Imagine that you’re a realtor and you’re trying to sell a house with neon green walls. Sure, the odd house hunter who comes through might really like the colour, but for the majority of customers, seeing neon green all over the walls is going to be something they cannot look past. It can, in a lot of cases, be the deal breaker.
Sure, they might stay. They might finish looking at the house. But they also might just look at the walls and walk out. Neon green walls take work. Not only are you spending a profound amount of money on a home, but you’ll have to put considerable effort and money into repainting the entire home when you move in.
This is why when people are getting ready to sell their homes, most people will paint any bright walls a neutral colour. Neutral colours are easy on the eye. Neutral colours go with all sorts of different furniture. Neutral colours allow a house to feel as though it can be made into a home.
Now, imagine this same notion applies to blogging. If you’re blogging as a hobby and don’t care who, if anyone, ever sees your blog, it’s perfectly awesome to have ‘neon green walls’. But if you’re blogging in hopes of garnering an audience, to gain followers and reach new people, those neon green walls are going to be a deal breaker.
In laymans terms – if you want people to love your blog as much as you do, your layout needs to be neutral. Your layout needs to be one that appeals to the mass population. If people stumble upon a blog that is difficult to navigate, has broken links or empty pages, crazy colours and designs that make scrolling difficult and reading tedious, they’re not going to fall in love with your blog, regardless of how good your content is.
Your blog layout matters.
If you’re seeking blog growth, pretend you’re a realtor. Pretend you’re enticing potential buyers into paying attention to your content. If you want people to notice your blog then you need to give them reason to get beyond the layout to see the content that you share. That is considerably harder if you have the equivalent of neon walls.
Disclaimer: As with all advice that I provide on this blog, please take what you like and leave what you don’t. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to running a great blog, so if you don’t like the advice shared, don’t use it! You know what is best for your blog, these types of posts are merely to lend a helpful suggestion.
As with any marketing tips/tricks/advice provided on this blog, please take all information with a grain of salt. This information is not provided as the ‘be all to end all’ word. So, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.
Not everyone is interested in Instagram growth. So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care one way or another, this advice likely isn’t for you. Which is totally fine. This information is being shared for those who might find it helpful!
Without further adieu:
Hashtags are a tool that allows Instagram users to find other Instagram users who post similar images, share similar interests or are like-minded individuals. When you post an image to Instagram, if you would like the opportunity for others on the platform to find said image, it’s imperative that you use proper and relevant hashtags that depict what’s in your image.
Put the hashtags within your caption, do not put them as the first comment. When you do not put the hashtags within the caption of the photo itself, you’re losing valuable time and real estate within the Instagram algorithm for people who could potentially be viewing your image.
You can post up to 30 hashtags per image. If you are a blogger, or running a business account, it’s recommended that you try to keep hashtag use to 9-11 hashtags per image. There are several reasons for this, most important of which being, if you limit the hashtags you’re using to 9-11 hashtags at most, you’re focusing on only the most relevant hashtags pertaining to the image. When people start reaching hashtag 15 and 16, they start just using random hashtags that don’t really pertain to the image and it can become very spam-like, overcrowding different categories on the platform. This is why you can search ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ and see pictures of hamburgers and french fries.
When selecting hashtags, select categories that you would search for. Why? Because not all hashtags are as valuable as others. If you’re searching for something on Instagram, there’s better odds that someone else is too. More people are going to be searching ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ than ‘#Tree’. As you type in the hashtags to Instagram, the app will actually tell you how many people have used said hashtag and similar hashtags. Example:
Include a selection of both popular and less popular hashtags within the 9-11 hashtags used per image. Using the screenshot as an exampe, #LakeLouise will have the potential for more people to find your image, and in turn, your page. But, with more people searching this item, your image will more quickly slide down the Instagram algorithm than if you use #LakeLouiseLove. For this reason, it’s recommended that you use a mixture of both popular and less popular (STILL RELEVANT) hashtags when sharing your image.
If you want to connect with others, ALWAYS use a caption. There’s nothing worse than finding an image that you truly love on Instagram and realizing the person who shared it couldn’t care less about people finding their image and connecting with their content. Use a caption – share the store of the image, or share a story that has nothing to do with the image but speaks to you and your character. If you want to connect with people, a picture won’t speak for you… no matter how pretty it might be.
