3 Things You Need When Creating a Blog – It May Not Be What You’re Thinking

3 things creating a blogWhen you’re creating a blog, you read about great content, headlines and images.

And you can have all that, but there could still be something missing from your blog.

Things that will really help show off your voice and your value, and help you attract the right people.

And you’re not alone. When I first started blogging, I didn’t pay any attention to these things either.

Why? Cause I didn’t know any better.

These 3 things that you must have when creating a blog  will help you convey your value, show your readers what you’re blog is about, and help build trust; 3 important things you need to keep readers coming back to your site.

But the thing is, these things are often overlooked. They are often an afterthought.

So, what are there? Let’s get to it!

Want to listen instead of read? Listen to the audio version here:

A Great Tagline

First up, your tagline. If you don’t have a clear tagline, you need one now.

Readers need to know what your blog is about, and if your blog is for them. You want to attract your ideal reader and get them to stick around. To have them say “Hell, yeah! This blog is for me!”

And I know your content and other pages probably explain this. But if your home page isn’t instantly clear, you could be losing out on a bunch of target readers. Don’t make them have to go poking around and reading to find out what your blog is about. Because a lot of the time, they aren’t going to do it.

So. How do you write a good tagline?

Think of what you do and who you serve. Then make it catchy. Use this post for more information and inspiration.

A Killer About Page

You may think an about page is supposed to be about you. Well it is, and it isn’t.

An About page should speak to your ideal reader. The perfect About page should tell a little about you and why you’re qualified to write this epic blog, but it should also be about your ideal reader. Who they are and what they will find on your blog. How will they benefit from getting to know you and reading your content.

Your about page should include:

  • Your value. What can you offer your readers?
  • Your people. Make sure your ideal reader knows who they are when they read your About page. Like your tagline, this should be made very clear here.
  • About your site. What is your blog about? How are you going to help your readers?
  • Your own story. Don’t go overboard here. Tell your story, but only the parts that relate to your blog. Why are qualified to write this? What have you done that you want to help others do or achieve?
  • A call to action. They’ve gotten to know you a bit and trust in you a little more than they did when they landed on your site. Use it! Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or connect with you on social media.

Your Smiling Face

Lastly, your blog must have your image. On your home page and your About page. At the very least.

And I know, it can be difficult for some people to put themselves out there, but a real image is so important to having a successful blog.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what some peeps on Facebook said about this:

“I always look for a photo and a bio. I want to know the person behind the blog. Helps build trust”

“I always look at the photos and bio when checking out new blogs. I have a lot of personal photos on mine and feel that it connects people more.”
“I like to see a photo – if not in the sidebar, then at least on the “about me” page. It definitely makes a blog look more legit to me.”

“I feel like [a real photo] makes the blog more personal. It allows me to know the person who is behind the blog post.”

Okay, convinced now?

Your image should look professional. It doesn’t have to be a stuffy headshot, but it shouldn’t be a camera phone selfie, or have other people cropped out of it. Take a real picture of just you, smiling directly at the camera. Something that shows a bit of your personality is great too!

Do you have all 3 of these things in mind when creating a blog? If you currently have a blog, do you have them up already? If not, I want to see you take action and make some changes now. Leave a comment here if you have any questions or need help, or head over to my free Facebook group just for awesome bloggers like you to get feedback and support.

How to Write Great Content That Really Gets People Hooked

write great contentIt’s frustrating isn’t it? You always hear it: write great content.

But what exactly is great content?

What separates regular blog posts from great ones?

It’s not the topic. Or the niche. Great content can happen in any niche. It’s about the elements that make the post. So here are 7 elements that great content has to have to really hook your readers.

#1 Great content is original

Okay, so you already know not to rip off other people. Not only will you get penalized by Google, that shit violates copyright rules.

I’m talking about being original. Instead of writing the same thing others have covered over and over again, write something epic. Write something that hasn’t been covered, or if it has been covered to death, write something even better than what is already out there.

#2 Great content is actionable

Content shouldn’t just teach readers about something, it should give the exact steps to take to do it. Don’t leave your readers wondering “what now?” They should leave your blog post knowing the next steps to take.

