I currently find myself trapped in the delightful spiral of emotions that is a blog redesign. Its not that I do not enjoy the current design of Jess-On-Thames, but to be honest, I’ve outgrown it. I chose it when I was still living in Belgium and that feels like a long time ago already. I’ve changed, my blogged environment has most certainly changed and as such the nature of the blog has changed. So its high time.
But oh dear lord, how I underestimated the challenge I set myself before Christmas.
I’ve decided to teach myself how to pull together a design. I’ve upgraded to ProPhoto to have a bit more flexibility but still keep the WordPress platform I love. I’m designing my own logo (HA!), using a template design to get started but changing everything behind the scenes and frankly, just getting organised.
In an effort to reassure anyone who plans on going through this in the near future, I’d like to admit for the record, its not easy.
Here is what I would have liked to tell myself before starting this process:
1. Just resign yourself now to the fact that this process is probably going to take longer than you think it will if you want to do it yourself, no matter how much you plan in advance.
2. Prepare to be inspired. Do your research (you’ve probably already done a lot, which inspired you to redesign it in the first place…). I’ve paid particular attention to The Blog Stylists’ A-Z of Resources, The B Bar, Breanna Rose’s “For Bloggers” Column, Pugly Pixel’s Photoshop Basics (actually Pugly Pixel’s everything), A Beautiful Mess’s Blogging Tips, Designer Blogs Tutorials, and Note to Self’s Some Advice Column (which she wrote ages ago, but which I still come back to…).
3. Promptly forget almost everything above (or tuck it away in your brain somewhere if you can) except for the skills you learn. Its too easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing. Your blog needs to be a reflection of you. Not a collection of reflections of others.
4. Note that the above is much easier said than done.
5. Think about what you want to say. I mean REALLY think about it.
6. GET ORGANISED. This has been the biggest flaw of my current blog. I just didn’t think about the fact that people might use it as a resource. I didn’t have those ambitions. So what started as a platform for friendly rants and musings is being organised into travels, thoughts on being an expat, London adventures and other stories.
7. Test out plugins. Play with your design. Play with your photos. Rearrange everything! Drive yourself nuts until you are so disorganised that you need to repeat step 6.
8. Get smarter about categories & tags that reflect your content and that means going back through a few years of posts. Deleting some old ones. Updating some others.
9. Ask your friends what they think about your progress.
10. Put yourself in a new reader’s shoes. What will they come to find?
11. Put yourself in a long-time reader’s shoes. Why do they visit?
12. Use this Organized Wallpaper for your desktop.
13. Vow to take a photography course and spend time with friends who can teach you things.
14. Take a break because you are pretty sure your head is going to explode from over-thinking.
15. Grab some nice paper and your favorite pen.
16. Make a giant list of things you love.
17. Make a giant list of places you want to visit.
18. Make a giant list of activities you want to do in your own city.
19. Remember why you love blogging to begin with.
20. And get back to the redesign when you are ready.
The long and short of it is, I’m still here. But going through the above.