A free tool for bloggers.

If you’ve never heard me say it before, I’ll say it now: Analytics are one of the best and important tools that you can use for growing a blog, or form. WordPress tracks analytics specific to your blog itself, but, if you branch out to sharing posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest the analytics WordPress tracks with respect to incoming visitors is limited.

This is where ‘Bit.ly’ comes in. Bit.ly’s slogan is ‘Unleash the power of the link’ and that it really, really does.

BIT.LY

If you share your posts through any social media platforms, I would strongly recommend considering a Bit.ly account.

Bit.ly allows you to create custom, shortened links that are trackable. Why does this matter? Because analytics are integral to growth. And, if you can track your links then you can find out how to better share. If you’re going to go through the effort of sharing your posts to other social media platforms, then you might as well do so in the most effective way.

How it works:

  1. Create a Bit.ly account. It’s completely free and takes less than five minutes to sign up.
  2. Copy the link of the post that you’re wishing to share to social media and beyond.
  3. Go to bit.ly and on the top right side of the page there is an orange button that says ‘Create’. Click ‘Create’
  4. In the pinkish coloured box where it says ‘Past Long URL’, paste your post link.
  5. Wait two seconds, or click ‘Create’ (in orange at the bottom)

Et voila! You have a completely unique, completely traceable link. Bit.ly creates a link with random characters and, at this point your link is done and ready to go.

If you’e so inclined, however, you can customize this link to best fit your content. There’s a box that says ‘Customize Back Half’ – in here, you can change the random characters Bit.Ly uses to something suitable for you. Example: Bit.ly/fsdf234sad or Bit.ly/VeeIsAmazing123

Once your link is created to your liking, copy the traceable link and use that to post to social media, to share via emails, to include in comments and forums, etc… Then, every time someone clicks on that link, Bit.ly traces that data. Where they clicked on the link from, what date it was they clicked on the link, what country the person lives in, what time of day was most popular for the link and much much more.

Why does this matter?

Having analytics and data about how people find your blog is like holding a secret key to a door that not everyone knows exists.

Bit.ly is such an easy solution for analytics for bloggers, especially those just starting out, because it’s free. Whilst WordPress tracks your WordPress analytics and Twitter tracks your Twitter analytics, etc… Bit.ly allows you to track real time analytics from any website where you post the unique link. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or wherever your little heart desires all in one place.

Data it collects:

  1. Where people come from (what site: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, etc…)
  2. Where people come from (what country they live in)
  3. What day of the week your links are most popular
  4. The dates people are clicking on your link. While there’ll likely be an influx of people clicking on the date you’re posting the link for the first time, are there people coming a week later? A month later? Bit.ly is going to track that and how they found your link a month later.

Using this unique link will tell you real time data of how effective your social media/digital integration promotion is and where your audience comes from. Once you have that data, it’s completely up to you what you do with it. But, if your desire is to grow your blog at all, data like this is invaluable!

All about hashtags.

Hashtags… they’ve been around since the inception of Twitter, but how many of us use them? And if we are using them, how do we know we’re using them properly?

The following are some tidbits with respect to the use of hashtags and social media. Please keep in mind that people have vastly different opinions with respect to how to use hashtags and what they’re important for, so if you disagree with my thoughts that is totally okay. Do what you believe is best for your blog and take these as nothing more than suggestions.

Also, if you’re not seeking social media growth, this post likely won’t have any relevance to you, so you can stop reading right here.

What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a label used on social media sites to make it easier for people to find content within a theme, when one is looking for specific content.

Why use a hashtag?
Plain and simply, hashtags work. If you want your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook post to be seen, a hashtag provides the opportunity for more people than just your followers to find it. Hashtags help you build a brand, engage with new people, readers, customers (depending on what you’re using your social media profiles for) and grow your profile.

