10 Important To Do When You Start a Blog (Checklist!)


starting a blog

This is definitely not a technical post on how to set up a blog. Can’t help you there! However, there are plenty of resources out there. However, this is just a short checklist for things to do once you start a blog.

Recently, I was talking to Megan, who I met on Instagram because we both have dystonia (different types). After reading her brand new blog, I had a few suggestions for her, so I thought I would come up with a quick checklist for new bloggers!

  1. Create a new email. This email should only be used for blog communications. You can list it on your blog, email other bloggers, and interact with brands through this email. Don’t mix your personal email and new blog email. I was able to set my email up through my domain (I don’t know how – my husband did it), but a simple gmail that is related to your blog’s name should suffice.
  2. Get a headshot! You will need a picture that you can use everywhere. Even if you just have a friend try to take a few flattering photos of you or crop a photo from someone’s wedding, pick a flattering photo, make any edits (the ability to make it square is important because a lot of places want square photos) is important.
  3. Limit yourself to two “usernames.” Your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all social media should go together. I know it’s not possible to always get the same name everywhere, but try to keep it consistent. Shorter names are better, so if you’re having a Twitter conversation, half the tweet won’t be take up with your handle. Also, use the same profile picture everywhere.
  4. Since most people already have social media accounts, decide if you’re going to incorporate your current accounts or create new ones. I never thought about this at first. After a few months of blogging, I was interested in growing my blog through my Instagram, so I started to promote it. However, later, I realized that it was kind of creepy that people could just scroll back through years of pictures. So, I created a separate account. In hindsight, I wish that I’d made my handle shorter. It’s easy to change, but that would require updating a lot of profiles.
  5. Set up a Gravatar account with your new email and new profile picture. That way, when you leave comments, which you’ll find out how important that is later, your picture will show up! Pictures will make you stand out and keep your brand consistent. This will help you when you comment on any system.
  6. If you are NOT on Blogger, read up on how NOT to be a no-reply blogger. This took me several attempts, but I finally got it. Basically, you make a fake blog (you will need a gmail address to get started, but you can use any email as your reply email later) and use your new email and picture, so when you comment on a Blogger blog, you’ll know if the person replies. Go to this post and look at the third section. The screenshots are PERFECT.
  7. Start reading blogs! You don’t have to comment, yet. You can start by reading “big” blogs. Then start checking out other commenters, people on the sidebars, etc. Over time, you’ll start to read people who you connect with. I’ll have a follow up post on this!
    >>> You don’t need to copy these blogs, but the more you read, the more ideas you’ll get. You’ll start to see what you like and don’t like.
  8. Research Link Ups. These are premade content for you, plus you’ll have a chance to find new blogs because most ask you to comment on a few others. They change a lot, based on the hosts’ schedules, but a few that I like are:
    Grateful Mondays
    Wednesday Wishes
    Weeks End (your favorite post you wrote from the last week)
    Blogger Love (share 5 favorite posts from other bloggers)
    Between the Lines (a monthly book club link up with good discussion questions)
    Top Ten Tuesdays (if you LOVE books like me, these are prompts about books. The topics are posted in advance, so you can get several ready!)
    > Basically, the link ups are endless. There are link ups for recipes, crafts, and any interest you might have. Things like Weeks End, Five on Friday, or any type of Currently or Coffee Date link up will expose you to new bloggers. You could probably have a blog of nothing but link ups, but it’s nice to mix it up.
    Here are tips on finding more!
    > Check out the top of blog pages because some people keep lists.
    > Google!
    > Check out Twitter hashtags. You might miss the first one, but you’ll know when the next one is.
    > As you read blogs, you’ll see people participating and you can put it on your calendar to participate in ones that interest you.
  9. Make sure your blog is visually appealing. Have your headshot at the top, links to social media under that, and any other things you want on your sidebar. Less is more, but don’t leave it bare. A busy blog is a blog that people don’t want to read. (I’m not kidding, I read a post about that, but only about 20% of the page was dedicated to text. The orange and blue didn’t help, either).
  10. Have fun! This is your hobby! Maybe you’ll make money. Maybe you won’t. But, if you do it right, you’ll make friends. Stay tuned for how to find your blogging community from scratch!

 

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I Increased My Twitter Followers by 30% In 45 Days

Ok, so I know I wrote a post about moderation in social media/what I learned from my social media break. I still believe that. I will be writing more about the topic of social media and the role it plays in my life, but as a blogger, I can’t get around the role that it plays in my blog. Twitter, especially.

