#RealTalk: Blogging Less Doesn't Make You a Bad Blogger

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in over a month.

And you know what? That's ok.

 

Honestly, just a few months ago, the thought of not blogging for even a week was hard for me to wrap my mind around. We're told that to have a successful blog we need to:

1. Be active on ALL social media

2. Have a new blog post up 3-5 times a week (but the more frequent, the better)

3. Be constantly thinking up ideas of what to blog about

But the truth is, most of us don't have the time to do all of that. And if we try to do it all (while maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family, managing school/work, raising children, running errands, cooking food, exercising....basically living a life) we might not put our 100% best into what we're sharing with the world.

Now don't get me wrong, I give major props to all you full-time bloggers! I'm so inspired by you guys and happy that you've found something you love and are doing it! (and making some extra moo-lah, too $$$) ?

But honestly, I haven't even thought much about blogging this past month. I was just so engrossed with school, spending time with family, and working on our Kickstarter project.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

It wasn't until people at school started telling me how much they love my blog that I realized, "Oh no, am I a bad blogger? I haven't blogged in so long. People are counting on me, and I'm letting them down."

Insert mini panic attack.

Five days later, on a surprisingly warm sunny day, I sat outside doing absolutely nothing. It was during that quiet time, where I paused from all of life's demands, that I realized three things:

1. I've developed a love-hate relationship with technology. I don't like always being tied to my phone and having to constantly keep up to date with Twitter, post my life on Instagram and Snapchat, all while growing my Facebook page and remembering to pin to Pinterest. So, I'm adopting a new philosophy:

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there's time.

What if we spent just half the time we do on the internet and social media on something else? What new adventures would we have? What relationships would improve? I'm not saying to swear off of internet and social media completely, but I do believe in being intentional about how we interact with it—directing and using it for good, rather than letting it direct our time.

2. Blogging less doesn't make me a bad blogger. I am going to blog less, but it will be consistent because I do love blogging! I'm aiming for 2-4 posts a week to keep burnout at bay.

3. Blog post ideas are everywhere. You don't have to sit at your desk to make a list of blog post ideas. The best ones seem to hit you when you're taking a walk, talking with a friend, listening to a lecture, or just observing people in the street. Those ideas tend to be the most unique as well.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

I don't regret not blogging for a month. I feel like I've come out of my break refreshed with a new outlook, and that makes me excited! Frequent blogging doesn't make you a good blogger. Being your authentic self, sharing ideas, encouraging others to grow and learn—that's my definition of good blogging.

So, if my updates seem quiet online, it's because I'm engrossed in simply living. ✌️

What about you? I want to hear your thoughts! How often do you blog? Do you feel like it's the right frequency for you?

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8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate. I have a question for you.

How much do other's opinions affect your understanding of ‘who you are’ or ‘where you should be’ in life?

Usually the answer is: more than we can imagine.

I know this to be true because I used to struggle with it. Throughout high school and my first year of college, I just simply wanted to fit in with the crowd. 'Who I was' was usually an image of what was popular at the time. But it never felt right; it never felt like, me. I always felt like something was missing.

Over the course of the last year, I discovered a lot about who I am and what type of person I'd like to grow and become. It was the death of a girl I never knew that caused me to re-evaluate how I was living my life. She inspired me spread happiness wherever I go and live life to the fullest.

I want to be open, honest, and real; genuine. I want to be who I am, not someone I have to pretend to be for the approval of others. I desire a life of authenticity, simplicity, love, and grace.

I have also learned that the same applies to blogging. When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

But there's something you need to know.

Being authentic isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. We are often swayed by the desire for others’ approval or to fit in. Vulnerability can be scary and uncomfortable, especially if we've been conditioned to only show the beautiful bits of our lives.

But it's worth it.

When we come across as being genuine, we're giving others the freedom and courage to be genuine also.

And although being authentic is important for every aspect of life, today I want to specifically share with you 8 reasons why authenticity is important for bloggers.

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

It Produces Consistency and a Clear Purpose

When a blogger determines to be authentic in their writing, all of their articles reflect the true heart of the blogger.

It Encourages Personal Growth

The more you live an authentic life, the more it's reflected to the words on your blog. By opening your heart and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you're exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas that cultivate self-growth.

It Provides a Safe Place

Readers love to know they can trust any site they are following. By preparing every post with the intention of being authentic, you'll win your readers hearts and support and show them that your blog is a place where they can be open and real as well.

Being You is What Sets You Apart from Everyone Else

The world is a big place, including the blogging one. Sometimes you might wonder how it's possible to stand out in a crowd of thousands of bloggers who seem to share the same content as you. It's simple really. By being YOU and sharing YOUR story. No one else can copy that. You have something unique to share with the world.

We Crave the Truth

This is a big one. Authenticity is something that society is lacking, but truly craving. We are constantly being lied to and being taken advantage of. By being authentic, you're satisfying your readers need for truth.

It Establishes Trust

By being honest, you're also building trust with your readers. Blogging friendships are some of the best, but they rely on the exchange of trustworthiness to know the person they believe they're friends with online is the same type of person in real life.

You Become Relatable 

Nobody's life is perfect, but sometimes we may want to appear that way online. Becoming vulnerable is what allows us to truly connect with others, because we can say, "Hey, I've been there before."

It Inspires Others

This may be my favorite reason of all! :) Your actions, your honesty, and your transparency will give your readers the courage to embrace true authenticity in their life as well, because they have seen it exemplified, through you!