General tidbits with respect to hashtags:

  1. Don’t be an asshole. If you’re posting a photo of a waterfall, don’t tag your photo #JustinBieber. If you’re posting a tweet that contains parenting advice, don’t tag your post #CurlyHair. These hashtags aren’t relevant. And, with enough shit to weed through on social media already, you’ll likely not garner any new readers/viewers by misusing hashtags, and piss off the ones you’ve got because they’ll get annoyed reading your misusing of hashtags.
  2. On Twitter – stick to using only one or two hashtags per tweet. You can differ from tweet to tweet, but don’t fill a single tweet with ten hashtags. People who do stumble across said tweet with ten hashtags are likely to scroll right past it because there are too many hashtags.
  3. On Instagram – you’re able to post up to thirty hashtags per one photo. You don’t need to post a full thirty hashtags, but, the option is there if you would like to. Typically, 10-15 is a good place to start. Whichever hashtags you select, choose some extremely popular ones, and some less popular ones. A variation between the two means that, for the popular hashtag you run the chance of a lot of people seeing your post immediately, and that for the less popular hashtag, your post has the chance of staying at top of page (or near top) for longer.
  4. On Instagram – post your hashtags in your caption, not in your first comment. People tend to argue about this suggestion often, but I stick to my opinion, and Forbes agrees. (HAHA) Honestly though, the moment you post a photo to Instagram, your photo is being inserted into the Instagram Algorithm. Even if it only takes you two minutes to go in and add your hashtags to the first comment, that’s two minutes the algorithm has been placing your photo that your hashtags haven’t been helping. People say it looks prettier to post hashtags in the comment, versus the caption. What I say to that, though, is that hashtags are meant to be functional, not beautiful. Furthermore, if you’re posting ads or sponsored content on Instagram, that notification of #AD needs to be front and centre for people to see so they know the content they’re viewing was bought and paid for.
  5. On Facebook – stick to hashtags that are in line with your branding. Facebook is the platform in which hashtags are used the least of all social media platforms. For this reason, I would recommend you keep your hashtags related to your branding. Using my blog for example, the advice would be to skip tagging #Anxiety and use #MillennialLifeCrisis instead.

What is a branding hashtag and what can it do?
A branding hashtag is something specific to you and your blog, or you and your business. This is something that you use across all platforms that you belong to, as a means for cohesive integration between all platforms. Branding hashtags can be as simple as your blog’s name.

Say, for instance your blog name is ‘Blog of the Wolf Boy‘ (using you as an example, Mathew, because it was the first thing that came to mind!), a branding hashtag for any posts that you made on social media could be as simple as #BlogOfTheWolfBoy. If you have a twitter account, an instagram account a facebook account, etc… using #BlogOfTheWolfBoy across all platforms can help each of these platforms appear when someone googles Blog Of The Wolf Boy.

Perhaps you have an Instagram account under the same name as your blog. When you google your blog’s name, does your Instagram account appear second or third or fourth on the list? If not, a hashtag specifically branded to your blog could help with this.

An example of a brand that uses this practice is Oreo. If you google #Oreo, the first few pages that come up are their website, their twitter account and their instagram account. Yes, they are a massive company, but if you’re looking for blog growth, imagine how convenient it would be to have all of your links appear just like Oreo’s does when someone is trying to find you!

If you want to make the most out of your hashtags, I recommend doing your research. Every industry, ever blog niche, every culture, has valuable hashtags and hashtags that aren’t worth much of anything. If you want to make the most out of your posts and are seeking growth on your social media platforms, then do some research about what popular hashtags are used within your niche. There are plenty of websites that will rank hashtags if you put in buzzwords. IE: You’d type in “Mom” and it would give you a list of the top 50 hashtags that contain the word “Mom”… such as #MomLife, #MomBlog, #Momageddon, and so on and so forth.

Good luck!

Things your WordPress Analytics can teach you.

We’ve all seen these statistics before. Every blog on WordPress has them. But what are they? What do they mean? How do we use them? Why should we use them?

Analytics are one of the easiest, and best things you can use for improving your blog’s function, reach and usability. And WordPress just gives them to you, for free. Since they’re there, you might as well use them.

I have touched on each of these things before. But, I’m doing a refresher since my blog was much smaller last time I spoke of these subjects.

WHERE DOES YOUR AUDIENCE COME FROM?

