Blogging

Relaunching your blog: a comprehensive guide

I’ve been brushing the cobwebs off Media Desk recently, so I thought I’d make a list of what I did for the relaunch, and hopefully give you some insight into relaunching your own blog if and when you need to.

Below are my quick and easy steps to relaunch your blog; I should warn you, I’m not a huge fan of planning and I’m of the “just do it” mindset, so you may want to do a lot more in the way of lists and planning than I did. I just got straight in with these relaunch tasks!

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1. Take a full site and database backup

You can never have enough backups, and things can go wrong sometimes, or you may delete something you find out later you needed to keep, so having a recent backup is the best idea before starting work.

2. Review the technical elements

Media Desk had been severely neglected for a really long time, so I needed to do all kinds of tech clean up things such as installing an SSL certificate, updating permalinks to remove dates from posts, removing abandoned plugins, installing new plugins, updating contact forms and social media links, and so on.

3. Plan the content overhaul

This may be a huge job depending on the size of your site and your following, but as Media Desk is quite compact, it wasn’t too bad. I decided that a lifestyle and blogging blog made the most sense for where I’m at, and I wanted Media Desk to have a less clinical and generally prettier feel. Once I’d decided that, I was able to create a list of blog post ideas on new topics I wanted to pursue further.

4. Kill old posts

Before I started planning and writing new posts, I went through all 204 of the old ones. There was a lot of old junk and broken images dating back to 2011, so it’s not surprising that a lot of clean up was needed!

I culled (and redirected) posts based on the following criteria, but it’s up to you what you choose:

  • Was the post no longer relevant? (E.g. “Web Design Trends in 2014”)
  • Was the post badly written or unhelpful? (I made the mistake of accepting a lot of terribly written and unuseful guest posts several years ago)
  • Was the post likely to be interesting to my target audience (i.e. people interested in lifestyle blogs and reading about blogging)?
  • Did the post have a lot of internal links to other posts? (E.g. was it important or related to a bunch of other posts that may also be affected)
  • Was the post very short? (I found a couple that just contained infographics – not only terrible for SEO, but also for accessibility).
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After this I had around 60 posts I wanted to keep, some of which I marked as needing to update (either for content improvements or formatting) in a spreadsheet, so I could work through them over time.

I was pretty ruthless, and it’s up to you how ruthless you want to be; you probably want to keep posts that get a lot of traffic where possible. As I’m starting again practically from scratch, I wanted to get rid of as much old content as possible.
 

5. Review categories, tags, authors

After this it was time to move on to looking at categories, tags, and authors. The vast majority of categories and tags were no longer relevant, so I reorganised posts into new categories and killed off tags altogether (they aren’t essential for this blog as it’s relatively small). For authors I reassigned posts to the same user and edited guest posts to reflect individual authors instead, just to keep things cleaner.
 

6. Pick a new theme

As I mentioned above, Media Desk was looking pretty outdated and definitely not personal enough for a lifestyle blog, so it was time for a fresh look that matched the new brand. Many people think paid themes are better than free, but this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of great free themes and plenty of terrible paid ones. For the moment, I’ve decided on Anissa. It needs a few style tweaks and I’ve changed the default font, but generally there wasn’t too much to change and it really lifted the look to make it fresh and clean.
 

7. Decide on social channels

The Media Desk social profiles died a death a long time ago, and as I already run two other sets of social media profiles, I decided that re-setting up and managing a third set just wasn’t time- or resource-efficient for me. Most likely you’re in a completely different situation where you’re looking at overhauling your social channels and updating headers and profile images, plus announcing your relaunch. If your channels are still active or you’re looking for easy content to post while you’re working on other things, little updates and sneak peeks of your progress are a quick way to do that without distracting you much from your main work.
 

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8. Create templates

Despite my decision on social channels, I will still be providing ways for people to share content from my posts, and also creating Pinterest pins for content so people can easily share it from their own channels. I also need category images for posts, and header images. So the next step was to create a series of easy go-to templates and images that I can use to speed up the process and allow me more time for focusing on writing, which is the part I enjoy most.

I also use a lot of on-brand stock images for my posts; I’m not a designer and I run several websites, so a stock photo subscription is a must for me. For creating image templates, I use a mix of Canva, Photoshop, and Envato Elements.
 

9. Collate imagery and assets

Most people start by making a brand board, but I finish with one instead. For this I create a secret board on Pinterest and upload font screenshots, image templates, core stock photos that represent the brand, logos and header images, etc.

I also create a Google Drive document with blog post ideas and links to the brand board, and a link to my Dropbox folder of file assets (such as logos and template backups).

 

10. Resubmit and reindex

My final step was to update Google Search Console with a new sitemap and request a recrawl so that Google could see all the old rubbish content was gone and understand what the blog was now about.

How long did my blog relaunch take? It took a few days of planning and a few days of implementing everything, but I’ve been blogging since around 2001 and I’ve done many blog launches and rebrands in my time! If you’re newer to blogging, or have a huge number of posts and pages, or need time to make a lot of decisions or get new designs ready, it could potentially take you months to do (if not longer).

The most important thing is to just break it all down into steps, then just get started. My top tip for a blog relaunch is: don’t overthink it! Get something together you’re reasonably happy with, then work on perfecting it once the grunt work is done.

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