Does your blog make an instantly good impression on visitors?
Or do they get the impression, within seconds, that you’re an amateur?
While there’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist blogger, you probably want to be taken seriously (even if you’re not trying to make money blogging).
We all make snap judgements, though, and if your blog doesn’t look like a reputable, high-quality read, visitors won’t come back.
They may even be put off linking to you (despite your great content) if your blog looks particularly amateur.
So what can you do to give a better impression? Simply avoid these four mistakes:
Mistake #1: Leaving the “Meta” Widget in Your Sidebar
When you set up WordPress, by default it includes certain widgets in your sidebar. One of these that I’ve never seen on a large blog is the “Meta” widget. It doesn’t add much value to you or readers.
It’s incredibly easy to remove a widget:
- Login to your WordPress Dashboard
- Go to Appearance à Widgets
- Drag the “Meta” widget from your sidebar into the “Active Widgets” area
Tip: Make sure readers still have an easy way to subscribe to your blog (the Meta widget includes your RSS feed link). We recommend promoting email rather than RSS subscriptions. Of course, you can still give the RSS link too.
Mistake #2: Using the “Uncategorised” Category
All WordPress posts have to have a “category” – normally a word or short phrase that covers an aspect of your topic. For instance, on DailyBlogTips, our categories include things like “Domain Names,” “Social Media” and “WordPress”.
(You can see a full list of our categories in the left-hand sidebar.)
WordPress comes with one default category, “Uncategorised”. Remove or rename this. Many bloggers use something like “General” as the default category, in case they forget to add one when posting, or in case they create a post that doesn’t really fit anywhere.
Tip: When naming categories, it’s helpful to give them all names of a similar length. You’ll see that all ours are one or two words – we don’t have any long phrases. This looks neater in your sidebar or any other place where you list your categories.
Mistake #3: Allowing Spam Comments to Infest Your Blog
All blogs – even ones with very little traffic – attract spam comments. If your posts end up with lots of spam comments after them, readers will get the impression you’re not maintaining your blog. Worse, you may even lose a reader who clicks on a spammer’s link.
The best way to avoid spam is to install the Akismet plugin, which will weed out most spam comments before they ever hit your blog. You’ll also want to review new comments regularly, ideally on a daily basis, to delete any that are spam.
Tip: While you’re at it, you’ll probably want to turn off comments on pages (e.g. your About page and Contact page). You don’t want these pages to become cluttered – plus it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have comments on pages that are likely to change over time.
Mistake #4: Sticking with the Default, Unmodified Theme
While WordPress’s default themes look good and may well be a good fit for what you want, using an unmodified theme means your blog will look like any other new blog out there.
A little customisation – perhaps adding your own header, tweaking colours, or even choosing a different free theme that’s less used – will help your blog stand out.
Tip: Premium themes cost anywhere between $10 – $200 and often give you greater functionality and more options to choose from. They’re a good half-way point between a free theme and a custom-made theme, which could cost you thousands of dollars.
Have you spotted any other giveaway signs of an amateur blog? Let us know in the comments…
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