Blog

10 Mistakes New Bloggers Make and How to Fix Them

10 new blogger mistakes and how to fix them

Here are the most common blogger mistakes I see in people just getting started. I’ve written down 10 mistakes and how you can fix them so you can continue to look like a professional blogger.

Using too many colors, fonts, and graphics in your blog design and nondescript post titles

    • Fix this by creating an overall brand that includes at max. 4 colors, 3 fonts and graphics that go together in a cohesive theme. Make sure that your post titles actually mean something. Who is gonna want to click on a post titled – Random Wednesday? It doesn’t tell what the post is about, it’s not SEO friendly and why would your reader want to read a post titled Random Wednesday? You need to make sure your posts are titled something people want to read or are going to tease your readers into clicking on.

Hiding your social share buttons

  • Be sure to make your share buttons visible on your blog. You don’t want to make it hard for your readers to share your posts. The harder you make it on them, the less chance that they’ll share your posts. Add the pin it button to your photos and add share buttons to the top and bottom of your posts. You can also use programs like Sumo me, which add social share buttons to the side of the posts. Just make sure this is set up so it’s not blocking content on mobile.

Leaving comments on other blogs that ask for follow for follow

  • This is not the way to promote your blog. When leaving comments you want them to be meaningful, genuine comments. When doing follow for follow it looks and feels like spam, especially if you do it on multiple blog posts on the same blog. When leaving genuine comments, put the link to your blog in the URL field. It’s better to focus your time on growing your social media then leaving spammy comments on blogs.
Commenting back to your readers can make them feel appreciated Click To Tweet

Not interacting in the comment sections

  • You don’t comment back with your readers. If you don’t interact with your readers they are less likely to come back or comment because they feel like you don’t care about what they have to say. Commenting back to your readers can make them feel appreciated and shows that you care about your readers and what they think.

Not getting involved in social media

  • Social media can be really overwhelming. As a new blogger, you have a list a mile long for blogging tasks alone and now you have to add social media on top of it. Pick one or two social media platforms to focus on. Find where your blog readers and share on those top two platforms. Learn how to use those two platforms really well and try to schedule posts ahead of time.

Not promoting

  • If your blog is just for fun and you don’t care who reads it, there’s no need for you to promote your blog. If you want to gain clients, readers or eventually monetize your blog you’ve got to be promoting it. At first, it can be really hard to want to share on social media, but you have to. It can be easier if you schedule your content ahead of time – for sharing on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, use Buffer and for sharing on Instagram, use Planoly.

Not picking a niche

  • You need to focus your blog on a two to three topics at most, but it’s really better to pick one niche. It’s tempting to try to be a blog that attracts everyone, but that will never happen. Not everyone is going to like the same thing. Creating a blog that focuses on one niche is going to do much better than trying to focus on multiple topics. Focusing on one niche is better for SEO, social media and growing traffic. You might find 20 readers that are interested in all the topics you want to write about, but you’ll be missing out on the 1,000 readers that want to know how you water your garden or how you threw that amazing party!

Posting photos that aren’t the width of your blog or posting several photos of pretty much the same thing

  • I see lots of new bloggers, that post pictures that are different sizes and/or too small for the page. When posting pictures you want them to be the same width as the text on your blog, also known as the post space. You don’t want them to be all different sizes. If your post space is huge, you can at least make all the pictures the same width. When the pictures are the same width, it really makes the blog look professional. And on the other mistake of posting pictures of pretty much the same thing.  It may seem that the 10 photos you’ve put in the post are slightly different than each other, but you want to have one to three photos in your post max. and use the rest to promote the post on social media. Having many photos of pretty much the same thing only makes your blog load slower, your readers have to scroll more to get to the actual content and it’s just really annoying. Leave the rest for social media, if you’re sharing the slightly different photos over several days on social media it’s just a better use of the photos, instead of them slowing your blog load time.

Not ending your posts with a call to action (CTA)

  • You need to end your posts giving your readers some sort of direction. Ask them to comment, sign up for your newsletter and receive a content upgrade, follow you on a social media platform, read other blog posts and linking to that post. This will keep your readers on your blog longer and get them to whatever goal you have for your blog. So don’t leave your post empty at the end, always ask your readers to do something.

Not having a plan

  • When you don’t have a plan, you’re more likely to be running around not doing anything or trying to do everything and getting overwhelmed. You need to focus on what makes your blog run and focus on those things and not the things that don’t really matter. For example: writing your blog posts, sending your newsletter, sharing content on social media, connecting with others and keeping track of what works and doesn’t, so you know what to do and not do in the future.

I’d love to know in the comments, what was a blogger mistake you did in the past? If you’re doing any of the blogger mistakes mentioned above, how will you change your blog?

P.S. I’m revamping my newsletter, I’d love if you would sign up below.

