Recently, I have been working on website critiques for bloggers, where I give them a 100% honest, objective and in-depth review of their blog/website. I look at everything from headers to sidebars, blog posts to about pages, fonts to footers - you get the jist.
From these reviews, I've seen a lot of the same mistakes made over and over again. So, I'm going to share what I've learnt and tell you the top 5 things that scream 'unprofessional' when I visit a blog for the first time. If you're guilty of any of these, give yourself a slap on the wrist and get improving your blog! 🔧📝
You have 'stickers' and 'badges' all over your sidebar
I know this applies to tonnes of bloggers but you know the stickers all down your sidebar? They look unprofessional. Most of the buttons I've seen are there to promote the website the blogger took it from - they serve no other purpose. Unless you have won a respected blogging award, you don't need all of these buttons on show.
The solution here is to use your about or contact page to disclose any networks you are a part of and keep your sidebar for useful and important information.
Your social media links are hard to find
When I visit a blog I like, the first thing I want to do is follow them on social media. If I want to share someone else's blog post on Twitter, I want to know what the blogger's handle is so I know who to tag. Why do some people make it so difficult to find their social media links?
As a personal rule, I always advise clients to have their social media icons/links above the fold*. This makes it really easy for your readers to find you elsewhere and encourages them to follow you - which could mean more followers (woohoo!).
*If you don't know, 'above the fold' means the area of a website you can see before you have to scroll down. The term comes from designing newspapers - you would want to have all the important information at the top of the paper before it is folded in half on the newsstand.
You centralise your text
This is a major pet peeve of mine. As well as the fact that centralised text is actually harder to read because of the line placement, it looks hella messy. Do you and your readers a favour and left align your blog posts. It will make your blog seem so much more polished and pristine.
You don't have a contact page
As a former social media account executive, I would constantly be working with bloggers and YouTubers to invite them to events and talk about upcoming campaigns. There was nothing worse than not being able to find an email address for somebody. The solution to this was bordering unprofessional - I had to tweet said blogger and ask them to follow me so I could DM them. #Cringe.
Don't want to miss out on any opportunities? Then make it easy for people to get in touch. If you don't want to give out your email address, you can add a contact from on your website.
You have widgets/plugins on your site that are off-brand
It's always easier to install someone else's widget than to create your own. But sometimes, they really stand out - and not in the good way. If you have a very distinct brand and feel to your blog (which you should), these extra add-ons to your site can stick out like a sore thumb if they have different fonts and colours to the rest of your site.
One I see a lot is the social sharing buttons at the bottom of posts, much like these ones:
It's unlikely that these will naturally fit into your blog's theme without a bit of work and customisation - but it's always worth going the extra mile to make your blog look that touch more professional!
P.S. I sent these tips of to my newsletter subscribers weeks ago! If you want to get this helpful info first, sign up to my mailing list below.