Well Hello 2019! Now that the new year is here, everyone is all about renewal, making better decisions for themselves, goal setting and the like. I love the momentum that the new year brings and all of the hope and aspirations that come along with it. Many bloggers set new goals for their blogs, so in the spirit of the new year I will be discussing 19 things to remove and improve on your blog for 2019.
1. Too many ads in the sidebar
Ad space used to be a huge way for bloggers to make money - either selling ad space on their site for others to advertise on or by placing their ad on someone else’s site. I’m not knocking this because if it brings in extra coin that’s great. The problem becomes when a sidebar is crowded with ads. It can be distracting having so many ads on your site and equally an issue if they’re not generating income (or if it’s minimal). Instead of filling your sidebar with ads for other companies (realize - when someone clicks the ad they are leaving your website which is what you don’t want!), leave a few there but also put ads to your own products/services. This is how you keep visitors on your site and they explore and find more of your awesome content!
2. Opt-in box popping up as soon as you enter your website
I love to compare the email list opt-in process to courting/dating. Having a box pop up immediately asking for your email address is the same as walking into a club and someone immediately asking you for your phone number. Um, no. Can we get to know each other a little first? Can I learn more about you and what you’re all about before I give you my contact info? Same applies with opt-in boxes. Rather than having a box appear as soon as a visitor enters your site, either make it scroll based (appears after scrolling a certain percentage down the page) or time based (appears after a certain amount of time). This gives the visitor a chance to determine if they like what they see and if so they are more likely to sign up for your thing.
Related: Newsletter 101
3. Opt-in box with no incentive
I am all for an opt-in box on a website, but only if the opt-in serves a purpose. Readers are used to being offered a free download or free offer of some sort in exchange for their email address, so just having a box saying “Sign up for updates” is not going to cut it in 2019. Your opt-in form should include an incentive which makes them excited to hand over their email address such as a free workbook, free email course or free resource library. It’s not difficult to create a freebie; you can design one for free in Canva, Google Docs or Google Sheets depending on the type of freebie it is!
4. Opt-in box with incentive but little or no interaction with your email list
On the flip side, maybe you do have a freebie for opting in to you email list. Awesome! The problem is, how often do you email your list? What’s the purpose of building an email list if you never reach out to them or if you do so infrequently that you get massive unsubscribes when you email them because they forgot who you are? If you don’t have a email funnel or even just a consistent emailing schedule for your list, it’s something you should work on for the new year. As you may have heard, you should focus on the platforms that you control (i.e. your website, your email list) because social media platforms control what they want people to see and when (thanks algorithms :-| ).
5. Old profile pic
It’s always a good idea to refresh the images of yourself on your website. Refreshing them at the beginning of the year just seems fitting to me. You can either take photos of yourself using your DSLR on a tripod or find a photographer and have a hour long session for shots to use all throughout the year on your website, social media, promo materials, etc.
6. Contact forms
Contact forms can be daunting when someone just wants to send a simple email. Rather than having a contact form with tons of options to choose from regarding the reason for contacting you, just keep it simple. Leave your email address for people to reach you. The good thing about this is the person contacting you will have a record of the email sent, and it’s more of a personal connection. Contact forms have their place, sure, but ultimately people are lazy and don’t want to fill out forms. They just want to email you and be done. Also, consider who may be contacting you. Perhaps it’s a brand wanting to collaborate. They will want to send an email rather than fill out a form.
7. The number of links in your header
Your website should not have a ton of page links in the header. Generally speaking, all you really need is a link to Home, About, Blog (if applicable), Shop (if applicable), Contact and maybe a link to a free resource (if it has an email funnel leading to a paid product). Anything outside of that is really unnecessary depending on your niche. I have four links in my header, but I have well over 15 pages on my website. You don’t need a link to everything on your menu, just scatter them around your website in place that make sense. For example, if you have a sales page for a product, it would be fine to include the link to that page in a related blog post or email sent to your email list. If the product is what you are promoting actively at the moment, it would make sense to link to it in your header. Ultimately, condense down your visible links - it can be visually overwhelming and cause visitors to leave your site otherwise.
8. Links to platforms you're not active on
It’s smart to include your social media links on your website because visibility across multiple platforms is where it’s at. BUT, if you are linking to a social platform that you haven’t been active on in 6 months, what’s the point? Get rid of those links to platforms that you’re not active on and replace with the ones that you are always on.
