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Hello everyone! This week has been wonderful! On Monday I was surprised at work by getting a rather large raise and ever since I feel like I’m riding a unicorn over a rainbow. I’ve also wrapped up some google hangouts with some clients and their blogs are doing FANtastic.  Seeing how much their blogs have improved and grown has been so amazing.  (P.S. if you want your blog to dominate like Germany over Brazil, I have one client spot available.)

Edit: After years of working in a cubicle (as a social media and marketing manager), I’ve broken free and am now writing on a separate site. If you want tips for growing your blog and/or business. Head on over to Winn Creative Co.

After three months of officially helping bloggers kick some ass, I’ve started to see the same issues being repeated over an over again.  Today I’m starting the first of a three part series covering mistakes every blogger makes (probably more than once).  For today’s first post I’m sharing some of the visual problems I’m repeatedly seeing.

*Update: Part two is now up on my soft launched professional site, Katie Winnderful.

Mistakes every blogger makes

A generic (probably ugly) design.

First, there is nothing wrong with free templates.  There are some that you can actually a lot to and make them look really nice.  However, it can take a lot of work and you’re going to be limited.  If you’re even the slightest bit serious about growing your blog, I highly suggest buying a premade template.  They aren’t too expensive and I have never come across another blog with the design I’ve bought.  Many shops that sell premade designs will do slight adjustments for a small extra fee to make the design a little different if you want it to be unique.  If you’re interested in a premade template, I’ve written a post to help you choose the right one.

Here are a list of pre-made design shops I recommend:

Less than stellar photos.

Your photos on your blog are nearly as important as your writing.  If your pictures have terrible lighting, lots of stuff in them, or just plain don’t make sense, you need to step it up.  When I first started blogging my pictures were terrible.  (Like this post for example, or this one.)  I’m ashamed.  I still struggle with pictures.  Over the past few months I’ve discovered some great apps that have helped me take better photos.  Now I use my phone for most photos as well as free photos online for my posts.  Two Twenty One has a great post on taking better photos on your phone and below are other resources I love.

Apps to step up your phone photos:

  • VSCO Cam
  • A Beautiful Mess
  • Studio

My favorite places for online photos:

A lacking or outdated About page.

It’s hard to create a community on your blog if your readers can’t figure out anything about you.  When I look at an about page, I want to see 1) a brief overview of who you are, 2) a brief overview of what your blog is all about, 3) where and why I (or an interested business) can contact you, and 4) where I should go next.  The two goals of your about page should be to paint a picture of you and your blog and then move people to other pages of your site.  Make sure you keep it updated with life changes.  Did you get married? Have you moved? Are you no longer a post-grad or 20-something? Life changes and so should your about page.

Great about pages:

No (or a very difficult) way to contact you.

If you want to interact with your readers or want to make money from people, they have to be able to contact you.  Make it easy on them.  Include a contact form and hyperlink text so the email form automatically pops up.

Not having a “best of” page or a way to show off your best posts.

When a person comes to your blog, you want them to stay as long as possible.  Chances are you have other posts similar to the one that brought them to your site, so make sure they can find it easily!  Use a related post plugin, have a best of page, link back other other posts within a post and/or have a popular post plugin on your sidebar.  Do what you can (without being obnoxious) and help your readers find your other, also awesome, posts.  I mean, you don’t write a post so it can disappear into your archives, right?

A cluttered sidebar in a less than stellar order.

You don’t want a million things on your sidebar.  If it’s not going to add anything to your reader’s experience, it doesn’t need to be on your sidebar.  Ten different linkup buttons? Please no.  If you’re hosting the linkup then by all means keep it up, but you probably aren’t participating in those linkups regularly and they send the reader away from your blog.  In my opinion, always link back to the host of a linkup or use the image within the post, but please leave it off your sidebar.

Also, put the important things at the top of your sidebar.  Ideally a picture of you is first, followed by a brief bio, your social media links then your categories.  You might think the “subscribe to this blog via email” should come next, but it can be lower.  Have you ever subscribed to a blog via email within the first 2 minutes of being on the site? Probably not.  The reader will spend time looking at everything else, then signup.  Because of that it doesn’t need to be the first thing they see.