#3 Great content is engaging

Great content doesn’t talk at your readers, it talks TO them! Write like you are speaking to a friend. Envision your ideal reader, and write like you are speaking directly to him or her. You can also pose questions to get readers thinking. Make them say, yes! This pertains to me, and make them want to keep on reading.

#4 Great content has great headlines

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people who land on your site will read your headline. Unfortunately, only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the rest. This is why your headline is so important. It needs to attract readers, and make them want to keep on reading.

Use a Headline Analyzer to help you improve your headlines. Add words that make people feel something; words that bring on sort of emotional response, either positive or negative. Make your headlines enticing enough to click.

#5 Great content hooks you from the beginning

You know those blog posts that start of so strong, they make you want to continue reading? That’s what you need to have. You can accomplish this is a couple of ways. You can use an interesting and shocking statistic. Something pretty unbelievable that it makes your reader want to know more.

Or you can appeal to their emotions. Right off the bat, describe your readers’ problem, something they are feeling. It can be something that frustrates them, something that excites them. Make your readers think that you totally get them. For example, this post starts off by agreeing how frustrating it is to always hear people tell you to “write great content,” without ever explaining what great content actually is.

#6 Great content is researched and backed up

If you include any facts or statistics to prove your point, back it up! Not only should your facts be accurate, you should link to research. Basically, be credible.

#7 Great content is you!

Great content shows off your personality a bit. When you write in your own voice, and make sure each post portrays your value, it’s more engaging and more relatable. It makes people want to learn more about you, and keeps them coming back for more.

I know, write great content. But if no one ever tells you exactly how to write this great content. What’s the point? Keep these 7 elements in mind whenever you write a blog post to help keep readers interested, engaged and hooked on your epic content!

 

How to Write a Blog Tagline That Really Stands Out

blog website taglineDo you struggle to keep readers on your site?

Do you wish more would stick around and become loyal readers?

Here’s the thing. Even if you have great content, you could still be missing one important element that is key to having a successful blog.

What is it?

It’s a tagline.

Why is a blog tagline so important?

Readers need to know what your blog is about, and if your blog is for them. That’s the point isn’t it? To attract your ideal reader and get them to stick around. To speak to them and have them say “Hell, yeah! This blog is for me!”

And how are they going to know you’re speaking to them, if they can’t figure it out?

If readers are landing on your site and it’s not immediately clear what you blog about and who you serve, you could be missing out on tons of readers.

Don’t make people click around to find out what you’re about. Cause to be honest, very few of them will.

Your value needs to be instantly clear.

This is where your tagline comes into play.

What a Good Tagline Does

A good blog tagline should tell readers EXACTLY what you’re blog is about. Forget fancy, cutesy taglines. Interesting and fun words are great, but it if it doesn’t actually portray what your blog is about, it’s still useless.

Your tagline should either say what you do, or who you do it for.

Let’s look at some pretty awesome taglines.

The Branded Solopreneur’s tag is Visual Strategies and Branding Badassery. Dre tells you exactly what she offers, complete with some badassery.

Kyla Roma, business coach, has a tagline that says, Digital Strategy for Ridiculously Passionate Doers. Not only does she tell you what she offers, she tells you who it’s for. (By the way, I’ve worked with Kyla, and she’s just as awesome as her tagline is.)

Reboot Authentic uses the tag, Become Someone Worth Following, promising to teach you just that.

Donna Merrill Tribe blogs about, Blogging and Online Marketing … Made Simple. To the point, and who doesn’t like things simplified and easy?

Leaving Work Behind uses the tagline, quit your job and build your best life. I mean, omg yes!

Here’s another “I gotta have that!” tagline. Entrepreneurs Journey has the tagline, Live the Laptop Lifestyle.

Writing Your Own Tagline

Okay, so how do you come up with your own epic blog tagline?

First, what is it you do? Forget trying to be clever here, just think what you do or teach. It can be blogging, branding, homeschooling, event planning.

Remember, the point is to tell people what you do.

Next, who do you work with? Entrepreneurs, creatives, stay-at-home moms, soccer players? (okay, that last one is random. But my son is starting soccer so it popped into my head). You want to get specific here.

Then, jazz it up a bit. Ask yourself:

Are there any other names for what I do? A thesaurus works great here.

