I was thinking that a new blog design would be frivolous, and I should just write good posts. But then I ran the post about my new headshots, and the comments section was filled with people saying how much they hate the photo on my blog masthead.

That photo is from a time when I was just getting my big writing jobs—at Yahoo Finance and the Boston Globe—and my book was coming out. And the headshot was all about making me look older and wiser than people maybe thought I was.

But, really, I am not big on authority. I’m more about conversation. And I think it’s way more interesting to look a little off-kilter and ask good questions, than it is to look perfect and act like I have all the answers. So I knew it was time to change my photo.

Then I started getting excited about trying lots of new things on my blog.

Then I did what I do best: Found great people to work with.

The first person I chose was Jessi Pervola. She does the design work for my company, Brazen Careerist, and she is super fun because she thinks of new features and fun layouts that make people want to do more. So I thought maybe she’d do that for my blog.

Of course, all top-flight designers do what Jessi does, on some level. But the other thing that made me choose Jessi is that I love her blog. I love that the design is weird—with tons of white space that would scare most people. And I love that the first things you see when you go to her blog are these two links: What’s my problem? and The full list. It makes me laugh. And I think she must be really, really pulled together because she actually knows the number of problems she has.

The other person who worked on my blog is Clay Collins. He is the crazy, night-owl SEO guy who I have to stay up til 2am to talk to. But he is always worth the phone call, even though I usually consume 2000 calories in sugar-enhanced bread products in order to stay up that late. Clay has ideas like the poll. Or maybe that was Jessi’s idea. But that’s what is great about picking people who are great. They don’t bicker about whose ideas are whose. They don’t step on each others’ toes. They just come up with amazing stuff.

So here are some of the things that are new, and if you look around the site, you’ll find a bunch more:

My twitter feed is back. And for those of you who worry that I write too much snark about investors, you will be happy to read this twitter: An investor tells me don’t stop writing about investors. “It makes you differentiated,” he says. And he says, “Would that be a good pickup line?”

There is a poll. It will change every week. Maybe every Tuesday if I can stick to a schedule. There are so many things I want to ask you guys. Today’s question is about sex with your boss. But only because I wanted to ask if you thought I should change my photo all the time, but my editor—yes, now I guess I have a poll editor—said the sex one is more interesting.

The header is different. The queen of branding herself has a branding problem: I sold Brazen Careerist to my company, so I don’t actually own it anymore. So I really need to separate myself from the Brazen Careerist brand. I don’t quite know how to do it. Maybe Penelope’s Blog. Like Seth’s Blog? Or maybe I am too full of myself and I will never be Seth. (After all, Seth keeps getting book contracts to republish his posts, and when I tried to do that, my editor nearly canceled my contract.) So the header will probably change a lot—like, every night at 10pm when I have branding panic and call Jessi to make changes to the art.

It is no coincidence that I’m launching a new blog the week of Thanksgiving. Thank you so much, each of you, for being part of a community that makes finding success at the intersection of work and life a much less lonely process. I like that we all do this together.

This has been a tough year for me. Divorce, farmer tumult, funding a company in an economic crisis. And all of you have been a great reality check for me about what is going right and what isn’t and what we can expect from life.

You have also helped me to see that it’s been a great year. My blog allowed me to start my company, and my company allows me to have big, fun job and still pick my kids up after school. And believe it or not, I actually still have a fun dating life . . . but you’ll have to come back here to find out about that.

93 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Re: the poll: No, I don’t wish I had a boss like that, but no, I also don’t want you to stop writing about sex on your blog.

  2. torbjorn rive
    torbjorn rive says:

    Wow. That first comment up there is pretty hardcore.

    ANYHOO. I like the new design.

    Speaking of funding a company in dire economic times, I’m curious about the fact that you sold your blog to your own company. Isn’t that kinda like taking out a loan under a business name (you are CEO or whatnot), then in the end just owning that money anyway? I guess it is meant to be for the greater good – Penelope blog builds Brazen business – but…

    …I dunno, I guess that statement just kinda popped out at me.

  3. Daniel J. Pritchett
    Daniel J. Pritchett says:

    I like the new design. Have you considered adding third-party commenting like say DISQUS or IntenseDebate? I find that they make blog conversations a lot stickier and more valuable all around.

