You need to have a good foundation for your blog to grow your business.
So focusing on blog design, article layout and formatting is absolutely crucial.
There’s no point in creating amazing content if it’s not easy to read, digest and take action.
If you research blogs, you’ll find a TON of options on creating a blog, many of which prey on your lack of knowledge to sell you bad/mediocre products.
There’s only a few options that really work for beginners – which means blogging that’s easy to learn, create and update.
Here’s a list of the absolutely crucial things to implement now before you start writing your blog:
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1. Put the blog on your own website
Whilst the easiest option for creating a blog is to throw it on microblogging platforms like Tumblr, Weebly, Blogger etc, I strongly advise you choose to host your blog on your own website independent of these platforms because:
- It allows you the flexibility to grow your website however you like
- It’s the best for search engine traffic (crucial to be able to grow and get traffic to the site)
- You can never get punished by being suspended or given limited access to your blog for violating terms of service (microblogging platforms control your blog ultimately which is not ideal)
- You are limited to the structure and features the platform can provide
Make your own blog. It’s a little bit more work initially but totally worth it in the long run.
2. Choose WordPress.org for your base blogging software
WordPress.org (not to be confused with wordpress.com) is the most popular blogging software out there.
It’s open source which means there are over 45K free plugins for additional features you may want to try on your blog without needing a developer to do it for you.
It is a little bit fiddly to learn how to use initially but there are free and paid themes you can add onto the software to make it look however you want.
You’ll need to buy a domain name and hosting. A domain name is your website name, i.e. scaleusup.com.
Places like Namecheap are good because you can buy a domain/hosting and set up wordpress with a click of a button.
Go for the cheapest domain and hosting you can find for now and do not buy any extra services until you understand how websites work. Focus on fixing this stuff later when you have a better understanding of your needs.
You’ll need a theme for wordpress. Themes are essentially how the website looks – each page design and layout is based on the theme.
You can choose a free theme and it will work though I do recommend spending a little to get a theme that makes your blog really stand out.
I use elegant themes for our websites.
The great thing about elegant themes is they make designing your website idiot-proof – so anyone can make a website that works on mobiles, desktops and tablets.
Plus they have great tutorials, support and continue to make website design easier for beginners with every update they do.
I highly recommend them.
3. Format your blog so it’s easy to read
This is one of the most overlooked elements of blogging and the most important. No point creating content if it’s hard to read and difficult to process.
The blog page
The blog page is where users can find all your articles to browse. Right now, ours looks like this. This section may change as we optimise the site but as it stands, it’ll do for now whilst we’re creating content.
There’s many ways you can design this page and every site does it a little different but there’s some core elements to think about:
- Make it look inviting and easy to see what your articles are about.
- Add a way to people to give you their email address so you can send them offers and content to keep the conversation flowing. I recommend adding this at the top, on the side and at the bottom of this page.
- Use a free email marketing software like mailchimp to send automated emails and look at other options when you’ve grown enough that you need to pay.
The article layout page
The article page is where your blog posts live. It’s where users will spend most of their time when reading your content.
- Start the content straight away. Some bigger blogs like to ask for an email address at the beginning of their blog but for unknown blogs, it’s best to start the content straight away to make it as easy as possible for users to check out your content
- Add a small picture at the beginning of your content to keep attention
- Ask for user emails on the side of your blog
- Add a comment box at the bottom so users can add comments and connect with you
- Add share buttons so users can easily share your blog with their network
- Make your post writing narrow. Adjust columns so it’s easy for users to skim down the page. If you have to move your eyes sideways to read content instead of downwards, your post is too wide.
- Make the background of your writing white so it’s easy to read
- Make your text size large and dark so it’s easy to read.
- Create ample spacing between sentences and paragraphs so the writing is nice and easy to read.
- Make most of your paragraphs no more than 3 lines.
4. Structure the blog article for User Experience
Making content is just something that improves with practice – no way to avoid that. However, there’s some rules that really help you bolster your writing so maybe no one notices it’s not the best (especially Google).
- Add images, videos and links to keep users engaged (and Google happy)
- Make your title sexy: look at the titles on Buzzfeed and try to emulate a title that’s click-worthy (without making users angry)
- Add a sub-heading for every 200 words and throw in lists, quotes etc to make the article easy to read
- Forget about proper grammar, sentence structure etc – this is a hard one for grammar nazis (I’m Dee and I’m a recovering grammar nazi) but the focus of your article should be focus retention, not to come across as intelligent as possible.
- Use words a 5 year old can understand. Make simple worded and easy to understand articles and users are more likely to be share and digest the content.