10 Ways to Make Your Blog Look Professional – A Strategy for Success
First impressions are everything when it comes to blogging.
It’s not easy to hear this.
But if you want people to take you seriously as a blogger, you need to make your blog look professional from the very start.
With over 2 million blog posts published every single day, you can set yourself apart from the competition by taking your blog design seriously.
I’m not asking you to spend thousands of dollars on a designer or get bogged down in coding. There are certain things that can be done very easily that will have an immediate impact on how people perceive your blog’s professionalism and credibility.
If you are looking to take your blog from a passion project to a source of income, here are some strategies, tips, and ideas to help you make your blog look professional.
These steps will help both new and established bloggers create an online presence that is professional, credible, and trustworthy.
How To Make Your Blog Look Professional
Before we dive in, you should know that I have a step-by-step guide for how to start a blog– even if you have no experience.
If you have not yet started your blog, or you’ve started but are not quite sure you got off on the right foot. Make sure to check out that blog post here.
1. Choose A Professional Domain Name
The first thing you should do when creating your blog is to choose a domain name.
Your Domain name is the name that people will type in to find your blog or website.
Why does your domain name matter?
Well, with millions of blogs online, the one thing that people are going to use as an indicator of whether or not they will read your blog is how it looks on their browser bar.
It’s the first thing they see even before the page loads.
Before even looking at what content you have written, there are certain things they will judge you on, and your domain name is one of them.
So it’s important to choose a domain name that looks professional and trustworthy right off the bat.
When I see a blogger whose domain name is www.wordpress.com/theirblogname, I immediately think back to my early days blogging.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a free blogging platform.
However, in my experience when you are trying to sell yourself as an expert or influencer on your topic, having a bog that is hosted for free by another blogging company out there doesn’t inspire trust.
Buying a domain is quite inexpensive. It’s something that even a beginner blogger can afford when they’re on a tight budget.
You can use Namecheap because they are one of the most affordable options out there. They also let you purchase private SSL which keeps your blog content secure.
2. Invest In Your Blog Design
Not everyone has the budget to afford to hire a skilled web designer- That’s ok.
Regardless of what your budget is, you can still have a simple and professional blog design.
You can achieve a professional-looking blog by using Themes.
A theme is a template that determines what your blog will look like. While there are many free themes available, I feel like they pale in comparison to the themes that you can purchase for just a small amount of money.
When choosing your blog theme, be sure to look for ones that are clean and simple in appearance with an easy-to-navigate layout.
This is important because even if you don’t have a lot of money invested into the site itself, it’s helpful to find free templates that will give your readers everything they need without bogging them down with unnecessary frills or distractions.
If your visitors can easily navigate around the page on their own without any outside help (for example, scrolling through menus at the top of the screen), then you’ve done good enough!
The theme on my personal website is from Pix & Hue and it’s the Harlowe Theme that I purchased on Creative Market.
On creative market, you can browse and find many other premium themes.
Before you purchase a theme, make sure to review the live demo so that you get an idea of what the theme will look like in action.
Themes range from $30- $79 dollars on creative market.
Here are my recommendations for the best places to get great aesthetic WordPress themes.
3. Work On Improving Your Site Speed
The first impression people get of your blog is how quickly it loads.
If you want to make a great first impression, work on improving your site speed. Nobody wants to wait around for five minutes (or more) just for one blog post to load!
There’s no excuse as there are many free and easy ways to optimize speed nowadays.
I use GtMetrix to check my speed periodically.
Do yourself a favour and take some time to look into your site speed. Also, see what you can do to speed up the site if you can.
I like GtMetrix because it tells you the areas that can be improved.
I’m willing to bet that once you’ve done so, you won’t regret having spent those precious hours working on something other than making sure that readers have the best possible experience when they visit your blog.
When you first start out blogging, one of the most difficult things to get used to is how links work.
What are Permalinks anyway!? And what does all this even mean for SEO?!?!
