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.

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.

Last Updated 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.

Last Updated 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.

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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.