If you’re specifically looking for growth, there are hashtags that are for bloggers to connect with other bloggers to help support one another. Using #BloggersUnder500 or #BloggersUnder1k, etc… are like flashing the bat symbol for bloggers to find other bloggers and help one another grow their platforms. If you’re looking for growth, use these hashtags to connect with other bloggers and help them find and connect with you.
Promote your Instagram account on other platforms. I follow at least a dozen bloggers on WordPress of which I had no idea that they had Instagram accounts until they followed me. There is no mention of their Instagram accounts ANYWHERE on their blog. Why not? If you have a blog, let people know that you have an Instagram too. It can’t hurt.
Location searches on Instagram can help you to connect with people in your area that you might not even know exist yet. This one might be especially beneficial in this time of social distancing. Want to connect with people in your area without connecting with people in your area? Search your local, nearest airport code or city abbreviation in Instagram. Make new friends. Reach out to people that way. This is actually a great way for small/local businesses to reach out and let public in their city/surrounding area know they’re there and open for business.
You DO NOT have to post every day, but much like with blogging, it helps with the growth of your page if you post somewhat regularly. People like to come to instagram to see new content. If you post once and then don’t come back for a month, then post three times in a week then disappear for two months, you’re going to have a very difficult time convincing people they should connect with you and and your content. If they can’t rely on you to connect with, why should they follow you?
Share other’s images to your Instagram Story. This one doesn’t help you at all. It’s not for growth. It’s not for any other reason than you might like an image. If you like an image that someone you follow has posted, share it to your Instagram story. It furthers their reach, gives them a form of cross promotion they haven’t yet had. Also, it allows you to share images of places you might not yet have been, or might not have seen. This is also extremely beneficial for any small businesses that you might follow. Especially if they’re still operating during COVID. A little share here and there might help their business immensely during these stressful times. So… sprinkle a little kindness in whatever you do!
Don’t just post things because you think they’re trendy. People aren’t so dense that they cannot figure out who’s being a try-hard on social media. While you might like the instant gratification of sharing something that’s been going viral day after day after week after week, the tired, tried and done a thousand times means being a trendy Instagram user gets old real quick. You won’t build connections, you won’t have the interaction you’re searching for and, you’ll lack authenticity. It’s 2020, people. Real is the new real.
Be nice. Hopefully this one doesn’t require an explanation.
You have to have 10,000 followers in order to post links. Unlike Twitter where you link every tweet, you have to reach a threshold of engagement to earn that ability with Instagram. So, if you’re looking to use Instagram to promote your blog, you’re going to have to get creative.
Don’t spam people. I don’t even want to tell you how many unread messages I have in my inbox of people trying to sell me MLM products or sign me up to work under their MLM business. If you spam people, it will annoy them. And if you are looking to grow your Instagram profile, I would recommend you not annoy people in the process.
If, and only if, you’re not worried about privacy, make sure this option is checked off under your settings tab:
If you’re worried about your privacy, or family or friends finding your page, and in turn, blog, then make sure this box isn’t selected in your settings. This could recommend your page to people in your area or people who you share mutual friends with. So, if someone you know follows your page, but not everyone you know is aware of your blog, be careful with this function.
If you are running a small business, or any business for that matter, stick to business and keep your personal opinions out of it. I recently witnessed a cafe in Vancouver lose 10,000 followers in less than 24 hours after the owner got on his Instagram Story to proclaim that the government was ruining everyone’s futures so that fewer people would die and that we should risk the deaths of those that could catch it anyway to ensure that business can keep going as normal. This cafe is one that’s been on several TV shows (Diners Drive Ins and Dives, You gotta eat here and a couple of others) and had grown a rather large following online because of that. And he threw it all away when he started sharing his personal opinions. Whether someone agrees, or vehemently disagrees with your opinions, they don’t want these opinions from a business. No one followed his cafe on Instagram to get advice on economics, government or politics. They followed his business account to find out what soup of the day he was serving for take out. What baked treats he could deliver that day. A move like that could quite literally kill a business reputation.
Lastly, for lack of better conclusion, if you made it this far, follow me on Instagram! @MillennialMe88
Over the past fifteen months I’ve seen a lot of really good bloggers up and quit. They stop coming online, or they delete their pages all together. People come and people go, that’s a fact of life. But burnout, is that avoidable? What causes burnout? What causes people to go so quickly? Even the promising bloggers, they say hasta-la-vista faster than anyone could say ‘please don’t give up’. Why?
