Happy New Year’s Eve, Daisies! I am ready for a new year–so much so that I have already begun re-evaluating and revamping for 2016. (I don’t do “resolutions”–that is a naughty word fraught with the portent of failure.) This is the reason that I have not posted for the last week (besides celebrating Christmas). One of the things that has been bugging me to no end and screaming for some revamping is my blog. I was so excited to begin blogging that I did not take the time to seriously evaluate the look and feel that You Are a Daisy would have. I picked a theme that I thought I would like (not knowing a thing about blogging, themes, coding, plugins, or anything else) and went live, but it is time for a change. After taking some time to enjoy Christmas, I went to work re-evaluating and developing an actual strategy for You Are a Daisy in 2016. Step one: a blog makeover.
Whether you’re new to blogging or this is old hat to you, you may need a blog makeover, too. While perusing your blog (and not just the Home page, either, if you have more than one page), ask yourself:
- Am I in love with this site?
- Do the colors, fonts, and layout represent me and my style or perspective?
- Is the site visually appealing and easy to read, view, and navigate?
- Are all of the pages across the site consistent in appearance, theme, and/or branding?
- Is my site working for my visitors, or are my visitors working for my site?
If you don’t like the answers to these questions any more than I did, then there is a blog makeover in your future for 2016. Here are 5 steps to get your blog makeover off to a great start for 2016:
1. Update your (paid) theme
Everything about the look and feel of your blog begins with your theme. If you select a generic or “meh” theme, all of the plugins and self-coding in the world will only get you so far–along with wasting precious resources like time, site speed, and sanity. It is critical to invest in a theme that gives you the beginning platform that you really want and that allows you to customize it to suit your style, personality, and branding. I quickly learned that being able to customize different elements of my site, such as fonts, layout, and colors, was necessary but that I had not selected the right theme to allow me to do most of the things that I wanted. When looking for a theme, use search filters to help you find a theme that allows for the customization that will be important to you (e.g. header, colors, fonts, slider, columns, footer, etc.) and review all of the documentation about the theme.
As with anything else in life, you cannot get something for nothing with themes either. Free themes are often very “meh”, do not allow for customization, have limited features or options, and have limited support (which is like insurance…it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it). Investing in a theme does not have to be costly. There are some incredible themes available that are beautiful, well-supported, provide numerous options for customization, and that vary in cost from $9 to $79.
A great place to find a new theme is Creative Market (Affiliate link) (along with fonts, graphics, templates, and more). There are more than 4,500 themes from which to choose. I discovered Studio Mommy there and fell in love with her themes. I also fell in love with the 70% off sale going on right now* and snagged my new theme, Beyond Madison for $10, which is a child theme of the Genesis Framework. I didn’t have the Genesis Framework, and it was on my wish list. Well, guess what. The Beyond Madison theme included the Genesis Framework ($59.95 value). Super score!
*Update: Studio Mommy’s current sale is 50% off (so, $18 for the Genesis framework and a theme…you can’t beat that with the Triple Crown winner.)
2. Install Easy Google Fonts
Now that we have a beautiful theme that represents our style better, let’s tweak it. The fonts used on a site do as much to create its feel and style as the colors, photos, and graphics. If your theme is not already loaded with Google Fonts, then you want to install the Easy Google Fonts plugin for WordPress. If you are using Blogger, here is a great post on how to add and use Google Fonts (requires some coding, though). Easy Google Fonts allows you to control the fonts on your site without having to do any coding although you do have to know the css selectors for the elements that you’re controlling. You can find your css selectors in your theme’s style sheet or by right-clicking on your site and choosing ‘Inspect’, then hovering over an element. See the screenshots below for an example.
A word of caution on fonts: less is more. For some ideas to get you started on using and mixing fonts, take a look at this collection of infographics from Creative Market, here.
3. Customize your blog’s appearance
Now, for the fun part…making your blog sing your song. Depending on the theme you choose and its customization options, you can play with the layout, colors, images, slider, header, footer, individual pages, and more to create the personality that you want. Go wild or just tweak a few things. If you don’t know where to begin (and it is easy to be overwhelmed with ideas), take a look at your favorite bloggers’ sites. What do you like about their sites and why? Consider your decorating style and fashion style for inspiration. Remember, it’s about making over your blog to reflect you and your style.
4. Update your sidebar and footer
This is one that I think is easy to overlook, but it’s valuable blog real estate. Your sidebar and footer should seamlessly fit into your blog’s look. How often have you gone to a site and the main post area and the sidebar look like two different websites, or you cannot make out what is really going on in the sidebar because so much is going on over there? There is much debate over what should and should not be in your sidebar and footer, but consider what is appealing and valuable to you as a viewer when evaluating your sidebar and footer. Amanda of Kaleidoscope wrote a couple of great posts on blog sidebars and footers that I highly recommend to get you thinking.
When revamping your footer and sidebar, consider preparing and including a Terms of Service (or Use), Disclaimer, and Privacy Statement. No, they’re not pretty or sexy by a long shot, but they are invaluable if you have a disgruntled visitor. You can create your own disclaimers and disclosures using free and premium sites to make it easier and quicker. I like Terms Feed. I used their free service and tweaked a few things (the attorney in me couldn’t help it).
5. Lose the pop-ups
I have read the numerous blog posts and statistics touting the use of a pop-up to gain more subscribers, followers, sharers, and the like. I would love to hear from other bloggers whether these pop-up plugins have been successful for them, but as a visitor, I can tell you that they are a total turn off. If I find your blog for the first time, the chances are that I am coming there because of a specific post. I want to see that post, not some pop-up or slider asking me to sign up. I don’t know if I want to subscribe yet when I first visit a site, so give me a minute to figure that out. However, a pop-up or slider greeting me when I initially visit a site will make me leave or not visit again after I read the post that I wanted in the first place. There is an easy way to cure this even if you want to continue to use pop-ups or sliders–adjust your settings so that it doesn’t appear the moment someone visits your site. If you cannot control when the pop-up shows up, consider a new plugin that does allow you that control. It will make your visitors much happier.
What areas of your life do you want to revamp for 2016? Your blog, your health, your style? Share in the comments below.
Enjoy your NYE, be safe, and be happy! I’ll talk to you next year!
Linking up with: #WAYWOW/View From In Here | Momma Told Me/The Evolution of Mom | Friday Favorites/Closet by Christie | Fab Favorites/Style Elixir | Over the Moon/Sandy’s P.O.V., Sizzling Towards Sixty, Cresting the Hill, Nanna’s Wisdom