Content Upgrades

33 Content Upgrades Ideas and 4 easy tips to make them better!
Content upgrades are a great way to get people on to your email list. Email lists are really important if you plan on selling anything in the future. Starting an email list at the beginning of your blog is a great way to slowly grow that readership. Content upgrades are an enticing way for people to join your list. In order to get the content upgrade the person has to give you their email. Some people may join your list, just to get the content upgrade and then unsubscribe, that’s okay because those aren’t the people that will eventually buy your products anyway.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term content upgrade, let me explain how it works with the example of a pdf. There are all sorts of things that can be content upgrades and we’ll get to those, but for this example, we’ll be talking about a pdf. So you write a blog post about the right way to water your house plants. So as an upgrade, if your reader gives you their email, you will send them a pdf that they can print out about how to water 20 common houseplants plus a spot to add their house plant watering schedule. This way they can print off this pdf and write out their very own house plant watering schedule. The great thing is that they are now on your email list and you can send them your weekly newsletter straight to their inbox.
Before we go into the all the different types of content upgrades there are. Let’s talk about getting your content upgrades to a better level.
    Be consistent with file names
        You want to make sure that you’re keeping your file names the same across the board. The names can all have similar beginnings, so when your reader puts it into her, “to do” file all the files from you are grouped together. For example, ADS_content_upgrades – this way all the Ashley Design Studio files are together. You also want to be consistent with the look of your content upgrades. Keep the same fonts, colors, etc. They need to go along with your branding.
Ask questions that give real answers
    Don’t be super vague with the questions you’re asking your readers in the content upgrade. Be sure that the questions you’re asking get to a true answer and not something that’s super vague and very broad stroked.
Keep the content upgrade on topic. 
    Don’t try and put the same content upgrade with blog posts it doesn’t belong with. I know it’s tempting to put a content upgrade with a post that’s similar, but people will definitely be unsubscribing if they don’t get what you said they were getting. Be consistent with your topic and content upgrade. It’s okay to put the same content upgrade on different posts as long as the topic is consistent and it helps and goes along with the blog post or you explain very clearly what the content upgrade is.
Make them interactive!
    Content upgrades are great when you have access to a printer, but if your reader doesn’t want to spend tons of money on ink, printing out content upgrades can get pricey. So if possible, try and use inDesign to make the content upgrade easy to fill out and interactive with fill in the blanks. I know not everyone has access to inDesign or the desire to learn it (I still need to learn it), but it makes it easier for your readers who don’t have access to a printer or want to spend the money on printing out all the awesome content upgrades that you’ll be offering.
Add a Checklist
    I’ll mention it below, but I’ve got to mention it here as well. Checklists are awesome and I think they are more likely to be downloaded. Especially if you can make it interactive where someone doesn’t need to print off a ton of the same list or spend money on laminating it. Checklists that need to be done daily, weekly or monthly are great and easy to make.
Links! Links! Links!
    Be sure to add hyperlinks into your content upgrades. Don’t make your readers have to copy + paste links into their browser. It makes it easier on your reader and interactive for them as well. Be sure to add your logo and make that link back to your website, too.
Below I’m going to list 33 content upgrades ideas and how you can use them in your blog.
1 – Workbooks
    These are basically a whole lot of worksheets put together in one. You can have them based on a series of blog posts so that you can have the same content upgrade be for all those blog posts or it can go with one epic blog post.
2 – Personal notes from your notebook
    Give some insight into your own notebook, calendar or schedule. Give people a behind-the-scenes look into your life and/or business. This can be done in the form of a pdf, audio file or even better a video.
3 – Calendar
    Creating a monthly calendar that people can use as a desktop background, as an editorial calendar or as some sort of tracker.
4 – Coupon Code
    A discount to paid products that you currently have is a great way to get emails. It’s what all the major stores do, so that doesn’t mean us small business owners can’t do it, too.
5 – Video tutorial
    Sometimes it’s just easier to talk through something or show the examples in a video. You can setup a webcam or your smartphone to record going through the explanations.
6 – Cheat sheets
    Cheat sheets can really help with any topic. It can cover many shortcuts quickly. It can be a reference guide for the topic that you’ve written about. Technical information can make for great cheat sheets.
7 – Mini e-course
    Mini e-courses are another way to see if you would like to do this as far as passive income. You can create an e-course for free using teachable  because if you sell it for free they won’t charge you. The mini e-course can be broken down into 3-10 lessons, you can do it in the form of an online course, using something like teachable, an e-mail course, a private password protected page on your blog or a PDF with links to videos on youtube or vimeo.
8 – Step-by-Step Tutorial
    If the post you’ve written has an intricate technique writing up a step-by step-tutorial on a pdf that includes photos with instructions can be helpful. You could even add a video if you want.
9 – First chapter of your book
    If you’ve written a book, you can give away the first chapter as a teaser. This will also entice people to want to purchase your book in the future.
10 – E-book
    If you want to share more on a particular topic, but don’t want to put it into blog posts you can create an e-book. This is also a great way to test the waters if you possibly want to do passive income in the future. You can practice with creating this free e-book first.
11 – Swipe files
   Templates for all sorts of things like email canned responses, copy, and letters. What would your ideal reader need help writing? Creating fill in the blank templates where they can create their own style.
12 – Cliff notes of a book/classes
    You could read a book and then take notes on it for readers. This way your readers get all the benefits of the book without spending the time reading the whole book. If you’ve done a reader survey and asked your readers what books been on their to-read list for a while or asking in a blog post. This could be added with a video and made into a kit, see #33.
13 – Printable Poster
    This is great for posts that have lists or resources, this can help them stay on track and organized.
14 – Worksheets/PDFs
    This is probably the most often used content upgrade and the easiest to make. Creating worksheets helps your readers to apply what they have learned in the blog post and make it their own. Creating a PDF that asks the questions posed in the blog post and has your readers come up with their own solutions to their problems. Other ideas for worksheets could be for keeping track of stats like blog visits or social media following, for example.
15 – Resource list / Tool box
Anytime you have written about resources, you can make them a content upgrade. For example, my blogging tools post could have a resource list attached, which I probably should create.
16 – Additional tips
    You can do a blog post that has 10 tips on “whatever” topic, then you have the content upgrade could be 10 more tips on “whatever” topic. This can also gauge your reader’s interest in that topic. Lots of downloads mean lots of interest, fewer downloads less interest and then you know that that topic is something your readers aren’t really interested in.
17 – Checklist
    This is great for lists that people need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They can print the list out, get it laminated and then reuse it over and over or use pencil on it and erase every week or if you’ve used inDesign they can duplicate the file. These can be very valuable content upgrades.
18 – Photos (creative commons)
    This is a great content upgrade for a photographer. Anything that helps your readers do less work is always a great go to for a content upgrade.
19 – Challenge
    A challenge can come in all sorts of forms – email course, pdf, or page on your blog. Challenges can be a great way to connect with your readers outside of your blog. You can create a hashtag to go along with your challenge and have your readers share it on social media. Challenges can be all sorts of things and they can help your readers move from one point to another.
20 – Webinar replay
    If you’ve done a webinar, a replay of the webinar is a great resource for a content upgrade. If you have a lot of webinars, you can have them all in a webinar library that needs an email address to access.
21 – Fonts
    Along the same lines as photos, fonts are an opportunity to share something with your readers that isn’t the normal content upgrade. If you create fonts, it’s an awesome way to show what you can create and possibly have readers buy in the future.
22 – Bonus Interview
    Interview someone that’s an expert in the field you’re talking about. Maybe add it via video or audio as something extra special other than text. If you want you could also add a transcript to it and have it as two content upgrades.
23 – Library of info – old blog posts/all the downloads you have available
    Some people like to give access to all their content upgrades at once. Some others like to create a new worksheet and/or cheat sheet every week. This is a great option for some.
24 – Scripts
    Similar to swipe files, scripts are things you actually say to people. So helping someone with an interview, what to say when you’re pitching your business or how to reply to grandma when she asks why you don’t have a boyfriend.
25 – Slide presentations
    If you’ve given a webinar or a live presentation, you can have the slide presentation attached the webinar replay or if the replay has expired this can be an option for your readers.
26 – Images – moodboards/instagram files, etc.
    If you make graphics that people can go in and change up later that’s great, too!
27 –  Mini e-book
    You can create a mini e-book, let’s say around 10 pages instead of something like above which is more like 30 pages for something free. This is also a great way to see if you want to create e-books as part of passive income in the future.
28 –  Email series
    I’ve mentioned this before but an email series can be great. You can send them one thing to do every day for a week or two weeks or a month whatever you think is best for what you’re trying to teach your readers.
29 – Audio
    Think about your reader’s favorite podcasts, you could create something along those lines for readers. Depending on your blog topic, audio content upgrades can be really great.
30 – Transcript
    You can create a transcript from a webinar, podcast or youtube video. Transcripts can help you gauge who’s interested in a subject and if you should be creating more of that topic.
31 – Coding text
    If you are a developer or designer, you can show examples of how to create something in CSS/HTML and put it into a pdf.
32 – Case study
    Case studies are the behind the scenes on how some project worked out. This can be done in the form of a pdf, video, and/or audio. Case studies are great projects to bundle together. For example, having the main case study be written in a pdf, make a video going over the case study and have a worksheet that helps readers do the project for themselves.
33 – Kit
    Kits are basically two or more content upgrades put together. You could package a video tutorial with a detailed pdf going through the steps and add in cheat sheets or worksheets that go along with the tutorial. This can be a great way for readers to accomplish a goal. Making this a limited-time freebie would make it even more desirable to your readers, especially since it’s free.
There are probably more content upgrade ideas out there, but here’s 33 to get you started. I would love to know what content upgrade you think you may make for your readers first!

