Have a website or blog that needs more “pizzaz”? People not sticking around to read your content? Looking for easy ways to make your blog more visually appealing?
Let me share with you at least 7 Things You Could Do Right Now To Improve Your Blog and make it stand out more:
1- USE HIGH QUALITY IMAGES
IMAGES, IMAGES, IMAGES! Have you ever looked for a theme but once you installed it, it didn't quite look the same on YOUR blog? That's because that theme used high resolution images to display its features and unfortunately once you buy the theme, the images don't usually come with it. It's very much like staging a home for sale. Or even those model homes you visit that are all decked out. Great imagery, much like model homes furniture, does WONDERS to catch the your readers' attention to stick around and read your content (or buy your house or theme in the examples above).
I've landed on blogs that are ALL (tiny) text and ZERO images. Maybe your content is AMAZING, but truly, unless your blog is about politics, you will want to incorporate great visuals to get people to read it. Of course, the opposite is also true. Great visuals and crappy content won't work either.
Trust me when I tell you that great imagery makes a GREAT difference. Use either high resolution imagery or stock images on your blog. Here are some website ideas below, free and not free, where you can create and find royalty free images (licensed for your use).
- You can use Canva.com to create images that are Pinterest friendly (already sized for you), and include them inside your posts, like this one below this paragraph. That will make your blog posts shareable in more than one place. You can publish any image in Pinterest but they show vertical ones more than other sizes. These are relatively easy and free to create with Canva.
Here is a video tutorial on how to use Canva I recorded if you wish to check it out later.
- You can search for images on Google: I am NOT suggesting you just grab whatever images you find on Google (that's a big no-no). But if you search images (under Images tab) and click on Usage Rights, you will find a filter that allows you to choose licensing rights options. Choose the one that is most appropriate for your blog's content.
- Look for images on Pixabay: These are free images and they are well optimized for web use. https://pixabay.com (not affiliate). Simply search for an image (without the Shutterstock watermark on it) and download the size that most closely fits the dimensions that fit your blog. Note that images are the biggest reason blogs run slow. Keep your image sizes as small as possible (100KB of less) and make sure to use an image compressor plugin like WP Smush (free) which will help reduce the size without affecting the quality of the image.
Another option for resizing images is PicMonkey, also free. I am a graphic designer which means I own graphic design tools and I prefer to use PicMonkey for resizing all my blog imagery. I save the tools for logo creations and other more involved client work.
- Adobe Stock images: Not free but a much larger and dare I say better, selection of images for everything from web to print. http://adobe.stock.com (not affiliate). I have had a subscription with Adobe Stock since they bought out DollarPhotoClub (sigh) about a year or so ago (early 2016). I have also been a member of all other Adobe products for over 10 years. Can't really go wrong with Adobe (maybe just broke lol).
2- HAVE A PERSONABLE ABOUT ME PAGE
If you are an independent business owner your readers will WANT to know who you are and what you look like. It's true. In today's social world, people will buy from those they like and trust. If YOUR FACE is missing from your business, you will miss the opportunity to make a personal connection with your readers by sharing something about you in your about me page. Yes, it truly should include an image of you and not of your dog by himself. It makes a big difference! Get our there and show your face and something about you that's not totally business related so your audience can relate.
My colleague Rachel McMichael does this EXTREMELY well. I am not as front and center with adding my face on my website, so here is my example of my about me page for branding purposes, which works just fine. Really up to your comfort level and your personal branding goals. But at the very minimum do add your photo and intro somewhere. I am considering also adding my picture to the home page top banner but haven't decided yet. It is however also included in one of my website's home page sections.
3- CATEGORIZE YOUR CONTENT BETTER (less is more!)
Divide (or apply) your blog content into 4-6 main categories. I recommend all first time bloggers have at least 4 or 5 posts crafted and published into different categories before they go live! Why? Because content gives substance to your blog! This will also help YOU get some idea as to what it is you want to or don't want to really blog about.
Sit down and write down exactly which MAIN categories of content you are going to write about on your blog. You'd be surprised how MUCH this will help not only your readers, but YOU to stay focused and on point. It's easy to get overwhelmed and then write nothing. But if you are clear as to your main areas then it will make it easier to decide what to write about within those areas.
