5 ways to go 'pro' with your blog

I was clearing out some computer files the other day, when I came across a folder full of screenshots and graphics from my blog over the years (seriously people, I have been blogging for 12 years!!). My initial reaction was to cringe but it got me thinking about my blogging journey, and how my blog has evolved. 

*Various blog header designs from 2007-2010!

It's not just the design of my blog that has changed, it's everything - the style of my writing as I've found my voice, my photography and graphics, the topics I write about. As I flicked through the folder, I noticed that somewhere around 2010 there was a big shift. 

I started to go 'pro'. I started to up my game when it came to my writing, I started sharing my knowledge to help others (instead of just sharing photos of what I ate for lunch that day). At that time I had no idea how the blog would shape my business and ultimately change my life (it sounds dramatic but it's true), although I do remember just knowing it was all going to lead somewhere. 

Whatever your reason for blogging, here are 5 tips you can apply to 'up your game' and avoid looking like an amateur...

1. Customise your template or get it professionally designed

It doesn't matter how good your content is, first impressions count in the oversaturated blogging world. If you want to stand out and look like a professional, you need a professional looking design!

If you are not comfortable with customising your own theme, hire someone to do it. It's not as expensive as it might seem and there are heaps of awesome blog designers out there. Alternatively, consider Squarespace. Although you start by using a generic template, they are super easy to customise without any CSS/HTML knowledge. 

The important thing to remember is to inject your personality into your blog design - no one wants to see a carbon copy of what everyone else is doing, so don't be afraid to make your blog your own. 

2. Set up a blog newsletter

Having a newsletter is a great way to personally connect with your audience and provide additional value, which helps increase your prescence in your niche.  Monthly, weekly, every fortnight - it doesn't matter so long as you remain consistent. Avoid simply linking to your recent posts, instead create exclusive content for your subscribers. They have parted with their email address so in return give them something of value. 

3. Create a PR/Media page

If you want to start working with brands or have your articles published elsewhere, you need to make yourself open and available to receiving opportunities. A great way to do this is to have a PR/media page. This can be a stand alone page or part of your existing contact page. 

Some things you might want to include: 

  • Contact details for press enquiries
  • A synopsis of the type of brands you are willing to work with
  • Details of your readership. It's up to you if you include your stats but at least consider a brief overview of your reader demographics
  • Professional 'headshot' and short bio that can be used on guest posts etc

4. Get a custom avatar for your comments

There is nothing worse than seeing a generic avatar alongside your comments. Seriously! Let your audience see who they are talking to. A custom avatar builds connection, makes your brand look consistent and professional.

Depending on your blog host, your avatar can be pulled from Twitter or Facebook, or many hosts use Gravatar. If those aren't an option consider installing Disquis as your comment system and ensure you have a decent profile picture. 

5. Use high quality images (preferably your own!)

Every post should have an attractive image to accompany it, particularly if you want your content to be shared. Where possible use your own photography to make you stand out and demonstrate your personality. 

If you're photography skills need some work or you haven't got the time to get creative with your camera, choose high quality stock images - Unsplash and Death to the Stock Photo are great resources. Also check out Creative Market and Stocksy for low-cost images. 

If you are looking to add text or graphics to your images but you don't have the right software or skills, Canva is a great free option. 

I'd love to know your tips and resources for going 'pro' with your blog so feel free to share in the comments below! If you found this post useful why not consider sharing it!