I don’t know how many of you knew this, but my oldest post on The Literary Phoenix is from 2009.
Yes, lovelies, that’s from 11 years ago!
This blog has been around a long time, but my commitment to it has been flighty at best. Flighty, until the second half of 2017, when I dove myself into this old hobby blog and decided this was going to be My Thing. In the last decade, a lot of things have changed about this blog:
- It went from a writing blog (with some reading) to a reading blog (with some writing).
- The color scheme has changed.
- The review style has changed.
- I no longer share poetry on the blog.
- I no longer share fiction on the blog.
- Memes have come and gone.
- I’ve gone self-hosted.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In all that time, only two things have remained truly constant: my love for the written word, and the name: The Literary Phoenix. I’ve given this blog a lot of love over the years, and it has given me so much. While I may not have 10,000 followers, I consider The Literary Phoenix a successful venture. So many of you stop in with every new post, and whether you say hello, or just read and run, I am grateful for all of you.
The Literary Phoenix has given me a lot – blogging friends, great reads, and a place where I can escape. So I decided it’s time to really look at my branding and give this blog some love. On the inside, that means weeding out old posts that are no longer part of my brand – mostly old, outdated rambles about my writing experience. Some of these may be resurrected someday in new, better thought out discussions.
And on the outside?
On the outside, I have struggled and struggled to create something that I loved. Something that spoke to me as a person as well as to the subject matter I’ve been writing about.
Early version of The Literary Phoenix used a bookish header with a basic WordPress theme. I focused on the words, but not my whole site. My tagline has been with me for about a decade, and I still love it. Otherwise, every time I changed my layout, it was strikingly different. It wasn’t until 2018 that I struck on purple.
Have you guys noticed that there aren’t a lot of purple blogs? I can think of only The Quiet Pond and Reader Voracious. I love purple – it makes me happy. Purple was a no-brainer for me once I went self-hosted and I had a little more freedom. But purple isn’t a whole lot to go on, and there was that name….
The Literary Phoenix.
That phoenix has always given me trouble.
Phoenixes have been close to my heart since I was in high school. They are my favorite mythological beast and someday I’ll do a whole post explaining why phoenixes are awesome. But there are two problems with phoenixes and my blog. First of all – phoenixes are firebirds and therefore they’re usually orange. Purple and orange just don’t look great together – they’re too bold. A bit of an eyesore.
Then, there’s the whole “fire” bit. A fiery phoenix and stacks of books just wouldn’t go well together. Yes yes, I know. These are graphics, but it’s something that I couldn’t get out of my head as I was trying to design for my blog.
Eventually, I gave up on trying to brand with a phoenix. I just couldn’t find a phoenix I loved, and I couldn’t sort the colors. I kept the purple, because it had become one of the recognizable things about my blog. I tried purple and gold.
For a while, I liked this layout. I really did.
Unfortunately, SEO didn’t. My main page was all images and Google had trouble picking up things from my blog, so from a technical perspective, it wasn’t going well. Additionally, the gold skin I’d been using was a pain in the butt in CS6. Anyone who knows design knows that Adobe’s Creative Suite 6 is outdated. In fact, as of the Catalina update, CS6 is no longer a valid program. So that’s fun.
Add to that the fact that the meme featured images were a bit annoying and difficult to read, and I had a conundrum. I needed to come up with a change to better serve anyone trying to read this blog – both readers and search engine crawlers – so I began playing around with it.
Want to know a secret?
The purple vintage update was a mistake.
I was messing around with the colors and I was previewing things… then I accidentally saved things and that was that! I stayed up late into the night creating rush images to match the changed blog layout because I had been thinking about it anyway, so now that I’d accidentally saved over my current settings, I might as well go all the way.
Maybe, I thought, this could be my new brand. Purple vintage. I don’t follow many blogs with a vintage feel. Not a bold, stamped vintage like this. So I went with it.
Honestly, that was probably not my best choice. The vintage update sucked too much out of my layout, going completely monochrome. I’ve changed my writing-themed featured image 3 times trying to get something decently readable, and I’m just not happy with it.
Enter, Kat from Novels and Waffles!
Kat recently reopened her commissions for design, and I have been adoring her work for months. I loved her work the first time I found her blog. Later, that love was further cemented when I discovered Reader Voracious and when she redesigned Drizzle and Hurricane Books. I’ve had my eye on her for a while and at the beginning of January, I connected with her about helping me rebrand The Literary Phoenix.
Not a full rebrand, mind you. A small one. Images and theming. I’m still here as a book blogger with snippets about travel and writing. But with Kat’s glorious help and mad skills, the blog has a new look. One that’s going to stick around, with a magical bookish witch at the lead, and her pet phoenix by her side.
Isn’t Kat’s work just amazing!? I’m so glad she took me on, and if any of you have been on the fence about commissioning something from her, I highly recommend it. The process was so smooth and easy and she is just delightful to work with.
As usual with my redesign process, you’ll see the major changes first. The overall layout will change, and featured images and internal elements will slowly follow.
And I want to thank each and every one of you for taking this journey with me. I hope you all like the new design, and do check out some of Kat’s other work!
Have you ever redesigned or rebranded your blog? There’s definitely a lot of work involved with updating all your blog content to match a new brand or new theme, but it can be incredibly rewarding as well! If you have redesigned, I’d love to know how it went for you! Let me know in the comments!