If we aren't authentic and express who we are, we will never be able to create the life that we truly want. And we can’t create a life that’s truly fulfilling to us if we're not true to ourselves and to others.

Does being authentic in blogging reap benefits for you? How do you live your life authentically?

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How to Write Content that Keeps People Reading

Want to know the secret to getting people hooked on your content? Use these tips to engage your readers. Have you ever come across an article or blog post that was REALLY good? Like mindblowing, share-with-everyone-you-know good? Probably yes.

And have you ever come across a post that was maybe...not-so-good? Unfortunately yes.

So what's the secret?

What makes some information is so captivating that you just can't stop reading while other information makes reading a college history textbook sound interesting? Why do some words cause you to excitedly take notes while at other times you re-read the same thing three times and then give up?

The good news is that there is an answer (and a pretty simple one too).

Write content that causes readers to learn and/or laugh.  

[Tweet "Want to know how to write content that keeps readers hooked? @britthouchins shares the secret."]

The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that people read for two very basic reasons.

  1. People read because they want to be EDUCATED.
  2. People read because they want to be ENTERTAINED.

Let's go back to #1.

People love to read articles that teach them something, whether it's how to make a delicious recipe, start a capsule wardrobe, or to Google why platypuses have bills. To ensure that your writing gives readers what they're looking for, there are a few steps you should take.

Write to Educate

  • Give action steps. When a reader wants to follow your lead and learn a process, be sure to tell them the necessary steps involved in order to complete it. Of course, not everything is going to be in a step by step format, but if done right, a well-written post should explain concepts thoroughly and in chronological, reasonable steps.
  • Include tips. Everything you write should have tips included. Everything. It doesn't need to be a basic list of tips either. Tips can take on many forms: keys, tactics, techniques, ways, warnings, suggestions, methods, rules, options, processes, etc. All it takes is for one good idea that you've shared to satisfy the reader.
  • Make them think. Give examples to help get their brain juices flowing. Readers crave more than just information. They want to see how they can apply it in their own lives.

Now for #2.

The internet has brought entertainment to our fingertips 24/7. We like to read articles that are captivating, not boring. Bringing this element into your own writing can dramatically increase the engagement in your posts.

 Write to Entertain

  • Write conversationally. No one wants to read a dry article. My writing style is very informal; I write the way I talk. My hope is that by doing so, my readers can feel as if I'm talking with them one-on-one. Writing conversationally can help readers feel more at ease and even more willing to comment.
  • Use humor. Most people like to laugh. (To those of you who don't enjoy laughing, my apologies. You may skip this and go immediately to the section labeled "Don't Have A Sense Of Humor"). Basically it just means when you have a chance to say something in a funny way, do it. Of course, don't use too much humor and stay away from anything offensive, but by all means insert some light-hearted fun when applicable.
  • Tell a story. Especially a real one, as it provides a sense of credibility to what you're saying. A story can set the mood or provide a background to what you're about to say later on. It can be funny, sad, serious, or embarrassing. Sharing a good story always a great way to engage the reader.

There you have it! The secret to keeping readers hooked on your content. Try it out and see if people don't come running back for more ;)

What do you think? Is the reason people read because they want to be educated and/or entertained?

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How to Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Better Blog SEO

Want to boost your blog SEO? Follow these 5 steps to using Google Adwords Keyword Planner. If you have a blog or a website, you're probably well aware that SEO (search engine optimization) is important for gaining traffic and ranking higher in Google searches. Many bloggers have shared tips for great SEO. Some of my favorites that I recommend reading are 10 Ways to Boost SEO for Bloggers by Gina and Simple SEO by Nora. They both provide great tips for those who want to increase their SEO but aren't sure how.

One thing I've learned about SEO is the importance of the keyword you set for your post. So today I'm showing you how I use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to increase SEO for my blog. And guess what? It's easy! :)

A keyword rich post is more likely to show up in higher ranks of Google, especially if it's specific. But if you're anything like me, coming up with the perfect keyword is a struggle sometimes. Google's keyword planner takes away the fuss of trying making up a keyword for your post. Ready to get started? :)

Step One

Go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

Want to boost your blog SEO? Follow these 5 steps to using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

Step Two

Log in or Sign up.

If you already have an Adwords account (a.k.a you host Google Ads on your site), just log in using your Adword credentials. Otherwise, go ahead and sign up (it's free).

Step Three

Follow the prompts until you reach "Your First Campaign"

Don't worry about the "Billing" section that comes right after. You aren't setting up an ad on Google, so you won't pay a thing. Rather, you're just here for the keyword planner. Once you're done using the keyword planner, go ahead and exit. No need to go on to the billing step (unless you're a business and want to pay for ad space on Google).

Step Four

Navigate to Choose a Target Audience > Keywords. Click on Select Your Keywords.

Want to boost your blog SEO? Follow these 5 steps to using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

Step Five

Type in a few different keywords that are relevant to your post. The number that appears is the search popularity of that combination of keywords. While a bigger number means more searches, it also means that there's more competition. Select your keywords carefully.

Another tip!

Hover over the right of the green bar and click More Like This. More keyword suggestions will appear! You can keep doing this to get an idea on what's being searched frequently.

Want to boost your blog SEO? Follow these 5 steps to using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

And that's it! Told you it was easy :)

I hope this helps you when deciding on keywords for your posts. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them below!

Have you ever used Google's Keyword Planner?

