Friday, December 18, 2015

10 Tips to Take Your Blog to the Next Level

This is our last week of the 2015 Blogger Review linkup and it's been such a fun one to co-host. I love that so many of you have walked memory lane with us and shared your blogging experience. I've discovered some great tips from your posts along with the chance to read your favorite posts from the year. Today, I want to share with you 10 tips that will help take your blog to the next level.

Tip {ONE}
Plan to put in a ton of work, a lot of time and a huge amount of creativity before you start making any money. I've been asked time and time again how I make money blogger and while I'd love to share all the details on the how, the bottom line is you have to pay our dues. I've been blogging for 4 years in March and money didn't just show up. I worked my ass off for it. I networked and applied for programs and pimped out this little .com to the best of my ability. If you want to start a blog just because you want to make money, you are going to be highly disappointed. Do it because you  have something you want to share with others. Because you have a story to tell. And if you make a few bucks here and there, know that you are truly one of the lucky ones.

Tip {TWO}
No matter what you think, you have to embrace all of social media. That's what blogging is based off of... being online. I know a ton of people who are leery of Twitter. I was, too. Still am I bit. But get on and share your post each time you publish a new one. Follow "big name" bloggers and favorite and retweet their tweets, mingle and network. The reason I stress joining social media sites is because when you get to the point of pitching yourself to other bloggers and even companies, they will want to see that you are an active social media presence.

Having someone supporting your blog is essential in growing it. Find your tribe. A blog tribe is a handful of bloggers that have one thing in common: either that you are Mom/Fitness/Book (or any niche) bloggers or that you simply just love writing and sharing your thoughts and life with others. This tribe is going to be cheering you on. They will be there when you wanna throw in the blogging towel (Hi Liz and Desiree!). They will be there to bounce ideas off of (Hi Meg and Beth) and they will be there to support and celebrate every milestone along the way (Hi everybody!). These people will move from online to real life friends before you know it and friendships will blossom and you will be thanking God for blessing your life with "blog" friends that get you and your love of the blog world.

Tip {FOUR}
Invest in your blog within your limits. People like pretty, it's the world we live in these days so make your blog pretty. You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a good design. Etsy offers templates for as little as $20 and will give your dot com the face lift it needs. I've switched up the face of WWM and every time, it's sparked a fire in me to hustle a bit more and 9 out of 10 times, I write some of my most "me" pieces thanks to the inspiration from my new look. Erin with Love Fun Football is an amazing designer with a ton of knowledge if you have a bit more money to invest. Her price is reasonable and you will LOVE the finish product. Promise.

Tip {FIVE}
I've stumbled across a blog or two and have wanted to reach out to the owner and tell them how much I love their space only to not be able to find their email address. It's 2015. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE has an email address. Even CJ does and he is 3. Thanks Apple. If you want to grow your readership, your fan base and work your way into making an income from your blog, people need to be able to reach you. Bloggers may want to work with you or a company may want to offer a product for review or giveaway. Whatever it is, you need your email listed on your blog. Add it to your About Me or Contact Page. 

Tip {SIX}
I've been asked by new bloggers (think 9 months or less) how much money I spend on my blog. The answer as little as possible. Find free resources and use them like it's your job. And it kind of is if you plan to grow your space. Here are a few of my favorite free resources:
  • Canva, PicMonkey and Unsplash - find images or create your own, but all 3 photo sites will give you the tools you need to build your posts without paying a cent. I have the paid version of PicMonkey and love it. I can't detail the difference because I don't know them but can say I use it with nearly every single post so it's totally worth the money. 
  • Hootsuite is a great tool to schedule our Facebook and Twitter spots. This is always were you can go to get a URL like this to look like this And trust me, every single character counts on Twitter (side eye) so you'll want to use the shorten URL more times than not.
  • Facebook. Seems simple enough right? But odds are you aren't using it like you should. While you might not want to create and manage a Facebook page for blog, you can still share each of your post on your personal pages, bringing in readers.
If you want to be able to share your posts on Pinterest, where millions of people search and pin daily, you need to make sure you have a pinnable image on each post. They can be simple or complex, but you need one. The free resources listed above will give you the ability to create a professional image to attached to your work. Think of it as the bow on a gift. It has personality and flair and all around appeal.

Speaking of images, here are the dimensions for the best image for each social media site:
  • Facebook - 940px x 788px
  • Instagram - 612px  x 612px
  • Pinterest - 735px x 1102px
  • Twitter - 1024px x 512px

Tip {NINE}
Create a schedule and stick to it. If you aren't able to commit to blogging every day, that's totally understandable. But whatever you do, make the commit and give it to your full attention. I post 5 days a week but I'm a full time stay at home with the ability to write often. Along those lines, be sure to stay active on your social media. Upload a photo or two a day on Instagram. Join a challenge to get yourself involved. Each morning I post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. That means one post gets shared at minimum 5 times. But that's what I've committed to. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Tip {TEN}
Be true to yourself. Don't lose sight of why you wanted to blog to begin with. Don't get caught up in the number or popularity or lack there of. I've lost site of why I blogged when I grew this year. That's something I plan to focus on in 2016 - going back to basics of blogging. I can promise you that people love the real "you" more than the "you" that you are forcing yourself to be. Stay true to you and that will shine through your words.

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