Friday, 31 October 2014

blog maintenance

Blog maintenance is something I hadn't given much thought to until recently. {and truth be told, I haven't acted on those thoughts, only thought them} It isn't as essential on the blogger platform, so I've let it slide. But that doesn't mean you should let it slide, too. Here are some tips for giving your blog a bit of a spruce up (working on this over the next couple of months will give you a great start for 2015)
  • update plugins if you're on wordpress. This is so vital to the smooth running of your blog!
  • check for broken links broken links to outbound posts (where you've linked to other blogs), or posts from pinterest you've shared the "old" way. If the post you linked to doesn't exist any more, just remove the hyperlink, don't delete the whole post.
  • clean up your archives I'm against deleting posts from your archive, but if the post is irrelevant (for example, you joined a giveaway on a blog and you had to share their post on your blog, but the business no longer exists, or it's something you're not interested in anymore) then you can get rid of it. Remember, even years later, if the other platform still exists, your link to them will be generating "google juice" 
  • check that your image storage is ok if, like me, you're a bit oblivious to the size of your images when uploading them, you might run out of storage unexpectedly. First, find where your images are stored (google has 3 different storage spaces, and I recently found out my images are in all 3 spaces - picasa, on blogger, and most recently on G+)
  • empty your comment spam folder I don't even check to see if comments have been caught by mistake, I just delete the whole lot.
  • update any sidebar images and clear the clutter. If you won an award in 2010, leaving it displayed in your sidebar might make people think you haven't been as good since then.
  • get a new photo of you for your sidebar (or about page) we all change as we get older, people want to be able to recognise you now (especially important, if you subscribe to the personal brand theory that you are your blog, no one will recognise you if your image is 10 years old!)
Have I left anything out?

 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

inspiration and motivation

The blogosphere is so large these days, it's easy to become overwhelmed and forget why you started blogging. And the more people you meet, through forums, and classes, and commenting, gives you more people to compare yourself with. It is easy to lose yourself and your purpose if you make the outside noise more important than your inner voice. (That isn't to say that meeting others is bad, because you can't learn and grow in a bubble; just that you need to know your boundaries, something I unexpectedly learnt just a couple of weeks ago)

Inspiration

I was going to say "depending on your niche", but in all honesty, pinterest is one of the best sources of inspiration - if you know your boundaries. But one of the keys to building a successful blog is content creation, not curation, so you need to remember to write (or create), not just pin.
Motivation

Staying motivated to keep posting ebbs and flows. When life feels busy and out of control, blogging can feel like the last thing you want to do. I would urge you to keep writing, though, even if you don't publish posts; and my number one trick for writing when you don't feel like writing is to take pen and paper outside, you'd be surprised at the words that flow from a spot of fresh air and sunshine!

Where do you find inspiration for your posts?

 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

blogging tips for social media

Social media is huge these days! And it's almost as scary as SEO, now that facebook works hard to get your advertising dollars. But it is a necessary part of the story, so it's worth investing some time into. {note - I don't use twitter, and know nothing about it, so I always send people to Julie's series Tips for the Twitter-curious, it almost tempted me to sign up!}

What is social media?

It is any online platform where people gather to communicate, share ideas, network.

Why is it important for my blog?

If you want to grow your blog readership, social media is important to help you connect to readers in a way that you don't on your blog.

Which platform should I use?

This is the age-old question asked by new bloggers all the time. The short answer is to use the platform that you like, and where your readers are. For most bloggers, that means that having a facebook page is the number one requirement for social media, because facebook is still where most people are. It isn't necessary to be on every platform, though, so don't spread yourself too thin.
What should I say?

I believe there's a two-fold aim to social media - to tell more of the story, and to engage people. Telling more of the story will get people engaging if you tell it in a way that resonates with them. You should make statements and ask questions, share photos that are relevant, and share other people's relevant content to your community.