Don’t worry! We’re going over it now 🙂
Permalink structure refers very simply to how your URL appears in the browser bar after you click on a link to get from one blog post to the next.
If you are using WordPress, your permalink structure will be automatically generated for you.
The default setting is pretty complicated. It doesn’t make sense to people who aren’t familiar with the technical details of how a blog works. However, this can easily be changed in your settings section by choosing “Post Name” under Permalinks.
Head to Settings > Permalinks and you’ll see the different permalink structures.
I choose to have mine set up with the setting ‘post name’.
5. Include The Relevant Legal Pages
If you want to build trust with your readers, it’s important to be honest, and as transparent as possible.
The privacy page is key to protect yourself and your readers. It lets them know how you collect their data and what you do with it.
The disclaimer page is very similar but more geared toward protecting you if someone files a lawsuit against you after visiting your blog and getting injured in some way because of misinformation that was given out there.
When choosing what information to include on these pages, keep it short and concise with all necessary contact details like phone number and email address included.
A lot of times when bloggers are starting out, they don’t realize why it’s important to have disclaimers. They also don’t know what information needs to be included on them- But safety first!
It costs a lot of money to work with a lawyer 1:1. But you can get legal page templates drafted by a lawyer. This is what many bloggers do to create the legal pages for their blogs.
If the thought of creating legal pages for your blog has you feeling overwhelmed and confused, I highly recommend The Legal Bundle Value Pack.
Take a huge sigh of relief as you follow the instructions in this template and course bundle. You can have all your legal pages and disclaimer statements done in under an hour.
6. Make Your Blog Stand Out From The Crowd With Custom Graphics And Textures
This is definitely not an essential element to a successful blog but it’s very helpful in making your blog look more professional.
When I started my own website, I was on an extremely tight budget. The only way that I could add images and textures to my site without spending any money at all was by using Canva.
If you don’t have graphic design skills or time for learning how to use high-level software like Adobe Photoshop then this is definitely the tool for you!
Canva has some really cool features that will help you create beautiful images and graphics with just a few clicks of your mouse. There are hundreds of free templates and pre-made designs available as well as photo editing tools if you need them. All premium items can be purchased for under $20.
7. Use High Quality Images On Your Blog
The images that you use for your blog posts can make or break a sale.
If they’re blurry, pixelated, and not very visually appealing to the eye then it will deter readers from reading through what you have to say.
It’s important to always work with good quality photos so that readers stay engaged in every post!
You don’t have to hire a professional photographer to get great blog photos.
You can take your own photos, or even use stock images.
When I started out as a blogger years ago, I didn’t know how important it was to find high-quality stock photography but after being burned time after time by bad quality photos on my site… let’s just say that now I’m extremely picky about which ones are allowed on my website!
If you are looking for free stock images for your blog, I recommend Unsplash because their library literally has millions of royalty free images.
You can also get free feminine stock photos like the ones I use on this blog from Haute Stock. By signing up to their mailing list, you can get free photos sent to you on a monthly basis.
Another source of stunning stock photos is Pixistock. I’ve been a part of their membership site and love the variety in their stock photos.
Especially when it comes to finding stock images for people of colour.
8. Having A Consistent Blog Post Layout
Having a consistent blog post layout will make your site look more professional and organized.
It helps to break up each post with headers, images, bullet points etc…
The more visual interest you have on the page the better. Just try not to overdo it by using too many elements or else readers won’t know where they are!
A basic blog post layout is as follows:
Introduction– This is where you want to let readers know why they should or shouldn’t read the rest of your post. It’s important to get to the point pretty quickly as people can loose interest.
Main body– Contains all the meaty information like facts, statistics and research that you want people to actually take in. The body should be broken down using H2 headers and bullet points.
If your post is a listicle, you may choose to number each of your headings to make it easier for your readers to follow.
Conclusion– This is where you summarize what was said in the main body section & give even more insight into how it can help others! Always close with a call to action. What do you want people to do after reading your blog post? This will vary depending on the content of your post, but as a general rule, never lead your readers to a dead end. Your post should empower them to take action.
