Last Updated September 18th, 2018

The Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Blog Name

The Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Blog Name

One of the most challenging things to do when starting a blog is choosing the right name. There are so many possibilities out there, but a lot of them have been taken already. How do you go about choosing a blog name?

Starting out with the right name for your blog really matters. Lots of bloggers end up rebranding after a time because they realize the name they first chose wasn’t a good choice. Maybe it doesn’t fit with what they’re doing or it’s too easy to confuse with another site. Whatever the reason, rebranding is a pain, and you’re better off getting your blog name right the first time.

This can be a frustrating process. You go through all the steps to pick a perfect blog name and…

Someone beat you to it. Domain not available.

It happens a lot.

Don’t be surprised if you go through a few names before picking one. I was lucky enough to have a lot of possibilities when I named my site, and while it’s probably not perfect, it has worked well enough for me.

Choosing a blog name that reflects what your blog is about and who you are takes several steps. This process may also help you narrow down your niche so that your blog is more focused.

Write down any blog names you come up with as you go through this process. Inspiration may strike several times for names, but they won’t all be good ideas. Still, you don’t want to lose that one great idea because you didn’t write it down.

I’m going to give you a lot of information here. Don’t let it overwhelm you or keep you from picking a blog name. You don’t have to follow every step. Just take this advice as far as it helps you pick a name and forget the rest. Don’t let this process slow you down as you start your blog.

Do You Want To Use Your Name?

Some people use their first or last name as a part of their blog name. It gives you the potential to make the blog more personal. Using your name can be great for branding.

But it can also be too personal. You may not want your real name out there so easily. This is why many bloggers choose a pen name for themselves and use fake names or initials for their kids. It gives a little privacy while still allowing you to be personal.

blog name ideas

Make Up A Word

Many websites have done well with made up words. Think about Google, Twitter, and Pinterest. Choosing a blog name that is a made up word has some advantages.

The disadvantage to made up words is that no one has any idea what to expect from you. The name gives no expectations. You have to build those completely from scratch.

On the plus side, you have a better chance of finding your domain available if you make up a word. There’s no competition for it unless someone else had the same idea already. If you’re creative enough about it, that won’t be a problem.

It can also be great for branding. What that word comes to mean will depend entirely on what you make of it. That can be powerful.

Consider Your Blog Topics

What is your blog about? Have you given your blog topics enough thought?

It’s easy to say that you’re going to create a general blog, one that covers a wide range of topics. You have so many interests you’d like to write about, and surely there are enough people with similar interests that you can make it work, can’t you?

Can’t you?

I would urge you to think carefully before choosing this option. Yes, I write on a pretty broad range of topics. They all relate to stay at home parenting, but it’s a broader topic than I would recommend in most cases. You may be smarter to tighten up your niche.

There have been times when I have considered breaking this site into smaller topics. I even broke off the home business section into a new site for a time. But eventually I put it all back. Keeping up with multiple sites was too much trouble, and there was still overlap between what I wanted to do with each site.

Write down all the topics you want to blog on within your niche. If you have a few niches to consider, use a page or column for each one so that you keep the ideas separate.

One or more of these words may be something you want to use in your blog name. Others you absolutely won’t want to use. Cross the unusable ones out and think harder on the ones that have possibilities.

set up blog

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Start thinking about who you hope to attract with your blog. Men, women, what age range, interests, education and so forth.

Next, consider why you want them to come to your blog. Will your blog be informative or entertaining? Are you trying to make people laugh or make them think?

Your blog title must work to attract your target audience. For example, if you’re creating a blog about parenting tips for dads, and you’re trying to keep it informative, which of these titles do you think will work? Which will keep your target audience away?

  • Family Antics
  • When Mom’s Away…
  • [Familyname] Family Adventures
  • Daddy’s Time To Play
  • The Kingdom Of Dad
  • Geeking Out With Dad
  • The Kids Did What?
  • Active Dad
  • Attached Father
  • Father Knows Stuff
  • Effective Parenting For Dads
  • Daddy Days
  • Tired Dad, Wild Kids
  • Playgrounds, Tools, And Trees
  • Some Random Dad
  • Tool Sets and Toy Boxes

What you may note about these is that some have the obvious “Dad” or “Father” keywords and others don’t. You don’t have to use keywords, although they can help. But sometimes it makes more sense on the marketing side of things to have an interesting name rather than one that is focused on the right keywords.

Your blog name is about attracting your target audience. Pick the blog name you think will best attract readers, not just search engines.

Read Similar Blogs

No matter your niche, there are probably a ton of other blogs on the same topic out there already.

I mean a ton.

Read some of them, especially the ones that are doing well.

What does this have to do with naming your blog, you ask?

It’s called inspiration.

Reading what others have written in your same niche gives you more than just ideas for blog posts. Sometimes you can pull a blog name from it.

It may not be obvious. You don’t want to copy their name, after all. But they may post something that triggers an idea for you. If you get an idea, write it down.

Your long term goal in reading related blogs is to figure out how you can do better than they do. They’re the competition, after all. But in the early days when you’re learning, they’re great for inspiration, not only for naming your blog, but also for topics you will want to cover as you go.

Try A Blog Name Generator

There are sites out there that will generate blog name ideas for you. This can be incredibly helpful if you’re struggling with choosing a blog name.

I would treat these blog name ideas the same as any you come up with on your own. Write them down and think about it a little. You don’t have to commit to the name in that instant. You might even combine a generated idea with ideas of your own.

Here are a few blog name generators to consider:

These generators will give you lots of ideas for blog names. Most won’t be what you’re after, but you might strike gold with the perfect name.

You usually don’t want to buy your domain name from one of the generators. What’s available there is the same as is available anywhere. Besides, you need to give things a little more thought before you register your blog name.

blog name thoughts

Start Playing With Your List of Blog Name Ideas

Now is the time to have some fun with the ideas you’ve come up with so far. Consider blending two ideas into a new idea. Spin one blog name idea into something entirely new.

Write down all the ideas you get, good and bad. Even names you know you won’t use will sometimes trigger a better idea.

Don’t follow just one blog name idea to the bitter end. Follow several ideas and see where they take you. Fall down the rabbit hole for a little while. Inspiration needs time to strike.

Don’t hyphenate your blog name if you can help it. People hate typing hyphens.

Using hyphens also means someone can have the unhyphenated version of your blog name. You don’t want that. The unhyphenated version of a domain is always more memorable.

Eliminate Blog Name Ideas That Won’t Work

This is something you can do as you go but can wait until you have a bunch of ideas.

