How to Get Traffic to Your Blog

How to get more traffic to your blogThis is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Unless you have very deep pockets to advertise, the only way to get a popular blog is to work at it.

Write a Quality Blog

It starts with creating a blog that’s worthwhile reading and subscribing to. If you’ve got nothing more than plagiarized posts from article repositories hoping you’ll get income from advertising, uh uh. It just doesn’t work that way. Ask ANY popular blogger how much time he or she spends writing and promoting their blog and your head might spin a little.

One woman I know works 7 days a week from early morning until late at night. She posts every. single. day. Yes, that’s right, she creates a new post complete with original photography every day of the year, including Christmas and holidays.  Her blog wasn’t an overnight success but she certainly got there through hard work and talent.

Have Something to Say

Much like the previous paragraph, have a point of view. If you want to be popular, then you must come across as someone who believes what they say. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re passionate about.

Once you have a quality blog and you’ve got something to say, who’s going to read it? Promotion, baby, promotion. You’ve got to promote yourself like P.T. Barnum and you have to do it nearly every day.

Comment on Blogs

There are different views about commenting on blogs but I believe in it and it has worked for me. We’ve all heard how getting ahead comes from networking with others in your field. How are you going to meet the big guns who can help you?  Comment on their blogs. I once apologized for commenting so often on a blog I liked because I felt like a stalker. That big blogger has done more to push my blog ahead than any other.

You need to write sincere, well constructed comments if you want to be taken seriously and yes, it takes time. A blog comment of, “This is really neat,” will be ignored.  A comment about the post and how something similar has affected you, your blog, your family, your town – whatever will be remembered. Just do it and  you’ll thank me in a year when everyone knows who you are.

Social Media

Social media can be such time suck and honestly, I don’t enjoy it all that much but it has to be done. Any brand or sponsor will want to know that you have an active social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and Pinterest.  It’s possible to schedule posts ahead by using Hootsuite or other programs and I highly recommend it.

I schedule my social media a week in advance and then if something is topical for the moment, I might comment while it’s hot. I visit the social media sites once a day and answer any comments or notifications I’ve received over the past 24 hours. I honestly don’t have time to live on Facebook or Twitter and you shouldn’t be there if you want to promote your blog.

Advertising

It’s possible to advertise on Facebook or Twitter to get more eyes on your content but it does cost money and at a time when your blog isn’t earning much money. If you have the cash, it will put your blog success ahead by months but… and it’s a big but, your blog has to be ready. See paragraph number one.

Good luck!

What's the best WordPress theme?

What’s the Best WordPress Theme?

There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes to choose from but how do you choose the right one for you?  First, identify what you want.

Let’s say you want:

  1. Clean layout
  2. Main content with one sidebar on the right
  3. Header with a logo
  4. Responsive
  5. Easy to navigate
  6. Social media integration
  7. Cross browser compatibility
  8. Widgets and shortcode functionality

and finally FAST LOADING.

There are themes out there that will give you every option known to man and you might think that’s the best way to go because no matter what you might want in the future, your theme can do it. No! Keep it simple and your blog will load fast and Google (and your readers) will love you.

What’s a simple theme?

A simple WordPress theme is one that’s robust, written by a solid developer and offers good support. Simple does not mean cheap or inexpensive. A free theme is often appealing because well, it’s free. Think about the person who wrote that theme for a minute. Why would anyone work for weeks or months to create a WordPress theme for free. What’s in it for them?  Pretty much nothing is the answer.

How can a free theme developer afford to provide support at no cost? They can’t. We know how that is with the free plugins we offer. In the past we’ve been abused because we didn’t respond to a request within four hours – on Christmas Day! You do your best but at the end of the day, the roof over your head is important and food comes a close second.

Daily Dish WordPress Theme

The Daily Dish Pro is a simple design and written by professionals who are available if you get into trouble. The theme comes with 6 page layouts, custom header option, is responsive and customizable.