Blog Post Checklist

 Blog Post Checklist

 

Today I’m sharing with you the blog post checklist I use when writing a post. All the items I need to have done before I publish my post. The blog post checklist ensures that I don’t forget anything essential for my posts. If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you know I’m all about having a great checklist. When I prep my blog posts in Evernote I put this checklist at the bottom of each note. To have this checklist in WordPress, I use a plugin call Pre-Publish Post Checklist, it’s has been updated in a while, but I haven’t noticed any problems, it’s a really simple plugin. I use this plugin to put the blog post checklist on the side of the post editor in WordPress. I’ve shared the list below, so you can copy and paste it and I’ve shared why I have a checkpoint for each item.

Blog Post Checklist
Draft
Click-able title with keywords
SEO friendly permalink
P.S.??
Click-to-tweet??
Add categories or tags
SEO checked and green
☐Readability green
Edit
Auto Tweet Written
Photo/Graphic with Text
Alt text written
Content Upgrade
CTA
Scheduled
Most of this is self-explanatory and some of it is a little repetitive, but sometimes I’m working on a post and have to stop and this list helps me get back on track faster because I know exactly what is left to do before it’s ready to be published. The list is not in any particular order because I hardly ever do it in order anyway. I’m usually working on anywhere from 2-8 posts at a time and this list really helps me to see exactly what is left to complete.
Draft
I like to write a draft and step away from writing for a while, it helps to see it in a new light so I always draft and get all my thoughts out in a messy unedited, no structure kind of way first.
Click-able title with keywords
I try to make all my posts with an enticing title that people want to read or at least one that has keywords. This checkpoint is a reminder to re-word my title if it’s not enticing or needs more keywords.
SEO friendly permalink
Sometimes the title and permalink don’t match and when that happens I make sure that the permalink is filled with keywords.
P.S.??
     I like to add a P.S. to the end of posts to add links to other blog posts that are similar to keep people on the site more. (The checkpoints with the question marks at the end are optional checkpoints.)
Click-to-tweet??
     Adding a click-to-tweet is an easy way to help someone share your post. Click to tweet only offers 5 free tweets a month, so I don’t use them on every post. The best plugin that I’ve found is Better Click to Tweet.
Add categories or tags
     I always want to make sure I add my posts to the correct category. I don’t use tags very often, though. I want to add them in, but I’m waiting until I’ve amassed more posts, to see which tags are best suited for the posts I’ve written. I think it’s best to have at two or three posts under a tag. There’s no point in having a tag with one post in it unless you’re planning on more posts under that tag.
SEO checked and green
     This refers to Yoast SEO. I always want to be sure that the SEO is green before publishing.
Readability green
     This is also part of the Yoast SEO plugin. This ensures that the readability of the post is done well.
Edit
     I always give my post an edit after the draft.
Auto Tweet Written
     I write a tweet that automatically goes out when the post gets published. I use the publicize section of Jetpack to set that up.
Photo/Graphic with Text
     I always have a title graphic jpeg to go with every post. So this is making sure that’s been created and put into the post.
Alt text was written
     I always add alt text to my jpeg, mainly for Pinterest. This also helps if the jpeg doesn’t show up on someone’s screen.
Content Upgrade???
     I wish all my posts had content upgrades, but this is a reminder to add it in if there is one.
CTA – Call to Action
     CTAs are really important to add to the end of a post. Even if they are just asking people to comment below, that’s a CTA.
Scheduled
     I always schedule my posts to be published. This is to make sure that the post has actually been scheduled. I can schedule a post before it’s finished if I know it has to go out on a certain day.
That’s it. All the items on the pre-publish blog post checklist. I’d love to know if you write out a checklist or not, let me know in the comments below.
P.S.
Here’s where you can find the essential elements of a great blog post.
word

Figuring Out Your Ideal Business Client

Figuring out your ideal business client is important because you don't want to get stuck working with someone that isn't the best fit for you. Answering these three questions every time you meet with a potential client is crucial to figuring out if they are your ideal client.

A great business practice is to figure out your ideal business client. Figuring out your ideal business client helps you to weed out the bad ones when they come looking for the services that you provide. When doing this you need to ask yourself a few questions. I’m going to go over what those questions are and why they are important to figure out your ideal client.

Are they willing to pay your minimum rate or higher?
If they client is low balling you or isn’t willing to pay your minimum rate, why would you want to go with them? You need to be sure that you have the time available for when clients that do what to pay your minimum rate or higher come knocking on your door. This doesn’t mean you can’t give friends and family discounts, but keep it to 10-15% only and don’t go over that. Be sure that you say in the contract with your friends and family that they are getting a package valued at X about of dollars for Y% off and the total is Z. Major companies only give friends and family discounts for a limited time and a limited percent off, so you could offer some like that to your friends and family. If you know when the slow time of year is for you, you can do your discount services during that time. Friends and family usually wait unless they want it urgently and then they will be more likely to pay you for your full service.
Also, going with a client that doesn’t want to pay the minimum, they are usually going to keep asking for more and more down the road and not expect to be paying extra for those additional services, that is something you need to look out for as well.