Using the #MillennialLifeCrisis blog statistics for example, you can see that the bulk of my audience, far and above views from any other country, comes from the United States.

Why does this matter?

Well, if the majority of your audience is coming to you from a certain country, and you’re looking to have your posts seen by as many people as possible, it might be a smart move to strategically plan posts to go up at peak hours of applicable time zones.

Again, using my blog as an example, #MillennialLifeCrisis posts are scheduled with the American time zones in mind because Americans are the largest audience that I have. While I do get a lot of views from the United Kingdom, it would make less sense to post content around Greenwich Mean Time (The UK) because I’ll be missing out on having my post at the top of feeds for my largest audience (Americans) when they sign into WordPress.

Now this is just an example of my blog. Take a look at your stats! Maybe you’re in the UK and the bulk of your audience is in the United States. If that were the case, it might be something to consider posting your content during the peak viewing times for Americans.

WHEN ARE THE MOST PEOPLE VIEWING YOUR BLOG?

Under insights you can find this statistic. What it tells you is what day of the week the most people visit your blog and what hour of the day the most people visit your blog.

If you’re someone who posts once per week, then go into insights, find this day and time and schedule your posts around this day and time. Why? Because if this is the time when the most people are viewing your blog during the span of one hour, why not optimize that specific time by giving them a new post to read each week at this time?

WHAT TAGS AND CATEGORIES ARE MOST VALUABLE?

I know that I’ve said this before, so I apologize if I sound like I’m sending the same message time after time after time, but tags and categories are integral to blog growth. Not only that but they’re also one of the easiest ways to help people find your content.

Properly categorizing and tagging your posts allow them to come up when people search subjects on WordPress. Perhaps a travel blogger wants to find more travel bloggers to follow, if they type “Travel” into the search bar and your post has been categorized as “Travel” then it’s going to come up in the listings.

Now, where categories and tags can really benefit you is knowing that not all categories and tags are as valuable as others. Using #MillennialLifeCrisis stats as an example (screenshot above), you can see that ‘Millennial’ and ‘Blogging’ as tags are much more valuable towards drawing in views than ‘Writing’ and ‘Job Hunting’ have been. Does that mean that it’s a bad idea to use ‘Writing’ and ‘Job Hunting’? No, not at all. It just means that strategically tagging your posts can allow your posts to be seen more by other WordPress users.

If you’re post is filled with writing and you want to tag it as ‘Writing’ then do so. But, if you’re a millennial then please also consider tagging it ‘Millennial’ to allow it to be seen that many more times.

If you go into your Insights and find that some of your tags and categories have been a lot more valuable than others, remember that when you’re composing your content so that you can strategically categorize and tag content.

Blogging, Marketing, Promotion, Communications Questions Answered

In honour of reaching 5,000 WordPress followers in 11 months, and because I need a distraction, if you have any questions related to blogging, marketing, promotion and communications, ask away.

I will answer questions that are blogging specific, or can draw from my industry experience if that better helps what you’re looking to learn.

Do you want to know the best free tools to use? Do you want to know why analytics are integral to growth? Do you want to know how many hits I get in a day? Do you want to know the best website to use for newsletters? Do you waant to know industry standards for communication distribution? Do you want to schedule a time for me to look through your blog and ‘Audit’ it, so to speak, to help make it user friendly? Whatever you want to know, ask away.

– Crickets –

Blogging opinions from a Marketing/Communications/PR Perspective

So, I’ve been working in the Marketing/Communications/PR realm for a decade. I’ve held numerous positions with numerous companies which delved into the world’s of digital marketing, print marketing and television marketing.

When I speak these thoughts, please know they are my own personal opinions so please take them with a grain of salt. If you disagree with them, don’t take my word as the only, and please do what is right for your blog.


Your ‘ABOUT ME’ page is the most important page on your blog. If you don’t have one, you need to make one. And if you do have one, you need to make sure that it’s a page that will simultaneously tell the readers about you and your niche/niches, whilst enticing readers to come back.