HandCrafted

I was always a little scared of Twitter. I didn’t create one until almost a month after I created a blog. Recently, I decided that it was probably an under-utilized networking and promotion tool (for me!). So, I made a few changes, put in a little more time, and saw some fast results. This isn’t like a humblebrag. I’m sharing these tips because if I did it, you can do it, too.

At the time of publication, 12 days after writing, my following continued to grow, and I continued to engage with my audience.

 

If you are already a Twitter Professional, then this probably is old information for you. However, I would always see people who were doing great at Twitter, or so I thought, but I didn’t know how to get there. I also did math for you guys. I am not saying that this is sustainable – like I’ll grow by 30% every 1.5 months forever, but as time passes, the followers that I do have will probably become more engaged followers and a better community, so to speak, on Twitter.

Honestly, I don’t know how I started with 631 followers on January 14, 2015, when I signed up for CoSchedule. I probably relied heavily on past giveaways, which I sparingly participate in now. At the time of drafting this/doing the math – yes I had to Google basic Algebra to find percentage change! – I found that between January 14 and March 1, I increased my following by 29.95%, so 30%!

In a month in a half of engaging on Twitter:

  • I had 30% more followers
  • 9.3% of my sessions (per Google Analytics) came from Twitter.
    >>>The month and a half prior to starting to CoSchedule and changing a few habits that I’ll talk about below, I only got 3.12% of my sessions from Twitter.
  • Sometime in the last month and a half, I also added a custom bit.ly link for my blog to my Twitter page to track how many people were coming straight to my homepage after finding me on Twitter instead of just clicking a link to a post. I’ve had 50 hits, which I would guess were potentially 50 new readers. (You’ll see why this is important later!)

The Tools I Used:

If you want to help people help you, check out my post on adjusting your sharing settings!

What I Did:

  • I always schedule promotions for my own post through CoSchedule.
  • As I read through Bloglovin, I use CoSchedule and Buffer to share the posts that I like. I try to spread the love around. You can read my CoSchedule tutorial here to see how I share posts WITH pictures. The statistics vary, but Tweets with pictures get more clicks.
  • Hashtags! Put hashtags that fit the posts that you are sharing, so that they will be found by new people.
  • Retweet people: I use Buffer to fill it up with retweets. So, I don’t overwhelm someone’s feed, but I do get someone else out there. I don’t like to do “RT @soandso blah blah blah” because it usually doesn’t fit, plus it shows some else’s name and face out there.
  • I searched hashtags that were relevant to my blog, so that I could retweet the authors of the posts or find the posts/articles and use CoSchedule to share them with a photo. I mostly used Buffer to space them out at intervals.
  • Share posts, articles, pictures, jokes, or thoughts related to the content that you publish.
    >>> For instance, I write a lot about books, health, and blogging. Find out what hashtags (you can Google or search around Twitter) and see what hashtags get the most attention. While “dystonia” might be the most descriptive hashtag, #spoonies reaches a lot more people. Therefore, I use that. However, you can change the hashtags if you share something more than once.
    >>> The people who find articles through hashtags might not be reading my blog, but they start to follow me when they see that I’m sharing information that they’re interested in reading.
    >>> The custom bit.ly link lets me see that if people start following me, they are clicking my blog’s homepage. That lets me differentiate between who is clicking posts that I share of my own or who is newly checking me out.
  • Twitter Parties/Chats. I read this post about How to Win at Twitter Parties, which gave me the boost to try them out. I don’t always get new followers or anything, but I do make new connections!
  • Get on Twitter! I find using my phone a little bit hard, unless I’m just scrolling through and making a quick reply to someone. Otherwise, I wait until I’m on my laptop. Sometimes I get into some pretty funny conversations that introduce me to some new people.

Other Tips:

  • Use an app to track followers. I don’t use it to track unfollowers, but rather, sometimes I have lots of conversations with a person without realizing that I’m not following them back! I don’t automatically follow people back (because some variation of Mark Twain follows me every single week). But, it lets me make sure I’m following along with Twitter friends.

Exciting News!

Twitter chats hosted by your’s truly are coming your way!

Right now, I’m working on hosting a chat about co-morbid physical and emotional illnesses with a mental health advocate. Eventually, I will be hosting chats on all sorts of chronic illness topics in order to connect advocates who have blogs with patients. There is nothing to stop a patient with a Twitter account from being an advocate.

I write a lot about health topics, but the majority of comments come from people who aren’t sick, if I get comments. However, the posts are being read. Since I started using Twitter more, though, I’ve found that people who don’t blog are more likely to reach out to me on Twitter. It’s inspirational because I feel like giving up a lot.

[Tweet “Be clear: I don’t write for comments. I write to reach a specific set of people #spoonies”]

The reason that I like using Twitter a lot more now is that I’m finding blogs that I like, people who inspire me, and an unreached group of people: non-blogging chronically ill.

Anyway, I’m excited to use social media for good! I’ll let you know when the Twitter chats are starting. You can follow along and get news by following me on Twitter.

Also, what is your preferred time or day for a Twitter chat? I would like to hit as many time zones as possible!

Note: This post contains CoSchedule Referral links.

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What I Learned From My Social Media Break


I read a post called 8 Things I Learned from Deleting Facebook. It got me thinking a lot about social media. Thanks, Cassie!

Social Media Break

So, over that very weekend, I decided to take a break, too. Not as long as Cassie’s, but a bit over 48 hours! I jumped back in on Sunday night because I had a jammed packed week ahead and knew how many notifications could be waiting on me. I was actually kind of freaked out by how many were waiting on me. But here’s the thing… they waited! People who needed me emailed me.

It was kind of a last minute decision, so I didn’t have everything quite planned. I wasn’t able to just unplug my laptop, turn off my phone, etc. I especially needed to prep a few things and write a few non-blog documents related to my health. It wasn’t a complete and total break, but it was the start. So, I was still on my laptop writing posts, reading posts, and even participated in a Google Hangout (already scheduled last week) with other bloggers to talk about social media.

While Cassie’s post was a catalyst, this wasn’t my first break or the first time that I’ve thought about the role of social media in my life. Before I read Cassie’s post, I had already been thinking about social media. I read a post on Allison Ramsing’s blog, written by her husband, about comparing yourself on social media. While I don’t really feel that type of social media envy because I remember how I only post what I want people to see, but it can creep up when I least expect it.

Peter, Allison’s husband, brought up a ton of good thoughts about social media suffocating us, but also how about how it can inspire us. Really, I was thinking that the key was moderation, but a slow break was my foray into finding the moderation. I get tired of feeling a little tethered to social media. Also, starting last July, not long after starting a blog, it was the first time since 2010 that I had regular access to my phone or social media. Prior to that, all internships and jobs required me to leave my phone in my car.

Another reason social media has been on my mind is that chronic illness creates a lot of physical isolation. So, since I’ve been pretty sick, I’ve learned a lot about who are my friends and who are not my friends. I moved far away after college, so I didn’t hang onto a lot of college friends. Then, while I was already sick, I moved to a strange city to be near my family, so I never got the chance to make new friends.

I’ve made some good connections online, through my blog and other social media outlets (shoutout to my IG dystonia friends!). However, it’s been problematic because the relationships are still shallow. It can feel like they are real friends, even if you meet in real life occasionally. Still, it’s different. Most of the interaction is on social media. You might have blogging in common, but that doesn’t make you real friends.

So, after reading a lot and thinking a lot, I did my social media break. This was my second “break” in the past six months. Since I have a blog, it takes a little more preparation than the average person’s break, likely.

You can expect some posts in the next few weeks or month about the role of social media in our lives, especially the lives of chronically ill. There are pros. There are cons. There are ways to use it for good. There are ways to use it in such away that hurt us. I look forward to having discussions over the roles of social media in your lives!

 

How I Took My Social Media Break:

  • Turned off notifications for blog email, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • I moved all of those icons on my phone and iPad to the last page of my phone.
  • I did check my blog email regularly, but I had to manually decide to check it.
  • I prepared for the break by filling up my CoSchedule and Buffer.

What I Did Instead:

  • Read! Guys, I read. I was very disappointed in how few books I read during February. Yes, it’s a short month, but I was so sick that when I went through my Goodreads list, I found that I went a whole week without finishing a book. That’s rare.
  • I guess Goodreads is still kind of social media, but books are a priority in my life. I left a comment or two on there. I got ideas for more books to read.
  • Wrote blog posts. I love to write, so it’s kind of a treat. Also, I wasn’t flipping back and forth between Twitter and writing!
    I tend to write a bunch of extra posts to have on hand, get link ups ready to go since I have a prompt, plus wrote out a few other things that I had on my mind.
  • Worked on medical documents needed for upcoming appointments.
  • Spent time with family without checking my phone.
  • Cuddled puppies without checking my phone.
  • Directed my husband on how to do my laundry. (Bad foot guys…) No phone ever necessary.

What I Learned:

  • I usually spend an inordinate amount of time checking my phone.
  • I feel compelled to check my phone and always respond immediately.
  • I’m always looking for validation on social media. While I’ve given up a lot use of my personal Facebook page over the past year or so, my current increased use of Twitter has meant reaching for my phone a lot more.
    I can tell my husband (or dogs) my funny thought instead of tweeting it.
  • It won’t kill me not to check everyone’s Instagram pictures all weekend.
  • I still think about social media when I’m not on it.
  • I did miss interacting on some of the private Facebook groups that I’m in.

