You don’t need a new site, you just need to clean up what you already have! Learn how to take small simple steps to audit, update, and cleanse your website, so you can attract and convert more of your IDEAL clients. These 5 tips will help you make the most of what you already have, while helping convert more visitors into followers and customers.Read More
Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to do a little digital feather dusting!
With this in mind I’ve prepared a short list of VIQs (Very Important Questions) you can ask yourself, so you can spruce up your blog and your blogging strategy.
Why bother with a blog & Content audit?
Once you’ve been blogging for a while - at least 12 months - you’ll likely have some content that could use a look-over with fresh eyes. There are also simple things you can do to improve your content strategy.
Not only will you gain some insight into your readership, you have a clearer understanding of:
- What's working
- What needs updating
- And what can be simplified
While this list is in no way all-inclusive, it will give you a great starting point to figure those things out.
Regular blog audits are the secret to getting the most ROI out of your content. You put so much care, time, and energy into creating your content, so why wouldn't you nurture it to keep it alive and well?
If you’re only 6 months or less into blogging, then bookmark this post for later (in the meantime, you can check out 14+ ways to drive traffic to your new blog).
7+ Easy Ways to Spring Clean Your Blog & Content Strategy
Now hold on - I’m not suggesting you must do everything on this list, or take a full week out to go through all your posts with a fine tooth comb, but it’s a good idea to make this type of tidying up a regular activity - at least an annual blog audit.
Ok, let’s get to it!
CONTENT STRATEGY: BLOGGING
These days, I always start with strategy because otherwise you can end up wasting a lot of time and energy (like I've done in the past...)! By analyzing your stats, you can see what content has been working and where to spend your precious energy.
1 | What were your top 5-10 blog posts over the past 6-12 months?
These topics resonated the most with your readers, so...
- Keep popular topics in mind for future posts.
- Take note of the questions from readers in the comments - can you expand on any of the questions in new posts?
- Looking at your most popular topics, can you update the posts, or write new ones, or even a series of posts?
→ Further reading: 50 ways to give an old post new life
2 | How can you repurpose your best content?
- You could write a roundup of your most popular posts that year.
- Schedule those popular posts to be re-promoted on your social channels - pull quotes, use a different title, use a different image for Pinterest, etc.
- Create simple content upgrades (aka lead magnets), like checklists, guides or cheat sheets for your subscribers.
→ Further reading: 7 Best Locations to Find + Convert More Subscribers on Your Blog
CONTENT STRATEGY: SEO
3 | Where is most of your traffic coming from (and going to)?
For example, if you spend a lot of time on Facebook but are seeing an increase in traffic from Pinterest, it's time to switch up your strategy.
- Have you set-up Google Analytics to track where your traffic is coming from?
- Are you making best use of your social media?
- Focus on the social channel which is working for you.
- Make sure your profiles are filled in with your bio, blog information and a link to your website.
- If you’re advertising, has it been worth it?
→ Further reading: 3 (Surprising) Reasons Your Blog Isn’t Ranking + What to do About it
4 | How is your SEO performing on the topics you want to be known for?
Can you improve your search engine optimization on those posts?
- Have you optimized your most popular posts?
- Are you qualifying your traffic with long-tail keywords?
- Can you update the metadata for search engines, such as title tags and meta descriptions?
- Are you optimizing your images for search?
→ Further reading: 5 Essential SEO Strategies to Boost Your Traffic
TECHNICAL BLOG CLEAN UP
5 | Is your site secure?
If you’re using Squarespace, your site is automatically secure - yay!
Are your plugins and theme reliable and up to date? If you’re using a content management system (CMS) software, like Wordpress, you should keep everything up to date for security reasons.
→ Further reading: 5 Simple Steps for a More Secure WordPress Website
6 | Are you providing a great user experience (UX)?
- Is your blog easy to navigate?
- Are you using categories and tags to organize your posts (and help people find more content of interest)?
- You don't want to waste page load time on plugins you aren't using. Are there any plugins you're not using that you can remove?
- Do you have any broken links? You can check this easily by adding Google Search Console to your blog (if you don't already have it) or use a free tool like Broken Link Check.
→ Further reading: Don't Build Your House on Rented Land (Why You Still Need a Website)
BEAUTIFUL blog POSTS: VISUAL CLEAN UP
7 | How do your recent &/or most popular posts + your sidebar look?