9. Lengthy posts when not necessary
I’ve mentioned this before and it still applies...people like convenience and tend to be lazy when it comes to certain things...like reading! Long form blog posts are great if it makes sense (i.e. a how-to post, product review/comparison, before and after post, etc.), but a regular post about something like a new lipstick does not need to have 1500+ words. Bloggers sometimes feel that a short post isn’t a good post. This is false. I have read some short posts that blew my mind and some long posts that were awful. If you can get your point across in 500 words, awesome! People don’t have time to read long posts unless they know what they’re getting into (like I said, a how-to, diy, etc.). Otherwise, realize that people skim through. They look at the post title, may read some of the intro, scroll down to read each point, then might read some of the outro. This is kind of like the SAT...read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each paragraph and the last paragraph. Approach blogging like the SAT - focus on getting your point across in the same parts of your post. Now, this is a long blog post, but it makes sense. I’m discussing 19 things to update on your website and explaining why! I guarantee it will not be fully read by all though; the SAT approach will still be taken by readers, so I make it a point to pack a punch in that first line of each point.
10. PDF media kit
Media kits are still relevant especially when you want to work with brands and other bloggers. The thing that becomes irrelevant is the format of the media kit. PDF media kits have their place, but when you are approaching a brand to collaborate, rather than attaching your media kit (unsolicited attachments are scary from strangers because for all the recipient knows, the attachment could be malicious), attach a link to a password protected media kit page. This page would hold your media kit details, it is much more professional and reduces the potential of ending up in the recipient’s spam folder (the large attachment might be a red flag to their email provider). This doesn’t mean to get rid of your pdf media kit because some brands prefer it, but use it as a backup and keep the digital version on your site as the main kit.
11. About page that's all about you and not about how your help your audience
The About page may be the first place that a new visitor seeks when on a website. I generally tend to enter a new website through a blog post from social media, then if I like the post I head to the About page to learn more about this person and their site. Since this is one of the most important pages on your site, it’s important to pack a punch. This mean you should not only discuss about YOU, but more so how you help OTHERS. It’s cute to know that you love coffee and have a yorkie, but how is that supposed to help a potential customer know why they should give you their money? Include a section that is about your blog, what you do, what you post about, how you help your audience, etc. It will give visitors a better idea about you as a whole and why they should continue visiting your site.
12. Stock photos
Stock photos have their place, but custom photos are always better. One reason is that you will not have the same image on your website as other people...it takes the individuality out of your website. If you are selling a product, take photos of your product in use, on a computer screen (if it’s a digital product), etc. Mobile phone cameras have come a long way, so you don’t even need a fancy DSLR to take your own website photos if it’s not in the budget right now.
13. Too many animated/scrolling boxes
It’s 2019...all of these animated, scrolling boxes on a homepage have got to go. It’s makes a site look cluttered and can be very distracting. Instead, consider using still photos in a neat, organized way. When something starts scrolling without my control it gets frustrating - maybe I wasn’t finished reading or viewing what was in the box! A scrolling function is okay, but it’s better if you give the reader a choice when to advance rather than advancing for them automatically, so just add arrows to the boxes to advance manually.
*Please note: I am not a lawyer. You should consult with your trusted legal professional on matters related to your blog/business.
15. Negative thoughts
Our thoughts can manifest so much and control many aspects of our lives. When it comes to the online space, the comparison monster can creep in which then brings self-doubt, imposter syndrome and the like. Rather than focusing time and energy on what so-and-so is doing, change your negative thoughts and focus on how you will make you and your platform better and better. If there’s an area that you think you need to get better in, research the topic. Read books, take a course, whatever it takes! I plan to study SEO this year because I want to focus on making my website an entree rather than a side item, and that means I need to be driving more traffic. Lastly, if you’ve ever had the thought that your niche is over-saturated, just remember my quote…”There are so many types of glazed doughnuts, and guess what? They’re all selling!”.
The next four things are things that I have posted about in the past, but they still apply in 2019!
16. Broken links
It’s a good idea to go through your website and do a sanity check on links that you have in your sidebars, headers, footers, etc. Even your blog posts from the past may have broken links. Give yourself a few to check each week so the task doesn’t become too overwhelming.
17. Refresh or remove stale pages
You may have pages on your website that haven’t been updated since they were added to your site years ago. Review these pages and decide if you a) Want to keep them and b) If you keep them, what will you update on them? Change the layout, the message on the page, the offer, etc.
18. Consider switching your blog platform if you’ve outgrown it
Your website may live on a platform that you are not in love with. Changing your website’s platform is a huge project, but sometimes it’s necessary to get the look, feel, flexibility and freedom that you want (ex: Squarespace is a great platform when you want to have more control over your layout in a simple way whereas Wordpress may need a web developer to get you what you want).
19. Add a disclaimer to your website if you use affiliate links
To keep it simple, a disclaimer keeps things transparent and you will gain the trust of your readers as a result. It’s a little dishonest when you are getting compensated for a post or sale and you don’t tell people about it ahead of time. Just let them know that your site uses affiliate links and that you are compensated when something is purchased from one of your links. Also let them know that the price they pay is the same whether they use the affiliate link or not and your compensation comes from the company, not from them. Again, I am not a lawyer, so please consult with your trusted legal professional regarding your blog/business matters.
So there you have it! 19 things to remove and improve on your website in 2019. I hope this list gave you a few things to consider updating. If so, let me know all about it in the comments!