People think blogging is easy. Too many people believe that maintaining a successful blog is simple. Too many people believe that all they have to do is hit publish and people will like/love/leave comments and subscribe. Over the night thousands of people will magically find their blog and they’ll be such a hit that people will hang off every word they say.
People take personal offense when expectation doesn’t meet reality. Far too many people will bitch and moan if they don’t get the number of comments on their post that they think they deserve. Instead of taking the opportunity to share, and be grateful for the opportunity to share, people will get angry if their post doesn’t get enough attention. This can lead to blogging burnout quite quickly. Anyone looking for, hoping for or seeking attention and gratification from others in what they post will likely always be disappointed with the results, no matter if it was five people who viewed or 5,000.
People lack the work-ethic needed to run a successful blog. In a world more connected than ever before, people seek content from online sources 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Anyone who runs a successful blog knows that they need to put time and effort into the posts they’re making and the content they’re sharing. Showing up every now and again to share something and expect a reaction is naive. A dedicated reader wants to come back to a blog and find something new to discover. If any potential reader has to come back again and again and again in hopes of finding something new, they’re going to give up quickly. If they give up quickly, the blogger tends to give up shortly thereafter.
People try too hard to be ‘trendy’. Just because something is being talked about on the internet does not mean that it’s going to bring any more traffic to a blog by speaking about it. A blog should be a reflection of the person composing it, not a reflection of trending topics from week to week to week.
People put too much money into their blog, assuming that monetary investment will equal success. Between premium/buisness accounts, custom layouts, custom logos, social media advertisements, google advertisements, taking blogging courses and son on and so forth, there are plenty of ways to spend plenty of money on a blog. That being said, spending money on a blog does not mean that blog is going to be successful. Spending money on a blog is a lot like spending money on a gym membership. No one would purchase a gym membership and assume that the simple act of having that membership means they will get six-pack abs, yet people will purchase all the bells and whistles for their account and assume that means their blog will make the money immediately. Unfortunately, life isn’t full of quick fixes.
What are some tips, tricks and tools that you use to avoid blogging burnout? Have you ever suffered blogging burnout? What brought you back? Also, do you have any blogs that you absolutely loved reading which the blog owner quit blogging? What do you think stopped them from returning to their blog?
From analytics to photo editing, writers block to blogging basics, all of the tips, tricks and suggestions that I provide with respect to growing your blog and social media presence online can be found by clicking here >
Please take any and all tips, tricks and suggestions that you read on this blog, and beyond, with a grain of salt. Blogging is not a one size fits all journey, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.
The following is a guest post written by Debby from the blog DebbySEO. *Please note that certain plugins may not be available to all WordPress accounts due to them only being available for certain plans.
Often I am asked what the best SEO tools and plugins are that I recommend. This comes as no surprise as search engines are a major source of traffic for most sites, and every blogger wants to increase website ranking in an effort to get more sales. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or where to start in order to make SEO work for us.
In this article I will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools for you to use. I have noticed that many WordPress sites on are offering great content, but simply lack the SEO plugins required to perform well. In this article I will explain how to install the Yoast WP plugin for SEO, and lightly touch topics such as keyword analysis, off-site link building and more.
Note that when reading SEO tips found in top 10 results, or when searching for phrases like “best free WordPress SEO plugins” you will find many results and recommendations. The truth is that the top recommendations are not always the best ones. After all, everyone in the Google top 10 listings seems to be out to sell something. I have been providing affordable SEO services for years and will provide you with reliable information so you can kick-start your business and blog using whitehat SEO techniques without paying a penny.
Obsessive Compulsive Keyword Disorder
Do you suffer from obsessive compulsive keyword disorder? Yes Ma’am! Keywords are extremely important for SEO as they draw the right visitors to your website. They can make or break a website. Having a better understanding of the specific keywords your visitors are searching for allows you to offer better services and products on your blog.
On the other hand, you should be careful not to use SEO tools to over-optimize. If you use keywords too frequently the website will look spammy and you may even be penalized. The Yoast plugin is designed to help you optimize SEO by spreading out keywords in a responsible manner, taking into consideration the proper density and placement based on a real-time comparison with top ranking websites.