Do you actually want to do the project? Are you excited about it?
If you aren’t at least partly looking forward to the project, it’s going to be harder and harder to get the work done on time because it’s not exciting. Now starting out at the beginning, you may have to take some jobs that aren’t too exciting. But as your calendar starts filling up with client projects, you’ll want to weed out the ones that don’t get you excited to do the work. This also starts to narrow your portfolio down to projects that you were excited about and as your online portfolio starts filling up with these exciting projects and you remove the old boring projects you will get more clients that will come to you for more exciting projects. And by exciting, I just mean a project that you’re looking forward to taking on.

When working with client, ask yourself - do you actually want to work with them? Click To Tweet

Do you actually want to work with them?
If your client gives you the willies, or you just feel uncomfortable with them, don’t work with them. If they seem to be a high maintenance client that you don’t think you can handle, don’t work with them. You want to be sure that you’re comfortable with who you are working with. Every time they call or email, you won’t like it at all because you’re just not comfortable with it. It would be bad for you and bad for them. So be sure that you’re comfortable with who you may be working with for several weeks or months, depending on the size of the project. They also may come back to you for more work in the future and that conversation could be even more awkward if you say no.

Do they know what they want from you?
If your client doesn’t know what they want from you, send them away with some sort of questionnaire or a document you’ve set up that can help them figure out what they want from you. Once they’ve had a chance to brainstorm and figure out mostly what they want from you have them come back for a real evaluation. This way they aren’t wasting your time and their money figuring out what they want. This also shows that you care more about the client and their needs than about the money. Some people would charge to help a client figure out what they want and that can take a long time. This is a greater testimony about how you love the clients and they will definitely remember you and spread the word about your business around.

So figuring out the ideal client is really a case by case basis, but once you have an idea of what you don’t want, it will definitely be easier to figure out who you do want to work with. Answering these questions isn’t the end all be all for figuring out your ideal client. You can also make up a persona like you would with your ideal reader. You can create someone that is the perfect client for you on paper, but you want to be sure to always ask the questions above when choosing clients.

Do you have a checklist that your clients need to meet? Do you know who your ideal client is?

P.S. Have you signed up for my weekly newsletter? I haven’t sent one out in a while and this Monday, August 7 will be a brand new one sent to your inbox, so if you’re interested in exclusive blogging, social media, and solopreneur content be sure to sign up below.

Editorial Calendar

  • There are many benefits to using an editorial calendar. I'm going to share with you why I like using an editorial calendar and how to use it.

Why?

Editorial calendars are important in many ways. The reason I love editorial calendars is they help me to plan posts in advance. Here are a couple more reasons why I like having an editorial calendar:
Consistency – one of the biggest benefits of having an editorial calendar is always having something to write about. The key to getting traffic and keeping traffic coming is having a consistent flow of posts for people to read. If there aren’t post for people to read they stop coming back and eventually, unless you’re amazing, they stop coming back altogether.
Streamlining – editorial calendars can help narrow down what to write about. Weeding out the bad ideas and not having last minute posts to write, the posts that are written will be higher quality and more thought out. This is important because keeping your niche narrow helps you to be a thought leader in a small space. It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.
Planning – editorial calendars help you to plan your next post and even your next month’s worth of posts. Having a plan helps to keep you from not having a post to write for the next day. This also helps you to plan out your posts as far in advance as you want to.

How?

When building an editorial calendar start by answering a few questions:
Where will you post?
    Will this editorial calendar be for posting – blog posts? Instagrams? Tweets? Facebook posts? Once you know where you will be posting.
The next thing to ask is – When will you post?
Will you be posting once a week? Every few days? Once a day? Decide what your schedule will be. You’ll want this schedule to be manageable and not to overload yourself. You can start out small and slowly increase the amount you post based on how hard or easy it is to keep up your current schedule.
Who are you posting for? Who is your audience? Who do you want to teach?
What are you posting?
Now it’s time to decide what you will post. What will you post for the audience you want? What will be informative and get people to come to your blog? (Or wherever you are posting.)
Why are you posting?
Why are you posting the thing you planned? Is it to genuinely share the information? Is it just for likes because it’s a cute picture? What’s the point? Does this post align with the overall message you are sending out for yourself?
Wherever you post online you want the same message to come across. This is why it’s important to know why you blog.
How will you make this happen?
How will you make the time to write the post you are planning? You need to put that on your calendar, time to blog. Block out time in your schedule to blog, this needs to be a priority.
Once you’ve answered some of these questions and some of these questions you need to be asking yourself all the time when planning out the editorial calendar. It’s time to brainstorm. I like to keep a running list of posts in Evernote. Once you have some post ideas you can sort them into a feature, column, series or individual posts. Once you have them sorted you can plug them into your editorial calendar. There are all sorts of ways to do this. You can plug in a month’s worth of posts or longer. It’s all up to you and how much you think you can handle. I like to have at least a month’s worth of ideas and if I can expand on those ideas in the post draft, that can be helpful.
The editorial calendar is not the end all, be all. If you want to switch things around anytime, feel free. I know sometimes people can feel restricted when editorial calendars come up. But it’s your calendar, you are in control. And nobody else knows what’s on it other than you. And even if you normally write a specific column on Tuesdays and there is something you really want to publish, just explain it to your readers. Lots of them are very understanding and if it’s a high-quality post they will love you even more because of its content.
When first starting your blog, you want to create what’s called Pillar Content (or Evergreen Content). This type of content is content you can link back to in future posts. For example, this post is pillar content. When I mention editorial calendars in future posts, I can link back to this post. I even linked to pillar content in this post when I linked up brainstorming above.
What?
What kind of editorial calendar should you use? There are all different kinds that are available, typically they are divided into two big categories – paper or digital. Let’s talk about paper first.
Paper Editorial Calendars
You could get a big calendar from a store like Paper Source and use post-its on it with your blog post ideas that way you can move them around the calendar. You could do a small version of that in a regular calendar like an Erin Condren or InkWell Press Planner. Regina from By Regina has a great editorial calendar that’s available for purchase on Amazon and Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah has a paper calendar on Amazon as well. I haven’t used them, but they have great reviews.
Digital Editorial Calendars
On the digital side, there is google calendar or iCal, where you could plug in your blog post ideas and any notes you have on each blog post. There are plugins that you can use if you are operating your blog with WordPress. My favorite plugin is Edit Flow. I really like how you can change the status to whatever you want it to say, I have statuses that say Idea, Evernote, In Progress, Draft, Pending Review, Edit, and Schedule. I’ll be writing a post in the future about how I use EditFlow as my editorial calendar and my whole process. Another plugin that I used before I started using EditFlow was Editorial Calendar, it was a super simple calendar plugin, you could easily move posts around and it had a column on the side for posts that weren’t on the calendar yet, but you had the idea for. There are also paid plugins that are available like Coschedule. I haven’t used Coschedule, but I know it’s very popular with bloggers because you can set it to schedule more than just blog posts.
Social Media Editorial Calendars
Since editorial calendars can be used for anything from tweets to Instagram posts to blog posts, you will need other “calendars” if you’re not going to use an all in one source like Coschedule. I think it’s a lot easier to schedule out social media posts with a digital calendar than paper because you’ll just have to repeat your tweet all over. I really enjoy the idea of having a few categories in social media as well. For example, asking your audience something once or twice a day on Twitter is a good idea. If you are a food blogger, having a recipe Instagram post once a week is good. I don’t mean just talk about your posts and link up the recipe, but have an actual recipe on Instagram. It could be a three or four ingredient recipe with super quick steps. It lets your audience see that you’re not just about those 10 ingredients or more recipes. Digital editorial “calendars” for social media platforms-  for tweets, there is Buffer, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and more. Instagram there is Buffer me Planoly. For Facebook, you can schedule out posts in Facebook natively or use a program like Buffer and Hootsuite. For Pinterest, there is Tailwind and Board Booster.
 I like to use a combo of digital and paper, but I primarily use EditFlow as my blog post editorial calendar. I haven’t fully fleshed out my social media editorial calendar, but when I do use products for prepping social media I use Tweetdeck for Twitter and  Planoly for Instagram. I like to use Evernote to keep lists of my blog post ideas before I plug them into my editorial calendar. I use Evernote for research on my blog posts as well. I enjoy using Evernote because it’s searchable, I have it on my computer and iPhone and it’s available on the internet as well.
Does this make you want to start using an editorial calendar? Do you use an editorial calendar? If you do I’d love to hear about it!!
I know this post was a little confusing with editorial calendars for social as well. Let me know if this was helpful or if I should write another post going into more detail on editorial calendars for blog posts only or social media only.

