Spring is in full swing and with it comes the urge to spruce up and reorganize. One place that can use a dose of spring cleaning is your web presence. Whether you have a blog, a website, an Etsy store or some combination, they can all benefit from a good spring cleaning.
So what does “spring cleaning” your blog or website entail? In most cases, they’re things that your visitors likely won’t even notice right away, but will make your website, blog, or online store a more effective tool for marketing your work. Ready? Let’s get started!
14 Spring Cleaning Tasks for Your Blog or Website
1. Revisit old blog posts– Take a good look at all of your blog posts. Is some of the information a bit outdated? Can you spruce some of the posts up with fresh copy or images? Are there blog posts that you can update or repurpose or use as a springboard for new content? Are there some really good posts hiding in your blog that you can reintroduce to your social media audience or to folks in your email list?
If you’ve been blogging for a couple of years, you might find that some of your earlier posts no longer fit the current direction of your blog. Don’t be afraid to get rid posts that are hopelessly out of date…especially if it looks like no one is visiting them. Create a list of all your blog posts and note which ones you can update, which ones you can reuse to create more content, and which ones you can eliminate from your blog altogether. And after you do so, don’t forget to go to Task #3.
2. Clean up your categories and tags– Are your blog categories and (if you use them) tags a mess? How many categories are on your blog? If it’s well over a dozen, you may have a problem. If a category only has one or two posts associated with it, that means it’s too specific. Or it may mean that it doesn’t fit the direction of your blog. Try to consolidate or eliminate overly specific categories.
How descriptive are your categories? If your blog is all about children’s clothes, will a new visitor be able to easily find all the posts you written about clothing for infants by looking at the categories. Clever, “cute”, or vague category names are often confusing, so consider rewriting them. If you use tags on your blog, take a look at them as well. Consider consolidating or eliminating tags that only have one or two blog posts associated with them.
Need some help with organizing your blog categories? The CoSchedule blog has a rather good article that can point you in the right direction.
3. Check for outdated links– A website or blog is made of links…links to other blogs or websites…links to different pages within your website. You want to make sure that all of the links are working properly. An outside website you’ve linked to can go down, go inactive, or can even change hands. If you’ve been shuffling around some of the pages and blog posts on your own site, you can easily break links to your own pages.
Broken links or worse, links that go to spam sites can cause search engines like Google to rank your website lower in search engine results. If you use WordPress to run your website or blog, the Broken Link Checker plugin to track down outdated links and to monitor your links going forward. If you don’t use WordPress, use a service like Dead Link Checker instead.
4. Check for broken contact forms or outdated contact information– There’s nothing more frustrating to a visitor than trying to contact a website owner with outdated contact information. If you use contact forms on your website, send a message to yourself to make sure they’re working properly. Do the same with all of the email links on your site as well. Check the rest of your contact information (physical address, phone number, social media links, etc) and make sure they’re correct.
5. Beef up your security– The best time to beef up security to your website or blog is right now. If you wait until you have a problem it’s too late. If you haven’t changed the login password to your website or blog in the last 90 days or longer do it right now. And make it a nice secure password that has a combination of of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Be sure to change your password at least every six months from now on.
Do a scan of your website to check for possible hacks, malicious code, and spam. It’s completely possible to have been hacked and not know it. Sucuri has a free scanning service that sniffs out possible hacks on your blog or website. And once you’ve gotten the all clear that your website or blog is clean, implement some security measures on your website.
6. Spruce up your about page– Other than the homepage, one of the most viewed pages on your blog or website is usually your about page. So you’ll want to make sure that page is in tip top shape. Don’t have an about page? Now is the time to remedy that. At minimum a good about page should introduce yourself to your visitors, tell them what your website or blog is all about, invite them to interact with you in some way (sign up for your list, follow you on social media, etc), and should have some photos of yourself and your work.
Leanne Regalla has a great post for artists and creatives on how to make a killer about page. This is a great resource if you don’t have an about page, have a skimpy about page, or if you want to make your current about page even more awesome.
7. Spruce up your homepage– Once you’ve got your about page squared away, you’ll need to give your homepage a bit of love. Your website’s homepage is the place where you get your visitor’s attention and direct them where on your website they need to go next. Lisa Congdon’s homepage starts off with a beautiful photo slider of her work, next it goes on to feature her upcoming classes, her latest book, her upcoming book, and her most popular blog posts. Even if someone goes no further than the homepage, they have a good idea as to what her website offers. Can you say the same for your homepage? If not, take a bit of time to tweak it.