Going Forward:

  • I will probably continue to keep my notifications off. I had already turned off the email Twitter and Twitter sound notifications off. Now, I will keep the other notifications off for Facebook, too.
  • Blogging does naturally require social media interaction. I will be writing about how this is helpful for not just validating myself and getting people to my blog. Rather, the communities of the support groups that I’ve found on Facebook are great.
  • More thinking and more writing. I don’t know how to practically do this, but I do need to organize my emails so that I can respond to the most important ones first and put the other ones away for later.
  • I may prepare for better and more thorough social media breaks in the future for full vacations from it.

Have you taken a social media break? How did it go? How do you do social media in moderation? Or do you feel chained to it? Do you even think about it?

 

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Categories: blogging
5 Easy and Small Changes to Make Your Blog Better


As a blogger and avid blog reader, I’ve noticed a few things that are missing from even the best blogs.

Better Blog: 5 Easy & Small Changes to Make Your Blog Better {And Easier to Share!}

At first, I thought that there was a reason for things that I thought were “common sense” to be missing. Since the bloggers were much more experienced than me, I asked them about some of these things. Guess what. They hadn’t thought of it! There are so many things that go into creating a blog – past just writing posts – so even the best bloggers miss a thing or two.

I thought that I would share a few common mistakes that are easy to change because I find myself sending a quick email to a friend to remind her to that she might want to make that change. Now, I’ll just send a link 😉

Most of these tips have to do with enhancing your blog to make it easier for current readers to share or new readers to catch up! Feel free to leave your tips in the comments!

5 Easy and Small Changes for a Better Blog:

  • Add sharing buttons. There are tons and tons of ones to chose from, depending upon what platform you use, but you really need them.
  • Adjust the settings of the sharing buttons. I can’t count how many times I go to share a post through Twitter and it says “via @sharethis.” Then, I have to track down the blogger’s Twitter account, so I can give them the appropriate credit. So, I am less likely to share, especially if it is a lot of work to find your handle (see the social media button tips below!)

[Tweet “Adjust sharing settings to say “via @yourhandle” so you can track your shares and thank people!”]

You can even adjust the “Tweet This” plug-in setting (I figured that out while I was writing this post!) to include your handle, too! I notice that feature is missing on a lot of people’s “Tweet This” sentences, too.

  • Since people are visual, try having a “start here” page that has your favorite posts with images (all the same size and shape) or place images that link to your favorite posts on your sidebar. These get the most clicks, especially from new visitors.
    **If people are interested, I can write a post about how I made my sidebar pictures that link to my favorite posts on my WordPress blog**
  • Keep your front page “about me” that’s under your picture short, sweet, and unique. Liking coffee isn’t unique – tell me why you blog, what you blog about, or why you show up to your blog day after day! Don’t forget to link to your longer “about me” page!
  • Finally, don’t forget to have your social media buttons at the top of your sidebar, under your picture! People may want to track you down on Twitter (like when I want to share you posts), follow you on IG (because I think you take fantastic pictures), or stalk you on Goodreads (because I love books and think you have good taste). Just make sure those buttons are there!

What easy tips would you give a new (or experienced) blogger to make their blog more easy to share or navigate? What kinds of things do you run into a lot, but wish people would fix? (Like how I wish people would not have via @sharethis)

 

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Good One, Dana Fox. The Joke’s on Me.


365 Blog Topic Ideas

 365 Blog Topic Ideas Review:

So, I went through a SUPER dry spell, creatively, during the Holiday season. Everyone else was churning out cute DIY crafts, but I couldn’t get out bed. I watched a little TV and read a bunch of books. But, I couldn’t think of anything to write.  I don’t have an “editorial calendar,” per se. Like, I schedule stuff as I write it, but I read about people who post crafts on Mondays, reviews on Tuesdays, etc. Yeah, not going to happen over here.

365 Blog Topic Ideas ReviewSo, I was that “lifestyle blogger who has nothing to write about.” I decided to pull the trigger and order the book off of Amazon. It was like, well, I am paying to keep this blog up, but I’m not putting anything on it. Time to get inspired.

All I have to say is, good one, Dana Fox. Seriously, I applaud you for getting a publisher to print this fairly heavy paperback out and charge like $12 for it. It’s a glorified blog post! One idea per page. Pretty much nothing that I haven’t seen on someone else’s blog post titled “40 Blog Post Ideas” (if you put a whole bunch of them together).

