So, you’re going to start a blog. You have a name, an idea, and a template in WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. You may even have a post or two up. Great work! But now what?
Here are some basic blogging tips to start you out on the right note. While there are many more, these eight will ensure that your blog looks, sounds and feels professional, while also keeping you and your readers happy.
Keep The Design Simple
There are thousands of free (or very cheap) blog templates available. But back away! Unless you have a background in web design and know your way around HTML and CSS, stick with a simple template at first to make sure you don’t end up with a MySpace-esque looking page. No hot pink. No tiled, multi-color background and absolutely no Comic Sans (ever). Your content is the focus of your blog – not your template. A white background, Sans-Serif font (Tahoma, Verdana, or Helvetica are all good options) in black or a dark grey, with a simple header will guarantee a professional looking blog. Your posts are where you can get creative.
You can have your own writing style, but make sure you spell and grammar check your work. This is especially important if you want your blog to help you grow professionally. While your posts don’t have to be formal (nor should they be), they shouldn’t all be train-of-thought. Regardless of the type of post, typos look sloppy, as do broken links. Be your own editor and take a moment to reread your work and test your links before hitting “publish”.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Found a beautiful photo on another blog? Someone worked really hard to create that and it’s wrong – and potentially illegal – to post it on your own blog without permission. Read the fine print and credit the photo appropriately. When in doubt, contact the creator of the image or simply find another image. (Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons are two great sites for public domain images.) Similarly, if you post a recipe, a quote, an article excerpt, etc., make sure you link to the source.
Side note on hyperlinking: if you’re linking to a page outside of your site, have it open in a new window so your blog doesn’t go away when the link is clicked.
Create An Editorial Calendar (And Stick To It)
You don’t have to post everyday but to gain readership, it’s important to post on a consistent schedule – be it daily, bi-monthly, or monthly. People like knowing when they can expect something new from you. An editorial calendar is a way to keep your post ideas organized and also to keep your blog focused. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a three-column spreadsheet, that includes date, topic, short description about the idea, works perfectly. Even more simply, you can print out a monthly calendar and hand-write your ideas.
Make Your ‘About’ Page Easy To Find
The first place most people go after they read a post they like is a blog’s “about” page. We want to know who is behind the phenomenal content! Make it easy for your readers to find this page by including it in your blog’s main navigation or on the sidebar. Also, make sure to include your contact information on the “about” page.
Watch Your Photos
Posting your own pictures ensures you’re not infringing on copyright laws – and it makes your blog even more unique and personal. That said, don’t post blurry or pixelated pictures. We’re not all photographers so you may not have the best lighting or the best composition, and you may only have an iPhone camera at your disposal. That’s completely okay. You’ll get there with time and with practice, but a blurry picture is like a typo: it doesn’t look or feel professional and it’s avoidable.
Break It Up
A lot of text on a computer screen is hard on the eyes and it can be overwhelming to a reader. Help them out by breaking paragraphs up with visual elements. These don’t necessarily need to be images – block quotes and lists do the trick, too.
Don’t Copy Others
The blogosphere is a wonderful place filled with great ideas and interesting perspectives. It may be tempting to imitate another blogger’s successful post on, for example, green juices, crop tops, or the Academy Awards. But unless it’s part of your brand and your vision, don’t do it. If you have a blog on gardening, don’t start posting about ankle boots because everyone else is doing it. Focus on what you like blogging about – if you’re authentic, your passion will come through and you will gain readers.
What tips do you have for bloggers?
Image via Jadyn Noelle