If you have a blog, your homepage simply may be a list of your current blog posts. Even so, will your visitors be able to figure out what you’re all about by simply landing on your blog? If not, think about tweaking your blog header or adding some content to your sidebar to help point visitors in the right direction. Another alternative is to build a homepage for your blog. The WordPress blog has several good examples of effective blog homepages.
8. Clean up your sidebars– Speaking of sidebars, now is a good time to get them nice and organized. If the sidebars run longer than the main content of your website or blog, that’s a sign that they need a good clean up. What are the things that you want to direct your visitors to? Your best blog posts? Your Etsy store? Your show schedule? Your mailing list sign up? Pare down your sidebar only to the things you want your visitors to go to next or anything that pertains to the main objective for your blog. Eliminate everything else.
9. Review your site navigation– Grab a colleague, a friend, a family member, or better yet…a valued client and ask them to walk through your site. This is especially useful if they’re not already familiar with your website. Can they find things easily? If you ask them to go to a specific spot on your website can they do it quickly? Or at all? If they can’t or they’re having difficulty getting the job done, that may be a sign to adjust the navigation on your website or blog. If you run your website on a system like WordPress making changes to your site navigation can be a fairly easy process. In other cases you may need the help of the person who designed your website to make these changes.
10. Update resources and downloads– Do you offer free downloads like cheat sheets, ebooks, printables, or a handy list of resources. Now’s a good time to review them and make sure that the information on that download is up to date…especially if it includes links to other websites. You may also want to fresh up the design or maybe even spruce up the text or add additional information if you want.
11. Update, upgrade (or add) mailing list opt-ins– If you have an email list (you should), now’s a good time to pay some attention to the opt-in forms on your website or blog. Do they work properly? Are they highly visible and easy to find? Do they tell your visitor why they should sign up for your list? Perhaps it’s a good time to start experimenting with more advanced sign up features like a Hello Bar or a pop up window.
12. Add Google Analytics– If you haven’t installed Google Analytics on your website or blog, take some time to do it now. Martiel Beatty of The Art Academy did a great video on how to install Google Analytics on a WordPress blog or website. If you use something other than WordPress, installing Google Analytics will be a fairly quick task for your web designer.
Why is Google Analytics so important? Because it can tell you a lot about what’s going on with your blog or your website, and it can indicate what works well and what’s not working so well. It’s an important tool if you want to promote your website effectively.
Already have GA installed? Take some time to review your stats. Write down what you learn. And come up with a list of action items to fix the bad and improve the good. If you’re not sure about what the numbers mean, here’s a guide on how to read Google Analytics reports.
13. Make your website/blog more sharable– How easy is it to share content from your website or blog? When you write blog posts are you making them easier to pin on Pinterest by including good images? Do you have links to your social media accounts on your website? Are you including social share buttons in your pages and posts to make easier for visitors to share your content? Sharing content is one way news of your work spreads online. If you’re not including great images or your work or you’re actively keeping people from sharing your content on social media, you’re hobbling your promotional efforts.
Include links to all of the social media outlets you’re active on so that visitors can follow you there. Include social media sharing buttons to your blog posts or your product pages so that readers and visitors can share that awesome new post or that new item you’ve just listed with their followers. You can easily add these buttons by using a tool like Share This.
14. Update your blog theme or site design– A good spring cleaning often includes some visual sprucing up. If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded the look of your website and blog, consider making some changes in that area, whether it’s a new banner, updated branding, a fresh color scheme, or a new theme or design.
6 Spring Cleaning Tasks for Etsy Shop or Online store
While the last 14 tips pertained to blogs and all websites in general, your online store or Etsy shop will have specific clean up needs:
15. Revisit your store policies– When was the last time you’ve looked your store policies? With all the things you have to do to run your shop or online store, it’s easy for your policies page to become a bit out of date. Perhaps you’ve had to increase your shipping fees due to increase costs, or maybe you’re no longer shipping to certain locations, or maybe you’ve made some adjustments to your return policy. Now’s a good time to read over your polices page to make sure that it reflects any changes you’ve made in how you’re conducting your business online.
Correct misspellings, errors in grammar, and typos as needed. If your copy reads a bit dry or impersonal, consider rewriting some of it so that it reflects the personality of your business. Sales policies don’t have to be boring…so don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personality or humor.
