. MY TOP TIPS WHEN UPGRADING YOUR BLOG .
As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve popped over to my blog at all this week, i’ve had a rather large change up, and completely relaunched my blog. It’s not something I did on a whim, in fact it’s something i’ve actually been considering doing for well over a year now but just taken a very long time to plan and finally take the brave move to seriously change things around. I wrote a post all about my reasons for changing my blog, including moving to a self hosted website opposed to a blogger blog, as well as recapping all the new ways you can subscribe here, and interestingly since relaunching and sharing that post i’ve had a lot of comments and messages from others asking for tips and advice as it’s something they’re considering too! Making a serious blog upgrade like this was no easy feat, it took a lot of work, planning and help from others too, but i’m so pleased that my blog finally looks like what I wanted it to, has the navigation features I’d been wanting to add for years and finally has quality images not being distorted my bloggers design (albeit I know load time is slow, so i’m working on that)!
So today’s post is dedicated to sharing my learnings & giving you some tips if you’re thinking about upgrading your own blog, whether that be a simple style update or moving to a hosted or wordpress blog for example! I hope you find them helpful …
. RESEARCH .
First up is research, and this isn’t just the practical side of researching (e.g. coding, pro’s and con’s of various platforms, reviews from others etc) it’s also inspiration. Spending time gathering ideas, browsing websites and looking at the various ways things can be done, saving those you like, taking snap shots of the little functions you might like to consider for your own blog, looking at fonts and colour palettes which suit your blog and your own personal style. I spent a year in research mode, mainly because I was building the bravery to make the changes I wanted. To create the blog I knew I wanted, I knew I had to move away from blogger, so this was something I spent a long time debating reviewing the pro’s (I already knew the systems, my blog content was formatted for blogger, I had 3k subscribers, all my comments & stats were tracked there) and cons (it ruined my images, I couldn’t have the design I wanted as it’s not sophisticated enough, it was limiting my design ideas etc).
Research isn’t just about you reading lots, I also asked my boyfriend, colleagues, family and friends for their points of view too. Anything from overall design development to the little features I was adding, i sought their opinions & tested out alternatives before my blog was even ready for live.
The other very important part of the research process is learning & finding tips and tutorials on how to make the changes you want, particularly if it’s coding or html changes. For me, I knew this change required a full transfer from blogger onto my own site, so I found a coder who could do this for me and support me through the whole journey. Given the size of the move, it’s something I’m really glad I did!
Here are a few things you should thing about up front: What you want to achieve, the layout you want, the functions you need, the colours & fonts you like, the host or platform you want to work with, the costs of making the changes, the coder or designer you want to work with, the timing frame you need things done by, the benefits and disadvantages of the changes & of course the points of view from others.
. DESIGN & KNOW WHAT YOU WANT .
Before you do anything, or before you engage someone to help, you need to know what you want and have a clear view on the design you want (clearly, many designers can do all this for you, but if you know what you want then you need to be clear on this). I knew exactly what I wanted for my new blog, very much a consistent experience you’d have on my old blog, but really just an upgrade to the look and feel and importantly some easier navigation functions to help with reviewing all my daily posts. I wrote an extremely detailed brief and provided visual examples of all the little things I wanted.
There may be things you change your mind on throughout the process, particularly as you start to see things change & all come together, but generally speaking make sure you have a design in mind before you do anything!
I created a pinterest and computer folder with all images and inspirations I’d collected, I had a powerpoint document in which I was visually recreating my blog & blog pages so I could visualise how things would look once i’d made those changes or amends. It really helped me confirm what I want and ensure the end result was exactly what I had hoped it would be!
. PLAN AHEAD & ACCEPT THINGS GO WRONG .
From my experience one thing i’d really recommend keeping in mind is that things will naturally go wrong, you’ll learn things throughout the process which you just hadn’t thought of, you’ll experience challenges which you just didn’t expect and of course things will take far longer than you’d ever plan for.
For me, I hadn’t even thought about the fact I needed to buy a host package and this would cost me an additional £100, i completely underestimated the time required to make the move and changes (my live date of the 1st Jan ended up being neared the 26th Jan) and of course I truly didn’t think about the little things like my content not transferring over in the right format, or my bloglovin feed not syncing for an entire week losing me lots of traffic or load times on my new swish blog being a slight problem for you guys!
But there were many things I had planned for, and accepted would happen along the way. I planned for as much as I could and this was key in making sure things went smoothly and that when my blog did go live, the majority of things were all perfect & ready to use!
Don’t forget that even if you pay a designer to help, there will still be manual tweaks you yourself need to make. I spent absolutely hours and hours and hours editing all my 1,300 posts after the transfer was made to correct errors or ensure every post featured okay! It was a long process, so my advice would be to be prepared and block out time for final amends (I was doing this from Bruges and into the early hours of the morning after a day at work)!
. SCHEDULE AN OFFICIAL RELAUNCH .
After all the hard work and the efforts you’ve gone into upgrading your site, you should definitely celebrate by having an official relaunch. My official relaunch was here, sadly the post actually went live before my blog was 100% sorted meaning it didn’t actually sync to bloglovin which was really disappointing. If I wasn’t away on holiday I would have probably held off putting the official relaunch feature live until everything was perfect. But C’est La Vie. You guys can learn from my errors :)
I think it’s important for your relaunch post to share the journey you’ve been on, the reasons you’ve made the changes you have and of course share with your followers the changes they can expect and all the ways they can now subscribe.
If you missed my relaunch post then you can subscribe to my daily content by adding me to your bookmarks bar, following on bloglovin here, liking my Facebook page here, plus of course catch me on twitter and instagram. The great news is blogger users can still receive my posts, they’ll just need to update the RSS feed and pop my URL in the ‘add’ blog section of their blogger blog feed.
. DON’T STRESS .
I have to say this is 100% easier said than done, but seriously try not to stress, yes things will go wrong, it’s inevitable, but equally you’ll get them resolved somehow and at some point. As I mentioned when I made the big transfer I had a few issues with content not coming over properly & my blog not syncing right for a week or so, and an issue i’m still resolving now, loading taking a little too long! But whilst I did stress and panic at every issue I came across, I wish I hadn’t as with a little patience you will sort them & everything will work out okay in the end!
Most of all embrace the journey. If you want to make changes, if you want to make tweaks, then it’s your blog and i’d urge you to do it. I upgraded my blog for me, and i’m really pleased I did. Yes my traffic has currently halved (and it’s getting me down) but I can only hope it’ll pick back up & people will start to discover and love my blog again!
So there you have it, my tips and advice for upgrading your blog, they are by no means right or wrong or even extensive, but these 5 things are the key things i’ve learnt in the process! I’d love to know what you think of the new blog and of course if you have any other pieces of advice on the topic?
Plus, don’t forget to ensure you’r subscribed to get my daily content straight into your inbox each morning … you can subscribe by clicking any of the links below or equally popping my blog URL into your blog feed if you have one!