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Monday, December 4, 2017

How to Make Your Blog More Professional with Three Easy Concepts

I haven't even started my introduction yet, and I can already feel you questioning me. DO NOT QUESTION ME OK. If you honestly CANNOT believe that I know something about this topic then.... well, I don't blame you.

BUT. Even if you're questioning my knowledge on this subject, HUMOR ME. Maybe I'll surprise you? (But in all honesty, maybe I won't. You'll have to keep reading to find out. MWAHAHA.)  

How your blog looks is SUPER IMPORTANT, because the appearance of your blog is what's going to attract readers. If I stumble across a blog and it's not visually appealing, I'm not inclined to stick around. 

So with that in mind, there's a few easy ways to use graphics to give your blog a more professional feel. 



PLAN YOUR GRAPHICS 

Basically the idea here is that you're not just throwing pictures up on your blog because they look good; instead, you're taking the time to figure out which pictures will look good together.

If my last post graphic was black-and-white, then I probably wouldn't want to use another black-and-white picture for my next post. Likewise, if my last post graphic was darker, I'll probably try and choose a lighter picture for my next post. 

So that being said, let's take a look at my last six post graphics: 



They're not necessarily PERFECT together, but none of them are clashing with each other. I try to make sure that my graphics fit together and that they're varied. By planning your graphics out, you can give your blog a fantastic visual touch that it wouldn't have otherwise. 

But just remember NOT TO STRESS ABOUT IT. Don't spend two hours trying to find the PERFECT picture; that's not a wise use of your time. Just make sure you're not posting two similar pictures or two pictures that clash in a row. And try to keep things varied! (unless your blog has a specific color scheme, in which case I applaud you) It's as easy as that. 


UNIFY YOUR FONTS 

THIS IS LITERALLY THE EASIEST THING EVER. You know how you make a main graphic for each post you write? Stop switching fonts between post graphics!! It's that simple. Consistency of font makes your blog unified, whereas using all sorts of different fonts can make your blog look disjointed. 

But does your blog have to be ALL THE SAME FONT? Nope! I have two fonts that I use. My main font is Amatic Small Caps, but I occasionally throw in Julius Sans One. By using Julius Sans One VERY sparingly, I can use it to achieve emphasis on certain words or to mix things up every so often. Or, on a graphic that contains only Amatic Small Caps font, I can vary the colors (NOT the font) to achieve emphasis or mix things up. 

Plus, you get bonus points if your blog header, blog button, and blog graphics are in the same font. (see how all of that is Amatic Small Caps for mine?)

Also, one last thought: See how I use Amatic small caps for my main points in each of my posts? That's also a SUPER good idea. Graphically designed headers for your main points = professional. Especially if your font is unified.


If you're a blogger, you've probably heard this phrase before. IT GETS TOSSED AROUND A LOT. But what does it actually mean

Basically, "reader friendly" means that your blog is easy for your readers to navigate, read, and interact on. It doesn't take new readers five minutes to find your latest post. It doesn't take them five minutes to find your about page. It doesn't take them five minutes to figure out how to follow you. (<< COMMON PROBLEM) It doesn't take them five minutes to find ANYTHING TBH.


NAVIGATION 

Making your blog easier to navigate (hence making it more reader friendly, hence making it MORE PROFESSIONAL) isn't as hard as it might sound. Off the top of my head, I can think of three SUPER easy ways to do this. 


Most importantly, readers should be able to find out about you VERY EASILY. The easiest and most common way to do this is with a picture of you on the top of your sidebar; this gives your blog a personal touch. Beneath your picture, you give a short summary of who you are and what you believe in; this gives readers a chance to instantly connect with you. Then, you link the picture to your about page. Ta-da! Now, your readers can figure out who you are in a glance by reading your short summary, or, they can read your in-depth bio on your about page.


Next up is figuring out where to put your "follow me on x!!" gadgets. Guess what? EASY SOLUTION = put them near the top of your sidebar. Period. It makes them easier to find. If I go onto a blog and I can't find where to follow said blog, the changes of me following are VERY SLIM INDEED. 


Lastly, a search box and floating navigation bar are nice touches. They're definitely "extra" elements, but they make navigating a blog SO MUCH EASIER. If you have a search box, your readers can find specific posts of yours by searching for them. (instead of having to wade through your archives) If you have a floating navigation bar, all your pages are one click away.



EASY-TO-READ

Making your blog easy-to-read might sound like it's based ENTIRELY on your style, but that's NOT THE CASE. Although having an easy-to-read blogging style is definitely a key idea here, there are a few other solid tricks that can make your blog easier to read. (hence making it more professional) 


For one, FONT IS IMPORTANT. (if you get nothing else from this post, you need to get this point ok) Your blog post font should be plain and clear and BIG. If it's fancy, it's hard to read. If it's tiny, it's hard to read. And how long do you think I'm going to stick around on a blog that has font this size or even this size? NOT LONG. MY EYES CAN'T HANDLE IT. Same goes for a font that's too fancy. 


