4 Ways to Refresh Your Blog

To attract an audience and keep it we need to constantly repair and refresh our blogs.  When was the last time you did a complete blog over-haul? Have you ever done one?  These four  steps will help you refresh your blog by breathing new life into it.

“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward”– Margaret Fairless Barber

Is your blog functioning well?

Broken links and bad links

Broken links and bad links imply you don’t care enough to manage your blog well.  Search engines favor the highest quality results and may penalize sites with many broken links. Use some free tools to maintain and track your links.  Check for broken links and bad neighborhood links and repair or replace them.

Gadgets and Widgets

When it comes to gadgets and widgets less is more because viewers have to wait for gadgets and widgets to load before they can interact with your blog. Too many widgets will:

  1. increase page loading time and provoke potential visitors to click out before the blog loads,
  2. spoil the theme design giving the blog an amateurish appearance;
  3. distract readers from focusing on your content.

Decorative Tat

If you have a a lot of distracting widget content such as bagdes, awards and other decorative items you may want to create a page and display them on it instead. My best advice is “strip that blog!”.

Is your blog representing you, your purpose and your passions?

Revisit your purpose for your blog and the vision you have for its growth.

  1. Has your audience expanded? Do you want it to grow?
  2. Is it time to alter or modify your blog’s purpose?
  3. Is it time to change or improve on how you reach your audience?

A vision board is a collage representing your blogging focus (topics)  and  new things you want to see happening in your blog.  Use your vision board as a springboard for updating your goals.  Carry through by updating your Tagline, About page and blog description. Don’t forget to freshen and optimize your profile pages on social networks too.

Is your blog looking fresh and lively?

Evaluating your theme by seeing your blog through the eyes of your audience is the next step. Changing themes or freshening up the theme you are currently using will breathe some new life into your blog.  You cannot build or use your own custom theme built from scratch,  you cannot upload third-party themes, and you cannot edit themes at WordPress.com.  However, there are ways to customize themes built-in such as custom header images, custom backgrounds and featured images. Some themes  have color customizable options. Try experimenting with a different color scheme and ensure your colors choices are the right choices for your readers. If you want to go further and do some custom designing of an existing theme you can use CSS editing for freshening your WordPress.com theme.

Are you ready to freshen your writing?

Eye tracking studies reveal we typically scan blogs in an “F” shaped pattern  similar to two horizontal strips and one vertical strip which form a shape  resembling the letter “F”.   Eye tracking studies advice: Understand the F principle, write eye-catching, concise headlines and display crisp images. The title and first two paragraphs must be attention grabbing.  Use sub-headings, bullet points, and paragraphs to keep the reader focused when scanning down the left side of the eye tracking pattern.

Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience. — Henry David Thoreau

Try out a different style.  Take a new approach.  Blog to inform.  Blog to persuade. Blog something controversial.  Use comedy to address serious topic.  Or get personal and go deep. A thought-provoking post that engages readers in discussion can attract new readers like nothing else can.

Discussion

I’d like to hear any and all suggestions you readers have for refreshing a blog so please share them in the comments.

Related posts:
Blogging through the Seasons
Swing into Summer: New Themes and Headers

60 thoughts on “4 Ways to Refresh Your Blog

  1. This is all so timely as I know I need to make changes – especially now that I have found my voice – just not sure what direction! Time to ponder and read all your links – thank you. WordPress it is though!

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  3. My apologies; my intentions were not to aggravate anything. I was looking to add to the discussion in a meaningful way. I’ll leave the upgrade issues to the new bloggers. I appreciate the time and attention, though. Thanks.

  4. Good advice. Number three is my sticking point. I really wish I could customize my theme to my specs. I’ll likely purchase the design upgrade, though (still not certain it will allow me to tweak the way I want…).

    • If you are considering purchasing an annually renewable custom design upgrade and undertaking CSS editing be sure to read these FAQs first: http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-design/#frequently-asked-questions
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-design/
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-design/editing-css/

      It’s my observation that many new bloggers seem to obsess over themes. I don’t do that as I know readers come to read content. I also know that the majority of blogs started today will not be active in a year from now. My advice is to become a content creation machine for 6 months and then make a decision about purchasing upgrades.