What about different names for people I work with?

And, what words describe how I want people to feel about my blog and my business? What words convey the benefits of my blog?

Now play around with words. Come up with something that’s interesting, engaging, but doesn’t completely stray from the purpose of your blog and your people.

But wait. What if your blog is your name?

You can still tell people what you do!

Example:

Elna Cain is a Freelance Writer and Coach.

Kyla Roma is a Business Coach and Digital Strategist (yes, she kinda has two taglines.)

If you don’t have a clear tagline on your blog, you could be missing out on a lot of readers. Why? People want to know if a site if something they’re interested in as soon as they land on it. If they can’t immediately figure it out, most often they will bounce. Stop losing precious readers by making sure you have an awesome blog tagline that instantly tells people what you do and who you do it for.

Can You Be an Introvert and Be a Successful Blogger?

introvert bloggerI’ll let you in on a little secret.

I’m an introvert.

I enjoy being alone. Large crowds are stifling. I’d much rather converse with someone through email, because getting on the phone with someone makes all kind of nervous and about 15,000 shades of awkward.

I have one best friend who I’ve been close to for over 15 years now, and I’m much more comfortable hanging out with just her than a group of friends for an outing.

Now you may be wondering what the point is. An introvert is someone who does better alone. And in the world of outspoken, podcasting, webinar-hosting bloggers, can an introvert really be a successful blogger?

The answer is yes!

I know, of course I’d say yes. But did you know that some of your favorite, famous bloggers are self-proclaimed introverts?

Did you know that some of your favorite, famous bloggers are self-proclaimed introverts? Click To Tweet

Guy Kawasaki, former Apple employee and founder of Alltop, tweeted that he is actually an introvert.

Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, StudioPress and Rainmaker, also claims he is an introvert.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger once tweeted to a fan who invited him to come over to her house, “as an introvert that kinda freaks me out.”

So yes, introverts can definitely thrive online and run a successful blog. Let’s look at some of the traits that make introverted people such great bloggers and online entrepreneurs.

Introverts are great listeners. Introverts tend to do more listening than speaking. They tend to be sideline sitters and note takers. And this is a perfect trait for figuring out exactly what their readers want from them. By paying attention to comments, social media and just quietly listening, bloggers can find out what readers really want from them, and use it to help them to write their content and build their products and services.

Introverts are focused.  Introverts are thinkers; they like to think things through, analyze and get super-focused. This makes for some great bloggers because they do just fine with self-discipline and getting shit done on their own. Which kind of leads into the next point …

Introverts are self-sufficient. They’re good at being alone. In fact, they prefer being alone. They’re not dependent on others to have a good time, get motivated or get to work. Which is an awesome quality when you blog for yourself and work from home. Because there is no one around telling you to get your butt to the computer and start creating. You have to be motivated to get it done!

Introverts are good at reading. If you find you’re much happier curling up with a good book than you are going out, you know why. And loving a good book has its benefits. Not only does it foster a love of learning, researching and looking for answers, reading is also one of my top ways to continually come up with blog post ideas.

In a world full of extroverts who are constantly putting themselves out there, can an introvert really run a successful blog? Yes! In fact, introverts possess many qualities that make for focused, successful bloggers. If you’re an introvert, use your own super powers to plan your blog, and just do what you’re good at and what makes you most comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Smart Places to Reinvest Your Blogging Money

Reinvest blogging moneyIt takes money to make money right?

Well, it does and it doesn’t.

You don’t necessarily need to spend a ton to generate a good income, but if you invest your blogging money back in your blog, you have an even better chance of succeeding.

Which that said, it does matter where you invest your money. Some things sound great … but won’t really help you build a profitable blog. So here are 5 smart places to reinvest your blogging money that will help you make even more money.

Tools and software. There are so many tools and software to invest blogging money in, that it’s important to choose the ones that will actually help you build your blog. For example, a paid plugin that will help you grow your email list. Or courseware that will help you build an ecourse to sell. The thing to keep in mind here is to not fall prey to shiny object syndrome and buy all the new things. Invest only in tools that will help propel you forward.

