’ll miss alot of traffic without Pinterest.
4. Make it Easy – If you want people to stay around and visit your site, make it easy for them to find older posts. Consider adding labels or categories to your posts and then you can create links to your DIY Projects, Crafts, Recipes, whatever you’re niche is. And always include a search bar.
5. Share Buttons – Most of my traffic comes from you when you share my content. And nothing means more than when you do share it! 😉 WordPress has plug-ins for this and Blogger has the sharing buttons built right in to the layout. You just have to select them. You can also use media sharing buttons from ShareThis. All you do is select your platform, select the buttons you want to use and their appearance, and the html code is generated for you.
6. Learn to Take Better Pictures. – You don’t have to own a DSLR camera to be a blogger. The camera isn’t what takes great pictures, it’s the photographer. You just need to learn a few tips and tricks to getting great pictures on your blog. And use a great photo editing program like Picasa, Photoshop, or PicMonkey. Hint: take pictures in daylight!
That’s my top tips for blog design to get you going. A few other tips to keep in mind:
Try to stick to 2 -3 colors max in your design and 2-3 fonts that are easy to read.
Use the same profile photo for all of your social media channels. People will recognize you better.
Try to come up with a vision of how you want your blog to look. Get inspiration from some of your favorite sites and even magazines! 😉
Decide on your purpose of the blog and find a way to make that apparent to your readers on the first page.
And lastly, I’ve said this before… Don’t compare yourself to others. You WILL drive yourself crazy trying to compare yourself. So just focus on being the next you! Don’t be afraid to be different and let people get to know you better. Yeah, you might have great content, but people want to connect with the person. I’ve had the most fun getting to know some fellow bloggers and it’s a great community of people around here! So put yourself out there and above all, love what you do.
What tips would you add for blog design? What questions or topics do you struggle with when it comes to blog design?
Other posts in this series: