Thursday, 23 October 2014

why you need a newsletter

I launched my newsletter back in September. I've now sent two issues (monthly), and loved putting it toegther to share a different glimpse into my world. But I've heard recently that people are a little bit confused about why you would have a newsletter, and what to include in it.

Why have a newsletter?

A newsletter is different to sending each blog post RSS feed to an email address. Newsletters provide snippets of information, introductions if you will, to the blog posts that are coming up, or have been in the past. They are a different way of connecting, and marketing your blog to your audience.

How do you set up a newsletter?

Most bloggers recommend MailChimp for emails. Other choices include MadMimi, and AWeber, and I believe there are wordpress plugins that can send emails as well. I chose MailChimp because it looked easiest when I was researching, but it wasn't until Bec from Blogger's Bazaar wrote a post about setting up newsletters that it all clicked.

Tips for growing your list

Until recently, I didn't sign up to newsletters. I was overwhelmed by the time I was spending online, and struggling to take it all in, but I realised about 4 months ago that I was making time for newsletters, reading them and clicking on links provided. It's one of the reasons I decided to give having a newsletter a go - my habits had changed, so maybe someone else's had changed, too.
In the two months since I launched my newsletter, I have more than doubled subscriptions (granted, saying doubled sounds better than saying "I had ten subscribers the first month, and 24 the second") And while I don't expect to double it again this month, it is steadily growing.

I believe that growth has occured for two reasons - blogging consistently through this series, and adding the image call to action at the end of each post.

Do you have a newsletter?

more reading
How to create an email opt-in  |  Blogger's Bazaar

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

finding & accepting guest posts

I was asked a couple of months ago how to find guest posting opportunities, and did the research without writing the post, so it was easy to slip this topic into the series. I'm not good at guest posts - I offer to write them, do the research, and forget to actually write and send them off (although this post at Modern Mummy Mayhem wrote itself, and this post at Simplify.Create.Inspire is a topic close to my heart)

So why guest post?
  • guest posting is a great opportunity to network with other bloggers
  • guest posting allows your writing to be seen by a new, and hopefully similar, audience
  • guest posting can bring traffic to your blog
How to find guest posts
for your blog
  • advertise on your blog 
  • tell people in your network groups you're looking for guest posts
  • advertise on your facebook page
to write for
  • email a blogger you'd like to work with and pitch your idea
  • keep an eye on questions asked in your network groups
Accepting posts
  • be wary of people sending you posts in full the first time they contact you - it isn't always bad, but it can mean that they're just looking for a link from you, not a relationship
  • it isn't general practise to pay for guest posts, so  if that's been worrying you, forget about it
  • have some guidelines in mind when talking to potential guest posters - if you have a word length preference or image style, convey that to the blogger (and ask about it if you're writing for someone else
  • some bloggers like you to send them the HTML code for your post - this is to 1) save them time, they can just copy and paste and schedule and 2) they don't use storage space on their computer or blog for images. To do this, write your post in your blog editor, then change over to the HTML screen and copy the code and email.
  • you don't have to accept or write guest posts if you're not interested, it's just another experience in the world of blogging.
Do you accept guest posts?


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

what is a no-follow link?

The most asked question bar none in the facebook blogging groups is "what is a no-follow link, and why do I need to know?"

No-follow links are important, if you are given product or paid money for writing a blog post. If you don't do any of that yet, it's still worth knowing about (I learned something new just researching this post).

