Something that I have been think about a lot in the past few months is how professional this blog looks. Looking back through early posts I can see that the quality of what I am producing as come on in leaps and bounds, however I still feel like there is room for improvement. I’m hoping that this comes with time and experience, but to help me along the way I really analyse other bloggers that I love, picking up tips on how to create a flawless looking blog. Blogging is such a competitive and buzzing industry, where you are constantly putting yourself out there to get noticed for being something/ someone different. It is especially difficult when you all want to blog about the same thing. As much as this is difficult, I feel like you have to put it into the back of your mind, and focus on your own work, getting it to a standard that you are pleased with.
“Eat, Sleep, Blog, Repeat”
I am hoping to get a new blog design later this year, as I feel like now the blog will benefit from having a website layout rather than blog. Obviously, it will still be the same content and style, but just a much easier site to navigate around and hopefully everyone will be able to get more out of it. So I am busy away designing this myself, but in the mean time I wanted to suggest some tips that really can make a blog appear so much more professional.
Creating a brand – this to me is key with my blog. My end goal is to create a brand that has potential, as well as a competitive edge. Choosing a colour theme for your blog, that then also runs through all your social media accounts is the key to success. It makes you seem professional, and much more likely to be approached my companies. I originally was using a simple Blogger template, which was green leaves. When I had the blog redesigned I knew that I wanted to stick to this colour theme. My typical colours are always pinks and white, but I wanted to stray away from this as I see so many blogs with a pink theme. I lightened the green up so that it was more of a lime, and have kept this running throughout. My text all uses the same font, and in my photos I also try to keep to green natural settings so that there is a constant theme. Green and white to me looked so professional, and it was something quite unique.
Consistency – consistency will get you noticed. I try to update my blog regularly, with about 4-5 blog posts a week. These are not always on the same days, but generally follow the same structure. Posting this much may seem like a lot, but it will get noticed, as readers and companies have more to read, yet get much more engaged with your work. This is also the case with social media. Regularly posting on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat will get more traffic directed towards you, and will make you appeal more to your audience as you are much more interactive than others. That being said, you don’t want to bombard your followers with ten posts a day. I would say a good structure for say Instagram is to aim to post at least once a day, and some days twice. If the images you are posting are not great quality, don’t bother posting them as it will seem more unprofessional.
URL name – when I first started blogging my URL was ladyhunterxo.blogspot.co.uk. Even writing that out now seems so ridiculous. It is long and wordy – and the blogspot part used to really get on my nerves. The URL needs to be simple and to the point. I would say just go for your blog name followed by .co.uk/ .com. You do have to buy these domain names, although when I started looking into it they really aren’t that expensive, and they do make you look like a much more professional and accomplished blogger. In my mind, I knew that I wanted to have a URL that was memorable for a first time viewer – quick and easy to remember. I chose .co.uk rather than .com just because I like to signify from the URL that this is a UK blog.
Social media accounts – keep your blog social media accounts separate. If you love posting images of your friends and family, make a separate account for your personal life. To me my blog is work, and I don’t want my personal life being put all over it. All your blog social media accounts should follow the same theme as your blog, contain quality images, and appropriate captions. Avoid using swear words or rude slogans, as this will often stray a company away. Snapchat is my one exception, as I do post much more personal things, such as videos with my partner or fun things with my friends. I feel like this is much more acceptable as Snapchat is a way for your audience to understand your life more, on that much more personal level.