There are a lot of good reasons to eliminate possible blog names. Start out with the ones you immediately don’t like.

Some names can be eliminated because they won’t age well with your blog. If you’re starting a parenting blog, for example, referring to babies in the title may not be a good idea unless you plan to always focus on babies, regardless of the ages of your own children.

A domain name can also be too limiting. It can imply that your niche is more limited than you want it to be. If your cooking blog name focuses on desserts, but you post recipes for all kinds of meals, you’ll confuse your readers. They may forgive you, but it’s not great for marketing.

Others won’t work because someone else is already using something the same or too similar already. Check trademarks and available domain names. If the name you want is already in use, cross it off your list. If there are any potential legal issues with a name, cross it off your list.

While dot coms are generally considered better domain names, people are getting more used to other extensions. Just be careful when using a name that someone already has the dot com version of. If it’s in active use, it will be confusing for readers, who are more likely to type in the dot com version of a domain name.

You may also want to confirm whether your blog name is available as a username for your preferred social media sites, such as Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter. Your marketing will be more effective if you can be consistent across as many platforms as possible.

Important:

Don’t forget to consider how a blog name reads. There’s the infamous example of penisland.com… which is the domain name for Pen Island. You don’t want your blog to have that problem.

writing

Run The Name By Your Friends

Talk to friends and family about the names you’re most serious about. Get their opinions.

Someone who isn’t emotionally attached to the project can sometimes see problems more clearly. A name you’ve fallen in love with might have a problem that someone else can see. Better to find that out before you register the name.

You want to know how they would pronounce your domain name. Do they get any other words or meanings out of it, especially anything objectionable? You also want to know if they think people will be able to remember the name.

This should help you avoid the problem of readers misinterpreting the kind of blog you’re running when they see the name. No guarantees, of course – it can be surprising what different people get from your blog name.

Register Your Domain Name

When you’ve settled on your blog name, it’s time to get the domain registered. Most people register their domains wherever they’re hosting. It’s easier, but not a requirement.

Namecheap is a popular choice for domain names. They’re very affordable. They also offer hosting, but you don’t have to get your hosting there. It is a good idea, however, to get your hosting taken care of as soon as you get your domain name. You should be about to get things moving with your new blog, after all.

I host with A2 Hosting, not with the company I register my domains at. I like A2 better for hosting.

Shop around not just on price for your hosting, but on quality. The cheapest host is rarely the best. A slow site won’t do as well with the search engines and will annoy visitors. Read reviews and make sure you’re getting high quality hosting before you sign up with anyone.

While you’re at it, sign up for your first social media accounts for your blog. It’s usually more effective to have your blog’s social media separate from your personal social media.

Get Your Blog Running

Once you have your blog named, registered and hosted, get moving on it. Write your first posts.

You have things moving. Now is not the time for procrastination or fears.

The sooner you really get started, the sooner you can build good blogging habits. In addition to writing your first posts, you should be creating images for them, and sharing your posts on social media.

Don’t expect great things right off. It takes time.

Experimentation is a part of writing great blog posts and making your blog something others want to read. Test different writing styles, images and so forth to figure out what it is that people want from your blog.

Make time as you go to learn how to make a social media strategy. Figure out what works best for marketing your blog. There’s a big learning curve, and you’re just at the beginning.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 26th, 2018

The Essential Guide To Writing Great Blog Posts

The Essential Guide To Writing Great Blog Posts

Is blogging working out for you? Some people find it comes easy, but many really have to think about what they’re doing to get anywhere. Writing great blog posts is hard work. You need to master your techniques.

My own process for writing is something of a combination of techniques. Sometimes I’m super organized – I know the topic, the headings and subheadings all in advance. It makes writing so much easier.

Other times, inspiration flows, and I have to scramble to catch ideas as they come. I can be mid-sentence and come up with an idea I need to note right then, or the idea will be gone before the sentence is complete. It’s so frustrating trying to remember that perfect addition to a post when the idea vanishes.

And of course, everything in between.

While this may look like a lot of steps to get ready to write a blog post, it really doesn’t take that much. Most things are a matter of routine, and won’t take any significant time at all. Some parts may take a while on some subjects, but that’s when they’re important to the quality of your post.

ready to work

Make Yourself Comfortable

Where do you do your best writing work? Is that your best place today, for this article you’re going to write?

Most days, I write in my office, at my desk. It’s private enough that no one is looking over my shoulder, but I leave the door loose enough for the cats to come in, so they don’t pester me clawing at the door.

But there are days that my office is just not the right place to work. That’s okay, being able to work in many places is one of the perks of working at home, after all.

The right place to work is often a balance between comfort and distractions, along with your needs for the day. If you have young children, there may be days when you have to work in the same area that they’re playing, because they need supervision. Other days, you may need to work behind a closed door because you need them to let you work, and someone else can take care of them.

Make your home office a great place to work. The more you love your home office, the more you will use it.

Have a healthy snack and drink at hand too. I keep an insulated water bottle at my desk at all times, so that I don’t have to get up for a drink. The insulation ensures that it doesn’t leave water from condensation all over my desk.

brilliant ideas

Generate Brilliant Ideas

There’s no way to start writing great blog posts if you don’t have great ideas. There are a lot of ways you can generate blog post ideas, given some time.

Once you have the basics of an article idea down, it can be very helpful to sit and brainstorm for a little. There are few things as frustrating as staring at your computer, with the start of an idea, but no idea where to take it. Brainstorming can help you work past that.

Start out with your basic topic, and then figure out what you want to say about it. What are the major points you need to make?

Brainstorm in whichever way works best for you. Some people prefer pen and paper. Some like to use mind mapping apps. Do your brainstorming in whichever way works for you.

If you need to choose an app, consider your needs, and try a few out first. Many let you make three or so mind maps free. That’s enough to get a feel for if it’s the right solution for you without paying for the full version. Free mind mapping software tends to not have as many functions as the paid versions. There are free, web based tools such as WiseMapping you can consider as well.

You don’t have to use every idea you come up with in your brainstorming for your current post. Some will be much better suited to future articles. If you plan well, you can make these so that one post can be linked naturally to the other, encouraging readers to spend more time on your site.

Note which areas will require more research as you brainstorm. There will be things you know off the top of your head, and things you don’t.

You can also create a basic outline for your blog post if you like, using the points you brainstormed. I only occasionally make outlines, but there are times that they’re a huge help.