Independent contractors and VAs. You may think spending money on something you can do yourself is a waste, but hear me out. Outsourcing the tasks you’re either not the greatest at, or just don’t love doing, will cost you money, but it can free up your precious time for other tasks. Tasks that you do enjoy so you can better focus your attention on building your blog. You can outsource tasks like social media, blog post editing, uploading posts to WP, sourcing free pictures and creating branded blog images. All these things take up time and can quickly add up. Give yourself more time to work on other things while outsourcing the rest.

Advice or coaching. Working with a blog or business coach isn’t for everyone, but for others, it can be just what their blog needs. A coach can really help focus your blog and get you on the right track for success. What should you look for in a good coach? I think the most important things to look for are experience in what you’re trying to accomplish, openness and transparency in their own journey, and also a connection. If you can’t relate to the person, you’re never going to feel comfortable enough to be open and honest about your goals – one of the most important things that you need to bring so a coach and effectively help you.

Affiliate Payouts. If you sell any products or services, investing in affiliates can really help increase your sales. Affiliates act like your own personal sales team. And yes, you do have to pay them, but think of it this way: They may be able to reach people you can’t, and influence those people to buy. Isn’t it better to reach a larger audience and pay people a small commission for it, than to not reach these people at all and miss out on all those sales?

Marketing. AdSense, Facebook ads. Where ever your target audience and whatever your goal, your blog just may benefit from very targeted, very strategically thought out, paid ads. You got that? Do the research and make sure your paid marketing efforts are very focused for your target audience.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to start blogging and earning an income. However, there are some places you can reinvest in your blogging money that can only help make your blog even more successful.

Where do you spend your extra blogging money? What do you reinvest in that brings you the most results?

21 Days to a Better Blog: Take the Challenge!

Better BlogWant to build an even better blog?

Of course you do!

So I want to challenge you. If you take action and make changes, you can build a blog that demands attention in just 21 days.

First, I want you to do one thing. Join my free Facebook group for support, answers to your questions and just good blogging vibes. Find it here: The Blog Building Lab

Okay? Now you ready?

Let’s get started building your better blog!

Let’s get started building your better blog! Take the 21 day challenge! Click To Tweet

Day 1: Add a tagline. If it’s not immediately clear what your blog is all about when people first land on your site, make it super clear. There should be no question what your blog is about. Don’t let people go digging around to figure out what you’re all about. Cause most times, they won’t. Check out this post for more on how to write a great tagline.

Day 2: Update your About page. Does your About page speak to your ideal reader? The perfect About page should tell a little about you and why you’re qualified to write this epic blog, but it should also be about your ideal reader. Who they are and what they will find on your blog. If you’re not speaking to your people, update your About page so it does.

Day 3: Find your value. If you’re not clear on what is unique about you and what you bring to the blogging world, figure it out now. Ask yourself, what unique skills and passions do I have? How can I position myself in a way that no one else can? What can I help my readers achieve/do? Find your individual value and make it clear in your site, your blog posts and any products or services you offer.

Day 4: Update your headlines. Are your blog titles attention grabbing? Only about 20% of people who read your headline will click through to read your post. This is why your headlines must be epic – to get more readers, more clicks and more shares. Play around with the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to improve your headlines.

Day 5: Update your content. Go through your old posts and make sure they are jam packed with value. Everything you write should have a clear lesson or be useful to your readers in some way. Stories are great, but if your posts don’t teach, your blog is merely a journal. If your post doesn’t teach something, tweak it to make sure it does.

Day 6: Proofread your posts. Go back and look for any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes. Use these online proofreading tools to help you correct your posts.

Day 7: Brand your images. Do all your blog images flow together? Do they show off your branding? Updating images will take more than a day, but you can get started! Use Canva to create images with your blog URL, colors and logo. Stick to one color scheme and just a couple of fonts to make sure all your images look like they go together.

Day 8: Update your SEO. Are your meta descriptions, tags and image fields all filled out and optimized for keywords and phrases that your audience is searching for? If not, start filling them all out to give you even more SEO juice.

Day 9: Update your blog’s categories and tags. Make sure they are all on topic, then properly tag your posts. Look for any posts that are uncategorized and tag them.

Day 10: Delete or update any broken links. Go through your links and either delete or fix them. You can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to help you find, and continually monitor, broken links.