      • That’s true, on one hand. On the other, aesthetics are very important to me. I want my blog to look good to myself and my readers. Turnkey themes are so uniform that I prefer to tweak them. It allows for personality, as well.

        Readers do come to read, however there are some who want a little more. Some of my other blogs (particularly the older ones I have over in the wordpress.org world) have a heavy artsy audience and pay close attention to typography, balance, and tone. I tweak CSS to my heart’s content over there. Nothing like control of declarations! LOL

        • You are speaking to an artist and I’m well aware of the impact of appearance on readers. However, I have been answering support questions for nearly 7 years and I stand my ground on what I said above.

          Many new bloggers obsess about appearance and even purchase a custom design upgrade to customize their theme. However, they don’t purchase a No-Ads upgrade so whatever beauty they believe they created is destroyed by advertising. In some cases the sites are business sites and their competitor’s advertising is appearing on their blogs. http://en.support.wordpress.com/no-ads/

          You cannot build or use your own custom theme built from scratch at WordPress.com.
          http://en.support.wordpress.com/ftp-access/
          http://en.support.wordpress.com/themes/adding-new-themes/

          The only themes we can use are those found here > Appearance > Themes
          This is a multiuser blogging platform. All blogs wearing the same theme are using the same underlying template and we cannot access the underlying files and edit templates or themes. http://en.support.wordpress.com/themes/editing-themes/

          There are two free themes, Sandbox and Toolbox designed to allow maximum flexibility for CSS editing and creating new “skins”. Toolbox is more modern and includes a lot of support for CSS3 and HTML5, so it is really only limited by your skills and knowledge.

          If you have CSS editing experience the upgrade will allow you to stylize the appearance of themes you find here > Appearance > Themes, but will not allow you to change the functionality, by editing the underlying template. It does not allow you to remove footer links to the theme designer or to WordPress.com. Also note that CSS is theme specific, so you cannot use the CSS stylesheets from other themes with the themes at WordPress.COM. http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-design/custom-css/
          http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-design/#frequently-asked-questions

          See also > WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: The Differences > http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

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  6. How to design a header for pilcrow theme in wordpress.com that is 770 x 200 pixels so that it can be uploaded to a 2 column version of Pilcrow. You have beautiful headers. How do you do them? What software program do you use?

  7. Timely post. I was just contemplating adding more widgets, etc to my blog, but you have reminded us that simple and clean is sometimes better.

    • Hi there,
      I sincerely believe it’s better for readers to experience a clean blog that loads quickly and is easy to navigate.

  8. Great post, TT, thanks. Like yourself, I’m a minimalist, and try to keep things simple and clean. You’ve got me thinking, tho: I should change my custom header more frequently. I get bored with it after awhile, and have to assume my readers do, too.

  9. Hi love your blog, even tho I just started a blog about blogging and I am learning a lot from you as well. Please if you can visit my blog and tell me what you think or I need to improve thank you so much :) awesome blog

    • I’m sorry but I don’t do blog assessments either free of charge or for a fee. I provide the tips, tools and tutorials and leave it to bloggers to do their own blog assessments and make their own decisions for improvements.

  10. Wow not only is this article interesting…I have to praise your blog design as well. Thanks you for keeping us all on our toes with your refreshing tips :)

    • Hi Baxter,
      Thanks. I like the Vigilance theme on your blog. You’ve got a clean looking design going there that’s attractive and easy to navigate. The wide sidebar is very effective and useful on your site.

  11. It seems like you’ve covered all the bases and you’ve presented the material beautifully to give us a verbal illustration. This is a good reminder about checking for broken links! But I also love the creative material here.

    • Hi Sandra,
      I tried to cover all the bases and was delighted when Jean made some additional creative suggestions. Thanks for the compliment on my writing one for your ongoing support. I’m struggling to make time to stop the house repair and contracted work and blog. Hopefully, I’ll be able to create and publish a post on my personal blog today.

