I have been DYING to share this with you guys! My website got a makeover, which after 3 years was pretty needed.
Back in October 2013 Ben made my site for me with me annoying him along the way to make it how I wanted it. It was perfect then. Now, things are changing. Travel blogging is a real job now for a lot of people and it’s important to stay up to date with blogging trends. My blog looked updated.
I picked out a theme that could be tweaked easily and bought it. I hired Anna Rising, who I met in Kerala then had stay with me in Goa for a week, to do the redesign. She does freelance work and if you want a quote, you can email here at email@example.com. She did the design, but my developer did all the tech work. Together they did such a good job! I would love to hear what you guys think of the new design in the comments :)
I also host my blog on Siteground who is known for having the best customer service and can handle decent amounts of traffic. I used to have godaddy which was a nightmare, so if you’re just starting out you can consider Bluehost for a cheap host at just 2.95 a month with this discount link.
The theme on this blog is Avada which I bought for $60 from theme forest. It’s the most customizable I could find which is why I chose it.
So here is what is different on Hippie in Heels
The next image is what it used to look like…
Here is the new look:
Obviously it’s totally different colors. I was so tired of purple everywhere and wanted something easier on the eyes. Anna wanted me to think of patterns I like and scenery. The sea was my first thought and gold. I like glitter! I then thought tie dye as an accent. I wanted to keep my logo that Ben made (the peace sign with flowers on it) and just have it re-designed.
I told Anna how I wanted my home page to look and what new categories I would be making. She then sent over a photo to see if she was on the right track. I was IN LOVE with what she sent over and from there just let her run wild.
I have over 700 blog posts on this website and I opened up every single one and recategorized them to new categories I had made. I know my site was hard to navigate before. A lot of great information was hidden and hard to access. I made new categories like
- ‘New, Start Here’ which will be posts about who I am, why I started blogging, why I live in India, and more personal posts.
- ‘Hotel Reviews’ I guess is self explanatory. Previously there was no way to find these.
- ‘Plan & Save’ is a category with tips for getting started with travel, how to book, and basic travel tips to get your trip planned.
- ‘Goa’ is something many people want to know about when they come to my blog. I can’t believe I never had a category for Goa posts!
- ‘Ask Me Anything’ is for the series I run (not often enough) where I answer readers’ questions about travel.
- ‘Blogging’ is a category that doesn’t have much in it yet but I will be putting posts in here that I write about how to blog and tech advice.
- ‘Adventure’ will have posts in it about activities I do abroad that are high intensity like bungee jumping, white-water rafting, or even going somewhere really adventurous and off the grid.
I kept other categories I already have like Luxury Guides, Packing Tips, This is India, Boho-chic Designers, and Spa & Health.
It was a headache to change these all up but I think will be helpful for you guys to find what you’re looking for.
The homepage used to just be a revolving slider that I never updated and a list of most recent posts, with a few ads on the side bar.
I have a new email sign up as well!
It wasn’t helpful and my category drop-downs from my menu didn’t help much either. My ‘This is India’ stories clogged up my India tips posts, so that was one thing I separated. I also wanted the destinations to be found easier.
My menu is simplified now and doesn’t have drop-downs. To see my blog posts you just click “blog” from the homepage.
So, all those categories I made an mentioned above had to be featured, plus a few other ones. I put some in the slider and some in featured boxes on the homepage.
I have a slider now which has options to click through to see:
- About me
- Destinations on the blog
- India tips
- Packing tips
- Planning & saving tips
- My travel bucket list
Now you’ll see featured boxes on the homepage that are what I get asked about all the time. Now they can hopefully be more accessible.
- Europe tips because I do actually leave India lol
- Favorite posts in case you are bored ;)
- Goa – finally since I am asked about this via e-mail about 20x a day
- Luxury guides all in one place
- Start Here for people new to my blog
- This is India stories which I was going to quit writing but some people let me know they are their favorite posts… so I shall continue!
- Travel insurance information
- Visa tips article which is what I get emailed about daily
I also share my top read posts on the homepage and have a new e-mail sign up. My next project is working on my email newsletter and starting a monthly newsletter to update and hopefully work with brands to give out prizes to readers.
Pages changed up
The landing pages for categories now have a nice matching feature image and I can use a function to make the pages look a little nicer and just overall be more pleasant to look at.
The before “about” page is above, and the new “about” page is below.
You might have noticed this has actually been changed over for a week. There are still some small things I need to figure out. I have really cute social media icons that will be blue tie dye instead of the grey ones. I also have the side bar a little more sorted out, and the bottom of posts will have a new email sign up instead of the awful box you see now. If you’re looking on your phone, there are a few things like the header being the wrong size that still need fixed. These changes should be done in the next week I hope!
The biggest thing about making a new theme change is getting a responsive and customizable theme. Avada theme I got the . Yeah it’s $60 but it offers so much more than what free themes offer. Talk with your designer and make sure it’s a theme they can work with. I was happy to find that most developers are familiar with this theme.
Blogging for Three Years
I am happy to have made it to three years of blogging. I really never thought I would still be doing this now, and I think that is because I didn’t think it would be successful enough to earn me an income. Without an income from blogging, it’s way too much work to do as a hobby.
