Thursday, May 2

Spring Cleaning for Your Blog

You know how sometimes, you just need to open all the closets and drawers, empty everything into the middle of the room and  c l e a n   o u t.  Yeah?  And since spring makes me want to de-clutter, it seemed a good time to give my blog a little clean up and clean out.

So, I did.  I hope things look a wee bit fresher and less cluttered around here now.  My blog header was getting a little bloated with all the different interests I have, so I went with handmade, small and simple.    I updated my blog roll (yes, I still have a blog roll...because I like blog rolls) and a few other things.

I've started resizing my photos to a the width of my blog (one of the suggestions I kept seeing over & over), to give it a more uniform feel and make for faster page loading.  And I'm enjoying making graphics using my sketches, so you'll be seeing more of those.

I'll be doing a few more tweaks over the next couple of weeks just to suit myself.  (Mostly trying to add more hand-drawn elements.)

Here's a shot of mine before & after :

If you're interested in cleaning up your own blog, here are some things I did to mine, as well as a couple of articles that helped me.

Apply some limits
Yes, limits.  It's very easy (especially for creatives) to be attracted to every gadget, gizmo and pretty sparkler out there.  But your blog will be much stronger and cleaner if you'll use some restraint in what is displayed in your sidebars.  Pick the most useful widgets to go near the top, like a profile picture, email sign ups, most popular posts or categories.  Save the link parties, buttons, and pinterest widgets for further down the page.

Limit the colors, fonts, and graphics on your blog page.  Everything looks cohesive and professional when you stick to a couple of fonts, 2 or 3 colors and simple graphics.  (I'm still working on this one!)

Stick to one design theme
Make your blog look like you!  Are you bright and cheerful, frilly and feminine, or clean and simple?  Pick a theme that reflects your personality and stick with it.  Don't try to be bright and cheerful and frilly and feminine and clean and simple all at once, it'll just look cluttered and confusing.

As a rule, white space is your friend.  Use it.

Don't forget the basic rule of contrast
I see a lot of pretty blogs these days (and can I just say, there are so many beautiful, interesting blogs out there!) that don't remember the rule of contrast.  They have a light, delicate look...but you can't read it.  Instead of light and delicate it comes across as over-exposed or washed out.  Remember, if your goal is to have folks actually read what you write, make it easy for them.  Pale text on a white background is hard to read.  Keep the light stuff for your graphics, but make your text readable.

Keep it updated
Get rid of old, broken links.
Update your blog roll, and clean out those that are no longer relevant to you.
Make sure your internal links work (about page, shop, tutorials, etc.), and your most important elements are easy to see.
Put up the social media buttons you actually use and forget the rest (I, for instance, am never on Facebook.  So you won't find a button for it on my blog.)

Make it personal
Show yourself!  Even if you don't think so, people love to see a picture of the author when they check out a new blog.  It puts a face with the name, and makes it more authentic.  Tell us a little bit about you, even if it's just a sentence or two.  Again, you may think people don't read this stuff, but trust me, they do!

Happy blogging!

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