Is there anything in your sidebar that isn't vital?
- Do you have ads that are only earning you a few cents every month? Having your blog looking neat and tidy is probably worth more than those ads are earning. Why not replace with a sign-up form or image link for your own content?
- Are you cluttering up your site with badges, “awards" and things that don't really add value to your readers? A handful of “as seen on” brand name sites or an (inter)national well-known award make sense, other than that, try to keep your sidebar clean of other people’s logos.
- Is everything in your sidebar aligned and similar in size? This simple change can make a huge impact on the professional-look of your blog.
Keep people on your site or signing up to your mailing list with a clean & simple sidebar.
Do your images have the “Pin me” factor?
- Can you update the images for social media?
- Is it easy for readers to share your images on Pinterest or any other social platform?
→ Further reading: Pinterest for Business: My Secret Weapon for Growth (+ Free Checklist)
Let’s face it, no one’s blog is spotless, flawless or immaculate (especially underneath the surface, however gorgeous)! But checking what’s working + updating, streamlining and optimizing is good practice. Ideally you can do it on a seasonal basis, but try and make time for it at least once a year.
We’re spring cleaning our sites - join us!
Come join us this month as we do some digital spring cleaning. Share your before & afters with the hashtag #springcleanyoursite or join my mailing list for subscriber-only tips.
Do you ever audit your blog? What do you check and update?
Let’s air some of our blog’s “dirty laundry” in the comments…! Or share your blog housekeeping tips.
I get this question all the time: “How do I get people to read my blog?”
Whether you’ve just started a blog or you’ve been blogging for a while, you can’t just expect people to find you without any effort on your part!
Once you’ve got (at least) a handful of value-packed posts, driving traffic to a new blog, or boosting traffic to an existing one, involves three main activities: community building, SEO, and promotion.Read More
Learn my favorite free tools that make blogging easier, from creating beautiful graphics to getting more shares on your blog posts. Plus download my free cheat sheet with 6 must-have blogging tools!Read More
Images can increase customer engagement in general by about 40%, and customers who identify with your brand are twice as likely to buy. Find out where you can find feminine styled stock photos for free or cheap so you can uplevel your brand design!Read More
It's January, which means I'm deep into reviewing stats for 2015 for clients and myself. I'm a huge believer in tracking everything you do in business and adjusting accordingly. It might sound like common sense, but many bloggers don't do this!
Quick Stats on My Blog From 2015 vs. 2014:
Overall Traffic: +108%
Bounce Rate: -6.4% (a good thing)
Social Traffic: +54%
Referral Traffic: +124%
Organic Search Traffic: +425% (I'd hope so, considering SEO is my specialty!)
Slowing Down to Transition + Find Clarity
If you've been following along this year, you may remember that I took a few months off from new clients, slowed down on blogging and accepted guest posts instead, and slowed down on social media.
I was going through a break up from a 7.5 year relationship and moving across the country, so naturally, things had to slow down. I gave myself time and room for the transition.
My reason for sharing that is to show that it's okay to not reach your goals.
In the end it gave me more clarity on the direction I want to take my business (and life in general, obviously).
It wasn't what I had intended for this year, and I didn't reach all of my numbers-related goals, but overall everything worked out how it was supposed to.
And looking over my stats above, I guess my growth was actually pretty good.
Top 5 Ways I Grew My Blog Traffic in 2015
Referrals to my website from Pinterest grew 1,300%, from 1,000 in 2014 to 14,000 in 2015 (making up 61% of my social traffic this year). That number is not to be taken lightly!
The key here was improving some of my older images and trying to keep Pinterest in mind when creating new ones. Large, easy to read text is important.
I also started scheduling my pins to post in the evening when more people are on Pinterest. You can do this with a number of tools such as Buffer or Viral Woot (which were the two I used).
Now, you might think posting my Stitch Fix reviews is unrelated to business, but I did get a client through a review. PLUS, I strongly believe in my client Ustyled's philosophy on the power of your presence and how you show up.
Referrals to my website from Twitter grew 306%, from 920 in 2014 to 3,737 in 2015 (making up 16% of my social traffic this year).
