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.

March 21st, 2018

10 Common Blog Title Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

10 Common Blog Title Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

How much time do you spend on writing your blog title for each post? One minute? Five? Do you write it before you write your post or after? Your blog title is the first thing most people will see when discovering your most recent blog posts, yet many bloggers spend very little time crafting them. Most bloggers make a lot of mistakes with their blog titles.

1. Your Blog Title Isn’t As Important As What You Write

There’s a certain degree of truth to the idea that your blog title isn’t as important as the rest of what you write. In terms of informing the reader once they’re on your site, that’s true enough. A perfectly crafted blog title won’t give the reader a fraction of the information the rest of your post will.

And yet, how will you get readers to your blog if the title doesn’t drag them in?

Your blog title is the first thing readers will see when they find your post in an online search. If they use a feed reader, it’s what they’ll see there too. It may even be what they see first in social media posts. If the title doesn’t catch their attention, they will scroll on by.

2. Your Blog Title Doesn’t Have To Be Accurate

How often have you clicked on a blog title, started reading, and been frustrated because the post has very little to do with the title? It’s super annoying and is a huge blog title mistake.

When writing your blog titles, make sure they remain true to the rest of your post. If your title promises a solution to a problem, your post better solve that problem. If your title promises cute cat pictures, those cats better be adorable.

3. Your Blog Title Has To Be Clickbait

How often have you heard people grumble about clickbait titles? They can be super annoying, but they can also work. That’s why many bloggers feel that their blog titles need to be some sort of clickbait. They want to go viral, and clickbait titles look like the way to go.

The problem with clickbait it that it often overpromises. It may get the clicks, but does it make your readers happy with your post after reading it?

There’s a fine line between clickbait and a title that brings readers in. Clickbait may bring people in, but quality is what keeps them coming back. It often pays to dial back the clickbait-ish titles in favor of an interesting but more accurate blog title. Building trust pays off in the long run.

4. Failing To Edit Your Blog Title

Some people argue about whether you should write your title before or after your post. This can be a major part of some bloggers’ creative process, and they feel strongly about it.

I usually start with a basic title, and improve it after writing the post. Some posts completely change direction during the writing process. Others become more focused.

Either way, reviewing and possibly modifying your blog title after writing the actual post is an important part of the process. Don’t be satisfied with the first title you come up with. Take some time and refine the title so that it draws people in and best reflects what readers can expect from your post.

5. Blog Title Idea Generators Are All You Need

I love using blog title generators to get ideas for posts. You take a keyword, drop it into the generator, and refresh it until you have an idea you want to work with. It makes coming up with blog post ideas a lot easier sometimes. Here are a few I like:

SEOPressor Blog Title Generator
HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator
Blog Post Title Idea Generator from FatJoe
Portent’s Content Idea Generator

But they aren’t enough, not by a long shot.

If you don’t have the right keywords for your post, for example, the title generator won’t give you anything. You have to do that part of the work first.

There are several keyword research tools out there, both free and paid. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is one of the classics, but you must have an AdWords account to use it.

You can also use Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Google Trends, and relevant forums to find keyword ideas. Each of these has a different function to help you get the widest range of possible keyword ideas for your blog posts.

Once you have your keywords, you may also like Answer The Public, along with your usual blog title generators. Answer The Public finds the questions people have asked on search engines. The ability to answer actual questions people have searched for on your keyword can be a huge help in ranking for that search.

6. Vague Titles

Can readers tell what your post is about just by reading your blog title? If they can’t, they probably won’t click.

Consider a post titled “Spring Break.” This may relate to what the post is about, but there’s not enough information for someone to decide to read your post. It doesn’t draw them in.

Change that to “10 Tips For A Spring Break To Remember” and you’ll get more readers. They’ll know what to expect.

7. Your Blog Titles Are Bland

Boring blog titles with little more than the keyword in them won’t bring a lot of readers to your blog. They don’t capture the eye.

Think about someone looking for a recipe. Will the be more attracted to a post that is simply “Recipe Name” or by “Kid Friendly Recipe Name?” What about adding other descriptive words to that title? The recipe hasn’t changed at all, but you can make it more interesting to readers with a well written blog title.

8. Writing Super Long, Excessively Wordy, Hard To Read Blog Titles That Try To Say Too Much

Yeah, that’s a bit long up there, isn’t it? Do you think it would appeal to anyone as a blog post title? Me neither.

While you want to write an interesting title, there is such a thing as too much. Search engines display maybe 70 characters of your title in their results. Make your title too long, and they’ll cut it off. That will ruin the effect you were going for.

