Posted in Blogging & Social Media

New Blog? Here Are the Next 5 Steps to Take for Success!

Congratulations!  You’ve just launched your new blog!  So… now what?

If you’re a new blogger, you may be wondering what to do once you actually get the blog set up.  Here are the next five steps you can take to set yourself on a path to success.

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Getting started is the first step to MAKING IT HAPPEN! What’s next?

1.  Decide on your niche.  It’s your blog, and you can talk about anything you want!  But if your first three posts are a brownie recipe, a review of a TV show, and a how-to on changing your own oil, it might be a little confusing to determine your target audience!  Your niche can be as broad or narrow as you like, but there should be some sort of theme.  Otherwise, how will readers know if they want to follow you or subscribe?

Now… if you’re writing your blog for your own personal satisfaction, or for your family, and you don’t care whether anyone else ever reads it, then the sky is the limit!  But if you’re hoping to gain a following, or possibly even monetize your blog down the road, a niche will help you settle into your own corner of the blogging world.

2.  Choose your social media platforms and set up accounts.  Social media is big business, and if you’re a blogger looking for an audience, you want a piece of it! With so many platforms, how do you decide which ones, and how many accounts to use?

My personal opinion: Select two or three platforms to start out. One I would definitely recommend is Twitter. One of the biggest surprises when I started my website was how HUGE the writing and blogging community is on Twitter. I’ve found a lot of other bloggers to follow, and they have been so helpful in networking, sharing one another’s work, and offering support.

Aside from that, choose another account or two that best fits your niche. (That’s why choosing your niche was step one!) For example, if you’re blogging about local interests or activities, you might want to get on Facebook to follow and interact easily with other local organizations. If your blog will be heavy on photography, that would translate well to Instagram. An account on Goodreads is the perfect fit for a book blogger, while Pinterest is great for all types of bloggers, and another one I would highly recommend you explore. (Want the rundown on Pinterest for bloggers? I wrote about it here!)

There are options for everyone! You can always add more later, but if you can focus on just a couple of accounts at first, you can build a good base while not spreading your attention too thin… otherwise you could literally spend all your time on your social media accounts instead of actually blogging!

3.  Write your first post! Already done?  Write another one!   The best way to build your blog is to get in the trenches and write.  Most of us, immediately upon setting up a blog, will write some sort of welcome post. That’s a great start, but the more content you get up on the site, the more people can read on their very first visit. And you know what they say about first impressions! In your very first week, if you can get another post or two written and published, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Now, even though we were talking about finding a niche… it doesn’t mean all of your posts should be exactly the same!  For example, I’m primarily a book blogger.  But in addition to writing reviews, I post lists of books, share posts from others, and write about blogging and social media… like this post!  So don’t be afraid to mix it up a little to keep things interesting!

4.  Network with and support other bloggers.  Blogging, above all else, is a social activity.  When you take the time to connect with others who are in the trenches with you, it’s good for everyone.  Bloggers who network learn from one another, promote one another’s work, and offer support on the days you want to throw in the towel.  (You just started, and the blogging world is shiny and new, but those days will likely come at some point!)

Find other bloggers on the social media accounts you’ve set up. Share your new blog with your friends and family and see what other blogs they enjoy reading. Read, comment, and follow when you find a new blog you enjoy. All of these activities will help you build connections.

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We’re all in this together… build connections with other bloggers!

5.  Build some margin and balance into your life.  Blogging can be exhilarating and addictive.  It can also be draining and exhausting, mainly because you’re the only one setting limits on yourself.

When you’re first starting, it’s easy to throw every moment of your free time at this new project, especially when you see so many bloggers posting like crazy.  Do yourself a favor: don’t.  Yes, you’re going to have to spend a substantial amount of time on your blog to achieve success, whatever success looks like for you.  But make time for other things.  Keep reading good books.  Keep going out with friends and participating in social activities. And whatever you do, keep sleeping.  Don’t stay up until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning trying to perfect a blog post.  Too often.  Not that I know anyone who’s done that…

Stay social and stay healthy.  Balance is key!

As a semi-new blogger myself, I know all the ups and downs you’re going through.  Take a deep breath.  And welcome to the blogging world… you’re gonna love it here!!