Cool tip on finding content: keep an eye out for what questions others are asking inside the groups you belong to. These make perfect blog titles sometimes (as long as they are related to your blog focus of course).
4- LIMIT AFFILIATE IMAGE ADS (really)
For goodness sake, limit the popups and flashy ads all over your blog! It is VERY distracting and I think you will find it a much better experience for your users if you kept it to a less Vegas Boulevard reading experience. I personally will not add anything that blinks (like .gif images). And just so you know, you DON'T have to add any affiliates AT ALL to your website. If you have products or services of your own that you are trying to profit from, then I would think adding affiliates will just distract your readers from your purpose (IMHO) by sending them away (to those affiliates).
Let them get to know you first, your content, your style. Use only affiliates for products you use and recommend from personal experience, versus adding a ton of stuff that is sometimes even irrelevant to your product or service. Keep it simple. Don't focus on the ads. Focus on GOOD CONTENT. If your content includes affiliate links (mine sometimes does), that's fine, but make sure your blog posts aren't just about selling something and more about WHY or HOW to use something you recommend. Readers can tell, usually, if you are just writing for promotion versus offering actual value.
5- KEEP YOUR SERVICES PACKAGES CONCISE AND TO THE POINT
Sometimes it is not easy to discern what in the world some folks are trying to sell (my own packages at one point included). It is nowhere on their blog. Or worse, the services page is just a long paragraph description of what they offer and why.
Think from the perspective of your buyer. What are they looking for? What services would YOU be looking for on your blog and want to click on? Simplify your offer. Then, if necessary add a “read more” button to offer more details. Bullets are best. Stay on point. This is like a list of features about your product or service, not a blog post. The simpler and easier to grasp what you offer, the BETTER and easier for your customer to take action. I work on this constantly myself, so you are not alone there. If you really struggle with this, a copywriter might help you get more specific with your wording and the creation of your service packages.
6- MAKE WHAT YOUR BLOG IS ABOUT EASY TO FIGURE OUT IN LESS THAN 6 SECONDS
Ok, so if I know nothing about you and I land on your website's home page, will I know what you do WITHOUT me having to scroll or click on anything at all? If the answer is no, then work on this. It should be REALLY easy for your visitors to immediately know what your website or blog is about. 6 seconds or less is what you get here. Remember, no cheating (no scrolling).
You can accomplish this with imagery or even adding a short tagline to your banner/logo.
7- BREAK UP YOUR BLOG POSTS
Break up your posts into paragraphs. It not only makes it look more professional but it adds a break to your readers' eyeballs. When I land on a blog post that is not divided into paragraphs I immediately assume this is likely a first time blogger. It happens, and we learn and adjust. But now that you've read this, if this is you, go add paragraphs and re-publish lol. (PS: making your font size 16 or 18 pt also makes a huge difference! 12pt font size is for typewriters and we know where those are now. In the past ;-). Oh and also you only need to add ONE space (instead of two spaces) after a period when publishing digital content.)
You can also break up long posts with images, by applying different font sizes or headings to different title sections of your post, using bold, italics or even quote blocks (if applicable).
This is a quote block. It comes with WordPress. Simply highlight the text you want inside a block and click on the quotation icon on your WordPress menu bar. Usually sits next to the Italics symbol.
BONUS: CLOSE OUT EACH POST WITH A RELEVANT CALL TO ACTION
I learned this from my fellow colleague and friend April Williams, The Creative Brandista (need an EXCEPTIONAL freelance writer? She is your girl!).
Try to close out your posts with a call to action that includes your work or services, or preferably a useful free download/video/subscription that your readers can opt into to stay in touch with you. For example, this would be mine:
“If you don't yet have a blog or a website and you are interested in starting one, you can get instant access to my 4 part video series on how to start your own self-hosted WordPress blog in less than 30 minutes! #trickynottricky :-)”
I don't actually add a call to action to every single post, but I do to most. Because if your readers are reading through to the end that means they are enjoying your content and will likely want to receive more like it. I do hope these tips were valuable to you. I would be delighted to take a look at your blog and share some ideas you could apply if you wish. Send me an email to aymee at crisbella dot com and let's talk!
Do feel free to leave a comment below with the changes you may have applied to your own blog or might want to recommend to others!