  12. Just to add: I’ve been slack on improving my blog to get more readers simply because there’s other things going on in life right now and for the next few months. Especially with good weather outside, I’m on my bike longer and more often instead of blogging or blog-dreamin’. :D

    • It’s good to know you are enjoying nice weather. No sooner than we get ready to paint again than we heard another 9 day overcast and rain forecast. :(

  13. “Revisit your purpose for your blog and the vision you have for its growth.
    1.Has your audience expanded? Do you want it to grow?
    2.Is it time to alter or modify your blog’s purpose?
    3.Is it time to change or improve on how you reach your audience?”

    Audience only expands slowly. Not sure if I get much return visits from some newer readers. Hard to know.

    Right now, I don’t see the need to change the focus of my personal blog. It already has considerable flexibility and leeway on the range of topics.
    And I’ve been abit slack on thinking how to improve my outreach to my audience.

    Ways to refresh a blog:
    *have another blogger, guest write or contribute photos that you give credit to them
    *if one is naturally gifted, include hand-drawn illustrations occasionally
    *celebrate key milestones of one’s blog…which I haven’t done yet. But it’s a great opportunity to signal any major change for a blog to audience.
    *invite regular readers to suggest topics that they want you to write (I’ve never done that before…)
    *have a readers’ poll on blog or survey (I’ve done this and found it interesting. The sample was small.)
    http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/about/

  14. Hi TT,
    Cool new theme and lots of useful tips as ever.
    I recently changed my blog theme, I get bored if it stays the same for too long.

    • Hi Jayme,
      Like you I am visual and I’m so glad you commented because it prompted me to visit your blog. Curious Kitty is adorable and I love your work. What amazed me is how much I like iTheme2 with the white background. Every other site I’ve seen wearing it has had a dark background. Wow! what a difference.

      P.S. I haven’t been around much because we are living in a construction zone with renovations and repairs and house painting.

  15. Thanks so much, you offer the clearest recommendations for improving blog traffic that I have read so far. Because my site is about a specific time in the Civil Rights Movement (1965) I hadn’t tried to engage an audience beyond my civil rights buddies and friends from back in Wilcox County Alabama where I was a teenage civil rights worker. Now I believe that it is important to share stories of how people fought for voting rights, even before my book is ready to publicize. I am going to follow your steps one by one. Thanks again!

    • Maria
      Thanks so much for commenting. I think your subject is an important one and I’m sure you want to expand your audience. This may help you do that through dialog on your blog http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2011/03/21/blogging-comment-baiting/ Beyond that social networking tremendously expands the audience you can connect with. If you don’t use it building a growing readership is more difficult as the audience you reach will be limited. Best wishes with promoting your blog and with promoting the book as well.

  16. The only thing I know is that I don’t know 90% of what you spoke about…I’m not meaning that to be sarcastic at all…just to say that basically I know the basics about how to change a theme and about putting widgets on..but too much ‘technical’ talk and I’m lost…so I guess I’ll have to just learn a little at a time when I have questions…but thanks for helping those who are more computer literate than what I am….

    • writerwannabe763
      Getting involved in new things always involves a learning curve. I tell all beginner bloggers that it’s better to be a tortoise than a hare. Staff has provided a helpful step by step learn wordpress.com tutorial http://learn.wordpress.com
      Hang in there. It gets better. :)

  17. Many good ideas here, timethief. I certainly agree with your advice to freshen up our Themes. Many of the newer themes haves some excellent tools for presenting content in different ways – well worth experimenting with them.

    • Margie
      I like testing the new free themes and I do that in a private test blog. You’re right. Many of the new themes have some excellent features that can be used to present new and older content in different ways. I’m toying with the idea of using Oxygen on my personal blog.

    • brittskarbanek
      Spring is a great time to freshen up your blog. Summer is just around the corner. However, we have had a very rainy spring so it took some time for me to feel inspired enough to develop this idea, refresh my own blog and publish this post. It’s great to hear you believe I provided good advice. Happy blogging!