I can attribute this partly to three things:
- Scheduling: I started scheduling at least 4 tweets per day at varying times. Some of these tweets are my own content and some are sharing content from others (and being sure to mention them with an @ when possible).
- Photos: I've read that including a picture with your tweet can increase engagement up to 180%. I definitely agree that it helped my click-through-rates during 2015. I had been using Hootsuite but switched to Buffer because the photos in Hootsuite would be attached as a link rather than the actual image showing up in the timeline. This may have been resolved by now, but I love Buffer and will stick with it.
- Twitter Chats: I love Twitter chats! I started with #ellechat earlier in the year and started branching out and attending at least one every other week. I haven't done many in the past few months, but am excited to get back into it. Chloe Social has a handy list of Twitter Chats, or click on Part 2 below to see a few of my favorites.
One of my top referral traffic sources was Running with Spoons. Each Sunday she posts a Sunday Link Love similar to what I post, but she includes a link-up at the bottom where readers can add their posts.
Adding my link to her link-ups referred 1,514 people to my blog in 2015, which made up 12% of my referral traffic. I didn't post my link every Sunday because I often forgot or was trying to not work weekends, but I can see that it was worth it.
If you choose to try this method, make sure it's an appropriate match. Amanda's link up is great for me because her audience is mostly health and fitness bloggers, which makes up a large part of my target audience as well.
The posts I share with them have value, and I enjoy clicking through the other links because it's in my area of interest.
As I mentioned above, I switched to Buffer this year. I mostly use it for Twitter, and my favorite feature is the analytics (naturally..I'm an analytics nerd).
Being able to sort tweets based on how well they performed has been a game changer for re-purposing content.
Not only does it make it easy to re-buffer them, but I also get an idea of what copy or language resonated best with my audience. It's an easy way to split-test headlines or blog post titles.
You can use Buffer for all of your main social channels excluding Instagram (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest). I had been using Viralwoot for Pinterest, so this made it much easier to have all my scheduling in one place.
Another aspect that helped my click-through-rates was setting up a pre-determined schedule so I can easily add content to my queues and they will post at my best times.
Search Engine Optimization
My organic search traffic grew 425% during 2015, which accounted for 12.6% of my total traffic. I consistently optimized each post and photo, as well as gained more back-links. Those are just a few of the on-page factors, but the longer you have your blog and consistently post quality, relevant content, the better your SEO will be overall.
If you'd like to improve your SEO for 2016, you can start by checking out my SEO Basics series.
Ready to grow your blog traffic in 2016? Download the '31 Ideas to Grow Your Traffic' eBook!
Next week I'll be breaking down my social media growth in 2015, with a free social media tracking template (Excel Worksheet).
P.S. The template will include my real numbers as a guide. I love when other bloggers provide real behind-the-scenes stats, so I'm opening up and doing the same!
In the Comments:
If you already have a blog, what was the top way the grew your traffic in 2015?
When you're running your own business and website, there are times when certain tasks get pushed further and further down the to-do list. I know one of those tasks for a lot of people is website security. You might find yourself saying things like, "I'll get this taken care of next week," or "I know I need to do this, but it can wait until tomorrow." Tomorrow turns into the next day. The next day turns into next week, and pretty soon it's months later, and you still haven't taken care of it. Our guest author today is Anna Bogushevskaya. She helps build and maintain websites, so part of her job is ensuring all of her clients understand and keep up with website security. Lucky for us, she's sharing 8 powerful tips for WordPress security. These are simple and quick things we can do right now. And on top of tighter website security, we'll have a greater peace of mind! Read on for her awesome tips.
Several years ago, when I started building websites, I learned about WordPress security the hard way.
One morning, I switched my computer on, opened my site, and…Boom!
I saw a black screen with a brutal man carrying a couple of pistols, saying, “Your site has been hacked.” There was even some rock music playing in the background. Yes, the hackers went all out with background music and a graphic.
I wasn’t impressed.
The situation was terrible. The whole site was gone. I had no access to the dashboard, and moreover, I hadn’t backed anything up.
I looked for support from my hosting company, but they deleted all my databases and returned everything I had to zero because I was hacked.
“Amazing” support, right?
So I had some major damage control to work through. First, I had to rebuild the website from scratch. Second, I never wanted this to happen again, so I asked myself, “What should I do to avoid this situation in the future?”
