My husband says I can be a bit of a nerd, or a geek sometimes. My in-real-life friends sometimes shut down when I start talking about computer programs, SEO, blogging and sponsored posts… it can be another world for those who don’t blog!
But daily, this is my life – blogging. I tell people this is my job. “I’m a full time blogger.” I blog every day, I teach blogging and I design blogs. I started this love of blogging back in 2006, and I’m still going!
When Digital Parents asked me to speak at their yearly conference on the Carnival Spirit this year I was chuffed and excited. My topic was “blog design”. I was to talk about what makes a good-looking blog and allow the group to ask me lots of questions. I was familiar with this talk, as I’ve done it a few times before and loved doing it.
Here are some of my tips and the image is a blog check list:
Have you put your best foot forward?
Have you set yourself a blog budget?
Have you asked someone to critique your blog?
Do you wonder if some of your readers have moved on from you because they see you’ve lost sight?
These are questions we all ask ourselves. Don’t worry, it happens to lots of us.
The best blogs have a design that meets the needs of your reader. Uncluttered, directional and purposeful.
Here is a checklist I printed on little cards and handed out. Feel free to download to PDF.
Well, what did I learn? What new things can I walk away with?
Here’s a quick summary:
Deb from Learn with Play at Home taught me a lot more about Pinterest. I wasn’t using it to it’s full potential. I like Pinterest and I use it, but I never thought I was using it correctly. Deb did a great presentation explaining how to use it with organic pins from your own site. She also gave us tips on the sizing and text overlay we should use when creating pins to benefit from site traffic. Deb proved that using Pinterest brought traffic to her site with a graph – she’s been monitoring her site via google analytics and it was clear to see that some huge growth has come from Pinterest! My goal is to create more organic pins, make them appealing and encourage people to click back to my site rather than just re-pin, re-pin, re-pin. As a rule, Deb suggests that your own Pinterest account should contain 80% pins from others (so re-pins) and 20% of your own pins from your site. On to it! Thanks Deb for the tips. I also wanted to quickly mention this site called PEEK. Amazing… add your blog url and you’ll be sent a video of someone using your blog and critiquing what works and what doesn’t. Great feedback! Plus it’s totally free.
Megan from Writing Out Loud was very inspiring. She’s turned her passion of writing in to a full-time blogging career and talked about how she approaches publications/editors to get her work published for money. She’s proof that bloggers can pitch ideas to magazines, other blogs, news sites and even travel companies. Over time Megan has established good relationships with editors all around the country. There were a lot of writers in the room who wanted to know HOW to pitch to editors. If your goal is to get paid to write then Megan had all the answers. I suggest you pop over to Megan’s blog and check her out. She’s happy to give you those tips herself!
I loved having Kelly from A Life Less Frantic there. Some of you would know Kelly and I do a few of the same things in terms of blog design. We talked to each other the whole way through each of our presentations asking what each thought about the topics we were discussing with the group. Kelly is very good at her job. She’s given me some new tips on how to improve my own WordPress skills. Yoast is probably a plugin I don’t use properly and now will be taking more notice of it and giving it some more attention! Kelly and I spent a lot of time together outside of conference time too, having a drink and a chat. Kelly had her husband with her too, so the 4 of us enjoyed time eating and laughing!
Karen from Miscellaneous Mum (as I mentioned yesterday) was good for me. I thought I wouldn’t need to worry about my writing, because I don’t consider myself a writer. I always think I’m just a blogger who bashes out random posts here and there. But, I really did sit up and listen. Karen asked is your content TRUE (timely, relevant, useful and engaging)? This is now going to be stuck on a post-it note on my computer. I will look up at this every time I sit down to write a blog post. Karen encourages you to use your inner voice to grow your readership. Create longer posts, and less often. I don’t normally blog this way. I’m a quick poster and daily. But I took note and am giving this some new thought… I am also a shocker for using unnecessary words in my blog posts (eg. some people, perhaps, many think, probably, quite, having said that…). I am going to take notice of this and go back and remove these words before I hit publish each day!
Kelly from Be A Fun Mum is so passionate and gorgeous. If you know Kelly, you’ll know she has such a warm and kind face. I loved her talk on finding the WHY behind blogging. Why do you blog? Is it to capture moments as they happen? To inspire and motivate others? To love pretty things and share those? To be organised? To love being a Mum? To be confident? Finding your why is really hard. I sat thinking about it for a long time. I couldn’t find a simple sentence. I *think* it’s to capture moments and inspire others to achieve. I’m still working on that! So glad Kelly asked the question though. It has made me want to ground myself a little more.
Katrina from The Organised Housewife had me engaged and furiously writing notes about how she uses Facebook. I am so in awe of this woman! Over 435,000 Facebook likers. How does she do it?? She shared all her secrets! She’s a Facebook schedule addict. Who schedules their Facebook updates a week in advance? With a spreadsheet to make sure certain things go out at certain times? I don’t! But Katrina does, and dammit it works! I am now going to trial this. I am going to make Facebook and I work like a well-oiled machine. I have not grown at all on Facebook in over a year! Katrina also suggest that we DON’T pay Facebook to boost posts. Oh, I have been doing this! Whilst it gets the results I want at the time, Katrina believes it only makes your future reach lower because Facebook knows you’re likely to pay them to boost things. Katrina’s biggest tip was to keep things the same every day. Your readers become used to this. Facebook likes this.
Zoey from Zoey Martin has been blogging for a really long time. I’ve seen Zoey around blogging land for years. She has a lot of knowledge about everything. Zoey gave us a great talk about iphoneography (which is totally a thing because I LOVE taking photos on my phone!). But is was some of her other tips (just from chatting with her), that I really enjoyed. This site IFTTT that has totally blown my mind and has just saved me from some of my usual time consuming work! It’s going to make my life on social media so much easier. I have already set up an account and have got my instagram talking to my twitter, my blog talking to my google+ account and others. Why didn’t I know about this? Thanks Zoey!
So, in all, I think I got a lot out of this blog conference. I always come home feeling renewed and inspired.
Do you go to conferences for your work? Do you love them?
In the next few days I hope to get a post together about Shannan Ponton’s motivational speech. I really loved that one. I was the only one in the room writing notes. But I just had to.
Good luck! Happy blogging! Here’s a heap more blog tips too. I’ve been writing these over the years.
Blog Design Checklist by The Media Maid is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.
Based on a work at www.katrinaleechambers.com.