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Starting a Writer Blog: Design and Layout
Contributor
Written by
Tiffany Jansen
September 2017
Contributor
Written by
Tiffany Jansen
September 2017

It occurred to me recently that if I want to be serious about this writing thing, I'm going to have to build an online reputation as a writer.

Not quite at the point in my writing journey where I wanted to shell out money to get a website, I decided the next best thing was to start a blog.

My other blogs have taught me several things about setting up a quality blog that I'd like to share here with you.

Design

Your design should be clean and easy to read. The best set-up is black text on a white background as it's easiest on the eyes. Nothing sends readers away faster than a messy, cluttered, difficult to read blog.

Logo

Branding yourself is of the utmost importance. Therefore, a nice, professional-looking logo is a must. You can pay to have these done for you or do them yourself should you be handy with programs like Photoshop. I've created my logo using PowerPoint and photo tools via photobucket.com. There are some tweaks that need to be made to make it look a little less hand-made, but it has all the important information (my Twitter, email, and LinkedIn accounts as well as the blog URL) and there's no doubt as to what the blog is about thanks to the clear title and motto. You should use this same logo on all social media tools and forums that you use. Be consitant.

Sidebars

Keep your sidebars clear and take out any unnecessary widgets. If it doesn't truly do something to enhance your blog, you don't need it. You also don't want to have your sidebar go on forever. There's nothing more annoying than to see the blog posts end while the sidebar continues to go down the page. If there's too much going on in the sidebar but all the information is crucial to your blog, consider putting them in various tabs at the top of the blog page. Remember - most of your traffic is only ever going to see what's above the fold. Make it attractive and interesting and they might be more inclined to see what else your blog has to offer.

Tabs

These make the blog look so much cleaner. And all of the most important information is at the top - no scrolling required, no digging around the blog to find what you're looking for. Plus, traffic coming from social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon or Delicious might be inclined to click on the tabs as that will be one of the first things they see when coming to your blog. In my tabs, I include all information that anyone could possibly want if coming to my blog to check out my writing.

About Page

Create a thorough About Page for yourself or the blog in general. People like to know who they're reading and what they're reading about. Include contact information here as well so your readers know where to find you. Many surfers base their decision to follow a blog or not on whether the blog has an About Page. I find this to be one of the most fun things to write on a blog, but it does take constant updating.

Make it Easy for People to Follow You

Give potential readers as many opporunities as possible to follow you: email subscription, RSS feed, Networked Blogs, Google Friends. If they have to jump through hoops to follow you, they won't. Make sure all options are self-explanitory and, if they're not, explain them. You may also have potential readers stop by your blog who are unfamiliar with subscription options, so it may be wise to create a special subscription page that explains the various ways to follow you and how to use each of them.

Add Content

No one wants to read a blog that has only one or two posts. So before you go viral, make sure you have at least 7 excellent posts to get you started and give new readers something to read and respond to.

Get a Domain Name

I obviously haven't done this yet and don't think I will as I do eventually plan to get a writer's website and can simply link to this blog from there. But Google gives more authority to domain names - especially the ones that have been around for a while. Choose a domain name that's not too long but includes your brand name. Addresses like .com, .org, and .gov are found to be more trustworthy by Google than ones like .biz or .net. Readers also find domain names more trustworthy and credible than a free website or blog hosting address. But hurry and grab your domain name before someone else does. You may find yourself paying thousands of dollars to buy a domain off it's current owner versus just a few dollars a year from a domain registration site.

Now over to you: Are there any blog design and layout tips you've learned that would be helpful to someone beginning a blog? What things do you know now that you wish you knew then?

© 2010 Tiffany Jansen, writer

This post was originally published to Putting Words to Paper on December 11, 2010.

 

* This post was originally published on She Writes in July 2011.

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