I have continued to post 4x a week, every week, this whole year. Last year I posted more like 5x a week and my first year I posted nearly 6x a week! I would like to decrease this, but I often have so much to share and write it would be impossible.
You can read about my first year of blogging here. I gave a few tips for beginners and let you know what it was like to start a blog. In my first year I had reached 70,000 monthly page views on my blog. I had written 200 posts. I was still a masseuse then and selling candles to make ends meet.
You can read about my second year of blogging here. I also give some tips and spell out exactly how I earn money blogging and how you can too. By the end of year two, I had about 130,000 page views a month.
Now I’ve ended my third year blogging, with 700 posts on this thing, and have a little over 200,000 page views a month. I am stoked about it and it’s opened doors for me to work with brands I’ve always hoped to work with. I can actually say that this year, I earned enough money to say it’s a real career.
I know a lot of my blog traffic comes from people googling how to travel India. They read all my India posts, e-mail me thank me, and then maybe don’t look at my blog again. But, I know a lot of you read all my posts and have followed along from the beginning (mom and dad lol) and I really want to say THANK YOU! It’s so cool and sometimes I have to pinch myself that people actually want to read about the places I write about.
As my blog traffic grew, I outgrew my hosting and had to upgrade. Still my site crashes sometimes so it’s a work in progress. I realized to make money I had to spend money and this year I started to invest a little in my blog, including the redesign you are seeing now.
I hope you’ll take some time to click around and see what has changed!
I would love to know what you think of the design (on your PC you’ll see the major difference, while on your phone it’s pretty simple and doesn’t show all the new stuff!) and if you find it easier or the same to find what you’re looking for. I would also like to know if there are any topics you want to see me write about more this year. Do you want posts about blogging, saving money, packing tips? Are you more interested in travel tips of the destinations I go or stories about them? Would you rather I just type nothing and share images lol? Just tell me and I’ll try to write stuff you want to read.
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Looks amazing Rachel, congrats! :)
Thank you Christine!
Absolutely beautiful work!! :)
Yours and The Blonde Abroad will now be benchmarks in great travel blog design for me.
Congratulations on the anniversary + this great update, Rachel!
what a compliment, I love her blog! Thanks so much! :)
I love the new design so much! I actually wanted to comment on it last week, but then I suddenly thought that maybe you did the redesign ages ago and I totally missed it so commenting would be old news, haha. I’ve been thinking so hard lately about how to make my site easier to navigate, so I’m definitely getting some huge inspiration from all the work you’ve done here. And congrats on three years of blogging, woohoo!
Haha, thanks Silvia! Re-categorizing was the best thing I could have done I think – only time will tell!
Ahh it looks so good! I’ve been reading your stuff for years now and the redesign looks awesome. Still super impressed with how frequently you post. I’m finally getting to India next month sometime! Will definitely be taking lots of your advice. Flying from NC to Nepal in a few days to meet an Englishman from my own travels (ha! great minds?) and spending a couple weeks there first. We’ll be heading to Goa later if you guys wanna grab a drink.
Thank you Rachel! And yes definitely ‘great minds’ haha! I hope you have a blast with your new dude! I really need to cut back on posting so much for my sanity haha but I would be so behind if I did! Would be great to meet in Goa :) Email me when you’re here.
Very impressive and stylish!
Thank you!! :)
LOVE your new design!! Can’t wait to check out more of the new features.
Thanks Nikki! Explore from a PC not a mobile then you can see more :)
It looks fantastic! Everything looks so pretty, I love it . I actually met Anna in a hostel in Jodhpur. Small world huh?!
OMGSH! It is a small world. That’s so awesome. Isn’t she just the sweetest?
I love your redesign so much! I think it is one of the best I have seen, actually. Great work!
WOW what a compliment! Thank you. I took a lot of time seeing what needed to be featured and reorganizing but the design Anna did was better than I imagined. She was great!
The new design looks so great Rachel! And congrats on three years :) I’m so glad all of your hard work is paying off for you!
Thanks Justine I can only hope things keep going on as they are! :)
Congratulations Rachel, on three years of blogging and for your blog’s redesign. It looks great! I hope to achieve just as much in three years’ time. :)
Thank you!! I’m sure you will :) Best of luck!!
Gorgeous!! Love the new look! And happy birthday! :D
Thanks so much and thanks for always reading and taking time to comment!
Great going Rachel!!! I especially like the Categories thing. Now it is so easy to navigate.
Thank you, the categories took ages to do but I think it’ll be more helpful this way.
It looks beautiful! love the blue sea vibes.
Thanks, the sea was part of my inspiration.
I LOVE the redesign. It’s so sleek and clean. Urg I could scroll through pages just to look at the design all day. Definitely a worthwhile investment in the blog as I’m sure it’s only going to get bigger from here! Thanks for being an inspiration! (currently creating my blogging space and considering making a few tweaks after checking out your design haha!)
Thanks! I’m so glad you like it. I have been wanting to do it forever and it was so worth it.
Beautiful new layout, so charming and more professional!
Congrats… 3 years is a lot! Wish your blog a long and happy life =)
Thank you! :)
Waoo looking beautifully in every moment.. such a lovely time for you .. -:)