There you have it! Have you made any of these mistakes before? Maybe you’re making them right now! If so, take some time and do some updating.  Go through old posts and add links to others.  Add your social media links to your about page.  Don’t stress about doing a huge overhaul, take it a little bit at a time and soon your blog will be super fly.

What mistakes have you been making?

Linking up with the Treasure Tromp’s Treat Yo Self

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  • These are some great tips! I’ll change the position of my email subscription immediately! One question: Linkwithin doesn’t work for me. No idea why, there just always is an error when I try to install it. Do you know an alternative for Blogger?

    • SomethingWinnderful

      I’m glad these were helpful! I don’t use Blogger so I can’t recommend anything that I’ve tried myself before, but I did some searching and found nRelated to be a recommended Linkwithin alternative. Hopefully that helps, let me know how it works for you.

      • It took some time but finally, it works! Thanks for the great tip! I really haven’t heard of nrelated before!!

  • Madaline

    Sigh. I have been trying to write /re-write my about page for weeks!!!! Going to try and make it my goal now! By the way I love the Unicorn over a rainbow – made me laugh.

    • SomethingWinnderful

      Don’t worry, I don’t even want to tell you how long I’ve been putting off updating my About Page. I finally was SO ready to update it and the power went out for the day, so it looks like it’s still gonna be put off for a bit. I guess that’s one thing about blogging, you’re never done improving. I’m glad you liked the Unicorn over a rainbow, “super duper incredibly happy,” just didn’t seem to express how happy I was, plus Unicorns are always the right decision. Thank you for reading, let me know how that about page goes!

  • SUCH a great list and so helpful! I will def be putting these tips to use. Thank you for the advice!

    • SomethingWinnderful

      Yay thank you!! Let me know how the updates work for you and thank you for reading!

  • Haley

    Love this!! This is so true. When I first started blogging… It was bad. Haha! You learn as you go though!! 🙂

    http://www.bellevieblog.com

    • SomethingWinnderful

      Girl, I don’t even want to think about the things I posted when I first started blogging. There was a time where I aligned all my text to the right because I thought it looked cool and unique. I also used to post terrible pictures of terrible recipes. They’re lurking on my blog somewhere. I think time is one of the most valuable tools when it comes to blogging, you learn so much the longer you work on it!

  • Thanks for the tips! I think I have some work to do 🙂

    • SomethingWinnderful

      No problem! I’m glad you found this helpful!

  • This is fabulous! Thank you for sharing! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the order and look of my sidebar. I think it might still need some work, so this was very helpful!

  • These are some stellar tips and I love that you actually gave some examples of bloggers that are excelling in these areas.

  • These are great tips! I always enjoy reading the “Mistakes” posts so that I can change my own blog for the better.

  • Pam Petralia

    Great tips! I look forward to reading more about improving my blog. Thanks!!
    Pam
    MrsPSpecialties

    • SomethingWinnderful

      No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Aw, thank you for the shoutout! That actually reminded me to go in and update a few of the linked posts, so double thanks are in order. 😉
    My mistakes: I need to put together a Best Of page, and I really need to create and stick to a strict style guide that applies to photos (and whether I add text on top of the them, what fonts I use, etc.).

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  • Oh my! This was really helpful! thank you alot and alot more, I’m feeling shame while reading the part of “about me page” cause right now its terrible but the good news is I’m working on it and it should be updated this week! I’m glad I came across your blog, Thank you again for the beautiful post!~^_^

    http://www.beautylish-life.com

    • SomethingWinnderful

      Girl, don’t feel shame at all, I’m totally guilty of all some of the things on this list too! I struggle with my About page, they are so hard to write! I’ve been meaning to update/redo my “best of page and I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m glad you found this post helpful and enjoyed looking around!

  • Olivia

    Love the tips and your blog title. I need to work on several of them…whoops.

    The first thing I noticed when I opened your blog though was that a blog that I already follow (http://www.simplysinova.com/) has the same design! Funny considering your first tip 🙂

    • That’s so funny! I tried really hard to find another blog that had this design because I wanted to see how it looked actually being use but I couldn’t find one. One day I’ll be able to invest is a custom design, but until then, premade templates it is 🙂

      P.S. Thank you so much for commenting! I’m so sorry for taking so long to respond, I switched to Disqus and then got all out of my replying routine.

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