My name is Lauren Spear. Longtime readers will remember me as Lauren Tharp… That changed recently when I got married (4/27/2019) and proudly took on my fabulous husband’s last name.
And this here? This is my baby: LittleZotz Writing. It’s a pretty well-grown “baby” at this point — quickly heading towards its 10th birthday! — but you get what I mean. LZW is special to me, and to so many others.
To keep LittleZotz Writing “special,” and to celebrate positive transformations in my own life, I knew it was time to make some changes.
So What’s New?
Juuuuuuuuuuuust enough to make people go “Oh! That’s new/different!” but not enough to make old readers go “You’ve completely changed, Lauren — this isn’t what I signed up for!!”
In many ways, LittleZotz Writing is, and will always be, the “same” as its ever been: a fabulous (and sometimes entertaining) resource for freelance writers. The content that’s won awards year after year will continue to be posted. Rest easy.
Most of the current changes were purely cosmetic (who doesn’t love a flashy makeover?), but I do have some other fun/useful things in the works for down the road. 😉
Here’s exactly what’s different, as of this post:
For nearly a decade, LittleZotz Writing had the exact same design:
Sure, there were fun illustrations to accompany all the blog posts, but the overall “look” of LZW was… gray. Literally.
This was the banner you’d see here on the site, and on all of my social media platforms:
It was functional, said what it needed to say (business name and tagline), and it was pretty much the extent of my personal graphics-related abilities. I figured gray was a “professional” color, and that it would help me to be taken seriously.
But, the thing is, I’m not exactly a “serious” person. Professional, yes; serious, no. I’m honestly pretty silly. I’m a straight-laced, terminally optimistic, goofball with a wide variety of interests. So while my business “look” was no-nonsense, boring, and colorless; in my personal life, I was donning myself in my favorite shades (hot pink, electric blue, sunshine yellow!), finding humor in the joy of life, and loving every minute of diving headfirst into topics/hobbies I find interesting.
There was always a distinct disconnect between myself and my business. Which was… not ideal.
While the LittleZotz Writing blog is here to help budding freelance writers (and always will be), the primary purpose of LittleZotz Writing as a whole is to promote MYSELF as a writer, editor, and mentor. And having the look of my site — everyone’s first impression of me — not reflect anything about who I am or what I do just wasn’t flying. Clients expected a no-nonsense “gray” writer and ended up with…me. Haha.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had a lot of success — and I’ve always given my most professional “all” to every gig I accepted. But you know what kind of jobs you get when you present yourself as boring? Boring jobs.
And while I cherished the clients who could see through my “dull” facade and utilized my talents to be a “likable weirdo,” I’ve spent far too much of my career ghostwriting and editing for people with zero sense of humor. That needed to change.
Now, LittleZotz writing is colorful and FUN! Just look at this gorgeous new banner, illustrated by Heather Landry:
I finally, finally, feel like my website reflects who I am.
Better Overall User Experience
There were a lot of things that annoyed me (and you too, I assume!) about my old website. Clunky navigation, a sprawling mess for the FAQ page, pushy “lead gathering” pop-ups…
For starters, my original WordPress theme hadn’t been updated by the developer since 2015. I basically gave that fact a big ol’ *shrug* and went on with my days. But, when the “Gutenberg Update” for WordPress rolled out last year, my website imploded on itself and became completely non-functional.
Since I was absolutely swamped with work and wedding planning at the time, I uploaded a very basic, ugly, theme that integrated well enough with the “new and improved” WordPress core to perform the bare minimum of needed functions and was forced to call it a day.
Now that I’m finally married and “only” have to worry about work, I had time to fix a bunch of things:
- I uploaded a brand new theme.
- I fixed the navigation menu.
- I got rid of the pop-ups (more on that below).
- I used an accordion plugin for the FAQ page — you can now go directly to the question that interests you, rather than scrolling through a massive Wall o’ Text.
- I updated a bunch of old content (ALL of the pages are brand new!) and pictures (I’m not in my twenties anymore, but my bio pics sure were!).
- My contact forms finally work again!
- I made it WAY easier to grab free resources.
- I now have social icons/links in the upper-right and in the footer so you can interact with me on multiple platforms.
- I added social share buttons to each blog post so you can easily share your favorite articles with others.
- I installed a MUCH better author box plugin — now, if you decide to write a guest post for the LZW blog, you can rest-assured that your info/links/beautiful face will be featured along with your article.
- I bought an SSL certificate, upgrading my “http” to “https” for an added security layer for all involved.
- I added “More” tags to the blog posts so the blog “page” isn’t ginormous anymore. Each post shows a couple paragraphs and then you can click to “Read More” if you’re intrigued…you no longer have to scroll past an ENTIRE post to get to the next article listed.
- The search bar finally works properly again!
- My site is now GDPR compliant so EU visitors don’t get in a snit over my use of Google Analytics 😉 I’m not a fan of the “PLZ ACCEPT MUH COOKIES” button, but the law’s the law — and at least the button’s pink!
Pretty basic-yet-time-consuming changes I should’ve made years ago.
The “user experience” difference I’m most proud of is the eradication of my site’s pop-ups. Sure, “the money’s in the list” (as the pro’s say!), but pop-ups are freakin’ obnoxious. I “get” why so many prominent brands use them for gathering leads — they work! — but I’ve always loathed them.
Plus, I always felt like a total scumbag offering readers a “free” gift…but only IF they gave ME something (their email address) first. That doesn’t exactly scream genuine generosity to me. Haha. Sure, no one paid me any money for the eBooks I was offering for “free,” but they still paid me: with their time/attention/inbox space.
Now, my FREE EBOOKS are truly free — no strings attached. You just go to the “Free Stuff” page, click the download button(s) associated with the resource(s) you want, and it’s yours forever and ever. You don’t have to give me anything in return unless you really, really, want to.
If anyone wants to subscribe to my silly newsletter to get updates, they can do so by filling out their info in the “Subscribe to My Newsletter!” box tucked away at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.
My soul feels cleansed.
That’s pretty much it!
The only other major “change” I can think of is that I’m offering my mentoring services again (for the same/old low price!). I’d closed that service down for nearly a year, but I’m currently taking on new mentees. If you’re a writer who’s ready to begin freelancing but need some help getting started: hit me up!
As always, longtime readers, thank you so much for sticking with me. New readers? Welcome to LittleZotz Writing. Make yourself at home.
Until next time,
Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of bylined posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers. Thousands if you count all the articles she’s ghostwritten (but she’s not allowed to talk about most of those).