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Easy Ways to Promote Your Blog When You're Bored

If you ever find yourself with a spare 10 minutes or longer, try some of these easy blog boosters to expand your online presence. #blog #blogtipsWe all have those days when we feel bored, uninspired, or lacking energy to create a post – and that's totally okay! You can still use your downtime to promote your blog in small ways. If you ever find yourself with a spare 10 minutes or longer, try some of these easy blog boosters to expand your online presence:

[Tweet "Does your blog need a boost? Here are 9 SUPER EASY ways to promote your blog when you're bored! via @britthouchins"]

Create, maintain, and edit a list of blog topic ideas

Even before I started my blog I had a Google Doc called "Blog Post Ideas". I still use it to this day! Whenever I have an idea pop into my head, I write it down. I've found that using Google Drive works better (for me at least) than a notebook because it's synced with the cloud and I can access it both on my phone and computer. If you're feeling bored, use this time to jot down some ideas for upcoming blog posts. I find some of my greatest inspiration by reading magazines or simply browsing the web.

Reach out to a blogger you admire

Making blog friends is one of the best things about blogging! Don't be afraid to send a friendly email to a blogger you admire or one you have been following for a long time.

Comment on other blogs

Networking with other bloggers is one of the best ways to boost blog traffic. Take an hour to read through other blogs and leaving genuine comments on posts you love. If you're not totally in love with the post or the blog, then don't comment. It's better to be genuine and make connections with those you click with than to just leave your link and run.

Repin old posts onto relevant Pinterest boards (again)

Pinterest is such a great referral source. While pins will continually show up in search results and get repinned, it doesn't hurt to do some extra promotion ;) Go through your archives and pin your images to relevant boards, even if you've pinned it there before. You've most likely gained some followers between now and then who haven't been exposed to that amazing post of yours!

Make your images Pinterest friendly

In the blogging world, it's really important to have visually appealing images. And, we have to admit, sometimes our old posts aren't very Pinterest-worthy. Maybe your blog style changed (or you discovered it!) or the photos are just plain outdated. Go through your old posts and check to see if the photos/graphics match the branding of your blog.

Follow new people on Twitter and Instagram

Growing your audience can be as easy as finding and following other like-minded people. Take a few spare minutes to follow some new people and comment/like/send them a tweet. It’s important to interact with other people online if you want to get noticed!

Discover your social media influence

If you haven't done so already, sign up for Klout to determine your social media influence. Klout is designed to help you understand and leverage your influence on different social networks. Advertising agencies use it to identify influencers that would be great at promoting their products.

Make your pitch list

When you have some free time, sit down and come up with a pitch list. Think of dream brands you would like to work with, brands that would be a good fit to work with you now, and ideas for guest posts/collaborations with other bloggers. Once you have a few ideas, go ahead and contact them! The worst that could happen would be them saying no. And even if they do, the fact that you'd tried shows that you're serious about your blog and want to leverage it in the best way possible. So don't be afraid! Take the chance! :)

Schedule social media promotion of old posts

Most of the time, only your most popular posts will be revisited. But what about the rest of your archives? Take a few minutes to go through your archives and schedule each one for some social media promotion. Personalize your tweets and Facebook shares using Hootsuite or Buffer (I prefer Buffer, as it's minimal and more aesthetically pleasing). Try to schedule them out over a long period of time, especially if you've been blogging for over a few years. Once every few days should be fine, since you'll still be promoting your current posts.

What do you do in your free time to promote your blog?

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Elevate your blog by following these blogging basics from The Kardia.

35 Ways to Improve Your Blog

Keep your blog up to date and improve your reach! #blogtips Blogging is a quickly growing industry. In the last few years it's become a standard for businesses to run a blog and nearly any question you have can be answered from a blog post. With all these changes and growth happening, it also means that you need to keep your blog up to date–and I'm not just talking about post frequency! Keeping your blog current with the times shows that you care about your space on the internet. Taking just a few minutes today to improve your blog's look and feel can dramatically improve it's future.

[Tweet "Don’t miss these “35 Ways to Improve Your Blog”. #blogtips via @britthouchins"]

  1. Remove Google Friend Connect and use Google+ instead.
  2. Purchase your domain (no more .blogspot or .wordpress!)

  3. If you're on WordPress, always update all your plugins.
  4. Make your Categories or Archives in the sidebar a dropdown menu or a short, simple list.
  5. Don't use centered text. Either right align or justify it.
  6. Remove any following counters. They just take up unnecessary space.
  7. Simplify your footer. Decide what needs to be included and either delete or move anything else.
  8. Add a social sharing widget such as Shareaholic or AddThis.
  9. Add a hover Pin It button.
  10. Remove obnoxious pop-up ads. Even the most loyal readers dislike clicking "close" every time.
  11. Make sure you have a disclosure policy, terms of service, and privacy policy.
  12. Make sure all graphics are Pinterest worthy and replace graphics from old posts. The optimal size for images are at least 735 pixels wide. The height can be adjusted according to your needs, but taller images are more likely to get repinned.
  13. Make sure your font is big enough and dark enough to read.
  14. Space widgets evenly in the sidebar. Whitespace is your friend!
  15. Get a handle on your stats. Set up Google Analytics to track important statistics like unique visitors (users) and pageviews. Also, did you know that you can check Twitter Analytics?
  16. Proof-read your posts. Don't just rely on spellcheck.
  17. Link back to your own posts within another relevant post.
  18. Join a blogging community! I recommend The Peony Project.
  19. Create a Gravatar account to display your avatar beside your comments.
  20. Use Alt tags on images.
  21. Make external links open in a new tab. If a user clicks on a link and it takes them to a new site, they might not come back to yours! So check the box that says "open link in new tab" or add target="_blank" after the Alt tag.
  22. Set up a business blog email.
  23. Make images fit the width of your content/post. For example, if your content is 650px wide make your photos at least 650px wide. Everything will look cleaner with your text and photos lined up on both sides of the page.
  24. Write in a conversational tone.
  25. If you have a lot of affiliate and group buttons, move them to a separate page.
  26. Set up an RSS feed and have an option for people to get your posts mailed to their email.
  27. Move your "daily blog reads" list to a new page instead of listing it in the sidebar.
  28. Move your ads around to find the best locations.
  29. Streamline your images. Making images more cohesive and recognizable increases the chance that they'll be shared on social media! It also improves the overall look and feel of your blog "brand".
  30. Write a blog mission statement.
  31. Use Disqus as a commenting system. One of the most commonly used commenting system, Disqus allows you to easily visit other blogs and keep up with who you need to reply to.
  32. Delete any Wordpress plugins that are unnecessary, as they slow down your blog's loading time.
  33. Make sure you have a search bar.
  34. Link to your favorite or most popular posts.
  35. Make sure your blog reflects who you are as a person. You'll enjoy blogging so much more if your blog is an extension of who you are!