    @dpritchett

  4. liz
    liz says:

    Hi Penelope-
    I love your blog and am an avid reader. I like the new design – good decision. I want to let you know though that I find it difficult to scroll down – it’s hard to find headings. That is, the posts don’t look separate. This (hopefully) is a simple fix – maybe a bit more space between them or a bolder color for the headings. Minor, yes, but important, I think.
    Very best wishes-
    Liz

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I really like this blog design, your new photo, and that Twitter is back on the blog. As for the Brazen Careerist brand, I think you’re off to a good start by including both “about this blog” and “About my company, Brazen Careerist” next to each other in the navigation bar. Maybe the banner could read – “Penelope Trunk – the original brazen careerist” or something to that effect. :) One thing I really miss though is there’s no widget for recent comments – I think that’s important. Maybe next revision as I’m sure you’ll be tweaking various things in the future.

  6. Holly Hoffman
    Holly Hoffman says:

    Loving the new design, P. Love the comment hate at the top, too. It just wouldn’t be your blog without it! ;) Maybe I’ll redesign mine too… someone recently sent me an email that said “… I was going to read your blog, but I couldn’t get past the tiny white font on black background.” Design FAIL.

  7. Phil Gerbyshak
    Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Beautiful new look Penelope. Very crisp and clean. I like the photo too. Looks like you are definitely ready to engage in some conversation.

    Nicely done team Penelope :)

  8. Stretch Mark Mama
    Stretch Mark Mama says:

    So if you have a new blog that’s just “you,” will your twitter feed be just “you?” I seem to remember you mentioned that your tweets went through an editor. Knowing the essence of twitter (chit chat), that struck me as funny.

    I’m not asking with my Jerk Hat on (!!); just being curious. I love your BC blog and I’ll love Penelope’s blog too.

  9. Marsha Keeffer
    Marsha Keeffer says:

    Screw the hater, love your new look – the photo is much more inviting. Makes me feel we’re all sitting around your dining table after dinner drinking wine, coffee or whatever and schmoozing. So maybe Brazen Careerist fades away and you become something else entirely. You’re entitled.

  10. Ari Herzog
    Ari Herzog says:

    Yay, you have a new design! Very nice…much cleaner.

    As for a non-Brazen Careerist name, why not Penelope’s Blog? Or you could call it Penelope’s Box, but that might be too Greek for your younger readers.

    From a coding perspective, I see two opt-in checkboxes on either side of this box for email comments. Unsure which is best; so I’ll click the bottom one.

  11. Melissa Chang
    Melissa Chang says:

    Nice redesign! Always scary to change something in such a major way, but I bet that it will open even more doors for you. Change has a way of doing that.

    I do want to agree with the commenter that requested that the # of comments be listed under the post on the home page – I totally agree. And please add a link to “comment” – that is missing, too. (I had to go looking to find the comment area here, and it should be a piece of cake to comment)

    Otherwise, well done and congratulations!

  12. Carla Blumenthal
    Carla Blumenthal says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I love the new look. I really like the navigation bar with the three different headings, especially the "Penelope's Guide to Starting a Blog." A lot of my friends have been asking me how to start a blog – I'm glad I can send them your way.

  13. RIck
    RIck says:

    what does the poll say about the site? why is it that there is no option to simply say “no, I would not sleep with a co-worker simply because it’s not a good idea”?

  14. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Hey Penelope! I love the site and I love your writing. I think it is great that you are branding your blog and image to really reflect who you are. That is the person we admire and whose thoughts and advice we love to hear. Any step towards that person can never fail. Congrats!

  15. Sabrina Dent
    Sabrina Dent says:

    I really need to separate myself from the Brazen Careerist brand. I don’t quite know how to do it.

    Honey, you are a smart woman so I have no idea why you’re being an idiot about this. The two are already separated. Brazen Caeerist has been spun off into its own thing.

    Which leave you here, at PeneleopeTrunk.com, where you are your own brand. Penelope Trunk is your personal brand, and you already know all about the value of building that, so I don’t know what problem you’re perceiving here. The site, the blog – it’s all you, it’s all Penelope Trunk. You don’t need to call the blog bit here something else, if that’s what you’re worried about; the lines between “blog” and “site” are completely fuzzy and almost meaningless these days anyway.

