Make your blog look professional with these 8 simple tips
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The look and feel of your blog, you social media communications, e-mails and all interactions you have with your customers make a big difference to their impression about you, their feelings about you and ultimately on whether they trust you and will follow your advice and buy from you or not. That is why having a professional look and feel is essential. There are a few simple things that you can do from day one to make your blog look professional:
1 – Choose a mission statement
First and foremost, what is your purpose? Who are you serving and how are you serving them? Thinking about this first can help you define the right look and feel for your blog and all your communications with your customers. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, just a simple statement that makes it clear for you who your customer is and how you will serve them.
My mission statement is:
“I help other mums start their own online businesses sharing simple, actionable steps to help them build and grow their online presence.”
2 – Use a consistent brand style
Consider your branding carefully. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on branding, just sit down, check out a few competitors’s sites and think about what you want your brand to convey and how you want your blog to look like.
– Think about your purpose and the overall look and feel you want, as this will impact everything: colour scheme, fonts, the pictures you use on your blog, your voice, etc.
– Choose your colours: 2-3 main colours and a highlight colour.
– Choose two fonts, one for titles and one for the main text. Make sure they are both easily readable.
– Choose a logo or just a favicon for your site. It doesn’t have to be complicated and you can do it yourself, just something that identifies your brand and you can use in all your communications. I use the following main logo which I have in different colour combinations within my brand colours (white, black, grey and yellow):
Once you have chosen how your brand will look and feel, make sure you are consistent and use your branding in all your material and communications.
3 – Find a self-hosting provider
Are you using a free hosting provider? If you want a reliable hosting package that allows you to ensure that your site looks professional and gives you full control over your content, you need to find a self-hosting package. Self-hosting does not have to be expensive. Many hosting providers offer significant discounts for the first 1-3yr, so you can get hosting for around £50/year. I recommend SiteGround, which has been my hosting provider for a few years now. They have a good introductory offer and they provide a lot of tools and installers to make setting up your blog and getting it into shape easier.
4 – Use your own domain name
Your domain name will be your website’s address on the web. If you want to look professional having your own domain name is a must. Choose a domain name that represents your business or brand and that it’s easy to remember. You need to make sure the domain is available. You can use a webpage like http://www.nameboy.com to help you find available domain names or if you know which domain name you want just go directly to a domain name provider. Search the web for offers, there are a lot of cheap offers for the first year and you can easily buy a domain name for £1 the first year. Some hosting providers also offer a free or very cheap domain name for the first year.
Having your own domain name will also allow you to set up e-mail addresses within your own domain. Using an e-mail address like “email@example.com” does sound a lot more professional than “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Using an e-mail address within your domain also gives the impression that you are running a professional business.
5 – Get a premium WordPress theme
I have tried multiple free themes, but they include minimum configuration options and be harder to customise. I love the Genesis Framework although what I’m using is a theme from one vendor in themeforest. There are a few very popular WordPress themes from themeforest with a lot of configuration options like Avada or theme X. Before you buy a theme, make sure you check:
– The overall look and feel of the theme:
The look and feel of your theme needs to match your purpose and the overall look you want to achieve. Check out the previews and think about the layout and look you want for your site.
– Configuration options:
You want to change fonts and colours in different places or maybe you want a specific layout? Do you want a menu in a specific location or you want a banner or a slider on the main page? There are a lot of different options, but you need to make sure that the theme you choose supports the type of blog you want to build.
– Other functionality:
Do you need e-commerce functionality or plan to support more than one language? Think about extra functionality you’d like to use. You may be able to add most of this functionality with plugins later, but thinking about it beforehand will save you time and effort later.
– Check when the reviews, comments and when the theme was last updated before you buy.
If the theme has not been updated for a long time, that’s a sign is no longer being developed so any problems/errors you find with the theme are not likely to get resolved.
6 – Use professional looking photos
Images are essential to attract and keep your visitors both on your website and on social media channels, and it is vital to use high-quality images. If you have a blog, you will probably need a good supply of quality images to use as featured images for your posts and for social media promotion, so you need to source those images cost-effectively. Using stock photo sites allows you to use high-quality images at low cost, or even for free. I use depositphotos for most of my images, although you can also find good quality photos free online. Check out my post “The best stock photo sites” for more details.
7 – Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes
Having grammar and spelling errors in your writing is a sure way to make your writing look less professional, and it will probably annoy quite a lot of your readers. Make sure you use the grammar and spellchecker within the writing package you use, or use proofreading software. I use both Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid. They both have a free and paid version. They will help you ensure your writing is free of errors and also help you improve your writing. Check out my post on “How to use Grammarly“.
8 – Check your website’s speed
I’m sure you have visited a website recently where you waited a few seconds too long for it to load. I normally give it a couple of seconds and then move away. There are so many sites out there that most users do not wait for a site to load if it takes more than a couple of seconds. It’s also one element that Google uses in their ranking. So Website load time is a key element to consider both to improve SEO and user experience.
There are a few options to increase your load speed; one of them is to install a plugin like Autoptimize. Check out my blog post “How to increase your website speed” for more detailed options.
I hope if you’ve made it all the way here you’ve found this post useful and that you have implemented a few of the suggested changes. Make sure you are taking action. If you have enjoyed this blog post, please share it and join my e-mail list below.