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Improve Your Blog with a Custom Made Theme

Improve-BlogToday John Chow answers my question about how he improved his blog in 2007.

This question is an easy one to answer because there was one thing I did to my blog in 2007 that impacted it more than anything else I have ever tired for John Chow dot Com.

I got a custom made theme

Before the custom theme, my blog ran a free WordPress theme and while it served me well, it was very limiting from a branding and monetization stand point. Nate Whitehill of Unique Blog Design created a theme for me that was not only unique, it allow me to fully monetize the blog.

The different was dramatic. Traffic double the day the new theme went live. It dropped a few days after but overall, the new theme has been responsible for a 25% increase in traffic. Income increase was even more dramatic. The blog went from $17,828.61 in August with the old theme to $27,240.83 in November with the new theme.

Unique Blog Design charges up to $1,500 for a custom design theme. While that may seem expensive, it’s a small price to pay when you look at the big picture. If you want to a problogger, then you have to roll with your own theme.

Setting Blog Goals for the New Year

Happy-New-YearHappy New Year!

Here in Australia it’s 2008 already and later this morning V (my wife) and I will go out for our annual Goal Setting/Resolutions brunch and will sit down with our resolutions notebook and think about the year that is ahead of us. In setting goals we tend to break them down into different areas including:

  • Physical (getting fit, diet etc)
  • Travel (vacations etc)
  • Friends (what people we want to invest more time into seeing)
  • Family (things we’d like to achieve as a family)
  • Spiritual (making time for connecting with this is important to us)

There are other areas – but you get the picture.

For each area we attempt to come up with some achievable goals as individuals and then share them with each other to see what similarities there are and what we can achieve together. The whole process is both fun and inspiring.

Later in the week I’ll sit down and go through a similar process with my blogs – setting some goals for the coming months. (here’s a series I wrote a couple of years on strategic blogging that has some tips on how to do this)

All this goal setting has me in the mood to hear what others are hoping to achieve in 2008. So I’d like to throw it open for some discussion (sometimes I think publicly stating some of your goals can be helpful in keeping you accountable to them):

  • What do you want to achieve with your blog/s in 2008?
  • What specific goals have you set for the year ahead in different areas of your blogging (design, content, community, traffic etc)

How Smashing Magazine Grew Their Blog in 2007

Improve-BlogToday Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine answers my question of what one thing helped them improve their blog in 2007.

We’ve tried to improve the quality of our articles. In 2007 we’ve spent more time on research, we’ve refined our requirements and expectations from the sites we cover in our articles.

Also we’ve included more (many more) images in our posts. It helped us to improve the blog and drive more traffic to our site; and it was the main reason why our weblog crashed in the end of 2007.

However, after a couple of server issues we’re now finally back on track.

Note from Darren: Vitaly’s strategy has certainly paid off. If their Alexa ranking is anything to go by they’ve seen some real success with their ranking increasing from around 97,000 this time last year to a current ranking of 4790.