10 Ways to Prep and Polish Your Blog for 2014

Hooray for 2014! Holiday decorations are probably back in your attic (mostly) and we’re all getting settled into the new year. Some people roll their eyes at new goals, word of the year proclamations, and resolutions. But there’s something cleansing about the start of a new year, isn’t there?

Before you get too far into 2014, block out some time to get your blog in tip-top shape. These 10 ideas will help you prep for the upcoming year and polish things up for a breath of freshness.

10 Ways to Prep & Polish Your Blog in 2014 (easy tips to make a big impact!)

PREP

1. Go on a Date with Your 2013 Analytics

No, you don’t have to commit to a deep dive into analytics hell. But grab a hot beverage and sit down for half an hour with your blog analytics. Jot down which 5-10 posts got the most visits, the top 5 places your blog traffic came from, and posts you know were reader favorites but didn’t make it to the top (you might have a post that still gets tons of visits a day from search engines but is old news to your regulars).

Are the top posts about similar topic? Are there any posts you could build upon this year? Does your traffic come from any surprising places that you might currently neglect (ex. you’re never on Pinterest but it’s your fourth biggest source of traffic)? Make some notes of things you want to change as a result of your little analytics date and go forth!

2. Write Down Your Goals… and Put Them Somewhere You’ll See Them

I’m sure you’ve seen a bazillion articles talking about goal setting so I won’t even go there. Maybe the goals for your blog just rattle around in your head. Maybe you went a step further and actually typed them up in a Word doc. Well, go ONE STEP FURTHER and print them out. Or grab a blank sheet of paper and write them down in color. Doodle around them. Whatever. Just GET THEM ON PAPER!

Pin that paper to a board in your workspace, stick a post-it on your laptop, write them on the inside flap of your blog notebook. However you do it, making those goals tangible will inspire you to really make them happen.

3. Do a Brain Dump of All the Ideas You Have for Your Blog

Grab some colored markers and a big piece of paper (if you’ve got one). Take a deep breath and let all those aspirations flow onto that blank paper. Don’t worry about HOW you’re going to make them happen. Just dump them out of your brain. These don’t have to do gigantic ideas either. It could be something as small as updating  your social media buttons to something large like writing an e-book.

You may have so many ideas you don’t even get to them all this year (I know MY list is more like ideas for 2014, 2015, AND 2016!) The important thing here is get them out of your system. Then circle the ones you feel the most excited about.

4. Let Go of Something Bloggy

If you’ve been blogging for longer than – oh I don’t know, ONE DAY – then you’re probably obsessing about something blog-related. Maybe your follower count, or that Sally got a blog opportunity you didn’t, or that your traffic isn’t increasing as fast as you’d like.

Or maybe you have SO many ideas you don’t know how you’re going to do them all.  Well, pick something and just let it go. It’s not that important as to take up so much space in your head or time in your day.

If you aren’t sure of what to let go of, this article on letting go from The SITS Girls should do the trick. And if that doesn’t do it, I wrote a post about things bloggers should stop obsessing about.

5. Plan Ahead!

Stop flying by the seat of your pants. Few things make you feel more settled into your blogging mojo than actually having a plan of action for your content and projects.

Create an editorial calendar and stick with updating it. Plan out your content and be rest assured that it’s YOUR calendar and you can change it up if you need. Nothing is set in stone. If you need a calendar template (and want to learn a method hundreds of bloggers are using, then sign up for my self-paced Content Brew course. (Those markers you use in #3 will come in handy for a lesson in this course too!)

POLISH

6. Give Your Sidebars a Clean Sweep

Spend five minutes and scan your sidebar. Do you have any badges for events that already passed? Buttons for websites you no longer write for? Links to promotions or giveaways that have already ended? Go through a delete anything outdated. It immediately freshens up your blog. Ta-da!

7. Update your About Page

Okay, this one might make you cringe if it’s been a lonnnnnng while. But it’s quite worth it. If you’re looking to work for brands, one of the first places they look is your About page. Even if you don’t care about that, you surely don’t want your About page to say you’re 8 months pregnant when you have a two year old.