Brainstorming can be a great activity to do when you have distractions and can’t sit down to write for an extended time. You don’t have to brainstorm for something you’ll write immediately. It can be for the future. Some people brainstorm a full week’s worth of posts or even a month or more ahead.

write great titles

Come Up With A Great Initial Blog Post Title

Once I know what I’m writing about, it’s time to give the post an initial title.

This doesn’t have to be much. Sometimes, it’s just the keywords for the post. Other times, I think I know what I want the title to be right from the start.

If you want to give your blog post a really interesting title that pulls readers in, you can use a blog post title generator. Sometimes these will even give you an angle for your post that you hadn’t previously considered. Here are some of the blog post title generators I use:

Coming up with a tentative title can be done before or after brainstorming ideas. It depends on where you are, idea-wise. Sometimes your blog post title will send you right back to brainstorming.

You want a title to start off. This is what gives you direction in your writing. You can change it later if you realized it’s not the best title after everything has been written.

Beware These Title Mistakes

If you do much reading online at all, you know there are a lot of awful article titles out there. People do strange things when crafting their blog post titles, all because they want to get attention. Here are some of the biggest blog title mistakes you can make.

Inaccurate Blog Post Titles

Readers hate inaccurate blog post titles. They want to know what to expect right from the start.

Clickbait titles do a lot of this. They make it sound like the story or article they link to is a big deal.

Something life-changing. Something you never thought of.

And then it’s something routine.

You know how annoying that kind of title is. Don’t do it for your own blog posts.

But it doesn’t take clickbait to create an inaccurate blog post title. All you have to do is write a title that sounds like your article covers information it doesn’t. Consider these examples.

How To Have A Great Work At Home Day

If you use this as a blog post title, you need to consider the entire work day, not just the start of the day. You’d probably want to include break times, distractions, and prepping for the next day in your post.

Consider also:

10 Great Affiliate Marketing Tactics

You share nine great affiliate marketing tactics, but you ask readers to supply the tenth tactic in comments.

If you say how many tips you’re providing in a post, you need to provide at least that many tips. It’s okay to provide extras and call them bonus tips, but don’t shortchange your readers.

Unclear Titles

Titles that don’t make it clear what the article is about are annoying. They don’t bring in traffic because they leave readers thinking “huh?” when they read them.

A good title makes it clear what the reader will get from spending their precious time reading your blog post.

Bad post title examples:

One Year Of Working At Home

This title could be so much more interesting. There needs to be more information about why that year mattered. A whole year is a difficult time to cover in a single blog post anyhow.

Are You Ready?

Ready for what? You might be trying to build anticipation with a title like this, but it won’t work in isolation, and you have to assume readers will come upon your blog posts on their own.

Beautiful Sunsets

Sunsets are beautiful, but what’s so special about this post discussing them? The title could be improved by saying where they’re from or noting something else of significance.

Your blog post titles need to give enough information to attract readers. Unclear titles don’t do that. Add in a little more information to make your titles stronger.

Too Many Words

It’s easy to get wordy in your blog post titles. It’s how most people talk.

A great blog post title isn’t wordy. It may be long, but the length is necessary in that case.

Use power words as much as possible in your blog post titles. This list from Sumo may help.

A power word evokes emotion or triggers curiosity. Clickbait titles use a lot of power words, but you can use them effectively. Consider this title rewrite:

How To Get Your Teen To Listen To You When They’re Stubborn And Moody

Sure, that’s a problem lots of parents have, but it’s also a lot of words for a title. Your title needs powerful words to make it more effective. Something along these lines may be more effective:

Effective Ways To Talk To Your Headstrong Teen

Lists of power words probably won’t be enough to fix every title you write. If you’re concerned that the word you want to use isn’t strong enough, look up synonyms for it. You will often find a stronger word that has the meaning you need.

Keyword Stuffing

Keywords are necessary to a successful blog post, and putting them in your blog post title can help. What you don’t want to do is stuff them in.

Your blog post titles should read naturally. Titles such as The Best Work At Home Tips For Work At Home Moms don’t read that way. Changing it to The Best Tips For Work At Home Moms makes a much better title. You still have to live up to that title in your post, but it’s better.

Avoiding all of these doesn’t guarantee that you have written a great blog post title. It doesn’t guarantee that your post will get a lot of attention. But it should help.

I’ll readily admit my titles aren’t always great. They’re one of the things I’m trying to improve. It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort.

research

Research Your Great Blog Posts

The best blog posts often take a little research. Citing other resources can make your blog post look more authoritative to both readers and the search engines. There are a few ways to do research for a blog post.

Solid research for your posts should give you things to add to your posts that you hadn’t considered before. There will be times that researching your post takes more time than writing it. When done properly, that’s a good thing.

Choose your resources wisely. They should make you and your post look good. Inaccurate information will make you look bad. Take the time you need to gather accurate information.

The Article That Inspired Your Post

If an article elsewhere inspired your post, try to use it as a reference. This can be as simple as a brief mention that you had been reading it, or as detailed as crediting it with whichever information you took from it.

How much credit you give depends on how much you took from the article. Be clear about what in your article came from elsewhere.

Google It

If you need solid information on a subject, you can also search on Google or other search engines to find what you need. Make sure you appropriately credit the resources you find, of course.

HARO

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is great if you want to ask people a question and share their responses in an article. You can get anywhere from a lot of responses from questions posted there, to no responses at all. It depends on the kind of question for how many people consider it something worth answering.

Tell people upfront in your HARO request what they can expect from you in terms of a link back or other credit. Subscribe as a source to get a feel for how people phrase requests in your niche. I’ve seen requests that promise not only a link back, but a link to a social media account and request a headshot photo to use as well.

Consider Your Own Experience

Some of the information for your blog posts will relate to your own experience. It’s much easier to write clearly about things you understand well, even when you have to dig up more information on the topic.

In most cases, you should make it clear when discussing your own experience. Not everyone will have the same experience, after all. This is especially true when making financial or health claims. Your experience is an anecdote. It probably won’t hold true for everyone, even if they do exactly as you say you did.

start writing

Start Writing Your Great Blog Post

Once you feel you have everything you need pulled together, it’s time to start writing.

One tool I use sometimes is Google’s voice typing feature in their Docs software. If you know what you want to say in your article, it can be faster to say it than to type it. This can also give your article a more conversational tone.

It can also take a lot of editing. Voice recognition is pretty good, but it’s not perfect.

Otherwise, start writing.

You don’t have to start at the beginning of your post and work straight through to the end. There are times when it works better to start with a subtopic and write the introduction later. Do what makes sense to you for that blog post.

The most important thing to do is give yourself enough time to write. Writing great blog posts takes time. The more information you want to get across, the longer it will take.

