I’ve been blogging since 2009! In that more than six year span I have gone from Blogger to WordPress.com to self hosted WordPress.org. I’ve done my own design, changed my theme a couple times, created my own logo. And I did it all by myself.
Now I’m no technical wizard. In fact, if you asked me how I did it I couldn’t actually tell you. And I know that everything is not as perfect as it might be if I’d hired a professional. I’m just good at reading and following instructions. And I do ask for help when something really scares me, such as when I rebranded my blog last February (thanks Rita).
One thing that I try to do regularly is blogkeeping. Once a month or so I do a little housekeeping on my blog to keep it clean, fast, and easy to read. It is very simple, does not take any technical skill, and will improve the look and speed of your blog.
Here are 10 blogkeeping tasks that anyone can do. Plus I’ve added a few suggestions that will help your readers enjoy and share your content.
1. Check your sidebar and other areas that you place all your pretty widgets. If you’re like me, those widgets seem to add up, especially on the sidebar. From ambassadorships, to affiliations, plugins that show your tweets, pins, categories, and other fun things, it doesn’t take long before your blog looks cluttered and messy. Take a look at your sidebar and remove anything that is outdated. I’ve seen blogs advertising events that happened last year. Decide what you really need. Frankly, readers don’t spend very much time checking your sidebar, so a lot of it can go. I try to keep the widgets that are important to me, a few ads, and an event announcement if there is something I want to share.
2. Speaking of ads, I understand that it is nice to make a little money, but do you want to do it at the expense of losing readers? Some blogs have so many ads that pop up, flash, and populate the content section, that I just want to give up on them. Take a look at your own blog as if you were a stranger (or a beloved reader). If something bothers you? You know it’s annoying your readers.
3. While you’re checking your front page, take note of how quickly the page loads. It better be fast or your reader may move on to the next blog. This can be a serious problem for blogs that use a lot of large pictures. Make sure to reduce their size before uploading them to your site. I use PicMonkey, but any graphics program can work. You can still have large, beautiful pictures, but they won’t be as slow to load (and won’t take up as much space on your server). Also see #6 below for how plugins can slow down your site.
4. Check the links on your sidebar, including your sharing links. Strange things happen over time, so a quick click will let you know your links are leading the right way.
5. Take a look at your pages. How long has it been since you’ve updated them? Your About Me page definitely needs to be current (especially if you’d had any major life changes since the last time you updated it). Check the other pages too. Are they still serving a purpose? Do they need to be updated? Do you want to add a new page? Check the links on each page to make sure they work. And check the old comments, if you allow them on your pages. Just the other day I found a spammy comment that had slipped by.
6. Go through your plugins. Much like the sidebar, plugins tend to add up and they can really slow down your site. Check each one to see if you still need it. If not, get rid of it, or at least deactivate it. The following month, if you’ve noticed no difference since the deactivation, delete it. I have a plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) that shows me exactly how many resources each plugin uses. Users tend to expect a page to load in about 2 seconds. Longer than that and they may move on.
7. Check your spam folder. Try to keep it cleaned up so that it is relatively easy to take a look to see if a comment that was not spam was falsely reported. I actually use two spam plugins, Akismet and AntiSpam (yes, I know, more plugins), and the combination has been outstanding. I rarely get spam allowed through, most of it is automatically deleted so that I never even see it, and on the rare occasion I see that I have a comment in my spam folder it is usually a good one that was mis-reported.
8. Check your sharing tools. If your twitter share app does not include your handle, stop reading right now and go fix it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. This is so important, yet I find that so many bloggers have not done this simple thing. Simply go to the settings of whichever plugin you use, and fill in the space where it says “Twitter User Name.” So simple I’ll bet you’re wondering why you didn’t do this before.
While you’re at it, check the plugin you use for Pinterest shares. Most can be set so that the description of the pin will reflect either the title of the post or the Alt text of the image. This gives you an opportunity to create a great description for your pinnable images. If you choose the Alt text option, make sure that you update the Alt text!
9. Update your networks. While not directly related to blogkeeping, if you are monitizing your blog, now is a good time to make sure that your social media and other related numbers are up to date with any brands or marketing organizations that you use. Any type of growth gives you better opportunities, so keep those number updated.
10. Take one last look. After you’ve done your blogkeeping, sit back and take one last look at your blog. It should look clean, load quickly, and be easily navigable. Then you’re done for the month!
Taking the time to do a little blogkeeping once a month will ensure that your blog is a welcoming place that your readers enjoy stopping by, and will encourage them to stick around a while and share your content.
What did I miss? Do you have any tasks that you do regularly to keep your blog running smoothly?
I’m linking up with Debbie in Shape for Tip Tuesday and Debbie, Jen and Sue for Wednesday Wisdom.
And I’m also joining the Blog Booster Party!
While these housekeeping suggestions and solutions are targeted at all blogs, some of the instructions are for self hosted WordPress sites only. You might have to do a little research if your are using Blogger or WordPress.com.