Want a few more tips?  Try this:  New Blogger Insights: 3 Things I’ve Learned in My First 3 Months!

Readers, what do you think… what’s your best “next step” for a new blogger?

Posted in Blogging & Social Media

Pinterest: A Horse of a Different Color!

You know what I love?  Really quotable movies.  There are just some films that have one-liners for days… so much that often, you can quote one line and everyone knows exactly what movie you’re talking about.  Such as…

“Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

“I feel the need — the need for speed!”

“May the force be with you!”

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

See, you know most of those, right?  (Just in case you need a serious movie education, go watch Forrest Gump, Top Gun, Star Wars, and The Wizard of Oz.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.)

Well, there’s another quote from that last movie that I really like:

“That’s a horse of a different color!”

The guard says this to Dorothy and her friends when he realizes that she has the ruby slippers, and did indeed kill the Witch of the East with her house.  In other words, it’s a more… ahem… *colorful* way to say, “that’s an entirely different story!”  And just because it’s Oz… there really was a horse of a different color.  Like five colors, I think.  Here’s one:

 

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DEFINITELY not in Kansas anymore.

 

So obviously, a horse of a different color is something that’s *different* from all the rest.  Which brings me to the point of this post… yes, I promise one exists!

In the world of social media, Pinterest is (wait for it)… a horse of a different color!

See, Facebook, Instagram, even Twitter… they all depend on a person having followers and making connections person to person or page to page.  Pinterest isn’t really like that.  Sure, two people can follow one another on there.  But it’s much more, because…

Pinterest isn’t really social media.  It’s an enormous, sophisticated search engine!  (Click to Tweet!)

With Pinterest, even people who don’t “follow” you or any of your boards have the potential to see your pins.  The secret is that people often search for the content they want.  For example, maybe Sally is searching for links and infographics about budgeting tips.  Well, if you blog about budget tips, you need to get your content in front of Sally and everyone else who wants to find the same thing.  The catch is that you have to set up your pins to make them easier to find!

If you are a blogger, Pinterest is an unsung hero that can drive a lot of traffic to your site.  But if you’re just pinning an image to your personal board, hoping that your followers will pick up on it, you’re not tapping the platform’s true potential!  First, let’s look at some numbers…

Pinterest has over *50 billion* total pins, and each month it sees  *175 million* users.  It has over a billion different boards set up.  (Source here; all numbers as of January 2018)

Let those numbers sink in for a minute.  Through Pinterest, you have literally millions of people waiting to see what you have to offer.  Now, not everyone may be interested in your particular content, but that still leaves a boatload of potential readers.

So, the upside to those numbers is that you have a huge audience waiting for you.  Is there a downside?  Maybe… because with that many pins and that many boards, you have to be smart and savvy to get YOUR pins noticed!

I’ve been playing with Pinterest and scouring for tips over the past few weeks. Read on for a few helpful tips on how to maximize your Pinterest presence, and links to a few other great posts that I found helpful!

 

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Time to change how you think of Pinterest! (Photo from Pexels.com)

 

1.  Give your pins some punch!  Not every image will get noticed in a field of millions.  If you’re posting a small, grainy picture with a one-word caption, most people won’t notice it — and if they do, they’ll likely bypass it for something more visually appealing!

There are two components to a good pin: the image and the caption.  For the image, you want to have not only a visually appealing picture, but also a properly sized one.  You want something taller than it is wide.  Here are a couple of examples from my own pins:

This…

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Summer Book Review Roundup

 

Compared to this…

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Book Notes: Heart Land

 

You’ll notice the second image is much more prominent, and that’s what you want so your pin doesn’t get swallowed up in someone’s feed.  (The first pin is one I did before doing research and finding all the great tips.  Needless to say, it didn’t get repins!)

The second component is the caption.  You do not want to leave this blank or put something non-specific like “Take a look!” in this valuable space.  You want something that entices a reader to click and includes some specific search terms that apply to the pin.

