So, my blog is broken.
I know it doesn’t look particularly broken, but last week WordPress automatically updated to the latest version, and since then I haven’t been able to edit the homepage… which is super-frustrating, because this happened riiiiight at the very time I most wanted to edit the home page, obviously. Well, of COURSE it did. Terry has now spent countless hours trying to fix the issue, and our host has been looking into it too, but so far we’ve had no luck, and while it looks OK right now, there’s not much point in having a theme I can’t ever make any changes to, so if we’re not able to fix it soon, it looks like I might be forced to do a bit of theme-shopping. Which is honestly a bit of a bummer, because for once in my life, I don’t actually WANT to change my blog theme right now. This hardly EVER happens to me: I normally hate each theme almost as soon as it’s installed, so it figures the one I was actually pretty happy with is the one that won’t work. GAH.
On the plus side, though: THEME SHOPPING. Honestly, there’s nothing I love more. Well, not in blog-terms, obviously. In real-life terms, there’s a whole LOT of things I’d rather be doing than looking at WordPress themes, trust me. Picking a new theme, though… well, it’s a bit like getting to choose a whole new wardrobe for your blog, isn’t it? It’s a chance to change your blog’s entire identity – and for me, it normally helps re-invigorate my interest again, if things are starting to feel a bit stale.
Whatever I end up doing with the look of the site, though (and I really hope it’ll be nothing: at least for now…), there are some things I think pretty much ALL blogs should have – whatever their topic, and whatever their design. I’m talking here about things like…
A search box
This is possibly more for my own benefit than anyone else’s, but I use the search box on my blog almost every day (mostly to check whether I’ve already written about/mentioned something I’m considering posting about: after ten years of blogging, you start to forget things. Or maybe it’s just with AGE you start to forget things?), and I can see from Google Analytics that visitors use it, too. In their case, visitors mostly seem to use the site search to search for phrases like “skirt blowing up in the wind”, but there are other, less-creepy searches too, so I always like to see a search box on a blog: it helps enable my sheer nosiness.
Speaking of being nosey…
A complete archive
When I come across a new blog I love, I’ll often take a look back through the archive, to see what the author has written about in the past. I’ve also had readers tell me they’ve gone back to the very start of my blog, and read it almost as if it was a (very long, very boring) book: people always seem embarrassed to tell me this, but it’s actually the biggest compliment you could give me (Well, either that or mistaking me for Miranda Kerr’s redheaded twin…). Also: I totally get it – it can be really fascinating to go back to the very start of someone’s blog, and see what they were like before they had any readers or sponsorships or whatever: so when bloggers deny me the opportunity to totally creep on their lives like that, by not having an archive of their posts somewhere, it makes me sad.
A photo of the author, with a link to their ‘About’ page
I’ve written about this before, but I mostly read blogs because I’m interested in their authors, and while I understand that some people have very good reasons for wanting to hide their identity, and keep their lives as private as possible, I must admit that when I come across a fashion or lifestyle blogger with a “secret” identity, I’m normally put off following. I’m not asking for your full name and exact location, but I do like to know at least a little bit about the person behind the blog, and find it hard to relate to (or really care about, as harsh as that might sound…) bloggers who go to great lengths to remove all personality from their websites.
In the case of a blog like mine, where my photo is all over the damn place, a separate author photo might not be necessary, but I do think an ‘About’ page is essential – for ANY blog.
Follow buttons / contact page
Once I’ve read a few posts and decided I really like the blog I’m looking at, my next move is normally to try to find out how to follow it, so I don’t just end up clicking away, and forgetting all about it. My preferred way to follow blogs is on Bloglovin’ (you can follow me here…), so a Bloglovin’ button is particularly helpful, but failing that, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – any network you’re active on should be flagged up somewhere on your blog. In my humble opinion, anyway.
As for the contact page: this doesn’t tend to be something I look for myself when I’m reading blogs, but it’s also pretty essential if you want people to, well, contact you, and don’t fancy having to field business enquiries on Twitter or Instagram. (I mean, it’ll still happen, but at least SOME people will use your contact page to find your email address instead, and every person who DOESN’T tweet me asking if I have an email address (I always want to say “no” to that, just to mess with them…) earns extra Brownie points in my book.
What are your blog essentials?