Photos in Blogging Your Guide

When using photos in blogging, there are a few guidelines that need to be followed in order to use them in the right way. I'm here to help you use photos in the right way and to give you a few tips on the way.

 

Last week, I wrote about graphics and blogging, today it’s all about photos and blogging. I feel like photos/images are very different than graphics. Graphics are something that you can create in a program like Canva, PicMonkey or Photoshop from scratch. Photos/images have to be taken with a camera and then if you want you can add graphics or text on top. There are a lot of things that you have to know when dealing with using photos in blogging. If you’re going to add photos to your blog there are a few main areas that you have to be aware of.

               Where did the photos come from?

     If you pulled the photo from a google search. You need permission from the photographer, it’s not good enough to just put who took the photo underneath the photo or at the bottom of the post or what site you found it on. The photographer could still come back and ask you take it down if they are nice or they could serve you with a notice of some sort saying you don’t have permission to use that photo, I will use legal action if you don’t take it down. Having permission to use a photo is very important. Permission can come in a few different ways – you paid for it, the photographer said it was ok to use it with or without credit, you took the photo yourself.
     If you are subscribed to a service like Death to the Stock Photo or Creative Market then you totally have permission to use their photos. I would still give credit because you’re using their photos, it shows support to that brand and it helps spread the word about some great stock photos. If you altered the photo in any way, I would also explain that in the credit line as well. For example, text on the image is mine.

If you took the photo yourself, then you are completely in the clear and can do whatever you want with it because you took the photo. Since you have photos you took yourself on your site, I would put up something on your site about giving or not giving permission for others to use your photos. Some bloggers say that their photos can be used when credit to them is given.

You must have permission to use other people's photos on your site. Crediting Pinterest doesn't… Click To Tweet

               Do you have permission?

     I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth repeating: you must have permission to use the photo. Google search for an image or using Pinterest to find the perfect image and grabbing it from there is not enough. You can’t credit Pinterest for the photo either. Pinterest curates images from lots of different websites, if you don’t have permission from the owner of the photo, don’t use it. And you need to make sure that the person on the website you saw the photo on has permission to use the photo or they are the owner of the photo. Getting permission to use the photo can be difficult and complicated.

               Stock Photos are a great place to start

     If you want to have photos and not just graphics on your website, going to a free or paid stock photo website is a great way to know that you have permission to use the photo. There are some awesome stock photo websites like Pixabay, Pexels, Stock Up, The Stocks, and StockSnap. There are all sorts of stock photo places to go especially if you don’t have the time to take your own photos or aren’t really interested in taking photos, but want to have that look.

               Pick up your phone

Don’t forget we all have cameras on our phones these days and they can take some really great photos. So practice taking some photos and when you’re feeling more confident in your photo taking skills, use those photos on your site. Using your photos makes it much easier instead of using other people’s photos and having to deal with copyright infringement. Or you could just go the graphics route until you’re more confident with your photo taking skills. Even when you’re dealing with food photography, at the beginning, instead of taking a picture of every step, take a photo of the finished product and work your way up to sharing the photos of each step. Practice taking the photos from the beginning and then share when you’re getting the shots that you like.

               Tips

  1. When uploading the photos to your site, be sure they are all the same width. It doesn’t look as professional if they are all different widths and sizes. Be sure to try and resize them before uploading the photos.
  2. If possible, use smaller file sizes by compressing the photos. If the files are too large, it makes your site load slower and not run as fast.
  3. When using photos in social media, be sure to use the appropriate size for the platform. Here’s an update-to-date guide from  Sprout Social.

 

               Optimizing Your Image for SEO

  1. Rename your file image from FILE00234.jpg to using-photos-in-blogging.jpeg. Hyphens are needed because bots read the name as one word, instead of reading the separate words. Hypens help the bots to read the words separately.
  2. Alt attributes are really important for SEO and for Rich Pins on Pinterest. Not to get into too much detail, here’s what you need to know. When uploading your file to WordPress or Blogger, there is a section called Alt Text. The Alt Text section is what bots read about your photo since they can’t see the image themselves. This section is also what goes below your pin on Pinterest for a better description or when your image doesn’t show up on someone’s computer they see this text. So be sure to fill this out and be very descriptive.
  3. There is also a section called Title near the Alt Text. Do not put the same thing in both spots, that’s considered keyword stuffing and you can be penalized for that. Ever notice when you hover over an image and there is a box of text that pops up, that’s the title in use. If you choose to use this section, use it as a complement to the Alt Text.

