Once upon a time, there lived a man who never washed his face.
Of course, he grew up washing his face. His folks saw to that. But after growing up, he decided soap was evil, and he quit using it. He never washed his face again.
Actually, he’s still alive. His name’s Richard Nikoley.
You’ve probably washed your face in the past two years.
In fact, you scrub regularly. You’ve taken thousands of showers. You’re so used to it that it’s become a ritual. It’s kind of like coming home from work – you don’t even think about it.
But what about Richard? Since he’s gone years without washing his face, guess what? If he loaded his wash cloth with Irish Spring soap and started scrubbing…
It would get his attention.
Richard would go through a mental process. It would feel strange and scary, and really exciting. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Your blog needs a bath.
When’s the last time you washed your blog with soap and water? Has it ever gotten a bath? It’s probably been a while – at least two years.
Remember how excited you were when you first started blogging? You played around with different themes for several months, then finally settled on a premium theme with nice customization. It was the best designed site on the planet, and you were proud of it.
But after a while, things settled down. You tweaked it with some extra widgets, and got used to it.
Are you ready for some bad news?
I hate to tell you this, but your blog is filthy and grimy. You haven’t dusted and mopped it in forever, and it desperately needs a bath.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone – it happens to everbody. Just hop over to any random blog in your sphere. I guarantee there are parts of it that confuse you, pieces that you’d do differently, and junk you’d wash away completely.
Okay, so how do you give your blog a bath?
1. Make sure your code is up to date.
This is extremely intuitive, but a lot of people don’t get it. Make sure you’re using the latest version of WordPress. If you’re using a premium theme like Genesis or Thesis, make sure you’re up to date. New versions come out regularly. Keep your plugins current too.
Failing to do this is like going a week without changing your clothes. You’ll start smelling bad. Nobody likes a smelly blog.
2. Assess your design customizations critically.
If you haven’t hired a professional to design your blog, don’t edit your theme yourself. It’s a bad idea. Since you’re not a professional designer, your changes detract from the original theme.
Yes, I know I just offended 99% of all bloggers. But it’s true.
Either chose a theme you like so much you don’t need to change it, or shuck out the bucks and get it done professionally.
You don’t sew your own clothes, do you?
3. Get rid of your sidebar.
No, not literally. But strip everything out, and only put back what really needs to be there. You’ll be surprised how many widgets are just unnecessary clutter.
Learn to prioritize. Do you want people to subscribe? Make that very prominent. Is nobody using your search and archives? Minimize them – or get rid of them completely.
Your sidebar’s ultimate goal is to have crystal-clear calls to action. This only works if there’s no distracting junk.
4. Look at your copy.
What about your blog’s actual content? Is there lots and lots of white space? If not, what can you change to make that happen?
Are you using pictures? Are they good ones? A lousy graphic or two can ruin a brilliant article. Don’t let that happen to you.
5. Keep your footer from looking like a crossword puzzle.
Can you legally get rid of the theme attribution? Cut it out. See that pesky admin link? Get rid of that too.
Some people seem to think that the footer’s where they dump all of their junk. In reality, most blogs don’t even need a footer. But if you insist, keep it simple.
Having a cluttered footer is like forgetting to put your dirty clothes in the washing machine. Nobody’s going to thank you.
Get your friend’s advice.
Grab a friend from Twitter and get them to look at it for a second. Ask them what they would change. Ask them if your calls to action are black and white.
In conclusion, give your blog a bath. It’ll emerge from the bathtub shiny and exciting – just the thing you need to start a new era of successful blogging.
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