Today, March 20th, is the first day of spring! So I thought for March’s blogging tip post, I’d do a spread on how to have a successful session of blog spring cleaning for your blog. If you’re looking for tips on your closet… you’re shit outta luck. Can’t help you there, sorry 😦
If this is something you want to do, print out the corresponding checklist.
1. Declutter the sidebar
Your sidebar is a navigation bar shown in every single post and on every page. It should represent your blog and your brand, featuring the things you want your readers to see / do next.
- Delete old content or out-of-date information.
- Update your welcome sentence and consider switching out your profile picture for a more current one
- Are your social media links easily visible and click-able?
- Do you have an email sign up?
- A search bar?
- Showcase your most popular and useful series/posts
- Delete useless information / content
2. Clear up your storage
Delete everything you don’t need. It will speed up your site and minimize any security risks.
- Unused plugins
- Old themes
- Pictures you’re not using
- Spam comments
- Backup your website
3. Landing Pages
Uber-important. If you have any landing pages (which I assure you that you do), take the time to update them. In my navigation bar, I have three landing pages (Bookish, Blogging and Logistics) that all have links to their respective locations. Using landing pages allows you to organize your content more flexibly.
Your home screen is chronological list of everything you’ve ever posted, but it’s not easily navigated.
In the case of my blog, I separated all the information on my blog into three categories: Book-related content, Blogging Tips and Logistical information. The former, I sub-categorized into listed posts, funny posts, opinions and lifestyle posts. Eventually, I will add a fifth: Reviews. The second category, Blogging Tips, has a link to all my blogging posts. The third category, Logistical Information, has a page for people to contact me, view my review policy and see what I offer in terms of guest posts and/or promos.
The idea is for readers to be able to easily navigate your site to find what they need. If you don’t have landing pages, make them. If you do…
- Proofread them
- Beautify them. Colorful fonts, easily found links, images
- Double check that all links work and go where you intend them to go
- See if there are any new/updated content you can add (links).
4. Be Clean and Professional
You want people to come to your site and think “clean and professional. Clearly they have their shit together.” Consider the following to make sure that’s the image you’re projecting…
- What fonts do you use most often? If you don’t know, or you use a different one every single time… you’ve got a problem. Consistency is key. I have the same two fonts all throughout my site, and use the same three consistently when it comes to my graphics.
- Log into your site, like how other people would see it.
- Is it easily navigable?
- Is it too chaotic?
- Are social links easily visible?
- Is your site background too busy?
- Do you have a hodgepodge of colors, or do you consistently use the same three? Site colors, like fonts, are equally important. By logging onto my site, you can easily tell that blue and pink (with a rare accent of purple) are my site colors. **Though I am considering changing to a light blue, dark blue and orange theme. I think those colors are so pretty together!
1. Social Media Profiles
Bloggers know to pay attention to their social media … but the profile itself often gets overlooked. Make sure your profile is current, accurate and appealing. If your tagline is off, a profile picture outdated or you just want to jazz up the “about me” box, please do! Are there easy-to-find links?
2. The To-Do List
If you’re anything like me, your to-do list is miles long, and you’ll probably never do it all. Well, there’s no time like the present! Pick 3-5 things off that list and do them. Right now. GO!
3. Archive Updates
I’m not going to lie… you’re not going to like this. One of the hardest things to accept as a blogger is that your newest content isn’t always a readers first impression, so you have to keep everything fresh, accurate, and awesome. Time to go through the archives and….
- Proofread. All of them. Edit, correct outdated facts, jazz it up!
- Update photos and graphics — especially if your photography and branding has improved.
- SEO the post
- If relevant, deep link to newer posts (or old ones)
- Did you use a click-to-tweet? Make one.
- Review the posts categories/tags. You’ve probably added some, see if any of them apply to this post.
- Can you post go on any lists in your blog that it isn’t already in? (If you have a page of links for “Bookish loves” and you have a post about fictional boyfriends that’s not in there, add it!
