If you are considering blogging to make some extra money, you need to make your blog look professional right from the start. Your blog should show your personality but be professional at the same time. Using a web designer ensures you have a professional-looking blog. It is something you can do yourself, but it’s more difficult when you are working with free blog sites on the internet.
If you want people to return to your blog, they have to know that you are an expert in your field. An unprofessional blog tells people that you are not an expert in your field, no matter how much knowledge you impart.
Even small flaws can make your blog look unprofessional and turn people off before they get past the heading. It’s easy enough to avoid major flaws, including those that look small but are major.
#1 Have a Strong Brand Image
Your brand, including your logo, tells potential and existing customers about you as a company. You should have a strong logo for the foundation of your brand, especially if you’re selling products and want people to trust you enough to buy them.
If the blog is more of a personal blog and you are giving advice instead of selling goods and services, a brand image is just as important. You want people to continue visiting your blog, and they won’t if they don’t believe the information it provides.
The bottom line is that no matter what kind of blog you have, you need a logo to include in it. Don’t stress yourself out though, a lot of people make a logo with online apps. Try to make it simple and memorable, and be sure to incorporate it well with the rest of your branding and design.
#2 Use a Domain Name
Another very important element of a professional blog is using a domain name. Using myname.freeblogplace.com doesn’t look professional. You will need a domain name to self-host. Some free blogs do allow you to use a domain name, which is better than the shared domain name. However, the free blogs still do not allow for much freedom in choosing colors and themes.
When registering a domain name, you have to first ensure that someone else isn’t using it. You can do that by searching for the name you want on any domain registry site. Your domain name should reflect what your blog is about. In other words, you wouldn’t choose horses.com when your blog is about handmade leather products or information on herbal healing.
A domain name should:
- Be recognizable and easy to remember
- Be relevant now and in the future
- Describe your blog content
You also have to choose which extension to use. The most common extension is a dot-com extension. This can lead to confusion. If someone is using horses.com and you choose horses.us, it’s too easy for your customers to forget that you used dot-us and end up on someone else’s blog.
If the name you choose isn’t available as a dot-com, we recommend choosing another name.
#3 Choose Your Hosting Carefully
When looking for a good hosting company, be sure that it offers you what you need. Some hosting sites offer the minimum for a lower price, but it might not work if you are using WordPress or Joomla to create your blog.
Your hosting site should:
- Have low or zero downtimes
- Have good upload/download speeds
- Allow the creation of databases
- Have the newest version of PHP
- Uses Cpanel or another management system that is user-friendly
- Provide stats
- Be affordable for the mid-level packages. The entry packages usually do not provide great speed, and the many options that are available in the mid-level and higher packages
Using a permalink with only the post name looks more professional than having the category and other information in the link. When setting up your blog, be sure to set the permalink settings.
#5 Legal Pages
The terms and conditions page tells visitors how they can use your content. If you sell anything, you might include return policies, shipping policies, and other policies. The disclaimer states that the information on your pages is for informational purposes only. For example, if you have a legal blog and you are not an attorney, you can’t give legal advice. Your disclaimer would state that you are not an attorney and that the information on your pages is not legal advice.
#6 White Space
Be sure to provide plenty of white space on the blog. You don’t want it crowded. If you must use ads, try to keep them to a minimum. Using too many ads turns people off, and they will leave.
Some professionals suggest creating paragraphs that are no more than two sentences. However, that could make your work sound choppy. Keep the paragraphs short and use bulleted lists, but end them on a natural note – not because they are only two sentences long.
The theme you pick for your blog is very important. You don’t want a car-based theme for a food blog, no matter how much you like the theme and think you can change it. Themes designed for different industries have special plugins and features for that industry.
You can find themes for consultants, foodies, auto, freelancers, and other professionals. Various themes might also have design elements that work best for a certain type of blog. Well-designed themes are usually not free and make your blog look more professional than the free themes.
#8 About Me, Bio, and Profile Photo
Every blog should have an “About Me” page, a short bio about you, and a professional headshot. Take your time crafting the “About Me” page and bio. The bio should be written in the third person using your full name for the first mention, then either your first or last name for subsequent mentions. Business and consultant blogs usually use the last name.
The About page should have the following:
- Information about your blog, such as what people will find on it and the target reader. It should also include why you are sharing information with your target reader.
- Your qualifications to write on your chosen subject. For example, degrees, courses, hands-on experience, etc.
- Another professional photo of you.
- Brands you work with.
Before Starting a New Blog
The best thing you can do before sitting down to start a new blog is to make a plan. You have the information needed to design a professional blog – now it’s time to make a plan. You can use a checklist to make it easier to follow the blog plan, or you can write it out in paragraphs. Regardless, it takes a lot of research to create a successful and professional-looking blog, which means that you’ll be taking tons of notes.
Some of the steps you should include in your plan include:
- Choose a name that fits your blog content.
- Choose a domain name. If available, the domain name should be the same as the title of your blog, as long as the title is not long.
- Research and choose hosting.
- Plan for the first 10 to 12 articles. Create titles and research keywords for the titles. Write the articles and have them ready to upload.
- Look for the best template to give your blog a professional look and show off your content.
- Choose your blog colors.
- Create a blog logo.
- Choose the platform you use. WordPress is highly popular for blogs, but Joomla also makes a great site that looks more like a website than a blog.
- Set up your content management platform. Add plugins and other features you need.
- Set up a menu structure.
- Go through the settings and ensure everything is correct to handle SEO, including setting permalinks.
- Upload your content.
- Advertise your blog!
Be sure to add new content to your blog at least twice per week. If you don’t, you won’t get a lot of traffic. Blogging takes time every week, and the successful blogger keeps his or her blog populated with new and updated content. Always review your work, and check for spelling and grammar errors before you upload. Finally, add photos to your articles, but don’t forget about providing plenty of white space. One to two photos per article is enough to catch a reader’s attention.