Modern Studio WordPress Theme

Another simple design is Modern Design which is great for focusing your readers’ eyes on your content. You can change the colors, background, header and landing page, plus it’s responsive which is an absolute necessity.

Now these themes do not need to be black and white. They put them in black and white so you look at the functionality rather than the design. The header, colors and style are up to you.

If you have access to a graphics program, you can create your own simple header or you could get one done on fiverr.com for very little. You won’t get a $10,000 website but it will be attractive, functional and fast loading.

 

 

 

 

How to find your voice as a writer.

Find Your Voice

You have a voiceIf you’re a blogger, then you’re a writer and nothing is more important to building your brand than to have a clear voice.

What’s a ‘Voice’?

Your voice is your unique way to put across your message to the world. Some voices are snarky, some are funny, some are even flirty but every writer has a voice. If they don’t, they aren’t writers, they are sentence managers.

When I first started writing I was a sentence manager. You could have found my style of writing on any Wikipedia page. It was matter of fact, no emotion, no flair, no nothing really.

I met with a marketing guru who was trying to be kind and said, “Your blog is okay but I don’t see you in there at all. Where is the personality I like so much?”

I thought about it and remembered my mother’s words so many years ago, “You’re an awful writer,” so I’ve always tried to Wikipedia my way through life. I promised the guru that I would try using my own words instead of what I thought ‘people expected’.

The day I began I was nervous – what if my blog readers all flee from this horrible writer?  My husband promised me we’d just get a new domain and I could start over – being anonymous. He told me later that he just knew it was going to work.

I hit publish and I got twice the comments than previous posts had received. I heard, “Isn’t it nice to hear from YOU” type comments. I had to admit after a few weeks that husband and marketing guru were right, using my own way of communicating worked and it will work for you.

How do you find your voice? You already have one, you just don’t realize it. To find it, sit down and write a new blog post but this time, write it exactly as you would if you were talking to your best friend. Don’t correct along the way, just type for 5 minutes. That’s your voice.  That’s the voice you need to be using on your blog.

You could be funny, provocative, sarcastic, a bit irreverent, a bit of a smarty pants or all combined and that’s the person your readers will relate to. People come to blogs because they find a link, they stay because they’ve made a connection – a friendship of sorts. The more YOU that’s in your blog, the more your readers will become friends. Your voice is your key to retaining dedicated followers and maintaining your voice is an ongoing job.

If your blog gets hacked, here's what to do.

What To Do If Your WordPress Blog Gets Hacked

Help, I've been hackedAll sites, whether they’re WordPress or not, can be hacked. Hackers will do their best to get in any way they can and the damage they do is heartbreaking. You risk losing your search engine optimization you’ve worked months (or years) to develop, your readers could get viruses or your content could redirect to unpleasant sites.

Strong passwords, a good webhosting company and a good back up solution are critical in preventing the hacking in the first place but what happens if it happens??

First thing is, don’t panic. That’s a lot easier said than done but do your best to keep calm so you can think clearly. The sooner you get onto it, the quicker  your site will be back in business.  The quickest way is to have a professional do the work for you but if that’s not possible, you’ll have to get your hands dirty and do it yourself.

First:  What’s the Problem?

  • Can you log in to your admin panel?
  • What do you see when you view your site? Does it redirect anywhere?
  • Do you have links on your site that you don’t recognize?
  • Has Google indicated that your blog is insecure?

If you can get in to your admin panel, CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD

Second: Contact your Webhost

You’re not going to be the first person who called them while wringing their hands in distress. They deal with this every day and they know their hosting and how it’s set up. Get their instructions first. Who knows, it’s possible you aren’t the first one that day who’s been targeted. Your webhost might be able to give you a lot of information you couldn’t get any other way.

It’s possible you’ll get a kind hearted support person who’ll fix the hack for you. It does happen.

Third: Get Your Backup

If you have a good backup system, get a copy of your site that you saved before you were hacked. If you back up often, you won’t miss a thing and the problem will be fixed. If not, you could lose the most recent post or two.

