Thursday July 27th 2017
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Tips for Building Your Blog & Freshmen Friday #2

Apparently, I am no postal carrier…”Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” does not pertain to me.  I am sorry… All it took was one wedding to throw me completely off track for a week, postponing Freshmen Friday #2 until this week.  My “little” brother was married last week and I had suuuuuuch a fabulous time with friends and family celebrating his marriage to his perfect match, my new sister, Ashley!  Welcome to the family, Sis! 

This is my brother and I after the ceremony…

Isn’t he handsome?  For anyone who loves a wedding as much as I do and would like to see a few shots from their big day, you can find their photos here.  Their photographer, April of April Renee Photography, is so talented!  If you live in the Hampton Roads, VA area and need a photographer, check her out here!

Alright, on to Freshmen Friday.  Here is how it works:  

The Freshmen Friday link up is for new bloggers who have either been blogging for less than a year OR have fewer than 150 followers.  If you fit one or both of those criteria, this is your opportunity to shamelessly promote yourself by posting a link to a post, directly to your blog using your button, to giveaways, to parties… whatever (appropriate) link your heart desires!  I am hoping this will be a unique party that will promote new friendships, make new bloggers feel comfortable asking any question, and I am hoping we all learn a few tips along the way.

Today’s informational Post: Blogging Tips that Have Worked for Me… So Far!