Do you have a facebook page?

more reading
How to create a fantastic social media plan for writers (or anyone)  |  Peg Fitzpatrick  
How to create a winning social media strategy  |  Rebecca Radice
Social Media Branding  |  Bloggers Bazaar

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

blogging tips for SEO traffic

SEO - the 3 little words that strike fear and hatred in the hearts of bloggers. A lot of bloggers are scared of SEO, because it sounds complicated. I still don't understand it completely, but I soak in a lot during the SEO bootcamps that I run with Dana from Talk About Creative. Here's a few 101 blogging tips for SEO success.

Definitions

SEO {Search Engine Optimisation} making your website easy for search engines to find
yoast a wordpress plugin recommended to help with SEO note - yoast is a tool, you still need to understand how to use SEO to make yoast work. That's why I disagree when "everyone" says you must be on wordpress and use yoast if you want to make money from your blog.
keyword words your audience type into search engines when looking for your content.  These are 2-6 words long usually.  The first two words are usually the "head" keyword (eg: meatball recipe) and then additional words that narrow down the search make them a "longtail keyword" (eg. meatball recipe gluten free). Longtails have less but more targeted traffic.
Anchor text the words used in a hyperlink (for example - at the top of this post "Talk About Creative" is hyperlinked, therefore those words are the anchor text)

Why is SEO important?

If you want to grow your blog and build a business from it, then SEO is important because it's one part of how your blog is found by new readers. You solve a problem for someone, they decide they like how you helped them and stick around to read some more. For your posts to be found by that reader, you need keywords in your posts that search engines can find. 

How does google pick my post?

Google looks at the HTML coding of your post and assesses whether it answers the query posted. To do this it looks at keywords in your post title, the post URL, the ALT text of images, post tags, meta description and the first paragraph of text. It looks at over 200 different things but these are the basic, must-do things for bloggers.

How do I pick keywords?

Keywords come from the content you write, so the best way to figure them out is to write first, then determine your keywords. {Keywords can also come from your over-arching blog themes and catagories} If you want some help picking content, you can use google search, or google adsense to guide you. Here's a great post from Blog Ambitions that shows how to use google adsense. Keyword research can be extremely complex, especially if you're going after very competitive terms.  A quick, easy way to do it is to Google what you'd Google when looking for your new blog entry, make sure the results are "on par" with what you've written and then check what other "suggestions" Google makes for you.

Should I always worry about SEO?

The short answer is no. If you worry too much about keywords and SEO, then you'll lose your authentic voice and forget why you started writing in the first place. Google is getting better at analysing the tone of sentences, and can pick up if you keyword-stuff your posts, too. My favourite blogging tips for SEO - write for the reader first but don't forget about Google, after all, it loves a good blog post too!
 
Some great tips for optimising your blog
SEO tips for bloggers  |  A Dose of Paige
Simple SEO for bloggers  |  Mrs D plus 3
Is it possible to have good SEO just by having great content?  |  MOZ
Getting SEO just right  |  Search Engine Land
SEO for bloggers  |  The Fresh Exchange
Creative blogs and simple SEO  |  Madigan Made
SEO for creative bloggers  |  The Blog Builders
15 simple SEO tips for bloggers  |  Campfire Chic {newsletter sign up}


Monday, 27 October 2014

authentic voice

Writing in an authentic voice has become the catch cry of the times, but what does it actually mean? Your authentic voice is how you write online.

Why do I need an authentic voice?

Having an authentic voice that doesn't change from post to post can bring more readers to you. As people discover your writing, and decide if they relate to it, they come back for more, and share your posts with others. It can also help you write more, because you know the tone you use when writing, and don't have to stop to think about how you write.

How do I find an authentic voice?

Write. And don't try to be something you're not. Write as you, the same way you talk, because it's much easier to keep the story straight in your head if you're just being you.

more reading
Don't write it perfect, write it down  |  The Shake
How to find your authentic blogging voice (a different answer)  |  CraftyPod
What does being authentic actually mean?  |  blog genie
How to actually be authentic  |  ohksocial
10 steps to finding your writing voice  |  Goins, Writer
4 steps to finding your ideal writing voice  |  CopyBlogger

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