Does your blog need a makeover?

Your blog is awesome, you’ve got lots of killer content and some regular readers. But what about those eyes that fall on your blog for the first time? Are you losing opportunity because your blog doesn’t create a strong enough first impression?

Do you have

  • an ugly blog that makes small children cry and your dog cover his eyes with his paws?
  • a boring blog with zero zing?
  • or a blog that fails to stand out in a sea of sameness?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Collective Inkwell can help you.

Collective Inkwell is now offering to critique your blog. Why? Two reasons.

1) We’re kicking off our own Reno-Blogging services to help remodel your blog.

2) There are countless blogs that could greatly benefit from a simple helping hand.

If you want your site exposed to a no-holds-barred, honest critique with a helping of humor at your blog’s expense, post a comment here with your blog address and simply ask. We may feature your blog in an upcoming edition of Make Over My Blog!

Along with our reviews, we will offer a few tips and tricks to make your blog awesome. If you decide to hire us to help, we’ll even give you a discount!

What we will do

  • Check out your site for design and visual appeal. Does your site hurt our eyes? Does it look like one those AOL pages from the late 90’s? We’ll tell it like it is and spare no feelings.
  • Look over your site’s content. Are your posts too long? Is your site’s purpose immediately clear? Do you have lots of obvious errors?
  • Review your site’s layout and usability. Is your site’s design intuitive or do first time readers have to jump through hoops to figure things out? Is your blog full of clutter? We will tell you what your friends won’t. The unbiased truth.

We have no idea how many people will take us up on our free offer, so we’re going to take them on a first come, first serve basis. In some cases, blogs on life support may get rushed to the front of the line. In other words, if you’re in a rush to get your blog reviewed, you may want to hire us.

If you would like a private consultation, our services can be had for a small fee of $60 via PayPal. You can choose whether you want your review publicly posted on our site or private, sent to you via e-mail. And, if you pay us, you can choose how you want your advice: Straight up and a bit kinder (for those who don’t appreciate snarky criticism) or with full snarkiness intact. We definitely understand a lot of people don’t have the time or skills to devote to making their blog pretty and would never want to make anyone feel bad.

If you decide to hire us for a consult, we will deduct $25 from your first custom design order.

Some of the things we can do to make over your blog

  • customize your WP Thesis theme
  • Install Thesis on your self hosted WP site
  • create unique custom illustrations (banners and other site graphics) from a professional cartoonist for any web site.
  • craft custom SEO and landing pages to help your blog be found by search engines and readers
  • devise a custom color theme for your WP blog
  • advise you on the best usability practices on the web
  • help you determine which items to keep on your blog and which to get rid of
  • ghost write copy for your site

Got more questions or want to hire us? Contact us at collectiveinkwell AT

Speaking of blog makeovers, what follows was by no means an ugly blog, but it was a blog the owner felt was a bit boring and in need of a makeover.

A re-design

We’re proud to present our first public re-design since starting Collective Inkwell. For some of our work on our other sites, check out our illustrations page.

Our good friend, Tracy O’Connor of the popular site, I Hate My Messageboard was bored with her theme.

It was an out-of-the-box free WP theme lacking any color or custom graphics. It was, in a word, dull. With her site’s recent explosion in popularity thanks to her humorous posts, sense of community on her message board and the occasional gross food post, she was ready to take things to the next level. She wanted a design that matched her blog’s buoyant personality.

I did a consultation to find out what she was looking for. We bounced some ideas back and forth and quickly hit on something that represented her awesomeness.

The first thing I did was upgrade Tracy to Chris Pearson’s premium Thesis WordPress theme. It’s what we use here and on our other sites. From its ease of use and flexible design features, to its SEO optimization and stellar typography, Thesis is our favorite theme.

Tracy’s old theme (click the image to make bigger).


After the upgrade, I created a custom site color scheme, a custom logo/banner and custom sidebar graphics for her social media and subscription buttons.  Additionally, Tracy wanted a colored sidebar and some space for 125×125 ads above the fold. We brought all of this together using a custom designed style sheet that made her site look like this.


We’re thrilled to say that Tracy LOVES the re-design as do many of her readers. And we love Tracy! Thanks for being our first public makeover.

Community questions:

How much does a blog’s appearance affect your reading habits?

What are your pet peeves with blogs (content or design?)

31 responses to Does your blog need a makeover?

  1. Brian Meagher

    David and friends,
    I need help with the colors on my blog, specifically the Links colors.
    I’m a color-blind guy, and was trying to shoot for a “hot” look with reds(?) and oranges(?).

    Don’t hold back, I can take it!
    Thanks in advance! Anyone else care to comment on my color scheme? email me hotsaucedaily [at] gmail [dot] com

    Brian Meagher’s last blog post..Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book – Memorial Day Menu

  2. Chase March

    I know my blog is a bit boring and I know what I want to do with it as far as a makeover goes. I just don’t know how to go about it. I’m too busy to learn web design and coding. I use Blogger because it is so much easy to use that I don’t need to know how to do anything except write. That’s how I like it.

    Feel free to look at my site and see what you think you can do with it.

    Chase March’s last blog post..The Human Body is Fragile

  3. Tracy

    Hi guys! I wanted to say once again how much I love my new blog design. I think having a custom logo and design is going to be an enormous asset for me in the future. A lot of my traffic comes from social media and I’ve got literally seconds to make a memorable impression. Before ,I was as they say, just another wordpress blog, now my site screams “remember my name!”

    Tracy’s last blog post..So, how you like me now?