Do you have any tips to improve your blog?

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Elevate your blog by following these blogging basics from The Kardia.

The Story Behind My Blog

How my blog got it's name and the story of how I got into blogging! The other day I realized that it has already been over six months since I started this little blog of mine. And in those six months, I don't think I ever told the story behind my blog or explained what the name The Kardia even means!

So when I stumbled upon Kiki's blog In It's Time yesterday, I discovered that the prompt for her monthly linkup this month is "the story of your blog name". I've been meaning to join in on The Circle linkups for a few months now, so what better time to begin than today!


I don't remember the exact time when I began reading blogs, but it was somewhere around the beginning of fall 2012. Back then, I read mainly home decor and craft sites like Centsational Girl (weird for a 17-year-old who lived in a dorm right?) and A Beautiful Mess. Around the fall of 2013 I stumbled upon blogs like Life Could Be a Dream and A Beautiful Exchange. I never commented though because I felt like needed a blog of my own.

As Christmas time came around, all I would talk about were blogs. Caleb told me that I should start one, but I would always brush him off. "Nah, I don't have enough to say" or "I don't have time, maybe when I'm older and have a house."

But my love for blogging just grew and grew until I finally gave in (I mean, who was I kidding? Was I really going to wait until I was in my mid-20s? I was only 18!). I bought the domain name in February 2014 but it took me all summer to get my blog design the way I wanted it and muster enough courage to post my first post in August.

Coming up with a blog name was really difficult for me. I knew right from the beginning that whatever name I choose was the name I was going to stick with for good. I wanted to build a brand, not just start a blog. After writing down every possible combination of lovely words I could think of, I began the process of elimination.

The funny thing is, the name I ultimately choose wasn't even on that original list!

The name was picked after I decided what the purpose of my blog was. When Caleb asked me, "What are you going to blog about?",  I had to really think of how to answer. Yes I wanted to blog about "life", but I also wanted to share date ideas and turn it into a database of some sort. I wanted to make printables and document our dates to give others inspiration to do their own. Knowing this, I decided that the name of the blog should have something to do with love.

Karida means heart in Greek

Somehow I ended up typing the words "heart in different languages" into Google, and that's when I found it. Kardia means heart in Greek. The Kardia. The heart. It was perfect.

While my blog has a different direction now than when I first started it, the meaning is still the same. The Kardia is a blog of encouragement and inspiration, written from the heart, with Christ at the center of it all. It gives energy to those seeking a life of purpose. It's a place where unconditional love is valued, simple moments in life are celebrated, and where I whole-heartedly believe in the promises of living a meaningful life.

Someday soon I hope to blog about date ideas (because I have a TON!), but right now I'm content with where my blog is at :)

The Kardia will grow and change just like I'll grow and change, but it'll always be my "heart".

The mission of The Kardia is...

To inspire and encourage young women to utilize the unique talents the Lord has given them to make their mark on the world. As a community of dream seekers, The Kardia aspires to support these women in their creative endeavors, personal relationships, business ventures, and all areas of life.

That's why I started this blog.

THE CIRCLE LINK-UP

 

What's your story? Comment below or join the link-up! 

 

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P.S. Learn how to write your own blog mission statement! (You really need one).

 

How to Start a Blog (and Make it Successful) Part 2

Start a blog the right way. In this post, we'll cover what platform to use, decide whether to use a template or not, and learn how to create community and promote your posts. #blog #blogging *There are referral links present in this post.

Last week I posted the first part of a two part series on how to start a blog, and this week is the second post! If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to do these steps in order, beginning with the first part.

Now that you've narrowed down your focus, chosen a name, and bought a domain, it's time to make some bigger decisions.

Decide what platform to use

The three most popular and user-friendly platforms are Blogger, Wordpress, and Squarespace. I'm not going to go too in depth about each of them, but here's a quick rundown on the pros and cons of each:

Blogger:

Pros - Free and reliable. Many blogs are run on Blogger and there are many designs and templates you can purchase if you wish.

Cons - Ownership. Google owns and runs Blogger and has the right to shut your blog down at any time.

Wordpress.com:

Pros - Free + no maintenance.

Cons - Not allowed to sell ads unless you receive 25,000 page views a month. No plugins, limited theme support.

Wordpress.org:

Pros - Customizable. Wordpress is the standard for websites and it can be customizable to anything you wish.

Cons - Expensive. To own a wordpress.org site, you must pay to have it hosted on a server from a provider, such as Bluehost.