Scan your page and make simple changes right away. For more involved changes, make a list of what you need to change and block off a night to get crackin’. I revamped my About page last year and it was WELL worth the effort. Glance at my About page or read the many posts I’ve done critiquing bloggers’ About pages (most of these shown are About page critiques).

8. Delete any Unused Plugins and Themes

If you’re a WordPress user, I’m sure you still have some unused plugins and themes hanging around. If you aren’t using them, give them the heave-ho. Deleting these will speed up your blog and also minimize your security risk.

9. Update Your Social Media Profiles

Our social media profiles are typically places we usually set and forget. But what if the first place someone is hearing about you is from your Twitter profile or your Facebook page? Make sure you make a good impression. Take a peek at your top social media profiles and make sure your profile is up-to-date. Make any modifications you need to and then pat yourself on the back. That wasn’t too hard!

10. Pick 3 Things that Have Been Nagging You about Your Blog Design and Fix Them

We all have them. Big things or little things about your blog design that drive you batty, or worse, don’t even work. Pick three of them and make a point to tackle them. If you need some help with your design, then Blog Design for Dummies can always give you some pointers (and ideas).

Your Turn!

Anything in particular you’re chomping at the bit to tackle this year? Share it!

Comments

  1. says

    Oh you always have the best tips. Before I do any of them though I still need to finish my review of your book, which is awesome! I have just been so busy with all the family stuff and the upcoming launch of my blog design business that I have not gotten to finish it. Everyone should follow you for the best of blogging advice!
    Brittany recently posted..Just a Boy and His Robot

  2. says

    At the moment, I am working on getting together a blogging calendar together with everything that I want in it (I’m having to design my own and print out others), so I can get more organized. Once I get that done, I’m definitely going to add this stuff in! Love your tips and blog, glad that I found them. :-) Now I need to save up some money so I can take your Content Brew course. ;-)
    Melissa Mendez recently posted..The Ultimate Calendar for Blogging Organization: CoSchedule

    • Melissa Culbertson says

      Hi Chris! First off, thanks for reading the post and I’m glad you found the blog too! You can sign up for the RSS feed using the little RSS symbol up near my social media buttons in the sidebar (link to do it directly is here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/momcomm). Or subscribe via email in the sign up box in the sidebar (you’ll get a free e-book of resources I use to run my blog too). Hope that helps!

  3. says

    Some of these I still need to work on (*ahem* brain dump) but I’ve already spent a considerable amount of time updating pages and the design and focusing on goals. Letting go of things…eh I’ve sorta done that but still have a few things to take care of.

    I’m focused on confidence on a personal level and growth on a blog level. My current blog will be a year old in late February so I’m working on different things in the background to make things happen and improve my content. And a lot of it starts with letting go of my worries about what others think. I’ve been afraid to just be me out of fear of offending someone. Now, that’s going bye bye. I’m not for everyone and my blog isn’t either and I’m finally okay with that for the most part.
    Kim recently posted..If I See “Pin-Worthy” One More Time…

  4. says

    My major design overhaul is in the works! Its not really a rebrand but maybe more of a refocusing with the help of your guidance and counsel :) While my to-do list related to the redesign is still huge, one of my big goals for this year is to FINALLY get a good grasp on SEO! I need a one-on-one tutor I think because as much as I’ve tried reading blog posts on the subject (and even taking a class at Type A), I don’t have a working understanding of how to do it effectively. I know what SEO does and how it works. Knowing how to find the right keywords if where I get lost! Anyone want to tutor me? :)
    Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal recently posted..One Little Word for 2014 – Fierce

  5. says

    I really needed to read this and plan on printing this out and using it as a checklist. I absolutely love the idea of a blank page and markers to organize my ideas. I need to let a few things go, too. Great advice!
    AnnMarie recently posted..Well, Hello There!

  6. says

    I let go of trying to design my site! I hate having to pay someone to do some customization of my theme but I finally had to admit 2 things 1) I don’t have the time to learn web design and 2) somethings others just do better than me!!! This was a huge relief to me to let this go!!

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