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7 Practices That Make You Look Like a Rookie Blogger

This guest post is by Lior Levin.

One of the main reasons why any company or individual starts a blog is to demonstrate expertise and professionalism while courting new leads and customers. So failing to customize your blog or to learn some basic website management practices could do more harm than good. Here are seven rookie mistakes to avoid on your blog.

1. Using a common, unchanged theme

There are plenty of free, high quality website themes that you can use with a blog CMS such as WordPress. You don’t have to stick with the default website theme your blogging service provides. In fact, you really shouldn’t, as there are plenty of rookie bloggers who leave their themes unchanged.

Instead, use a unique, professional theme and then add your own custom tweaks or hire an HTML company to customize it for you.

2. Low-quality stock images

Whether you use a free service like Stock Exchange or pay for an account with a premium service, using high-quality stock images with your posts will help set your blog apart from the competition. If you use watermarked, blurry, or irrelevant images with your blog posts, no one will take your website seriously. While a great image can’t save poor content, a bad image can discredit great content.

3. Poorly aligned images

Even if you do manage to add high-quality images to your website, you also need to learn the basics of aligning them with your text properly so that the text wraps around the images and the images don’t crowd into the sidebar. It’s not hard to modify images, but before you hit Publish, make sure you preview your posts to make sure the images appear in the correct position relative to your text. A blogging program such as Windows Live Writer makes cropping, resizing, and aligning images easy.

Most of the time, you’ll want to align your images to the left or to the right at the top of your post, but if your columns are narrow for your main content, you could resize your image so that it runs across the whole column.

4. Meta information in your sidebar

When you first load up your new blog, you may see a “meta” information section with links to the blog’s administration panel and feed. This is unnecessary. You should include the link to your feed at the top of your blog and bookmark the login page on your own browser. Blogger Brankica Underwood writes, “There is absolutely no need for that widget to be in your sidebar or footer, leak link juice, and confuse people.”

5. Large chunks of paragraph text

One of the most important tips for blog readability is to avoid large chunks of paragraph text. No matter how good your ideas may be, you’ll look like a rookie if every blog post has enormous chunks of unbroken text.

Blogging is not the same as English composition in college. Keep your paragraphs short, use bullet points, and incorporate sub-headings when you can. All of these simple practices will make your posts easier to read and make you look like a competent blogger.

6. Neglecting your pages

There are two essential pieces of information that every website should have: an About page and a Contact page. Missing either of them will make you look either unprofessional or disorganized—that is, besides simply making it hard for readers to find the information that many of them want to know.

If you add a new page to your website, but you don’t have time to fill it in completely, there’s no problem with writing some “placeholder” copy, such as “More information coming soon.” Just make sure you follow up and fill it in.

7. Spam comments

Depending on the blogging service you use, spam comments may become a problem on your blog that could make you look bad. That doesn’t mean you should inundate your readers with hoops they need to jump through in order to comment—such as illegible captcha phrases or requiring readers to register in order to comment.

By adding a professional comment management service such as Disqus, you’ll filter out the spam comments and make it easy for readers to both leave comments and to follow up on the discussion. In fact, the advantage of Disqus is that it notifies commenters of replies so that they are prompted to return to your blog.

Get a handle on the basics

While it’s incredibly easy to start a blog, it’s even easier to manage a blog poorly and to discredit yourself and your business in the process. By integrating some basic blog management tools and learning how to use them effectively, you’ll be able to use your blog to effectively build your online reputation.

Lior Levin is an adviser to startup that created a passbook solution to follow credit card charges. Lior is also and advisor to firm that offers a shopping cart abandonment tool for ecommerce websites all over the world.

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Comments

  1. Great post… especially the bit about modifying the theme. I left my unchanged for ages, but after a little bit of research, I customised it to make it look more personal and reflect the content of what I was blogging about.

  2. Iain Robson says:

    I think the reason why many people don’t do their full about page is because they aren’t sure what to put. I agree thought that it is an important page.

    One thing that really turns me off is when I see large chunks of text. It is very difficult to read, and I tend skim through it a lot more.

    Great information. I still need to get my contact page up and running. Have any suggestions ?

  3. rahul says:

    it will definitely helps me to correct my mistakes…thanks for the share

  4. Brian Rock says:

    Akismet also does an awesome job of moderating comment spam. I use that and find that very little gets through. The Promoted Discovery feature on Disqus looks pretty cool, but I’d rather just use native commenting built into WordPress than embed some other service in an iframe.

  5. Nice job, Lior! I really like the title of this post; that’s what made me click!

    My favorite thing about the post is what you had to say about the images. When people see images on blogs, they’re more likely to engage. I’m just now realizing that you didn’t use any images on this post (lol), and you could possibly get more people to comment if you added one!

    I wanted to supplement your list by suggesting that bloggers implement an RSS feed on their blog. This will encourage others to share the content you’re publishing with little effort. Happy blogging!

  6. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Enjoyed reading Lior, There are a lot of other practices that makes a blogger look like a rookie blogger. Thanks for linking to the article on DiyBlogger that has tutorial on creating an amazing About me page.

  7. Matt Brennan says:

    Nice post. I’ve seen people and businesses make just about every one of these mistakes at some point or another. Keeping your blog easy to access and readable is hugely important as you use it to build your brand!

  8. Chris says:

    There is a very low bar to starting a blog. I did it with Blogger 2.5 years ago. I also got about 400 visitors in nine months updating the site. That’s not really going to set the world on fire by any means. I then started a niche blog and writing on some other sites. My hope is that backlinking and relevant content will make the latest attempt a bigger success, especially since I paid for the domain.

  9. Eric says:

    This is nice list for rookies, but sometimes blogs take time to continue to create, build, add, and expand. These are same very valid points and comments. I really appreciate the points about large paragraphs and neglecting post or pages.

  10. DJ says:

    Great tips. I’ve definitely come across several WordPress blogs that still have the Meta info on the sidebar. And the low quality stock images definitely scream unprofessional.

  11. Great points, Lior
    One thing that stands out for me is when people use colors that are traditionally appealing to readers. I do want my blog to reflect my personality and taste, but I also have to consider my visitors and if using a rainbow of bright colors is a turn off.

    Whenever I come across one of these blogs, I assume that it’s a new blogger and I’m surprised when they’ve been around for a few years. I guess they’ve made it work for them, but I wonder what their numbers would look like if they toned it down OR if I’m just off base with my thoughts.

    Kimberly

  12. raoul says:

    Nice blog. Caught myself doing these things. Must now change all. Need one subject. Thinking of starting from scratch.

  13. How good the content is , it takes around 6-9 months for google to recognize and give it ranking. More focus should also be diverted to UI and UX

  14. Whew! I was sure I’d nail all 7 since I’m a newbie. :) Thanks for the reminders of what not to do.

  15. mohit says:

    That’s why I use my own customized theme and never share that with others, because then it will be common between all.

  16. Ana says:

    I hate the new Disqus.

    The older version really didn’t ask for you to register, but the new one… kinda does. Oh yeah, you can leave comments unregistered, but not in a way like you did earlier – you want a link? You must register.

    I don’t want to leave my info with yet another company.

  17. jim c cott says:

    This article is in fact a pleasant one it helps new the web people, who are wishing in favor of blogging.