Not every blog post you make as to be this huge deal. You can write simpler blog posts that are useful to your readers as well.

Write A Great Introduction

You don’t have to start with your introduction, but you probably will most times. It’s a logical place to start.

There are several ways to start a blog post out to draw readers in. You only have a short time in which to do that. If you bore readers from the start, they won’t reach the finish.

Introduction questions can make for an excellent beginning to a post when used correctly. They can get readers thinking about the topic you’re writing about. Consider these possible starter questions:

  • What if your kids kept their rooms clean?
  • How often have you tried making graphics for your blog posts, but ended up with a mess?
  • Have you ever wished your yard was easier to care for?

From there, you can take your readers from that question to the solution you’re providing.

You need to consider your readers’ needs right from the start. While starting with a question isn’t the only way to do that, it is an easy way to start.

Write With Empathy

If you’re writing about a subject you know well, you were probably in the same spot as your readers at some point before you gained the knowledge you’re now sharing.

Think back to when you were learning. What was hard to learn? What obstacles did you face?

If you write as though you’re far above the readers who are learning from you, they won’t enjoy reading what you write. Be down to earth. Share your challenges and mistakes.

When relevant, share a personal story. You don’t have to do this every time. It will make your writing more when you do.

I’ll admit I don’t always get personal. I suffer from a miserable level of social anxiety. Writing personal things can bring me close to panic on bad days. I’m working on it.

See what I did there? It’s only a brief mention of something personal (and it was hard to write and hard to leave in), but odds are you found it more interesting than the more informational parts of this post, which can get dry at times.

Give More Than Expected

Readers love it when you give them more than they expected to get from your blog posts, so long as that extra is high quality. This is how you stand out from the crowd of other bloggers in your niche.

Don’t give the exact same advice that you see on every other blog in your niche. Give contrary advice when it works. Sometimes it helps your readers to see that the most popular advice is not the right advice. Challenge your readers.

Write A Great Conclusion

Just as you want your blog posts to start strong, they need to finish strong. Don’t leave your readers disappointed in the end.

What makes a great conclusion depends on what you’re writing about. If you want readers to take action, make sure there’s a strong call to action at the end of your blog posts. If you want them to laugh, make the end of your post funny.

Where’s The Money?

A part of writing great blog posts should always be figuring out appropriate ways to monetize that post. In the long run, that’s often what people need most from their blogs. The readers and fans are nice if you get them, but money pays the bills.

Be picky about how you monetize your blog. Don’t add links to just any old product. The items you recommend must be high quality. Great product recommendations help you build trust with your readers.

Remember to use a link shortening tool such as Thirsty Affiliates to make it easier to manage your affiliate links. There are other ways to make it easier to manage your affiliate links in your blog, but a plugin is often the easiest solution.

If you can’t find an appropriate product to recommend, don’t recommend any. Lowering your standards just to monetize a post won’t do your reputation any favors. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Do not overdo the affiliate links in your posts. There’s a definite difference between recommending products and being a shill. It doesn’t matter if they’re all great products – stick to the most relevant ones to the post.

Links To Make You Think

A great blog post often has a lot of links.

You should always link to your resources, of course. They deserve credit, and it makes you look more like an authority. Search engines also like it when you link to high quality resources.

Make sure you also link to other posts on your blog. The helps keep people on your site, which is good both for added chances to make money and to make you look good to search engines.

Blog Post Writing Fails

We all make a lot of mistakes when writing. We stress over the wrong things. Consider these mistakes, which can take a blog post from great to merely adequate, or even terrible.

Stressing The Deadline Unnecessarily

If you work for someone else, you probably have hard and fast deadlines. if you work for you, they’re probably self-imposed.

If you aren’t meeting a deadline you set for yourself, rethink whether it’s necessary. Sure, you may like to post on a schedule. Your readers may be used to your schedule.

But if missing your self-imposed deadline means you write a better post, so be it. Readers can be very forgiving if the wait is worth it.

In the long run, it’s a much bigger mistake to publish a post that isn’t polished and ready to go.

For example, I had originally planned to finish writing this blog post on Saturday, so I could create images for it and polish the writing on Sunday, then post on Monday. The posting date was pushed out to Tuesday as I thought up more things to add to the post, and was still writing late Sunday night.

No Examples When An Example Would Help

Oh, the temptation to leave this section blank. It would be the perfect example of what this section is about.

But it would be too confusing if I did that. An example with no explanation is often worthless.

If you’re explaining how to do something, give an example whenever possible. Recipe posts do this with photos of the recipe in progress on many sites.

Your example can be an anecdote about how you did something related to your post or a tutorial on how to do the thing. It can be a hypothetical situation used to explain things. Think of things that will make your point clearer, and use them as examples.

Inconsistency

It’s easy to be inconsistent in a blog post. If you want your blog post to look good, you need to fix that.

Don’t start out calling things “tips” and change to “reasons” or “steps” mid post, for example. If the post title says you’re giving tips, that’s what you call them.

Your overall style should be consistent as well. If you use a personal tone, keep being personal. If your tone is more professional, keep it professional.

formatting tips

The Importance Of Formatting

Formatting is a big part of a well written blog post. If it’s nothing but paragraph after paragraph, it gets hard to read fast, even if the information is solid and well written.

Headings Make A Difference

wordpress headingsUse headings to break up your blog posts into sections. WordPress makes this easy with the different types of headings, so you can have subheadings for each section as well.

Many blog themes use Heading 1 (H1) for the blog post title, so I suggest leaving that one alone unless you know it isn’t used for anything else. Heading priority uses the smallest number for the most important topics, which is why your title gets the H1 format.

This means the main sections of your post will use the Heading 2 (H2) format. If you need subheadings, you can go to H3 and so forth.

You should start a new heading or subheading every few paragraphs. If you use Yoast SEO, you will note that it marks your Readability score down whenever you go over 300 words in a section. That’s a fair approximation of where you should add a heading. There are reasons to make sections longer, but think it over when you do so.

Headings and subheadings should be treated somewhat like titles. They’re for smaller subjects, but they should be interesting when possible. They should be relevant as well as interesting. Plain is appropriate at times, but not all the time.

Lists Add Style

When appropriate, numbered or bulleted lists can add interest to your blog posts. Sometimes your entire post will be a list, such as 100 Simple Work At Home Tips. Other times only a small part of the post will be a list.

Blockquotes & Pull Quotes Get Attention

Using blockquotes to emphasize examples on your posts can make them much more visible. That’s the quotation mark button on your Visual Editor in WordPress. In most themes, it indents the enclosed part of your post and sets it off in some way, such as a change in color or with a border.