Where do you go to find photos for your site? Do you use images or take photos yourself? I’d love to know!

Blog Launch Promotions

Promoting your blog or business launch before it goes live is a great way to tell people that you're launching a blog and/or business and to follow you and you'll tell them when the blog launches. Blog launch promotions are very important. I'll show you how to promote your blog.
I believe in promoting your blog before your blog officially goes live. If you can get on social media and build up a following, you will actually have someone to share your blog posts to once the blog goes live. This is important so that you have followers when your blog launch happens and you can share it with others besides mom. There are many different ways to get people to follow you online. I’m only going to slightly touch on them in this post.

When to start

You can start sharing on social media as soon as possible. Whether you’re promoting a blog or business the sooner you start, the sooner you will start getting followers interested in what you have to share. When starting a blog or business, you’ll want to snag the name on the social media platforms as soon as you can. If it’s not available you’ll want to find the best match and/or change the name of your blog or business, if possible.

Where to promote

Twitter
While you’re writing posts and getting your blog designed, you can take the time to tweet a few times a day and connect with other people on Twitter. Using Twitter analytics will help you to see when the best time to tweet it is. Give yourself a few days before you go check your stats. Starting a Twitter chat is a great way to get your name out as an authority or you can participate in a chat someone else has created. That’s how I got the opportunity to post on One Woman Shop.

Pinterest
You can create a Pinterest business account and start creating boards and participating in group boards. I think this is a great way to promote your blog. Sharing great content can help you to be seen as an authority/expert on the subject you’re sharing.

Blogs
Be sure and comment on blogs you read. You can even email your favorite bloggers for help or just to tell them that you enjoy reading their blog. Next time they see that you’ve tweeted something about them or a topic they blog about they may retweet it and it can be the start of a great relationship. Maybe in the future, you can collaborate that blogger as well.

Bloggers
And be sure and connect with bloggers at your same level. Search for blogs that have been around for less than a year. You can see who’s pinning to group boards and check out their profiles and their blogs. You can also reach out to them to collaborate in the future when your blog has more readers.

Newsletter
Creating a newsletter to help people to see what you’re all about in the beginning is great. If you’re planning on creating content specifically to make money, starting a newsletter out early is the best way to go. The newsletter can be shared on Twitter and Pinterest. Sending out a newsletter once a week will help keep your project at the front of people’s mind. Sending out a newsletter before your blog is live is a great way to show people that you have expert knowledge.
Instagram
Getting followers on Instagram is a great way to post about your blog, business and/or newsletter. Instagram Stories can be used as a behind the scenes look into what it’s like to be a blogger and/or business owner just starting out. You can share a small excerpt of what’s to come in the next newsletter.
Facebook
This is one of the best places to promote your content. I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but it’s where a lot of people are online. When promoting, it’s best to go where the people are. Sharing on your personal page is great or you can separate the personal and professional by creating a Facebook page. You decide how you want to share online.

How to Promote

When to comes to promoting the launch of your blog/business, you need to be consistent. Social media is one of those things that you have to be on all the time in order to get noticed and keep your followers engaged and wanting to come back to you for more. Setting up an editorial calendar is a great way to stay consistent with sharing content. You don’t necessarily need to know what you’ll post, but having the time and date you will be promoting is great. In my post on content marketing, I talk about how often to post on each social media platform mentioned above. Using programs like Buffer, HootSuite, Panoly, or Coschedule can help you schedule your posts in advance.

When to Launch

I don’t really think there is a good or bad time to launch. It’s really a matter of if you’re ready to launch. Some people like to launch a blog at the beginning of the month, the week or the new year. Some people want to hit a number of followers on Pinterest or Twitter before they launch their blog. As long as you are ready with an editorial calendar and a posting schedule you’ll be great.
When do you think someone should launch their blog? If you’re a blogger, when did you launch your blog?

Content Marketing – What You Can Do Before Your Business Starts

Content marketing is a great way to promote your business and/or blog. It can also help you become a thought leader/expert in the field you are sharing about.

Content Marketing – What is it?

Content Marketing. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in the business/blogging circles. So what exactly is content marketing? It’s the idea that when content is produced in the form of educational information, the author is getting promoted as an authority on that subject. In order for it to really work though, you need to be consistent in producing content. Content can come in all sorts of forms – blog posts on your blog or someone else’s, tweets, Instagram posts or stories, Snapchat, Youtube videos, live streaming, newsletters, and more. Any way that you can communicate content, your information, is a form of content marketing.

Why?

Content marketing is great because you can start sharing your expertise before your business has gotten off the ground. It’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert on the topic. If you’re unsure about your blog/business, you can just dip your toe in by starting to share content. You can easily share on Instagram or Twitter without much commitment. To get noticed on Twitter, be sure to add an image with your tweet.

Editorial Calendar

When it comes to content marketing, planning out when and where you’re going to share that content is very important. Consistency is very important when content marketing and having a calendar helps. Editorial calendars are calendars that are used when you need to plan out content that you’re going to share. You can use a regular paper calendar, google calendar/ical, or plugins like Coschedule to help with your content. I’ll be going into more detail on Editorial Calendars in a future post. Editorial calendars can include everything that is posted from tweets to blog posts to newsletters, anything you can plan in advance.

Content to Share

Choosing what content you want to post before you start your business is key. Finding where your audience spends most of their time online and then posting there is the best way to get your name out and start sharing with others.

Twitter
You can share tweets that link to other people’s content, which can help you be known as someone that shares great resources. You can post a behind the scenes of your life and/or business.

Instagram
Instagramming posts with information under the pictures and plenty of hashtags will let you be known as someone that shares great pictures and content. Using Instagram Stories as a behind the scenes tool is great as well. Live streaming is a great option to talk to your audience and answer their specific questions, which can later be used to fuel more content ideas. Posting tips and tricks that have to do with your business is another idea for Instagram.

Snapchat
Snapchat can be used as a behind the scenes tool.

Facebook
Facebook can be used to share links, create content, and live stream content. Since you can have longer form pieces on Facebook you can share excerpts of your blog posts.