Also related to font: DO. NOT. CENTER. IT. I see this a lot, and I'm a little confused as to why...? Why would we center the font on our blogs when LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE WE READ (minus poetry) is aligned to the left?Centered font is just hard to read because we're not used to it. End of story. Align your font to the left. 


One last tip on how font can make your blog easier to read: Special formatting is underrated. Using bold and italics is a fantastic way to make your posts easier-to read. (Bold is probably more common, but italics are useful also.) It makes long posts seem less daunting. Plus, if someone doesn't have time to read your WHOLE POST, they can scan over it and read the bold parts. 



READER INTERACTION 

The biggest part of reader interaction is comments. Really the only thing I have to say about comments is that you should definitely reply to them. Even if you don't know what to say, a simple "Thanks for commenting!" can suffice. 

Most of us probably already know that. BUT. A less well-known tip is this: A really cool way to add some more reader interaction to your blog is by creating a "contact me" page. Readers can shoot you an email through the contact page if they have questions, longer feedback, or anything they'd like to say to you. LOOK AT YOU, SO PROFESSIONAL.


YOU KNEW I'D GET HERE EVENTUALLY. XD Content is also an important part of blogging (who knew, right?); and just like the last two points, your blog content plays a part in how professional your blog is. 

However, this might be a little harder than the last two points. Professional content is more of a "gray area" and it looks different for different people. The goods news is that there ARE a few basic principles that I think should apply across the board. Let's take a look at those. 



SO WHAT'S YOUR BLOG ABOUT?

An understanding of what your primary blog topics are is critical. Part of professional blogging is having clear-cut, defined content. Anyone who's been reading your blog for any decent amount of time should know what to expect from you.

SO. Let's use my blog as an example. First, what's my tagline? "Reading, writing, faith, ninjas." That's a great start! Anyone who stumbles across my blog is going to see that right away, and instantly they have an idea of what I blog about. But... TAGLINES ARE REALLY GENERAL. How else can you develop defined content other than just stating it in your tagline?

WELL. It's actually super easy! Blog about what you say you're going to blog about. If I have a cooking blog and I post something about how I'm training my pet chinchilla (both hypothetical situations, JUST SO YOU'RE AWARE), then that's not very professional. If I have a fashion blog and I post something about my favorite brand of vacuum cleaner, then that's not very professional. (AGAIN: HYPOTHETICAL.)

The point of having defined content is letting your readers know what to expect from you. This doesn't mean you can NEVER EVER stray from your normal blog topics. It just means that your readers have a general idea of what your posts are going to be like and what you're going to discuss on your blog. 



AUTHENTICITY

We're going to assume that your blog readers are SMART. They can tell when you're actually serious about what you're posting, and they can tell when you're just posting something because you have nothing better to say. 

Blogging is less about how well-written your posts are and more about how much your subject matters to you. I've seen people that have blogs FILLED TO THE BRIM with sketchy grammar, and yet they're still doing great. Why is that? 

It's because those blog authors know what matters to them, and they blog about it. They don't blog about what everyone else is talking about, or what they think is popular or "relevant." 

I'm by no means advocating that you forget grammar when you blog. Personally, I believe grammar and spelling are critical to becoming a good writer. But are they critical to becoming a good blogger? Not necessarily. 

The obvious question here is: how do I make my posts more authentic? For me, I write about what I've learned, what God's put on my heart, or what I've been going through. Posts about what I've been reading or writing can also work! So ask yourself: What matters to me? NOW GO WRITE ABOUT IT. 




SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. Maybe you don't think blogging professionalism is as "easy" as the post title made it sound, but I definitely don't think it's as complicated as most make it sound. It's really not that mind-boggling, but at the same time, it's a process. It won't happen overnight. I don't even have a lot of this stuff down, and I'm the one who wrote the post. SO. I REST MY CASE. XD 


Anything you agree with? Disagree with? How's your blog going? Any blogging goals you still need to meet by the end of the year? (LESS THAN A MONTH TO GO WOW *MINDBLOWN*)



30 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! I'm really trying to bring my blog up content and aesthetic wise and this is super helpful.

    And hOW IS THE YEAR ALMOST OVER?!?! It's shocking, it flew by too fast! XD

    -Gray Marie | graymariewrites.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. No problem good luck with that!

      IKR SAME. It feels like I was just writing my 2017 wrap-up last week... xD

      Delete
  2. Man, I needed to read this post!! I started a blog up early last month and I still have SO. MANY. THINGS. TO. DO. (!!) [with it] O_O
    I have yet to write an "about" page, and *also* have yet to create a solid plan for posting, content, etc. That's why when I saw this post ON THIS TOPIC I was like, WHAAA??? ;) In other words, thank you!

    I actually just recently stumbled across your blog because it was linked to in another blog, and I was like, DUDE MY BROTHER NEEDS TO READ THIS STUFF. So, I officially recommended you to my writer-of-a-brother. XD

    Stay cool,

    Emma Joy

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    Replies
    1. WELL CONGRATULATIONS. Welcome to blogging! Your blog actually looks fantastic, way better than mine did when I had first started. xD
      Okay so the about me page is SUPER IMPORTANT SO SHOO GO DO THAT LOL. A solid plan for posting isn't necessary, but it can be helpful for some! (I'm honestly pretty sporadic and unscheduled hahaha) Glad this could help you out!