I think of Google Analytics & Google Webmaster as a friend
Proper use of keywords has the biggest impact on your SEO campaign, make sure to use Google to better target them. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you first sign up for a free Google Analytics and Google Webmaster account. This will enable you to measure the difference in traffic before and after installation of SEO plugins such as Yoast.
There is nothing more important than SEO titles and descriptions
And Yoast is all you need to successfully complete this task. You can quickly add SEO titles and descriptions to all blog posts and pages on your website, and you can even include open graph metadata and social media images to your postings. The best way to decide what title is appropriate, is to look in Google analytics to see what your audience is searching for, and then decide on which keywords you wish to target. The descriptions should always take some special consideration as this will be listed in search engines and as such determines your click-through rate.
And at the end of the night, they realized how important those little XML Sitemaps were, which they ignored while adoring the beauty of their sites
Yoast SEO will generate your XML sitemap with images in no-time! All you have to do is press the button and it will create a highly optimized cached page that will quickly load and be automatically updated every time you make a post. You can also easily import SEO data if you have been using another plugin. Yoast is the all-round solution for both rookies and veterans.
Let me quickly line out the features here. Yoast offers to change post’s SEO titles and meta descriptions on a per post basis, it supports meta descriptions for taxonomies (for example category and tags), it will focus on your keyword testing, configure your robot.txt file in order to add noindex, nofollow pages etc. You will additionally be able to configure an RSS footer/header, get Google search result snippet previews, clean up permalinks while still allowing for Google custom search, import data from other SEO plugins such as Platinum SEO pack and All in One SEO pack and more. Did I just dazzle you?
This might indeed all sound a bit overwhelming but it is in fact really easy and it just requires you to play around until you become comfortable with the full functionality. So far I have discussed only the free version of the plugin but there is paid version too which offers a redirect manager, focus on multiple keywords, ability to export focus keywords, internal linking suggestions, video tutorials to help you better understand how everything works and premium support to get the most out of your site’s SEO. The paid version can be obtained for less than $90, but in my opinion the free version offers plenty of functionality.
It does not do to dwell on Yoast SEO and forget to build offsite links
Yoast has been around since I just started my first SEO Company, and their plugin has worked miracles for the websites I have worked on. All the websites I have worked on increased their traffic by focusing on important keywords for their niche market, but still, if you don’t spend time on off-site link building your SEO campaign will not be very successful. Google must see links pointed to your site in order to determine that your content is relevant.
A good way to get some link juice flowing is to install a plugin that allows you to setup a resource directory where you can exchange links with content related websites. If done right, this will also add value to your blog. Another SEO technique that is often employed is to write guest postings and to obtain offsite links in topic related directories. The more links pointing to your website, the higher the relevancy. Obviously keywords used for the anchor text and surrounding content is very important for relevancy. SEO always has a high payoff in the long run, it may take time but it is definitely worth it.
Yoast drowns out all but the brightest SEO plugins
I will now mention some other SEO plugins for you to enjoy. SEMrush is said to be the most effective SEO tool but it does come at a cost. You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. Such keywords are known as niche market keywords which are in high demand as they have little competing websites. Next up is Ahrefs, you have probably heard of the name, it is an all-in-one SEO tool for bloggers, marketers and businesses. It is an alternative to SEMRush and offers similar features and tools.
More free SEO tools are offered by AllinOneSeoPack, a popular WordPress SEO plugin offering a comprehensive set of tools to improve your ranking. You can use it to optimize SEO titles and metatags, image sitemaps, open graph meta tags and more. I have used All in One SEO Pack in the past and would rate it just below Yoast. Both offer their plugins for free so don’t wait and start optimizing. SEOPress is another free Yoast alternative that offers a premium version at lower cost. It comes with easier setup for beginners and advanced controls for more experienced users so it may be something you may wish to consider.
Remember, install only one SEO plugin at a time and frequently check for broken links on your site as these are harmful to your listings. I hope you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the Yoast SEO installation video at: https://youtu.be/4KOc-oM7Yr8
Thank you to Debby from the blog DebbySEO for contributing the following post to #MillennialLifeCrisis.
One of the most exciting things you can receive as a blogger is emails about business opportunities/partnerships. Sadly, a lot of these emails often end up being scams. But, in receiving one, you can sometimes get so excited that you’ve been sent this email you forget to look for the small details.