9. Getting Technical In The Title

Are you trying to teach your readers something new in your blog post? Sometimes you have to use terminology that is specific to your industry to get your point across in your post.

The title of your post may not be the best place for that terminology unless you are explaining that term specifically. Stick to language your readers will understand in the title.

10. Failing To Give A Reason To Click

People need a reason to click on your blog title when they come across it. If they think it doesn’t apply to them or their interests, they will scroll on by.

If I write a post titled “I Love Cats,” I’ll get some clicks, but most people will pass on by. They may love cats too, but who really cares why I love them? Change that title to “Unexpected Ways Cats Can Make Your Life Better” and more people will read it, even if the post is otherwise identical. Just make sure that some of the things you list really are unusual, not just the usual reasons people have cats.

Every blogger will make blog title mistakes once in a while. No one gets it right all of the time. But if you pay attention and take some time with your blog titles, they will get better.

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.

February 27th, 2018

20 Ways To Get Ideas For A Blog Post

20 Ways to Get Ideas For a Blog Post

Writing content for your website is difficult at times. Sure, there are days where the ideas just flow, but other times you can sit and stare at your monitor trying to come up with something to say. That’s just the life of a writer. Here are some ways to get ideas for a blog post that you may not have considered lately.

1. Comments From Your Social Media Pages

Did a recent post generate discussion on your social media pages? Take off from that and cover whatever new angles the comments brought up. Give credit where credit is due, but take the ideas further.

2. Respond To Someone Else’s Articles

Sometimes the stuff you read elsewhere can inspire you. Don’t limit yourself to commenting on their websites; consider whether or not an article on your own site makes for a better response. Make sure you link back to the article that inspired you. They get a link, you get inspiration for more content on your site. Do it right and there’s some serious mutual benefit.

3. Refresh Old Content

Your old posts may still be good stuff, but often enough there’s something more you can add to it or update. Little changes make a big difference. It’s also a great way to bring up a familiar to you topic to new readers who may not be aware of it.

As a matter of fact, this post is an updated old post from 2012. I went through my archives to look for posts that were good, but outdated. I made some changes in recommendations and added new information.

The other advantage to this is that the post has probably already been indexed, and depending on how old it is, may even have some social media activity on it. The search engines love seeing updated posts – it shows that you aren’t neglecting the older content on your site.

4. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

If people email you a lot of questions or post a lot of questions in your comments, you probably have some you see over and over again. Write up a good blog post. You may be able to write an entire post on a single question or cover a bunch of them in one shot, depending on how much detail is required.

Around here, I often get people asking how they can find a work at home job. As that’s usually all the information they give me, I send them to my blog post, How Do You Get Started Working From Home? That usually gets them off to a good start. That post itself was updated from its original version and has had links to relevant newer posts added since then.

5. Read Related Forums

Posting on relevant forums with a signature line can be good marketing, but it can also help you get ideas for your blog. Look at what people need from the forum. What do they talk about? If it’s relevant there, you can probably work it into a blog post.

If the forum permits links, you may be able to refer to your post when answering questions. Even if you can’t, odds are that similar questions are being searched for on Google and such.

6. Check Your Analytics

How do people find your website? The search phrases people use can tell you a lot about what people want from your site. Write more about those subjects.

Google Analytics is what I use. You can use whatever analytics your hosting company gives you, but I like Google Analytics better. It’s very detailed and free to use. It will take some time to learn to take good advantage of some features, but it’s worth it.

7. Check Relevant Hashtags

Twitter hashtags are great for finding out what people think is relevant to what you do. Keep an eye on what’s getting tagged as relevant and figure out how to use it.

You can use a hashtag generator to come up with hashtags if you aren’t sure what to use. There are quite a few out there. I keep a list of my favorites for various topics so that I don’t have to keep generating them. It’s a long list so that I can use a variety.

8. Do Keyword Research

You don’t have to have a fancy tool like Market Samurai (although I love it!) to do keyword research for your blog posts. I recently learned about Answer the Public, which gives an amazing amount of information to queries. Put in the keywords and see what happens.

If you get more ideas than you can use right now, great! Make a list and you’ll have blog post inspiration for a while. Who doesn’t need extra ideas?

9. Use A Blog Title Generator

If you have a keyword for your post, but don’t quite know what to do with it, a blog title generator can be surprisingly helpful. They mostly use the same basic titles over and over, but the good ones have a long enough list that it isn’t a huge problem.

