The Build a Better Blog Vlog

What makes a blog user-friendly? What should you not do? That’s what this vlog is all about. Sorry for the abrupt intermission…I don’t do a lot of video editing…what you see is pretty much what I shot.

Part 1β€”What You Should Do

What you should do recap + extras:

  • Be true to yourself, your unique voice.
  • Content is king. Post original content whenever possible.
  • If you’re using shots from fashion shows, etc., be sure to give attribution, and consider posting images that others aren’t.
  • Proofread and spellcheck. Then do it again.
  • Have a copyright statement. Read How to protect your copyrightβ€”real life example by Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy.
  • Mobilize your blog. I use WP Touch. Find out what options are out there for your blog and preferences.
  • Respond to comments. On that subject, watch Friend Friday: Am I a narcissist? if you haven’t already.

Part 2β€”What Thou Shalt Not Do

What you should not do recap + extras:

Don’t:

  • Use overly-large header images.
  • Underline text that is not a link.
  • Center all your body copy. We read from left to right, and it takes longer for the eye to find the beginning of the next line when text is centered, so left-justify body copy.
  • Have music that automatically plays when a user hits your home page.
  • Plagiarize.

81 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these blogs tips with us! I will definitely use these to make my blog better!
    I didn’t realize that centering your body copy makes it harder for the eye to find the next line (i do that most of the time!)
    Again, thanks for this post!!!!!
    xoxo

  2. wowzah!
    you’ve been spending time in my head or what, chica. either that or your an angel (dark angel? lol) in disguise. with constant thoughts of revamping my space, you’re post today is just what the doctor ordered. this was much needed in easing some of the pressure questions on mind have causes.
    you’re comment in video #2 regarding the delayed music…had me ROFL! i can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me and in a public place. when i know exactly where the volume buttons are on my laptop, at that moment in time, it’s the one thing i can’t find fast enough.
    thank you for keeping it honest n real!

    1. Oh, you are so very kind DB…thank you. I’m just chuffed that my vlogs might actually serve some purpose, you know? Thanks for checking in!

  3. OK V! I just need to tell you that since I started reading your blog my blogging skills have enhanced and I’m so happy for these little tips!! I have the WORST grammar (did I even spell that right?) and I spell check over and over and I still find that I have to go back and re-edit after its posted! LOL but I’m trying! I hope my header isn’t too large. I fit it to the size of the template. And the one HUGE thing you pointed out that I DO happen to have on my blog is the auto-music. Can I tell you that when I visit my own blog I turn off the speakers!! haha why I haven’t taken that thing off is beyond me it must drive everyone nuts! At first I thought it gave my blog a little bit of personality but if it annoys the heck outta me what must it do to my readers! lol Ok time to take it down! Thanks!!
    xo M

    1. Thank you Monique, and thanks for being honest about the music on your blog. I’m so proud of you and all my readers who see this as constructive criticism and actually take it seriously. Fantastic!

      I really appreciate your feedback and support.

  4. First and foremost, I LOVE your vlogs, they are always very helpful!
    I hadn’t even thought about some of those things…won’t be centering text any more!

    On another note; is there any chance you could do a vlog / post on how to format a blog?
    I don’t know hardly anything about computers and just used one of the standard formats but I’d like to change it so I can catagorize my posts, have an about page, copyright footer etc but I don’t know how πŸ™
    I realise this is a stupid question but how do you put in a hyperlink?

    xo

  5. Thanks so much for the tips on your vlog. Its always great to get feedback on how your blog is and this video helps me build a better blog. I think I am doing most things right. I still can’t believe some blogs still have music on them. I totally agree with you on that. Its easier to click away rather than find the volume button.

    I know you visit my blog from time to time and I thank you so much for your lovely comments. If you see me doing anything that is totally silly drop me a line and yell at me….. Lee, what are you doing! I’m going to get started with my copywrite statement too. As english is my second language I have to double and triple check everything. I am bit of a perfectionist so I hate reading blogs with bad spelling.