As I flipped through the book, I noticed that several ideas are already link up topics that I see on a regular basis.

Link ups are a great place for inspiration, if you’re running low. Don’t follow my lead and only participate in “Currently” link ups. People get tired of those. Source: Reader Survey.

The ideas in the book are not bad. They are kind of simple, though. On one hand, that gives you latitude to get really creative, but on the other hand, if you take them literally, you’re going to end up with some shitty posts. It’s just kind of funny that I paid money for these ideas. Yes, now they’re at my finger tips. I can mark them off as I do them. Maybe they’ll inspire a good post–like if I take her idea and make it better. I do feel like I moved past “share what’s on your lust list.” (And yes, my husband got a GOOD laugh out of that prompt.)

Yes, making a collage of things I want might get a bunch of comments from people who want them too, but do I want to show off my green eyed monster, or do I want to write meaningful posts? That’s something that each blogger has to wrestle with; finding the balance between the heavy, messy posts and having fun. Blogs are a creative outlet, so I like to mix the two, of course, but I’d rather not post than post the types of things that I read and think “could that blogger have been any more lazy?”

I have no idea where I read this advice, but it makes sense to me: if you don’t have anything particularly great to post, it’s better to let a really good post sit at the top of your homepage for a few days. It can actually increase engagement on that post.

So, don’t get me wrong. This 365 Blog Topic Ideas review is not negative. It has some stuff with which you can work, but maybe split the cost of a copy with a friend. Look at it when you happen to be at the bookstore. I don’t know. It just is not worth the cost. It could have even been a PDF to get someone to sign up for a newsletter. But major props to Dana Fox for getting this published, to the publisher for creating an appealing cover (so people like me will judge it by its cover), and to Amazon for not showing any of the inside contents. I could have done more due diligence and searched out some more reviews, but I didn’t. That’s why the joke is on me.

With that being said, my husband has asked if he could use the prompts. After we unearthed his tripod blog from when he was 17 for the interview link up, he has since found his old live journal and other blogs. Since he doesn’t want to start a lifestyle blog, he’s going to be using some prompts (and I’ll make sure that he includes graphics and everything–because he’s a talented photographer and photoshop user), and I’ll post them every other Sunday, as long as they keep being funny. If he does a lust list, it’ll probably be puppies, computer stuff, and some weird science experiment kit. But, he is full of surprises. So, stay tuned.

002

 

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Responsible Blogging: Provide Context

So far, I’ve covered Avoiding Misrepresentation, Writing from Experience, and Citing Your Sources. Today, I’ll be talking about providing context for your posts! For some context, please read the introduction post.

Responsible Blogging: Provide Context

Providing Context:

In the same vein as avoiding misrepresentation and writing from experience, you need to provide the context of your opinions, if you are writing on a sensitive topic. You don’t need to bear your soul to the world, but for example, if are writing a post on why no one should ever get divorced, no matter what (an extreme example), even if you cite sources, you should disclose how divorce ruined your family, for instance.

Give people the option to read your posts in context. You don’t want blind followers, anyway. I mean, even if you are writing as therapy and want to help prevent fractured families, you never know if someone who is in an abusive situation, but is emotionally torn might run across your blog. Would you want them to stay?

An extremely sensitive topic that I see a lot of posts about is miscarriages. I see comments from other women to the posters to thank them for sharing their stories because they feel more understood and connect with the writers.

Recently, I read a post called What to Say When Someone Tells You that They’ve Miscarried, by Kate at The Florkens. Even though I’ve been following along with her posts, anyone could find her specific post through a search engine and understand her post. She gives her 6 things not to say and 3 things to say. She is understanding about the motivations behind what people say, but she lets people know how those phrases affect her and can be hurtful to anyone in her position. Her thoughts on each of her 9 points were derived from her own experiences, helpful for her readers, and provided a context for all of her points.

Personally, I found the article particularly helpful because I don’t know what to say to friends who miscarried, so I end up saying nothing other than offering apologies and food, if they live locally because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. In fact, I was recently talking to a friend about asking the pastor at her church, who has been through some hard times, plus counsels congregation members through hard times, to offer a seminar on how to handle hard situations with our friends – how we can offer tangible help instead of platitudes and what to say/not say in the even of common, yet devastating events.

Providing context is almost a combination of writing from experience and representing yourself correctly. Kate didn’t need disclaimers because it wasn’t medical advice, but it was solid advice on how to help a hurting person. She was vulnerable by sharing her experience and providing that context throughout the post, so if someone were to Google, “what to say to a friend who miscarried,” they would find solid information that they know comes from a person who has been person with a miscarriage.