For example, let’s go back to our friend Sally who’s searching for budgeting tips.  If you have a great post but caption it “Great money post!” will Sally see it?  Maybe, but not likely depending on her search.  Instead, if you caption your post “10 Ways to Get Your Budget Under Control – tips for every household! #frugalliving #budgeting” …. well, you’ve just substantially increased the chances that your post will show up in Sally’s search *and* that she’ll save it or click on it.  Why?  First, a descriptive title that tells you you’ll get a specific number of tips is helpful and appealing.  Also, there are several keywords plus hashtags in the caption, meaning anyone who searches for budget, budgeting, budget tips, or frugal living might have a chance to see this post!  (Now, your post still may not be as likely to show up as a veteran pinner with tons of repins… I won’t get into all the dynamics of that.  But the key is maximizing the chances that YOUR pins will get seen.)

 

2.  Post at the right time!  Pinterest moves fast, so you want to be posting your content when others are most active.  In the US, that time tends to be from mid-afternoon through the evening.  So if you’re free and can regularly dedicate a few minutes to posting during that timeframe, that’s exactly what you should do!  If not, many bloggers are big advocates of a scheduling program like Tailwind to schedule posts for you.  I’m not currently using any such program, but it’s something I may look into down the road.

Also, post frequently!  Don’t pin several things this afternoon, then not come back for two weeks.  People look for regular, relevant content when deciding who to follow or whose pins they find most appealing.  By posting frequently, other pinners will start to recognize your account and be more interested in your content!

 

3.  Location, location, location!  Long known as words of wisdom in real estate, it applies here too! A big part of whether your pins get noticed is where you post them.

If you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of followers, it’s less likely that your pins will show up for someone else to see.  So in addition to making your pin the best it can be, you need to find some prime real estate to advertise it.  Enter Pinterest group boards.

If a personal Pinterest board is like a bulletin board you have up in your own office, group boards are like giant community bulletin boards.  Lots of people post there, and in return they take the other information they find.  Finding relevant group boards will get your pins in front of a much larger audience.

Once more, let’s go back to Sally and her quest for budgeting tips.  Let’s say you’ve written a great post and create a pin with all the right aspects.  But when pin it to your board called “My Posts” that only has ten followers… will Sally will see your post?  Odds aren’t good.  Instead, if you post it to a board of your own called “Frugal Living Advice” *and* over time post it to a couple of relevant group boards… well, it’s much more likely that either Sally will follow one of the group boards and see it, or that another member of these boards will repin it and allow Sally and a bunch of others to find it and reap the benefits of your sage advice.

 

Whew!  It’s a lot to think about at first, isn’t it?  And I’ve barely scratched the surface.  But if you can implement just a few of these tweaks when you use Pinterest, you will start seeing the difference.

One more bonus tip… as a blogger, you can sign up for a business account on Pinterest that will give you access to analytics that show you which of your pins are most popular, how many people are seeing certain types of pins, and more.  Here’s a link to the Pinterest help center that will provide the simple steps you can take to make the switch — it literally only takes a minute!

 

Finally, if you want more information, here are a couple more write ups that I found helpful when I was starting to learn all this!

Tricia at Blog Her Way has a great post on Pinterest Best Practices for 2018.  It is chock full of helpful information!

Allison at Wonderlass has a massive list of 28 Pinterest Tips that she’s used to grow her blog in a big way!  (Don’t try to implement them all today!)

Finally, Terryn at Just a Simple Home has put together an Ultimate List of Pinterest Group Boards to get you started on finding a couple to test the waters.  There are tons of these lists out there, so if you want more ideas, do a search on Pinterest (where else?) for group boards (your niche)… for example, I might search: group boards blogging.

 

So what do you think?  Are you trying any of these strategies and getting good results?  What’s the best Pinterest tip you’ve found, and what are your favorite group boards?  Join in the conversation in the comments.

Thanks for reading and sharing this post… and after you make some headway on this Pinterest thing, go back up to the movie list and settle in with one.  It’s the weekend, after all!  Happy reading!!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

What Pinterest Can Offer You As a Writer — A Writer’s Path

Reblogging this great article from A Writer’s Path… I just started a Pinterest account all about writing, and I love the tips and ideas that Teagan shares here!!

 

by Teagan Berry A couple days ago, I posted an article on how the social media site Pinterest is extremely useful for writers and the visualization of characters, settings, clothing, etc. As a follow-up, I want to now get into the ways Pinterest can assist writers in a more general fashion. What do […]

via What Pinterest Can Offer You As a Writer — A Writer’s Path