Archives: Blogging

One Blogging rule you should NEVER break

One Blogging rule you should NEVER break

Time and time again, I get a question in my inbox:

“If I have an error in my post, and I correct it, does it correct in my RSS feed?”

No. It doesn’t. So if you hit that publish button, and realise that you’ve made a mistake, that mistake is already pushed to your RSS feed, which pushes to various readers, like Feedly and Flipboard, and social media channels if you have it set up to auto post your new blog post when you hit publish.

There is one very simple habit which every single blogger should use, and which many are not using.

Preview before publish.

When you’re doing an advertisment to publish in the newspaper, you would not send it ‘as is’ right… you would make certain (or at least I hope you would) that you have no typos, that everything is as near to perfect as possible… Correct? So why is your blog getting neglected?

It’s really easy to quickly push out an article and hit publish, especially if you have a daily blog. Blogging is hard work; you have to think about what to write, then do research, then write, then edit, then start putting together the article with images and other forms of rich media content… it’s a lot. So, after all of that, you’re tired. You just want to hit publish and get it over with. I get that. But by not hitting preview before you publish, by skipping that important step, you can drop the ball after you put in all that work.

After you have put together your article in the editor, with photos and headers, hit preview. It will open a tab with what the article will look like when published.

Nine times out of ten when you’re working with images, you’ll need to resize them to fit the article perfectly. This is key to your formatting.

When you have several headers, you want to make sure they are the right size, and they look nice on the blog.

You wouldn’t want someone to scroll through quickly, and exit because the article wasn’t laid out properly. The content may be great, but if the article isn’t asthetically pleasing, very few people will read it.

So preview before publish.

(Serious) Blogging is so much more than *just* posting articles

(Serious) Blogging is so much more than *just* posting articles

“If you write it, they will come.”

No. They won’t.

Yes, they will.

No. They won’t.

Well, maybe ten years ago.

But, not today.

Blogging is not just about writing a couple articles and calling it a day. You have to research, write, edit, edit, edit, format, insert rich media content, *preview*, then publish. THEN the work really begins.

After you hit that publish button, what do you think happens? Do you think that some random magic blog fairy will tell all her fairy friends and they will shower you with traffic? Maybe in someone’s fantasy world, but not in the real world.

You have to work for your traffic, honey.

You have to publish it on social media networks, you have to email the links to all your friends and ask them to share it with their friends, and so on.

Little by little the traffic will grow, but you have to work hard. Your blog is a brand, and you have to do put in the man hours to make that brand popular, unless you don’t care about your blog, then you can just move along to my next article.

Every day, you have to network a little on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and wherever else you think your traffic lives. If you’re a serious blogger, I would even suggest buying some Google and Facebook ads to generate some traffic, and hopefully, you will be able to keep that traffic.

Then you have newsletters, which are so important now. You have to send consistent newsletters to keep everyone in the loop about your blog’s latest content. And putting together a newsletter takes time and some level of skill, and lots of Youtubing.

You also have to share your evergreen content (the content which is relevent no matter the date it was published). Tools like Buffer come in handy for this because you can buffer that content and then scroll through the list later on and rebuffer.

The great thing about this is that you can do this yourself, for just 15-30 minutes a day. And it’s not hard stuff, it’s hard to remember to do for most of us. People who write creatively are sometimes not the same kinds of people who will remember the somewhat mundane, routine tasks. But once you look at it as a part of your blogging routine, and it’s on the same priority levels as your blog, then you’ll be on the right track. It’s all a part of the wonderful world of blogging 🙂

How to keep a consistent blog schedule

How to keep a consistent blog schedule

Blogging is hard work; but the hardest part of blogging is not the actual writing and research, it’s the time. Keeping to a consistent schedule is hard, and consistency is a very important factor to a successful blog.

I have a system, which on most days helps, but I do falter from time to time; nothing is perfect.

Keep a Notebook

It doesn’t matter where you initially write. You can write directly in WordPress and save as a draft, or you can write in a note taking app, like Evernote, Google Docs, or One Note; it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you write somewhere.

Once you start to write, ideas will flow. When I start writing an article, I’ll get about five to eight ideas for other articles, because no one wants to hear me ramble for 2000+ words; so I write it down, and continue from where I left off. This will provide you with more articles to add to your blog schedule.

Determine a Schedule

Then you have to do is determine how often you want to blog. You don’t have to blog every single day, you can have a weekly blog, or a weekday blog, but the important thing is that you determine how often, and then (here’s the key part) you have to stick to it.