EXCITING NEWS!

Put your thinking caps on because at the end of next week’s post, I’ll be hosting a link up! The topic is… drum roll please

What does responsible blogging mean to you?

The topic is very open ended. Share your thoughts on anything in the series, how you implement best practices, the types of things that you would like to see more of, etc. Please do not link to or write about any specifically bad examples. Generalizations are ok, but follow it up with examples of posts and bloggers who are “doing it right.” I would like to keep the link up positive. It won’t be a time to bash on someone who pissed you off, because we all read those types of posts. In fact, I know some people who send polite emails to the writers to point out factual errors, remind them what type of influence they have, or ask a follow up question that could prompt them to rethink their post. Writing a thinly veiled post in retaliation will be removed from the link up, as will any posts containing links to “bad” examples. I want this to be a campaign for good and responsible writing! Nothing turns people off more and ruins a message than that type of negativity.

If you’ll be promoting your post with a hashtag, please use #pausebeforeyoupublish
It’s a little long, but it is what we all need to do!

So, get ready to share your thoughts about responsible blogging next week!

responsible blogging

Previous posts:

Introduction
Avoiding Misrepresentation
Writing from Experience
Citing Your Sources

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Worried that a Creative Title Will Hurt Your SEO?


I used to use very basic titles because I thought that they would help my SEO. They do help SEO, but they aren’t eye catching, if someone is just clicking through a feed.

Titles and SEO: You can have a creative title without hurting your SEO

However, I recently found a great free online tool to analyze my headline. That made me think about how boring mine have been. I want to have it all. I want to have a great title and good SEO.

Titles and SEO:

  • Sometimes I start with a SEO keyword in mind, but other times I write the post and then pick out the keyword later. However, once you’ve picked one, make sure you put it into you SEO checker. While you’re there, go ahead and stick the phrase at the beginning of your metadata, instead of relying on search engines to look at the first 156 characters.
    Titles and SEO
  • After I write my post, I use CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer to create the best title. These posts get way more clicks because “Worried that a Creative Title Will Hurt Your SEO?” gets more attention than “Titles and SEO.” Think about it. Which would you click?
    Titles and SEOYou can go to the headline analyzer and see how it scores your titles, plus how to improve your headline.
  • I make sure that I’ve worked my keyword in to the post a time or two. Putting it in a headline, like you see above it even more helpful.
  • For Pinterest purposes, I don’t necessarily make the title of my post match my graphic. I use the graphic to “get to the point,” when necessary. Sometimes the title and graphic can go together, but I’m showing an example of ones that don’t match today. However, today’s title with another line of text like, “here is how to make sure it won’t,” would have worked, too. I just make sure that “titles and SEO” show up in my Pinterest description. See below.
  • Make sure that your title of the graphic matches your SEO Keyword and take the time use fix the “Alt Text” because that is what will show up if someone pins the graphic. You can control the keywords for Pinterest and not rely on someone else writing the right keywords:
    Titles and SEO
  • Next up is changing the permalink for you post. I want my permalink to say “titles-and-seo” not “worried-that-a-creative-title…”
    Titles and SEO Permalink
  • Don’t forget to go back and change the titles or alt text for every image on the page.
  • Outbound links help you SEO, also, but make sure they are relevant to your post. For instance, I linked to the headline analyzer. Here, I am going to link to a post about how to write the best headlines, to give you a kickstart towards writing more eye catching titles.
  • If you’ve written about the topic before, you can easily link to your own posts, too.

That’s it! While I don’t have Titles and SEO showing up in the title of my post, my SEO checker is still showing green! I love the new flexibility in naming my posts!

Titles and SEO final results

 

If you are interested in trying a two week free trial of CoSchedule for your WordPress blog, to use in conjunction with your new headlines, you can use my referral code here.

Have you ever felt constrained by SEO to name your post a certain way? Even if it’s super boring?

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

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Responsible Blogging: Cite Your Sources


Welcome back to the Responsible Blogging Series! Make sure to check out the intro post for some context. Today, I’ll be talking about citing your sources.

cite your sources

Cite Your Sources: Not everyone is an expert in everything! That’s ok! If you want to write about something that you’ve experienced, plus there are other sources (authoritative, peer-reviewed, well respected) you should include them. Not only does that boost your credibility, you are giving your readers the opportunity to glean more information. I’m not talking about copying and pasting information from a website that happens to sell a product that you’re giving tips about. I don’t trust the information when money is involved, unless, in turn, they can provide me with peer-reviewed studies that are more than anecdotal. A blog is anecdotal. A scientific study should not be.

