Woman holding a laptop - how to make a beginner blog look professional.

If only I knew the things I know now. Back in 2010, when Suburban Tourist was in its infancy, I was using Blogger (free), with limited capabilities to create a great-looking blog. I wish I had a roadmap for making a beginner blog look professional right from the start.

Many new bloggers are the same as I was back in 2010. Using every free option available to get started and to grow their blog.

The truth is that it’s much harder to start a professional-looking blog using free options. It’s doable to a certain extent, but you only go so far.

Since 2010, the blog tools and resources to start a blog and create a professional-looking blog have exploded.

From easy solutions to difficult technical problems to templates, digital assets, and other resources, all you really need is time, effort, a bit of an investment and a desire to learn.

In this post, I share my learnings with newbie bloggers on how to look like a professional blogger from the start. I was where you are once too. It can seem overwhelming, at first!

You want to showcase yourself as an expert and create a blog brand that people will recognize and want to follow. But it all seems to be SO MUCH WORK and SO DIFFICULT!

Rest assured you’ll get to the point where readers will see you as a well-polished blogging pro.

Create a plan and follow your checklist (I’ve got a handy one for you!), you’ll get to a point where your blog will be looking professional and attract a following.

Let’s get started!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a product or service, and decide to purchase it, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All recommended products and services are based on my positive experience with them. For more information, please read my Disclaimer.

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The Basics Of Making A Beginner Blog Look Professional

If you’re just starting a blog, you’re in a stage where you’re researching and planning to start a blog.

Reading up on these tips and tricks is a good idea. So what are they?

First of all, as I mentioned, create a blog plan.

Your plan will have action items on your list that span a few weeks.

Even with a beginner blog, it takes time to build something that looks amazing and has great content.

Secondly, budget for some blogging tool expenditures that will take your blog to the next level.

Free blog sites are nice when you’re dabbling in blogging, but if you want to be serious about creating an online presence, you’ve got to invest in your tools and resources.

Thirdly, have some content already created or in the works (if you’re starting a new blog from scratch). Have at least five to 10 blog posts that you can post.

You’re probably nodding your head, writing down these three points… and wondering, when will she get to the details?

Well, just keep on reading and I’ll show you how to look like a professional blogger from the start!

Before you move on to the first point, do you have your niche figured out? By going through this About Me page worksheet, you’ll fine-tune your niche and mission statement, making it easier to determine your blog name, and hence, Domain name!

1. Use A Domain Name

This is the first step in making a blog look professional right from the start.

Why? Not only does it look professional, especially in the eyes of brands and PR reps that may want to work with you in the future, it also helps you do something very important. Self-hosting!

In the next step, you’re going to go self-hosted and for that, you need a domain name. Point one and two are interconnected.

Domain names aren’t easy to come up with because they are intricately linked to your blog name. And that’s sometimes VERY HARD to figure out.

You need to consider a few things about your blog name and domain name:

  • Does it reflect my blog focus (your niche or general categories for broader-focused blogs)
  • Will the name be easy to write out and remember? And in essence, be easily recognizable?
  • Will the blog and domain name work with where I may potentially be at in 5 to 10 years time? For example, “Single Gal In The City” lifestyle blog won’t work if you find your perfect partner and end up married with babies in five years’ time. You’ll have to go through a rebrand and that’s quite a bit of work.
  • Is the domain available? Is somebody else using it? If so, back to the drawing board.
A desktop with a laptop keyboard, blush roses, a white cup with coffee and a notebook and pen - how to look like a professional blogger even when you're not.

To purchase a domain name, you can do so often through your self-hosting provider or you can do it through a service such as Domain.com (the one I’ve used in recent years).

There’s an annual cost to owning your domain name. Usually, it’s approximately $20/year including privacy services (so your contact info isn’t easily found online).

| READ MORE: How To Start A Blog (And Choose A Blog & Domain Name)

2. Go Self-Hosted

When you go self-hosted from a free blogging site, you make your blog look professional in a number of ways.