It’s important to be able to tell if an email is a legitimate business opportunity for your blog, or a phishing scam. Lately I’ve both received, and heard of, a lot of different scam emails being sent to bloggers. If you have a ‘Contact Me’ page on your blog, or offer your email address on your blog, you may have even gotten some of these yourself. Here are some things to look for that can help determine whether or not the request you’ve gotten is legitimate.
The email should be addressed to you, not to the name of your blog, or a generic phrase such as ‘dear customer’. If you do not provide a first name on your blog, a legitimate business request will include them introducing themselves and asking for your first name
The email should have proper spelling and grammar. (This email I’ve included as example is a hot mess) Scams will often exchange ‘o’ for ‘0’ to bypass spam filters that services like hotmail, gmail and yahoo mail have in place.
The email should include a company name, at bare minimum, in the signature. If they’re smart, they’ll include it elsewhere in the email as well. If they are self employed, they will acknowledge that.
The email should NEVER ask you to do something in direct violation of law. IE Post a paid for advertisement to your blog whilst not disclosing that it was paid for.
The email should never request for personal information such as a phone number, access to your blog, pay-pal account info, and so on and so forth. If no business relationship has been established (yet) why would they need this information immediately?
A legitimate business opportunity for your blog will never come from someone who ‘expects’ anything from you. Initial emails should be a request and nothing more.
Take a close look at the email address, not just the sender name. Often times the domain can be a dead giveaway that an email isn’t legitimate. And, while it is true that some self-employed/small business owners do use services such as GMAIL for business, they will always have their name, or their company name used in the email. In the case of the email example I have attached, the name in the email address of who the email was from did not match the name on the bottom of the email.
Do not open poorly labeled or unlabeled attachments. And, if attachments are labeled, be careful to make sure that it’s not a scam before you open.
Last, but certainly not least, does the email make your ‘spidey sense’ flare up?
This list may sound obvious when you’re reading it, but there are a lot of people in this world who fall for email scams. People get so caught up in the excitement of them that there are a lot of Nigerian Princes with a lot of money right now. And, a lot of Lawyers in Monaco that won’t be wiring that 4.2 million they promised from your dearly departed relative that you’ve never met that they set up the will for.
I would strongly encourage that, if you feel an email could be a scam, you do not respond. Even a simple ‘No thank you’ can send them after you for months on end, request after request, annoying the crap out of you in an effort to wear you down.
If you think it could be a scam just hit delete.
Have you ever received a business request/opportunity for your blog that you felt could be a scam? What did it say? How could you tell that it just wasn’t quite right?
Burning the midnight oil (quite literally) right now.
Working from home, from your computer, gets increasingly more difficult if your internet is painstakingly slow. #FirstWorldProblems
I’ve been working on some design work tonight. Here’s a tidbit… if you’ve got access to Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign, and aren’t a graphic designer, the website freepik.com can be one of your most valuable resources.
The entire premise of the website is designers helping designers/future designers… which is a movement that I wholeheartedly stand behind. If you have a creative talent and can provide that to others, for free, that’s some good stuff right there. And if you need some creative motivation, now you know of a free resource that can help you in your design journey.
Oh, if you use anything, always provide credit. Don’t be ‘that person’ that doesn’t provide credit.
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.
With the exception of a very select few, every writer/blogger has been there before – when you want to write but you don’t know what to write. It’s one of the most frustrating feelings you can go through, writer’s block. And when you’re there, you’ll give anything to get out of your rut. How do you? You write. Write about anything. Write about everything. Write about the things that you may think are stupid and do all that you can to ensure those words hit the page. Write everything down. Even if it’s never going to leave your drafts folder, put those words on the page.
Here are some subjects that you can write about, things that you can share your opinions on, things that people enjoy reading about;
Write about how you wound up in the career you’re in now. Whether you have a common job – such as a nurse or a teach, or an uncommon job – such as a cardiothoracic surgeon, someone somewhere in this world is wondering what it takes to become a professional in your field. Sharing the story of how you got there could help a lot of up-and-coming professionals.
Write about the most incredible trip you’ve ever taken. Whether you’re a world traveller, or a one-and-done type of person, travel is a subject with one of the broadest audiences on earth. Even if someone is not going to the location you’re speaking of, they still will want to, and enjoy, reading about tales from your adventures.