  1. Focus on content.  It is easy to get distracted and spend HOURS keeping up with Facebook posts, attending parties, and commenting on other sites.  These are all good practices, but the only thing that will truly keep your readers coming back is the content you post on your own site.
  2. Purchase your URL.  If you want to make a true go at blogging and (especially) if you would like to make a profit from your site over time, purchase your url.  There are lots of sites out there to purchase through: I purchased my site url through my site host, BlueHost.com.  Godaddy.com is another popular option.  If you search around, this can cost as little as $15/year.
  3. It is a-okay to start on a free hosting site such as Blogger when you start blogging.  However, WHEN (no “if” kind of thinking here…) you decide to make blogging a career, everything I read recommends using WordPress.org or a similar site.  I promise it is not as hard to use as it sounds.  I use WordPress.org and love it!   I started with WordPress.org but have several bloggy friends who used tutorials like this to switch from other sites (blogger and wordpress.com).  For a few good reasons to switch and directions for doing so, visit:
  4. When you are building your site menu, include a “Home” page.  I hate having to hit the back button 10 times to find my way back to a home page.
  5. Have a search box on your site and make it easy to find.
  6. Install Google Anatlytics on your site so you can track your visitors and where they are coming from.  Google Analytics generates reports allowing you to view where your visitors are coming from (Google Search results, other blogs, etc), which of your posts they are reading, how long they are spending on your site, and much more!  Use Google Analytics to find bloggers who are sending traffic your way and thank them.  Analyze which key words readers are searching to land on your site.  Knowing where your traffic is coming from will allow you to generate even more traffic in the future!
  7. Allow comments on your site (but mediate them before they post) and respond to as many as possible!  You know how much you appreciate a comment left on your site; don’t you think you owe readers the same warm and fuzzy feeling in return?
  8. Use subheadings, bullets, or numbers to break up LONG posts like this one.  🙂  I know this is a tedious post.  Maybe you want to remember what number you are on and come back after a snack or after you pour yourself a glass of wine?
  9. Remember that EVERYONE can read your site.  Don’t complain about your boss at work unless you are willing to lose your job over it.  Don’t gripe about your mother-in-law unless you want to hear about it over Thanksgiving dinner.
  10. Visit other sites!  Make it a point to visit other sites every day and leave comments!  We all get busy, but spending a few minutes every day visiting other sites will remind those site owners you are around and build relationships.  Bloggers will be your BEST FRIENDS in building your own site.   I went from 275 Facebook Followers to 300 in one weekend because two big blogger friends gave me shout outs on their sites… not because they had to… because they know I would (and have) done the same for them.
  11. I know it can be a HUGE pain to deal with spammers on occasion, but PLEASE turn your comment Captcha off.  The Captcha is that little thing that makes me do math or decipher some impossible code word that I cannot read to repeat.  I cannot tell you how often I assume my comment went through when I hit “Send” or “Post” and realize later that it may have just taken me to a captcha screen.  I will be honest and tell you I do not always go back to make sure it went through.  Sometimes, it takes too long!
  12. While we are turning things off, PLEASE ditch the music.  I love music in general and sometimes even do a little ditty to a song on a site; however, sometimes, I search sites while I am watching TV with my husband, am on the phone with my parents, or when I just need a little escape and I do not want to be startled by blasting music when I reach your site.  Please and thank you!  🙂
  13. Pick fonts, text colors, and background colors that make your posts easy to read.  If I have to squint and move your post up and down to read it, I will not stick around.  I am willing to bet others will feel the same.
  14. Tell us about you!  I understand you may want to maintain your privacy and don’t need people knocking at your door.  However, readers need to be able to relate to you.  We will keep coming back if we feel as though we can relate to you and want to know more about you!  Create a welcome on your home page or create an “About” page for readers to get to know you!
  15. Make it easy to get a hold of you.  Create a “Contact Me” link or post your professional e-mail address on your site.  Someone may want to write to you about something that is private or something they do not want showing up as a comment.  Make it easy for readers to do so!
  16. Attend blog and link parties!  I have met a majority of my followers and found most of my favorite sites to follow through blog parties.  If you don’t know where to find them, start with my Savvy HomeMade Monday Blog Party here and then the list of parties I attend here.  
  17. Stay consistent with frequency when possible.  If you normally post 3x per week, try to stick with that so readers know what to expect and how often to pop by.  I learned this lesson the hard way last week.  If you think you may not be able to post during a busy week, let your readers know so they won’t be disappointed when they stop by 5 times in a week and find the same article. If you can, write posts in advance to post in busy times or contact fellow bloggers to guest blog while you are away. Yes, again, I have learned this lesson the hard way.
  18. Use social media if you have the time.  Create a Facebook Page (using my tutorial here), Pinterest account (using my tutorial here)Twitter account, or Stumble Upon account.  Trust me, social media will bring readers!
  19. Make it easy to follow you!  Add a Google Friends Connect link to your site by visiting here.  If you use social media, create a link to those as well!  For Facebook, visit here.
  20. Give your readers the option to receive updates via e-mail or feedburner when you publish a new post!  On crazy days, if it doesn’t show up in my e-mail, I don’t remember to look for it.  I use Feedburner as my subscription service for my site and it is free!
  21. Make it clear to readers what your site covers.  Create clear menus, write about it on your “About” page, or create topic list somewhere readers can find it.  If I find your site and like the article I read first, make it easy for me to find more and know what to expect.
  22. Choose post titles that will allow for optimal search engine results.  When I first started blogging, I picked catchy titles to posts that I thought could create interest.  Bad move!  Now, I chose clear, concise titles that allow viewers to find me through search engines.  My “Pinterest Tutorial and Invite” has brought over a thousand search engine hits from google in the past month!  The title is something clear and concise and includes a topic people may search for.
  23. Use pictures and lots of them!  We all love them…. plain and simple.
  24. Visit your site with an objective eye and ask your family or close friends to do the same.   View your site as though you did not create it and are visiting it for the first time.  What DON’T you like? Can you change it? I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who takes criticism well.  However, I do recognize  constructive criticism from those I love can help my site grown.  Odds are, if your loved one doesn’t love one aspect of your site, others may not either.  Make changes!
  25. Create links to sites you are referencing.  It increases your searchability, helps to protect you when it comes to copyright laws, and it lets other sites know you are posting about them!  When a site gives me a shout out, I always return the favor.  We all want to meet some new readers right?
  26. If you have written other posts which relate to the topic of a post you just published, include a link to your other posts.  I recommend adding a list of “Other Links You Might Enjoy” at the end of posts.  This will increase the number of posts a reader visits while at your page and may help a reader find a more specific answer to a search they were conducting.
  27. PROOF READ!
OK… I am tired after thinking about all of that.  How about you?  Let’s have some fun!  Link up to Freshmen Friday here!  These are my requests:
  1. I would love for you to become a Google Friends Connect follower of my site using the “Join This Site” button in the right column of this screen.  If it isn’t there, hit refresh and it should appear.
  2. Visit me on Facebook here and “like” me if you like what you see!
  3. I would really appreciate you linking back to this party and/or telling your friends about it!  The more the merrier right?!?

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