Good day there lovely readers! I believe everybody judges websites. Whether it's a news site, a personal blog or a company's website: having an opinion about a certain lay-out, way of presenting information and writing is a completely normal thing. I think about this a lot, I want to make my blog look as presentable and professional as possible. I've been wanting to write this article for a very long time but I wanted to wait until I was satisfied with the appearance of my blog (practice what you preach!) - and that day is here. Finally. Enjoy!
CHOOSE A CLEAR TEMPLATE
Whenever you visit a website you simply don't understand because of the many options, categories and buttons, it's easier to click away than to seek your way through the wilderness. Make sure you choose a clear template. The template doesn't have to be minimalist or black-and-white: not at all. Just make sure your readers will be able to find their way through your blog!
You don't have to buy a template: many paid-for templates look very cute and have a professional touch, but it's not a necessity. I created a list of 7 beautiful & free Blogger templates - if you're looking for a new one, make sure to check that post out.
DON'T USE BLOGGER'S STANDARD THEMES & NO FANCY WALLPAPERS
I don't know anything about Wordpress themes but I assume their themes are a bit more professional-looking that Blogger's themes, because Wordpress is not free, like Blogger. A standard Blogger theme is easy to recognize and it's not pretty. There are tons of amazing Blogger templates on the web, though! To install one: download the file, and then upload the XML file to the Blogger template section.
About fancy wallpapers: I'm not judging everyone here. Some websites have the cutest wallpapers with little drawings and hearts and it's just amazing - but wallpapers've never worked for me, personally. They are distracting and most of them look very clumsy. They make a page slower as well, because a large image means a long time to load.
PHOTOGRAPHY IS KEY
Photography is a very important part of a blog. Photographs can make a blog - but they can break it as well. If you don't have a professional camera - don't worry about it. Mobile phones and point-and-shoot cameras can be used to take amazing pictures as well: just make sure your lighting & composition are alright. Experimenting with your camera is a great way to find out how your camera works and how photographs look the prettiest: looking around on other people's blogs is a great way to learn more about photography as well. Grab a notebook and take notes: write down what you like about the colors and composition in the photographs of your favorite bloggers. Try to implement these points into your own photographs, and you'll soon find yourself to be a better photographer.
DON'T ADD TOO MANY ADS
Earning some money with your blog is really nice: you put a lot of time & energy in it and you want to get something in return. You can earn some money by placing advertisements on your website but don't overdo it! It'll make your website slower and less attractive. Your readers don't want to browse through advertisements, they want to read your blog! There's nothing wrong with advertisements - just make sure they don't clutter your website.
If you're a daily blogger - or even if you post every other day - posts can stack up quickly. 3-month old posts can get lost in history and you don't want that, because the age of a post doesn't make it any less good, and you've put lots of time and energy in it. You can solve this by adding categories to your website: readers will be able to browse your blog by clicking on their category of choice. Maybe this will lead them to good articles you've written ages ago, which means your articles won't get lost in the many posts on your blog (and you'll get some extra page views as well).
DON'T WRITE TOO MANY SPONSORED POSTS
This is a mistake I've made in the past. Even though earning some extra money is nice, try to be objective and select the advertisers you'll be working with based on your preferences and on what your readers like. Earning a few dollars is nice but losing readers for this isn't worth it - at least, that's what I believe.
HAVE A CLEAR ABOUT & CONTACT PAGE
There's nothing worse than not being able to find someone's e-mail address or contact form. Being able to get to know the blogger behind the website is nice as well: I don't believe this is a necessity because blogs are really personal already but I love visiting people's about-pages.
REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN
I almost immediately did this - even though I didn't have any readers yet! Doing this motivated me to keep going because I actually spent money on it. www.lemontierres.com just looks so much better than www.lemontierres.blogspot.com - I believe I paid 15 euros to keep my domain for 12 months, which is a decent price. If you're going to be serious about blogging, make sure to do this in the very beginning, as this is a lot easier: readers won't have to adjust to a new URL and you don't have to change profiles like the one on Bloglovin', various blogger networks et cetera.
THINK ABOUT YOUR NAME
Complicated blog names are hard to remember - people don't like complicated names so they'll forget about your blog (unless you're really freakin' good and interesting). Blog names like 'ponygirl73948' are just a chore to remember (and they look really childish as well). Coming up with easy and creative names is hard, though - everything seems to be taken. Try to be creative, though: don't create a blog in a momentum but try to think about it!
THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH
My tips might sound harsh but I think blogs are about personality and adding something personal to your blog is even better than trying to make it as perfect & easy to browse through as possible.
I hope this will help you in the future. Much love, Sjoukje