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05 June 2018

Revitalize Your Blog!

Some common challenges in running a website include getting found, maintaining and growing a bigger audience and creating new content. Whether you are a nonprofit, small business or a one-person operation, we are all trying to increase our traffic, provide useful relevant information to our readers and hoping to engage them. And one of the simplest ways to achieve all of the above is to revitalize your website’s blog!

The three areas which we’ll look at are your blog’s content, presentation and web presence. There are different ways to enliven your blog in all three areas, and most can be implemented without a whole lot of fuss.

Don’t Be Content With Your Lack of New Content

Now, perhaps your blog is fine content-wise. Maybe you’re one of those people who just has a knack for being able to regularly churn out content, effortlessly finds new angles to write about within their niche and somehow hasn’t been afflicted with “blog burnout.”

For many, however, publishing consistently can be a challenge and blog burnout is real. Take into consideration that the majority of blogs, including personal and hobby blogs, don’t last a year. That means that even people who can write whatever and whenever they want, with no constraints of time, tone or subject matter, can still hit the proverbial wall and abandon their once passionate blog. So how are the rest of us to persevere?

When you’re creating content for a nonprofit or small business, you don’t have the luxury of abandoning the blog, although some do simply let their content output dwindle to a dribble.

So what are some of the ways that we can revitalize our content output?

Revitalize Your Content Creation

If you have a writer or two on your team but are having problems coming up with content, reevaluate your approach to content. Don’t presuppose that every post should be a text article, narrowly focussed in your field (or on your nonprofit itself) with the obligatory accompanying photograph. It’s important for readers to have access to a variety of content. Here are some suggestions to broaden your scope of output.

1. Vary your content types. Experiment with different content types. Try posting an inspiring standalone quotation in a blockquote format. Center a post around a great infographic that you found or that your staff came up with. Turn a field trip, event, convention or business summit into a smart-looking image slider post. Publish a resource list with accompanying notes. Put out an original video or podcast, or find someone else’s that would be educational or inspiring to your audience and embed it into your post. The important thing to remember is that your blog posts should not be limited to one format. Liven it up!

2. Don’t limit your subject matter too narrowly. Expand the scope of your subject matter so you don’t feel as boxed in for topics to write about.

Generalize your niche. For example, if you’re a regional-focused nonprofit that tends to consistently only write about particular issues or relief efforts in a certain part of the world, write a more universally applicable post about the general worldwide difficulty of providing relief efforts in troubled regions. Or focus on a success story of someone doing similar work in another country.

If you’re a small business that usually writes articles highlighting your latest app or digital service, try writing about a few of the outside apps and services that your company uses to stay on top of things. Or maybe consider writing an occasional post featuring one of your customers, such as someone who used your app in an inventive or inspiring way.

3. Share the spotlight. If you’re getting a bit of writer’s block trying to come up with your latest original article, instead highlight and excerpt an article or interview that you ran across and found informative. Give a shout out to a sister organization or fellow blogger. Review a relevant book or documentary and link to it. You never know when the favor might be returned. You can also attract new readers this way when folks find your website while doing a search for the people or organization you just featured.

4. Expand the club. If your blog is predominantly reliant on a single writer whose time is often stretched too thin, consider bringing some some new voices in. See if there are any untapped fellow staffers who could competently contribute articles. Volunteers, board members, supporters and recipients of your organization’s efforts may be willing to write an article or two for you. Finally, you can also consider hiring an outside writer, either as a guest author or on a more regular basis.

5. Revise and repurpose older content. If you’re happy with your current content output or don’t plan on increasing it, there are still other ways to revitalize your blog by revisiting older content.

Look through your past posts and find ones that are in-depth and would still be of interest. These longer posts can function as your blog’s evergreen content. Review these posts, and then either re-publish them as is or make any necessary revisions needed to keep the work relevant. You can also check your website’s Google Analytics to help you make these decisions by noting which of your content was visited the most and which content had the longest average stay-on-page time.

You can also do some minor housecleaning of old entries. Spruce up an old title or an old message. Dump some inconsequential or filler posts. Update particularly useful older posts or infographics with current statistics and references.

Revitalize Your Blog’s Look

The next area to look at is your blog’s presentation. What are some simple and effective ways you can spruce up its appearance?

These are predominantly aesthetic design decisions and concern the presentation of your three basic (WordPress) blog pageviews: the main blog page, the individual article or post page and the category or tag archive view.

The suggestions below will pose a few questions which you can use as starting points for how you may want to adjust your design and presentation.

1. Freshen up your format. For your blog and category archive pages, would an increase or decrease in the number of posts shown be beneficial? Is there anything you could do to improve the layout, such as widening the content area or adding or subtracting the sidebar? Are your excerpts displaying too short or too long? Do you want a featured sticky post at the top of the page? Does the page need a different header image setup than other pages? Should your posts and excerpts have more or less meta-data (author, date, category, comments number, etc) showing?

laptop and mobile view

2. Revisit your mobile view. Are you stacking ten full-length posts on top of each other resulting in a giant scroll for your mobile visitors or are you making smart use of space? How can you further improve your users’ experience on mobile? How is your text’s readability on small screens? Are your images crisp on hi-res devices? Have you thought of incorporating a post slider so mobile traffic can swipe side-to-side to quickly go through posts?

