How to Get Blogging Jobs: 10 Quick Tips to Prepare Your Blog for Gigs

Scoring a paid blogging gig can be tough, especially when you are brand new to the space.  Yes, influence and traffic play its part in a company’s decision to choose YOU for the job, but what about the blog itself?  Did you know that your blog’s appearance and usability alone can make or break a deal? It’s true!

We have created 10 quick and easy tips to help prepare your blog for that paid gig you deserve. Let’s get started!

DECLUTTER SIDEBARS

A cluttered sidebar is THE number one mistake I see on blogs, especially with newbies.  An over-populated sidebar not only slows down the load time of your blog (especially if your blog isn’t self-hosted – i.e. Blogger, WordPress.com), but also makes a blog appear messy and unprofessional.

What to Keep:

  • paid advertising – Only list ads that you have actually sold on your blog, not add several “your ad here” buttons.
  • advertising networks widgets – No more than two, and two is pushing it.
  • social network/subscribe buttons – Keep social network and subscribe buttons on your sidebar so visitors can easily find you online and subscribe to your blog. Look for button designs that fit the look of your blog.
  • contact information – If you currently have contact info on your sidebar, keep it there, the easier companies can find you the better!
  • short bio & pic – Just a snippet, you can add more to an “about me” page that we’ll discuss later.
  • 2-4 fun elements – This can be anything from community buttons, photos, your blog button and so on, but don’t overdo it.

What to Ditch:

  • everything else

A basic rule of thumb is to never let your sidebars go lower than your content.  Also, if you can add any of the above elements into your footer, go for it!  IF A WIDGET DOES NOT FIT ON YOUR SIDEBAR, REMOVE IT!  The idea is to keep your sidebars clean, simple, professional, and easy to read.

REMOVE MUSIC, VIDEO, AND AD AUTOPLAY OR POP-UPS

Nothing turns off a new visitor more than an obnoxious ad box popping up over your content or music firing off unexpectedly. Remove all music, videos, and ads that autoplay or pop-up.  These elements distract from your blog’s great content and encourage quick exits.  It also slows down the overall speed of your blog, which can also lead to short stay.

KEEP HEADER  SIMPLE

Your blog’s header says volumes about your blog, so keep it clean and simple.  Try to stay away from human or animal vector images, unless it is specifically customized for your blog and looks professional.  If you visit blogs often, you tend to see the same vector images used over and over again, which makes your header/logo look less special and like…everyone else.

If you don’t have a professional designer (and I don’t mean your good buddy who designs on the weekends) to design a blog header for you, consider going simple.  Create a simple header in Picnik using the collage feature!  Use pictures of your family, your blog’s logo, a beautiful photograph you took, etc.  Keep “simple” in mind throughout the process.

KEEP BACKGROUND SIMPLE

Pulling off a decorative background isn’t easy, so be careful doing it.  If you are using Blogger, WordPress.com, or anything NOT self-hosted, stay away from special backgrounds as they will slow the load time of your blog significantly.  Even if you ARE self-hosted, I suggest going with a background that is pleasing to the eye and basic, like a shade of white. Never use a dark background in your main content area as it will be hard to read.

PUT CONTACT INFORMATION FRONT AND CENTER

One common mistake I see from new AND seasoned bloggers is not posting contact information in an obvious place for visitors to find.  If a company can’t find your email address, how can they hire you? I suggest having a “contact” button on your navigation bar as well as an email address in your sidebar.  Also, don’t forget to add your first name (at least) so new contacts know how to address you.

INCLUDE SEARCH OPTIONS AND LIMIT HOME PAGE CONTENT

I can’t tell you how many times I have visited a blog for a particular article (that I failed to bookmark) and couldn’t find a way to find it.  Lack of search options will detour visitors, so make sure you have it available.

In addition, keep the home page streamlined and simple by only listing a few recent articles.  It should only take a few scrolls to get to the bottom of your website.  You may also consider showing snippets of your articles instead of full content.  This allows the reader to pick and choose what interests them, which could mean a potential gig regarding that topic.

USE ATTRACTIVE IMAGES

Not all of us are professional photographers, but the images we publish on our blogs should still be attractive. (and you don’t need to a professional camera to do so)

Rules of thumb to remember:

  • avoid posting tiny, pixelated images that are hard to see
  • avoid posting gigantic images that slow down load time
  • use free editing programs like Picnik.com to enhance images (but avoid over-enhancing with too many filters)
  • consider adding a watermark to images to protect your work
  • consider purchasing stock photos (iStockPhoto.com, BigStockPhoto.com, etc.) or using license free images (Flickr.com – make sure you specifically choose license-free when searching for images)

USE SIMPLE FONTS

Avoid using several fonts on your blog.  Consider using a special font in titles only, while keeping regular content fonts simple and easy to read.  Fonts should be large enough to read on a laptop, but not so large that a user needs to scroll down often to complete an article.  I suggest black or dark gray fonts only.

INCLUDE AN ABOUT ME PAGE

In addition to a short bio and picture on your sidebar, include an official “about me” navigation tab and page on your blog.  Your “about me” page should be a place to include a more lengthy bio, including your accomplishments, family information, photos, and detailed contact information.  Many bloggers do not like to include photos of themselves, but you really should.  An image of yourself brings life and humanity to your blog, which readers need to make a connection to your work.

CONSIDER A CUSTOM DESIGN OR MOVING TO A SELF-HOSTED PLATFORM

If you truly want to stand out from the rest of the bloggers, consider hiring a professional to create a custom blog design. When researching designers, pay close attention to past designs and gather feedback from their customers.  A new blog design can take months to complete, so be prepared for a long process.  Cost can also be quite high, so shop around before committing.

If a custom design is too daunting, try moving to a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org.  Not only will your blog’s load time increase, but you will have more control over the design.  You will also have access to invaluable plugins that will enhance your blog’s usability and performance.

Do you have tips to share or need a suggestion for your blog’s design?  Please leave a comment below!