This blog has never been able to really stick with a schedule, and that’s 100% my fault for not making it a priority. I’m a serious blogger; I love writing and this is how I get to help people. But sticking to the schedule is the hardest part, and it takes some sacrifice if you’re already pretty busy.

The Editorial Calendar

WordPress has a nifty feature of allowing you to schedule blog posts; which is great if you’re like me, and don’t have time to blog every single day, but you write on weekends. There is a gap in this system, because you have no visual reference as to when your posts are actually scheduled for.

There is a plug-in called WordPress Editorial Calendar and this solves this problem. It gives you a full month where you can see exactly where your posts are scheduled for, and you can drag and drop them to change their order, which is great.

My System

I *try* to have an article published every day. It’s not easy, but I try. I fail, a lot. But I try.

I write in Evernote; and I have about 2000 original blog ideas just waiting to be written, and quite a few are added every day.

I set aside a day on the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday) and dedicate this to writing and other blog maintenance work. Sometimes I write during the week, if I really feel like it.

Then I schedule articles, one a day, for the week, or two, depending on how much I wrote that week.

The editorial calendar really helps in this process, because I can see where I’m missing articles for. And a visual reference is always a lot more serious, for me at least, than a list of scheduled articles.

This is how I get blogging done. It’s a sacrifice I love making, because I love blogging. It’s not a part time hobby, this is a full time career for me (because blogging is so much more than just posting articles). So, good luck with sticking to your schedule!

What methods do you use for blogging? Write to me and let me know!

Why Google Analytics is so Important to your Blog

Why Google Analytics is so Important to your Blog

Do marketing specialists just throw out campaigns willy-nilly without doing any research on the market? No. So why are you spewing out content without looking at the audience you’re capturing? You need to know who is reading your content, because without it, your bounce rate will skyrocket, and your visits will be at an all time low.

Like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 1.06.40 AM

People want to read content that’s relevant to them. They want content that speaks to them. If you are reaching readers who are in Canada or the UK but you’re directing your content for readers in the African continent, none of whom are actually reading, then you need to re-evaluate your method of targeting your desired audience, or your content.

Google Analytics will help with your writing

Getting to know who your readers are will help with the type of content you’re putting out there. As said before, if you have readers in one country, but are writing for another country then maybe you should look at writing for content targeted for the country your readers are coming from.

Similarly, if you have a fashion blog, targeting young women between 18 to 25, but your audience is older, then perhaps you should tailor your content for an older audience. Or worse, what if you’re getting more male viewers? Then maybe you should change some of those photos…

So seeing who is reading can help with your content writing and niches.

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Google Analytics can decide how you market your content

If you do not want to change the content strategy of your blog, then Google Analytics can help you target the people you’re interested in reaching.

So you have this fashion blog, and you want to reach young women between 18 and 25, but you’re currently reaching more women over 40, what do you do? You can use Facebook and Google ads quickly reach them, or you can go a step deeper (especially if you don’t have the money) and find the people you want to target and interact with them on social media.

If you determine that your target market is on Pinterest, then by all means, go there, connect with people, share your content with them and ask them to share it with their connections.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 1.16.32 AM

Google Analytics will determine your design

What if you have a great desktop design with no mobile layout, or a not-so-great-for-mobile responsive design, and most of your readers are using mobile devices? You’ve failed them. So, look at your system trends in Google Analytics, and determine how many of your readers are using mobile devices and design your website around that.

Most templates these days come with a decent responsive feature, but sometimes it might not be enough for your readers, especially to encourage more reading to lower your bounce rate; you can consider developing a mobile theme, or even a mobile sub domain (like how Facebook has m.facebook.com) so users from a mobile device will get redirected there.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 11.42.23 PM

Also, the sizes of their screens play a big part in blogging. You may have a 1920×1080 resolution screen, but your readers may have a 1024×768 display. If your design isn’t catering for different screen sizes, then it may be time to get another design which does. This can cause your content to look like a mess, which will only encourage users to skyrocket your bounce rate, instead of reading more.

On the flip side, if your readers have a larger resolution screen than you do, then you should consider a design which supports that, else your blog could look like a thin block on a wide space; not conducive to reading.

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What if I don’t care?

If you have a lifestyle blog, and you don’t care about who reads your stuff, where they are from, how many people read it, if they are using a mobile device or desktop, then by all means, move along and ignore everything you learned in this article.

But if you do care, and you want to know who your readers are, and where they are from and the devices they are using, then look for the other content I have on this website which talks about Google Analytics, and if you have any questions, you can send me a note via the contact form on this website, or on Twitter @desireroberts.