    Oh, and by the way. You look great in your video. If ever you come to Sydney look me up and I can take you out for a drink. Don’t worry about the boyfriend. I’ll leave him at home….lol. Thanks again. Love your blog

    Lee x

    1. Ha! Thanks Lee. You are so kind. I think you’re doing a great job so far!

      I should have mentioned this in my video, but for those who speak English as a second language, expectations in terms of a blogger’s command of the language and its conventions are certainly not the same. Of course, you should still spellcheck, but I think your audience tends to be a lot more forgiving knowing that you are not composing in your native tongue. My comments were aimed at native English speakers who know better.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

    1. Now didn’t ya’ll just make my day?!

      Thank you so, so much for your incredibly generous comments. I am so flattered, and so excited to meet you. I’ve popped over to Beckerman Bite Plate, and I’ll definitely be back! Thank you for stopping by.

  6. Hey V, just sitting here, having a very late dinner, watching your vlog. Fam is in the other room. I had a late meeting…
    so…
    Love the nails and necklace, as always, you look great.
    I can’t believe you said the Gorillaz! Oh yes, the Gorillaz….
    Thank you, thank you for the music on the blog don’t. I can’t stand it, and yes, it scares me too.
    Finally, I agree, original content is key. I can find photos of models in magazine layouts in the magazine. I want to see something that is original or inspires me or both.
    Great tips, great post, great blog.
    Talk to you tomorrow.

    1. Beeeeeeeeeee! That’s becoming one of my favorite letters, you know that?

      Your such a sweetheart. I’m glad you agree and I thank you for always showering me with compliments while simultaneously cracking me up. You know I’ll be popping over to see you very soon!

      1. Oh, and the nails ‘n’ necklace. Nails are polished with my new fave: Orly Hot Shot. Neon coral. And curiously, my MOM was sporting it first and I sweated it so much that she ordered me a bottle. Love the moms.

        The necklace, even though you didn’t ask, I have to tell you is from the FAB boutique in Sydney called Becker Minty. One of the most incredible, unique retail spaces I’ve ever been in. The first day I went (I made hubby take me after reading about it in Vogue Entertaining + Travel), the former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating, was walking out the door. It’s that good, yes it is.

  7. I actually found your blog through Lee Oliveira’s twitter! I really enjoyed your vlog, and your mentions about screen real estate are so entirely true. There are some blogs with headers so large, as you say, they take up your entire monitor so even if they have updated their blog – you’d never know it! I definitely need a copyright statement. Thanks for posting these tips!

    xo,
    raven

    1. Raven, thank you and welcome! I’m glad you found this post to be helpful. I’m already intrigued by Lipstick & Lumber. Totally my kind of mentality!

  8. Hey beautiful!

    Great Vlog girl – you know this one might get picked up for IFB???? Fingers crossed! You look stunning love.

    You are so the queen of fab tips, better still you’re spreading and sharing the love. Me like! Oh, i also noticed on that IFB website they have a post on Pro blogger – 31 days to enhance or build a better blog… which might be useful to everyone.
    I’m a bit like Monique – shocking grammar and typos are my thing… Yikes!

    Ciao bella,
    x.o.x.o

    1. Thank you Ms. Brit. I so appreciate your support and sweet words. And I really appreciate you acknowledging me spreading and sharing love. That is so important to me. I’d rather have a tight-knit bunch and great convos here than hundreds of generic, one-liner comments. I love my readers and I always want you all to know this!

  9. Hey V,

    I LOVE watching your vlogs. Not only are you articulate and fun to watch, but your tips are always excellent and totally on-point! I SO agree with everything you’ve said. Wanted to ask (I like brutal honestly so be frank with me!) – is my header image too big? I’ve seen headers that take up the ENTIRE PAGE so I know mine isn’t as bad as that, but I’m wondering whether I need to make it smaller.

    I’ve learned a lot from this post: I need to get a copyright statement asap, and also, I’ve been trying to mobilize my blog but haven’t been able to do it yet, so thanks for the reminder. All the sites I’ve found so far that mobilize Blogger blogs are quite technical and my technical ability is quite lacking, so I’ll keep searching!

    Also, you look fab. The matching nails and lipstick are byoootiful!

