Every blog is its own creation and inherently unique in that way. But there is a formula for the look of blogs. Below I’ve listed what every blog needs, plus some additional sections that you may want to think about when creating or updating your blog.
When it comes to your navigation bar, less is more. You don’t want the navigation bar cluttered with too much stuff. If it’s too cluttered, people will have a hard time finding things. Keep it simple. You probably don’t need a button that says home because clicking on the header sends you home. If you can put some of the stuff you were gonna put in the navigation bar in the sidebar that’s a great option. Only the most important info needs to be in the navigation bar. Make the navigation bar easy to understand, don’t put different names for things. I have small navigation bar and one sort of odd name, The List currently, but I am thinking about changing it to newsletter because that’s easier for people to understand. When you see The List what do you think? Leave it in the comments below.
Every site needs a site icon. It’s the little icon next to your sites name in the tab bar. It adds that little bit extra piece of professionalism. Amy Lynn Andrews has a great tutorial about installing a site icon.
Deciding about if you’re going to have a homepage or the blog as your home is a decision that needs to be made. I find it helpful, if it’s just a blog then your blog can be the home. If you have a business, having a homepage is great and people can decide where they want to go from there.
You’ll want to have a picture of yourself somewhere on the site. Most people have a picture in their sidebar and one on the about page at a minimum. Also, if you don’t have anyone to take the photo for you, use the timer on your phone, so you don’t have to take a typical selfie, unless that’s the look you’re going for. If you blog is casual, I would say that kind of photo is fine. If you’re going for a more professional look, get a friend to take a picture or use the timer on your phone.
When writing the about page, it’s all about your reader/client. Help them to understand what you bring to the table and how they will enjoy reading your blog or using your site.
Your contact page could include all your social media, a contact email and/or a contact form that could be easily filled out. Also, a link to your FAQ page is always helpful, just in case you’ve already answered their question over there.
Email Sign Up Page
If you have an email list or are hoping to turn your blog into a business, you’ll need to create a page that people can use to sign up for your email list. This page can be used on your social media as well. Having a sign up in your sidebar is helpful as well. The more opportunities people have to sign up the better.
Once you start getting a lot of the same questions asked you can start making a FAQ page. If you get the same question at least five times, I’d add it to the FAQ page. If it gets too long, you can have a table of contents at the top, that links to different sections of the page.
If you have services or an online shop, you’ll want to have some sort of link to that. You’ll want to have a link in your navigation bar, a special graphic that links to it in your sidebar and a link in the footer.
Social Media Connections
Be sure to share your social media links in your sidebar and if there is room, share them in your footer as well.
If you have any evergreen posts you want people to start with or are helpful to them to read first in whatever topic, you can have a page that’s called Start or Begin Here, it’s helpful for first time readers.
Once you have several blog posts written up, you can start creating an archive page by subject and/or category.
Sidebars are definitely an optional part of the blog. If you choose to have a sidebar, you’ll want it to look clean and not too cluttered with ads, you only want what’s important. Having a picture with a short bio that links to the about page, newsletter signup, social media and links to must do things for your readers. Important items can be a shop link, popular posts, and/or expanded social media like a few Instagram photos.
Remember when creating your blog, it can be anything that you want it to be. It’s your creation. There are sections that are expected from most readers and it can be frustrating when those sections are not included or are hard to find. It’s your decision to decide which of those sections are essential for your audience. For me, this is what every blog needs.