The ‘About Me’ page should be the second item on any and every menu. This is because when people who don’t know you come to your page and read something they like, the next page they’re going to look for is to find out more about you and see if you’re someone they could see themselves following. If your ‘About Me’ page is hard to find, then you’re missing the opportunity to tell potential readers who you are.

Stop asking what’s in it for you and start asking what you can give. I saw someone on twitter the other day complaining that they commented on four blogs and no one came back to comment on their blog so they weren’t going to comment on anyone’s blog anymore.

Firstly, I can appreciate the hustle of just starting out. I can. And I am sure they are a very nice person. But when you say stuff like that you sound like a bit of a whiner, and also, verrrrrrrrrrry entitled. Please don’t just expect that if you comment on someone’s blog they’re going to come and leave a comment on your blog. They could, they might, but they’re not required to.

What if they don’t like what you write about? Or share about? Should they be required to comment on your blog solely because you commented on theirs? And if they are required to comment on your blog, solely because you commented on theirs, are they really going to leave that great of a comment?

If you want to bring something to the blogging community, then bring something to the blogging community. But stop asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ What’s in it for you? An opportunity to share your thoughts, an opportunity to connect and communicate, an opportunity to share and to hear other perspectives. But it’s worth noting you’re not entitled to any of those things. And you likely won’t get them if you’re going to complain and whine about it.

Layout of your blog matters. It always matters. If you’re just blogging for you, as an online journal and you don’t care who sees your blog, or if anyone ever does, then your layout only matters to you. But, if you’re blogging to find a community, grow an audience, hopefully become an established place for people to come and hear/see your thoughts, then your blog layout really needs to be clean, simple and easy to use. While you might like that neon green look, or the eight giant photos at the top of the page that need to get scrolled through to get to your actual content, most people likely won’t. And if you want their attention you need to make your blog layout appeal to them.

Think of it like the age old lesson they teach in real estate: a home with white walls is a whole lot easier to sell than a home with neon colours on the walls. This is because when people walk into a home with neon walls, they have a hard time seeing past the colours and cannot possibly picture themselves living there. A few people may walk into a home with a neon green kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that I want to live here’. Probably 90% of people can walking to a home with a white kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that and want to live here’.

It’s a simple fact of life, neutral colours appeal to more people. Neutral colours appeal to even those who loved the neon. So if you’re looking to grow an audience and want people to find your blog and fall in love, make sure that your layout is one that is neutral, one that can appeal to the most eyes that see it.

If you’d like to see what I speak in action – view the website of Nike, Nordstrom and even the WordPress homepage. All of these websites have something in common – they’re neutral to allow the content to speak for itself.

People focus far too much on getting readers to “click here for more” when they should be focusing on spreading their posts as far and wide as possible. I see a lot of people complain about how people just don’t click their ‘read more’ buttons. Well, I mean… I don’t really blame them. Unless you’re an established blogger, or my best friend, I’m likely not going to kick your ‘read more’ button either.

Without an established, guaranteed audience to read your content each day, the only thing you’re doing is making it harder for people to access your content. The more clicks required to actually view a single post of yours, the more potential audience members you’re going to lose in the process because they just can’t be bothered with clicking further.

Imagine someone clicks on a post and really likes what they’re reading. They then have to click back to your homepage to click another post to be able to read that. I’ve seen some layouts where you have to click on a photo to get the ‘read more’ button to click on that to actually read the text. In a world where there are 75 million blogs on wordpress alone, you’re really making it easy for people to just completely move on from your blog and forget it ever existed.

And hey, if you think ‘If they’re not going to click to read more then I don’t want them on my blog’, that’s fine, I respect that opinion. If that’s how you truly feel, though, then stop complaining about a lack of audience. Because if you really want to grow your audience, you need to make it easy for them to view your content.

Social media is not mandatory, but you will find more success with blogging if you have social media accounts for your blog. Social media is a beast that, if you use properly can benefit you immensely. I’m talking bringing hundreds, if not thousands, of organic hits to your website just with the sharing of a link to twitter, facebook and pinterest.