A no-follow link is NOT visible to readers (I've been asked this several times recently.) It's a piece of HTML code that search engines read that says "stop here, I'm not giving my authority to that website"

Google considers you an "expert" because you publish online. When you link to external websites, you tell google "I trust this website, and genuinely like them, and think everyone else should like them too" When you are paid (in product or money), and you recommend a website, if you include a follow link, google likens it to cash-for-comment, and discredits you as the expert. {Here is some info from google}

When should a no-follow link be used?
  • when payment or product is received in return for a review post, links to the business should be no-follow
  • in sidebar widgets when linking to external sites (for example, in a blog roll), or to your own content (for example, categories)
  • SearchEngineLand also says "when embeding... widgets from sites you don't trust", but I would ask, why would you embed a widget if you didn't trust the site?
  • in your comments.
In layman's terms, no-follow links are used in the natural course of a blog post. All the links in this post are follow links. I used no-follow links in this review post, as I was given the product, but this review post has follow links, as I purchased the product myself and wanted to tell people how much I love it.

more reading
The Hidden Power of NoFollow Links  |  Moz 
What is the NoFollow Tag; When and How to Use it  |  SearchEngineLand
Make a Blogger BlogRoll Widget NoFollow  |  KelloggsDBA

Friday, 17 October 2014

how to find the numbers in google analytics

Google analytics is the industry standard for providing data to anybody who wants data about websites. If you have a long term plan to grow your blog and earn money from it, I thoroughly recommend installing it now. {it's super-easy to do - sign up for an account, copy the ID number and paste into the analytics widget on wordpress, or follow this tutorial for blogger. NOTE if you change your template, you need to install the code again}

I don't understand where to find all the numbers, but I participated in  google-analytics-101 webinar with Dana from Talk About Creative a couple of weeks ago, so I'm feeling a little bit more knowledgeable.

First up, some of the definitions {this information can be found under Audience Overview}
  • sessions - the number of visitors to your blog. Here's a link to google's more technical explaination
  • users - the number of unique visitors to your blog. Here's an even more technical explaination from google
  • pageviews - the number of pages viewed during the period
  • bounce rate - the percentage of people that leave your blog after visiting only one page.
Where is traffic coming from? {Aquisition Channels}

Google splits your traffic sources into four channels. Referral lists websites that link to you, organic search is the keywords people searched on google, direct lists the exact link that people followed, and social lists the social media sources.

By clicking social, you can see that my biggest source of traffic is still facebook, followed by pinterest. (I only stumbled my first ever post last week)

Then, under Behaviour, you can see how visitors interact with your site. Knowing where to find this information is important if you're reporting back to a company you worked with to tell them how many visitors your post received. You can use the secondary dimensions tab to find out further information, for example, if you want to know what time visitors click through from facebook.

{I don't understand the full workings of analytics, but googling has provided me with deeper explainations when needed}

Two tips to avoid number burnout
  1. pick a date once a month, and record your stats (page views, bounce rates, users). This will help alleviate the number-obsession that can develop when you're starting out, but means you can see clearly any growth. I've been recording my numbers for four months now, and I can see a slow increase across all my platforms and blog.
  2. don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. The "big" bloggers have worked hard to get where they are (I avoid saying "a long time", because I've been blogging longer than most of them, but they work bluddy hard at their blogs!)
Are you numbers-obssessed, or happy to forget they exist?


Thursday, 16 October 2014

what is a link up?

A link up is hosted by a blogger who invites other bloggers to link up their posts to the host's post. They can be themed, like Kylie Purtell's new reading link up, or open ended, like Essentially Jess' IBOT. A tool like InLinkz* is used, where you input your blog post permalink, name and email, which then shows up on the list.

I had never heard of a blog carnival until earlier this year when I hosted the Digital Parents blog carnival. A blog carnival is an aggregate of blog posts submitted by members and compiled into a post by the host.

A blog hop moves traffic from one blog to the next. All posts are usually on a theme (you can see here the theme is from a class where everybody shared their work from the previous month.) Links to all other blogs taking part are usually posted at the bottom of each post, and the posts are all published at the same time. Here's another example that doesn't have all the other participant's posts at the end.

A blog crawl is something I've seen pop up in the last year or so - the idea is the same as a blog hop, everyone posts on the same topic, but posts get published day after day, therefore crawling around the web. Sarah Von Bargen had an excellent series recently about how blog crawls can help if you have a product to sell, and tips for keeping organised and on track.

What's your favourite link up to participate in? Have you ever taken part in a blog hop?

* affiliate link - if you use my link, I will get one credit towards free subscription

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