make 2014 your best blogging year yet: stay on top of the little things square

make 2014 your best blogging year yet: stay on top of the “little things”

make 2014 the best blogging year yet: stay on top of the little thingsWhen was the last time you looked at your website or blog? I mean really looked at it.

Far too often, I am guilty of giving my blog a passing glance as I preview the formatting on a post. I spend plenty of time on the back end of my website — updating plugins, fixing broken links {okay, maybe I could do a little better at that}, and studying referral sources.  But I rarely take time to examine the way my whole blog looks and functions to a visitor.  I’m not sharing this because I’m proud of it; rather, I’m guessing I am not alone in this.

One of my goals as a blogger this year is to stay on top of the “little things.” As I made my list of what some of those little things were, I realized several of them had to do with the way my blog looks.  Not the design itself but aspects I manage and control.

Here are few of the ways I’ll be improving the overall look and function of my blog this year.

Keep Affiliate Links Current

I actually added this one to my calendar every month for 2014. I typically have 3 to 5 affiliate links in my sidebar at any given time. But, I have not been diligent about keeping those ads and links current. Sadly, it has not been unusual for the ads in my sidebar in November to still be about Easter. Affiliates are a great way to monetize your blog — but in order to make the most of them, you need to make sure you are using relevant ads and links. This applies not just in the sidebar but everywhere you include them, such as in post footers, etc. One other tip on this topic, make sure you have integrated relevant affiliate links into your most viewed, most shared, and most pinned posts.

Clean Up Sidebar Content

When my daughter was little we had a rule: One thing in, one thing out. For example, if she wanted to keep the toy from her Happy Meal, she had to give up another toy.  It was a simple way to manage the clutter that tends to happen with small children. I’ve realized I need to apply that same rule to my sidebar. I often add information to my sidebar, such as promotion for a friend’s latest book or a ministry I am supporting.  But I’m not as good at taking widgets away. This year, I’m applying “one thing on, one thing off” to my sidebar.

Update About Page and Widget

Have you looked at your about page lately? Have you updated your about widget {and Gravatar} in the past year? Odds are, unless you have had a recent redesign, your answer is no. Keeping your about page current is a great way to highlight the best information on your blog and to emphasize the ways your readers can connect with you.  Last year I shared three questions you can ask to help you create a great about page. If you only do one thing, make sure your about page is up-to-date! 

Check the Footer

What is in the footer of your blog? This is a great place to provide readers with information.  On my blog, I have both Facebook and Instagram widgets in my footer as well as the link to my current reading list, recent posts, and most popular posts. Here on Design by Insight our footer is very basic and simply includes links to information our clients and readers might need such as resource recommendations and hosting information.  Just make sure you are using your footer to your advantage — it’s useful for more than a copyright notice.

So, there you go …  four suggestions for optimizing your blog’s appearance and functionality. Make time to incorporate each of these tips into your blogging routine in 2014 and stay on top of the “little things.”

Which one of these will you do first?

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