Blog
You can create content that you can share about on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Blogging is a great way to share a lot of information in different posts that deal with your business. Your blog can also display your youtube videos if you decide to go that route.

Pinterest
Pinterest can help you share your blog content along with other people’s content. You can become an authority in whatever topic fits your business best. Using group boards to share content is a great way to get your content in front of others following that board.

Youtube
Making videos whether prerecorded or live is a great way to get your content out there. As I said above, you can also house your youtube videos on your blog. Youtube videos can also be shared on Pinterest.

Podcast
Podcasts are like the new radio. You can share the same content that can be shared in a blog post or on video much easier and without the hair and makeup haha!

Newsletter
Newsletters are a great way to communicate directly to your audience and have them respond. Having someone sign up for your newsletter is a big deal because you’re going directly into your inbox and most of the time. Sharing exclusive content that is unavailable anywhere else as an incentive. Newsletters can also be used to share news or announcements. If you plan on selling something to your audience. Starting a newsletter at the beginning is key.

 

Where to Start?

The best place to start is with whatever social media platform you feel most comfortable with and will use on a consistent basis. Next, you find out where your audience is and spend most of the time on those two platforms. If they happen to be the same platform that’s great. After that slowly integrate other social media platforms as you become more comfortable.

 

How often to post?

It really depends on the platform how often to post. Below I’ve set some guidelines, but you need to see in the analytics of each platform what works best for you and your audience – how often, what time of day, what content is most popular and gets the most interaction.

Twitter – up to 15 tweets per day
Instagram – 1 to 2 post per day
Snapchat – up to 10 per day
Facebook – 1 post per day
Pinterest – 11 pins per day
Blog – 2 to 5 per week
Youtube – minimum once a week
Podcast – minimum once per week
Newsletter – minimum once per week

At the beginning, it can take longer to get noticed from your postings. Using your analytics can really help you get noticed. Post when the most people are online and what day gets the most views. You may need to play around with how often and when to post, but that’s content marketing. Don’t feel like you need to do everything listed above at the beginning. It can take a while to add in sharing content, so take your time.

 

Guest posting is one of the most important areas of content marketing. Click To Tweet

 

Bonus Content Marketing

Guest Posting
Guest posting is one of the most important areas of content marketing. If you’re able to get in front of someone else’s audience and leverage their audience to come sign up for your newsletter or check out your website, the more the better.

Live Stream
Another option inside of Youtube or Twitter (Periscope) is to use live streaming. It’s a great way to get started in video.

Twitter Chat
Another way to use Twitter is to participate or create a Twitter chat to share content or facilitate the sharing of content.

Newsletter Series/Download
When using your newsletter, you can have your readers sign up for a series for a few weeks to go in depth on a specific topic. It’s a great way to get people signing up for your newsletter. There is also the option of offering a free download. This is typically called a newsletter incentive.

Content Upgrade
Content upgrades are typically used in blog posts to go in depth or provide help with the topic of the blog post. When growing a newsletter, content upgrades are a great incentive for people to subscribe.

 

Content marketing is a very important aspect of business marketing and can be used before your business fully gets off the ground. When you’re able to leverage content marketing early, when your business starts you’ve already got people following you, reading your newsletter and sharing your tweets. This gives you an even better audience to bring your new business to.

I’d love to hear from you, what aspects of content marketing are you using in your business right now? What do you want to do in the future?

Graphics & Blogging

Graphics within the blogging realm are really important. Here I talk about what graphics you need and how to go about getting them.

 

     Graphics are probably the hardest part of blogging for me. I’m not very good with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. It takes me a while to google the right way to do something. I also can be pretty picky with how I like something to look, so it can take a while to get it just right. Even though, graphics can be challenging they are a very important aspect of blogging and your brand in general. Even if you have great content, graphics can help or distract from the content. As you can see I went for a simple look because I wanted people to focus on the content and for the design/graphics/logo to not distract. As I was launching this blog, I really thought long and hard about the graphics I wanted to use for the different aspects of the site. I made a list of all the graphics I wanted to create for the blog and worked on those to be ready for the launch. The list went something like this:
     logo
     3-5 different templates for blog posts
     social media graphics
     buttons
     opt-in forms

The Importance of Graphics

I worked my way through each of those graphics in preparation for the launch. I’m going to talk to you about the importance of each of these graphics and overall brand consistency. But before we get to that, let me explain why it’s important to have great graphics for your blog.

 1 – It catches the attention of followers on social media
Social media is one of the best forms of free marketing for your business and/or blog. If you’re using poor images to showcase your expertise people will be less inclined to check out your blog. Eye-catching graphics are the best to get people’s attention on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
2 – They get shared on social media more often
If you had to pick A) a high-quality original image or B) a poor copycat, which one would you pin? If you’re being honest, the high-quality original. You want your Pinterest boards to look good as well, so you pick high-quality, eye-catching original graphics to share with others and that’s what everyone else is doing as well, so be sure to produce well designed, high-quality, original graphics.
3 – It makes your business look legitimate
People are drawn in by the look of your blog, even if you have mind blowing content they won’t be as interested in it if it doesn’t look good. First impressions are very important to attracting and maintaining readers. Well designed graphics add a level of professionalism to your blog.

Logo

Your logo is what everyone will see when they first come to your blog, see a business card and/or an email from you. It can take some time to get to a logo that you love and want to keep for years. Don’t change it too often because people can get confused especially if you aren’t consistent with your social media presence. It took me a while to get to the logo that I like now. I spent so much time researching other logos, brands, and blogs. I finally found inspiration and came up with my current logo.

 

 

On my business cards, I added a box around the logo and changed the color (see below). So you can add variations to your logo because you want the option for it to look different in different places like black/white print media, presentations, packaging, etc.

 

 

 

Blog Post Templates

When it comes to blog post graphics, they need to be easy to read, not too busy and convey what the topic of the blog post is going to be. I figured out how to make templates in Adobe Illustrator and based on the category I pick the template I want to use and change the title. I have a different blog post template for each category – The Essentials of Blogging, Getting Started in Business, Blogging, Business, and Etc. As my blog grows and there are more categories; I will make more templates for the main blog graphic that sits at the top of the post and used for pinning to Pinterest.

If you need more graphics throughout your blog posts, you’ll want to make templates for them if possible. Templates can make it much easier to do the blog post graphic because the design is done and all you have to do is go in and change the words. You can make templates in Canva and Adobe Illustrator.

Since graphics aren’t the only way to make blog post templates, I will be talking about blogging photography at a later date. I know there are lots of blogs out there that add photos to the posts as well.