First of all, there are many more plugins you can use if you’re going the self-hosted WordPress route (WordPress.org, not WordPress.com – that latter is the free version that you want to move away from using). I recommend it as it’s the most robust platform with many thousands of plugins, themes, and tools.

When you decide on self-hosting your blog, you are met with a number of options for self-hosting.

My recommendation for new bloggers for a quality hosting provider is NameHero – great for a self-hosted blog.

For bloggers willing to invest in blogging long-term, and who want top-notch load speeds and customer service, I recommend NameHero.

Aside from customization with WordPress plugins, with a self-hosted blog, you have more access to your blog’s technical aspects. Like being able to look under the hood of a car and improve it.

You also have more options to monetize it with ads and other e-commerce activities (e.g. selling your own product or service on your blog).

So it’s an investment and can be a bit confusing at first, but setting up a self-hosted blog is KEY to making your blog look professional.

| RELATED: Top 10 Beautiful Feminine WordPress Themes For Lifestyle Blogs

3. Add Key, Must-Have Legal Pages


If you want to make a beginner blog look professional, you need to treat it like a business. To do so, you need to make sure you’re blogging legally.

If you don’t want to get sued for any content you produce on your blog, protect yourself by including must-have three legal pages: Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions, and the Disclaimer.

The Privacy Policy lets users know how you collect their data and what you do with it.

The Terms & Conditions let the visitor know what they can do with any of the content you have on your site – from blog posts, original work, anything you’ve created and are giving for free or selling, etc.

The Disclaimer explains to the reader how they are to receive the information you provide (educational, informational purposes only – you aren’t their expert in any specific field and aren’t liable for anything they do with the information you provide). This is where you also share a disclosure as to any review posts, etc.

This is very important for not only protecting your blog but also yourself legally.

WHAT I RECOMMEND: Purchase the Legal Bundle – a super-helpful package of customizable templates (for US/Canada, and International bloggers), written by a professional, practicing lawyer and blogger – Amira from A Self Guru.

Legal Bundle Templates A Self Guru 1
  • It’s SUPER affordable when compared to having your lawyer draft these documents up.
  • It takes a matter of minutes to customize and copy and paste into your blog pages.
  • There’s no more guesswork trying to figure out if you’ve covered your blogging butt enough!
  • If you plan to own more than one blog, you can use it on any of them.

NOTE: Purchase this and create the pages on your blog ASAP. You want to be protecting your blog with legal pages from the start.

Here’s a little secret to making a blog look professional without spending too much money… create a GORGEOUS blog logo.

It’s the first thing that people see.

Eyes naturally gravitate to a site name. So you need to focus on creating a blog logo that fits your blog’s focus and looks great.

The good news is that you can create a simple but beautiful blog logo in a matter of minutes, for free or with a small budget.

See my blog logo? It’s a word logo and it took me less than 5 minutes to make with a lovely font.

This is my recommended approach for a simple but classy logo.

I also have a sub-mark logo, like this one, that I use in conjunction with my Suburban Tourist blog’s main logo, for my social media visual assets (e.g., Pinterest pins).

How to make your new blog look professional right from the start.

To create your very own, read my guide to making a blog logo in a matter of minutes and on budget.

You can also check out these AWESOME, affordable templates on Creative Market that I love.

5. Permalink Structure That Makes Sense

This is something I recommend you do once and do well.

To make your blog look professional when it comes to your URLs, change the permalink structure.

Head to Settings > Permalinks and you’ll see these kinds of settings.

When I migrated to WordPress, I ended up having my category and postname show up in my URL. I should have just chosen Post name to make it look like a”prettier” URL.

How To Create A Professional Looking Beginner blog

NOTE: If you make changes after setting your permalinks structure, make sure you have a redirect plugin to ensure your posts with URLs leading to your site don’t get 404 errors. Yoast SEO Plugin PRO offers this (at a cost), as well as Rank Math (free).