For reference, I have had a Pinterest Account for maybe 2 or 3 weeks at this point and the only posts I’ve actually posted to Pinterest are my travel posts. I have more than 3,100 hits to my Pinterest Account and more than a tousand referrers from those hits to my blog. You can say that 33 percent turning into actual hits isn’t that big, but I’d still say that 1,000 organic hits from Pinterest is more hits than I had before.

You do not have to have social media accounts. Not in any way, shape or form. But, if you make them, and you use them properly, they can drive organic traffic to your blog that you haven’t previously had. So I would strongly encourage you consider it.

If you don’t like what someone has to say, don’t leave them nasty comments. It’s a fact of life, you’re not going to agree with what everyone says on their blog. If that’s the case, find a new blog. You don’t need to leave them nasty comments calling them names or telling them they’re an idiot. You can simply just move on.


If you have any questions about anything I’ve said, feel free to ask.

If you’d like to read more of my posts about blog marketing, click here>

10 Months of #MillennialLifeCrisis

It’s nearly 11 PM on the West Coast and I’ve been thinking about hitting ‘Publish’ on this post all day. Here goes…

10 whole months that I’ve been pouring my heart out to the internet. 10 whole months that I’ve questioned everything that I’ve written and posted it anyways. 10 whole months that I’ve spent meeting and talking to some of the most incredible souls I’ve ever crossed paths with. 10 months of learning – new facts, new perspectives, new understandings. It’s been one hell of a time, if I do say so.

I made this blog on a whim, with the encouragement of Knight. I wanted a place to rant about the things going on in my life and boy did this platform give me the opportunity to do that and then some.

As much as nothing has changed in the past ten months, everything has changed. I think of the sad shell of a human being that I was ten months ago, I look at myself in the mirror and see the resilient fighter I am today and I’m thankful for what I am becoming. I have a much better grasp on my anxiety (though I still struggle, I can control it a lot better) and I have much more of an understanding of who I am and who is important to me.

Why is ten months an important landmark to me? Because I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past ten months. I’m proud of what this blog has become. I’m profoundly appreciative of the people I’ve met and the stories you’ve shared with me. I talk a lot about my appreciation for the WordPress platform because I wholeheartedly believe this blog has given a great boost to my confidence in the past ten months.

To those of you who’ve been along for the ride since the very beginning, thank you. I love you. And to those of you who’ve only recently found this blog, thank you. I owe you.

Ten months. I’m humbled. I’m grateful. I’m thankful.

To celebrate ten months of WordPress, here are ten facts about me:

  • I am female. (I am including this because there seems to be some confusion lately… with some people thinking that I am a man)
  • I have blue eyes and blonde hair and was consistently referred to as Barbie for the first thirteen years of my life because people told me that I looked like a little doll.
  • I will turn 31 next month, and even with all that has gone on in the past year, I will still say that my 30s have been infinitely better than my 20s thus far.
  • When editing someone else’s work, I can pick out spelling and grammar mistakes within seconds of reading it. When editing my own work, I can read it five times over and still not notice where I’ve made my errors. And there are always errors.
  • Recently, Geneva posed a suggestion to me that I consider writing an EBook. I haven’t admitted it out loud, but I am genuinely considering doing it, using it as a means to give out my marketing advice for free by having a company sponsor it. It’s all just a thought at this point in time, but I can’t get it out of my head since Geneva planted the seed.
  • I have a scar shaped like a Lightning Bolt on my thumb that my friend’s have referred to as proof of my being related to Harry Potter.
  • One of my most memorable moments was standing with Team Canada as they were presented their gold medals
  • One of my proudest moments was the day one of my heroes complimented me on my intelligence and told met that I was going to change the world one day.
  • As a whole, I do not believe that you ever fall out of love with someone. I simply believe that two people can understand they’re not meant to be together and that’s why they divorce. I do believe that love you feel for someone will always stay with you.
  • I like to eat raw onions. (Yeah, I had to end with this one)

Cyclical Marketing for blog growth.

*This is going to sound quite boring and dry, so please bear with me if you do bother to read.

Have you ever read a digital press release in which the company (Company A) distributing the release will link several different companies or organizations within the release?

