A professional-looking website is a MUST if you’re blogging to offer advice and tips to other bloggers, as a solopreneur or freelancer, or you’re looking to work with brands and sponsors.
We’ve all been there –
- You want somewhere to post your thoughts, ideas and opinions
- You’re looking for a community of like-minded people with common interests and goals
- You’ve heard “thought leadership” is important in attracting clients, you need a blog and you need it fast
- You want to work with brands and affiliates for free stuff and passive income, you need an online presence, now.
Get a free website on wordpress.com, pick a free theme, and get posting, right?
Maybe a free website is a good quick fix… but if you’re looking to blog long-term, grow a following or a community and work with brands and clients – or even just cement your credibility as a blogger with views worth listening to:
Don’t risk putting off potential clients and collaborators – make sure your website ticks these 5 boxes:
5 Quick Steps to a More Professional-Looking Website
*This post contains affiliate links.
1. Get yourself a custom domain
Why does a custom domain mean a more professional-looking website?
- Practical: If you ever decide to change your web hosting, your custom domain can go with you. Your myblog.wordpress.com domain or somethingilike.blogspot.com can’t.
- Informative: You can use your custom domain to describe your products or services – people see your domain, they instantly know what your website is about, without the noise of a hostname in your domain.
- Credible: Clients, customers, brands, readers who are influenced by your advice, tips and recommendations will view you as more credible if you’re established. Having a customised and well thought out web presence is part of that.
- Memorable: You want your site visitors to remember your brand name, not the brand that comes after it in your domain. With a myblog.somewhere.com domain, you’re pretty much promoting someone else’s business, whether it’s wordpress or wix or weebly or blogspot.
A domain name doesn’t have to be from the same provider as your web hosting. DIY WordPress Tips is hosted with Bluehost but I purchased the domain through 123-reg.co.uk. There are many other providers, including Namecheap, One.com, GoDaddy, and some hosting providers (including Bluehost!) will include one domain name in your hosting package.
If you’re interested in 123-reg, check out this post, How to Register Your Domain Name, for a video tutorial.
2. Upload a favicon
If you look at your browser tab, you’ll see a little black square with the letters “DIY” inside next to the title of this post.
This little square is the DIY WordPress Tips favicon.
By default, i.e. if you don’t change it, the favicon for any WordPress website is the favicon of your hosting provider – mine would look like this ->
Not very professional, standout or in keeping with my site branding… or yours (unless you happen to work for and blog for WordPress)!
Some themes come with a favicon uploader or generator, which makes it very easy to upload a custom favicon for your site. However, if yours doesn’t, take a look at the Favicon Plugin, by RealFaviconGenerator.
Easy professional branding opportunity – and it looks like you’ve made an effort.
3. Choose a Clean and Professional Theme
Your theme is effectively how you choose to decorate and furnish your office. If it’s messy, disorganised and unclear what you offer, your readers might get confused, frustrated or just generally put off, and leave.
Pick a theme that enables:
- Branding through customisation, including headers, fonts, colours as a start.
- Navigation enhancements such as sidebar and footer widgets and custom menus.
- Optimisation both for different devices and screen sizes and for SEO.
For more information, check out: 8 Essential Features for your WordPress Theme.
Invest in a premium theme
For this reason, I’d recommend investing in a Premium Theme. There are may places you can buy one – DIY WordPress Tips is built on the Brixton Theme by Premium Coding, and I bought it from ThemeForest.
You can also customise it yourself later to fit with your branding and niche.
4. Consistent Branding
By this, I don’t just mean across your site itself, I mean everywhere your content is shared. As your credibility builds, your branding is instantly recognisable for your regular readers, and lets them know what they’re about to click through to is trustworthy, useful content and advice.
Choose consistent fonts and colours and use image templates across your blog, social media platforms, slides, presentations, infoproducts, downloads, worksheets, proposals, and anything else readers could potentially see.
Canva is a great image editing website for setting up simple, consistent and eye-catching image templates, which you can save to your account and use again.
Check out this Pinterest board for some excellent tips on choosing fonts, colour palettes, creating image templates and other branding ideas for your blog:
5. Use Permalinks
If you don’t have these set up already, go and do it RIGHT NOW (please). Out of the box WordPress uses numerical, non-descriptive, entirely un-useful urls by default. You’d see something like http://www.diywptips.com/?p=123 instead of http://www.diywptips.com/2016/11/5-quick-steps-professional-looking-website.
Which one are you more likely to click on?
Not only is it good for SEO, especially if it contains keywords relevant to your blog post, it just, again, looks more professional. It also tells your potential readers exactly what they’ll get when they click on the link.
Go to your WordPress dashboard, click on”Settings” and “Permalinks” and choose something descriptive.
There you have it – 5 quick steps to make your website look more professional. Which of these areas would you like some help with? Buying and setting up your domain? Changing your favicon? Setting up an image template?
Let me know in the comments below and I’ll write a follow-up tutorial.