Every year, specifically the beginning of a new year, I find myself with the itch to reboot my blog. Maybe it’s a subconscious New Year’s resolution that I secretly want for myself to finally commit to. This year, I’ve decided to finally go for it. And, of course, what better year to do so than 2012, the year of the end of the world?
I also figured I’d share my strategy with others who may be considering the same thing.
So here is my pseudo-guide to restarting one’s blog. Remember, this is a reboot. Starting over. Not continuing from where you left off.
Guide to Restarting Your Blog
1. Purpose of the Blog
This should be quite obvious. If you are restarting your blog, you should have a good idea as to what you plan to do with it.
Whether it is posting about meaningful things in life, tutorials on the latest games, thoughts on the world as a whole or just the world according to you, rants about your not-so-great life, being in love/being alone, daily deals, etc., you should come up with something that you are comfortable with sharing to the whole world.
Think about your previous blog, and take into consideration what allowed it to go stale and what stopped you from continuing to update it. If I were to guess, it would fall under the factors of: making a significant transition in life (like a new job), a lack of interesting content, or blog fatigue (a catchall — you just got tired of the process and needed a change of scenery).
Whatever the case may be, you are ready to go at it again. Find that new purpose, make that commitment, and see it through to the end.
2. Site Design
So you have your purpose. You have a good idea what you want out of this new, fresh blog.
Assuming you have your own hosting tied to this blog, and not running this via Blogger or WordPress.com, it’s now time to go shopping for a new layout. You want to throw out the old furniture and refurbish your site with the latest and greatest that the web has to offer. And as WordPress dominates the industry, so does its massive repository of skins/themes.
Themes are a dime a dozen, and not necessarily cost a dime either. Plenty of free themes are out there. Do a search for them, and you’ll be spending days sifting through them all.
If you have the cash, spend it on some professional themes. Oftentimes, these themes possess more advanced features to them, with tighter layouts and functionality.
Both have their ups and downs though. For instance, professional themes are sometimes so highly customized that it actually works against you if you choose to do any additional customization to them. Not only that, certain features designed into the theme may not work on a future update to your blog’s CMS system. Little things to consider.
It should come down to what you need your blog to do. For myself, I want it to convey certain topics and categories, have a level of simplicity for SEO reasons, and support the ability to run ads to help pay for hosting (and supplement my income).
A theme may look flashy at first, but you have to ask yourself if it takes care of what you need it to do. Does it display featured content to your liking? Does it have advertising space? Can it support video embeds? Do the colors fit the topics you plan on covering? Does it have a “mobile” version?
And more importantly, is it designed with SEO in mind? Site would look awesome, should anyone actually manage to find it.
3. Breaking the Ice
Once you’ve settled down on your theme (or themes), it’s finally time to publish the initial first post.
Take some time to strategize on the order of your first few posts leading into what your blog will eventually become as a whole. Your honorary “first” post should serve as an introduction to your blog and to you as the author. Treat it like a prologue; like a “hello world” for your newly reborn blog.
It took me around a week or two to think of something worthwhile to serve as a first post. Of course, simply considering what to post is half the battle. Putting it all down onto text and sounding cohesive and long-lasting is the other half. I found that conceptualizing the post and actually writing the post both equally challenging in their own respect. So far, it was worth it. It helped break the ice for this massive post that I’m writing right now and opening the floodgates for all my future posts.
So let’s talk content. The meat of your blog. The prime reason for people to want to come back to your blog.
Before you go on a rampage pouring your heart out on posts to scratch that blogging itch, don’t lose sight of how much available content you may have for sharing, and what kind of content you want to start out with initially. If you post all your best material at the beginning, these items may get buried by your future standard-quality posts and no one will get to your epic posts.
The strategy that I’m going to use is to follow a weekly or bi-weekly schedule to churn out posts. As I get comfortable with the schedule, I would tack on another day of the week to put out a post. For the initial start, I plan on putting out content on Friday, and if things go well, I’ll add Tuesday to the mix. This type of schedule helps reinforce the concept to visitors/fans that they should expect new posts on these days, and any random posts on any other day as icing on the cake.
Armed with your strategy, you should know by now what you want to be blogging about. It can be a collection of your daily life experiences, TV shows you’re currently watching, movie reviews, newly discovered music, art, gaming, sports, gossip, whatever. The key thing to remember is how to stay relevant on these topics. Many require you to have inside sources, with the requisite that you post about it as soon as possible. The faster you break the news, the better chance people will end up on your site. Other topics you can take your time. If you are blogging about your life, that’s at your own leisure.
5. Search Engine Optimization
Those three words (or three letters: SEO) strikes fear in so many people. Ask an SEO expert, and they’ll tell you it’s not an exact science. They’ll start throwing out examples and theorycraft in your direction in hopes that any of it all will make sense to you. Although most of it won’t make sense, listen to enough of the theory, and you’ll start seeing the same concepts and principles begin to emerge.
Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is basically the practice of optimizing your website to make it as friendly as possible for search engines to scan your website and understand exactly what it is your website is saying. If you want to garner fans to your site to read about your interesting life, you should invest some time researching the current day’s best practices regarding SEO.
As the web environment evolves, so do the practices. What’s true back in 2001, may be laughable at best in 2012. Stay updated, and go with what is constantly repeated by SEO experts, and you should be fine. Some of the basic things to consider are properties such as keyword density, page titles, post titles, header titles, alternative image texts, etc. For example, if you are talking about SEO, you may want to place them inside your <title> tags, your <h1> tags, your blog post title, as well as have it in your URL as well. WordPress offers “pretty permalinks”, aka “seo-friendly” links.
6. Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride
On top of ensuring an order of posts that make sense to someone viewing your reborn blog site, don’t forget to have some fun. When it starts to become a second job, a second life, that means you are on the path to burnout. When you burnout, it’ll be extremely tough to come back and you find yourself back here reading this guide again.
I find it best to give yourself a leave of absence from time to time. If you are doing weekly posts, and you’re not up to snuff one week, give yourself a break. Apologize to your followers that you didn’t have it in you this week to properly provide them with quality material, so you are resting and coming back stronger next week. Of course, if you can manage, grind it out and not let this be a constant cop-out.
Always remember what it is you’re doing this for, and what it may mean to those reading your content.