Investing into your blog takes a huge amount of time. From learning about what topics you write best to networking with other like-minded individuals, all takes a great amount of focus. While it’s needed to focus on these things, we must not overlook the necessity that every blog needs – a clean, crisp presentation. Your blog should be a space that reflects your heart, is easy to navigate and is welcoming to all of your readers. I have gathered up some very important things that your blog must have in order to bring your blog to the next level.
1. Your Name
You would think this is a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I have gone to someone’s blog and couldn’t find their name anywhere on their site. Your name should be one of the first things your reader is able to see when they visit your site. I highly suggest having your name in your short bio on your main page, but if that’s not your preference, please have it on your “about” page. It is so, so important to have your name easily found, because your readers want to connect with you! Some readers even want to reach out and contact you, so let them be able to call you by name.
2. An Easy To Find Search Bar
I never realized how important this was until about a few months ago when there was a comment thread about the importance of search bars in one of the blogging communities I’m a part of. A search bar makes it easy for your readers to re-visit old posts that they loved, instead of them having to go searching through your entire archive. Some good spots to put your search bar is towards the top of your sidebar (how I have mine) or in your main menu section at the top of your blog.
3. Clear Contacting
Blogging is all about connecting with others and creating a form of community. Because of this, you need to make sure you have clear ways that you can be contacted. You can have a “contact” page that contains a contact form that goes directly to your dashboard or you can have your email listed in multiple places, like as your sidebar. I choose to have both. The contact form is easy for when someone wants to shoot a quick message over to you. Mine is located on my “contact” page, along with my email link, where when clicked, automatically opens up an email. I also have an email icon located on my social media links. If you’re wanting to be professional, you must have how to contact you very clear and easy to do.
4. Linked Social Media Accounts
In today’s day in age as a blogger, you need to have social media accounts where your readers can keep up with you outside of your blog. It is important to have your accounts linked in your blog somewhere they’re easy to find, such as your sidebar or your “about” page. Wherever they’re more easily to be found, the better.
Another thought on social media accounts – make sure all of your handles are the same. This makes it as easy as possible to find you on all social media channels and it helps in developing your brand. Some bloggers like to have their blog name incorporated in their social media handles, but as someone who wants to be creative in more areas than blogging, I choose to just use my name (first and last) as my handles. You can change your handles by simply going into your settings on your Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Super simple!
5. An About Page
As a blogger, it is SO important that you have a well-developed “about” page. You grab your reader’s attention first by what you have written in your short sidebar description, but in order to keep their interest, you need to have a page that goes a little more in-depth about who you are and what your blog is about. While including fun, little details about yourself are great, don’t let that overtake the purposes of why you blog.
Here are some things you should include in your about page:
– Your blog’s mission
– Your location (closest metropolitan area)
– What you’re passionate about
– Some of your favorite things
– Relationship status (if it’s a huge part of your life. ex: if you’re engaged/married)
– Something that makes you, you
6. Your Photo
Just like I have encountered people’s blogs that don’t have their name written anywhere, I have found blogs that don’t have a single photo of the person anywhere. With your photo on your site, it allows people to put a face to the words that you’re sharing from your heart. Avoid using selfies. There’s no need to go out and get professional headshots done – just get your husband or friend to take some photos for you. Or you can use a self-timer on your phone or camera.
Having a categories section is more important than you’d think, especially as a lifestyle blogger. If you’re a lifestyle blogger (like me), you tend to write about a wide variety of topics. Having a categories section, whether in your sidebar or as a drop-down menu, is a definite must-have. Just like having a search bar, it takes the hassle out of having to sift through your entire archive when they’re wanting to read about a certain topic.
8. Easy Commenting
There are so many different commenting systems out there, but Disqus is hands down my favorite comment system. I have used other comment systems in the past like WordPress’s comment system, but they have all been very spammy for me. Since switching to Disqus months ago, I have had absolutely no spam. Disqus isn’t just great for bloggers to use, but it’s also very handy for readers to use. You wouldn’t believe how many people will give up writing a comment when the comment process is lengthy. See here to learn more about Disqus and how it stands out from other commenting systems.
9. Big & Beautiful Photos
While your words are highly important as a blogger, the photos you use in your photos are just as important! Most times your readers are first drawn in by the photo that is representing your post. This is why it’s important to not only have photos in your post but to have them be clear, relevant and big. Yes, big! If your images are tiny and centered in your post, the reader is more likely to get bored and move on, but when your photos are fitting the entire width of your post, they’re more likely to stay captured and to read on.
10. A Consistent & Clean Color Scheme
People want to come to a site that is neatly put together and clean. A huge aspect of having a visually appealing blog are the colors you use and how you use them. This can range from your style and taste of design, but overall, you need to make sure your site is inviting and eye-catching. For example – I like more of the calm, minimal and neutral look, so I maintain that feeling throughout my blog and let it flow to my social media channels, like Instagram. In my opinion, I think it’s easier to control your color scheme when it is a minimalistic feel you’re going for. For those of you who love bright colors, you have it a bit harder when it comes to finding the right color scheme. Use no more than 3 colors (it’s okay if you use some accent colors). When a blog is cluttered with colors and too much design, it can become overwhelming to the reader.
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