You have to treat each old post like you would a brand-new post you’ll be publishing next week for the first time.
- Honestly, if you come across a crap post you posted within twenty minutes of clicking “Add New” so you wouldn’t miss a deadline… don’t keep it up. Un-publish it, send it to the draft box for later revision and publishing. If it’s not even worth that, write down the idea in your blogging book and delete it. If it adds nothing of relevance to your site, it only takes away.
- Look at every post and ask yourself, “Would I be happy if this was my readers first impression?” If the answer is no, edit it, re-draft it or delete it.
4. Update About page
Especially if you’re a business, your About page is one of the first places people go to see if you’re worth following/buying from/working from. Does your page have…
- A little about you/why you do what you do
- Your credentials/expertise
- Contact information
- Social links
- Current picture of you — If you run a business, this would be a wise choice.
This page should have at least the first four things, and you should update it at the very least once a year.
Make this year awesome
1. Check the last years worth of analytics
Analytics are an essential–and often ignored–blogging tool. It tells you exactly what your audience is looking for. Find a blank piece of paper and write “ANALYTICS” at the top. Write down …
- 5-10 post popular posts
- 5 places that drove the most traffic to your blog
- Posts that generated the most discussion (comments)
Can any of those posts be further built upon? If one of your most popular posts was “18 Ways to Organize Your Blog Efficiently” and a ton of people commented about how they loved your idea of an editorial calendar, write a separate post on the editorial calendar. Technically, you have 18 post ideas to go more in-depth on just from that one high-performing post.
Does a lot of traffic come places you’re neglecting? If your post automatically sends a tweet out when you post and you never touch your feed otherwise, yet half your traffic comes from Twitter … if I were you I’d start paying a lot more attention to Twitter. Obviously, it drives a lot of traffic to your blog without you ever putting in any effort. Imagine what could happen WITH effort?? By the way, if you’re an automatic tweeter, turn it off. People rarely click links on automatic tweets.
Thoroughly analyze your analytics, ask yourself questions and make a list of things to improve on. Then do them.
2. Write down your goals
I have goals. I set a goal for 2017 in terms of the number of followers I want to have (which I may have to change, because my Love Letters Valentine’s Day Feature kind of skyrocketed me there) and monthly goals I want to achieve. I’ve set myself a monthly quota of (1) Blogging Post, (1) Backlog contribution, (1) Review written and formatted, not necessarily published, and (2) posts published in total for each month. In fact, I have a checklist on my editorial calendar to make sure I do this.
Take a new piece of paper and write “Goals” at the top of the paper.
- For the year
- For each month
- For your social media accounts
- For your blog
Put this somewhere you can see
3. Brain Dump blog ideas
Take time–and hour, two, thirty minutes–and just free write blog ideas. Write them all down. No matter how lofty, how far-fetched or how long it will take you.
** Get them on paper. Here’s a Post Topics Brainstorm sheet that you may find enormously helpful for this task.
4. Plan Ahead
Here’s a goal for you: No more flying by the seat of your pants. I’ve done it, and I wasn’t real successful with it. Doing everything on the fly only buys you useless posts and an unorganized website. Don’t let inconsistency define your brand. Use Editorial Calendar, a Year at a Glance Organizer and start planning your posts ahead of time.
If you have to take a month (or two) off publishing to write posts, schedule them and get everything organized so that when you “return” to the blogosphere, you do it wielding a well-oiled machine, do it. I did it. I took a whole summer off publishing when I moved blogs. I didn’t spend that time as wisely as I probably should have, but live and learn, right?
Unfortunately, we have to clean out our blog every once in awhile. Why can’t the time be now? If you signed up for my emailed newsletter, you got this a few days ago broken down into days for a more time-manageable clean. I suggest blocking off a weekend (or doing this in parts) and get it done! I made checklist outlining everything above in a step-by-step list, which you can find the PDF of here. If you have to do it at some point, let it be now 🙂