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five tips #1: Advice for first time bloggers

Lots of people have been emailing/tweeting me about doing this post and I've put it off for so long but now I have some time to actually sit down and think! There is by no means a right or wrong when it comes to blogging. Everything is personal preference and everything I am about to say is my own opinion which some of you may or may not agree with!

1) BLOG DESIGN:
Not everybody understands Photoshop and it's definitely a program that needs more than a week to understand. You probably know that I spend way too much time designing my blog and am forever changing bits about! I think to attract a larger number of visitors you need to have a good blog design. It doesn't matter if you have no idea how to create graphics as that's just an extra when it comes to how your blog looks. Just little things make a big difference. 

a) Don't have a flashing/busy background that is going to make the reader either click off straight away or not read.
b) Always have your blog content background colour white. It's easier to read black on white and looks a lot more professional!
c) If you're going to have an image as your background, make sure it tiles! There is nothing worse than one that doesn't match up with the above piece!
d) Make sure your body font is of a reasonable font size and a readable font. Don't use the curly, horrid fonts that Blogger provide. The best ones to use are Arial, Tahoma, Verdana and possibly Georgia. At no smaller than 11px and no bigger than 14px. 

Typing this big on a blog post just looks ridiculous, come on now.

2) CONTENT:
There's a lot of blogs out there with different types of content. For example, ASHLLYD is primarily a lifestyle blog and was actually started to showcase my photography work, however I feel it has developed into a mi-match of beauty, fashion, lifestyle and photography. Don't blog things that you think people may read. You should blog about things that you are interested and not worry whether people are reading your posts at all. The idea of a blog is to write about things you enjoy and want to write about. Obviously it's always lovely to sign in and find a bunch of comments on your latest post, but don't feel pressured to "fit in" with other blogs. There is nothing worse than all the "big blogs" being all the same. That is probably my biggest blogging pet peeve: smaller blogs take a while to get noticed.

3) TRAFFIC & FOLLOWERS:
Gaining followers doesn't happen overnight. Don't be surprised if it takes you a month to gain 10 followers. You have to work hard and advertise quite a bit to attract a larger amount of traffic which then hopefully leads to 1+ follower. Having Twitter helps so much as it's the biggest network that bloggers can communicate via. I am approaching 700 followers and I know that at least 75% of those following me are bloggers. It's also good to sign up to following platforms such as Bloglovin as this provides a way for people without blogs to follow blogs that they read. I know quite a few people from my college and at work read my blog, so this is a great way for them to save all their favourite URL's and have a good old Sunday catch up!

4) COPYRIGHT:
When I first started blogging, I had no idea about what was right or wrong. If you find a background you like for example, there are ways of taking it. However, you should always email the blogger first to find out whether the image is theirs. If not, feel free to use it but sometimes you have to be careful incase they've made it themselves. Same with blog graphics. If you see something you like, email the blogger to ask if you can use it. Don't feel offended or insulted if they say no. As a blog designer it's annoying when people copy and steal things so I would rather people emailed me first rather than just taking things. Fortunately, I haven't found anyone using my photographs or graphics but this is just a warning!

5) PICNIK?!:
Please, please, please don't create headers/grab buttons/nav buttons via picnik. It's the worst website in the world and I will celebrate on April 19th (closing down!)

As I've already mentioned, blogging is personal preference so don't feel offended if some of the things I dislike are something you have on your own blog. I'm sure some people look at my blog and think negative things whereas I know a lot of you like my design! A few other things that I think need mentioning but once again, are my own opinion are:

- Align post text from left to right. It's easier to read and how a blog post should be laid out. 
- Have big images, at least 500px wide. This is especially if you have a fashion/beauty blog. It's much easier to see what you are reviewing or wearing for example. Having small pictures is really annoying.
- Remove the grey shadow borders around your images. There is a code here that can be added to your CSS (template designer > advanced > CSS) that will instantly remove the borders.
- Have a readable font.
- Have clear links to things. Example, if you are reviewing a lipstick, have a clear link as to where the reader can find the item!
- Don't leave your blog URL's in comments. It makes you look a 'tad desperate and nine times out of ten I check out all my commenter's blogs anyway.
- Make your adverts and any images in your sidebar the same size!

Hope this hasn't offended anyone's blogs. Let me know if this has helped you out at all and if you would like to know anything else!

18 comments

  1. Great advice - I like blogs that are neat, tidy and easy to navigate. The grey borders around images drove me mental for ages, it was a great day when I found the code to get rid of them! And Picnik, argh! There are definitely some decent enough other alternatives to Photoshop if people don't have it. x

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  2. These are some really good tips! I've been trying to make my blog look/seem a bit better lately, and these are good things to consider x

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  3. Great tips :) I agree that all the big blogs becoming carbon copies of one another gets really annoying. I don't want to read the same thing over and over again! I also agree with you about font size. At the moment teeny tiny font seems to be quite 'fashionable' but I can't enjoy a blog if I'm squinting to read the damn thing!

    I really recommend downloading Paint.net if people can't afford photoshop. It's not quite as jazzy in terms of photo retouching etc but for graphics it's more or less the same :)

    Maisyetc.

    xxx

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  4. I agree with everything you said apart from the leaving URLS, I have found some of my favourite blogs that way!

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  5. In agree with everything you said, especially with regards to text font/size and picture size. However I disagree with leaving blog urls in comments. I think as long as your comment is relevant to the post and you've actually put thought into the comment, it's fine to leave urls. The only time I don't like it is when they've just left something like 'nice pix, check out my blog and follow' and leave their urls, then I feel it's spammy. xx

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  6. So glad I found this post, been looking for a way to get rid of those silly picture shadows! thanks

    Rachael x

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  7. Can't wait for my blog design now Ashley! Haha my sidebar pics need to somehow be all the same size and that's one thing i find really fiddly! also, do you know any easy ways to keep your pictures all the same size in blog posts? Can't afford photoshop so i always find it really tricky to keep consistency x

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    1. Sorry, just realised i spelt your name wrong sweet! xx

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  8. I love this post; I'll definitely be passing it along to a couple of my friends who have just started up their blogs!

    Now following x

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  9. Just wondering, how did you get your name at the bottom of the post? Thanks:)

    sophsstyle.blogspot.com xoxo

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  10. I'm just starting my blog, and found this really helpful!! Thanks! xx

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  11. This is great advice :)

    x Camilla

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  12. Hey love. Great post. I just wonder, if you don't have access to Photoshop then which image editing software do you suggest? I use Picnik out of necessity to tweak my images, which isn't ideal but all I have at the mo!

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  13. Just want to thankyou for the border removal tip! Its been bugging me for ages and I thought it was just me it was happening too, thankyou. Really love reading the mix of stuff you've got on your blog makes for a good read rather than review review review :)

    Jxo

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  14. Just sort of stumbled across this post, it's really useful. Thanks :)

    Just found your blog too, I like, from one HP fan to another!

    xx

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  15. Great post, I agree with pretty much all of it. Especially the picture widths and removing the grey borders.

    xxx

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  16. Great tips, totally agree about the white background thing and small images! Simple background and large clear images are a definite must-have! Xx.

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  17. Oh my word, thank you so much for the code for removing those annoying grey shadows!!!!

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