I studied a lot of resources to get the answers, and after implementing the following tips, I haven’t had any more hacking experiences.
So, now I want to share some basic tips to keep your WordPress site secure. These 8 tips for WordPress security are quite simple. Anyone can follow them, even if you’re not technically savvy. Let’s go!
Change Your Default Admin Login Name
When you install WordPress, it uses “admin” as the default username for the administrator account. This admin username should be changed right away because most hackers know that WordPress suggests “admin” as the login name by default. Of course, hackers will try to gain access to your site by using this username. It’s the first thing hackers will try.
Here’s a great post that will walk you through changing your WordPress username if you didn’t do that when first installing.
Regularly Back Up Your Website
These days most people know the importance of backing up your site. But, just in case you haven’t thought about it yet or you haven’t taken steps to make it a regular task, I want to reiterate how important it is to never miss this task. Make sure your website and all databases are backing up to some external disk or the cloud, preferably once a week.
Many hosting companies suggest you back up services as well. But, at the very least, it’s always a good practice to back up your site and databases to external sources, like your computer, an external disk, or Dropbox.
Another option is to install a backup plugin.
Here are a few great plugins I’ve tested.
This is a premium backup plugin for WordPress, and it’s the most popular. You can schedule your backup as a daily, weekly, or monthly task. You have the option to store the files in Dropbox, Amazon, FTP, or to email them to yourself. They have different payment options, as well, either a yearly subscription or a lifetime license.
This plugin allows you to create a complete backup of your site, as well as to store it on the cloud service or download it to your computer. This plugin is free, but it has a premium version with extra features.
This is a free plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a backup of your entire website and its database then upload it to your Dropbox account. Dropbox is also a free service, which gives you space to store files on their cloud server. Another great thing about this one is that by backing up everything to your Dropbox, you can access your files from any device. All you need is an internet connection.
The premium version of this plugin allows you to create scheduled backup tasks and get a backup status e-mail that reports copy, clone, or migrate websites.
With the free version, you’ll need to backup manually.
This free plugin is one of my favorites. I use it on almost all my websites and suggest it to my clients as well. With this plugin, you create a schedule, upload the files automatically, and store them on the cloud (Dropbox, Amazon S3), FTP, email them, or store them directly on your computer.
I like BackWPup because it’s extremely easy to set up and use.
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
Many people still think WordPress is not a secure CMS (Content Management System) because of its open source. But the WordPress platform takes security seriously. Even some big media and government sites are using WordPress, so it’s a secure and stable platform, especially if we’re talking about a small business website.
The most important issue here is that you should keep WordPress and all plugins up to date. Because, normally, every update contains the most important security updates as well. When you see the notifications that an update is available, make time to keep everything current.
Use Strong Passwords
This is simple. Uppercases, numbers, special symbols, and long passwords work well. Never use your name, your spouse’s name, your date of birth, or any other personally identifiable number in your passwords. Make it harder for automatic tools to guess your password. The more random the better.
Use a Good and Reliable Hosting Company
I have a lot of personal experience with different hosting companies, both good and bad. For instance, the one I mentioned above, who deleted all my files from their account, was simply bad and not a helpful company.
Moreover, sometimes some bad hosting companies will even make your site “hacked,” and then instead of any support, they quickly suggest you use their partners’ services to clean your site from malicious code. Of course, this requires money and is usually not cheap!
Look for a hosting company that gives their attention to security. Choose hosting that:
- Supports for the latest versions of PHP and MySQL
- Is optimized for running WordPress
- Has great customer support (so critical)
- Has malware scanning built in
But when we’re talking about hosting, the most crucial thing I look for is how their support system works. I'll only work with a hosting company that cares about a lot of things for me. Even if I’m asking them something silly or something they’re not responsible for, I want to know that they'll help me out. Also, they must take their security system seriously.
I can’t stress this enough. Good hosting is big deal.
Make Sure You Use Correct File Permissions
Even though this is a bit on the technical side, it’s an important part of keeping your WordPress site secure.
Setting a directory with permissions of 777 could allow someone to upload or modify a file, which can ultimately cause a malicious attack. Here are a few quick and dirty tips.
