So although my blog is still a baby (less than one year old since I started posting), I get questions about how I built it and made it look the way it does; clean, tidy and customizable.
I originally started my blog using WordPress.com. I wanted to try out blogging without investing in it yet to see if it would be something I could stick to and enjoy.
WordPress.com is a great platform to start your blog. It is completely free, many free themes to choose from, basic analytics and if you wish to upgrade later on, WordPress.com makes it very simple to transfer data.
However, if you’re at the stage where you’re finding WordPress.com limiting, transitioning to WordPress.org is the best option. With WordPress.org, you can customise your theme and make it look more professional, explore more analytic methods, different plugins and have a personal domain.
Below are some key aspects of building a professional looking blog on WordPress.org:
Unlike WordPress.com, in order to access and use WordPress.org you must install it. This step is completely free; you do not need to pay for WordPress.org.
Despite the extra costs of maintaining a WordPress.org site, a free WordPress.com can become very limiting and won’t look as professional or tailored to suit your content the way you want.
A hosting site is a service that provides the technology you need for your website to be viewed on the internet (more info). Having a hosting site is essential to building your blog on WordPress.org.
There are many hosting service providers out there, so I would recommend doing your own research so you can get the best fit for you.
Personally, I use and recommend BlueHost. BlueHost offers very affordable prices; from as little as $2.95/month. With that subscription, you will also get a free domain and 24/7 support.
The most visible part of your blog and the part that will give it the type of look you want to go for is your theme. Choosing a theme can be tricky because you need to consider what type of content you will be uploading, the type of social media platforms it needs to support, colour schemes and layout.
Using my blog as an example, I like posting colourful content. Instead of overwhelming my audience with too much colour, I wanted to find a white and clean theme that would complement any post.
Whether you want colourful content or more monochrome, you can’t go wrong with a monochrome theme.
There are many sites you can find themes, ranging from many different prices. You can find some for free, however not very customizable. As a start up blog, investing in a custom designed theme may not be an option and it’s also not a necessity. There are many themes though that you can find for a reasonable price and allow a lot of customisation.
Pipdig offers many clean themes that will let you customise almost every aspect of your blog for a reasonable price. I really like the themes Aruba Nights and Equinox.
Linking Your Social Media and Email Subscription
Simplicity is key to a professional looking blog; making it easy for your audience to access pages, social media and to subscribe. By linking your social media platforms and making them easily accessible and visible, viewers are more likely to click on them. In time, this will help grow your other platforms and give your audience different types of content.
Again, investing a lot of money for a graphic designer to create your header or banner may not be an option to begin with. Depending on your theme, it may offer an automatic header which lets you customise the font, size and colour. Unless you want something very fancy, you can easily design a clean header on your own through Photoshop, online photo editing apps and even Paint. Just make sure you follow your themes measurements (which are usually specified in the customisation page under the header or banner tab).
Categories and Pages
Categorising your posts into specific themes will help develop a more specific image for your blog. Also, by dividing them into pages and creating a menu, your visitors can easily view the type of content they are after.
Creating a professional-looking blog is about giving easy access to your content. Your visitors are more likely to stay on your site and look at more than one page if they can find things easily.
Some other admin things you will need to note is if you already had a WordPress.com blog, you should consider transferring your data (unless you want to start from scratch). There are many written and video tutorials out there that can help you with that.
Hopefully this has helped give you some ideas on how to make a clearer and more user-friendly blog.
If you have any suggestions that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to leave it down below 😀 I’d love to read them!