This year, February is a day longer — let’s use it to make our blogs better.
“If only the day had an extra hour!” “I wish the week didn’t zoom by so quickly!”
These ideas apply beyond February 2016, of course — you can work on the same goals when a class or a flight gets canceled, your town’s snowed in, or whenever you have an unexpected block of free time.
How often do you complain about not venturing beyond your daily routine because of lack of time? Well, 2016 is giving you a freebie in the shape of February 29 — a whole extra day, courtesy of it being a leap year. How will you use that extra chunk of time? Here are three ideas for investing in your blog beyond the here-and-now of publishing.
Experiment with a new blogging tool
Keeping a regular publishing schedule is often a challenge — throw in the rest of your busy life, and you’re left with very little time to explore new tools that might improve your blogging.
With an extra day at your disposal, why not branch out a little — play around with an image-editing tool like Canva or PicMonkey and create new custom Image Widgets or a bespoke custom header. Even if you don’t finish your design that day, these are online resources you only need to master once. Next time you’re up for some design tweaks on your site — or even a full-blown makeover — you won’t have to learn a new system from scratch.
Get comfortable with basic HTML
Many bloggers — especially those who recently started — feel daunted by the gibberish-looking text you see when you click over from the Visual Editor to the HTML one. And what’s with all those angle brackets?!
If you give it a try, though, you’ll see that the basic tags in your HTML Editor — the stuff that makes your text turn italic and bold, for example — are really straightforward and easy to remember and recognize. And mastering a few of them can help you in several unexpected ways, whether it’s to add oomph to your comments, format your poetry (or other alternative-layout text) precisely as you want it, create lists and headings, or troubleshoot an annoying line break you just can’t seem to get rid of.
Added bonus: bragging rights! You are coding, after all.
Give unglamorous-yet-impactful tasks some love
From housework to trip-planning, our to-do lists always contain shiny items that receive most of our attention, and more pedestrian, drab ones that are relegated to the bottom of the pile despite being just as crucial as their flashier neighbors.
Blogging is similar: publishing, reading, and commenting are immediately rewarding. In many cases they result in near-instantaneous feedback — how fun is that? But let’s not forget other blogging-related activities that can produce long-term benefits for your site.
For example, why not spend a couple of hours auditing your tags and categories? Make sure each post is properly tagged and that none have more than 15 tags and categories in total (which results in their disappearance from the WordPress.com Reader). Check your Insights page to see which tags and categories get the most traffic, and plan new posts on those topics. Get rid of “islands” — way-too-specific tags you’ve only ever used in one post — and replace them with more sensible ones that would connect you to a broader audience.
You don’t even have to browse on your mobile device; you can just visit your site’s Customizer, where you can preview how blog’s appearance on three different screen sizes (desktop, tablet, and smartphone).
Alternatively, think of all your readers who view your site using our mobile apps, and give your site a mobile “pass.” By now, the vast majority of our themes are responsive; even so, some of your customizations — like header images and long post titles — might look different than what you expect when viewed on a tablet or an iPhone. So just spend some time digging into the far reaches of your site using a mobile device, and fix whatever needs some attention.
Share your own ideas in the comments — how would you spend an extra few hours to improve your blog?