I've been blogging for just under a year now, and on man, has it grown way past my expectations! My first three posts were actually published way before I officially launched Gretchen Has The Floor (like 6 months before). They were published on a little add-on tab I put on the bottom of my professional portfolio, just dipping my toe into the world of blogging. After taking months off from blogging, I officially launched my blogging "career" in July, 2017—republishing my first few posts and posting my "breakout" post on routines and my experiences with depression. I've been publishing at least one blog post almost every week since.
Why launch a blog? Back in July I was in the middle of job hunting and missed writing every day. Writing feels like it's part of my identity. I was a journalism major in college and writing has been my main source of income since graduation. I was craving writing assignments during a moment in my life when client work wasn't enough to fill my days, so I sat down at my computer and just started writing about what felt important to me at the time. The longer I sat there typing out my thoughts, the more I felt I had something worth saying. These are the conversations I wanted to start having with the world. A new website was designed, editorial calendars were drafted, and posts were written (I hold my self super accountable for sticking to my own deadlines). I was enjoying writing about subjects I feel are important issues and suddenly people started reading. I've been a published writer for a decade, and I'll tell you, seeing something you've written published or getting a nice comment from a stranger about something you wrote is just as thrilling for me today as it was the very first time.
I'm approaching the 1-year anniversary of launching Gretchen Has The Floor and I'm amazed at how much my blog has evolved and grown over the year. I've met so many amazing creators, partnered with brands, and have received some of the most touching comments I've ever received on my work. I've tried so many new things and accomplished more goals over the past year than I thought was possible. I even launch a YouTube Channel! No matter what happens in the future, I'll always be eternally grateful for everything this year of blogging has given me. I've published more than 60 posts so far, which brings me to real topic of this post: The Gretchen Has The Floor Redesign!
Redesigning My Website
I really did like my original blog site. I built it on Squarespace and when my blog was small, the template worked perfectly for me. Lately though, with more and more posts being published, I found myself running into walls and feeling a little cramped on my old site. After a month of going back and forth, creating pro and con lists, and consulting my web designing friends, I made the decision to move my blog from it's original Squarespace site to a wordpress.org. The move is bittersweet. I'm very happy with how the new site turned out, but I will miss being on Squarespace. They really are as easy-to-use as everyone claims and their 24/7 customer service is a dream. (I'll actually still be hosting my professional portfolio on Squarespace so I'm not totally saying goodbye to them). The main reason for the move is that wordpress.org allows me more customization options and better adaptability for long-term growth, but I want to mostly focus on the three design difference that were the biggest factors in my resign:
Featured posts on the home page.On my original blog, I had the ability to beautifully call out one featured post, and this worked great when I was published only once a week. My currently blogging goals, however, include publishing 2-3 posts a week. I'd also like to be able to call out a popular post from the archive. So the redesign features a rotating carousel of blog posts as well as an "evergreen" list of blog categories easy to find right on the homepage.
A better archival system. I'd been putting a lot of work into organizing my blog posts by topic and creating categorical archives so readers who are interested in reading more posts on a particular theme or topic can easily find all I've written on it so far. The problem? On my old site I could only display up to 30 posts on a category page and there was no way to break it up into multiple pages. The redesign includes easier to find categories and sub-category pages and allows all the posts to live there at once with a cleaner layout.
Fixed sidebar. I had decided a while back that a sidebar would be the best way improve the usability of my site. Useful links and navigation could be displayed along side posts and on the homepage. Unfortunately with my old template, I had to manually create a sidebar for every posts and it often didn't optimize for mobile. I've fixed this in the redesign so my sidebar will auto-populate and translate easier for the mobile version.
Still To Come
Now that the move and main redesign are complete, I can work on adding a few new features to my blog that I've been aiming to launch for a while now. Coming soon will be a shopping section so you can easily find and shop products I wear, use, or talk about in a post. Also coming soon is a monthly newsletter for everyone who's interested in a useful summary of all the "going ons" on my blog delivered right to your inbox. As a person who feels overwhelmed at times at the mass of marketing emails I receive, I promise to keep my newsletter as far from spamy as I possibly can. Also coming soon is an updated logo for Gretchen Has The Floor. I'm very, very excited for this!
I'd like to give a special thank you to the designer who did all this beautiful work and allowed my blog design dreams to come true. My template was created by Kotryna Bass of Kotryna Bass Design. She creates some of the most beautiful templates, among other branding and marketing material. She was also just the nicest person to work with and I'd highly recommend checking out her work/services if you are looking to update or launch your own blog.
Please browse my website and check out my blog's updated look and all the new features. I really hope you enjoy it and find it even easier to navigate than my previous design.