Have you ever seen those links, taken the step to go to the linked company pages (Company B) and see what releases that company has put out? That company will have their own release on the same subject and at the bottom of their release, a link that takes you back to the initial company’s (Company A) website.

This is cyclical marketing. For every company you promote, you’re gaining more promotion in return.

In marketing, it’s one of the easiest, and smartest, things you can do to gain promotion and grow your audience. It’s a tactic that companies use all the time – whether money exchanges hands or not. It’s a tactic that I used ALL THE TIME at my previous job, in press releases, on social media and on our website. From something as simple as a tweet that says “Check out or Friends” to something as fancy as a “Here’s our 100 page Media Kit printed by Company L”.

It seems straightforward and simple… because it is.

It works for companies and can also work for bloggers. If you’re looking to grow your audience and don’t necessarily know how to go about it, I strongly recommend considering this as an option to try and increase your reach.


Here’s how I’d explain it:

First, you find your tribe. It’s cheesy, I know. Find your people (generally between 2-5 people is the optimal inclusion rate. When you go above five you run the risk of losing attention). These are people who’s beliefs may or may not align with yours, but they’re people who can put their own twist on a topic. Once you’ve found them, start a conversation about something that interests all of you. It could be a product review, it could be an outlook on mental health, it could be an opinion about pop culture, politics or religion… whatever it is, find one subject that all of you can write about. Make sure that it’s a popular subject. Don’t pick something obscure that people won’t want to read. The goal here is to pick a subject that’ll appeal to your audience, and to the audience you’ve not yet met.

Each of you writes a post. Each of you edits the posts. At the bottom of your posts include a note that reads ‘This post is done in paternership with Blogger X, Blogger Y and Blogger Z. To see their perspectives on these subject please click on the following links.”

Schedule your posts for the exact same moment. If you’re in different time zones, make sure that you’re aware of the difference so that you can pick an optimal time for everyone.

Your readers will read your post, and, if you’ve done your job well enough, have interest in checking out the opinions of those you partnered with to make the post. And each of their posts will direct their readers to you.

The Math:

Let’s say that you, Blogger A, have 100 followers. You’re struggling to reach a new audience and you’re looking for a means to grow your blog. You take on this opportunity. and find three friends to do it with.

Let’s say that Blogger X, Blogger Y and Blogger Z also all have 100 followers each. Whilst it’s estimated that roughly 10 percent of that audience could overlap, that sill leaves 90% of the audience who has not yet heard of you.

Blogger A (you), in one post, promotes Bloggers X, Y and Z to your audience of 100 people. In return, Bloggers X, Y and Z are promoting Blogger A(you) in each of their posts, which is 270 brand new readers being reached (300 people – 10% or, 30 people).

270 new people that are being reached without spamming, without purchasing followers, without being sneaky or underhanded. It’s just honest, open promotion. If you do it right, it works.


Key Points:

  1. You need to write about something that will garner attention, something popular, something that people will care to read your perspective of, and the perspective of others. So don’t write about how cheerios are gross. Pick a topic that matters. If you don’t, no one’s going to care.
  2. You have to post at the same time. If people click on the link to go to someone’s blog and their post hasn’t been made yet, the cyclical promotion will stop dead right there. So, if you’re in different time zones – say one of you lives in Florida and one of you lives in California, you need to schedule to ensure the Floridian posts at noon and the Californian posts at 9 am.

Cyclical marketing helped me, in my last office, grow the twitter profile from having 200,000 followers to 600,000 followers in just 12 months. Granted it was an established company so the brand name played a help in that growth, I did posts of this nature several times a week. Posts we paid for, posts people paid us for, posts no one paid for we just did as a means to reach new people and showcase our brand… whenever I saw a partnership that posed an opportunity for growth, it became a part of my Twitter calendar.

I have experience first hand just how much value these Cyclical marketing initiatives can benefit a company. Celebrities do this too! All the time! Now that you’ve read this post, you’ll realize it when you see it happening more often.

It’s simple. It’s smart. It works.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – for a subject that’s sole purpose is to make things sound better, cooler or more appealing, explaining the structure behind marketing is boring.