Please note: This article was published May 22, 2017.
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I started seriously blogging in 2015, and since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about what works on the web — and what totally doesn’t.
If you want to thrive as a blogger, your website needs to look professional and polished, both in the eyes of brands you want to work with and in the eyes readers who are visiting your site. To accomplish this, here are eleven features you can add to your site to put you on the path toward blogging success:
1. A white background
You might think your colorful backdrop looks pretty, but by the time your readers get through your posts (if they get that far), their eyes will be hurting. Any blog backgrounds that aren’t white — or close to it — can be an eyesore for readers — and this also applies to moving backgrounds, which are also a huge no-no.
2. A readable font
Like a solid, white background, this all boils down to readability. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun fonts in your headings or even throughout your posts, but if you’re including a big block of text, save your readers’ eyes and give them a font that they can actually read.
3. A “Work With Me” page that is easily accessible
If you want to make money on your blog, companies need a way to get in contact with you — and they’re not going to spend a lot of time looking. If they can’t find a page to contact you within 30-60 seconds, they’ll move on to a new blogger. For this reason, it’s super important to keep your Contact or Work With Me page at the top of your blog, or at least somewhere that it can be easily found.
4. An easy-to-navigate menu
A huge pet peeve of mine when looking at blogs is when I can’t find a way to browse posts. I want to see more of what you have to say! On my blog, I choose to have a multi-level navigation menu at the top of every page, but you can do this in whatever method suits you best. Just make sure there’s a way for me to casually browse without having to search for a specific post!
5. A plethora of search bars
That said, don’t forget to include a search bar or three. Have you ever been on a website that didn’t have a search bar, or you couldn’t find it? It makes it really difficult to navigate the site. Remember, the internet is a fast-paced world, and if your readers can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next blog in a heartbeat.
6. A legal disclosures page
Yes, you need this even if you’re a hobbyist. Yes, you need this even if you don’t make money on your blog. I’m not a lawyer, but having a legal page is super important for every blogger. It protects you and your creative property, and it also helps maintain your compliance with FTC regulations. If you need more help, I’d recommend contacting a lawyer who can talk you through the process.
7. Easy-to-find links to your social media
There’s nothing worse than loving a blog and blogger, but not being able to find how to connect with them outside of their blog! Your social media profiles should be prominently displayed on your site so that readers can find you—whether you put them at the top, on the sidebar, or even in the footer. (Or maybe all three?)
8. A clear face to associate with your name
Nearly every page of my blog has a picture of me. Whether you see it within the page or post, or just at the top of the right sidebar, my face can be easily found by my readers. This helps them (ahem, you!) feel connected to me, making you more likely to recognize my site if you return, or find me on social media. It’s a win-win all around! Additionally, if you don’t post a photo of yourself on your site, it can make the blog look kind of sketchy, as if you’re trying to hide something.
9. Consistency in post schedule
This is a secret to blog traffic, but it’s also key in maintaining professionalism. If you’re absent for months on end, you look like you aren’t serious about blogging. Avoid this by trying to post on a regular schedule, whether it’s daily, biweekly, weekly, or even monthly. Just be consistent!
10. Consistency in your style guide
Your style guide encompasses several things, from the way you design your Pinterest graphics to the way you create headers within posts to the way you spell and punctuate words. For instance, in AP (Associated Press) style, the word “internet” is not capitalized. You may feel that it should be, though — and that’s okay! Just make sure that you maintain consistency so your readers know what to expect. It may seem like a subtle thing, but if you aren’t consistent, it will be very obvious.
11. An interactive, mobile-friendly design
If your site design is not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge potential market. Upwards of two-thirds or more of blog viewers are on their phones, and if your site is too difficult for them to use, they’ll move on to one that has better functionality.
All of these things will help your site look more professional, but overall, remember that the readers’ experience is the most important thing. If your blog is fun, consistent, and informative, they’ll keep coming back for more!
Do you agree? Disagree? Have more tips? Share in the comments below!