Ta-dah! My blog (in case you hadn’t noticed!) has a brand new look.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I’d taken a step off the hamster wheel to consider what direction I wanted to take. Because I’d started writing soon after Hugo died, I’d given zero thought to aesthetics, form, structure…or pretty much anything other than surviving my grief.
And surviving my grief was what I needed to do. My blog, and the relationships I built through it, were instrumental in that survival.
As time went on, I got more in to the artistry (as pretentious as that may sound!) of my blog. I love being creative and playing around with graphics and colours, making things ‘me’.
Eventually, I got to a stage where I realised to take my blog in the direction I wanted I needed to go self-hosted – so I did! While I don’t have concrete goals as such (my life experiences have taught me things don’t work that way) I know what I want to achieve – and with passion, humour, and style as per my new strapline.
A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of an epiphany, and I just got on and did it. It was time-consuming but besides a couple of early teething problems (and a couple of posts going AWOL unfortunately) not as stressful as I’d feared.
Most importantly, I’ve had a lot of fun crafting my blog in to something I’m really proud of.
A few highlights are:
New theme – After spending ages hunting through the WordPress themes and not finding anything that quite met my specifications I decided to splash out on a premium one. I chose the Lynette theme from BluChic. I love how it’s so easy to customise – the diversity of the look of the blogs that had already chosen that theme was key to my decision.
While many readers are likely to arrive on my blog through a link to a specific post, I’ve created the magazine-style homepage I wanted; the slider gives an added dimension.
My new header – Previous headers were designed by me in PicMonkey or Canva. They were fine, and did the job, but despite the many hours I spent on them I was never entirely happy with them. If you are a regular visitor to my blog you may have noticed the header and background have been subject to frequent changes!
It took me until last week, when I was creating some new blog graphics to realise why: they were pretty, but too whimsy. They just didn’t fit in with my style.
After spending most of last Friday evening and Saturday trawling Etsy, I found a designer I liked (all the way over in Oklahoma, isn’t the internet wonderful?). Patti at Ramble Road Studios designed my new logo based on my brief and after just a couple of amends, it was ready to go!
The inspiration for the illustration derives from wanting to incorporate five Hugo stars (one for each week of his life) within the logo. The arrow symbolises moving forward; but it’s not straight, just like life. It succinctly represents what my blog is about.
It made me wish I’d have done that in the first place…but I guess I had to go through the early iterations to realise what I really wanted my blog header to look like.
My new background and social media icons I like having a background to make the blog really ‘pop’, and brightly coloured social media icons.
I chose the background and social media icons from two different stores on Etsy. While branding folk will encourage a consistent look, I don’t like things to be ‘matchy matchy’, going instead for a look that includes complementary colours from a similar palette.
I’ve added a few little tweaks such as an arrow image (from the same Etsy shop as I bought my background) to provide a distinct break between a post and anything in the ‘footer’ area such as linky logos. It’s a little design foible of mine; previously I’d inserted a plain horizontal line, but the arrow line is prettier, more colourful, and in keeping with the look of my blog.
I wanted a colour scheme that represents me – a bit eclectic, bright, colourful and creative. It’s achieved that brief, in my opinion!
Resources When I had my epiphany about the direction I want my blog to take, I realised my most popular and resonant post include resources of some sort. Those resources usually focus on my perspective on life, moving forward after trauma and loss, and making the best out of the crappy hand I have been dealt in life since the life-threatening illness that ended my pregnancy so dramatically, and Hugo’s death.
So, I’ve created a section for self-care resources – and more resources along a similar theme will be following in the coming weeks. I hope you find them useful.
Newsletter From the resources concept came the desire to create a bit of a community through my blog. Many of the people who comment on my blog share similar outlooks about life, even though we might have completely different life experiences.
My weekly newsletter will include more resources and points of interest and insight that again, I hope you find useful. Want to know more? Sign up!
Finding the newsletter opt-in pop ups annoying, I designed a simple graphic to go at the bottom of my posts to remind readers to sign up if they want to.
If you have subscribed through WordPress, you’ll still continue to receive the post notifications at the frequency you have signed up for (whether instantly/daily etc).
Plugins – I’ve had fun figuring out the plugins I need. ‘Fun’ is used ironically in some situations, such as the backup plugin I first tried (Updraft plus just wouldn’t work for me!), but the beauty of the plugins is you have the flexibility to try things and delete them if they don’t work for you.
So, what do you think? Do get in touch with any feedback!