Not having a backup isn’t the end of the world but you’ll have to remove the hack manually.

Fourth: Scan and Remove

If you have inactive plugins or themes on your server, get rid of them because hackers can use these as a back door into your site. A backdoor is any way to get to your blog that bypasses the password authentication process.

Now you need to scan your website to identify the hack. Sucuri is a malware scanner and has post-hack security actions. Theme Authenticity Checker can scan the themes on your blog to identify malicious or unwanted code.

Once you know what the problems are,  you have two choices. You can manually remove the code (not easy for a beginner) or replace that file with the original file that will override the hack.

Check to make sure your plugin and theme folders match the original ones. Wash, rinse and repeat until you have no more hacks and your site is working again.

Fifth: Check Your Blog’s Users

If you see a user name you’re not familiar with, delete it!

Sixth: Change Your Passwords

I know you did it once but do it again. Not only your admin panel password but your cPanel, your FTP and your MySQL password too. Any passwords you have on your blog, change them again. Make any other user on your blog change their passwords too.

Finally, you’ve installed Sucuri and that’s a good thing to use to prevent this from happening again. Make sure that you keep your theme, WordPress and all plugins up to date. We see too many bloggers who don’t realize how important it is to keep their software updated. If a developer has found a glitch in his/her software, the update will block that potential hacker opportunity.

Good luck!

 

Is WordPress the Best Platform?

Is WordPress the Best Platform for a Website?

WordPressYou’ll hear from some people that WordPress is a conglomeration of a lot of software added by hundreds if not thousands of different software developers and you should use something else.  WordPress is the biggest content management system in the world today with over 60% of all sites using it. There’s a reason for that.

There are over 36 thousand plugins you can get to enhance your blog, its design and functionality or to sell things. There’s even a nifty index plugin that was recently launched.

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably already using WordPress on a self-hosted blog and we congratulate you. We are asked so often about migrating a blog from Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly, LiveJournal, etc. so they can have access to the power of plugins. One of the most common complaints is, “You get all the help and we have to do it all by hand.” Nuff said.

People too often think of WordPress as a blogging platform and it IS that but it’s the content management system that makes it special. WordPress can work for blogs, we all know that but there are millions of websites that use WordPress to create fully functional websites. Marks and Spencer uses WordPress for their online shoppers. So does Blackberry for it blog and Target and Linkedin’s blog. There are smart people behind these brands!

Open SourceA big draw for a lot of people is that the WordPress software is free and that’s always a pull but it’s what it does that would make it worthwhile paying for if you ask me. If you have a developer, all the source code is available to study or modify as you’d need to. Think of it as community software with large groups of people available to offer advice or help if you get stuck trying to do something.

Finally, WordPress is easy to use. You don’t need a degree in geek to get from no website to a website that pushes your point across the world or sells all the doohickeys sitting on your shelves.

If you’re not on WordPress, think about migrating.

 

pinterest strategy

Pinterest Pinning Strategy

If you’re using Pinterest to promote your blog’s content then I am not speaking to you because you already know how valuable it is for bringing new visitors to your blog FOR FREE! No, I’m speaking to those bloggers who have put Pinterest on the back burner – Stop It!

Many of the biggest bloggers get more traffic through Pinterest than Google organic, their email list, Facebook or other links. Seriously, the traffic is that good.

To begin, remember that Pinterest is not about YOU, it’s about the viewers visiting your boards so show them what they want to see. If you sell something, show pictures of it being made, give your viewers a bit of you and how you work and where you live. As long as you can draw a line between the photo and what you do, your followers will share your content.

Tell stories. You might be selling homemade slippers. Show us the slippers but have them on some person’s feet who’s sitting in front of a crackling fire. Create boards for all your interests and those photographs will collectively tell a story about you. Big boards got that way by looking real. If you’ve made an oops, share it and followers will laugh with you. Got something incredible to show? that will get even more shares.