Squarespace:

Pros - Appearance. Squarespace offers visually pleasing, mobile responsive template designs.

Cons - Limited template designs offered by Squarespace. Customization can be done through blog designers.

Theme or custom blog design?

Your next step is to choose whether you want to use a theme or have a blog designer custom design your site. For my blog, I purchased a theme and then went and changed the CSS code to make it look the way I wanted. Some of you may not feel comfortable doing that, so a theme with customizable options is a great way to get the look you want if you're on a budget. I recommend checking out Creative Market's blog themes. They have a lot of affordable, beautiful templates.

Create community

One of the main reasons I love blogging is the community and people I meet. It's amazing to read other's perspectives on life and get inspired by them. Here are a few ways to begin creating a genuine community of readers and friends:

Follow other blogs

Now, don't just follow blogs in the hopes that they'll follow you back. Genuinely follow blogs that you love to read. Click around and discover new blogs. Comment on posts and make conversation. You'd be surprised at how interconnected the blogging world is.

Join blogging communities

Blogging communities provide some of the best support and friendships. Many blogging communities have a facebook page where you can post questions, share your posts, and meet other bloggers whose interests are similar to you. I highly recommend The Peony Project if you're looking for a group of bloggers who are great at supporting one another!

Participate in Twitter chats

Twitter chats are a fun way to meet others and discuss different topics. I always leave a Twitter chat feeling refreshed, energized, and inspired. Some great Twitter chats to participate in are #FireworkPeople, #OhSimpleChat, and #ElleChat.

Include your post in linkups

As a new blogger, this is a great way to expose your blog to others. I love participating in linkups because they create such neat, niche communities in the blogging world. Many linkups occur on a weekly or monthly basis, so you can usually plan a post ahead of time. Find a linkup in your niche or join in on a fun one! Some of my favorites are the Guys Behind the Blog, Currently, Week's End, Marriage and Relationship Goals, and the Creative Closet. If you're looking for a linkup that encourages you to live life to the fullest, consider joining the Flourish linkup, hosted by yours truly :) I know, shameless plug, but I had to ;)

I have discovered one big tip when it comes to linkups though: Don't go overboard. I know it may seem like a great idea to link up the same post to three different linkups, but in reality, it lowers the reputation of both you and your post. Instead of just seeking comments, seek connections. Click on multiple links, not just the minimum required for the linkup. Discover new blogs you genuinely like and comment!

[Tweet "Instead of just seeking comments, seek connections. via @britthouchins"]

Promote your posts

Ah, promoting your blog posts :) If only there were a secret formula to getting the optimal amount of traffic from social media promotion. Still, promoting blog posts isn't difficult at all, nor does it have to be time consuming! Here are a few basic ways you can promote your blog posts.

Pin to Pinterest

I can't express how important Pinterest is when it comes to blogging. It's what drives the most visits to my website. Even if you're just starting out, make sure your blog post images are pinnable! Clear, bright photos with minimal text are golden. Pin your posts to relevant boards: if it's a dessert recipe, pin it to your dessert board. Likewise, if it's a post on blogging, pin it to your blogging board.

Follow Brittany Houchins 's board b l o g g i n g on Pinterest.

The size of your image matters too. The optimal Pinterest image is around 735 x 1100 pixels. When you click on a pin, it will expand to a width of 735 pixels and the height will adjust depending on the size of the image. Keep in mind that images on a website need to be a minimum of 100 x 200 pixels for you to be able to pin them.

Share on Twitter

Twitter is a must for bloggers! Think of it as a mini feed of ideas, questions, and insights. It's also a great networking tool, so don't be afraid to follow and interact with the bloggers you admire. Interacting is a great way to make connections and get your name out there without being too in-your-face.

I recommend using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your posts throughout the day (and week). Promote your blog post once or twice the day it's posted and schedule another post a few days later as well as one later in the month. I also recommend promoting some of your favorite posts by other bloggers. It's a great way to connect and build relationships!

Another thing I find useful is that whenever you have some time during the day, check Twitter, respond to others, and post something! This shows that you are engaged with others and don't just solely promote links.

Post to Facebook and Google+

In all honesty, I'm not the best at doing this (but I'm working on it!) Posting your blog posts to Facebook and Google+ are a great way to reach your readers who don't follow you on a blog reader or Twitter. Share some lifestyle posts to these accounts as well, like photos from your vacation or pictures of your dog, just like you would on your personal account.


Now, let me tell you one more thing. You could follow all of these tips, be the master of social media, and have a gorgeous website — but none of those things matter if you don't follow this one rule:

Be Authentic

Don't be a copy of someone else. What makes you special and different from all the other blogs is that there's no one like you! So share life photos on Instagram, post your random thoughts on Twitter, don't be afraid to admit that you make mistakes. After all, blogging is supposed to fun :)

Thinking of starting a blog? If you have any more questions, be sure to let me know! 

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Blogging Basics from The Kardia

How to Start a Blog (and Make it Successful) - Part 1

Start a blog the right way. In this post, we'll cover how to create a focus, determine a name, create a vision board, and purchase a domain. #blog #blogging *There are referral links present in this post.

I've gotten multiple emails over the last few weeks from people asking for tips on how to start a blog and I'm really excited for them! Starting a blog is one of the best decisions I made, and I'd like to share a few tips to help others begin this journey of their own. I've made this into a two part series because there is so much to cover! I could definitely write more than two posts on this, but I want this to be a starting point for new bloggers as well as a refresher for those of you who already have a blog but are looking for ways to improve it. :)

To start off, why start a blog? Good question! I listed 7 reasons why I started my blog here in my very first post! Like the cake I made? ;) Start off by making your own list of why you want to blog. Is it a creative outlet? A place to document your life? Somewhere for you to write stories? This list is something you'll look back to when you're in a blogging rut, so it's handy to have.