    1. Thank you Leia! See my note to Beverly above about the nails, if you’re interested. You’re always so sweet!

      And no I don’t think your header image is too large. It looks like it’s a fairly standard size, and on my laptop screen, I can still see the headline of your latest post and a bit beyond. So that’s good! I think you’re just fine.

      Regarding mobilization, all I can say is that I would seriously consider moving to WordPress. There are a gazillion widgets you can add; sleek and gorgeous templates; it’s easy to use, and it is so much easier for managing post categories, spam, comments, etc. Plus, I know Blogger has had a LOT of tech issues lately with comments, especially. So many bloggers start on Blogger…I did…but in time, you will likely outgrow it. So I hope you’ll give some thought to moving to WP. With a couple simple clicks, you can import your entire blog and comments to WP. I say, better now than 1,000 posts later. It’s the best thing I ever did.

  10. Just thought of something else. I find it really confusing when bloggers have multiple names for one blog. For example…

    The URL would be: fashionisawesome.com
    But the blog name would be: I like cupcakes
    And the person’s name might be: Betty

    Of course, your name can be (and usually IS) different to the name of your blog. But when your URL and blog name are so completely different, and you comment under your first name rather than the name of your blog, it can be *really* confusing, especially when someone is trying to find you or your blog.

    Also, when people have multiple blogs… you arrive at their Blogger page and you see:
    – Sunshine
    – Moonshine
    – Starshine

    Which one do you click on? Do you have to click on all three to find out which one is active? Or are they ALL active? I often find myself clicking from one URL to another because a blog has been deactivated but is still online. If you have one blog that you want people to visit, make that clear! If you don’t want to get rid of the others, use the Name/URL option when commenting so other people can click on your name and go straight to the blog you want them to visit.

    Okay, I’m just ranting now. /endrant

    1. Excellent points, Leia! Are all you Blogger-based folks reading this?! There is a way to manage this, but it is up to the blogger to set it up. For example, I have four or five Blogger blogs associated with my Blogger profile, which I only maintain for ease of use in terms of commenting. I have a link to my domain on WP in my Blogger profile, and all my other blogs are hidden so you can’t see them on my profile.

      This is also a great example of how not taking this seriously undermines your credibility. If someone could care less about keeping a neat and accurate profile, why should I care about visiting their blog or trying to find it?

      That was a killer rant. You can rant any time here, love!

      1. Whew! Glad my header’s not too large and distracting. And thanks for your honesty – constructive criticism is always welcome (how else do you improve?)

        About moving to WordPress… I’ll consider it. But I’m scared! Change is always scary … but I will definitely look into it!

        I think bloggers need to remember that there are so many things that stop them from being taken seriously – repeatedly incorrect spelling/grammar; difficult-to-navigate blogger profiles; continual use of other people’s content without putting any spin on it whatsoever apart from, “Wasn’t this an awesome runway show?” … etc.

        Thanks for letting me rant πŸ˜‰ Will be linking to this vlog in my next post because I think as many bloggers as humanly possible *must* watch it.

  11. Thanks for the great advice V. My header is something I’ve been meaning to address for awhile and this post reminded me that I need to get my ass in gear. I also always center my body content and have never thought twice about it. Looks like I have some work to do!! It was a pleasure watching your vlog as always. xx

    1. Thank you for your comments/compliments Brooke! I am so glad you enjoyed the vlogs and found them helpful. I’ll be watching to see what direction you move in with your header!

  12. I am so glad I stumbled onto your blog the other day, your advice is great. Very direct and clear! I am only just starting out in the blogging world so all of this is so helpful to know. I also love what you’re wearing, you look fab!
    xoxo

    1. Aw, thank you Meg! I think you are already doing an amazing job with your blog, especially for a newbie! It has a great feel to it. Maybe you might consider doing a custom illustration for your header one day. You are so talented!

      Thanks for your comment and kind words. I’ll be seeing you very soon!

    1. Thanks doll! Hey, mistakes get through even the best proofreader. When you’re tired and have looked at your words for too long, it happens. But when you find them, you just clean them up. That’s what I love about this medium. You can erase mistakes, unlike in print.

      Thanks for stopping by again, my dear!

  13. love this post and the videos! so useful =)

    i find that while i’m doing most of the things right, there are a few things that needed to be changed! thanks so much for this!