3. Review your typography, color and contrast. Could you be using a font that is more pleasant to read or more professional-looking? Could your font size or line height be bumped up just a bit? Is your content area background color too bright or harsh (avoid #FFF white)? Is your text color dark or light enough to effectively contrast with that background? There are contrast tools which can measure this for you. By achieving a 4:1 contrast ratio, your content will be easier on your readers’ eyes and you’ll be making your website more accessible!

4. Make effective use of your imagery. Are your posts almost 100% text? Is there a way that your organization could start making the effort to incorporate more images into your posts? Have you considered consistently having a shared graphic or featured image atop your posts? Do you have someone on staff who can provide original photos or graphics to use for your blog? Could you benefit by using paid or royalty-free images? Are you taking the time to add “alt text,” captions, titles and attributions for your readers?

For any of these visual reevaluations that you would like to implement but may need help with, it may be wise to reach out to your web designer, site admin or developer.

Revitalize Your Blog’s Web Presence

Lastly, let’s consider revitalizing your blog’s reach and discoverability. Armed with a renewed commitment to your content and perhaps a refreshed visual presentation, turn your attention to the little things behind the scenes that can affect your UX, SEO and perceived value to your readers.

1. Make smart use of categories. Categories are a useful but often overlooked part of many blogs. If your blog hasn’t bothered much with categories, and everything is either categorized as News or Uncategorized (the default setting), think of a few ways to sort your most common content or subject matter. Perhaps something like News, Op-Eds, Success Stories or Featured Person. Find smart groupings for the breadth of content your blog produces.

Alternatively, if you’re an organization that has overused categories, publishing in a disparate one or two dozen categories, try narrowing those down to a useful 4-6 top-level categories which can be parent categories for the rest. These broader category archive pages will look fuller than before, when each (now) subcategory might have only had an article or two on their respective archive pages.

2. Revamp your publishing strategy. As mentioned above in the section on repurposing older content, make a note of what can function as evergreen content on your site. Moving forward, try to increase the number of posts you publish that can fit that bill.

If you find yourself fluctuating between periods of robust output followed by periods of minimal or zero posts, strive for a more consistent level of output. Whether you aim to publish daily, weekly or even just monthly, once you’ve hit your target, schedule any additional posts you finish in that timeframe to be released in the near future by post-dating the publishing date.

Additionally, it can be helpful to meet as a group, whether that entails your board and staffers or just you and your writer. Use the time to reaffirm your mission and goals and how your website’s blog can serve those interests.

analytics graphs

3. Work on your SEO. Now that you’re implementing some changes and are putting in the work to revitalize your blog, don’t let those efforts go to waste. Give your posts a better chance of being found.

Do a basic review of your SEO practices. Use a WordPress SEO plugin such as the Yoast SEO or All In One SEO Pack. Both are incredibly popular (each used by over 3 million websites) and offer nonprofits and small businesses a way to implement SEO practices without putting a dent in your budget. Additionally, you can use free SEO tools or try out the 30-day free trials of websites such as HubSpot and Moz to get pointed in the right direction.

The extra traffic that well implemented SEO can generate should help serve as an incentive for your revitalization efforts. Do your due diligence when setting keyword phrases for your various posts. Review your blog’s readability suggestions, such as breaking up long complex sentences into shorter sentences and using vocabulary terms suited for a more general audience.

4. Improve your page load speed. No one wants to spend more than a few seconds waiting for your page to load. So consider implementing some actions which won’t leave your audience hanging (or leaving).

Crop larger images to the maximum size that they will display on your site. Optimize and compress your images with a standalone app such as ImageOptim, a plugin like Smush.it or by using the compression tools in Photoshop. Don’t self-host your videos, but rather embed them into your posts while video sites such as Vimeo and YouTube do the hosting. Turn off any plugins which you’re not currently using. Ask your developer or use a plugin to help you minify your HTML, CSS and JavaScript. If you have a large website and/or a spread out audience, consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as CloudFlare or MaxCDN to geographically diversify the location of the servers from which your content is accessed.

5. Secure your site. Finally, stay safe. Keep your website data backed up. Protect your website from malware and cyber-security threats. A hacked site or a broken site makes it hard for potential visitors to check out all of your hard work.

Conclusion

Revitalizing your blog can put the proverbial spring back into your (website’s) step.

Simple adjustments to your content strategy and presentation will make for an improved experience for your readers and can reinvigorate your blog’s writer(s). A more consistent output of useful informative posts, combined with a renewed focus on your blog’s web presence, can yield a larger and more widespread audience due to better quality content and improved search engine rankings.

Whether you are working alone or with a twenty person staff, consider the various improvements you could make in revitalizing your blog and make a plan to start implementing them. Your regular readers will be appreciative, your brand will be strengthened, and your target audience will begin to find you more easily.

Jeff C.

Headshot of Jeff Creamer

Jeff Creamer is a DC-based WordPress website administrator, tutor and consultant. He has been helping small businesses and nonprofits launch and manage their WordPress sites since 2013.