When I started blogging, one of the first questions I had was: ‘how do I make something good?’
It’s taken several years, four names and two platforms, but I think I’ve finally got something that resembles an answer. Blogging is an ever-changing medium, so I can’t rest on my laurels – but I can share a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
With hundreds of millions (yep, really!) of blogs out there, how do you get yours noticed? How will you make your blog look good? And more importantly, how will you make it sound good?
I’m going to assume you don’t have some insane degree that covers web design, social media, content marketing, photography and creative writing under your belts. So let’s start from the beginning…
What’s in a name?
I’m going to confess: I’ve spent weeks worrying about potential blog names.
‘The name is what you first notice!’ I’d reason. ‘It needs to be perfect.’
Well, now I disagree with myself. Why? Because I don’t think you’ll see many bloggers who still love their blog name after a few years – and it’s the same for most titles. Alex Turner said the name Arctic Monkeys is ‘so bad that the tribute bands don’t sound worse’ and Nora Ephron couldn’t even name When Harry Met Sally… – it was an anonymous crew member who came up with that particular title!
So don’t get too het up about the name. To paraphrase Shakespeare: ‘a blog by any other name would be as subscribable’.
I still have a few tips to help you out, though!
- Avoid being cool or trendy. Suddenly it will be neither of those things and then you’re stuck with a name you don’t identify with.
- Make a list of everything you love/do/are – you might find a combination of words just jumps out at you. It’s very bloggy to go with ‘[Noun] and [Noun]‘, like ‘Cupcakes and Cashmere’ or ‘Netflix and Noodles’. But, as I mentioned before, fashions fade. You do you.
- When in doubt, go with your name (or a variation of it). It won’t go out of style and you will never outgrow it. Think What Olivia Did or Lly Mlrs.
Where should I blog?
There’s two types of WordPress site: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The first requires quite a bit of digital know-how. You have to host the website yourself, but you can basically create your blog from scratch and make it exactly as you want it. WordPress.com is much easier to use – you just choose from and customise the available templates.
Nowadays, I use Blogger (I think I prefer the interface). Like WordPress.com, it’s easy to set up and use. And on both platforms, you can buy pretty templates to make it look just as professional as a self-hosted, fancily-designed blog. The only downside is that it’s less customisable and controllable. I’ll talk about this more in the next section.
How do I make my blog look good?
- You are not a web designer.
- You don’t want to pay lots of money to hire a web designer.
- Use one of the preset templates your blogging platform offers and tinker with the HTML (it’s not too hard to find help with this on Google).
- Buy a nice template. My last two have been from Pipdig, who I really rate because their customer service is awesome (shout out to Phil, who fixes all my problems). It’s also not too expensive (around £30), so you can freshen up your layout from time to time.
How do I make good content?
Make it easy to read
In a physical sense, this means breaking up your posts with headings and subheadings. You don’t want to intimidate your reader with big chunks of text, so try to add a line break every few sentences.
In a wordy sense, I mean coming across as approachable and friendly, avoiding language that’s overly formal or overly slang-ified (and maybe don’t make up words like slang-ified). Write to your audience as if you’re talking to a friend – it helps to make you sound more, well, you.
Make it visual
It’s tough to read a middle-long blog post without images to break up the text or illustrate a point. For blogs, I’m a big advocate of the full-sized images which take up the width of the post area (otherwise they look tiny on mobile!).
Landscape images work best, as full-length portrait shot will end up taking over most of your screen. In some cases, this can be effective – but use it sparingly.
Make it findable
I’m sure you’ll be sharing your posts on social media, but search engine traffic will almost certainly be your second biggest source of views! You need to help Google (and other search engines) find your blog, so that when people search for things relevant to your content, you’ll show up!
Now, mere mortals like us don’t exactly knows how Google works – but there are a few tips and tricks that can help improve your ranking (that’s how high you appear on Google’s search results).
1. Google knows when you’ve used a heading or subheading and scans them for information about your page. Therefore, make your headings/subheadings descriptive and informative so Google can easily grasp the main topics of your post.
2. Use keywords. Think about what people might Google to find your blog. If you can do this, you’ve just ‘search engine optimised’ your content, and you should feel pretty smug about that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you spam your post with key phrases – your number one priority should still be writing something people want to read.
A final tip? It never hurts to get a friend or family member to take a look over your blog post before you publish it. They can help spot typos, point out any spots where your writing doesn’t flow, and make sure you’re coming across as clearly as possible. Then you’ll feel confident when you finally hit that big publish button.
Blogging is a fantastic way to develop a whole host of skills: writing, social media, HTML coding, web design, photography – and many more! It can open a whole world of opportunities you never knew existed, like getting to know some great fellow bloggers, attending events you never dreamed of, and partnering with brilliant brands.
I just have one small request: when you blog, try and spread some positivity. Whether that’s making someone smile, sharing a word of encouragement or a shedding light on a dark situation (I might have gone a bit Harry Potter there, apologies).
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful – that’s all from me for now,