    1. Yay! Thank you so much Annie! Makes me feel great knowing you got something out of this post. Will be over to see you very soon!

    1. Thanks so much Kristin! I suppose that’s all you really need…you have a sensational blog! You ladies are doing it so right at BonBon Rose Girls.

  14. “unless you’re a poetry blog, ok? unless you’re a poetry blog you need to be writing and forming sentences like the rest of the free world.” LMAO. I’m going to embroider that on a pillow.

    Your tips are so spot on. The godshonesttruth, and you’re saying it. I was thinking about typing a rant of what I don’t like in blogs, but instead a better thing would be to link to your vlogs. I couldn’t say the sentiments better, and besides, you are rocking the purple dress, pink lips and pink nails something fierce!

    1. HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! OK, thank goodness there’s someone who can stomach the smarty-pants English major in me!

      Thanks so much for you comment, sugar. You’re a doll. Feel free to link away, and give me a shout if you do, OK? Would love to see the posts.

      Oh, and thank you so much for the sweet compliments! For some reason my lips and nails do look pink, but they’re actually a shockingly bright coral…a neon…see my note to Beverly above for the deets, if you’re interested. So they’re even more crazy with the purple. Cause that’s how I like it!

      Come back soon Bella!

  15. Let’s all have a big, virtual group hug, shall we?!

    Thank you to all of you for your comments, compliments, feedback, and general love. Tomorrow is dedicated to you!

  16. so i FINALLY had some time and got to sit down and watch your vlogs. amazing as always! these tips are really spot on and i’m so excited that i don’t do any of your no-no’s and do a lot of the things you suggest. i’m pretty sure my blog is mobile friendly as i remember doing something for that but now i feel compelled to check out wp touch.

    can i just tell you how much i love your explanation of the large header??? my header used to be much larger and i remember thinking, if i make it smaller, people will be able to see more of the post. but now i’m looking at it with new eyes and i’m thinking i might be able to shave it down a bit more.

    i’ve always marveled your blog’s layout and functionality. i love that you can reply to specific comments, i think that’s such a great feature. is that a wordpress thing?

    anyway, all your points are spot on. i also just really love the way you give your tips. straightforward without being rude. i love that you don’t coddle. also, you have such a gorgeous accent and speaking voice that it’s enjoyable listening to you.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your sweet words, Kristy. It’s nice to know that my vlogs are a pleasant experience and not a waste of time!

      Of course none of the no-no’s relate to you…you have one of the BEST blogs out there! I love it.

      My blog is built on the (now way over-used) Thesis template, which is hosted through Bluehost and WordPress.org. Much of it is out-of-the-box functionality (like the comment reply feature). Unfortunately, I lack the technical chops to really customize it and make it more unique, but I’m still happy with it. And it is superior to Blogger when it comes to managing posts and commentsβ€”it’s just a smarter, more robust system on the back-end.

      Thanks for your ongoing blog friendship and support. I truly appreciate it!

  17. please, it’s my pleasure!

    i’ve been noticing that wordpress has a better backend. managing posts and comments on blogger could be much more fluid. i also feel as though all wordpress blogs i come across have automatically better features. but oh well, at the end of the day it’s all ’bout the content!

  18. thank you for this post, it has helped me understand what is more important in a blog.

    I am also grateful that someone recommended me to read your post.

  19. I’m completely with you on the music playing. Nothing is more annoying than that. Especially when you get smart, click it off, then go to leave a comment, but that refreshes the page and BAM music is back again! You’re right, it does scare you! It also conflicts with any music I might be listening to of my own.

    1. Kristin, your header is exemplary. It is perfect.

      Terry Morris, author of Web Development and Design Foundations with XHTML, recommends that β€œRepetitive information (header/logo and navigation) takes up no more than one-quarter to one-third of the top portion of the browser window at 1024Γ—768 resolution.” That means the height of the header should be between about 250 and 340 pixels or so.

      Come to think of it, your whole blog is extraordinarily well-done. You’ve got nothing to worry about, babe!

  20. I am reading your blogs as i am just about to starting a blog, and would like to make a good start, your advice is great, layout is so important so i will be checking word press and following you blogs Thanks

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