How to manage creative desires when choosing a blog theme
As 2017 inches closer more and more creatives begin to reassess their blogs. Choosing a blog theme, analyzing metrics, marketing efforts, content, and goals are just a few of things that cross your mind.
You want to make sure you’re on the right track, that your content strategy matches your ambitions and that your blog design fits who you are as a person and a brand.
I had a similar but different post scheduled for today but after the results of the 2016 election (mentioned here), I needed to make a change.
New Theme, New Era
I was going to share my thoughts on developing a blog format full of personality. One day I’ll still share those tips with you however, today I think this topic fits better.
I think it’s important to evaluate where you are and what you want. Over the past few years, I’ve been inching my way toward the kind of life I want to lead. Recently, I’ve been thinking about wanting to make a change with the overall look of Violet Roots and, in a way, this election has propelled me to stop hesitating and start doing.
So, with that in mind, I’m in the process of narrowing down my next blog theme and I’m looking forward to unveiling VR 3.0 soon! Like I mentioned in this Instagram Post, I can’t control what others say or think but I can control what I contribute to the world.
I want to add color, light, and love to my life and this country. This new design and showing you the process of choosing a blog theme is my first step to creating and representing myself with those ideals in mind.
I hope these tips on managing your creative expectations while finding a new functional theme are just as useful to you as they were to me!
A Word on Blog Themes
Before we get into what you should consider this is not a technical tutorial. I won’t be discussing genesis themes, website development, Blogger vs. WordPress vs. Squarespace or anything like that. This merely focuses on the theme itself, the components it includes and the overall design. When choosing a blog theme make sure you’re able to view a demo site and not simply rely on photos so you can get a good idea of what you’re actually buying.
What is the main function of your blog
Is your main focus on blogging or is blogging just a part of what you do? Does your website need to be compatible with WooCommerce or Shopify? Maybe you’re a food blogger so you want a theme that has a recipe feature. The list goes on.
Just make sure that whatever your purpose is it’s included in your theme. Once you’re sure of that then move on to see if your main function is presented in a way that fits your needs. No one will care if it’s pretty if it’s also off brand.
For instance, if you’re a food blogger you’ll probably also want a design that allows for big polished images. If it has a recipe section but then has small feature post images then that isn’t the best option. Or if you’re a fashion blogger you might want a built-in Shopstyle feature.
What do you dislike about your current theme
Take a note of all the things you dislike about your current theme. Really take a hard look at it and separate what you don’t like from what you’re just “tired” of seeing. Remember you look at your blog 24/7 and infinitely more times than anyone else. Your perspective on it is going to be slightly off because of that.
It’s kind of like when you notice a small scratch above your eye but no one else ever does. You see your face and your blog every day so you’re hypersensitive to certain things. It’s possible that something you’re obsessing over is overlooked by most and therefore not a good enough reason to buy a new theme.
What do you wish your theme had
Now that you know you’re not being crazy and you have a solid list of negatives let’s move onto your wish list. What are the things you wish your theme had? What aspects of other sites do you just love and would like to put your own spin on?
For me, I love the functionality of my current design (here). I also like how it includes lead page and landing page templates, an announcement bar and a ton of call to action options. When I was looking for a theme in the past those are the things that sealed the deal for me.
This time around, I won’t even consider choosing a blog theme that doesn’t have at least most of those things. It wouldn’t be worth making the switch and I’d be giving up function for a simple style change.
What do you want visitors to feel
I want my visitors to feel alive. I want them to feel welcomed, fun, creative and free. Thankfully, when I surveyed my readers they felt exactly like that and I hope everyone who visits here feels the same way. Think of blog themes like the entrance to a party or event. How do you want guests to feel when they first arrive? (Click to Tweet)
Should they feel excited and motivated or zen and serene? Maybe you want them to feel warmth and positivity or maybe glamorous is more your speed. Whatever it is, test out the demo site for the theme you’re considering and pay attention to the vibe it gives off.
Can your current theme be saved
As creatives sometimes we have shiny ball syndrome. We see something new, we want something different or we crave change. So, we toss the old out the window and run towards to next bright thing. It’s probably covered in sequins or made from marble, and if you’re like me, it’s 100% purple.
Still, I think it’s for the best if you look at what you currently have and see if you can save it. Maybe you just need to adjust the colors, change the layout, maybe switch your hero image, try a new font etc. Changing just one of those things can sometimes lead to an entirely new look and feel. Give it a try before you buy!
Can you separate trends from genuine wants
Another issue that comes up is how to deal with trends. A couple of years ago almost every blog had a gold scripted header. If it didn’t have that then watercolor was in use. Whether it’s a slider, san serif fonts or white washed photography, trends will always come and go. Just make sure the trends you latch onto are genuine wants and not just a desire to fit in. (Click to Tweet)
I always wanted my blog to look a little different from the usual. It was important to me to use bold color and no matter what theme I end up choosing that trait will always remain. Find the look that feels right to you and only add in trends that truly resonate with you.
Can your new theme grow with you
As I mentioned earlier, my current theme includes landing/lead page templates and a ton of CTAs. Before I purchased this theme I knew I wanted to work on my email list. Having those three things has helped me be able to do just that. I also knew I wanted to offer freebies and open an art shop. All of those things were accounted for in the theme I chose and moving forward they will be again.
So take a moment to think about where you see your blog going in a few years. Ideally, you want your theme to last you longer than a year. You want it to grow with you and evolve. (Click to Tweet). If the theme in question fits you perfectly in the present then it might not be flexible enough for your future.
Do you need to hire help
After you’ve gone through the above steps and have browsed various themes you might come to the conclusion that the theme you want just isn’t out there. So far in my search, I’ve found quite a few themes that check off a lot of the boxes but not enough. I am willing to budge on a few items but there are a couple of sticking points.
If you have several sticking points that you’re unable to find in a premade theme then you should consider hiring help. Contact a web designer to discuss a custom design and get exactly what you want for a higher price point. I think this should be the last step to consider when choosing a blog theme. Nowadays there are so many fantastic premade options out there so really do your research and shop around.
How do you manage your creative desires when choosing a blog theme? Are your planning a blog refresh for 2017?