Write about your hometown. Where are the best places to eat? Where are the best places visit? What are the funnest activities to do while there? Whether you live in the largest city on earth or a small town in the middle of nowhere, people will travel through your hometown each year. Why not give them a guide of things to do and places to see while there? Categorize it as ‘Travel’, because, while yo might not be travelling there, those that are travelling there will be the ones reading it.
Write about mental health, self-care, recovery and coping. This is one of the most broadly discussed topics on WordPress. If you have experience with mental health issues, either with yourself or a loved one, share your perspectives. Not only does it lessen the stigma, but it helps other’s feel less alone in their present situations. This might sound like a sad statement to say, but it’s nice to have a community, or friends, who understand what you’re going through.
Share your talents. Can you play the piano? Can you play the guitar? Can you kick a field goal as easy some people get up in the morning? Share that with the world. And, if it’s a talent you have that is teachable… something that others can learn, share. Pass on that wisdom. Millions upon millions of people take to the internet to learn new skills… even things as simple as the different ways to tie a tie. From second languages to second natures, if you’ve got the skills and wisdom to do it and patience to teach it, use your blog as a platform to teach it.
Talk about celebrities. People love to read other’s perspectives of celebrities. It’s quite literally why the Kardashian’s are famous. Share your opinions on celebrities. If someone agrees with you, they’re going to love your take and if someone disagrees with you, they’re likely going to want to talk about it. And, since this is the perfect opportunity, use your blog as a platform to remind people that two people can disagree with one another and still treat each other with respect.
Talk about true crime and mysteries. Does true crime fascinate you?Whether people admit to it or not, true crime fascinates a lot of the world. People disappearing, seemingly off the face of the earth fascinates people. There’s a natural wonder and curiosity within many people that wants to know what goes through someone’s mind when they commit murder. There are Youtube Channels of people just giving their take on different murders from around the world and these channels have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. On Sept 30 a woman in Anchorage, Alaska found an SD card on the ground that was labeled ‘Homicide at Midtown Marriott’. The SD card was filled with photos and videos of a man named Brian Smith sexually assaulting, murdering and then disposing of a woman’s body. I read a blog post a few weeks back about this story in which the author merely shared their opinion of what they think on the subject matter and the post had 3,200 likes on it. The post had more likes than the blog had subscribers. Why? People love crime.
Write about another blogger. Someone that you appreciate, or admire. Someone’s content you read on the regular. Spread the love. That blogger is going to appreciate the shout-out, and your community could possibly find themselves another blogger to love as well!
Make lists! People love lists because they’re short, easy to read and to the point. What are the ten best things about being female? What are the ten best things about being a male? What are your favourite songs of all times? What are your top travel destinations for 2020 and why? Make a list. They’re quick to read, allow you to share your opinions and are posts that people frequently like to comment on.
Whatever you’re writing about, write with your heart, passion and soul behind it. Authenticity is important in blogging. People will see if you’re passionate about what you’re sharing or if you’re just blogging to get attention. They can judge your character, even if they’re a stranger. So always make sure that you’re blogging about things that you love.
Write it all down. Put it in your drafts folder. Some of it might be stupid, sure. Hell, I’ve got a lot of stupid posts in my drafts folder. I can promise you that after it’s written, you might realize that some of it’s pretty freaking awesome.
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>
Without knowing it, many of you have taken part in an experiment over the past couple of weeks. What? An experiment? How sneaky of me, I know! The experiment was a test to see just how many comments could be collected on one post, if I asked the right questions. And let me tell you, your responses did not disappoint!
One of the most common things I see asked with respect to blogging is how do you get more people to comment on your blog. People ask here on WordPress, they ask on Twitter, my former bosses used to ask me all the time. How do you get more people to comment on your blog, your content and your message? It’s actually a question asked in the corporate world quite a lot. Even companies like Nike and Starbucks can struggle with getting people to provide feedback.
So how do you encourage engagement? How do you get more comments? How do you cause people to stop by your blog and think ‘I need to comment on this post!’
Suggestion 1: Ask them!
It seems simple, right? But many corporations and individual bloggers forget. We get so wrapped up in sending the message that we want to send that we forget to quite simply ask people what they think, how they feel, what their opinions are.
The two posts on my blog that garnered the most comments over the past few weeks were posts in which I purposefully went out of my way to ask you for your opinions.
