Believe me; I understand the challenge of setting up your blog, so hopefully this blog post will be a great reference for you while you set up the overall design, layout, and functionality of your blog. When I first started blogging in 2009, I spent days looking at other blogs to see how the “pros” were doing it. While many things have changed over the years, here are the top ten must-have elements to include in your blog whether you’re a beginning blogger or a seasoned pro:
1. Navigation Bar
Making your blog easy to navigate should be a top priority. Your blog should include a clear menu that includes all of the main pages on your blog (for example: home, about, contact, services, blog, etc.). Every blog has a different navigation menu, so feel free to customize this as needed, just make sure you have it. The navigation bar should be included near the top of the screen on all of your pages.
2. About Page
Let your readers get to know you a bit! Have a separate about page that tells your readers what your blog is about, your background, and a little bit about your life. While this can be as casual or formal as you want, it should match the overall “tone” of your blog, and show your personality. Don’t be afraid to share a few fun or random facts about yourself; readers love that type of stuff. Oh, and a photo of you is a must! Remember, people connect with other people. Take a quick look at my About Page for reference.
3. Contact Information
The best place to include your contact information is on a clearly marked “Contact” page in your navigation bar. Make it easy for your readers to get ahold of you, whether it’s via a contact form, your email address, phone number, or a combination of all of these. If you have a physical address that’s open to the public (such as a retail store), be sure to include your address and business hours as well.
4. Social Media Buttons
We can all agree that social media is one of the best ways to connect with others while naturally growing and advertising your business. If your readers like what they see on your blog, make it easy for them to instantly follow you on your various social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Different readers will prefer to follow you on different platforms, so include a link to every platform that you are active on. Simply include the social media icons on your blog that are set up to automatically link to your specific pages. Remember to put these icons in an easy to see spot, such as the top of your website or in the sidebar.
5. Social Share Buttons
Speaking of social media, you want your readers to share your posts with their social media followers as well! Including social share buttons on your blog posts will make it easy for your readers to share your awesome content with their friends. You can also include a little blurb in your blog post asking your readers to share it. This is a great form of advertising, so don’t overlook this one!
6. Email Subscription Sign Up
Growing your email list should be a big priority! Every reader that comes to your blog is a potential “customer”, and of course you want them to return. Even if you aren’t “selling” anything, your blog provides some sort of information. Make it easy for your readers to give you their email address by including an email sign up on your pages. Be sure to include a benefit of signing up, such as a freebie, exclusive content, or a weekly newsletter.
7. Search Box
Have you ever visited a website and couldn’t find what you were looking for? We all know the frustration, and many people will give up and leave your website if they can’t find something quickly. Once again, your blog should be designed in a way that is user friendly. Include a “search” box on your website so your readers can type in key words that will lead them to the page that they are looking for.
8. Popular Posts
Feature several of your blog posts as “popular posts” to attract the viewers’ attention. This should highlight your best posts, and be in a location where they are easy to see (such as in your sidebar, or directly below another blog post). Your popular posts section will show a new visitor what your blog is about, and (bonus!) it may keep them on your website longer if they choose to look through all of the featured posts.
9. A Cohesive Design
Each page of your website or blog should be cohesive. Select a few colors and fonts that you use throughout your blog and stick to them, as too many colors and fonts can be distracting. Many designers recommend two to three colors as well as two to three fonts. While, this is just a recommendation of course, find a way to show off your unique brand while keeping your overall design cohesive and pleasing to the eye.
10. Comments Section
Let your readers comment on your blog posts by having a comment section under each post. Not only does this give your readers the opportunity to leave feedback about what they liked about your post, it also has a way of creating a sense of community over time. You may notice that repeat viewers always leave you a nice little comment (which can be encouraging!), but they may also offer valuable suggestions or even ask questions that you can address in a future blog post.
There you have it! These are the top ten must-have elements to include in your blog. Once you have your blog up and running, leave me comment below so I can check it out.