The January Blog Cleanse from Header to Footer | FBC

10 Essential Oils For Rejuvenating Your Site

In 2012, I wanted a blog facelift, but didn’t consider that I needed to “get in shape” to have one. When my developer said, “Your back end is a real mess.” I knew I was in trouble. Yet, I had no idea where to begin. I had been worried about my back end my entire life. That process was the ultimate body cleanse from back end to front end. An intervention, of sorts.  A complete renewal from header to footer.

I am now a lean clean blogging machine (positive self talk is part of the cleanse). Well, a work in process, but I know who I am, where I am headed, and have an organizational system that works.

And I know I am not alone in needing that complete makeover.

You know what I am talking about. You land on a page of “Blog Site A”. Pop-ups slap you in the face. Before you can find the “x-button” to close them, animations activate in the side bar, music starts playing and snow begins falling over the text. “Get me outta here!”

I challenge you to take the January 2014 Cleanse. I started with my back end, but today, we are going to keep it simple. As Orange was the new black in 2013, Simple is the mantra for the 2014 Cleanse.

1. Header

Blog names and taglines need not mirror a #reallylonghashtag. Catchy, simple and double entendre hold appeal. Changing a blog name is extreme for a simple cleanse, yet focusing on a tagline makes sense. That clarifies your purpose.  “Yummy for your tummy” just doesn’t cut it. Needless cellulite.  Clearly defining who you are shapes your image. Think: Pick up line.

And the artwork in the header? Pawleeese! Canned images taste like canned food. “Fresh and delicious, only” permitted.

Represent. Align your site with who you are: work to achieve the precision and synchronicity of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon.

2. Footer

Fat Footers are really in – don’t get carried away with the skinny on footers. This is the one place to indulge. Simple is the mantra. Represent.

3. Sidebars

Don’t contaminate your prime real estate. Keep it simple. Purge unnecessary information. Retain what represents your focus. FBC has lots of tips for cleaning up your sidebar.

4. Advertising

Get a handle on it. Put a lid on it. Tone it down. Work it, baby. Work it. Provide a great experience for your readers: keep it simple. Do not create a caricature of yourself. Define and align your advertising to what you represent. Synchronicity, remember? Be selective.

Some advertising is so off-putting beside a gorgeous bowl of homemade turkey soup.

5. About Me Page

No one necessarily wants to know your favourite colour, favouite food, or favourite movie. But, for heaven’s sake, please tell me where you live. We work within an international global community. State some basic facts:

  • Your location
  • Food philosophy
  • A mission statement?

Oh, and my daughter says: Keep it short. A text messages can be too long for a reader from the “Y Generation” (a consistent work in process for me).  Here's a few tips to get you started.

6. Organization

Key to the January 2014 Cleanse: the organization of your front and back end. Can you find what you need? Do you have a system in place that supports sound organizational practices?

RELATED:  The 31 Day Blog Challenge Day 7: Clean Up Your Sidebar

Think: Can you touch your toes and do a dozen push-ups? (That scares me.) No one likes to put on weight. New information should be seamlessly integrated through a system you have implemented.

Which takes us to menu bars: do they represent? Can your readers find what they need and will they like what they see?  (Visual representation is critical to drawing in readers. A list of beef recipes won’t cut it these days. Think: Pinterest.)

7. Posts

Reading through a sticky-notepad isn’t something I will do. Here is where you should invest all prime real estate of your site. This is another time to be indulgent. How wide are your posts? Do you really need two sidebars?  Think: portion size. Represent and #shortenthoselengthyposttitles.

8. Photos

Invite me . Entice me. Seduce me. Have me salivating over my keyboard before I even read your first sentence.

If the photo is dark or blurry, don’t use it.  Hate that being a food blogger means you have to write well, take great photos and be technically savvy? Get over it. Photos are your food on the plate. Do not overlook the importance of a lead photo. (Remember to title each one before uploading. Each photo is like a blog post to search engines. Properly titled photos draw traffic to your site. Use your alt tags!)

9. Links

Keep them internal. External links take people away from your site. There are times you want to do that. Avoid them.

FBC focused on cleaning up your blog roll last week.  If you have one, and we read and comment on one another’s work, why am I not on it? Seriously. You may consider purging your blog roll

10. Design

What’s the deal with black or busy backgrounds? Been to a restaurant recently that served food on a black or busy plate?

Colour, font, image and organization reflects who you are.  Represent. Keep it simple. Background templates can appear tired, old and dusty. You’ll never go wrong with white. Think: symbolism. Distil the essence of your personality and food philosophy .

FBC’s post Sunday to reach out to 5 Food Bloggers you admire was timely.  Mentorship is key to anything one undertakes, but will guide this cleanse, invigorate and motivate. Developing relationships will rejuvenate, refresh and edify.

Remember positive self-talk, keep it simple and take baby steps.

Making and taking the time to support one another in the work we do is critical to the success of all Canadian Food Bloggers. After this cleanse, that is my wish for 2014: engage more to support one another.

Take The January 2014 Blog Cleanse: from Header to Footer was written by Valerie Lugonja of A Canadian Foodie. Valerie is an educator, writer, gardener and traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home! An avid real food advocate, she volunteers full time with various like-minded Canadian food organizations.   You can join Valerie on twitter, facebook and pinterest.

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