This blog has undergone many changes over the last year – arguably more than in the previous seven years together. I daresay that process is over, but it’s now at a place where I feel happy with it for 2018. 2019 is another matter, however. Like our freelance business in general, it pays to keep the blog moving in the right direction. It’s easy to ignore your shop window, whether it contains an actual shop or simply a display of what you do, inviting people to contact you with queries and requests for work. So what can or should you do to keep your professional blog and website fresh and achieving your business goals?
Murder The “Darlings”
There comes a time when the professional writer must murder their darlings in the proverbial sense. What do we mean my “murder the darlings”? In fiction it means the willingness to kill off a much-loved character if they are not working or the story will call for it. In professional website terms, it means a willingness to delete areas of the site that aren’t working. Over the last year, I’ve stripped down my book reviews. It’s gone from around 300 to about 60 today. I’ve also removed the book review page listings. Why? I’ve seen dwindling hits that have never recovered. Most of those I deleted late last year had no hits for several years. The last lot had maybe 5-10 hits through 2018. Those I’ve kept have always been good traffic generators (oddly, my review of John Wyndham’s Web with around 200 every year – not a lot, but worth keeping). I think Amazon’s purchase of Good Reads has made it hard for book review blogs to remain competitive unless they are willing and able to monetise a site. I don’t have the time or the inclination for this and that’s why I took the decision to scrub the majority of the book reviews from my site.
Are Previous Content Types Still Relevant?
On a similar note, it’s time to stop doing the things that are no longer relevant to your freelance business. Book reviews were previously relevant to me but are no longer what I want to achieve. So while I won’t be (for now) deleting the 60 or so I have left and while they still gain me traffic, I doubt I will be posting many book reviews in future – maybe one or two per year. It’s no longer relevant to me as a freelance writer. I’ve stopped accepting submissions from writers and publishers to feature reviews of books on this site. it’s not something I want to devote too much time to anymore. Also, it’s no longer relevant to my freelance writing nor my desire to build photography into my services. If something was once relevant to your site and is no longer, consider not devoting any more time to it as well as deleting those that aren’t working for you.
Theme Change with Trends
This is important whether you’re using a WordPress.com hosted site as any other. The theme I used in 2010 when I started this blog worked in 2010. The theme I have today (hopefully) works in 2018. Back them, there were side columns and a narrower view of the screen. But since then we’ve had mobile technology and that means people surf the internet on their mobile phones and tablets. So a much cleaner, ordered and minimalist design is required. Gone are the columns – in its place is a much less ordered and open approach to the blog environment with side widgets present but not dividing up the page too much. Keep an eye on aesthetic trends and try to keep up with what the web viewers of today want – remembering that it’s potentially vastly different from what they wanted yesterday.