16. Revisit your shipping methods and pricing– Shipping costs are in constant flux, so it’s easy for your shipping fees to get outdated. Make sure that your shipping profiles adequately cover your costs, including supplies and materials. Do some research to make sure that your shipping methods are the most economical and that they serve the needs of your customers. If you’ve been getting frequent requests for things like rush shipping or shipping to a certain region, this is a good time to research those options. Etsy has a great article on researching and preparing your shipping methods.
17. Update your FAQ page– Your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page is another important page that’s easy to forget about. A good FAQ page should help sell your work by answering the questions that your customers may have before and after they buy. Prune and update questions and answers and add some Q&A’s that may have come up between now and the last time you’ve updated your page. Of course, check for misspellings, grammar, etc and don’t forget to add some brand personality to your copy where you can.
18. Update your product photography– An eye-catching photo is often the difference between making a sale and a potential customer simply moving on to the next page. This is one thing that you always want to make sure is fresh and updated. Your photos should be well-lit, sharp, and puts your work in it’s best light. If the aren’t change them out with ones that are. It’s also important that all of your product photos are consistent in style and quality with each other. If you were looking at all of your product images side by side, they should look like they all belong together. Change out or reshoot product photos that look out of place or no longer matches the style of your other photos.
Etsy has a number of great articles on how to shoot great product images for your store. Two rather useful ones includes an article on photography mistakes to avoid and the other illustrates four types of product photos you should have in your online store. You can also get some inspiration by simply looking around and seeing what’s out there. In addition to check out other Etsy stores, Instagram is also a great place to get some ideas on how to shot product photos.
19. Spruce up your product copy– If your product photography is the thing that draws your customers to your store, the product copy is the thing that seals the deal. You’re not there to talk about your work in person, so your product copy has to do all of the heavy lifting. Look over your product pages and/or listings. Is everything spelled correctly? Are your providing all of the necessary information that your customer needs to make a decision (size, color choices, weight, materials)? Is your copy getting in the minds of your customers, figuring out what they need and telling them how your work solves that need? Calculate the conversion rate for your listings. Are they underperforming? Is your brand personality coming through in your copy? Are you using the appropriate tags on your Etsy listings? Are you using the right keywords in your product copy?
If your copy needs work, Lisa Jacobs has a wonderful CreativeLive course on how to write product copy for your Etsy store. You can also use a service like Marmalead to do some competitive research on which Etsy listings are getting the most attention, which tags are getting the traffic, and which price points are doing well on Etsy.
And speaking of pricing…this is also a good time to revisit the pricing on your items. After all, the price is an important part of your product copy. Marmalead can give you a good idea of how other shops are pricing work like yours, but you don’t always want to follow the crowd when it comes to pricing. The bottom line is that your prices need to reflect the quality of your work and they need to sustain your business so that you can grow. Check out Tara Gentile’s CreativeLive course on pricing to learn how to develop a pricing strategy for your creative business. Then apply that strategy to your own work.
20. Update your branding– If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your logo or changed your Etsy banner, now’s the time to do it…especially now that Etsy has made changes to their shop designs. If you don’t have a well designed logo or branding for your Etsy shop or online store, make that a part of your spring cleaning tasks. Strong branding is especially important if you have an Etsy shop because you’re competing for attention with so many other shops. In any case, strong branding is a must if you want to stand out on Etsy or in the vast sea of the internet. So take some time to upgrade your branding.
While many of the tasks on the list can be quite simple, sprucing up your online presence can take a bit of time…especially if you’ve neglected a lot of this stuff until now. Expect to take a good bit of time to complete this list. It took me about a month to finish off the spring cleaning for this blog and I’m still working on it behind the scenes with new additions and experimenting with new features.
Don’t let the time commitment stop you. Keeping your web presence updated comes with the territory when you’re conducting your creative business online. Use the opportunity to make your home on the web better and more effective for your visitors.
Maintaining That Clean Feeling
Truth be told, “spring cleaning” is something that never really ends. The key to keeping it from becoming a daunting task is by following a schedule of regular maintenance. Instead of waiting once a year to check for dead links or tweak your product copy, schedule time on your calendar each month to run through some of these simple maintenance tasks on a regular basis. This way you’re always improving without taking days or weeks of your time.
Regular maintenance of your web presence is all part and parcel of doing business on the web. If it’s been a while since you’ve done some sprucing up on your website, a good “spring cleaning” could be just the thing for you website or blog. After you’ve spruced things up, follow a regular maintenance schedule to keep your web presence in tip top shape.
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