Next, narrow down your focus

What do you want to blog about? Fashion? Food? Decor? There are a lot of different niches and categories but many bloggers categorize themselves as a "lifestyle" blogger, including myself. But I also have an overall theme. My posts are all centered around encouraging others to chase their dreams and inspiring them to live an intentional life. I provide tips to help make their lives easier, but I throw in some personal posts as well.

So even though I'm a lifestyle blogger, you can see that I blog with intention. And I believe that blogging with intention is what will set you apart from other bloggers.

[Tweet "Blogging with intention is what will set you apart from other bloggers. via @britthouchins"]

Your next step is to narrow down what you'd like to blog about. Begin by listing topics you like, such as decorating or cooking; don't worry if you find yourself listing a lot of topics, we'll narrow it down :) Next, try to group topics together into main categories. Then think over each category: Do I have enough knowledge to write multiple posts on this? Does it fit my current lifestyle? I had a lot of categories when I first started out, but now I have them condensed down to five. Over time you'll discover what you like and don't like to blog about and your blog will grow as you grow.

Create a blog vision board on Pinterest

Now before you jump in and pick your blog name, I recommend creating a blog "brand" vision board on Pinterest. I'm using the word "brand" because essentially, your blog will be a brand. Cohesive brand elements are what makes great blogs stand out from the rest.

Pin photos that convey the look/feel of what you would like your blog to have. For example, my blog brand board (which is a secret board, so I can't show you guys :( sorry!) is full of beautiful handwritten script fonts, simple and clean lines, my favorite inspirational quotes, and bright airy photos.

You should also pin blog layouts and templates for inspiration. Take a look and see what they have in common. Are they all minimalistic? Do they have bold lines and colors? Determining the style of your blog is the first step to creating the blog of your dreams.

Brainstorm and choose a blog name

Now is the fun (and sometimes really hard) part! Choosing a blog name is serious business, because it's something that you will be known for. Make a list of 5-10 blog names that are relevant to your topics and you can see yourself using multiple years from now. Coming up with 5-10 names may sound like a lot, but it's a good idea to have backup ideas just in case the name is already taken on social media sites or the domain is already bought.

Write a blog mission statement

Like I said earlier, you can’t blog about everything if you want your blog to be successful. You need a focus; a purpose; a mission. Having a blog mission statement enables you to have a constant reminder of what your purpose is.

Don't skip this step! Many bloggers, including myself, don't usually do this until after their blog is established. But if you do it before you even start, you are way ahead of the game! Use this post I wrote solely dedicated on how to write a mission statement for your blog for guidance.

Purchase a domain

Once you've decided on a name, the next step is to purchase your domain name. Purchasing your domain name adds a professional appearance to your blog as it takes away the .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com in your domain.

There are multiple ways you can get your domain. The most popular option is to purchase directly from a domain registrar, like GoDaddy.com or Registrar.com, for anywhere around $5-$20 a year. Even if you decide to not spend money on anything else for blogging, I highly recommend buying your domain.

This is where we'll stop for today. Starting a blog doesn't happen overnight; it takes a lot of time and effort. These first few steps set the foundation of your blog, and they are incredibly important, so don't try to jump and skip ahead.

In Part 2, I'll help you decide what blogging platform to use, choose a theme/design, and provide tips on promoting your posts! So be sure to check in next Monday!

Do you want to start a blog? If you have any more questions, be sure to let me know! 

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Elevate your blog by following these blogging basics from The Kardia.

How to Set Up a Professional Email for Your Blog

Make your blog more professional by using a business email. #blogtips #blogging *There are referral links present in this post. All opinions within this post are always 100% honest.

Deciding to take blogging seriously is a big step that involves a lot of time and commitment. You begin to set up all the "prerequisites": a domain name, hosting, blog design, business cards, accepting sponsors/advertisers, going to conferences, etc. There's one thing that's usually overlooked though.

A professional email.

This is especially helpful if you want to collaborate with other companies. Some opportunities became available to me simply because I had my own professional email. For example, brittany(at)thekardiablog.com is much more professional sounding than thekardiablog@gmail.com.

[Tweet "A custom email can amp up the professionalism of your blog. via @britthouchins"]

There are two ways to set up and use your own professional email. *Please note that you must own your own domain to be able to use a custom email.

1. If you self-host your blog, many web hosts such as Bluehost allow you to set up different email accounts using your domain name by clicking the Email tab. I recommend setting up two or three: hello@yourblog.com, yourname@yourblog.com, and sponsor@yourblog.com. You can then check the webmail by clicking on Check Webmail on the home page (if you're using Bluehost).

Set up a professional email

2. The second method (and the one I highly recommend!) is using Google Apps for Work. Google Apps for Work enable you to use the Gmail interface with your own custom email. There is a small fee ($5/month), but you can try it for free for 30 days to see if you like it. This is definitely worth the money though!

When you sign up, I recommend signing up with yourname@yourblog.com at first. This is what will become the primary email. You can set up other emails later on (hello@, sponsor@, etc.) After you sign up, you'll need to verify that you own your domain by calling the phone number that is provided and have the support team walk you through some steps. It's super quick and easy!

