Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tips For Simplifying Your Blog

I've never really done a post of this nature before, but I'm hoping to write more on HN and hopefully through that process we can all get to know each other better. To kick off my first word heavy post I'm going to talk about a few of my tips for simplifying your blog. Fair warning that I have a tendency to get a little rambly when I write to this extent. Anyway, here we go!

In recent months I've done my best to make blogging on HN simpler. If you've been following for a while you may have noticed some of the changes I made, and although they were small, the ultimate outcome was a blog that was much easier to write and also one that was simpler to navigate. I made changes to the design of the blog, the pages on the blog, the navigation links, and also with how I plan/schedule blog posts. A lot of the changes I made on HN are easy and can be implemented on your own blog to make your life easier too ;)
(Even if you have a custom layout a lot of these tips can still be implemented!)

1. Simplify Your Blog Design and Layout
When it came to the design and layout of HN it used to be I was always changing it because I was never happy with the look and always comparing it to my favorite blogs. Nothing good ever comes out of comparing yourself to others, and this is perhaps why I finally decided to just simplify the design and layout. I opted for a monochromatic color scheme of white, gray, and black. I love neutrals anyway, and a simple look won't distract readers from the actual content on the blog.
I also decided to keep the fonts used on HN to a minimum. I chose arial because again, it's simple and won't distract from the content, and it's also easily accessible on every platform or software. On any blog it's important that the design of your blog doesn't compete your content because that's a bit counterproductive. Go with you gut, pick a layout that makes sense for you, and keep your color scheme simple.

2. Eliminate Unnecessary Work
On my different pages I was making more work for myself than what was necessary. It used to be I made buttons for all my outfits, projects, recipes, and make-up posts because I didn't want my older posts getting buried under more recent posts. I really liked the look of all the thumbnails but the problem was that I had to make them all individually (usually as I was preparing other photos for the post), and because I made the thumbnails all separately the text was sometimes different sizes and different widths and this resulted in a cluttered look. An additional problem with the thumbnails is that they were all individual pictures that made loading each page another problem altogether especially if you were trying to view HN on your phone. In the end I decided that having thumbnails was just more trouble than they were worth. Now each page pulls up a feed instead and while it's more difficult to navigate to older posts this way, they're still easily accessible through my archives section, and I have much less work in maintaining my pages and preparing for posts. Find a system that works for you, for me it was labeling each post I wanted on a certain page with a tag and assigning that tag to the page, easy peasy.

3. You Don't Have to Use Social Networking Icons
Another change I made to HN recently was eliminating my navigation and social networking icons. I now just use good ole' links. Why? I am not skilled enough to make social networking icons on my own, and I'm not comfortable with using someone else's property on my blog. My links are easy to read and hard to miss when you visit my blog, and that's what was important to me. Maybe it doesn't look as pretty to some, but I don't mind it, and again I don't have to worry about borrowing someone else's images. If you do want to use social networking icons on your blog be sure that they are easy to find, and clearly display with social networking site they correlate to (If you're like me and don't want to use someone's button's without their permission you can purchase some here). I like to put my links directly under my welcome picture and caption since chances are people are looking there initially anyway.

4. Schedule and Plan Your Blog Posts
An additional thing I've been working on is both planning and scheduling blog posts in advance. I like to do this the old fashion way with pen and paper.  I jot down all my ideas regarding HN from outfit ideas to recipes in a designated notebook. I try to plan things out a month at a time. My goal is to post at least twelve to fifteen posts every month. There are a couple features that I post monthly like wishlists and five things, and then there's outfit posts that I share several times a month. Wishlists and Remixes can be scheduled well ahead of time, and if I'm far enough ahead in my plans so can 5 Things. Lately I've been doing my best to take at least two outfit photo sessions at once so I can more easily schedule those as well (this also helps me not have to worry about fixing my hair and make-up every single day). Being organized this way makes me feel more productive and also takes the pressure of having to come up with something to post every other day. I'm more likely to meet my 12-15 post goal I set for myself, and it makes me feel like the content stays more consistent. Planning and scheduling ahead of time also gives me more time to think about what I'm writing or what I have to say. This is a learning process but I definitely feel like the content on HN has improved since I started planning and scheduling. 

Since I began simplifying and scheduling posts more regularly I have seen a lot of things improve on HN, (although I can't promise this doesn't also correlate to me being more active on social platforms) I experienced a small increase in readers, I gained followers on my social networking sites, and I experienced my first sponsorship with Chadwicks and Metrostyle. Blogging is definitely a learning process and if you have a blog yourself it's important to understand that like most things, there is no one right way to do something. Blogging is a growing field and you'll find advice about it all over the place. Try a few things and find what works for you!

I'm hoping to discuss a little bit more about blogging in the future so if you have any questions or points to add I'd love to hear what you have to say.

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