If you’re comfortable with CSS or can have someone make some up for you, you can change up the blockquote formatting to suit your preferences. The Customize section of the Appearance menu has a space where you can add additional CSS to your theme.

Pull quotes are a great way to emphasize important points that don’t belong in a blockquote. A pull quote is usually off to one side or the other and is in a larger font.

You can use CSS to create pull quotes, or you can use a plugin such as Perfect Pullquotes. I don’t consider a plugin necessary for this personally, but I can see where someone who isn’t comfortable with CSS might make that choice.

It only takes a few moments to create the CSS to make your pull quotes pop. HTML Dog has some great tips to set your pull quotes aside so they don’t cause problems for visitors who use screen readers. Not all of your visitors will necessarily use your typical visual browser, after all.

glass ball

Add Images And/Or Video For Emphasis

Relevant images and videos add a lot to most blog posts. They give your readers something other than a wall of text to look at. They can be a huge help in illustrating the information you’re trying to share.

When possible, use images or videos that are informational. Recipe bloggers do this when they include images or a video of how a recipe is made. That’s a huge help when explaining a complex process or trying to show exactly how something should look as you make it or when it’s done.

Screenshots and screen capture videos are extremely helpful when you’re writing about something that can be done on a computer. You can mention a feature of a piece of software you’re reviewing, for example, but if your readers can’t find that feature, it won’t do them any good. A screenshot or screen capture can help them understand how it’s done.

If the post doesn’t need images or video to explain things, you may still want to include images to make the post more visually appealing. Find images that relate to the post in some way. You can even take a quote from your post and overlay it on an image, as a fancy pull quote.

High quality images are also important for social media uses, especially visual sites such as Pinterest. I’ve written in the past about how you can control which images can be used on Pinterest. It’s important that you do so, or readers may pin images from your post that you don’t want on Pinterest for one reason or another.

It’s easy to find free images you can use on your blog posts. Be picky about the images you use when you don’t create your own. You want your images to look professional, no matter the source.

rewrite title

Rework Your Blog Post Title

I always give my blog posts a tentative title right at the start. Mostly it has to do with the keywords for that post, although I try to take it far enough to know what direction I mean to go with it.

But the title isn’t final until the post is completely written. That’s because writing will sometimes take your post in an entirely new direction from where you started.

Take a look at the title you started with. Does it fit with what you said?

If it doesn’t fit, you have to rewrite it. But there are more factors to consider. You don’t want all of your blog post titles to be boring. Just dropping your keywords down as a title isn’t enough. You want to grab potential readers’ attention.

While you don’t want your blog post to look like utter clickbait, you do want it to appeal to readers. You need to use words that make your subject more interesting.

There’s a reason why titles such as “The Ultimate Guide To (fill in the blank)” are so popular. But if you’re describing your post that way, it had better meet the expectations created by that title. Given how often such descriptors are used, I think there are better ways to bring attention to your blog post. Consider some of these lists of blog title tips:

The great thing about social media is that you can use several different titles or descriptions to link to your blog post. It doesn’t always have to be the same phrase over and over on all your social media accounts. Change it up. Test things. Consider what works on each social media site, rather than doing the same thing on all of them.

Yes, you should look at your blog post title both when you start writing and when you finish. It’s what readers see first. A great title can have a huge impact on the success of your blog posts.

fresh eyes

Look Again With Fresh Eyes

If at all possible, take a look at your blog post with fresh eyes before publishing. This makes it easier to catch mistakes and gives you time to think of things you need to add to your post. There are a few ways you can do this.

Wait A Day

Wait a day or so before editing your blog post. It won’t be so fresh in your mind, so you’re more likely to catch any mistakes you’ve made. This can make the difference between writing great blog posts and writing pretty good blog posts.

Editing right after writing is often a mistake. You know what you meant to say. That makes it very easy to see what you think is there, rather than what is there.

While your word processor or web browser probably has a spell check function that automatically marks when you’ve misspelled a word, it probably doesn’t have a grammar checker. Grammatical errors are very common.

I like to use Hemingway App to check my posts. It’s easy to copy and paste into the editor to see what it thinks. I don’t make all of the changes it suggests, but I consider them all. It’s free to use. There’s a desktop version as well.

Read It Out Loud

Reading your post out loud can help you catch mistakes you didn’t notice while reading silently. There will be times that you’ll say “wait, that doesn’t sound right” when you read something when it sounded just fine when you wrote it.

Have Someone Else Read It

This is the one I’ve always found most difficult. Have someone read your blog post before you publish it, and give you feedback.

This can be incredibly uncomfortable. It can also be effective.

The other person has to be someone whose judgment you trust in matters of writing. You should use your own judgment in any changes you make, regardless of someone else’s recommendations, of course.

Trim Your Post

After you’ve looked things over, you may find things to cut out of your post. This is a good thing.

When you use more words than your blog post needs, it’s harder to read. Long sentences are also hard to read. Read through your post looking for things to cut. This goes for individual sentences as well as the overall post.

Short is not the goal. Effective use of words is.

finished

Do I Have To Write In This Order?

No. Not a chance

Starting out with brainstorming, doing research and such before writing is not absolutely necessary. There will be blog posts where you sit down and write the whole thing out with no trouble at all.

These tips are helpful for those times when the ideas aren’t flowing and you need a little extra help to get things moving. They’re a way to work around writer’s block, or to work when you have distractions keeping you from fully focusing on your writing.

Many of my posts I start out just writing, then get an idea that requires some research, and then go back to writing some more. Other days, I need that brainstorming time. Odds are, I’ll get more than one blog post idea out of that step.

Writing a great blog post won’t always be easy. It’s hard to create something that will draw readers in.

You have to keep trying. You won’t improve if you don’t.

The more you work on your blog, the more naturally it will come. The steps that seem so difficult now will become easy with practice. You’ll learn how to make it work.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 4th, 2018

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’re probably trying to earn money at it. It’s a natural step to take. Blogging takes time, and if you’re serious about it, you’re spending some money on it too. Why not make it a money making venture? Affiliate products are a great place to start, so long as you can simplify linking to affiliate products. This is pretty simple in WordPress.

Note that you may not be allowed to use affiliate links on the free version of WordPress.com. They have a lot of rules you have to follow.

Dealing with ALL the links is one of the challenges of affiliate marketing. You can’t recommend just a few products over and over again – your readers will lose interest. If you don’t simplify linking to affiliate products, you’ll have to log into your affiliate accounts every time you want to add a link or keep a huge spreadsheet of them. Either way, that’s tedious.