  16. Brant Meyer
    Brant Meyer says:

    If narcissism and self indulgence = success, strong points of view and a great blog – please call me both.

  17. Ann Foley
    Ann Foley says:

    I like the new design – I’ve been reading your blog for a while and kind of wondered why the former design was so spare and generic.

    This iteration is elegant and simple.

    And!!! It provides fun activities for your readers, such as the quiz and the free how-to-blog advice. I love that. Thanks.

  18. Susan
    Susan says:

    Penelope, I like the new blog design. But, of course, I’m a content person myself (admittedly, I read most of these posts via RSS on my BlackBerry, but I had to click through to see the new look), so the previous design didn’t bother me. I agree that the photo is more Penelope 2008, though!

  19. Jenn S.
    Jenn S. says:

    Gorgeous new look, Penelope! Bravo to your whole team – this look feels so “right” – both professional and friendly in feel (just like your posts), and I do love the clean look/feel. Bravo!

  20. barchbo
    barchbo says:

    Love the new design, the blog and the Thanksgiving good wishes – have a wonderful holiday!

    PS: For the poll, how about Option #5: I am the boss. And I got here without sleeping with anyone! ;)

  21. Rupert
    Rupert says:

    Congrats on the new design. Love it. Love the new photo, new masthead and all the navigation elements on the right.

    My only suggestion is this: You are great at linking to other resources, and in posts like this one, you do a lot of it. Please open links to external sites in a new window; It helps me visit those sites, but at the same time keeps me reading through your entire post.

    @Lisa, I’m with you on the poll: No, I don’t wish I had a boss like that, but no, I also don’t want you to stop writing about sex on your blog.

    Full disclosure: Once I was the boss … we left the company, the country. I married her.

  22. Maya
    Maya says:

    Hi Penelope,
    I wish I was a man and could go on a date with you – you give us so many details about your life that you make me even more curious about what kind of a person you are in real life :). I like your blog and I think you are cool

    Anyways, this blog design is a good one! Couple of minor things: 1. A typo in the “About my Company page” – “…learning curve and their -netowrk-“.
    2. Are you using two different fonts on the right sidebar? Not that it should be just one (I am no web designer) , but I think 2 fonts break the flow.

    Now for the branding – If you are talking only about what goes in the header of this blog – then you can skip the rest of my comment.

    I really think you should use twitter to brand yourself as an the new Penelope – all over again. It is nice to hear about your kids (really, it is) but I think you should tweet all those links you put in your blog – while you are building your blog posts. Or give us some insight into your entrep journey, in bits. Say “thank-you” to your readers, if you are so inclined :) Twitter is very alive – real people listening and responding – so it is a great branding tool. Ask your poll questions there – send people to your poll.
    You have so many followers – I’d do a lot of market research just there – on twitter.
    Feel free to email me if I can help in any way.

  23. Anca
    Anca says:

    I like both your old and new blog designs. The new design is more typical-blog-look (less unique than before). I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

    Your poll editor is off on the wrong foot — the wording of both the question and the answers has me scratching my head. I might have sex with them if I was single, they weren’t married, if they were younger and I was attracted to them, and if there was only a small chance of damage to my career.

  24. Karrierebibel
    Karrierebibel says:

    Funny, I had a relaunch on my blog too. But we decided to go a bit further and make it more look like a magazine. Also there are few more inventions to help readers to find the information they need.

    What is obviously in common: We both like it very clear and reduced to the max.

  25. Karthick
    Karthick says:

    Great work Penelope, this really really is very appealing.
    and congrats on the shift to wordpress!

    Just a few suggestions.

    — the box on the right with popular posts could be reworked a bit font seems too small and is different from the rest of the text.

    — perhaps left align the various awards/recognitions..

    — I think that view a random post is redundant.

    These, of course, are just my opinions. I am really glad to see the new design, I’ll read more out of this site than the RSS feed now :D.

  26. chris keller
    chris keller says:

    PT, I think what you REALLY want to know, the question you REALLY want to ask, is “Are my loyal readers still with me?”

    The answer is “yes” from this reader! You are my kind of person, even though I am not in corporate America. Your photo says it all: you are leaning forward, intent and listening, attentive to the cues, reading the cues of the business world, from the kids, from the relationships.

    I think you are “brazen” because you are the rare person who does not fear change. You seem to welcome it, and even generate it. Original ideas come from such people: you and Jessi and Clay.

