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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.

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.