There are a few good ways to handle this. The most powerful ways to simplify linking to affiliate products cost money, but that’s worthwhile when it saves you time and effort and makes adding links much more natural.

Why Shorten Your Affiliate Links?

Shortening your affiliate links does more than make them easier to remember. It also makes it easier to change them if the affiliate program changes networks or ends.

I’ve had both happen several times in my time as a blogger. It’s not all that rare for a company that uses ShareASale to move to Commission Junction or vice versa. An independent affiliate program might move to a network, or a company that uses a network might decide to start an independent affiliate program.

If you put your affiliate links in exactly as they were given to you, you have a tedious job ahead of you when these changes happen. You have to find all these links and change them.

If you shortened your affiliate links, you only need to change the redirect. If you’ve linked to multiple products from a program that changes you’ll still need to change all of them, but changing your redirects is far easier than digging through all your posts to make changes.

Which Programs Shouldn’t You Simplify?

I do not recommend shortening all of your affiliate links. In particular, do not shorten or otherwise cloak your links to Amazon.com. They’ll ban you.

Amazon links are already nice and short. They use their amzn.to domain to shorten links for you.

Odds are that you will link to a lot of different products on Amazon over time. Shortening these yourself would not only be against Amazon’s rules – it would give you an absurd number of shortened links to keep track of. It’s far easier to just get the link from Amazon each time.

Free Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

.htaccess

I’ve used my .htacess file for many years now. It’s fairly simple, although it also requires that I remember what I called each link. Otherwise, I have to go to that file and look up the link.

.htaccess redirects are super simple to write. Open your .htacess file in Notepad or another text editor. The code is:

Redirect permanent /linkname URLofyouraffiliatelink

Change /linkname to whatever you’re calling your link, and URLofyouraffiliatelink to the URL the affiliate program gave you for what you’re linking to.

It may be a good idea to make a spreadsheet of the links you’ve shortened with.htaccess. That’s easier than opening it to see what you’ve got when reusing a link. I would suggest using the link name, affiliate link URL, company and the exact product name you’re linking to.  This should make it easier to find the products you’re looking for. If an affiliate program ends or changes, this will make it easier to figure out which links you need to change.

Many bloggers don’t like messing with their .htaccess files. There is a risk to this method if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can royally mess up your site if you get things badly wrong in .htaccess. I’ve never had a problem, but I can see where mistakes happen. This is why many bloggers prefer to use link shortening plugins.

Free Link Shortening Plugin

Finding good quality link shortening plugins was challenging. Many are no longer updated. This makes them a little risky to use, as there can be compatibility issues.

Easy Affiliate Links – Helps you manage your affiliate links. Gives you the option to cloak them or not. This plugin also gives some statistics, but you will have to buy an add-on if you want better statistics.

Fortunately, many of the paid plugins have free versions, for if you just aren’t ready to pay for all the features. If these free plugins don’t look good enough to you, go for the free version of a paid plugin, and update when you’re ready to spend the money.

Free Auto Linking Plugin

You should be very careful in using auto linking plugins. If you use them excessively to link automatically to other posts on your site, you can incur a penalty with Google. However, they can be extremely helpful in automatically adding affiliate links to your posts, especially if it also add the nofollow attribute.

Auto Affiliate Links – Adds affiliate links automatically. You can set select keywords and links manually if you so choose. This plugin gives the option to add a nofollow attribute and to limit how many affiliates are added to a post.

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Paid Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

ThirstyAffiliates

Like many WordPress plugins, ThirstyAffiliates has both a free and a paid version. The free version is good enough to get you started, but you get significantly better features in the ThirstyAffiliates Pro add-on.

The free version gives you features such as affiliate link shortening, link categorization, link picker tool, the ability to add “nofollow” to affiliate links, and more. It even tracks which posts and pages you have used affiliate links on. All of these are wonderful features.

The Pro version gets even better. You get advanced statistics reports, for example, which are a huge help if you want to know which products are performing best for you. It also gives you automatic keyword linking, so that even your older posts can have affiliate links added automatically.

If you want your affiliate links to redirect quickly, you want the Pro version of ThirstyAffiliates, so that the links are written into your .htaccess. This is much faster than other kinds of redirects, and as you know, speed is vital online. People aren’t patient with slow redirects.

These are just a few of the features of ThirstyAffiliate. If you want to see the full list, visit the ThirstyAffiliates site.

Pretty Links

Pretty Links Pro has a free version called Shortlinks by Pretty Links. The free version gives you many of the important things, such a few types of redirect, nofollow, and click counting.

The Pro version adds a lot of features, including tracking pixel redirects, conversion reports, auto linking of keywords, and split testing of redirects. There are quite a few more features I haven’t listed here.

It can also add affiliate link disclosures on pages, posts, custom post types and on individual links. I keep a general affiliate disclosure on all pages of my site for simplicity’s sake. Disclosure is important for many reasons, which is why I keep it on all pages. Not only do many affiliate programs require it, laws often do as well.

Remember To Nofollow Affiliate Links

Ultimate Nofollow makes it easy to add rel=”nofollow” to links when appropriate. Nofollow is an important attribute to add to affiliate links. Google expects this. This plugin makes it easy. Some of the link shortening plugins also allow you to add nofollow, so this may not be important for your site if you have this ability already.

If you don’t use a plugin to add nofollow to affiliate links, it’s easy to do manually. Go to the Text tab of your WordPress editor, find the affiliate links, and add rel=”nofollow” that way. That’s how I do it.

You do not need to unfollow other outside links on your site. Links that you’re including because they’re a good resource should not be nofollowed, in my opinion. Nofollow is for links that you were paid to place or links where you might earn money in the future, such as affiliate links. If you trust the resource and no money will ever be involved in the link, leave the nofollow off of it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 16th, 2018

How To Refresh Old Blog Posts The Right Way

How To Refresh Old Blog Posts The Right Way

How long have you been running your blog? I’ve been running this one since 2004 – and I can hardly believe it has been that long. If you’ve been blogging a long time too, you might want to take a look at your older blog posts. Odds are that you will want to refresh old blog posts that need some help to remain current. Take some time and do the job right.

Sometimes refreshing an old blog post won’t be the right choice. Some things don’t need to be brought up to date, while other posts will need so many changes that it makes more sense to create an entirely new blog post. This has risks, as the new post won’t have the links to it that the old did, but sometimes the change makes sense.

