Blogger is a great option if you're looking to start a blog. Not only is it easy for beginners to learn on, but it also includes most of what you need to get your blog going. I've been using it for about two years and have been happy with it, but because it's often used by beginners it can sometimes make established bloggers look inexperienced.
If you're trying to improve your blog, it's easy to feel limited by what Blogger has to offer. You may not have access to the cool plugins available on Wordpress or the ability to customize like you can on Squarespace, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to have a professional-looking blog on Blogger... especially if you're new to blogging, or if there's not much room in the budget for an upgrade.
Lucky for us, there are a few simple tweaks you can do to add a bit of professionalism to your blog. Adding this level of competency and expertise will not only convey that you take your blog seriously, but it will give you the confidence you need to produce better content. Everybody wins, right?
Add a custom favicon. This little touch looks more professional than the standard Blogger icon, and it's easy enough to make and install. Design your icon in your favorite image editor (if you're on a Windows machine, I highly recommend Paint.NET), and install it by going to the template editor on your dashboard. Just keep in mind that the file can't exceed 100kb - I designed mine at 150x150 pixels and didn't have a problem with its size.
Remove the Navbar. You know that little navigation bar at the top of your layout with the Blogger icon on the left? Get rid of it. Not only is it superfluous, but most of the links included link away from your blog, which is not something to encourage. Remove it by going to your template editor, then click "edit" on the Navbar button and turn it off.
Don't use a regular Blogger template. A great design can set you apart from the amateur crowd. If you're not a design and CSS genius, you can easily purchase one that suits both your taste and the content you write. It can be quite pricey, but I believe that if you're serious about your blog then it's definitely worth saving up for. I was astounded at how professional my site looked after installing my design, and because of it I felt more confident in my blog. Etsy is a great place to begin the search for your blog's new look.
Purchase and install a custom domain. This can instantly give you some credibility in the blogging world, but it doesn't have to set you back financially. I got mine last year on GoDaddy for around $3, which was great because I probably would have spent the same amount of money on a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar. There's currently a better promotion, if you're in the market for a domain: you can get one for $1.49 until February 1st (and if you feel like supporting this site, you can sign up using this affiliate link.). Once you have your domain, installing it is a piece of cake! Valerie has a great article on the topic if you need some help getting started.
Install Disqus. It's an industry standard for a reason: it's incredibly easy to implement and use, and it gives a clean look to your page. Get started here.
Ditch Linkwithin. Though it is easy to use, everyone and their mother has it on their blog. Having the trademark of another company on your website can reduce your credibility, and the plugin doesn't always link to your best content. Instead, try this related post gallery by CodeItPretty. It's easy to install, utilizes your tags for the most relevant related posts, and doesn't have anyone else's trademark, which keeps the focus on you.
Add the Pin It Hover Button. Pinterest is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your blog (it's where most of mine comes from), so making it easy for your readers to share your content there is essential. However, don't forget to add the "no pin" exclusion to the images you don't want pinned: having a flashy image appear every time an image is scrolled over can annoy and frustrate your readers. Additionally, someone may inadvertently pin something not optimized for Pinterest, which won't portray your content in a positive light. Ready to take the plunge? This tutorial on BloggerSentral will tell you everything you need to know.
Install Google analytics. Blogger's stats aren't accurate, unfortunately: more often than not, the numbers are significantly inflated. Though this might boost your blogging ego, it means you're not getting accurate data about your blog content. After you install analytics, take some time to poke around and learn about your bounce rate, referrals, and quality of traffic. If you need more help, there's a great post on deciphering your analytics results by Rita over at Blog Genie.
Now, it's your turn:
- Have you done any of these and noticed an improvement in your blog?
- If not, are any of these on your to-do list?
- Is there anything else you would add to this list?
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