I’ve got a food blog so my boards are all food. I have nearly 35,000 followers and the traffic I receive from Pinterest every day is gold. You might have a blog about crafts or a fashion or lifestyle blog and Pinterest can do for you what it’s done for me. There are roughly 75 million people with Pinterest accounts. Millions of those people check Pinterest every day, so be there. Just Do It. 🙂 You’ll thank me.

My Best Pinning Stragegy

  1.  Pin More Often

The more you pin, the more viewers will see your name. I started out pinning whenever I thought about it but now I schedule my pins throughout the day and that’s getting much more engagement.

Pinterest Audience

Buffer advises pinning between 5 and 30 pins per day. Unless ALL your sales come from local traffic, don’t listen to the people who say, “You must post during these times for Pinterest.” Why? The clock has 24 hours and it’s 7pm somewhere every hour of  the day.  Start pinning and watch your repins.

I began pinning afternoon time East Coast US during the week and weekend mornings and evenings. Now I pin when I have time.

People don’t like seeing 10 pins in a row from someone they follow. It often leads to unfollowing. Space your pins and keep everyone happy. Remember that there is no such thing is too many pins.

 2. Apply for Rich Pins for Your Blog or Website

Pinterest offers rich pins to offer more detail to a pin. I have rich pins and all the ingredients to my recipes are posted on each pin. Similar to Facebook’s Open Graph or Twitter cards, rich pins make the browsing experience better for viewers/pinners.

There are five rich pin types:

  • Article pins include the headline, author, story description and link
  • Product pins include real-time pricing, availability and where to buy
  • Recipe pins include ingredients, cooking times and serving info
  • Movie pins include ratings, cast members and reviews
  • Place pins include an address, phone number and map

Here is one of mine:

Rich Pins

Rich pins tell repinners and viewers that your content can be trusted. It might not be true but that’s what the average viewer thinks.

 3. Portrait Aspect Photos!

Look at this display of pins I picked off Pinterest just now. Which photos stand out for you? The ones that are taller, right? I won’t even repin landscape aspect photos because they don’t get repins.

pinterest portrait

The ratio I use is 2:3. You’ll see huge collages by other pinners but Pinterest cuts them off and they make a mess of the page. Vertically oriented is all you need to do. Make your photos at least 600 so the best size there would be 600 x 900 pixels. My photos are 700 wide for my blog and that’s just what I put on there.

I use Photoshop but Gimp or Canva will help you create good pins.

 4.  Give a Good Description to Your Pins

You have about 75 to 100 characters to entice people to click through to see your post or product. Choose wisely. You can have longer descriptions and that’s fine but Pinterest will show the first 75 to 100 characters and viewers will have to click for more.

Make your descriptions keyword rich to improve search results and make it interesting to read. The more you write, the most chance to put in more keywords and clickbait. Pinterest frowns upon ‘click here to buy’ type pins but ‘click to see the recipe on my blog’ works just fine. If you’re selling something, please put the price in with a $ or £ and it will drive traffic to  your product. It shows you are actively selling this product.

Hashtags used to be the go but Pinterest is discouraging their use because so many people were stuffing a million hashtags in their descriptions and people began complaining.

Pinterest offers a link to your image so they say don’t put the link in the description. I haven’t been but then I found my photos used by others linking to THEIR content not mine. I’m not sure they wouldn’t take out the link anyway but my new plan is to use a shortened link in the description.

 5. Create Interesting Boards

And give them good names. People search for boards all the time so if you have a board for puppies and name it “Tilly’s Place” because Tilly is your dog, nobody is going to find it.

One of my favorite accounts belongs to Marla Meredith from FamilyFreshCooking.com. Marla has 309 boards and over 630 thousand followers. She’s got boards that are her content, boards for all her interests, back to school, her dogs, outdoors, hunting, cabins and the list goes on. She’s attracting visitors from everywhere because she’s got something for everyone. She pins 9-12 times a day.