I’ve been to doctors who know everything in the textbooks about Dystonia, but they don’t know anything about what it’s like to experience the pain or be the caretaker for a person experiencing the pain. [See what I just did? I wrote from experience!] I welcome posts by other people with conditions like mine and how they cope. The best thing about the internet is being able to connect with people who are far away, but share your experiences. What’s even better, though, is when the author cites authoritative sources for statistics that go along with personal experiences.

I see a ton of people writing about personal experiences with medications or alternative therapies, but they’ve never cited a single source. It makes me kind of sad when they are emphatic about the results they see, but they don’t even disclose that results are only their experiences.

In fact, recently, I read a great post about being a Millennial with Arthritis. I am a Millennial, but I don’t have Arthritis; however, the post was very helpful for me. I shared it with a group of non-millennials, some of whom did and didn’t have Arthritis, and they still benefited from the post. The reason that post was so great was that it came from a place of experience, but Kate also cited her sources!

Get Ready!

At the end of the series, I will be hosting a link up where you can write about your thoughts on responsible blogging!

You can catch up on the series here:

Intro
Avoid Misrepresentation
Write from Experience

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: blogging
Responsible Blogging: Write from Experience


Welcome back! If you’re just joining the series, please take a minute to read the series introduction, for context.

I want to remind you that as bloggers, your words have weightYour words can build people up and your words can tear people down. Your words can give someone the gift of mutual understanding, but your words can damage someone who is vulnerable.

Responsible Blogging & Writing from Experience // You have the ability to give the gift of mutual understanding, so don't misrepresent yourself as a detached professional

Today’s post is about giving the gift of mutual understanding!

Writing from Experience:

You would never post a recipe for a dish that you didn’t try first. You would not write a post on how to save money on a cruise, if you’d never been on a cruise. And you certainly would not write about how to build a bookcase, if you’d never even picked up a hammer!

If you do want to write about tips for grieving, how to cope with depression, or share any great life lesson that you’ve learned, that’s awesome! That’s why I read blogs. That’s probably why you read blogs. I’ve read where people have written over and over to other bloggers that the fact that someone shared their personal experiences helped them cope with their problems.

For example, Leah, of My Favorite Adventure, recently wrote a post about grieving over at Life as The Artist. I loved her post because it was entitled God Doesn’t Waste Our Pain. She isn’t a counselor or a someone who has experience in pastoral counseling, but she wrote from her own experiences. She talked about losing loved ones, but how that grief turned out to let her be a comfort to other people. Her post was based on the following verse:

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Her post gave personal examples about the verse. It was inspiring to me to read about her experience. In fact, when I think about my own pain, I really can’t stand another scientific book written by a dispassionate doctor. I want to read examples of the promise that my pain will not be in vain being lived out. So, for me, her story was more powerful than 5 Tips on Accepting Pain.

So, you don’t need misrepresent yourself as a professional, because personal experience resonates with everyone! Pretending to be an actual expert could cause someone not to get the professional help that they need. Write with a tone of empathy and experience. People will value your tips and experiences. However, if you are misrepresenting your experiences, your reader may not continue to look for other answers, if their problem isn’t quite the same as your’s.

My point is that you need to make sure that your posts cannot be perceived as the end-all and be-all of advice on any one subject because not every reader is as discerning as you might be.

Previous Posts in the Series:

Intro
Avoid Misrepresentation

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

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CoSchedule: Increase Promotion & Interaction

CoSchedule Review: How I used CoSchedule to increase my blog's traffic and engagement on social media.

I’m here to share my CoSchedule review because I am so excited about this service. I’ve played around with a lot of free and similar services in the past, but the ease of using CoSchedule, because everything is right in one place, convinced me to keep the service past my two week trail.

I started using CoSchedule at the advice of some fellow bloggers, when I asked how I could share Facebook posts more efficiently with a different program. Everyone wrote back that I should just switch to CoSchedule! After two weeks, I absolutely had continue with it. Not only does it make prescheduling promotions especially easy because the prompts you within WordPress to schedule promotions before you even post, but you can share your friends’ posts and other interesting information with your readers on a variety of platforms.

With just a little work upfront, to make up for the fact that you just started using CoSchedule, you can leave your laptop, smartphone, and tablet and go live the life that you blog about!

CoSchedule Review

In the past, I used to send out one tweet and one Facebook post when my post went live. If I saw a post I liked, I would click the share buttons on the post, but, if I read a few good ones in a row, I would not share as many because I didn’t want to clog my feeds and turn off readers and followers.