- All directories should be 755 or 750
- All files should be 644 or 640
- wp-config.php should be 600
For more details, check this WordPress guide about changing file permissions.
To get started, simply go to your File Manager from cPanel and check the codes there, just in case.
Hide Your Login Page
This is one of my favorite things because it’s so simple but so very useful.
When you install WordPress, it gives you a default login URL for your admin dashboard. It’s either “/wp-admin/“ or “/wp-login.php.” Malicious parties know this, so they try to attack your login page. Moving your login page makes it difficult for hackers to perform a brute force attack.
Here are few good plugin solutions for this.
Hide Login+: This plugin allows you to create a custom URL for login, log out, sign up, and Admin pages.
Lockdown WP Admin: Another plugin that hides the WordPress admin.
Anything you can do to make a hacker’s task more difficult is a win for your security. They might just move on to a less secure site that will take less time and effort to get into.
A Few All-in-One Solutions
You may also want to consider an all-in-one security solution to protect your website. WordPress has a few good plugins that will take care of a lot of security issues for you.
Just remember to install plugins from reliable sources only. Preferably, they should be published on the Wordpress.org website.
Your website’s security is something you need to take seriously. If your site is hacked, there’s a high risk you’ll be blacklisted because your site will send spam (usually this is the main purpose of hacking your site). Even if your site is new, don't think it'll go unnoticed. Newest websites are even more likely to be hacked.
Start with these simple tips and you'll greatly reduce your risk of meeting a hacker's smile one day, like I did.
Anna Bogushevskaya is a founder of "Digital Drive with Anna." She's a Digital Marketing Strategist with a focus on Search Engine Optimization. Anna helps bloggers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to optimize their websites, get more free traffic, and achieve better positions in search results.
Having a self-hosted website and email list is still vital to operating an online business. Having your tribe opt-in to your email list is much different than having them follow you on a social media channel.Read More
Hi there Danielle fans! My name is Lindsay Cotter and I blog over at Cotter Crunch. So happy Danielle is letting me share her space today! Anyway, about me. I'm married to a former pro triathlete (now full time endurance coach). I’m also a Nutrition Specialist for Endurance Athletes and Gluten-Free eating. My blog is a gluten free guide (for all). Basically I like to FUEL others with EASY and DELICIOUS gluten free recipes. I also do my best to share proper nutrition tips and tricks as you work to keep your body and life in balance. Just consider me your gluten free house wife with food as fuel to support.
Now, about that food. We gotta make it look pretty right? I mean, that’s half the fun (in my opinion). So today I wanted to share my tidbits on food photography. Only this time it’s not with any fancy camera, nope, it’s with a SMART PHONE!
Easy Food Photography Tips Using Your Smart Phone. These tips have helped me become a better photographer in general. But regardless, having a great smart phone camera is KEY!
Oh instagram, how we love thee! It’s definitely the most popular social media platform these days. And I would agree, it’s my favorite, probably because you don’t have to think much. You don’t need 140 characters or less, you don’t have to state your “status.” You don’t even have to say a thing. All you need is a picture. And for many, that picture is their creative outlet. It’s a glimpse of their passion. It’s a way to express their style. It’s a way to see the world’s most amazing places without even leaving your house.
Well, that’s my reasoning for liking instagram, or any other form of photography. I love to edit pictures or create a story. And I love to use my camera and/or smart phone to capture moments that are worth “savoring.”
I know I know, corny. But it’s the truth.
And you know what? Using a smartphone for food photography has made me a better photographer in general. It’s almost like you get to practice before the real deal, ya know?
So with that being said, let’s talk ways to improve your food photography with a smart phone. I may not be an expert, but practicing these tips sure have helped me find new creative ways to photograph food --> simple and engaging.
FIRST --> Find good light!
Natural light. Try getting next to your kitchen window, or the window of a restaurant. Soft light (diffused light) works best. That means early to mid morning or just before sun set. These “golden hours” create a look that’s inviting, warm, and soft. Not harsh or grainy. Oh and be sure to turn off the flash! If you are shooting indoors, look for softer light or candle light and edit with a cool filter instead.
SECOND - Have fun with props!
I’m sure you have some spare kitchen towels, herbs, fruit, or something that brings color to your picture. Play with different styles. Have fun mixing and matching with your food. Ya, I so love doing that. Really!
