Chances are if you're reading this post you have a website. Or you're thinking of starting one. And you most likely have a blog. First and foremost, congrats! Having a blog is so much fun and also so much work. It's like an adorable puppy. It brings you tons of joy, it's oh so cute, but it also needs your love and attention. Oftentimes, much more than you realized. I've compiled a list of the 10 essential things every blog needs to hopefully make your blogging process easier, more professional, and help you feel confident when you hit publish.
I've just redone my blog design and I'm SUPER excited about it. I've been blogging for almost 7 years now and my blog has really changed over the years. I've always liked a clean design and felt my previous design fit the bill. But now, on my homepage people are directed to exactly where they want to go. I've always had people ask me questions about: life abroad, traveling in Europe, Instagram, and blogging tips, so I decided to make those much easier to find. I also created dedicated pages for things like our life in Europe and hope to answer my most asked questions. This way, when you come to my blog you can go exactly where you'd like. If you haven't seen my new design, check it out here!
Having had many blog changes over the years I think I have a pretty good handle on what a blog needs to succeed. This post doesn't intend to show you how to start a blog. For that, you can read this post. I want to share what I think every good blog needs to get more traffic and readers. These ten recommendations are almost all free, or really cheap, and will help you look more professional from the get-go.
10 Essential Things Every Blog Needs
1. Easy to navigate
Keep it streamlined and simple. You want to make sure your blog is easy to navigate so people can find what they are looking for, subscribe, follow, and stick around. I recommend having a navigation bar on top with highlights of places people might click on your blog. For example, I have blogging, travel, and shop tabs at the top of my navigation.
2. Branded theme
Let's get real. When someone lands on your blog that's their first impression of what your blog is about. Even if you have the best written articles in the whole world it simply won't matter if your blog design is clunky and hard to read. A beautiful design is great, but remember you can find this for the right price. I love designs from Creative Market (that's where I got this theme) and Restored 316.
3. Search function
Please let it be easy for me to find what I'm looking for on your blog! Chances are, if I'm reading something on your blog I might want to read something else. So make your search function easy to find.
4. Social media follow
We often get so wrapped up in making our blog look pretty we forget to add something as simple as our Instagram. I like to have my social media follow buttons in a few places on my site: top, sidebar, and bottom. Just so people have every option to follow me. We want to keep people coming back for more and a great way to do that is to have them follow you on social media so they are reminded of your incredible posts.
5. Email newsletter
You got me to your blog, now help me to come back! A newsletter is great for this and so many other reasons. One of the best ways to make money blogging (I swear!) is to have an email list. My list is why I'm able to remind people of new posts, let them know about promotions, and send them news about products I'm selling. Here's how to create an email list for you blog.
6. Contact you
Let's say I am new to your blog and I'm perusing around. Suddenly I have a great, paid collaboration idea for you. But wait! There's no way to contact you. This can lead to many missed opportunities. I recommend having a contact page. It doesn't need to be fancy. Just a simple way to email you works fine.
7. Share buttons
You just wrote a post that changed my life and I want to share it to the heavens. Everyone must know about this life altering information! I go to share but there are no share buttons! Know what I do? Nothing. I just leave. We want to make it as simple and easy as possible for people to share our stuff. I use the Social Warfare plugins (paid) and also like the Sumo (free) options as well.
No one wants to have to confirm their contact details, make sure they aren't a robot, or jump through hoops to leave a comment on your blog. Set up your comment system so that the majority of your readers can comment. A great option? Disqus. This is a simple, easy to use tool that allows comments and also helps you avoid spam.
9. About me
Did you know that one of the most popular pages on your blog right after the home page is your about me page? Don't neglect this very essential part of you blog. Tell us who you are, what you're about, what you intend to update us with on your blog. I'd also showcase some posts to keep us reading and learning more about you. Again, the longer you can keep someone interested, the better.
10. Your why
I am that blogger. Heck, I am that human being! I think that if you understand your motivations for why you are doing something it will help you in every single element of how you do it. Why are you blogging? Why are you hitting publish? What are your motivations behind it? Having that understanding changed the game for me in so many ways. I used to blog every single day. I can't tell you how much that drained my energy and time. Now, I publish about twice a week. My posts are much better and the content I share brings me much more traffic. I figured out my why. So make sure you do too. You can also call this a mission statement, if you really want.
There you have it. Ten essential things I believe every single blog needs. What's one thing you can't live without for your blog?