    Thanks for prodding us on to embrace new things, orignal ideas and change in general!

    CAK

  27. Chris Gammell
    Chris Gammell says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I’m going to go against the tide on this one (and not just to create controversy). I actually liked your old color scheme and layout better. It seemed much cleaner to me and much less what I’ll call “WordPress-y”. Some of this might come off as hypocritical, because my own blog is a WordPress theme that I modified, but I think the old look made it much more like a newspaper column than a blog. I think tricking people by looking like a column and then hitting them with the conversational tone of your blog is what helped you. As for the picture, I think that is no contest; it is definitely better.

    Chris

  28. avant garde designer
    avant garde designer says:

    Love the new design. It’s got so many interesting things to see and do, one can spend hours on your site alone.

    One suggestion: Change the font back to a san serif.

    Serif type is easiest to read on the printed page because, theoretically, the curly tails and the ends of letters gracefully lead our eyes onto the next letter. However, online those same curly tails create clutter and are much harder to read.

    Online: Use san serif for your text. Save the serif for your headings. (And your books!)

  29. Alisa Bowman
    Alisa Bowman says:

    I came here (I subscribe by email) to check out your new design. I loved it, so I scrolled down to the comments to tell you that. Then I saw the troll’s comments. So first off: shut up you negative spewing troll. If you don’t want to be here, leave.

    Okay, that said, I love reading your stuff. I think the new designer is great. I DO think you could brand your name. When I tell people I read you, I tell them your name, and not Brazen Careerist. The woman who told me about your blog suggested it by your name and not by BC. You are the brand.

    As for sex with my boss? I am the boss. I guess that’s okay.

    You wrote a few weeks ago about how, when you first started out, you used to make $ by selling your blog posts to other outlets. Did you do this yourself or did you use an agency or service? Curious because I’d like to try the same.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the branding advice. I think you’re right. I think brand problems are like all other personal problems. We think our own are so complicated and difficult, but from the outside, the solution seems obvious. I like that you see my solution :)

      Re selling blog posts: I spent about five years writing a column for free in order to gain a print audience. It takes a lot of work. I’m not sure I’d recommend it. There are much faster and more stable ways to make money than that.

      -Penelope

  30. Chris Young
    Chris Young says:

    You could always just delete”‘s Brazen Careerist” which would leave you with Penelope Trunk – Advice at the intersection of work and life. (?)
    Also, your picture looks great! Thanks for an awesome blog. I read it even when I don’t agree with it.

  31. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    Doesn’t matter what it looks like, still a great blog. But I’m glad it makes you happy to have a new look – new year, new look? Kind of like getting a makeover, what with your hip new photo (and thank you, now you match your twitter icon) and cool design. I like how it feels a little stand-offish and sparse – nice contrast with your spill-your-guts style of blogging. FYI, the comments are much harder to read now, and I can’t figure out why exactly – maybe they were better separated before? And why are some comments highlighted in a blue box?

    • Jessi
      Jessi says:

      The dark blue highlighted comments are coming from an editor – This way it will be easy for us to find Penelope’s replies. The comments above were made by Jason who is on Penelope’s team. Thanks for the feedback!

  32. christin
    christin says:

    I agree about the font, actually – I just think sans serif is more modern. I think the colors you chose say “professional” while the content is still business with a little sauce on the side. Or sauce with a little business on the side. either way works for me!

  33. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    Actually, I’m happy to see the serif font. Sans serif has been “modern” for long enough now that it’s starting to look tired to me (plus, really, it has almost always looked like it just arrived from the 70s, rather than something current).

    Overall I like the design, although I agree that the post headers could pop a little more, so that they’re easier to spot when scrolling. Much better picture, too.

    I agree that you should just drop “Brazen Careerist” because you are your own brand. And call the blog something like “What I’m Thinking Now.” Or just “Penelope Trunk: The Blog” as if you were a movie.

  34. Don B.
    Don B. says:

    Why doesn’t your blog fit my screen anymore? I do not like the need to jump side to side. I liked the old format. I feel like they moved everything at the grocery store again. I do like the term farmer tumult. I may use that to describe vicissitudinous bucolic interpersonal relationships in the future. This post did seem brighter and cheery.

Newer Comments »

Comments are closed.