Seven Steps to Having Your Dream Blog

I’m linking up to Feel Good Friday this week because I’m feeling REALLY good about switching my blog over to WordPress, complete with total redesign and rebranding! And believe it or not, I am NOT posting this from a padded room, typing with my toes.

I have known ever since attending Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore last March that I needed to switch to WordPress, and that I hadn’t thought enough (OK, AT ALL) about branding before starting my blog. I was dreading it, though, after hearing horror stories about switching over, learning a new platform, etc. However, I took the plunge and my new blog is now going live!  How did I get through this transition so easily and happily? Seven easy steps:

1.) Think about your “brand”. What are you blogging about and who are your readers? Is that what you are going to continue blogging about? Are there other readers you want to reach? Does your blog have a recognizable and memorable name and header? What about your Twitter handle, your Facebook page, and your profile pictures everywhere?

2.) Look at other blogs and decide what you like. What colors do you find appealing? Do you want intricately detailed or clean and simple? Are you drawn to headers with pictures? Caricatures? Elaborate or unusual fonts? Scroll down and look at footers. Compare social media buttons.

3.) Once you have a pretty clear idea of what you want HIRE HELP. Unless you are absolutely sure you can do this because you have successfully done it before DON’T risk your blog and your sanity. Pick sites you like the look of and scroll to the bottom to see who designed them – great way to pick a designer. But if you’re switching platforms as well as redesigning ask around. Find out who’s got experience with the platform you want to use, who’s done exactly what you want done tech-wise. I used the brilliant and creative Sharon of Good, True, and Beautiful, and her technical experience and impeccable taste made all the difference.

4.) Research plug-ins if you’re going to be using WordPress. There are great articles by Mama Kat, Amy, and many others listing their favorites. If you see something cool on a blog, email them and ask how they did it. Odds are it’s a nifty plug-in. When it’s time to start trying them out, though, show some restraint. If you install twelve plug-ins and then your site is all screwed up you don’t know which of the twelve is the problem. I limited myself to three a day just to be safe.

5.) Follow the #savvyblogging hashtag on Twitter. Lots of good plug-in suggestions, troubleshooting, links to helpful articles, and nice people to meet.

6.) Pick a friend’s brain. If at all possible , pick the brain of a friend who’s recently been through this. It’s like when you’ve got a newborn and your friend has a six-month-old. If you have a question, call her! Odds are she just figured out the solution to the exact problem you’re having and she’d love to share her new-found knowledge.  I’ve picked Dianna‘s brain so thoroughly I doubt she remembers her own children’s names.

7.) Finally, think of it as a journey, not a destination. Enjoy your cool new blog, but be ready to let it evolve naturally. Blogs, unlike poorly chosen tattoos, are easy to change.

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16 thoughts on “Seven Steps to Having Your Dream Blog”

  1. I have been working on a new blog design for awhile. Hope to finish it up this weekend. I have been really happy with Blogger, only one major downtime in almost a year. I like my theme now, but my tag line is “Escape With A Good Book” and I want my blog to match all the cool nifty extras I have found to include with my giveaways. Love your 7 points, and will use them thoughtfully as I continue. I used to design a web site for our church and a few other non-profits so having some code experience is definitely a plus is you are designing yourself.

    HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!
    Dollycas
    http://dollycas.blogspot.com/

  2. Angie, I love it and I love your new brand. I am totaly a Jammie Girl!!

    It is so clean and refreshing and I LOVE the slippers. You know I am on WordPress so if you need anything please ask (I have been through Hell with it so I totally know what not to do!)

    FYI – I tried to follow by a screen came up that said “This Page Cannot be Displayed) I will try again later.

    Congrats on your SITS day! What an honor 🙂

    1. I VIVIDLY remember your switch to WordPress and all the trouble you had. I almost scrapped the entire idea right then and there! Sharon has done a fabulous job with the design and the switch, though, especially since we’re doing a last-minute scramble to be ready for my SITS Day. I’m so excited that I have to restrain myself from stopping strangers on the street and saying, “I have a fabulous new blog and my SITS Day is coming up Tuesday!”

  3. Great post! I started blogging in LiveJournal waaaay back in 2004 and then added my Blogger blog in 2008 so that a) my mom could read by blog and b) I could become a rich and famous blogger with her own TV show. Not really. Actually before my move to Blogger I didn’t realize what a rabbit hole blogging was. I was in my nice, safe, filtered LiveJournal cushion.

    I’ve been thinking lately of switching to WordPress and really kicking it up a notch. I’m a little (a lot) worried about doing so because I actually have a few followers now. Who are not related to me. Who don’t actually know me in real life. And I’m bad with change. And code.

    Have you noticed if you “lost” anyone in the move?

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