6. Create A Brand Palette

To create a polished, cohesive look that makes your blog look professional, you need to create a brand palette. You will use it on your blog’s design, Pinterest, your social media channels, etc.

Think about the colours used by brands. Certain colours convey specific perceptions – this is how brands use colours for their logos, websites, and all marketing pieces.

Blue is dependable and strong. Orange is creative and confident… cheerful. What colours you choose will create an impression on your site visitors.

Here’s what I did with mine. I liked the colour of dusty coral pink. It falls into the red category which is bold, youthful and exciting, but with a muted approach.

Using that general colour, I looked at various palette schemes.

You can easily do this by searching on Pinterest or by looking at a site like Design Seeds. Jessica, the woman behind the site has taken beautiful images with dominant colours and pulled out palettes of hues that work well together.

Don’t forget to add a dark colour and a super light one (I chose black and white – very simple) to be your foundation colours for text.

WRITE down all of the codes – the ones that start with #. I included a descriptor of the colour – for example, “medium dusty pink” = #eb9693.

Keep the brand palettes in a Master notebook that you can always refer to. You can also print out the colours and have them pinned for quick reference. You will need to use these codes often.

How To Make A Beginner Blog Look Professional Have A Plan

I’ve created a handy printable document that you can use to write down all of your HEX #’s and key information about your brand palette.

PRO TIP: Print this out and have it posted on a wall or cabinet where you do your blogging, so it’s a quick reference for you!

| RELATED: How To Find Your Perfect Brand Voice And Brand Personality

7. Create A Favicon

Now that you have your brand palette figured out you can start designing the next important thing that will make your blog look professional.

You know that little ST in pink that you see in the tabs of your browser for this site? That’s a Favicon. It makes it much easier to identify a site.

Pinterest has a red circle and the P in the brand font. Canva has a blue circle with the C.

Here’s my pink ST favicon for my Suburban Tourist blog at the top:

How to look like a professional blogger from the start - an example of a favicon at the top of a blog.

A favicon makes it super easy to identify your site when I’ve opened it on my browser and moved away from that page. When I want to go back to it, I’ll glance at that favicon and know that that one is yours.

It’s super easy to create one. You can try a Favicon Generator (free) and make it in a matter of minutes.

To upload it, your blog theme should have a section where you can add it.

8. Use A Well-Designed Blog Theme

If you have a food blog, a food blog theme is very important (it will have recipe features that are a must!).

If you have a lifestyle blog theme, it will have all the necessary plugins and features, and perhaps even design elements that work well with that kind of blog.

And if you have a business-focused theme, there are a number of them out there for consultants, freelancers, and other professionals.

A well-designed blog theme makes your blog look professional. Free or very inexpensive themes limit in what you can do to showcase your work and easily customize your blog to fit your “blog brand.”

For quality WordPress themes, there are many great options in:

  • Kadence – light and with many template options
  • Feminine business and blog themes with Bluchic – they’re easy to customize (with great instructions on how to use Elementor) and they look gorgeous.
  • Pix and Hue – another fantastic collection of Elementor-based feminine themes for business and blogs

9. Keep It Uncluttered With Lots Of White Space

Many new bloggers, and those who are desperately seeking income from their blog without thinking about the site visitor experience, will make this one mistake:

Using way too many ads.

One of the easiest ways to make a blog look professional is to keep ads to a minimum. In some cases, I would recommend you not include them at all.

If you’re running a blog as a promotion tool for your coaching business or other service-based business, I don’t recommend ads. They look unprofessional!

This is one way to keep your site uncluttered and with lots of white space.

Another way to make it look well-designed is to use spacer blocks if you have a WordPress blog. You can isolate sections of text, and create a less cramped and cluttered look.

Finally, make your paragraphs short – no more than two sentences. When reading online, it’s easier to do so when the content is clearly legible.