Once everything is set up, you can add more emails by going to your admin page (admin.google.com) and clicking on Users, then your name. Now click on Account and a sidebar will appear. Scroll down to Aliases and click Add an Alias. Whatever email alias you enter here will automatically be forwarded to yourname@. This way, all your replies will be sent through the same account.

Set up a professional email

Easy, isn't it? :) This is just one simple step you can take to amp up the professionalism of your blog!

What do you think about having your own professional email?

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Blogging Basics from The Kardia

Is Your Blog Legal?

How to make your blog or website legal by adding a disclosure policy, terms of service, and a privacy policy. #blogging #blogtips Owning your own blog is a great feeling. You get to do something you love while being an influence in other's lives and can even make some money doing so. But have you ever taken the time to make sure your blog is legal?

Having an online presence in today's digital age means that there are legal requirements that come with owning your own blog or business. Not only do you need a disclosure policy, but you need a terms of service and privacy policy too. Because most of us don't know how to write legal stuff, I'll show you how you can make your blog legal in less than 30 minutes using online policy generators.

But first, here are a few things you should take note of:

  1. Use a separate page, not a blog post, for each policy. Having them on separate pages will increase your site's SEO.
  2. Link to each of the policies somewhere on your home page. I have mine linked in my shortened disclosure policy in the sidebar, but some people like having it linked in the footer area.
  3. You should still have both a full Disclosure Policy and a shortened one. The longer one should be on a separate page and go into more detail while the shorter one is for posting on your homepage (the short one can be more informal sounding too).
  4. Update your policies at least once a year to keep them current. Usually there should be a sentence at the beginning or end of each policy saying something along the lines of "This document was last updated on December 28, 2014."
  5. I am not a licensed attorney, nor should you take the information in this post as full legal advice. The policy generators may not fully cover all legal requirements, but they are a good start :)

Disclosure Policy

Most bloggers have some sort of disclosure on their site, which is super important! If you monetize your site in any way, whether it be through sponsors, affiliate links, or Google Ads, you need to have a disclosure according to the Federal Communications Commissions. I used this Disclosure Policy generator to write mine.

Terms of Service

Another notice you should have on your site is a Terms of Use/Service. I'm sure we've all seen a Terms of Use agreement before, even if most of us don't ever read them (oops!). If you scroll to the bottom of most websites, you'll find a Terms of Service or Terms of Use Policy. This serves as a sort of "contract" between the business and visitor. Terms vary depending on the type of business it is, but having one for your blog is important to help protect you from any potential legal action by visitors to your site.

I used Privacy Policy Online's Terms of Service Generator to help write my Terms of Use policy. You'll definitely want to take the time and actually read what it generates and tweak different items. It's a lengthy document, but you want to make sure it fits your site. Some important things that should be included are: rules governing the use of your site, user content, limitations of liabilities, any warranties, intellectual property information, and breaches of contract.

I also changed a few things, like taking out my address and phone number and inserting my email instead. I also linked to my privacy policy page when it was mentioned in the document and changed the Law and Jurisdiction part to my state of residence instead of whatever state came generated with it.

Privacy Policy

The third important piece of information you should include on your blog is a Privacy Policy. This is extremely important if you collect anyone's information: name, email, payment information, if you host a linkup, etc. Basically, a Privacy Policy discloses how your site will store their information.

A Privacy Policy should essentially state that you promise to keep any shared information safe and that you will not share it with anyone other than trusted third parties (like your newsletter provider). I don't fully understand the various federal and state laws that have specific rules on Privacy Policies, but I do understand that California is the strictest. I used Generate Policy Generator to make my Privacy Policy and tweaked it to fit my site.

Again, if you update any part of how your site collects data, you must update your Privacy Policy and let your users know. For example, back in December I added a feature to my Google Analytics that tracks demographic information. Because adding that feature required a tracking cookie, I needed to update my Privacy Policy stating how exactly I was using reader's information and how they could opt out if they wanted. I wrote it myself since the Privacy Policy generator didn't offer this option. Here's what I added (you can use this if you ever add demographic information to Google Analytics):


Google Analytics Display Advertising

Our Site’s use of the Google Analytics cookie and the DoubleClick cookie allows us to enable features in Google Analytics that aren’t available through standard implementations. Display features include:

  • Remarketing with Google Analytics
  • Google Display Network Impression Reporting
  • DoubleClick Platform integrations
  • Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reporting

You can learn more about the use of the Google Analytics cookie and the DoubleClick cookie by visiting the Google Analytics Cookie Usage on Websites page. You may also opt out of the use of these cookies through your Ads Settings, Ad Settings for mobile apps, through the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on, or any other available means.


I hope you learned a little more about how to make your blog/website is legal today! I urge you to take the 30 minutes or so to set everything up and make sure you're protected.

Do you have a disclosure policy, terms of service, or a privacy policy?

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Why Your Blog Needs a Mission Statement

Blogging Tip: Why your blog needs a mission statement One of the biggest lessons I've learned in the short amount of time I've been blogging has been the importance of focus. I've learned that you need to focus on the task at hand, because time is valuable. I've learned that you must plan and think ahead if you want to stay ahead. And I've learned that you can't blog about everything if you want your blog to be successful. You need a focus; a purpose; a mission.

[Tweet "Your mission statement is what sets you apart from other blogs. via @britthouchins"]

I wrote about my goals for the blog this year, and when I took a step back and looked at the big picture, I realized that the only way I'm going to accomplish all of them is if everything I do is driven by a sole purpose.

I want that purpose to be evident to you, my readers. I want to be able to steer the direction of my blog instead of letting it steer me. Having a blog mission statement enables me to have a constant reminder of what my purpose is.

