Note from Lifestyle Queen Bee: When I first decided to start this blog, my goal from the very beginning was to monetize it so that it could be a source of passive income for myself. When you’re first starting out, sometimes you don’t have a ton of extra cash (if any at all!) to put into building & growing your blog/business. Not to mention all the research you typically conduct trying to figure out the best platform for your blog, your niche, etc. Today, Guest Maurine Anderson is helping cut all the guesswork out as part of my monthly series ‘Bougie on a Budget’, helping you figure out how to make your blog look amazing on a shoestring budget.
There are a ton of successful bloggers out there who make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and who have access to just about anything that can make a blog look more professional—better camera equipment, high-end web design, talented graphic designers, etc. But let’s be real…most of us who run blogs don’t exactly have a ton of money that we can devote to giving our blogs that high end, professional feel. So how do you get a blog that looks professional, even when funds are low? Here are a few tips that I’ve found help give your blog a more professional feel, without a hefty price tag.
[ Sharpen Your Photography Skills ]
If there’s one skill that’s going to make the difference between a mediocre blog and a great one, it’s photography. High-end photography goes a long way in adding a professional look to a blog. Photography equipment can be expensive, so if you don’t have an SLR camera yet, start by mastering the art of smartphone photography. This article has some great tips on getting better photos from your phone’s camera. And once you’ve captured your photos, use an app like VSCO or Snapseed to finish them off before uploading.
Side note: If you do have an SLR camera, then start mastering using it if you haven’t! Play around with different compositions, focal lengths, apertures, shooting in natural lighting, etc. until your photos have a more artistic feel to them. Use the free photo editing software that came on your computer to give your photos the finishing touch they need (even if it’s just cropping).
[ Create an At-Home Photo Studio Space ]
On a related note, putting together a makeshift photo studio can really go a long way in improving the quality of your photos. Maybe your home office sees a lot of natural sunlight during the day, for example, and you need a place where you can shoot your food photography. Go ahead and set up a little studio space in there, complete with backdrops and small props for all of your blog photos. Or, maybe you don’t have a ton of space in your home, but you have some extra space in the garage. Create a semi-permanent studio in there (after insulating the garage, of course). It may seem small, but when you know you have a space where you can take high-quality photos for your blog, you’re more likely to take those photos and add to your blog in the first place.
In case you’re wondering how to put together your own at-home photo studio, these are a few things I keep on hand in my own little studio “arsenal” for food photography:
- Roll of Kraft Paper
- Marble Look Contact Paper
- Wooden Board Painted with Chalk Paint
- White and Blue Tea Towels
[ Size Your Photos Correctly ]
This is a small tip, but it’s worth mentioning while we’re still on the topic of photography. Before uploading photos to your blog, be sure they are of the proper width first. Your photos should be exactly as wide as the text area for your blog posts, and all images should be exactly the same width, regardless of orientation. You’ll be surprised at the impact that standardizing your photo width makes!
[ Go with a Clean Blog Design ]
Though there are definitely successful blogs out there that run on extremely intricate blog designs, many professional bloggers use remarkably simple designs for their blogs. These blogs feature lots of white space, use just one or two fonts, and leave plenty of room for showcasing photos. So if you want a professional looking blog without investing much, go for a clean blog design. Many blogging platforms have great and simple designs that you can use for free or very little money.
[ Purchase a Domain Name ]
Okay, so this one will cost you some money, but it’s a modest price to pay for the professional look your blog gets in return. If you haven’t already, consider buying a domain name for your blog (e.g., myfantasticblog.com). It looks much more professional than a blog with the platform in the URL (e.g., myfantasticblog.wordpress.com), and as long as your domain name isn’t too common, it will cost you only about $15 per year.
If you’re looking to get started with your domain, sign up with Bluehost (that’s what I use!) for an incredibly affordable rate of only $5.95!
If you have been on the fence about starting a blog, I hope this post has inspired you to get started!
What tips do you have to blogging on a budget?
Share in the comments below!