Fine attention to details such as these elevates your blog from a “newbie blog” to one that looks professional.

| RELATED: The Best Coaching Tools And Software To Make Your Business Professional

10. Choose A Headshot Photo & Write A Brief Bio

Look to the right. What do you see near the top? My smiling face with a brief bio.

One of the first things to do to make your blog look professional is to tell readers about the person behind it. YOU!

How to create a professional blog from the start Margaret B

Think about when you visit a site that doesn’t have a smiling face showing on the sidebar with a brief blurb telling you exactly what you can expect.

You don’t have to have a professional headshot photo taken (although these are a must for any business-related blog).

A well-shot and well-edited smartphone photo will do just fine.

Look presentable and SMILE with your teeth showing. This creates a warm, inviting image.

For the brief bio, keep it to a maximum of two short paragraphs.

Tell the reader who you are (e.g., an expert in turkey recipes… or yodelling… whatever!). Next, tell them what kind of content to expect to find on your blog.

If your blog theme allows for a “Read More” button that links to your About Me Page (the next thing on your list!).

| RELATED: Why Personal Branding Is Important For Blogging Success

11. The About Me Page, Work With Me Page and Contact Me Page

The About Me page is something every blog should have, as is the Contact page.

The Work With Me page is for those who are actively seeking brand collaborations or other businesses.

These pages will take some time to craft well, but you can make it a one-day exercise.

Creating An About Me Page

I recently tweaked my About page, when I was writing a long blog post with tips on how to create an About Me page.

For the About Me Page: tell the reader more about yourself! This is like a super-expanded version of the brief blurb on your sidebar. It needs to have:

  • More about your blog: who is the target reader, what will they read and why you’re sharing it with them
  • About yourself: why should they believe what you write? Do you have a professional background in a specific topic? (Mine is public relations, marketing, and digital media). Do you have a lifelong hobby or interest that you are an expert in and can share invaluable info with your readers? Add a bit of personal stuff here too!
  • Another photo of you!
  • How you work with brands (with link to Work with Me page)

For a full breakdown and a worksheet to create your own About Me Page, check out my LONG post that covers all the nitty-gritty. And get my printable worksheet below to develop your About Me Page!

| RELATED: Why Your First Blog Post Shouldn’t Be About You

Creating A Work With Me Page

The Work With Me Page should be focused on the key target audience of brands, PR professionals and digital marketers who want to work with bloggers like you!

It may also be other bloggers seeking collaborations as well.

So what do you include?

  • For work with bloggers, a list of ways they can collaborate with you (e.g. guest posts)
  • For brands/PR folks: a list of the type of potential ways they can work with you – e.g., sponsored posts, event attendance, giveaways, social media and so on.
  • A list of links to past work examples (if you don’t have any, that’s OK – park this idea for now). You can also have this on your About Me page if you aren’t ready for a full Work With Me page.
  • A contact me form.

The Contact Me Page

Keep this short and sweet with links back to your About Me page and Work with Me Page if somebody needs more information.

Why? Because this creates another pageview on your site (BONUS traffic!).

Also, not everybody wants to scroll through how you work with brands and other bloggers to get to a form.

It may be a reader who is asking you a question and wants quick access to a contact form.

12. Use High-Quality Stock Photos

How to make your blog look good? Use quality photos!

Unless you’re an amazing photographer, chances are you’ll be seeking out stock photos.

While there are many amazing FREE stock photo sites out there, I don’t advise solely using them.

To stand out from the multitude of competitor bloggers who’ll be using that very same image database as you, go the paid stock photo route.

This is a high-quality stock photo (purchased) from Styled Stock Society:

How To Make A Beginner Blog Look Professional With Stock Photos

Yes, some bloggers will use these photos, but there will be much fewer out there.

Pinterest LOVES fresh images and pins, which is another key reason why you want to invest in a paid stock photo membership.

Many of the stock photo sites offer quarterly and annual memberships. So if you can afford only a few months’ worth of membership, go for it.