I’ll usually change the title somewhat from what the generator gives me. Every here and there, I’ll be going through the list and realize that it has given me a great angle on a topic.

10. Compile Great Information On A Topic

Your posts, someone else’s posts, whatever makes the list useful. Linking out to other sites can be good for your site, and linking to your own information can help your readers find information they didn’t know you offered. A well compiled post can itself be a great resource for your readers.

If you want to do this regularly, consider joining a roundup post group on Facebook. People post about the kind of roundup posts they want to do, and other members share their relevant links. It can save you a lot of research, and you can usually get information to use an image from their posts if you need to.

11. Ask Your Readers What They Need

The people who know best what they’d like to hear from you are your readers. Ask them in your blog, on your Facebook page, your Twitter stream or wherever else, what they wish you’d blog about. Some days it’s much easier to get ideas for a blog post from your readers than to come up with one on your own.

12. Make A How Not To Post

How to posts are common. Have a little fun and make a how not to post. I did this some time back with my how to fall for a work at home scam post some time back – most posts are about how to avoid falling for work at home scams, so I twisted that around just a little bit for the fun of it.

13. Share Your Milestones

Have you reached a great milestone in your business? It can be as simple as an anniversary or as big as reaching a certain goal.

Readers love hearing about success. This is why so many bloggers do monthly income reports. They get attention.

14. Discuss A Myth

Most industries have their myths, such as the notion that running a home business is always ridiculously easy, what with the fancy house and cars. Discuss a myth relevant to your site and explain why it just isn’t true.

I wrote my 12 Blogging Myths You Can Ignore post a while back, for example. No matter your niche, there are probably a lot of myths.

15. Check Pinterest

What relevant pins are trending in your industry? This works better for some subjects than others, but can have great potential, especially if your take on it is highly pinnable.

Don’t copy what the established posts are saying – come up with your own perspective, and give credit where credit is due. You have to stand out with new information if you want to get anywhere.

16. Share Photos And Other Images

People love to share photos. That’s why Instagram is so popular, as well as the other visual social media sites. If you have a great photo, make a blog post around it. Use it to illustrate a point.

The best photos are ones you’ve taken yourself – you don’t have to worry about having the rights to it. Next are Creative Commons Zero photos, and there are a number of sites where you can find these. Whatever you do, make sure that you have the right to use the photos, both on your site and on social media. Getting this wrong will make your life difficult eventually and may get expensive.

17. Make An Infographic

A good infographic is hard to make, but can be utterly worthwhile. Share some great information in an infographic and make sure it’s easy to share. Include code for those who want to embed it on their own site.

Coming up with a good infographic can be difficult. Design can be challenging, but tools such as Canva and Picktochart can make it a little easier.

18. Use Quora

Quora is a wonderful place to discover what people want to know and get ideas for a blog post. You don’t have to answer questions on the site itself – if someone’s asking there, odds are people are wondering the same thing elsewhere and using a search engine to find the answer.

That said, answering questions on Quora can also be a good way to generate traffic. Keep your answers relevant, and don’t just say “check out this post” – give solid information so that people want to go to your site for more information. It’s a good way to become a trusted resource.

19. Check Current News

Is there anything happening in current news that you can relate to your subject? Be sensitive to what’s going on, but relating to news stories can bring in a lot of visitors. Consider how a particular bit of news will impact your readers or your business, for example. Done right, this can bring in a lot of traffic.

This can backfire if you aren’t sensitive, of course. People will view you and your business more negatively if you seem to be taking advantage of a tragedy.

20. Use Videos

Make your own video or embed a relevant one from YouTube and discuss it in your blog post. You don’t have to have a perfect setup to record something all your own to make use of video. Just find something and include it in an article. Making your own is most effective, of course, but it’s not for everyone.

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.

February 13th, 2018

Why Your New Blog Is Struggling (And How You Can Improve It)

Why Your New Blog Is Struggling (And How You Can Improve It)

Starting a new blog is difficult. You may have some great ideas, but new blogs usually lack an audience, which gets frustrating. It’s often hard to think of what to do next. Where is everyone, anyhow? You and your new blog are struggling, and you’d like to make it better.

Blogging is never as simple as it sounds at first. Your new blog seems like something fun in the early days, but the reality is usually far more work than you expected, especially if you’d like to make a living from it someday.

You Need More And Better Content

Creating great content is a constant struggle. Not only do I look back and shudder at the quality of some of my oldest content (admittedly well over a decade old by now), but sometimes I’ll see posts that are only a couple years old, and wonder what I was thinking.