  4. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)

    Ya, my blog is boring and dull. However, I’m starting to get the feel of blogging and am even considering marketing my writing skills (a biggie for me) so will need to do someting drastic. ( Sean and David, even though my blog is utterly forgettable I’m not in the line for anything as I already have a super prize from Collective Inkwell.)

    A blog’s appearance shows whether or not the owner has good taste, sense of style, creativity, design and so forth.
    I dislike it when a blog is crowded with too many words in every available space. Less is more (in my opinion).

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..My ‘Salad Days’

  5. Marc - WelshScribe

    How much does a blog’s appearance affect your reading habits?
    Not that much actually as I tend to do most of my reading in Google Reader.

    What are your pet peeves with blogs (content or design?)
    Design: White text on black background (sorry guys). Table based layouts. Poor navigation.

    Content: Walls of text (no paragraphs). Incomplete or downright incorrect information (I’ve been getting back into SEO recently and the amount of crap advice out there is just astounding. It’s like a sewer of bad SEO practices)

  6. Susan Greene

    Good idea, blog makeovers. Great to see you guys capitalize on your talent and reputation for creating quality blogs. No doubt you’ll have plenty of takers. I look forward to seeing more of your before & afters.

  7. janice

    I love my blog like a new baby; maybe when it’s a teenager, I’ll be glad to hand it over for a makeover, but for now it still makes me glow. It’s the first one I put together by myself.

    I’m a slut when it comes to blogs; I love loads – from the super clean, light and airy to the gloriously idiosynchratic and colour drenched.

    I get headaches from white/grey on black (sorry guys) although I think they look stunning and set off illustrations and photos beautifully. I dislike stock photo illustrations that are tenuous at best, offputting at worst. I dislike seeing Twitter posts in the sidebar and what I really hate are blogs that have to be scrolled from side to side to be read. I like them to fit in my screen. I don’t know why, but this one takes ages to load sometimes, and so do some other Thesis based ones. Maybe it’s just a coincidence; I don’t understand enough about the mechanics.

    I like lingering in beautifully colour co-ordinated sites with easy buttons to previous posts, logical archives/recent posts/popular posts plugins, and comments boxes that are easy to see. (Some have TINY fonts!) I also wish I got commission for Ajax Comment Editor because I’ve recommended it everywhere I’ve visited and wish more folk had it.

    Hope that helps!

    janice’s last blog post..Re-invention 101 and a Special Book Launch Giveaway

  8. Positively Present

    Sounds like a great service. I really like what you did with the “I Hate My Message Board” blog. I love the pink! 🙂 I definitely think that appearance makes a huge difference when I visit a blog. Unfortunately, if I find the layout of a blog overwhelming or too cluttered with ads, I will usually leave and not come back. I’m all about simplicity and content. If the blog’s primary content isn’t easy to find, I’m outta there!

    Positively Present’s last blog’s a bella life

  9. Jorge

    Hey, I recently upgraded my site from to and would love some free advice!

    Let me know your unvarnished thoughts, it won’t hurt my feelings.

    Thanks! – Jorge

    Jorge’s last blog post..Weekly Round-Up: Edition #2

  10. Sally

    My blog is a Thesis theme and has been up and running for just over two months.
    I post daily content, am starting to find my way in terms of regular items that appear on certain days of the week and the rest is spontaneous.

    I’ love some feedback. In the past I’ve been personally overhauled at the hands of ‘Suzannah and Trinny’, scary British woman of makeover TV ( maybe on their way to the US soon – take note !) so know how to handle honest feedback !

    If you have a tomato aversion or allergy my blog might not be for you but otherwise please take a look !
    Many Thanks.

    Sally’s last blog post..Chelsea Tomatoes

  11. Hayden Tompkins

    Great blocks of unbroken text. They’re called paragraphs people! When I was hosting the Carnival of Personal Development (and I read every single of the 100 article submissions) my eyeballs would start to bleed.

    P.S. I also can’t stand when great blocks of text are only broken up by a bunch of Google Adsense ads.

    Hayden Tompkins’s last blog post..Celebrating Awesome: Birdie of Bonne Vie!

  12. Catherine

    Yes I do have a boring unzippy blog.
    Snark me up, I could use it. I have been waiting for somebody to come along to tell me how to make my blog better. I promise not to cry and I’ll post all about it on my message boards..

  13. Kim

    OK, I’m in. 🙂 I’m mainly writing my blog for myself and my family; it truly is a personal journal. A few more readers would be fun, though. I’m not interested in ads or turning into a money maker by any means, but I would still love your input. I know it’s a mess recently since I’ve done a lot of “on the road” travel posting without time to edit, but other than that…

    Kim’s last blog post..Jet Lag

  14. Kool Aid

    I’m still getting used to being off of Blogger and on WordPress, but constructive criticism is always welcome. And I can even handle a few snarky comments, as long as there’s some gentle ones to balance them out 🙂

    Kool Aid’s last blog post..Lists

  15. Online Fiction - Available Darkness

    […] adore what Dave and I are doing at the Inkwell. The creativity tips are terrific and the beautiful blog building is wonderful as well. If I had to pick a favorite element to the already exciting site, however, I […]

  16. Do You Dave Ramsey?

    OK, I… let me have it! I just read your first review and it sure seems that you don’t hold any punches. I’d love to have you point out my bad decisions or blind spots.

    Just give me some notice so I can grow that Rhino skin.


    Do You Dave Ramsey?’s last blog post..Be in the Business of Being Yourself

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