Usernames – personally, I think all your social media usernames should be the same. This shows that you have taken the time to source out an appropriate name, and been consistent in your choice. It also makes it so much easier for your audience and brands to find you. I find it is probably much easier for you too, as you only have to remember one username for everything! I wanted mine to be @ladyhunter, but it was taken on Instagram, so I used @ladyhunterblog. It took me a while to decide which I wanted, and to be honest it did keep changing. I have finally settled on this one now, and it is the same for my Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Writing technique – a few months ago, my partner wanted to give me some constructive criticism about my blog. I am always willing to hear this, and keep it inside if it hurts 😉 he mentioned how sometimes I don’t really write very much and often just focus on the images. To be honest, I completely agreed with him, and decided then and there that I was going to spend more time on individual posts focusing much more on the quality of my writing. Writing a post used to take me about 15-20 minutes – now it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half per post. I spend so much time planning out what I’m going to say, and then getting someone to read through it as a sort of editor. Sometimes you do just need a fresh pair of eyes, especially when you have been sat writing for such a long time. I have also tried to improve the quality of what i’m writing, by learning more key terms, especially with fashion and food. Since doing this I have noticed much more interaction between myself and viewers, so hopefully all those hours of work are starting to pay off.
Interaction – ..and that leads me nicely on to this point. A big part of being professional with blogging is interaction. Let’s start with your audience. I always reply to comments on the blog, via social media or my email. Sometimes it can be tough if I haven’t been on my phone all day, but generally it is manageable. Sometimes I can find myself having conversations with people, and I love it. I feel like I am starting to know my audience, and starting to follow them back and learn more about them. It encourages you carry on as you know you have viewers who want to read your work.
Next, interaction with companies. Start off by following all your favourite companies on social media, and commenting when you like a photo. This creates an interaction, and I have had times when a company has replied asking if i’d like to collaborate. Putting yourself out there makes you more noticeable, and I’m guessing brands like it when you attempt to approach them first. Also, when actually working with a company keep them informed. Let them know when you receive a product, how you’re getting on with the post and when it is published. Always email them with a follow up a few days later, with a few stats and reactions to the post. This makes you appear much more professional and hard working – so hopefully they will want to work with you again.
Photography skills – you do not need thousands of pounds worth of photography equipment in order to produce quality photos. You need to get your skills right, and know what kind of photos you want to publish on your blog. Everyones style is different, therefore your photography skills will vary. When I first started, I was lucky enough to have a Nikon SLR that I had received for the Christmas before. Even though I had this big camera, I didn’t really have much of an idea how to use it. Over time I learnt about the different lighting, different backdrops and angles I needed to achieve the right photos for me. For beginner bloggers, I would suggest just continuously practicing with any objects until you achieve the types of photos you want. Investing in a camera for blogging will be the best money you ever spend, but this shouldn’t stop you to begin with. You can take amazing photos now, even on your phone. Watch some Youtube videos showing you how to take good photos, and look at other bloggers to see what they seem to use to create the perfect photo.
Positive thoughts – this is pretty simple, but you need to be positive on your blog ALL THE TIME. Nobody wants to sit and read a sad story about your day, or something that is just generally depressing. Writing a post is such a small proportion of your day, so you need to fuel all your happiness into it. Be an extremely positive person that people can relate to. If you are sharing something sad (which is perfectly fine to do), make sure that you have an open mind about it, and show how you are overcoming something. This is also the case with product reviews. If you don’t like a product, I just wouldn’t post about it…I feel like posting a negative review is a bit of a waste of time and unnecessary for your audience.
Get your facts right – if you are sharing a post featuring statistics etc… make sure they are right. In order to be professional, you need to be truthful in what you are saying, and know what you are talking about. Never trust a single website – alway research the information on various sites to get the most accurate information. Not only does it make you look a little silly if something is wrong, it also doesn’t appear well with companies. Be well researched in your writing, and be confident with what you are publishing.
Practice makes perfect – this is what you must keep telling yourself, especially if you are a new blogger. To begin with, nobody blogs look perfect. It is practice, time and experience that will get you somewhere, so really you just have to be patient. This is also important if you plan on publishing your own recipes, whether that be food or beauty products. Make sure you have practiced something multiple times and had it taste tested by friends before publishing anything.
When practicing with photography skills, you do not have to publish every photo you have taken. These test shoots ergots for you to keep, so you can see what you need to change and where you can improve. The more posts you produce, the better you will get and the quality will improve. In the long run, the professionalism will come.
– I hope this was helpful 🙂 –