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.
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
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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