Blogging 101: Categories and Tags

Blogging 101: Categories and Tags

If you’re new to blogging, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to tags and categories. We’ll I’m here to help shine some light on that. There are hundreds of articles out there which explain the details of this, but I’m just here to give you the overview of them, why and how to use them.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

What are Categories and Tags?

Categories

Categories are the basic, broad topic you’re writing about. For instance, I write about social media, web development, business, marketing, advertising, blogging, technology, and a host of other topics. But, I only have a handful of categories: Social Media, Business, Technology, Web, etc. This allows me to group content under a broad topic and display it separately. So I have a menu item called Social Media Marketing, and it will only have articles under that topic, unlike the home page which has everything in chronological order, as most blogs do.

Tags

Tags is where I get more creative. The article about using Evernote for Blogging would be categorised under ‘Digital DIY’ but tagged under ‘Evernote’ and ‘Blogging’ because it related to both topics. I even went so far as to tag it under ‘Organisation’ because Evernote is an organisation tool. Basically, tags is where you break down the broad category into smaller, bite sized, topics.

Why should I be using categories and tags?

Have you ever been into a huge store which has more than ten lanes with thousands of products but none of them have a sign telling you what is in which lane? Blogs without tags and categories can get like that. Imagine you go to a blog about interior, read an article on kitchen decor and loved it, so you want to read more on it, but there are no categories or tags, so you have no way of finding all the articles on kitchen decor without running a search (some search tools don’t even work properly!). That’s a website nightmare.

When you assign a category to a post, you’ve grouped it into a broad topic. When you assign tags to a post, you’re drilling down those topics another level. So categories are at the top, but the tags are at the second and third level.

Pruning your categories and tags

There will come a time, about a year after you start your blog, where you will need to prune your categories and tags. You might have too many categories, or too many under-utilised tags.

With categories, you’ll need to evaluate how many you have, which are the least used and if you really need them. Instead of deleting them, you can depreciate them into tags, if the category is just not big enough to justify being a category.

When you have a tag which has over 20% of your content, it’s time to convert that into a category. There are a host of plugins and techniques to help you convert your tag into a category, and assign those posts to the new category.

Like with all things, blogs need maintenance and love. If you keep it in check, it won’t take too long to tidy up, but if you neglect it, as most bloggers do, it will be a nightmare to prune.

Here is a photo of a cat reading a blog post… just because..

blogging_tips


Let me know your thoughts on Twitter! @desireroberts

Evernote for Blogging

Evernote for Blogging

I’m a huge fan of Evernote; everyone who reads this blog knows that. And I like to share all the ways I use Evernote to make my life 100% easier.

I love blogging (possibly as much as I love Evernote!) but my schedule is crazy, so I don’t always get the time to write, or finish writing a piece I started. More often than not, I start writing an article, and then leave it half done to rush off to get something else done. Time is not my friend. So, to combat that, I started writing in Evernote, which has really helped me in ways I cannot fully explain, but I’ll try today.

The layout

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 2.08.43 PMBefore I get into the details, I’ll have to explain how my blogging notes are organised in Evernote. I have a notebook stack for blogging containing three main notebooks each called:

  • 1 – Articles to be written
  • 2 – Ready to publish
  • Ideas

…in that order. The numbers in front are to ensure that they are displayed in that priority in my notebook stack, else they will be displayed in alphabetical order.

Articles to be written’ are articles I’m working on. Most of them are 25-50% completed, some are closer to completion, but the fact remains these are what are being published next.

Ready to publish’ are completed articles. I put them in here so I’ll clearly see them.

Ideas’ contain ideas (obviously), snippets of other articles from around the web, images, etc. When my ‘articles to be written’ notebook is empty (which recently is never!), I go through this notebook (which has over 2000 notes) and select what will be published next.

It’s simple enough, once you understand how Evernote works. Remember, the more you use Evernote, the more refined the interfact becomes.

Store ideas

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 2.13.29 PMWhen I get an idea, it’s usually at a time when I cannot sit down and type out a 500-word article on it. This is where the idea book comes into play. I just create a notebook in ‘Ideas’ with the title/idea I have in mind, and a few points in the body, if I have them.