Day 11: Deep link your posts. Deep linking, or interlinking, involves linking within your own pages and posts. By doing this, you help the Google bots crawl all your pages and find them easier. Pick keywords in your posts, and hyperlink them to other related blog posts.

Day 12: Create a Pinterest board for your own blog. This makes it super easy for your Pinterest followers to find your latest and greatest post. Create a board just for your blog and put it first in your profile

Day 13: Come up with a blogging plan. What are your goals for your blog? Do you want more traffic, more email subscribers? Make sure your content and your marketing reflect your ultimate goals.

Day 14: Check your analytics. Or set it up if you haven’t yet. You want to see where your traffic is coming from, and what your best posts are. Start sharing your most popular posts even more, and spending more time interacting and sharing on the channels that bring you the most traffic.

Day 15: Set up a regular blogging schedule. Google loves it when you post regularly. And your readers come to know when to expect something from you. If you don’t have a regular schedule set up, set one up now. It can be twice a week, once a week, every 2 weeks … the point is to find a schedule that works for you and your audience, and stick to it.

Day 16: Write a few extra posts. When you get some spare time, write a couple of extra blog posts. Build up a queue so you’re never off schedule, even when you get sick or plain just don’t feel like writing. Cause there will be some days where life just doesn’t want to cooperate.

Day 17: Get consistent on social media. If you’re not doing so already, start prescheduling your social media posts so your account is always active … even when you’re not. Use a tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, Meet Edgar or CoSchedule to help you pre-populate your social media accounts. But don’t forget to get online and interact, comment and thank followers.

Day 18: Write something epic. Write something that gets noticed. Content that gets shared. How do you do this? Start by finding out what’s hot in your niche right now. Visit BuzzSumo’s Content Research tab. Here can you find what’s most shared, trending or what has the most backlinks in your niche. Pick content that gets the most shares, and write something that’s even better. If it’s a top 10 list, create a top 25. If it’s a how-to article, create something that explains it even further.

Day 19: Find industry influencers. Following industry influencers is the start of getting your name out there. Use BuzzSumo (and click on the Influencers tab) and plug in your niche. It will spit back the most influential bloggers in your niche. Start following them social media.

Day 20: Leave comments on other blogs. Now that you’ve started following influencers on social media, let’s go a step further. Pick 10 popular blogs in your niche and start leaving comments on their posts. I’m not talking “great post!” kind of comments. Add to the conversation, leave a tip of your own. Write stuff that gets the attention of not only the blogger, but of their readers.

Day 21: Look for guest post opportunities. Next step after commenting? Look for guest post opportunities! Guest posting will help get your name out there even more, plus earn you tons of high-quality backlinks. Start looking at the blogs you’re commenting on to see if they accept guest authors.

Congrats! You’ve reached the end. By now you should have made some changes that have improved the look, brand and value in your blog.

What’s next? I want to see you continue to take action, and post about it in the Facebook group. I’ll be there to give you feedback and continued support.

Dreaming of Having a Successful Blog? Start by Finding Your V.I.P

Successful Blog_I bet you have a certain successful, dare I say famous, blogger that you love to follow.

Someone you dream of being like, having a successful blog like theirs and someday finding the success they have.

And I bet you know this blogger’s content and writing from a mile away. You’ve followed them enough to know exactly what they write about and how they write it. You may even feel like you know this blogger as well as you know your friends.

Why?

Because these successful bloggers have nailed their V.I.P.

No, I’m not talking about that V.I.P, though they are pretty damn important.

I’m talking about their blogging V.I.P.

They’ve successfully nailed their blogging Voice, Individual value and their People.

And you can too. Let’s talk about each and how it can help you create a successful blog.

Voice

You like certain bloggers because of the way they communicate. They’re probably a bit conversational, maybe they swear a bit, maybe they write a little like you. You’ve come to know their style, and you could probably tell if someone else started writing their posts. It just wouldn’t sound right.

This is because they’ve perfected their blogging voice.

Your blogging voice ensures that all your posts are uniquely “you.” It helps you to build a community of loyal readers who have come to know your work and love your words. It helps you connect with your readers, allowing them to get to know you better, turning them from casual readers into raving fans.

So what exactly is your blogging voice?

