Spring Cleaning Your Blog (by Jennifer Wagner)

Ahhhh, spring. The time of year when many of us do a more thorough cleaning of homes, closets, cupboards, computers, etc than we usually do.

So, if I might, let me suggest some ways to do a spring cleaning for your blog as well in 2010.

1. Use the category or tag feature to start organizing your blogs to make them search-able by your readers.
2. Read through the last year of your posts. Do you have a common thread, a rant, some thoughts you really need to expand? Use your past posts to jump start some new ones.
3. Check your blog roll list. Update it with correct links.
4. Check all the other links you link to as well. Make sure they are going where you think they are going.
5. Do you have an About Me page....if not, add one. And make sure there is a way that your readers can contact you -- either email, twitter, plurk, etc.
6. Look for some plug ins that might help with formatting and spell checking. (I like TinyMice for Word Press)
7. Don't depend just on RSS for readers. Drop a "new post" twitter or plurk or message on Facebook.
8. Reread your post before hitting submit. If it might be volatile, ask a friend of two to read it.
9. Make sure that if you name drop you (1) spell the name correctly and (2) provide a link to the person you are mentioning.
10. If you mention a source, if you use an image, if you use anything that is not yours -- CITE IT!!

1. Double check your comments that come in. Spam comments have gotten quite creative and though it might be an ego boost to read "great blog, i will come back again to read more"....take the time to check where that comment is linking back to. You might be surprised. You might be shocked.
2. Make it a goal to respond back (not just with a Thanks for stopping by) comment to your readers.
3. If you want to control spammers (and your use wordpress) turn on the comment moderation option that they have to be moderated the first time they post.
4. Add in a spam control plug in (I use akismet)
5. Add in a spam control plug in but don't use one that will frustrate your readers to the point they won't comment because they can't spell the word in the small box or solve the complex math problem.
6. Allow disagreements and agreements on your post with comments. But, if it starts to be a battle of the comments, urge them to take it off your blog and move it elsewhere. (Chris Betcher handled this very well at http://chrisbetcher.com/2010/04/stager-takes-the-stage/)
7. Realize and appreciate that the comments might become more powerful than the original post and that is perfectly okay. Happened to me at http://jenuinetech.com/blog/?p=110 and I learned so much)
8. Add in a "where comments" are coming from widget.
9. Clean up the simple stuff on comments. (I correct their typos - but this is totally just my call)
10. Write your blog post in such a way that it invites future conversations through comments.

1. Remove any links that no longer work.
2. If you can, use a drop down bar rather than a long list of items for your categories, archives, etc.
3. Look at your blog post placement, is it prominent or is it lost because of all the other widgets you have on your page?
4. Though all the extra stuff shows your existence on the internet, rethink the "I belong to" links. Consider moving them to your ABOUT ME page if you have to have them.
5. If you are making revenue on your blog, go ahead and admit it. (pet peeve of mine: people who hide amazon links in book reviews) Just go ahead and admit it.
6. Rethink a new theme. And be brave to tweak a theme by adding a new image or color scheme.
7. Use the "Add a new page" option on your blog (if available) and more all the extra stuff (shelfari, delicious links, etc) to a secondary page.
8. Wander through other blogs and look at their placement of information. Use their ideas as a benchmark to build your own look.
9. Get your blog to look exactly as you wish and then remove one more thing.
10. Do you want people to say "ohhh, your blog is cute" or do you want them to say "ohhh, your blog post made me think". Remove anything that distracts from your posts.

And one more thing: it might be time for you to think of a new host for your blog. If you are using a free service, consider buying your own domain and hosting your own blog. If that is NOT an option, wander through some other blog host sites (posterous, kidblogs, weebly, edublogs, wordpress, blogger, etc) to see what they might offer.

Here are some suggestions of blogs that (I think) are managing their content, comments, and clutter quite well.
Chris Betcher: http://chrisbetcher.com/
Ryan Bretag: http://www.ryanbretag.com/blog/
Doug Johnson: http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/
Beth Knittle: http://www.bethknittle.net/WP_Blog/
Lee Kolbert: http://macmomma.blogspot.com/
Practical Principals: http://practicalprincipals.net/
Kathy Schrock: http://blog.kathyschrock.net/
Please feel free to add more to this list in the comment area.

Be sure to also check out the 31 days to become a better blogger challenge here:


This post can also be read at http://jenuinetech.com/blog/?p=1391