This has been quite a year. Luckily the good has outweighed the bad and S&S has grown beyond my wildest expectations. I’m so thankful for my readers, the friendships I’ve made through blogging, the brands I’ve been fortunate enough to work with this year, and so much more. Last year, I wrote this post, which was a great guide for the beginner blogger. This year I thought I’d step things up a notch.
You’ve been doing this a while. You know your way around Photoshop and even a little bit of code. You’re building a brand, getting the pageviews, have the followers, and so on and so forth. So… what comes next!? I thought I’d share a few tips & tricks that have helped me this year. So here they are… all my “secrets.” Some of it’s just plain common sense… other things, I’ve learned at work or through trial and error.
First of all, seriously consider the move to WordPress. When I was on Blogger, I didn’t understand what could possibly be so great about WordPress. Now that I’m on WordPress, I couldn’t imagine using Blogger. The options for customization are endless. With Blogger, you’re blog is always going to look like a blog and it is going to be very hard to differentiate your site from the millions of other sites out there. It’s not a must for everyone but it was for me. Note: I use WordPress.org as I have a self-hosted blog. Wordpress.com is great, but you won’t be able to put ads on your blog if you use it.
Maximize your social media channels by developing a clear + consistent strategy for each platform.
Let’s talk Pinterest. For most bloggers, Pinterest is now the #1 traffic driver, social media wise. If it isn’t for you, there is a chance that you may be doing something wrong.
- I read an article (cannot for the life of me remember where) that stated that customers/readers are 10x more likely to engage with a brand’s pins if it is pinned organically (by others) vs. pinned by the brand. So… if you pin your own content, that is great… maybe you will get some engagement…but your real objective should be getting others to pin your content. Install an easy pin-it button on your blog… or better yet, a pin-it overlay on each image. This is pretty easy to install from what I understand – my developer did mine for me but I’ve heard that it’s just an easy plug-in to install.
- Optimize your pins! You should probably be optimizing your pins to make sure that yuur pins are hitting when the bulk of your followers are online. Sunday is Pinterest’s best traffic day so you should make sure you’re doing some weekend pinning. If you are anything like me (avoid social like the plague on weekends) use a scheduling service. I use Pingage at work (obsessed) but have also experimented with Pingraphy and a few other services.
- When pinning your images, make sure that you are clicked into the actual post and pinning from that… not the main screen. Otherwise, as your pin gets repinned and time goes on, it’s going to make it really hard for your readers to find the original post.
Facebook… is a great way to engage with your readers. To fully maximize it’s benefits (especially with the timeline format) you should keep it as visual as possible.
- Don’t just put up links to your posts (or use the automatic post to Facebook feature.) Instead, post a photo, short description, and bit.ly link to your post. This will get considerably more engagement – I promise.
- Use Facebook to build community. Everytime one of a reader instagrams or tweets me one of my DIY projects, I put it here. And every time someone instagrams or wears one of my Etsy creations, I put it here.
- Use Facebook to build your brand and show off a bit. Highlight your outfits, events you’ve hosted, and key press. These might not be the right “buckets” for you, but you get where I’m going, right?
- Update your timeline graphic frequently to show off posts you are proud of. I usually use the timeline graphic to show off my latest DIY project. It’s just another way to further draw attention to posts you are proud of.
- Just as you would with Pinterest, include easy sharing buttons at the bottom of every post.
Be the face of your own brand. This was a hard one for me, at first. I did not want my blog to be about me, so much as about all of the things I love and the projects I like to make. But here’s the thing… your readers (and brands) want to get to know that person behind the blog. It also puts a more personal spin on all of those clothes you are writing about. So show your face here and there. Maybe it’s not an outfit post. Maybe you do recipes and you include a shot of yourself in the kitchen. But by putting yourself out there more, you will instantly establish a more personal connection with your readers.
When in doubt, just assume that people are lazy. The easier you make it for your readers, the more they will engage with your site. Since making my links pink, my click through has gone up tremendously. Since adding the Pin-it overlay to my images, more people are pinning my images. Make it easy for people to engage with and share your content, and they will. Just PLEASE don’t ask them to do it… that’s tacky if you ask me.
Monetization is a tricky thing. You don’t want to compromise your content, but you should be rewarded for all of your hard work. Here’s what works for me.
- Say no. Say no frequently and have a reason. I said no to some opportunities that paid really well this year, but didn’t feel right about them – either because the brand wasn’t the right fit or because I had so much else going on that it wasn’t humanly possible. The funny thing is (and I know everyone says this but it’s true) the more I said no, the more amazing opportunities came my way.
- Use Shopsense!!! I absolutely love RewardStyle, but Shopsense pays you by the click vs. per sale. Know your readers and their purchasing patterns, and use a balance between RewardStyle + Shopsense links accordingly.
- Embed your links within your content vs. just linking to items at the bottom of the post. You’ll see an improved click-through rate, guaranteed.
- I mentioned this before, but by making your links a bright color (vs. gray or a neutral which is what I had before) you will see a much, much better click-through on your links.
The little things make a world of difference.
- I invested in some beautiful stationery and send hand written thank you notes when I finish up a brand partnership, when someone does something really nice for me, when I’m really proud of a friend and want to tell her so, etc. A pretty piece of snail mail goes a long way.
- Say Thank You. Every time a brand sends me a product, I email them to say thanks. This sounds like an obvious one, but speaking from someone who also works on the brand side, trust me… not everyone does it. In fact, it’s actually rather rare. Even if it’s just a tiny something or other, that person or brand thought YOU were a good person to send it to. That alone is worth a thank you!
Community is King.
- Admittedly, I have not been as good as I once was at responding to blog comments. But there are other ways to grow your community. A weekly links round-up is something I’ve found to be quite effective in terms of highlighting the posts I really loved.
- Having a good group of blogging friends makes blogging better. As I’ve dove further and further into the world of blogging, I find that there are major highs and lows. Having a few close people that you can talk to about it all makes a huge difference. You’ll also find yourself bouncing ideas off each other and learn so much more than if you just kept to yourself.
- The more ideas you share, the more ideas you’ll have. I never really understood the point of keeping all of your ideas + knowledge to yourself, which was in part, the inspiration behind this post. I’ve always found that the more I share with others, the more I get back and learn.
That’s it.. there you have it… all of my little tips + tricks. What’s your best blogging tip? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
- Need help moving to WordPress? Lisa moved me and it was seamless. Additionally, you should check out her blogkeeping series, particularly this post about adding the pin it image hover.
- Many of you have asked if I could look at your site and help you. I wish I could but between my full time job and blog, I sadly just don’t have time. If you are a beginner/using blogger, check out A.V.’s Polish Your Blog Services. For the more advanced stuff (WordPress, Photoshop) go see Victoria. To learn even more about social media, and to build a better blog post, go see Meg!