Basically, it’s how you write. It’s the tone and words you use.

But it’s actually more than that. Your blogging voice integrates your way of writing with your personal experience, creating content that relatable, and unique to you and only you.

And don’t let the fear of being too informal with your voice hold you back. Allowing readers to get to know the real you will actually help build up your tribe of loyal readers. So be informal, be vulnerable, be you!

Individual value

Next up, individual value.

What can you bring to the table that no one else can?

This is so important, my friends. There are so many other bloggers out there.

But you, you have something special. Something no one else does. And once you figure out what it is, what you have that you can share and teach, what makes you different … you have your value positioning statement.

Then once you find your value, it’s important to use it and show it off. One of the best ways to communicate this is to make sure it’s clear on your website. When new readers visit your site for the first time, they should immediately know what your blog is all about. Don’t make them look around and read a bit to find out more. Because many times, people won’t. They ain’t got time for that. So don’t give them the chance to leave without giving you a chance – make sure your individual value and what you’re all about is understandable within the first few seconds of being on your site.

People

For your favorite blogger, you are her people.  You are the person he is writing to each day.

How do I know?

Because it’s the reason you love their blog so much. Because all their content resonates with you.

They sound like they’re talking to you, right?

That’s not a coincidence.

They’ve likely spent tons of time figuring out who they are writing for, and what types of content they can create that will speak to the specific people they want to talk to.

This is why all their content, all their social media posts, their images, their updates – you can relate to them all.

Figuring out who your own blogging people are can help ensure all your content speaks to your ideal reader, turning them into fans of everything you create.

Successful bloggers know their blogging V.I.P. They have a distinct voice, they know what value they bring for their readers and know exactly who their target readers are. They use this information to make sure that everything they create is really targeted and focused, and perfectly in line with their blogging goals. Find your blogging V.I.P so you, too, can have a successful blog!

 

 

 

5 Biggest Mistakes Beginners Make When Monetizing a Blog

5 Biggest Mistakes Beginners Make when Monetizing a BlogMonetizing a blog takes more than just building a blog.

Because really, anyone can build a blog. Okay, that’s not true. If you’re like me, you have someone who knows A. LOT. more about design and coding and that stuff to help you build a blog.

But anyway, let’s talk about the biggest mistakes beginners make when trying to monetize a blog. If you can relate to anything here in any way, don’t worry. Because it only means you’d been there, done that, and learned from it. In fact, I’ve done a couple of these myself. Yup, I totally mastered blog suckery before finding my focus.  Anyway, here are 5 of the biggest mistakes beginner bloggers make when starting to monetize their blog.

5 Big Mistakes Bloggers Make When Monetizing a Blog

#1 They throw up tons of ads and think they will bring in tons o’ money. You know those sites, where there are nothing but display ads in the sidebar, a block ad in the beginning of posts and textual ads in the middle of posts. But making real money with just ads, isn’t as profitable as you might think. In fact, if you don’t have tons of traffic, you make pennies a day. I’m not even kidding on the pennies part. (And I’m TOTALLY guilty of doing this. Not on this blog, but I did try to monetize a niche blog using mostly ads and some affiliate links. Is it a surprise it’s no longer up?)

#2 They monetize before they have a distinct audience. I know monetizing first sounds like a good idea. You don’t want to get all these readers to your site, and then suddenly start selling them all this stuff. Seems kinda spammy right? But the thing is, unless you have an audience, you’re never going to really know what your audience wants from you. On the flip side, you also don’t want to wait too long to start finding out what your audience wants and start creating things to sell. Why? More on this next.

#3 They think they need a huge audience. My friends, it’s not the size that counts. You can totally monetize a blog with a small-ish audience. It’s all about engagement. If you have a bunch of dedicated readers who devour your posts each week, that’s way better than a ton of traffic that doesn’t care about what you’re saying and creating. So how do you build a dedicated audience with a small audience? It’s about interaction and engagement. Answer comments, interact on social media. Show your audience you’re a real person they can connect with.

#4 They don’t know what their audience wants. We touched on this in the second point, but monetizing a blog without knowing what your audience is really interested in is a big no-no. Why? Cause if they’re not really interested, they’re not going to buy … no matter how dedicated they are. For ideas on how to find out what your audience wants, check out this post.