THIRD -- Don’t be afraid of the stand up shot (in public).
Yep, stand up over your food. This works best for natural light settings. I love capturing white plates from above because it really makes the color of your food ‘POP.' And yes, I did stand on chair, on a restaurant patio, in front of people, to get that picture. Totally worth it. Makes me happy every time I see that lovely set up! Haha.
FOUR -- Use the rule of threes.
Usually an odd number of items work best in photography. 3 muffins, 3 plates, etc. Here I used the new LG4 phone and took a picture of 3 muffins at a side angle. Then played with it snapping 6. Which do you like better? Well, I kind of think both are equal but that’s because that camera is that amazing. But in general, odd numbers of items always photograph better, especially in a square instagram space.
And FIVE -- Lock your focus or make sure your hands don’t shake.
This will allow for spectacular close ups! You can lock your focus and adjust the shutter speed on most iPhones and Androids. Just going into your camera settings and check it out there. Here’s a tutorial link.
This will help with blur and allow more or less light in, similar to that of a DSLR. Pretty impressive, right? Another way to reduce shake trick is to place your hands on a water glass when taking a picture of your food, this will help reduce the shake when you snap the photo. Oh and be sure not to hit the camera button full force. You must be gentle.
All this said and done truly comes down to the type of camera phone you have and camera editing apps you use. Having a phone with great clarity and function can be key to improving your smart phone food photography.
Favorite Camera Apps – VSCOCAM, SNAPSEED, CAMERA AWESOME, and VIBRANTLY are some of my favorites for editing food photos on your smart phone/iphone. I've used all these apps on almost all my pictures in my instagram feed.
So tell me, what’s your favorite app for smart phone trick for photography? I’d love to hear more!
Cheers to technology that makes us hungry!
Once you've gotten readers to your blog, you want to keep them engaged. You want them to start clicking around and interacting with you and your content, getting to know you, and getting as much value as possible in each visit. This list is short and sweet so you can start employing these right away without getting overwhelmed.
1 | Link to your other posts in your blog post.
3 Ways to Successfully Use Internal Linking:
- Use keywords within your post to link to related blog posts. Make sure the links are natural and valuable to your audience, and only include three or four.
- Manually add your own in a list at the end of your blog post.
- Install a plug-in to do the work for you. I've used Yet Another Related Post Plugin, but there are many options out there.
2 | Make blog posts super easy to share.
List your social icons toward the top of your page, and have easily accessible icons for each post. Toward the bottom or by the title is ideal.
Don't make readers search for your icons. They don't have time for that. I've heard the argument for keeping them tiny in the footer so that readers focus on signing up for your newsletter. I get it. But I don't agree.
3 | Customize your social plug-ins.
Too many times I share a post on Twitter from someone's blog and it still has "via @shareable" or "via @sharaholic." Please, PLEASE, go into the settings and change it to your Twitter handle. This way, you'll see the tweet and be able to interact with everyone who shares your content.
In the Comments:
How do you keep readers engaged?
I've been haunted by perfectionism my whole life. I tend to be very hard on myself for making mistakes or not getting the results I've envisioned. Starting my own business brought this to light even more, but also helped me overcome it (to some degree). I've made so many mistakes since starting my blog, alone.
A Few Mistakes I've Made Since Launching My Blog:
- Just last week I forgot to change the subject line in my email newsletter, so it ended up going out with the same subject as the week before. (Sorry, guys, I'm sure that was confusing! My open rate was still 34%...this is why I love my readers.)
- In fact, I'm not that great with emails in general. That little description at the top of the email in MailChimp? My enemy. (Sorry, Danielle!)
- I almost always edit a blog post after it's already gone live.
- I had image examples for this blog post that I've been saving for awhile...but now I can't find them.
- I constantly forget to share things to my Facebook business page.
- I've shared things to the wrong Facebook business page! (ugh!)
- I've spent money on WP themes I've never used.
- I had two websites when I launched. I've been doing this long enough to know better. Oh well.
- My SEO plugin was messed up for an ENTIRE YEAR. I specialize in SEO.
But you know what? Nothing bad happened. I survived. If anything, I've learned from all these little mistakes and have learned to move on quickly. I don't have time to worry about it because I'm already moving on to the next thing (client work, blog post, ebook, redesign, etc, etc.)