Here is a screenshot of the first few days that I used CoSchedule:

CoSchedule Review

*These are my experiences with boosting my traffic, but the streamlining of promotion will be the same for everyone!*

Since I’ve never been much for Twitter, I started slowly adding more tweets. I shared a few of my own posts, but I also shared some from friends. You can see that the first Saturday that I used CoSchedule, I promoted my posts almost hourly. Normally, I get zero Twitter referrals. I was hesitant about losing followers by over tweeting, but instead, I got 27 Twitter referrals. I attribute some of the success to making sure that I added hashtags to the tweets. In the past, the auto-tweets that I would send out through a plugin on WordPress, I couldn’t customize the messages, so that the Facebook and Twitter messages were different.

With CoSchedule, you can easily schedule promotions for the day of, a week after, a month after, or even months after the initial posting, if you have evergreen material. In fact, if you write something seasonal, you can go ahead schedule it to be promoted during the next Christmas season! (I know it seems premature, but you’ll probably thank yourself later!)

Share Your Own Content:

CoSchedule ReviewSchedule from CoSchedule’s Website

CoSchedule Review

Or schedule straight from WordPress!

Share Other Posts:

Also, like I mentioned above, you can easily share material from other bloggers or websites! I have found that sharing great content from other bloggers is helpful in building relationships, and your followers appreciate good content. If you are adding value to their Twitter or Facebook streams, they are more likely to keep interacting with you. I know that I love when I see a tweet that provides information that helps me better a writer, blogger, or deals with issues that I care about. So, if you know your audience, you can add value and not just bother people!

Here is an example of how I share great content with my Twitter followers:

First, I find something of value. This article will appeal to people with chronic illnesses, like me. I already have a lot of followers who deal with chronic illness, so sharing something funny, but meaningful is important.

CoSchedule Review

After I find the article, I go to the CoSchedule website and create a social message. If my day is already scheduled full of messages, which it should be, I set it to tweet or share on Facebook at a later date. Sometimes I go in search of articles to share, so I devote maybe 20-30 minutes, but other times, in my general internet browsing, I find something.

CoSchedule Review

After choosing the profile or profiles to share the article/post, I can start creating my customized post. Sometimes I use the same text, but set it to share on different profiles at different times, but other times, I choose to only share it on one platform. I tend to share much more frequently on Twitter, where I’ve read that the average life of a tweet is 15-18 minutes.

CoSchedule Review

Then you need to decide if you are going to have a link post or picture post with a link. By placing the link under “link post,” and then clicking the “image post” tab, CoSchedule will pull pictures from the article, but you will need to go ahead and re-paste the URL into the text. CoSchedule will ago ahead and shorten the URL, so you won’t need to worry about it taking up your 140 characters!

From what I’ve read on several sites about social media engagement, tweets with pictures are far more likely to be clicked because they are more eye catching. I haven’t looked at my own analysis yet, but I try to evenly use pictures and text tweets, if I am doing a lot of promotion for a single post in a short amount of time. If I am only tweeting someone’s post once, I try to use a picture. Or, if I have not promoted a certain post recently, I definitely use a picture. I haven’t sat down to look at the analytics of which of my posts are bringing in the most clicks, yet, but when in doubt, I use a picture!

CoSchedule Review

My number one tip is not to simply paste the title and URL into the box and tweet it out. Once you read the article:

+ Think about the post as a whole or what key piece of information that you took away from the post.
+ What would make you click the article? Write that! This applies to your own promotion and promotion of the material you are sharing.
+ Sometimes I even ask people their opinions on the post, when it’s an article can spark a discussion!
+ Again, use hashtags because they give your readers a quick overview of the topic and new readers/followers may find you, if the article is of interest.

The articles that I share are in line with the topics that I write about, so if someone finds my tweet with a hashtag and visits my blog, they will find more posts of a similar nature, turning them into potential new readers!

So, you should definitely try CoSchedule, if you are interested in prescheduling with ease, increasing your interaction with readers on various social platforms, and possibly increasing traffic to your own site.

If this post helped convince you to try a two week free trial, please use my referral code here! (I put a lot of work into this!) Once you’ve signed up, also check out the very generous referral program to help defray your own costs!

Additionally, the CoSchedule blog is a great resource on maximizing the effectiveness of CoSchedule and all things social media. I recommend checking it often!

I can guarantee that I’ll be scrolling down to the bottom of this screen to set up promotions on Facebook and Twitter as soon as I finish editing! [CoSchedule can also link to Linked-In, Tumblr, and Google+, if you’re so inclined.]

CoSchedule Review

Disclosure: This CoSchedule review contains referral links and was written as a part of the referral program. However, the opinions and tips are entirely my own.

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