Presumably first and foremost you got in to blogging because you love to write. The aesthetic of your website however, is almost as important as the words themselves because it impacts the usability and readers are far more likely to return if your content is easy on the eye. Most bloggers I know are not just brilliant writers, they’re also incredibly creative people who have big, beautiful ideas and want to showcase them in big, beautiful ways. There’s just one teeny issue: most of us are not bonafide web designers and in all honesty I know as much about coding as I do about quantum physics. Slowly but surely I’ve learnt how to make my blog look pretty (I hope?!) and remain user friendly without needing to a) employ someone else to do it, b) spend a huge amount of money and c) smash up my laptop in frustration.
A note on that second point: running a blog is not free. Sure, there are plenty of platforms out there that will allow you to create and share a basic site without any fees, but realistically if blogging is something you want to take seriously – whether as a hobby or as a career – then you’re going to need to spend a bit of money on it. The good news is that there are some very purse friendly options out there and they’re all tax deductible from your blogging earnings too if you are making an income via your site.
5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Blog
1. SWITCH TO WORDPRESS(.ORG) SELF-HOSTED
WordPress isn’t the only platform out there but it is the one I use and one of the most popular options. When I very first started blogging I used Wix for the simple reason that it was really easy to drag and drop elements and make my page look the way I wanted it to. I quickly realised though that if I was going to be taking my blog seriously long term then I needed to self-host and enjoy the freedom, as well as the more advanced SEO options, that comes with doing so.
Never fear! It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds. There are services that will migrate your blog for you, but as my old one hadn’t amounted very many views yet I decided to create a new site from scratch and used online tutorials to do so.
There are so many hosts out there starting from as little as £1.99 per month, you’ll be able to migrate your domain and suddenly the customisable possibilities are truly endless.
2. CHOOSE A REALLY SNAZZY THEME
The reality is that not many of us can afford to pay a web designer for a custom theme. Rather than paying hundreds or even thousands, there are plenty of WordPress themes out there for you to choose from at a low cost and then personalise to suit you and your blog.
Commonly themes sell for a minimum of £50 each which isn’t much if you see it as a long term investment, however purchasing them one off doesn’t give you the option to chop and change whenever you feel like it (I know some people who give their blogs a quarterly seasonal update!) without spending at least fifty quid each time.
Pixelgrade offers a theme subscription service which gives you access to a whole array of very professional themes. You don’t ever have to settle on just the one which is perfect if you’re the kind of person who likes to refresh your aesthetic often or if you just don’t feel you’ve found your theme yet; you can essentially try each one until you’re truly happy.
Their Bloggers Club subscription costs $9.95 per month which covers access to all of the themes (which they add to on a regular basis), continual updates to keep your site running smoothly and customer support should you have any issues installing or customising your theme. If you’re likely to buy two or more one-off themes in a year then this plan is so much better value long term, especially as they offer a discounted annual rate too. There’s a 14 day free trial with no obligation and the themes are all gorgeously tempting; my favourites are ‘Felt‘ and ‘Gema‘.
3. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER
I try and work with a photographer on a semi-regular basis so that I can keep my fashion and lifestyle content up to date without relying on my friends/insta-hubby/self-timer too much. If I’m ever stuck in a content funk, whether it’s with my blog or my Instagram, then I find a session with a likeminded, creative photographer gives me the boost I need and significantly improves the overall aesthetic of my blog.
4. CLEAN UP BROKEN LINKS
Broken links really damage your SEO ranking and to be honest it’s very unfair because that can include anything from a top you linked 3 months ago that the retailer no longer sells (and therefore the page no longer exists) to a comment made on one of your posts that includes a link to an inactive domain. It’s a bit of a pain in the bum, but there are loads of free tools online that will quickly search your site for you and then all you have to do is go through and remove or fix the link.
It also makes life easier for your readers; they don’t want to be clicking on that cute top only to be met with a ‘does not exist’ landing page.
5. UPDATE YOUR ‘ABOUT ME’ PAGE
C’mon, seriously, when was the last time you updated your bio? It’s very likely you’ve aged a few years, cut all your hair off and maybe even popped out a sprog since the last time you sat down to tell your readers the 411 on you and your backstory. Having an up to date, personable and open About page is a really nice chance to allow your readers an insight into the person behind the blog, why you started the site and all the little things that make you tick. Frankly, if you don’t have one you’re missing a trick!
GET THE LOOK
This post is a paid collaboration with Pixelgrade. All views are my own. Imagery by Kaye Ford.