One of the hardest parts of starting a blog was the fear of putting myself out there. Creating each blog post and planning each social media post can be a laborious process, even without the nagging feeling of making them perfect. So I get it.
I've gotten that same response from clients time and time again. For some, it's so paralyzing that they don't launch at all.
Yes, you want a decent looking blog or website. Yes, you should write quality content. And yes, you should interact with your followers with care and authenticity.
But does ANY of it need to be perfect? No!
Other common complaints:
- My tagline doesn't feel right yet. Let me think about it some more..
- This is something I've dealt with personally, but honestly, it has not made one bit of difference this past year.
- I'm waiting to get better head shots.
- My website doesn't look as nice as X, Y, Z (usually being compared to people who have been doing this a loooong time).
- I want to complete this course before launching so I have more to offer.
My advice is to just get your stuff out there. You will evolve and figure it out as you go.
You have to start somewhere, and you can't learn what your audience wants if you aren't building one.
A cool trick that I read about a few weeks ago was to look at your favorite blog in the Wayback Machine. See where they started. This particular example was of Marie Forleo (click there to see a very early version of her website). We all know she's a blogging and business genius now, but she built that over years of hard work. She's evolved over the years, changed her tagline, changed her look, etc. You will too. I promise.
Start with what you have and build from there. The experience is more valuable than how your website looks, or how many courses you've completed, or your tag line.
In the comments:
What mistakes have you made since starting your business? Or what fears are keeping you from starting?
First, you know you need an email list, right? And you know what to write about? Now it's time to work on increasing the size of that list. I was listening to a podcast about how a popular food blog grew their traffic, and they just happened to mention HelloBar. I had noticed it on other blogs I follow, too, like Quick Sprout. I was working on some changes like improving my images, so I figured I'd give it a try. I spent about 15 minutes setting it up, and didn't think too much of it.
I thought of it as just an experiment and figured I'd take it down after a month. However, after only a week, I noticed a huge difference. This one small change tripled my monthly email sign-ups. (Oh, and did I mention it was free?!)
Hellobar features I love:
- There's a free option. Enough said.
- Very customizable. Everything from colors and styling to targeting and goals.
- A/B split testing! This means you can test out multiple versions and see which one works best. This is a great way to choose the call-to-action wording for any other email opt-ins on your site.
- Analytics that tell you where your top converting traffic is coming from and how to improve your sign-ups.
- User-friendly interface that makes creating the opt-in super easy (+ fun!)
4 Other Ways to Increase Your Email Sign-ups
- Opt-in Pop Up Box - I don't love the idea of these, but when done well, they can be effective without hurting your traffic.
- Add a sign-up box in your header or sidebar, preferably above the fold (what people see before scrolling down)
- Add a sign-up at the bottom of your About page
- Promote your newsletter on social media
Do you already use an opt-in bar? If not, I'd love to know how this works out for you!
Let's get right to it. The one change I made was improving my blog photos. I've been thinking about this for months, but between clients and writing the blog posts themselves, it didn't happen. Right before Christmas I decided to just dig in and try some out. I redid a handful of photos, shared them on Pinterest, and got an excellent response overnight.
Since then, I've redone a few more and continue to get loads of traffic from those first few "new" images. Pinterest has now become my top referral source. My traffic also increased from many other sites, like StumbleUpon, Facebook and LinkedIn. I started re-promoting the older blog posts that had gotten a facelift.
It's still a work in progress, but I had to share in case any of you are not focusing on your images!
Changes Made to Blog Photos
- A few months ago Sarah recommended that I make my images as wide as my blog text.
- Invested in a $10/month stock photo site called Death to the Stock Photo
- Optimized them for Pinterest. I started choosing vertical images and adding large, clear text.
Tips for Perfect Pinterest Images
- Ideal Size: 735x1100
- Best times to share: 2-4pm and 8pm-1am
- Large, clear text
- Add a good description - blog post title + hashtags + any other relevant info
I'm working on a blog redesign, so you may notice my images continue to change as I figure out exactly how I like them.
P.S. I use PicMonkey and Canva to create and edit the images on my blog.
If you make any of these changes, come back and let us know how it went!
Do you optimize your blog post photos for Pinterest or any other social network?