Blogging is a learning process, even if you’re a pretty good writer already. You have to experiment to find the right style and tone for your blog, along with the kind of information you want your readers to expect from you.

There can be a constant battle of quality vs. quantity. Sources will tell you that posts should be over 1,000 words and that you should post every day. That’s not possible for everyone, at least not if you want to keep the quality up. It also doesn’t work for everyone.

Sometimes giving a day or more between posts gives people more time to interact with the post, and that can be an advantage. Other people may find that shorter posts work best in their niche or writing style.

The key here is to pay attention to what works for you. It can take time for a new blog to work up enough data to prove that a particular approach to blogging works, but you won’t know what works if you haven’t tried and tested it.

You Don’t Have An Audience

Don’t we all wish it was easy to get an audience for our blogs? It would make things so much easier!

But when your blog is new and doesn’t have an audience yet, blogging can be frustrating. It can feel like a lot of effort for minimal results. No one likes that, yet you know you have to keep trying. If you don’t your blog will never take off.

There are some steps you can take to start building an audience. They aren’t a fast solution (nothing legitimate is), but these tips can help you get things moving.

Social Media

Using appropriate social media can be a huge help to your blogging efforts. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are popular choices for when you start out. Odds are good that you have some family or friends that would be willing to help share your posts on Facebook at the very least, and possibly on other social media sites.

Make it easy to share your blog posts on social media by using a plugin such as Shareaholic. I like that one because it’s free.

You should also make it easy for people to follow your social media pages by including links to your profile on your blog. These usually go in the sidebar.

That said, don’t overdo it on social media. Allowing social media to take up too much of your work day is one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make. It’s so easy to get interested in all of the things happening on social media.

Your basic posts on social media can be handled with tools such as Hootsuite. I use it to automatically share each of my new posts on various social media accounts. It also lets me see what’s happening with my accounts on the various social media sites. Hootsuite is a huge time saver.

You will still need to handle parts of your social media directly. You can’t automate it all, or at least you shouldn’t. Check up on your accounts and look for ways to interact with people during the part of your day that you let yourself use social media. Then leave it alone and work on more important things.

computer and flowers

Connect With Other Bloggers

There are a lot of Facebook groups that you can use to connect with other bloggers. These are great for promoting each other’s posts, learning from each other and getting support.

I mostly use groups which focus on promoting each other. Once in a while, I’ll post in one of the groups that’s more social, but even online I’m a huge introvert and not that good at conversation. When I see something I can respond to, I do try.

Here are some I like. Most of these are closed groups, and you have to apply to get it. It’s usually fairly easy. They mostly just need to be sure that you’re a blogger.

Bloggers2Brands
Grow Your Blog
Bloggers Sharing Links For Roundups
The Blogging Crew

Connect With Your Readers

When you do start getting comments and questions, respond to them. Don’t leave your readers hanging. They’ll leave you.

You don’t have to send them a personal email, although some bloggers do. A reply on the post them commented on is enough in most cases. Sometimes a really good question will even become a full blog post. If you make the question into a post, you may want to mention who asked by name, so that they know you’re paying attention and giving credit where credit is due. Other questions will be so common that there’s no need to say that “Sam, Joe, Anna, Christine, Yona, and someone who calls themselves ‘The Cat Who Walks Through Walls’ all asked this same question.”

You Don’t Have A Blogging Schedule

You will probably find having a blogging schedule helpful. What a blogging schedule means to you, however, may be different than what it means to others.

Many bloggers will talk about their editorial calendars, where they plan out their blog posts for months in advance, or maybe the entire year. That has never worked for me. If I plan more than a few posts ahead, I quickly get to the point where I’m throwing ideas out because they aren’t what I want to do anymore.

Instead, I keep a list of ideas. This keeps me from struggling to come up with ideas without feeling as though I have to write on one particular topic.

There are times that I have planned out posts farther in advance. If I do a series on something, that gets carefully planned so that I can keep up with the posting schedule for that series, and so that it makes sense as a series.

My schedule is basically the time I put aside for blogging, more of a daily routine than anything else. I schedule time for posting, promotion, and reading. It has to fit in around the routines of each day, such as when I drop off or pick up the kids at school, when errands need to be run, and so forth.

Your Images Are Awful

Very few blogs these days can get by without attractive images included in the posts. Images can be used to illustrate points and to break up the wall of text your post might otherwise appear to be.

Social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram rely on images. If you have few or no images to be used on those sites, you aren’t going to get much good from them. In some niches, that’s a huge disadvantage.