Food and Drink is still the most popular category on Pinterest but not by much. Photography, art, design, home decor, crafts and DIY and fashion are all near the top. Other popular categories are fitness, technology, funny or interesting quotes, pets and animals, holidays, humor and travel. Each board should have a minimum of 10 photos but preferably 50 to start.

 6. Repin, Like and Comment

If you want to grow your followers, put your name out there where new pinners will see your name. If  you see a photo that interests you, click the heart and like it. If it’s a strong feeling, tell the pinner how much you like it and others will click to see more information and they’ll see your comment. People want to follow people like them.

Connecting with others is a good way to grow your followers and a good way is to repin the things you really like. It does help.

 7. Photo Quality

I can’t emphasize enough that Pinterest viewers are looking for good photos so don’t post blurry, grainy photos. Good quality photos say you are a quality pinner. Don’t repin crap photos either! I’ve seen too many food photos that look like a bowl of dog food. When I see too many of those, I stop following that pinner.

It’s not difficult to take good photos of food and you can use a phone app for a softbox light. There are lots of free resources online for how to take good photos so it’s worth your while to study a bit.

Good Luck!

Keep more of your content in front of your readers.

Keep More of Your Content in Front of Your Readers

pugsmodernlife indexWe all work hard on our posts and too often visitors will come to our blogs to see our most recent post and then leave, as if there’s nothing left to see.  I used to be glad when visitors would visit at all and over time I knew that what I’d written previously was still interesting and relevant but how to let my readers know?

How could I display more of my content to my readers?

I saw blogs with an index and found myself looking through some of their older posts. That’s when I started looking for a plugin that would allow me to customize an index so it would fit in with my blog’s theme. No such thing!

There were indexes within themes but I had to include all my categories and that’s not what I wanted. In my case it was recipes and I didn’t want to include my musings, blog and restaurant reviews, interviews with other bloggers and the like. I was told I could do it all manually but I’m a cook, not a geek. Continue reading “Keep More of Your Content in Front of Your Readers”

EasyIndex Plugin Automatically Updates Your Index

EasyIndex WordPress Index Plugin Updates Automatically

If you’ve ever done a manual index on your blog (as I have) you know how frustrating it is to do a post and then forget to update the index. Okay, maybe I’m the only one who forgets but I suspect I’m not. I’d remember 3 posts later and then make a frantic dash to the index and manually update it for each post.

Update your blog index automaticallyThat’s not a real crime, of course, but the whole idea of having an index is to be up-to-date and professional and there were times I wasn’t. If anyone visited my index instead of scrolling back post by post, my readers missed some of my good stuff.

Enter EasyIndex WordPress Plugin and it updates automatically the instant I hit the publish button. Easypeasy no stress, no wondering if I forgot anything.

Whether you’re using a main photo index linking to each category and then to each post, a Pinterest style gallery of every post in chronological order or a text index by alphabetical order or by category or tag, each one will update instantly upon publish.

I found that when I added my WordPress Index, I received comments from readers thanking me for having all my posts in one place so they could find something they were looking for. You know how it is, you remember something from a blog but you can’t remember it exactly so you can’t search for it by keyword or date. It’s quick to scroll through a post index or a category index or even an alphabetical or categorical text index. Continue reading “EasyIndex WordPress Index Plugin Updates Automatically”

You Can Create a WordPress Index From Any Grouping

Someone asked us the other day if EasyIndex could be used on blogs that weren’t food and recipes and we enthusiastically said yes. If a blog’s theme allows for any grouping or taxonomy, we can index it. Got categories? We can index those. Got Tags? Yes, those too. Got something different? If your theme allows for a different sort of grouping, that can be indexed too.

She wrote back a little while later and said, “Okay, so if I’ve got a craft site, can I have a separate index for knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, etc?” Yes, EasyIndex can do that too.

Not only can EasyIndex create a WordPress index for you that looks unique to your site, it only takes a few minutes to do it.

Sample Index

Continue reading “You Can Create a WordPress Index From Any Grouping”