The Three R’s of Blog Rehab
So, as promised yesterday (and part of my recommitment to the ol’ blog is trying to live up to promises!), here’s a look at my blog rehab process, or my blog makeover, blogover, if you will. I’ve broken it down into three R’s (my woeful attempt at being clickbate-able – it’s the last time, I promise) – Rethink, Refresh, Revise.
The Rethinking process. For me, it really started with, do I really still want to do it? As I mentioned in the last post, I started this iteration of my blogging life to escape the Squarespace pricetag. In truth, when I folded up the Squarespace site, I was pretty much done with blogging. Even as I was typing it’s a new blog, it’s a new day, trying to pysch myself up for some serious better blogging, I knew that I wasn’t really into it. In reality, I was just using this blog as a container for nearly 10 years worth of unbacked up (I know, loud loud gasp), internet content.
So, what has changed? First, my father died. No matter how old a person gets, I think, it takes a really brave person to really put themselves out there in a way that a parent might not “get.” My father browsed the Internet, kept up with me on Facebook, but had never managed to stumble on my blog. What if he did? I just think he had higher hopes for me and my writing. I was supposed to write the great American novel, not a craft blog littered with not so good art. It wasn’t just a matter of disappointing him, I just didn’t want to find myself in a position of having to explain myself – about anything – about spending money on yarn (I remember when a cup of coffe cost a nickel, was one of my father’s favorite mantras), or painting faces in my art journal, or even having an art journal. Strange, I don’t feel the need to explain myself to anyone, except my parents, and since my mother thinks her email lives on her computer, and her computer alone, I have no fear of her stumbling onto my internet pasture.
Of course my father is missed, but now that he’s not in my hypothetical audience, it’s very freeing. I was about to write “kind of” freeing, but it’s truly freeing. And now, I can just write for myself, and whoever else wants to visit, and take part in a crafty conversation, free of any judgment that I care about. And, to that end, I added the sharing icons at the bottom of each post – I’m out there people!
And that’s the thing, I would like to have my blog be more of a conversation, with interaction, that community I talked about in the last post. But how to do that? Others draw an audience to their blogs with tutorials. I make a lot of things, and much of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned from blogs and youtube. But, personally, I’ve never been much of a teacher. I think that once I’ve mastered a technique, I probably could do a tutorial, but why? I’d rather send people the way of the original teacher, not reteach the wheel. I know, in first grade classes, there are millions of teachers teaching kids how to read, and no one would ever say thats redundant. It’s not stealing, or whatever, to teach someone how to make the perfect yarnover, or the difference between a M1R and M1L just because someone else has taught it before, or to do a sewing tutorial on how to how to box your corners in a tote bag. But, it just seems silly to do a whole schpiel when I can just link to my teacher or guru or whatever.
So, if I’m not going to post tutorials, and I’m not going to make clickbate titles (’cause this is the last of that silliness), how I am going to do that? I’m still thinking on that one, but I think just the thinking about it process, and the desire to do it, is enough to say, ok, I’m going to keep this blog going, and try to find that elusive audience. I’ve even had a mind to podcast again, but we’ll see about that. So, in keeping with the three R’s, I’d like to have another set of three’s – three things I’m going to do to be better, but for right now, I’m just going to try to be consistent, and to visit and comment on other likeminded blogs. Put myself out there, in writing and friendship, and we’ll see what comes.
The decision to continue blogging made, it was time to refresh the old blog, and make it seem new again. Luckily, WordPress makes it pretty easy to switch themes, install plugins and if you know a teeny tiny bit of CSS, make some tweaky changes.
So I knew I wanted the theme to be simple, yet contemporary. And, I wanted it to be pretty. If my blog really is my internet pasture, I want it to be a lush green pasture, not a grazed over cow pasture. So, off to Pinterest, and searching for pretty blogs. I immediately found Angie Makes, and voila, she offered a free template, Mary Kate, that was just perfect for my needs.
Just a little downloading, then a little uploading, and voila, a blog is reborn! Now, time to customize. Thankfully, the header is fully customizable – it is such a pain to insert new padding code in a theme that requires you to go into the style sheet to change the header. The sidebar, unlike the premium version, is a little bare, but with a few plugins and widgets its all good. The Mary Kate pre-pimped out theme is called Canvas, and if you go into the plugin directory, there are a few (although not all – to make the theme full customizable with the full array of Canvas plugins, and bells and whistles you have to buy the premium theme, which if you can afford it would be a great thing because it’s awesome) WP Canvas specific plugins – WP-Canvas Widgets (which is a Pinterest Widget, an About Me Widget, and a static photo), WP-Shortcodes (which gives you so many things I don’t know how to use, but for my purposes, gave me the customizable Social Media Icons, in both sharing in the post, and in the sidebar), and WP-Gallery, which is a straightforward Gallery plugin (there’s a video overview of the plugin here). And, all that was left was adding some pretty elements. Right now, I’m using some free watercolor elements from Angie Makes. This weekend, I think I’m going to buy this awesome bundle from The Hungry Jpeg, and do a few more things, like create a signature for my posts, and maybe add a few more pretties here and there. For the brushstroke fonts alone, the bundle is worth it.
Anyway, if you read the above paragraph and are asking yourself what’s a theme, what’s a plugin, what’s a widget? how do I insert those pretty watercolor graphics? you’re going to have to insert an “r”-less step in between rethinking and refreshing, and do a little learning about how your chosen platform functions, and at the end of that process, decide if you’re on the right platform, and go from there.
Onward, to the last R, Revise. In this case, I revised both the content itself, and how the content is presented. First, I began the revision of my About Me page. I never really thought of the About Me page as being all that important, but as I found myself clicking on others’ pages to find out more about them, I realized, huh, maybe people are clicking on mine to find out about me. And, if they did, they would certainly be blowing a lot of dust off of old content – I had originally just cut and pasted the About sections from my previous blogs into a mishmash of a profile. But, some of the photos that were only saved to the Squarespace server didn’t transfer, and many of the old links were broken. So, all of that’s fixed. Now, I think I have to rewrite it rewrite it to reflect more of who am I now, rather than a collection of old about me’s strung together.
After revamping the About Me section, I added a few Gallery Pages to my header menu. The first is an Online Class Review section. I made this to clean up my sidebar. I used to have these buttons running down the side of the blog, but now, they’re all neat and tidy in a Gallery, and if you click on them, a little blurb about the class will come up. And, the other tab is a Gallery of scrapbooking pages – I make take that down, since I’m not really doing that anymore, but we’ll see. I still have visions of restarting my Project Life, but one thing at a time. And, I have one more Gallery page coming – of my knits, crochet things, and sewn things – a fiber page, I guess, or maybe needlework. That’s a project for this weekend perhaps.
And, that’s where I am. If you have any questions about how I did any of the above- feel free to ask – I’ve also added a contact page!
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