Social Media Graphics

If you can make some templates for social media that is great, too. The main blog post graphic at the top is great for Pinterest, but you need to resize that same or similar graphic for Twitter (420 x 220) and Instagram (1080 x 1080) as well. Even making some great graphics that are Instagram specific would be a great bonus. You can add some graphics with quotes or tips for Instagram and Twitter.

Having a cohesive theme or look to your Instagram photos is a good idea as well. I’ve started making every third photo on my Instagram a coffee shop photo, typically the cup and my computer because I like to work at coffee shops now and then. It hasn’t been a ton of weeks like that, but it’s a goal. A great app to use for Instagram is Planoly. You’re able to see what your feed will look like when you add a photo and plan out your Instagram photos in advance. You can see if the photo you’re about to post goes well with the theme/style you’ve created for Instagram.

Buttons

Everything on your blog needs to be cohesive, so the buttons for signing up for your newsletter or social media all need to go together. When designing your blog be sure that the colors are within the same theme. They don’t have to be exactly alike, but having them be similar is very good. It can be very distracting having the colors of the social media networks stay the same, especially if they don’t go with your branding colors.

Opt-in Forms

These can take up a lot of space on the page. As you can see at the bottom of this post, I have an opt-form for my newsletter. It goes well with my theme of black, white, gray and orangey-yellow accent color. When designing the different aspects of the blog, social media, logo, etc it all needs to have consistency.

The most important thing with graphics in blogging is consistency. Click To Tweet

Brand Consistency

The most important thing with graphics in blogging is consistency. You want your brand to shine through in all aspects including graphics you make and share. Getting to the point where someone can look at a graphic of yours and know that’s so-and-so’s brand without reading the article or seeing the profile name is a great goal! It can take a while to get there, but that should be the goal with graphics, blogging and your brand overall. Keeping your brand consistent will help with brand recognition overall. When your brand eventually starts getting recognized you’ll be glad you started with some brand consistency in mind. For more on branding, check out, branding – a quick overview.

 It can be very tempting at the beginning of a blog or business to want to share other people’s images as your own but doing that shares someone else’s brand on your profile. When sharing someone else’s content with their image is fine, but when sharing your own content you’ll want to make your own graphics. Don’t pass off someone else’s work as your own.  Canva and Picmonkey are great places to start making free images to share online with your followers on Twitter and Instagram. When making graphics for your blog, you can use those products as well and be sure they are shareable for Pinterest as well.
What is your favorite part about graphics in blogging?

What Every Blog Needs

 What Every Blog Needs
Every blog is its own creation and inherently unique in that way. But there is a formula for the look of blogs. Below I’ve listed what every blog needs, plus some additional sections that you may want to think about when creating or updating your blog.

Navigation Bar

     When it comes to your navigation bar, less is more. You don’t want the navigation bar cluttered with too much stuff. If it’s too cluttered, people will have a hard time finding things. Keep it simple. You probably don’t need a button that says home because clicking on the header sends you home. If you can put some of the stuff you were gonna put in the navigation bar in the sidebar that’s a great option. Only the most important info needs to be in the navigation bar. Make the navigation bar easy to understand, don’t put different names for things. I have small navigation bar and one sort of odd name, The List currently, but I am thinking about changing it to newsletter because that’s easier for people to understand. When you see The List what do you think? Leave it in the comments below.

Site Icon/Favicon

     Every site needs a site icon. It’s the little icon next to your sites name in the tab bar. It adds that little bit extra piece of professionalism. Amy Lynn Andrews has a great tutorial about installing a site icon.

Homepage

     Deciding about if you’re going to have a homepage or the blog as your home is a decision that needs to be made. I find it helpful, if it’s just a blog then your blog can be the home. If you have a business, having a homepage is great and people can decide where they want to go from there.

Photo

     You’ll want to have a picture of yourself somewhere on the site. Most people have a picture in their sidebar and one on the about page at a minimum. Also, if you don’t have anyone to take the photo for you, use the timer on your phone, so you don’t have to take a typical selfie, unless that’s the look you’re going for. If you blog is casual, I would say that kind of photo is fine. If you’re going for a more professional look, get a friend to take a picture or use the timer on your phone.

About Page

     When writing the about page, it’s all about your reader/client. Help them to understand what you bring to the table and how they will enjoy reading your blog or using your site.

Contact Page

     Your contact page could include all your social media, a contact email and/or a contact form that could be easily filled out. Also, a link to your FAQ page is always helpful, just in case you’ve already answered their question over there.

Email Sign Up Page

If you have an email list or are hoping to turn your blog into a business, you’ll need to create a page that people can use to sign up for your email list. This page can be used on your social media as well. Having a sign up in your sidebar is helpful as well. The more opportunities people have to sign up the better.

FAQ

     Once you start getting a lot of the same questions asked you can start making a FAQ page. If you get the same question at least five times, I’d add it to the FAQ page. If it gets too long, you can have a table of contents at the top, that links to different sections of the page.

Services/Shop

     If you have services or an online shop, you’ll want to have some sort of link to that. You’ll want to have a link in your navigation bar, a special graphic that links to it in your sidebar and a link in the footer.

Social Media Connections

     Be sure to share your social media links in your sidebar and if there is room, share them in your footer as well.

Start/Begin Here

     If you have any evergreen posts you want people to start with or are helpful to them to read first in whatever topic, you can have a page that’s called Start or Begin Here, it’s helpful for first time readers.

Archive Page

     Once you have several blog posts written up, you can start creating an archive page by subject and/or category.

Sidebar Essentials

     Sidebars are definitely an optional part of the blog. If you choose to have a sidebar, you’ll want it to look clean and not too cluttered with ads, you only want what’s important. Having a picture with a short bio that links to the about page, newsletter signup, social media and links to must do things for your readers. Important items can be a shop link, popular posts, and/or expanded social media like a few Instagram photos.

Footer

     Footers can be jammed packed, so I would just hold the essentials or be very minimal it’s all up to the look you want to do. A lot of the items mentioned above in the sidebar section can also be used in the footer. At a minimum for a footer, you’ll want links to your privacy policy and/or disclaimer. If you want a bit more, adding your social media, contact info, email sign up list and a brief description of what you do is good, too.
Remember when creating your blog, it can be anything that you want it to be. It’s your creation. There are sections that are expected from most readers and it can be frustrating when those sections are not included or are hard to find. It’s your decision to decide which of those sections are essential for your audience. For me, this is what every blog needs.