You can use free stock photography if you like (that’s what I use much of the time) and use an image editor to make it suit your needs.

On the other hand, you may find it better to improve your photography skills so that the images on your blog perfectly suit your needs and are unique to your blog. Once again, you can use an image editor to add text or use filters to make your photos look even better.

If you’re posting recipes, for example, you will almost always want the images to be your own. You should be taking photos as you make the recipe.

A blog like this one, on the other hand, just needs nice looking images, and stock photos work pretty well. There are times that I use my own, but most of the time it’s not necessary. All I need to do is edit the images with appropriate text or to crop out portions that I don’t need.

You Aren’t Optimizing Your Posts

Optimizing your blog posts for the search engines and social media can be overwhelming at first, and the process may not always make sense. There are some basics that you should work on for every post.

The first is to know what your keywords are. These are the main words you hope the search engines will let people find your blog posts under. They should vary by blog post. A keyword is usually more than one word. It’s really hard to rank for most single word searches.

These keywords should be used naturally throughout your blog post, in your blog title, and in the alt tag of your images as appropriate. You don’t want to overuse your keywords, but they should be present.

There are a lot of keyword research tools out there, but one simple way to come up with related keywords to your topic is to look on Pinterest. Type in your keyword in the Pinterest search bar, and see what words it comes up with that are related. This won’t tell you anything directly about how much search traffic the phrase gets, but it can help.

You should also install the Yoast SEO plugin. The basic version is free. It adds a box below where you write your post in WordPress, and you can tell it what your keyword is. Yoast SEO does some basic analysis on your post and gives tips on how to improve the SEO of the post.

Your Goals Are Unclear

What is it that you want from your blog? Is it a replacement for a job or just a hobby? Are you trying to create awareness about a cause or promote another business? If you don’t know what your goals are for your blog, it’s very difficult to push toward them.

Figure out what you want from your blog. With that in mind, you can set short and long term goals that will help you reach your larger goal. These smaller goals will make it easier to see the progress toward your primary goals.

You Ignore Analytics

If you set things up right, you can get a huge amount of information about how your blog is going with analytics.

Start out with Google Analytics. It’s free and will give you huge amounts of information about your traffic and how visitors found you. It takes some time to learn to use Google Analytics, but you won’t regret signing up for it.

Also, make sure you have a business account where possible on social media. Pinterest, for example, gives business users some very useful analytics so that you can track which of your pins are doing well.

You’re Stressing Out Over Too Much

Sometimes you have to take a step back and relax just a little. All of these details are very helpful to improve your blog, but it can also be overwhelming. That’s when you need to give yourself a bit of time to relax.

You don’t have to look at your analytics every day. You don’t even have to blog every day. Creating a lot of content is helpful, but the quality won’t be there if you’re too focused on quantity. If you need an hour or a day off to relax, take it.

Don’t stress out if you fall behind on your blogging schedule or when other minor things go wrong. Take a step back so that you can get a better look at things. Some of your best ideas may come from doing something that wasn’t planned at all.

While there’s a lot to learn when running a new blog, and it’s a struggle for most people to get things going well, you can learn to blog well. Give yourself time. Don’t try to learn it all at once. If you focus on the most important parts, such as great content, your new blog may eventually become an established blog that you’re proud of.

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.

February 6th, 2018

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Having a social media strategy is a huge help in building your social media presence. The better job you do thinking out your plans, the better you’re likely to do when you take action. If your social media isn’t doing much for your blog, you need to look at ways to improve your social media strategy.

Plan Your Social Media Strategy

A really solid social media strategy requires planning. This helps you know how often to post on each social media platform.

Different social media platforms do well with different numbers of posts per day. Many people say that you should post no more than 1-2 times a day on Instagram, for example, but some accounts do very well posting quite a bit more than that. Pinterest and Twitter, on the other hand, generally need quite a few more posts per day.

Do not treat each platform as though it’s the same. Not only do the best posting times vary quite a bit, so do the best image sizes, writing style, and the best post length.

LinkedIn, for example, is a very professional site, and your posts should reflect that. Facebook, on the other hand, can have a much more personal feel to it. Instagram requires an excellent visual presentation for a post to succeed, and what you write there will only get attention if the visuals are good enough.

Make Your Content Shareable

Whatever else you do, be sure your content is easily shared. If people share your content on their social media, they’re doing some of your social media marketing for you. You want that.

There are several plugins available to make this easier, both free and paid. I use Shareaholic, which has lots of really useful free options. The paid options can be useful as well, but you don’t have to use them to have a good experience.