#5 They forget their content. It’s understandable. You get caught up in creating a product or service and marketing and promoting their stuff, and they start to forget their content. But you should never forget your content. Content is what brings new readers (and new customers!) to your blog. It’s what will help you create your unique voice, engage your audience and build a relationship with your readers.

Monetizing a blog isn’t about creating a blog and watching the money roll in. It’s about creating compelling content, engaging with your audience, getting to know them and finding out what they really want.

What do you think? What does it take to really monetize a blog?

 

Five Brand Strategy Tips to Make Your Blog Stand Out

Brand Strategy TipsNote: This is a guest post from Sami Yuhas of Orange Juice Diaries. Take it away Sami!

We all know that trying to stand out in a crowd can be tough. You have so much value to offer your audience, but you worry about even getting that audience in the first place. It’s tough, and if you’re overwhelmed trying to figure it all out, it’s okay.

Whether you’re launching your first blog or your five-hundredth, here are five brand strategy tips to help you stand out.

Limit Your Colors

Big Blue. Coca Cola red. Black & Decker orange. Your colors are a non-verbal calling card for your brand. They help you become instantly recognizable, whether it’s on Instagram, Pinterest, or out in the real world. By limiting your color palette, you’re helping to focus your brand identity.

In a perfect world, you want to have two to three main blog colors that you can accent with black, white, or grey as necessary. This gives you a surprisingly wide palette to work with and makes keeping your visual voice consistent a breeze. Keeping such a tight focus will make it easier for you to standout and, more importantly, generate some serious recognition.

If you’re someone who struggles to figure out what looks good together, you’re in luck. Adobe has an amazing tool called Adobe Color CC which allows you to generate color schemes, complete with RGB, HEX, and CMYK values. If you create an Adobe account, you can even save them! Color also has a beautiful mobile app, so you can design on the go.

Rather not use Adobe, or feeling like narrowing down from a five color selection is too much? Try Paletton. Paletton is a similar concept, but narrows your color choices down. You’re still able to export all the data you need, so either way, you’re good to go.

Limit Your Fonts

This builds on the same idea as the color principle. Choosing a font that serves as your signature helps to make you recognizable. Again, think about Coca Cola or, better yet, Disney. Just hearing the name is probably enough to make you think of Coca Cola’s gorgeous curvy Cs or Disney’s fun, quirky Ds. This kind of association is another powerful visual calling card that you can (and should!) take advantage of.

Choosing your fonts can be tricky. My advice is to sit down and brainstorm on what kind of feel you want your brand to have. There’s a bunch of ways to do this: you might want to sit down with pen and paper, jot down whatever comes to mind, and then start looking for fonts that you feel fit that aesthetic. Maybe you’re a more visual person and would prefer to hop on Pinterest and create a moodboard of the brand you’re hoping to create. There isn’t a wrong way to go about it.

Once you have an idea of what you want your font to say, it’s time to actually go and find them! If you’re blogging for fun, without plans to monetize, then you’re good to select whatever font pleases you. If, however, you’re looking at blogging for money, it may be worth it to make sure that your fonts are licensed for commercial use. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for them, however! Font Squirrel offers tons of free fonts for commercial use and CreativeMarket almost always has a font or two in their weekly freebies. Either way, you’ll find quality fonts that you’re sure to love!

Pay For Premium

Alright, I know I just told you that you don’t have to pay for fonts and that’s 100% true. However, if you want to really stand out, you might want to consider investing in a font that does come with a price tag.

Hear me out:

There are thousands of for-pay fonts, and thousands of independent font designers. Choosing to purchase a font drastically reduces the chance that someone else will be using your font and solidifies the tie between the visual calling card and the content that goes along with it. If you want, and if your handwriting is tidy enough, you could even pay a designer to turn your own handwriting into your blog font, which really adds a personal touch.

The same holds true for the kinds of imagery you use in your posts. There are tons of wonderful, free stock resources out there. Unsplash and Makerbook are a boon to the design community, both DIY and professional. However, lots of people know and love these sites. If you want imagery that stands out, you might want to consider paying for it. Sites like Death to the Stock Photo provide premium quality images that you won’t find anywhere else, and can be another dimension of definition for your brand.