And your perspectives, I got! If you read the comments section of these two posts: Absolutely (un)important questions and I would like to hear your opinion you will see oodles of different opinions. Each post has more than 100 comments on it. People went out of their way to not just share line or two, but to send me meaningful, thoughtful opinions of their perspectives.
If you want people to leave comments on your blog, ASK THEM QUESTIONS. Talk with them… instead of at them. Let them know that you want to hear their opinions. Let them know that their opinions, no matter if they align or disagree with your own, are welcome on your blog and then encourage them to share. People like to share their own opinions and will feel a lot safer to do so if you let them know their opinions are welcome on your blog.
Suggestion 2: Thank people who do share.
All too often I stop by someone’s blog to leave a comment and they don’t bother to respond to my comment.
This is totally fine. You don’t have to respond to your comments. But I truly believe that if you don’t respond to the comments people leave on your blog, they aren’t likely to leave another. It’s true for me, and as you’re reading this, it’s probably true for you. If you take the time to leave someone a heartfelt comment and they don’t bother to write back, why would you do that ever again?
This is why it’s really important that, if you do get comments on your blog, you respond. Responding to your comments lets people know that, whether they agree with your not, their thoughts are welcome on your blog. Responding to your comments encourages people to come back to your blog. Responding to your comments shows the people reading your blog that you’re thankful for their reading your blog. When your readers find you, let them know you’re thankful for every comment they leave.
Also – please remember, not everyone communicates in the same way. Some people have a way with words where they can leave you a really eloquent comment whereas others might just say ‘Thank you for writing this’. Please don’t devalue ‘thank you for writing this’. A reader is still valuable to your blog, no matter how long of a comment they leave.
Suggestion 3: Encourage feedback.
While not every post on your blog is going to be you specifically going out of your way to ask people for their answers to important questions, you can ask for feedback on your own content.
When you make a blog post, encourage people to respond. If you’re sharing your opinion, ask people for theirs. If you’re sharing a short story, ask people what they think of your short story. If you’re sharing your art, ask people to rate it on a scale from 1-10. However you see fit, whatever you see most aligning with your post, encourage readers to give you feedback.
Please note – When you’re encouraging feedback, don’t end your posts with a question that can be answered with a single word. End your post with a question that asks people for their opinions.
Example: You write a post about a truly orgasmic pizza eating experience. On the end of the post you leave a question.
Bad Questions: Do you like pizza? Do you like cheese? Do you like pineapple on pizza?
Good Questions: Can you tell me about a time in your life when you just couldn’t believe the pizza you were eating? What made that pizza so incredible? What about that memory sticks out so well in your mind?
The reason why the bad questions are bad questions is because someone can say “Yes. No. Yes”. It’s so simple that it doesn’t really encourage any informative feedback, it only asks yes or no questions. Yes or no questions that can be answered so quickly people might just skip over answering them at all. On the other hand, with the good questions listed, if people read that, they’re going to want to share their stories with you. They’re going to take the time to think about the best pizza they’ve ever had and they’re going to type up the whole story in your comments button.
Suggestion 4: Leave a comment on another blog.
Simply put, people are more likely to view and leave comments on the blogs of people who’ve left comments on their blog.
Now it’s important to note that with this suggestion, I DO NOT mean to spam people. Don’t just go to someone’s blog and write “Hey Check out my blog!” in their comments. I mean that you should go to someone’s blog, leave them a thoughtful comment and then mention “Hey, I also just recently touched on this subject on my blog. Would you consider reading it?”
It’s worth noting that this happens ALL THE TIME in the corporate world. The Oreo brand is notorious for leaving comments on other brands from KitKat to Boeing to American Eagle. They do this because they know that in doing so, they’re supporting other companies, but also supporting themselves. When people see a comment from Oreo on an American Eagle release, Oreo knows that’s going to put their brand at top of mind for a lot of American Eagle customers. It’s a small piece to marketing, but if you do it properly, an effective one.
Encouraging engagement can be difficult when you’re just starting out. But, it’s worth noting that things are always difficult when you’re just starting out. The important thing is that you try. That you put your efforts towards not just building a blog but building a community. Because people want to know they’re a part of a community and they’re being talked with, not at.
Take it slow and steady, one step at a time. Even Everest is conquerable so long as you go at your own pace.