Today we’re keeping up our Spring Cleaning mentality and switching our focus to renewing branding & design work. I’d like to preface this post by saying you by no means need to be a designer to implement these tips! These apply to anyone who knows the basic functions of their blogging platform (namely, WordPress and Blogger).
Let’s start with the external, design, and then work our way inwards to the branding.
Simplify Your Sidebar
Your sidebar is a huge aspect of your design. It’s a hub for information and tells your visitors a lot of what they need to know about you and your content before they even read a post. So it makes sense that things can get a little cluttered, and that your sidebar might be in need of some spring cleaning. A general rule is that you want your sidebar to be clutter free, and only place things that are useful and needed in that spot.
_ Remove blogging awards, and consider moving them to a separate page.
_ Use headers to draw attention to important information.
_ Remove page counters/follow counters.
_ Make sure you have visual social media icons
Design a sidebar advertisement
Sidebar ads are great to have, even if you aren’t interested in sponsoring blogs or having other bloggers sponsor you. Many bloggers of all sizes and audiences are interested in doing ad or button exchanges rather than diving into full time sponsorships. Instead of placing a “grab button” in your sidebar, consider creating a page that describes the types of blogs you’d be interested in swapping with and how to get in contact with you.
Sidebar Ad Checklist
_ Make sure colors/fonts match your current blog design.
_ Keep it simple, avoid glitter and low quality imagery.
_ Include a photo of yourself to make it more visible.
Update Your Fonts
Strong typography can make or break the reader’s experience. You want all of your posts to be as easy to read as possible. I always say that it is best to stick to 2-3 fonts- one for headers, one for specialty/design purposes and one for body copy. A mix or serif and sans-serif fonts always make gorgeous pairs. Websites like Google Fonts make it easy to integrate professional fonts into your blog for FREE.
_ Simplify the number of fonts you’re using.
_ Make sure font sizes make text easy to read.
_ Avoid light text on dark backgrounds.
A cleaner sidebar, fresh face on a sidebar advertisement, and fresh font faces are great ways to clean up your design. Now, let’s dive into the internal stuff and focus on spring cleaning our branding efforts.
Create or Update Your Brand’s Mission
When I updated the blog’s pages and design, I decided to create a mission statement. I wanted something permanent to explain to readers exactly what this space aims to do. Mission statements don’t have to be long or incredibly overwhelming, but are great to have to inform your readers and to keep you on track.
Mission Statement Checklist
_ Include it on your blog’s ‘about’ page
_ *Share on social media once you’ve created it so your readers know to look for it!
Define or Redefine Your Audiences
As you find your way as a blogger, you may find that the audience your were originally writing for may have changed, grown, or even gotten more niche. Take some time to really evaluate who your audience is and how to best communicate with them.
_ Am I reaching the people I want to?
_ How can I reach the people I want to? (A newsletter, social media, hosting events/meetups)
_ Am I creating a community within this audience?
Create a Social Media Strategy
Many times, we don’t include social media in our brand strategy, but it is such a crucial key to creating community and growing your brand. It takes more than creating a profile and sharing some posts everyday. Developing a clear strategy comprised of when to post, what to say, how to say it and which platforms to say it on can result in serious blog growth and better brand recognition!
Social Media Checklist
_ Am I on all of the platforms my readers/audience is on?
_ Does my content fit this social media platform?
_ How often a day do I share/reshare older content
_ Am I using the same “voice” on every platform?
_ Create a social media calendar and work on one platform every day
Branding and design can be two of the most overwhelming aspects of running a blog or website. There are so many components and details that go into making each run smoothly. Taking the time to work on small areas of each, and keeping things as simple as possible will make the entire process run incredibly smooth!