You should have one too! Writing a mission statement isn't hard at all! In fact, it's a lot of fun! :) Here are a few tips to get you started:

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is a short one to three sentences that declares the purpose of a business/organization and defines the reason for its existence. The mission statement sets the tone of the company and outlines concrete goals. So ideally, these few sentences should sum up everything, from your brand and blog to your goals and purpose. It should be both descriptive and concise, yet resonate with your readers. Overall, the statement should be one that inspires community and ongoing commitment.

Why do I need a mission statement for my blog?

Whether you've been blogging for years, a month, a day, or are still in the dreaming process, having a mission statement will be a huge help in moving your blog forward. Not only will it help you stay focused, but it will be a constant reminder on why you blog (when those doubts set in), and what your intentions are for your space on the internet. For example, when opportunities arise, you can check to see if they line up with your mission statement before agreeing or declining. And as your brand and business grow, don't be afraid to make changes to your mission statement! In fact, it's encouraged :)

How do I write one?

Your mission statement is what sets you apart from other blogs. Ideally, it should show the practical ways in which you will accomplish your overall vision. Here are a few suggestions to help you write your own:

  • Answer these questions:
    • Why do you blog?
    • Who is your ideal audience?
    • What do you provide/want to provide your audience? Resources? Advice? Tips? Support?
    • Where do you want your blog to be in five years?
    • How are you going to get there?
    • If you could share with your readers only one thing, what would it be?
    • How will you practically accomplish your vision day-to-day?
    • What does your blog offer that’s different from everyone else?

Don't skip that last question, as it's the most defining thing for your blog and mission statement. A successful blog is unique and offers value to it's readers by not being a copy of someone else.

  • Once you've answered those questions, look for any repeating patterns in your wording. What sticks out? Use those words as a starting point for drafting your mission statement.
  • Revise and Refine
    • Write your mission statement over the span of a few days. You can write up a draft, then come back to it with a fresh mind. Make adjustments and refine it until you like it!

And while we're at it, here's the mission statement for The Kardia (please don't copy. Everyone's mission statement is different and unique).

To inspire and encourage young women to utilize the unique talents the Lord has given them to make their mark on the world. As a community of dream seekers, The Kardia aspires to support these women in their creative endeavors, personal relationships, business ventures, and all areas of life.

Do you have a blog mission statement? Let me know in the comments!

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Blog Tour: My Writing Process

My Writing Process Blog Tour | The Kardia Blog I absolutely love all things creative. I'm like a sponge, I soak up everything and anything I see. So when Gina Alyse tagged me on this virtual blog tour, I got so excited! This writing process tour aims to connect bloggers and lets you take an inside peek at their creative process. I'm thrilled to share mine with you today!

1. What am I working on?

These past few weeks have been crazy busy. Honestly, finding time to blog is really hard. I treat it like a job, which is a good thing, but I need to find a balance in my life so I don't get burnt out. One of the things I've been working on lately is taking pictures for my photography class. This class is pushing me to take my camera with me more and to just take pictures. I really want to capture life and little moments that may go unnoticed. Another thing I've been working on is actually a secret :) Don't worry though, I'll announce what it is in the next few weeks! Hint: it involves travel and food.

2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

I really want the content I put on The Kardia to be original and authentic. My vision for this blog is to be a love and lifestyle blog where I post date ideas and relationship tips as well as being a lifestyle blog. I have this all planned out, but I need to wait for the special man in my life to move down to Nebraska with me. It's a little hard to go on dates when you're 7 hours apart...

3. Why do I write what I do?

I started blogging because I wanted to have a place to share my thoughts and inspire others. Creativity is useless unless it is shared with others! What started as a creative outlet has become a space of encouragement and friendship, and that makes me so happy :)

4. How does your writing process work?

My writing process is being constantly refined. It usually begins by finding inspiration, whether it be through other blogs, scrolling through Pinterest, listening to professors, taking a walk, talking to my friends, or listening to music, etc. I once tried to keep a journal with me to write down all my ideas, but I found that I would forget to bring it with my everywhere. Now I use a Google Doc to list out blog post ideas and a secret Pinterest board to other inspiration. I found that this works best for me because I can update it from my phone or computer wherever I happen to be at the moment.

As for writing posts, I usually start a draft and fill it in as days go by. The general idea of what I want to say is all in my head, but finding the time to write it all out is actually very difficult. I hope to find a better way of writing out my posts someday soon. The third part of my writing process is taking pictures, making graphics, and editing them. I bought Photoshop CS4 this past summer (since it's cheaper than CS6) and I've taught myself how to make different graphics. I don't usually edit my photos other than to just add text overlay. The last step to my writing process is putting it all together! I feel so proud and accomplished when I see something that I've made go out into the world :)

Up Next!

Even though I'm still relatively new to the blogging scene, these girls both reached out to me and said hi. I'm so glad to have the chance to foster a new friendship with both of them.  Check out their blogs and keep an eye out for their upcoming posts!

McKenna from That Good Life Vibe: McKenna and I are long lost twins. After discovering her blog and her likes and dislikes, I realized that we have so much in common! I love having friend who can relate with me, even if it's through long-distance. She has such a sweet blog and I always look forward to her Sunday Posts.

Taylor from Life in the Lost and Found BinTaylor and I had the chance to connect by swapping ads on each other's sidebar. I'm so glad I discovered her blog! She always has posts full of tips and advice. Her post about how yoga changed her life got me motivated to begin yoga and stretching as well!

I can't wait to read their posts!

What's your creative process like? How do you foster creativity?

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