      COOL. Tell your brother hi from me then! :D

      Delete
  3. *thumbs up* Good job on this post. I definitely approve and agree. Big header words and graphics/images in posts are good. *nodnod*

    And your blog is very professional, just so you know. :P

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    Replies
    1. OK GOOD PHEW. If I get your approval then I know this has to be at least semi-legit, because your site is ON POINT. XD

      Hahaha well thanks!

      Delete
  4. Nice post, Jonathan! Great advice.

    ~ Abby {novelsdragonsandwardrobedoors.blogspot.com}

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  5. Yes, I agree with all this.
    And I agree with Gray. HOW HAS THE YEAR GONE BY!!! LIKE, WHAT HAPPENED TO IT???

    Wait, there's one thing I don't entirely agree with and that's the centering text thing. I don't find it harder to read. I only do it when necessary in relation to pictures, though. At least, I try to only do it like that.

    Awesome post. Very professional. XD

    ~Ivie Brooks
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IKR SAME FOR ME? Now that I've got my calendar set up for December it's starting to sink in, but still... 2018 is literally just around the corner. O.O

      Well, to be honest, I actually HAVE seen a few blogs that can pull off centered font. Typically these blogs have fairly long paragraphs, which means it's easy to tell when the paragraph breaks are even if the font is centered. But when you have shorter paragraphs, it gets SUPER SUPER HARD to tell where the breaks are. It's normally a safer bet to align your font to the left, even if you think you can get away with centering it. :D

      Thanks!

      Delete
  6. And I agree with the taglines. Mine is Faith. Writing. Life. Dragons. XD

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    Replies
    1. LOVE IT. Definitely gives me an idea of what your blog is like.

      Delete
  7. ...considering your tagline, I would like to see more ninjas??
    Jem Jones

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  8. basically thank you for saying that about blogger and grammar BC WE BOTH KNOW IM NOT A GRAMMAR QUEEN ON MY BLOG LOL and omw small fonts + centered text kiilllsss me.

    hm. I don't think I really have a tagline tho. *ponders this*

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    Replies
    1. OKAY ACTUALLY CONFESSION TIME: I was literally thinking of your blog when I wrote that. xD Tbh I almost used it as an example but then decided not to hahaha.
      Saaame I feel your pain lol.

      Hmmm you're right you don't. GO MAKE ONE.

      Delete
    2. FOR REALS?!?! IT KINDA FELT A LITTLE CLOSE TO HOME LOL but still I'm honored.. I think lololololol XD

      ehhhh. I haven't really needed one so idk what I would use it for now? lol I'll have to think about this

      Delete
  9. Yes! This is all fantastic advice!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a little disappointed you don't have a pet chinchilla, *sigh* but I'm mostly over that now. Mostly.
    Funny you should post about this though because I just had Savannah Grace finish a blog design and I'll be putting that into play come January. So all of this was very helpful and will be put into practice (well, most of it anyways XD) soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SORRY. I didn't mean to get anyone's hopes up, hahaha. My family does have eight cats though so maybe that counts for something? XD
      OOH. NICE. Savannah is great at design, I can't wait to see what your blog will look like!

      Delete
    2. Wow! These tips are SOOO useful! I literally just started my blog and didn't even write my first post yet, so now I know how I should organize everything. Btw, what font do you use for blogging? I'm kind of clueless about which ones I should use...
      I have a question about the tagline- I have a column of categories for my readers to just click on and my tagline is my favorite quote. Would that work? *Meditates over this for an hour and still can't figure out the answer*???
      Thanks!

      P.S. I would love to see more of that ninja content though...


      Delete
  11. DUDE YOU NAILED IT. This is literally everything I've been learning in the past months. And it isn't as easy as you make it sound either haha XD

    Your blog was one of the bunch I learned all my design and tips from so don't worry YOU ARE A MASTER lol

    Lisa

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  12. Awesome tips! *applauds* I hate when blogs aren't readable, especially if they have great content -- I guess that one's my biggest non-professional pet peeve.

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  13. I like centering my font. I actually just realized recently that it isn't "professional" to do so. But I enjoy reading other blogs with centered text... and here's why... it's art. The way you arrange the text, deciding which fonts, what words are italics or bold--it's all art. To the eyes, and even the mind. Though I am experimenting with doing MOSTLY left-aligned text now :D YES to graphics and read interaction!

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  14. Loved this post! I love the whole feel of your blog and am going to take some advice from the master.... XD ;)

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  15. I loved this post! So many great tips! I followed you on GFC! :)

    www.letmecrossover.blogspot.com

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  16. Love this post, Jonathan! :D I'll be sure to incorporate this points in my new blogging journey. Thanks!

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  17. Great post! Blogging really is difficult—it's taken me more than two years to figure out half this stuff. XD Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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