    • trinity river,
      You’re welcome. I gave my home a good spring cleaning, including wall washing that ironically provoked my husband to want to get into home renovation and house painting. I hadn’t expected that to happen until much later in the summer, closer to fall. If I had expected it I wouldn’t have done all that wall scrubbing. It was taking part in the house reno process, which is ongoing, that inspired the creation of this post.
      http://thistimethisspace.com/2012/06/12/green-home-renovation-lessons-learned/

  18. I love the new look of your blog.

    I was especially interested in the F pattern for the eye tracking….would be interesting to see how it relates to length of the page. I have my own internal page limit – but I wonder if they have identified the optimum length for a blog post.

    Look forward to seeing the other comments on how to refresh – I moved from changing my theme every week to not changing it at all.

    • readytochangenow
      I found the eye tracking studies to be fascinating too. I didn’t read through them all due to a lack of time so I don’t know if they tracked the optimum length for a blog post and assume it has to do with the subject and matter and the audience. Usually bloggers who habitually toss out a few sentences (100 – 200 words ) and provide a link or two have nothing to offer me. There have been exceptions though.

      “There is no rule of thumb for post length aside from adequate coverage of the topic at hand. SEO experts say that both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. No one really knows how many words are “reasonable” but at least 250 words – 1000 words are recommended.” http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2009/06/04/bloggers-how-long-are-your-posts/ I aim to provide a mix of high quality posts of varying lengths.

       Provided the subject grabs my attention, I will read lengthy posts but prefer reading posts that are approximately 650 – 700 words in length. I’m not sure if that has to do with page length or my attention span. In some cases, I find myself skimming and mentally “trimming” the lengthy posts I read. As I’m a visually challenged introvert, it takes me time to consider what I read and I frequently read posts more than once. Commenting is my weak point. Unlike most women I’m not the chatty type. In person I’m more taciturn than I am online and blogging has helped me become more communicative than I was previously.

      Your Theme Min theme is an excellent choice when it comes to lots of potential for renewal. I like the features that theme has to offer and see you are using them effectively. When the time comes to refresh I don’t think it will be a big challenge for you, as the featured posts carousel on the front page provides an opportunity for you to select which content to feature and to continuously renew which posts are featured. The multiple lay-out options it has also provide a means of refreshing your blog’s appearance too.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment too.

      • Thank you for such a thoughtful reply Timethief and for the link. One of these days I will make it through all the posts on your site – have you ever thought about turning it into a book on using WordPress and/or blogging?

        • Hi there,
          You’re welcome. I have 700 posts and I don’t expect anyone will ever read every one of them or need to. Hopefully my titles are descriptive enough to identify the post content and my categories and tags are targeted so readers find what they need easily. No, I haven’t thought of publishing a book and that’s because I barely have the time to do what I’m doing now. :)

  19. Continuous evolution is only possible for a dedicated blogger. I mean I like to blog, in fact I love it, but that is not my bread and butter. Hence Its rarely that I look back in my blog for modifications. Your points do make sense though.

    I am new to WordPress, recently moved from Blogger platform to WordPress, and I have to edit a lot of blogs, lot of links, so that in a way makes me realize the importance of it :)

    • mercry
      Welcome to wordpress.com. Having to repair lots of links results in understanding that maintaining links is an ongoing obligation.

      There are those who maintain one ought not to change their theme as it may disturb readers. That’s not my experience and I’ve been a blogger for over 7 years now. I choose themes that have custom image headers and I change them frequently.

      Like you, I am a hobby blogger. My husband and I have a small busines, I also do contracted work and as much as I love to blog it must be a lower priority than those two when it comes to time allocation. Thanks for commenting.

  20. Hi! I used the broken link checker. The report showed zero. How do I increase my Link Popularity? Can you explain the competitor’s organic report? My organic report showed keyword, 100% traffic, avg volume 110 etc. Only one.

  21. My blog is still a work in progress, but checking my links was on my to do list. I had no idea there was a program for that. I was going through my posts, one by one, and clicking on links to make sure they worked! Thankfully I didn’t have that many posts to check (yet)!

    As always, thank you so much timethief!

    • cravingthis
      It’s good to know my post was a timely one for you. Using free tools on line is such a boon. I can’t imagine checking all the links in the over 700 posts in this blog manually. You’re welcome.

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