Download the images you’ll probably use and cancel until you can go back again. Sign up to stock photo site newsletters to be informed of any cool deals and sign up again.

Here are my favourites:

13. Use A Consistent Blog Post Layout

This is one thing that can make a beginner blog look professional or amateurish.

  • An introduction where you lay out the context and what your post is about. If you hook the reader in the first two paragraphs, they will stick around!
  • A middle section with all your juicy tips and ideas fleshed out with amazing information! Consider doing a list, as it’s easier to follow.
  • A conclusion or summary to wrap it all up with a Call-To-Action. This last thing could be a question, a request to pin a Pinterest pin image, or a form to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Headings throughout your post – H2 for key headings and H3 and H4 for those that fall under those H2 topic headings.
  • A table of contents (you can get a free plugin for this) if your post is long, so readers can jump to the information they’re seeking.
  • A few images to illustrate your points and make your site visually appealing.
  • White space! If you can, add a spacer between images, lists and paragraphs to make the post look uncluttered.

Always have the following:

Do this EVERY TIME! It becomes a standard and it makes your content look AMAZING.

| RELATED: 7 Ways To End A Blog Post With An Engaging Call-To-Action

14. Build An Email List

I made the mistake of starting my newsletter list way too late. It’s still growing and I should pay much more attention to creating awesome opt-in freebies to grow my audience.

A newsletter list is essential to making your blog look professional. Some of the reasons to start and grow your email list are:

  • It offers an additional way for you to reach out to your interested readers directly… right into their email inbox
  • It’s another way you can share branded content with your readers (and get paid to do so!)
  • Shows that you are focused on building a community
  • They are another way to grow your blog traffic.

There are many options for list building and newsletters, but here are two that I recommend:

  • Mailerlite (up to 1,000 contacts on your list, 12,000 sends per month – LOVE IT, and currently using this!)
  • Convertkit – free plans with limitations. Also, free up to 1000, but not as many free options as Mailerlite.

Always remember to have a series of “Welcome emails” to introduce yourself and your blog, and create interested readers. Give fresh info, behind-the-scenes secrets, and other tips that your readers will love.

Let your personality shine through! It’s a great way to build your personal brand.

And if you want… join mine now!

| Related: How To Grow Your Blog Email List Smartly With Attractive Lead Magnets

15. Implement A Promotion Strategy

So you have made your beginner blog look professional. But can readers share your blog posts?

Always have sharing buttons for your blog posts that work. Test them out yourself!

For every blog post, you publish, promote it by sending out your Pinterest pins and posts to Facebook and X (Twitter) and any other relevant social media channels.

There are many ways to promote your blog posts and drive huge traffic.

Build up your community on Facebook with your blog’s Facebook Group. Build a Twitter following if that’s where your audience is hanging out. Create beautiful visuals with links back to your blog on Instagram.

And seriously focus on Pinterest as it’s a HUGE driver of blog traffic.

Learn how to set up your Pinterest Business Account and get started today!

How To Make A Blog Look Good

So there you go… the many ways to make your beginner blog look professional, right from the start.

To recap:

  1. Use a domain name
  2. Go self-hosted
  3. Add legal pages
  4. Create a gorgeous blog logo
  5. Update your permalink structure
  6. Select a brand palette
  7. Create a favicon
  8. Choose a well-designed blog theme
  9. Keep your blog uncluttered with lots of white space
  10. Create a profile photo and brief bio for your sidebar
  11. Add the About Me page, Work With Me page and Contact Me page
  12. Use high-quality stock photos
  13. Create and use a consistent blog post layout
  14. Build your email list
  15. Have a promotion strategy and keep to it!

There’s much more for you to learn and update as you go along, but these are the key things that make a blog look amateur versus professional.

As I mentioned, it takes time. Don’t burn out!

Have fun creating a beautiful blog you’ll be proud to promote and share with others.

QUESTION: What is the key thing you find makes a blog look professional?

How To Fake It As A New Blogger

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