I read a lot; if you follow me on Twitter, you’d know that because I share every great article I read on Feedly. Many times, I find inspiration in someone else’s article, so I save it to my Evernote, in the ‘Ideas’ notebook. (This is why that notebook is so big!) It helps me when I’m looking for my next article topic, or even for a

Tags

Tags are awesome, on WordPress and even in Evernote, and if you’re a blogger, you know the importance of tags. So, I have a tag for each of the broad topics I write about: social media, business, marketing, tech. I assign these for ideas, and articles I’m currently writing. Another great way is to assign tags to a series you’re writing about.

If you can manage tags efficiently, I know some bloggers who duplicate the tags they use on their blog in their Evernote, so when you’re ready to publish, you’ll know what tags you want to use already. I don’t use tags like that in Evernote because it becomes time consuming to prune them after.

Reminders to write or publish

Reminders are the best feature of Evernote; and there are a lot of ‘bests’ on that list. When I have more than one article in my ’to be written’ notebook, it helps to attach a dated reminder to it. It ensures that I get it done, it helps prioritise the articles in my head, and keeps my blog updated because I keep writing.

One way you can use this is when you’re writing a series of articles on a particular topic. Create notes for each article, then assign a reminder with a date to each, so you will have some form of priority, and you’ll write your entire series in a flow, not one article today and another two months from now.

Evernote Helper for Mac

This helper is quite the tool. Ever had an idea while you were doing something, or writing something but you didn’t want to navigate away, but you also don’t want to lose that great idea? Well, this is where the Evernote Helper tool is aweome. While I’m writing, I get a lot of ideas for other articles related to the topic I’m writing about. I just hit a global keyboard command or click the icon in my menu bar, and it pops up a little window. I just type my idea in, and hit Save to Evernote, and go back to what I was doing. I didn’t need to switch windows or open Evernote and add in a new note; nope, just a simple keyboard command or the click of a mouse, and then I’m back to whatever I was doing before. Like magic.

Evernote Web Clipper

This is another great tool from Evernote. While I’m browsing an article, I can save the entire article, the entire page, save a simplified version of it, or even a screenshot of a section of the page. This comes in handy when I want to quote someone for an article I’m writing; I just save a screenshot of the article I’m reading and add it to the article note I’m writing. Evernote makes this even easier by being able to drag and drop images into an article.


Let me know your thoughts on Twitter! @desireroberts

Why you should Schedule your Posts (WordPress)

Why you should Schedule your Posts (WordPress)

This is a standard feature of WordPress which is severely under-utilised. Scheduling your posts could be the best thing you can do for your blog.

Write to your heart’s content

Gone are the days where I sit every night and try to write. Most days, I’m just not feeling like writing; other days, I can write up to ten articles in a matter of hours. If you’re blogging as a hobby, like I am, and you have a full time job, and probably school or kids, or even both, then you don’t have the time sometimes to write daily, or even weekly. Day to day distractions will cause your blog to suffer.

With post scheduling, I can write as much as I can on those creatively productive days and then just schedule them, allowing my blog to get populated at a desirable rate, and not having to post all the content on the same day. I try to do this, but there are just weeks where I don’t feel like writing, and I don’t believe in writing if you’re not feeling like it.

Keep your blog fresh

You will always have fresh content. And that is very important to the health of your blog. You need to have fresh content for your visitors to read (I really should remember some of my own advice, I’ve had quite a few dry spells on this blog). I’ve noticed that I get the most amount of visitors when I publish something. I push all my featured and evergreen content to social media all the time, but nothing spikes that traffic like a new blog post, especially one about new technology or social media.

Keep a healthy writing schedule

Spend a day in writing, and put aside a couple hours after to tidy up your posts on WordPress, add featured images, and schedule them. By doing this, you can write once a week for a daily blog or once a month for a weekly blog. It also won’t feel like a chore, which is how many blogs tend to suffer.

Keep it Evergreen

If you’re going down the route of scheduled content, then you need to keep the content evergreen. You shouldn’t be publishing time-relevant articles a month after the fact. Recipes, photos, how-to guides, and tips are great types of articles to use as scheduled posts.

My recommendation is to write some articles to schedule, and if you get time-relevant ideas during the week, write and publish immediately. I tend to write in batches, mostly on early Sunday mornings, but I have lots of ideas during the week, which I write in my Evernote. Evernote is great for time-consumed bloggers.

Post Scheduling is not for all blogs

As a blogger, you have to keep in mind that scheduling is not for every blog type. If you have a blog which depends heavily on news-worthy time-relevant posts, then maybe scheduling a week after writing isn’t a good idea. If however you notice that your readers hit your blog more for articles published at 11am, and you’ve written a piece at 8am, then by all means publish at 10:55am.

Know your blog type, know your content and write accordingly.

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