Don’t change the URL if you can avoid doing so. If you feel it’s important you can do a redirect, but it’s better to avoid this change. You don’t want to risk breaking links to that page. A new URL is likely to get less traffic, at least for a time.

Analyze Your Traffic

Check your analytics and see which of your old blog posts are getting traffic. These are the most urgent posts you need to update. They’re the ones that are still doing something well enough that you’re getting search engine or social media traffic on them, but are maybe a little on the old side.

Updating these posts should bring more traffic to them. Search engines like updated content. Visitors like high quality content, and the whole point of updating your old blog posts is to increase their quality. Increasing the quality of these posts should be done with the goal of getting more search engine traffic and more social media attention.

Analyze Your Traffic

Check Your Facts

The most important thing to do as you refresh old blog posts is to make sure that they’re factually correct. Sometimes this will require significant changes, depending on your topic. There may be a newer survey on the subject, for example.

Other times, you will find that very little needs to be changed. Many subjects don’t change all that much through the years. If you’re refreshing a recipe, for example, there may not be any changes at all to how it’s made, while a post on search engine optimization may require significant changes.

Fact checking your old blog posts is vital. You don’t want to have information on your blog that has been debunked or is simply out of date. You want to be a great resource for your visitors. If they catch you sharing outdated information, especially on a post you’ve just updates, they won’t see you as a good resource.

Add Fresh Information

Adding fresh information does a lot to refresh a blog post. Many subjects will have new information you should add. Other times it will be your perspective that has changed.

For example, when I’m updating old blog posts, they will sometimes make reference to things my kids have done recently, from the perspective of the original post. Obviously, those references go out of date in a short time. My kids aren’t babies and toddlers anymore – my oldest is a teen!

Some stories still work in the new post, but the phrasing should be changed to reflect that they happened in the past. Others won’t work anymore.

If you have specific examples to add to a post, those work great as well. A well chosen example makes things much clearer.

Quotes from experts may help as well. You can use HARO to find experts if you have the time, or try contacting people you’ve networked with already. Expert quotes can increase the authority of your blog posts, which is always a good thing.

Length may be another consideration. When I started blogging, most of my posts were 300-600 words long. These days, that’s way, way too short. Most people recommend at least 1000 words. Others recommend 2000 words or more. Your ideal length will depend on your industry and what your readers enjoy. Any length recommendations are only recommendations, and are not written in stone.

My rule of thumb is to use as many words as needed to get the point across rather than focus on a word count, but I still write much longer posts than I used to. When I look at my old posts, I see posts that could have been way more informative if I had taken more time with them. I don’t want the same to keep happening, so I do my best to add more information now.

Rethink Your SEO

Both as you write and once your content has been updated, think about the SEO of that content. What keywords are you targeting?

Don’t target a single word or super common phrase. You probably won’t rank very highly for terms such as “blogging,” for example. But if you get more specific, you’ll have a better chance to rank.

Use your keywords a few times throughout your content. Do not overuse the keyword, or you’ll annoy your readers. You can’t forget them in your efforts to be found online.

You should also use appropriate variations on your keywords. Google and other search engines are getting better all the time at figuring out normal variations on keywords. This is called semantic SEO, and can help your posts be found for a wider range of searches.

You may also want to update the blog post title so that it’s more informative. This helps encourage people to click through when they see a link to your post. There is a risk to this, however, as the new title may not perform as well as the old did.

Rethink Your SEO

Check Your Links

It amazes me sometimes how fast links can go out of date. When I check links on my work at home job board, many have gone bad in under a year, as sites change link structure or companies go out of business.

Sometimes you will be able to figure out where the information you were linking to has moved on the website. Other times you will need to find an entirely new resource to link to.

You may also want to see if there’s a newer version of the information to link to. I have posts that link to statistics on certain jobs, for example. If I update one, I would want to check the current stats and link to those, rather than to the ones I originally used.

If you didn’t do so previously, you may want to consider whether you want to make links to outside sites open in a new window or tab. I do this routinely now. This increases the chances that visitors will stay on my site and maybe read something else.

You may also want to add rel=”noopener” when you open a link in a new window or tab. Opening a link into a new tab can be a security vulnerability, as the new page will run on the same process as your site. Adding rel=”noopener” makes it run in a separate process.

If you aren’t familiar with how to handle these, it’s quite simple. Look at the Text tab of your WordPress editor. Links will be something along the lines of:

<a href=”linktoanothersite”>

To make the link open in another tab and use noopener, you would add the appropriate code, so it looks like:

<a href=”linktoanothersite” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>

Make sure you also add links to your own relevant content. Linking within your own site is an important part of SEO and encourages visitors to check out more of your content. This keeps them on your site longer, which gives you more chances to earn something and looks better to search engines.

Also take a moment to consider if any other posts on your blog should be linked to the the one you’re updating. It only takes a few moments to add a link while it’s on your mind. A quick scan of blog posts in the same category on your blog can help you remember relevant posts.

Can You Make Money Off The Post?

Sometimes your older blog posts aren’t making the most of the income generating opportunities you now know about. They might lack affiliate links or even links to products you sell yourself.

Don’t skip these opportunities. Add appropriate links to give your blog more chances to make money for you.

For any existing money making links, consider how well they’ve been converting. Can they do better? Maybe you can make a better sales pitch for whatever you’re selling there.

Make New Images

How do the images look on your old blog posts? Are they a good match for current social media guidelines? Do they look professional? Are there enough of them? Do your old posts even have images? Is the branding on them current or an older style for your site?

If the posts are really old, you may not have even used images very often. I didn’t, back when I started. Then when I did start, it took me a while to find out that certain sizes are better for social media. There are also ways to have some images hidden away for social media use so that you don’t have excessively large images making your posts difficult to read.

Consider current social media image size guidelines. You don’t have to make every size, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few options. There are some wonderful, free tools out there that make creating your own blog graphics easy.

I especially make sure to have Pinterest-ready images, as Pinterest is so visual. Vertical images do far, far better on Pinterest than horizontal ones do. Most of my older posts, if they had images, had horizontal images, so this has been an important step for me. Some bloggers get huge traffic from Pinterest. It’s worth taking the time to market your blog on Pinterest.

You can control which of your images can be pinned to Pinterest, which is a big help. You will sometimes need images in your posts that won’t look right or do well on Pinterest, after all. It is even possible to make it so that people only see your pinnable images when they click on the Pinterest logo on your site.

Pinterest likes it if you have a few images to use on their site, not just one. It’s also a good way to test and see what works best. After a while, you should be able to identify a style that does best and use that most often on your primary images for your posts.