There’s one other point to add here: lots of the time, when you’re buying a font or stock photos, you’re supporting another small business. While it can be tough when you’re starting out, it’s kind of cool to breed a community of mutual support.

Be Consistent

Alright, so you’ve put in the work to define your colors and your fonts, and you’ve maybe even bought some shiny new design goodies.

Now, use them.

One of the most important things about assembling your visual language is that you need to actually put it into practice. You want to generate recognition, and not fall into Shiny Object Syndrome. You don’t have the time to repeat this process every week and still run your blog and your life. It absolutely will not help you to keep changing what your brand looks like. If you find yourself stuck with comparisonitis, remember that you know your brand best and that this is what your brand looks like.

Sometimes, though, that’s easier said than done, which brings me to my final point.

Be YOU

At the end of the day, your blog brand strategy needs to be in line with who you are. You want people to vibe with that, come to your blog, and interact with it; ultimately, you’ll find those people by being true to yourself and your blog.

Following with what’s in vogue is not always the best plan. Take the current floral and brush script trend for the moment. It’s elegant. It’s beautiful. It’s very feminine. There are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there who have proudly proclaimed: This is me! This is my aesthetic!

But, if that’s not you, if that’s not your aesthetic, should you jump on that bandwagon?

No!

When it comes to your blog brand strategy, it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be quirky. People want to connect with you as much as your content and your branding is the first place to make that happen.  So be bold, be true, be you.

 

Author Bio:

samiSami Yuhas is an instructional and graphic designer with an M.Ed in Learning, Design, and Technology from Penn State. In July of 2015, she founded Orange Juice Diaries to help women bring their business goals to life with amazing course design and beautiful branding.

Using a Gmail Address to Send Newsletters? You Need to Read This!

setting up gmail for workI love Gmail. It has awesome spam filters, folders and more. It’s super customizable and works with many outside apps like Boomerang and Wisestamp.

And I know many of you do too.

But if you use a Gmail address to send out your newsletters, things are about to get pretty ugly for you.

This month, Google is going to be making changes to their DMARC policy. What the hell does that mean? Well, DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) tells mail servers to reject email messages from a domain, if they did not originate from that domain’s server.

What the? So basically, if you send Gmail from Gmail, you’re all good. But if you send an email using a Gmail address from another server … i.e. your mailing service provider!!! … you’re screwed. Your messages will be rejected. Official announcement here.

So what can you do? Well you can set up a domain email address through your host. But most of those interfaces, well, they suck. They’re clunky, not customizable and just plain awful.

Luckily, you totally CAN still use Gmail.

You just need to set up a custom domain email address with Google. It’s super easy to set up. Trust me when I say this. Cause I set mine up all by myself. And if you know anything about me, I’m the most technologically inept person there is.

And it’s just as awesome as you’d think it is. I get to keep all the perks of Gmail, plus have a professional-looking domain email address. Plus I can be logged into both my old Gmail address and my domain one at the same time, and switching between the 2 is a breeze.

How to Set Up Your Domain Gmail Address

1. Head over to Google Apps for Work here: https://apps.google.com/ and click the Get Started button

google apps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Enter your name, current email address and other information
3. On the next page, you will be asked to enter your business domain. You can use one you’ve already purchased, or buy a new one. Most of you will already have one. Enter your domain and click Next

enter domain
4. Choose your email address and enter the rest of the information
5. You’re going to have to verify your domain. Now before you get all freaked out cause verifying anything WordPress isn’t always the easiest, don’t worry. This is easy too. If you know what you’re doing, you can place the provided code into your header. If you don’t, install this plugin: Insert Headers and Footers. Then navigate to “Insert Code” under Settings in your dashboard. Then insert your Google code right there in the header section. Easy peasy.

insert code
6. Go back to Google and click verify!
7. Once you’re done, you can log into your Google Apps for Work and add users, or custom email addresses!

There is a small fee ($5 a month), but it’s soooo much better than other email interfaces that it’s worth it.

Are you still using the email interface that came with your hosting plan? If you are, why? Seriously, why? Jump on Google Apps for Work, like, yesterday. You won’t regret it!