A lot of newer bloggers struggle with coming up with their own blog layouts so I created a free Blog Post Template which covers everything from headers, images, spacing!
9. Include Social Media Buttons
I also recommend doing is adding social media buttons on the bottom of every single page of your site. This makes it super easy for readers to share your content with their friends, family members or followers online.
It can be done from one central location which you control yourself without having a third party bog down your website with extra advertisements and code snippets.
There are also free plugins available like JetPack if you’d rather not have separate pages for each individual service (You can add multiple services all at once!)
10. Fix Broken Links
It’s never a good thing when someone clicks on a link on your blog to be directed to a 404 error page.
This is definitely something that every blogger should check for on their website from time to time, especially if they are adding or removing pages regularly.
This is another one of the more techie fixes that you can do you your blog to make it more professional, but with doing.
It’s also important because it helps you maintain your blog by fixing links so no one who has already bookmarked them will have to search around again when the link changes locations!
There are several tools out there that can help you find broken links and then fix them easily without having any knowledge of coding.
If you’re using WordPress, Broken Link Checker is the best plugin I’ve found. It’ll go through each individual page of your site and let you know which ones have bad connections leading to dead ends where they shouldn’t be.
Once this is completed just click “Fix” in the plugin and you’re good to go!
It’s a really easy way of making sure you have all the most up-to-date information on your blog so readers won’t get frustrated when they click on links.
Other Broken Link Checker plugins available: Xenu, WP Link Checker Pro.
11. Include A Bio Page For Your Blogger Profile And Guest Posts
This one might seem like an obvious thing but surprisingly enough some bloggers don’t have this bog feature.
But it makes sense to include a bio or author information at the end of each blog post so readers know who wrote it- Like who they’re actually reading!
It’s also helpful when you have guest post authors on your blog. It allows them to have a link back to their own blog so they can cross-promote themselves.
You don’t need to include an elaborate blurb about yourself.
Including a short bio and headshot of you is all the average reader will ever need.
The headshot doesn’t have to be taken by a professional photographer. A well-lit, photo where you look presentable (preferably with a smile on your face) will do.
12. Create A Professional Email Address
A professional email address is similar to a professional domain. Not having it doesn’t mean that you’re any less of an expert. It just makes you look like more of an expert.
When I get an email from email@example.com, it just looks more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the online space, where people have short attention spans, the way things look speaks volume.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t plan on using your bog email account, having it is a great way of making sure that people will take you more seriously.
13. Be As Consistent As Possible With Your Blogging
When people ask what the secret to a blog’s success is, I always say the same thing- consistency.
If you want to be successful with your blog and gain an audience of loyal readers then it’s important that you post frequently on a regular schedule.
You don’t have to do this every day but having at least one new bog entry per week will get you more traffic than if you posted just once per month!
Doing these things can help ensure the long-term growth of your blog and they all cost next to nothing in terms of time or money- But we both know what businesses are really worth… Time Money And Quality Content!
While you shouldn’t focus entirely on the look of your blog, it is important to treat it like any other business that you are trying to run.
It’s essential for your blog success because having a professional appearance will help take the guesswork out of whether or not your blog content is high-quality and worth reading!
To recap what we’ve just discussed, here are the things you should do to make your site look professional as a beginner blogger.
- Choose a professional domain name
- Invest in your blog design
- Work on improving your site speed
- Use a permalink structure that makes sense
- Include the relevant legal pages
- Make your blog stand out from the crowd with custom graphic and textures
- Use high quality images on your blog
- Have a consistent blog post layout
- Include social media buttons
- Fix broken links
- Include a bio page for your blogger profile and guest posts
- Create a professional email address
- Be as consistent as possible with your blogging
These are just a few examples that you can use to make your bog look more professional. Most of these tips don’t take a huge amount of time, but they certainly go a long way in making sure that your blog is as polished as possible for visitors.
If there’s anything else I missed please let me know in the comments below!