Check Comment Quality

Take a look at any comments on your old posts. Are they relevant? Are there dead, inappropriate or spammy links in the comments?

If the comment is good, but the link is bad in one sense or another, you might decide to remove the link on the comment, but keep the comment. Many times when I’ve reviewed comments, I’ve found a number that link to dead sites. There’s no need to keep such links, even if the comment itself was relevant.

To Republish Or Not To Republish Old Blog Posts

To Republish Or Not To Republish Old Blog Posts

Just because you refresh old blog posts doesn’t mean you have to republish them. I often do, but not every time.

The first thing to consider is how old the refreshed post is. If this is something you posted long ago, it’s often worth republishing, as few of your current readers have ever seen it. If the post is more recent, I’ll just update it and not republish.

This is a big part of why I don’t use dates in my blog permalink structure. I did in the early days, but came to realize that it wasn’t a good idea. It makes for long URLs, and doesn’t add value. It also means you have to do a redirect anytime you republish, due to the change in date. It’s better for SEO if you can keep using the same URL

Share On Social Media

It’s not going to do you a whole lot of good to refresh old blog posts if you don’t share them on social media. A number of mine were from before I used ANY social media. Running a blog has changed so much in the years that I’ve been blogging. Social media wasn’t really a thing at first, but now it’s vital.

Work the refreshed blog post into your social media schedule, just as you would a brand new post. Do this even if you don’t republish the post on your blog. You want fresh attention on these posts after you’ve put in the work.

I use Hootsuite to schedule my posts. It has even finally added in a Pinterest scheduler. The Pinterest scheduler is perhaps not so smooth as the one Tailwind offers, but it’s available. If you have Hootsuite and don’t want to pay for multiple social media schedulers, this is a wonderful thing. I’ve been using the Hootsuite Pinterest scheduler to try it out, and hope to review it after I have more of an opinion on it.

If you don’t already have a social media strategy, you need to develop one. Know which platforms you’ll post to and how often. Some social media platforms do well with heavy daily posting. On other platforms, you’ll annoy people if you post more than 1-3 times a day.

All of this may seem like a lot of work on your old blog posts when you could be writing new ones, but it can be worth it! The time spent to refresh old blog posts can be better spent than the time spent on creating new ones, as you already know something of how they’re performing. If you want them to work even better for you, take some time and update your old blog posts.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 4th, 2018

Your Own Photos Vs. Stock Photos – Which Should You Use On Your Blog?

Your Own Photos Vs. Stock Photos - Which Should You Use On Your Blog?

If you want visually attractive blog posts, you have to use images, usually photos. The right photos will enhance your blog post, make it more shareable on social media, and help you emphasize some of the points you make in your posts.

But it takes a lot of time to create visually appealing photographs and images. Stock photos sound so much easier. How do you decide when to use your own photos vs. stock photos?

Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times, not so much.

Recipe Photos

If you’re sharing a recipe, you should definitely create your own photos for it. Many readers will find it helpful to see parts of the process, not just the finished meal.

Take several photos as you make a recipe. You never know which ones will turn out well enough to use. You want to have a selection of them.

If you’re trusting a family member to take photos, make sure they understand what you need. I let my husband take some pictures of a cake I made, intending on a post for another site of mine. He only took two, and they’re both badly blurred. He didn’t take any time to make sure they had come out. I was busy with other things and didn’t find out until it was too late.

How-To Photos

Similarly, any sort of how-to post with photos should have photos from the thing actually being done.

Photos showing the process will in part help show that yes, you really did this thing. They also help illustrate steps that may not be clear when written out. Some techniques are much better taught visually, perhaps even in video if it’s complicated.

When Are Stock Photos Okay?

Lots of people hate stock photos. I mean HATE them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable times to use them.

Stock photos are fine to use when they go well with the post. I use a lot of stock office or computer images, for example. My posts would be pretty dull if I used nothing but shots of my own office or computer. Stock photos give more range.

You can get a lot of stock photos for free, which is a huge advantage when you’re on a budget. Many bloggers do not want to spend money on photography.

Stock Photo Disadvantages

The huge disadvantage to stock photos, especially free ones, is that anyone can use them. You’ll probably see the same image on other sites, other pins, and other social media posts. Your use of that image won’t stand out unless you do something to make it stand out.

This makes branding more difficult. When an image is important to your brand identity, you probably do not want to use stock photography.

It also takes time to find the perfect stock photo. Sometimes you’ll go through a bunch of images before finally finding one that works for your post. If you know you can take the photo you need where you are already, it might be faster.

If you use Rights Managed stock photography, you have even more concerns to deal with. This is not something most bloggers will want to do, but you should be aware of this type of stock photography.

Advantages Of Your Own Photos

Using your own photos has its advantages. This goes beyond the simple need to use your own photos for certain kinds of posts. You may find it better to use your own photos even when stock photos are a possibility.

The most basic reason is that they’re yours. You won’t find the same photos in use all over the internet. That makes your site and social media posts more unique.

There’s also much less concern about legal issues. While you may have to be careful about how you use product photos or pictures of people on your site, you don’t have to worry that someone will say you stole their photo.

Disadvantages Of Your Own Photos

The problem with using your own photos is that it can take a lot of time to get just the right photograph. You will have to take quite a few pictures of anything you might want to use in your blog. Small differences in angle, lighting and so forth will make big differences in your final images.

You also have to handle your own editing when you take your own pictures. You may do this to some degree with stock photos as well, but if you get them from a good site, they should look pretty good already.

If you’re using a picture of a person, make sure they’re okay with it. This includes your kids. You may not need to go so far as a signed model release, but you shouldn’t post photos of people who don’t want their pictures shared, especially if it makes them look as though they’re endorsing something.

Make Sure You Keep It Legal

Whatever you do, make sure you keep your stock photo usage legal. Don’t just use Google Images to find things – that’s an easy way to get in trouble. Use reputable stock photo sites and make sure you understand their terms of use and the kind of copyright the images have.

I prefer sites that offer Creative Commons Zero (CC0), as that gives the most freedom. You can get better photos on sites where you have to pay for the rights, but there will be a lot more restrictions as a general rule.

Use Stock Photos Creatively

If the stock photos you get allow you to make changes (another advantage of CC0!) and you have the ability, change them up! Put two or more stock photos together in an interesting way. It’s more work than simply using the photos, but will give you that unique result you’re looking for.

Your Own Photos Vs. Stock Photos – Which Do You Use?

When it comes to using your own photos vs. stock photos, which do you use? Why? I’d like to hear more opinions.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.