Setting up your blog for the first time can be so overwhelming. When you’ve never had a blog before, it’s difficult to know what to include on your blog. My first blog design had the absolute minimal. It had no about page, no picture of me, not even a way for my readers to contact me! Once you start reading other blogs, researching, etc, you learn more about what your blog needs to have. I remember being a beginner and having to figure it out on my own. Today I’m making it a little easier for you and sharing 11 things every blog should have. These are things I recommend on all blogs from beginner to professional!
1. About Page
Your readers will want to know who it really is that’s writing to them. Make sure to include an About Page where you tell us about your background, your life, and your blog. Who are you? What can we expect from you, as far as personality? Why did you start writing a blog? What is it you want to accomplish with your blog? What do you want your readers to take away? Include a mission statement.
2. Picture of You
In addition to knowing about you, your readers want to see your face! Seeing who you are will help your readers to connect with you and think of you as a person instead of just a website. Something where they can clearly see your face is best. Share a picture that shows your personality! The only real exception to this one is bloggers who are keeping their identity anonymous.
3. Email Subscription Box
Really, you should have several of these! Place them in multiple places on your blog so people have even more chances to sign up for your email list. Offer them an opt-in freebie or content upgrade to make them even more eager to sign up! On the subscription box, be sure to tell your readers exactly what the benefit is to signing up for your list.
4. Social Media Buttons
If your readers decide they like you and your blog, you want to make it easy for them to follow you in as many ways as possible! Most people keep these in their sidebar, toward the top. As you can see on the right, mine are directly under my picture and bio. Make sure to include a link for every social media platform where you’re active so people can choose where to follow you based on where they hang out online.
5. Social Share Buttons
Not only do you want people to follow you on social media, you want them to share your posts on social media! Including social share buttons that are easily visible will give your readers a chance to share your post without having to search out a means to do so. Seeing those social share buttons will probably even encourage them to share when they might not have before! As you can see, I have a few different options for people to share my posts. First, I have social share buttons directly above the text in my post. I also have a “Pin It” button on each of my images. Finally, I have social share buttons that match my blog design on the left side and follow when you scroll down! It also doesn’t hurt to put a little blurb in your blog post, asking your readers to share your post.
6. Contact Information
Whether it be your blog readers or companies who want to work with you, you want everyone to be able to find a contact email for you! You can either include a contact box on your blog, or just feature your email address. I include both, as different people are likely to contact in different ways! Remember, companies who want to work with you but can’t find an email address are likely to move onto the next blogger who does have their email address featured.
7. Navigation Bar
It’s important to make your blog as easy as possible to navigate. Make sure there is a clear path to any page your readers would want to visit. As you’ll see, my navigation bar includes each page on my blog. Then, in my sidebar, I have a dropdown where all of my categories are displayed, for readers who only want to read about a certain topic. If people can’t find their way around your blog, they’ll probably get frustrated and move on!
8. Search Box
While people will disagree on how prominently the search bar needs to be displayed, everyone agrees there definitely needs to be one! I generally think that if someone is using the search bar on my blog, it’s because they’re specifically seeking it out. Therefore, they’re probably okay scrolling to the bottom of my sidebar. I think other things such as an email subscription and popular posts are more important to showcase for readers. However, the search box is still there. If someone really wants to search your site for something, you definitely want to give them the option!
9. Popular Posts
If you want to make people fall in love with your blog, what better way to do so than by showing them your absolute best posts? Highlight these in a prominent spot in your sidebar so everyone can find them! Not only are these posts your most popular, they’re also probably the best representation of what your blog is about. This will immediately tell readers whether or not yours is a blog they want to read.
10. Responsive Design
At this point, a mobile responsive design is not even optional. Not only will it be more difficult for your readers to read your blog without a mobile responsive design (as many are probably reading on mobile devices), but Google will also penalize you! Earlier this year, they made it clear that sites that aren’t mobile responsive will be docked in the search results. Luckily, most designs you’ll purchase are automatically mobile responsive, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to check on.
11. Minimal Fonts and Colors
Not everyone will agree with me, but I prefer a minimal number of fonts and colors on a blog. This doesn’t mean your blog has to be boring by any means! But too many fonts and colors can be distracting. It also takes away from the cohesiveness of your design, and it will be difficult for readers to determine what your design really is. As you can see, I’ve limited my blog to three fonts. The script font I use in my header and in my images is Lobster Two. The font I use for my body text is Droid Serif. And the font I use for the rest of my header and blog images is Oswald. My actual blog design has three colors: mint, coral, and gray. I also use different colors in the actual post images to find a color that best matches the image. Since the general aesthetic of my images always remains the same, someone could see an image from my blog on Pinterest and immediately associate it with my blog!