Big Blog Mistake #2

What does your blog’s appearance say about you?  Have you looked in the mirror lately to see what’s staring back at you?

The second most common blog mistake I see professionals make is not putting their best foot forward, so to speak. 

Don’t let your blog hurt your credibility.

When we go to a networking event, or meet a new client, we try to present a professional appearance.  We don’t show up in our pajamas, right?  (Unless it’s a pajama party, in which case give me a call because I’d love to attend that event!)

Your blog is representing you to everyone who stops by.  What image is it projecting?

Do you have…

  • a lot of typos and errors scattered around?
  • poor formatting that makes it difficult to read your content?
  • a theme, layout or navigation that makes it really hard for visitors to find what they’re looking for?

Here are the simple solutions:

1.  Always Proofread

Proofread each post before it goes live. I find reading my posts out loud helps me catch errors I’d have otherwise missed.

Check out the “After the Deadline” plugin on WordPress to help you catch misspelled words, incorrect grammar, and even style issues.

2.  Take Time to Format Nicely

Notice well formatted blog posts that are easy to read.

They use:

  • a headline
  • sub-headlines
  • bulleted or numbered lists
  • short paragraphs
  • images, videos, or other multimedia elements

Follow that pattern so your posts are easy to scan and read as well as visually interesting.

3.  Choose Your Theme Wisely

The layout and colors of a site are a personal choice and our tastes are all a bit different.  But do follow some basic rules to make your blog easy to read:

  • Use dark text on a light background, with enough contrast that it’s readable.
  • Go for muted and calm backgrounds unless you’re really, really sure a wild background is appropriate for your audience and your branding.
  • Be sure people can tell what text is a link.  They should be a different color so they stand out.

Consider investing in a professional theme.  I’m a fan of the Genesis themes from Studio PressWooThemes and Thesis are also good.  There are nice free themes, too.  Today I like Academia, TrulyMinimal, Delicacy, and Weaver.

You might also check into having a custom banner designed for your blog.  You can find talented graphic designers on Fiverr.com.

4.  Check Your Navigation & Organization

Do the links on your navigation bar make sense to your visitors?  Can they easily find what they’re interested in?

Are your blog posts organized by category (not date, your visitors aren’t looking for what your wrote last March!) and tagged with keywords?

Does your sidebar support making it easy for visitors to get around on your site and find what they’re looking for?

Your Next Action Steps

Ask a few colleagues or clients for feedback on your blog.  They may be able to offer suggestions and tips on what you can improve that you haven’t thought of yet!

What do you like to see on a blog that builds it’s credibility?  What scares you off?

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks for reminding folks about using dark text on a light background. So many times I come across those with white text on a dark background & they’re very hard to read.

    It’s important to make your content inviting to the readers’ eyes (short paragraphs & bullet points are great for this too).
    Thanks Michelle. ~Debra
    Debra Jason recently posted… Is my copywriting copyrighted?My Profile

  2. Michelle –

    I often ask folks that are completely unrelated to my niche to check out my site for feedback. I ask them if it makes sense, does the navigation work, and if they have any suggestions. In some niches that are very specialized, getting folks that know about the niche can provide better feedback.

    I also follow your suggestions of getting another set of eyes to look at your site is always a great idea!

    Thanks for another great post!

    Be Well.
    Paul.
    Paul B. Taubman, II recently posted… Paul Taubman Featured Speaker at NAMS8 in Atlanta, GA August 3-5, 2012My Profile

  3. I like blogs that are clean and breathe fresh air. If it has too many distractions, popups, flashy images and so on, it really has to compensate with excellent contents if they want me to come back to visit :)

    Also the colour theme is really important, it has to “go” with the blog contents. In general nice bright colours work great, but I agree that there are cases where a darker, austere colour and layout may be a good choice too.
    Delia recently posted… Free timeline cover image: Don’t miss the sunsetMy Profile

  4. Great suggestions Michelle. As soon as I get my new logo, I’m going in search of someone to create a new banner. The next few months have to be about branding so the site has to have a face life. Just as soon as I can get Melissa to say she can spare a couple of hours to help me :-).
    Julia Neiman recently posted… Learning to Set Goals – Part 2: Lesson 14 in the Empowering Young Entrepreneur SeriesMy Profile

    1. Fun! Redesigns are always a cool adventure. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Ignoring a Potential Mother Lode of Blog Content?My Profile

  5. I smile when I think of my previous blog post in comparison to where I am today … it’s still a work in progress but I’ve come along way.

    Proof reading is a must and a second pair of eyes is helpful. I’m editing some of my first posts, back then I didn’t know the difference between a theme and a post :-), and I’ve found some serious TYPOS.

    I’ve discovered that if you have great content and your blog is popular some of your mistakes are overlooked. For example, on a blog with thousands of followers, I saw this in one of the owner’s post: “here’s the books.”

    In the past I would beat myself up something fierce when I found an error in one of my live posts, now, I edit, let it go and move on.

    You just have to get to that place in business and your personal life that if you’ve done your 100%, let it go and enjoy life.

    Thanks for these useful tips

    P.S. if someone does a lot of edits on one post, like I do, and want to prevent all those edits from being pinged, they can use this plugin – MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer – it stops your wordpress blog from being a ping spammer.

  6. Thanks for the reminder of the basics Michelle. Especially the one about using dark text against a light background.

    While I like dramatic styles, reading light text against a dark background (especially if it’s in a small font) gives me SUCH a headache! No matter how much I want to read the content I just don’t do it anymore.

    It’s such an obvious thing but the reminders about this are good because we can all get caught up in the design aspect and forget.

    Love your posts!

    ~Christianna xx
    Christianna Caeliss recently posted… When True Love is Meant to Be – Just BelieveMy Profile

  7. The really like all of the above mentioned points ,according to me bloggers generally commit mistakes in choosing a right theme , it very important to choose the theme which takes less loading time

  8. Navigation is the biggest mistake which most of the blogger do , we should always make our site easy to navigate so google can index our page quickly without any difficulty ,,,,, the remaining other points are also very good
    puneet tyagi recently posted… Data entry operator and lower division clerk vacancy in SSC / SSC Recruitment 2012My Profile

  9. Great advice Michelle, you should prepare every blog as though it is the one that will rake in the millions. Develop that habit and the money will hunt you down like a dog.
    Neil recently posted… Nitric Oxide: How and why you should boost itMy Profile

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