Shareable content is also right for the social media platform you’re sharing it on. Pinterest, for example, does better with tall images. Instagram prefers squares. Other platforms prefer images that are wider than they are tall.

This means you may need to make several versions of your images to use on social media. Use the right tools to make images for your social media, and this won’t be terribly difficult.

Build Your Social Media Reputation

Your reputation on social media means a lot to your success. People need to know what to expect from your business.

For most, this means avoiding controversial subjects, unless that’s what your blog is about. Getting controversial for most blogs is a way to alienate potential readers.

Beyond that, you also need a reputation of providing great information in your niche, even if you didn’t create it yourself. Share posts by other blogs and websites in your niche that people will find useful.

Don’t just stick to your own posts. Sure, you work hard on your blog, but other sites have great things to offer your followers as well. Take advantage of that fact. It will make you look better too.

Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

You do not need a presence on every social media platform out there. Trying to use every site out there is a very poor social media strategy. It spreads your efforts out too thin.

Start out with the social media platforms your target market uses most. This may take some research. Also take into consideration which platforms you will feel the most comfortable using, especially when you’re just getting started. You may not feel ready to do live video on Facebook when you first start out, for example, but later on, you might choose to try it.

Pay Attention To Analytics

Social media analytics can be extremely helpful to your social media strategy. They’ll help you learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Each platform gives you information in its own way. In most cases, you’re best off signing up for a business account. That will give you the best analytics that platform has to offer.

You can also see where your traffic is coming from by using Google Analytics. Sign up and add it to your blog if you haven’t already. A good social following is nice, after all, but it doesn’t mean anything without traffic and income.

You can add campaign tracking to your links easily. This makes it easier to know at a glance where your traffic is coming from. The Google Analytics URL Builder makes this a painless process. If you really want to know how your traffic is converting from different sources, you need to do this.

It’s not necessary to look at your analytics daily, but you should look at them at least once or twice a month. Keep track so that you can see how interactions, number of followers, likes, shares and so forth go over a long period.

Make Sure Your Content Is Mobile Friendly

You may know by now that mobile is huge. It’s a major source of traffic for most websites.

If your blog theme isn’t responsive, it’s time to change to one that is. I know enough CSS and HTML to do it myself, but most people are better off finding a theme that does this for them.

If you want a fast solution, there are WordPress plugins that will make a mobile version of your WordPress blog. I don’t consider it an ideal solution (the results can be on the ugly side in my opinion), but it’s better than not being responsive at all.

If you want a really nice job done, pay a developer to design a responsive template for your site. The money spent will be worth it if it increases traffic to your website.

Be Responsive

Just as your blog needs to respond to the screen size it’s being viewed on, you need to respond to the people who visit your site or follow your social media.

If someone asks you a question, take some time and answer it. Some of my favorite blog posts have come from questions people have emailed me.

Making a blog post out of common questions makes being responsive to your followers easier. You can refer them to the answer you’ve already posted.

These answers can also be great social media posts. If someone is taking the time to ask you a question, odds are good that others have the same question.

You can also respond to other people’s social media posts. Ask questions. Give compliments. Add a little information of your own. Remember the social part of social media.

Try New Things

Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again all of the time. Try new things. It’s the only way to learn what really works.

Change the style of your images occasionally to see if a new style does better. Different fonts, different font colors, and new kinds of images may result in very different responses. If it’s better than your old style, make a change. If not, go back to your old style.

Also, try posting at different times, test new hashtags, post more, post less, and so forth. There’s a lot of advice out there for the best posting times on different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean those will be the best time for you. Test to be sure.

Use The Right Tools

You don’t want social media to take up your entire workday. For much of your social media use, scheduling tools such as Hootsuite are worth the cost. They’ll let you schedule out the basic posting side of things in large chunks, so that part of the job can be taken care of once a week or so.

Don’t schedule everything. You can’t automate direct interactions on social media. You have to see what’s going on to respond appropriately.

Hootsuite allows you to see responses to your posts on several different platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can handle much of your posting and interaction through Hootsuite, which is faster than going to the various platforms.

Remember That Social Media Shouldn’t Be Your Only Marketing Strategy

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool, and it can be an extremely effective strategy to use it. But you should do more than that. Try guest posting, blog syndication, commenting on other blogs, answering questions on HARO, and so forth.

A broad marketing strategy gives you more protection from problems than a narrow one. Make time to do different things so that you get results from many places. You’ll improve your chance of success if you do so.

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.