Category: Blogging Tips

Why You Should Consider Self-hosting Your Blog

It’s been two years since I took the leap and bought myself a domain and hosting. Till today, I still believe that this was the best decision I had ever made. Here are some reasons why you should consider self-hosting your blog if you haven’t already.

Laptop and cellphone

1) You have greater control over your blog- You can have ads (and control the ads that appear on your page) as well as write sponsored content which some blog hosts don’t allow.

2) Plug-ins galore- there’s a plug-in for everything. Stopping spam, managing SEO, Pinterest, torturing your jackass ex. Okay that last one is still a work in progress but there’s no end to the amount of fun plug-ins available for a self-hosted blog.

3) It looks more professional/People take you more seriously- sadly people tend to find self-hosted blogs and their bloggers as more serious about blogging. I hate this stereotype (especially since I know so many great blogs that aren’t self-hosted) but it’s difficult to combat. Also I kinda like seeing co.za in my blog URL. It makes ME feel professional.

Is your blog self-hosted? Why or why not? I’d love to know your views on hosting.

4 Tips on How to Improve Your Blog Traffic With the Content You Already Have

Churning out blog post after blog post is difficult. It’s time-consuming and sometimes no matter how often or how long you sit down, you just can’t think about what to write. Here are four tips on how to use the content you already have to improve your blog traffic:

 

  1. Use Social Media to promote your old posts: As I mentioned above, writing blog posts takes alot of time and effort. So why let all that work go to waste? As you grow followers on your social media channels, share posts from “back in the day”.
  2. Rewrite old posts: Your writing has probably changed over time. Rewrite old posts to maintain your current tone or add extra information that you have learnt about a topic.
  3. Update your graphics for old posts: This is one of my favourite ways to update a blog post since it is so quick and easy.
  4. Use Old Posts to help you find new ideas: Go over your old posts- especially the really popular ones- and see what inspiration hits you.

What are your tips for improving your blog with the content you already have? I’d love to know below.

5 FREE Sources for Pictures for Your Blog

Laptop and notebook

When I first started blogging I had no pictures in my blog posts. I didn’t think I needed them- I cared more about my words than the way they looked. I also had no idea where to get photos from. If you’ve had issues finding pictures for your blog posts this is for you.

1) Take Your Own- It’s your blog and no one know better than you what pictures you need. The easiest way to get pictures that you need is to take your own. However, keep in mind that you need great lighting and a good quality picture. I know nothing about photography so I always rely on websites instead. Also I really don’t trust my photo skills.

2) Death to the Stock Photo- Death to the Stock photo provides you with monthly photo collections based on a theme. Most of my pictures are from their site.

3) Picjumbo- Picjumbo provides you with new photos every few days and they occasionally allow you access to their premium packs. Their photos are of a high-quality and always have a theme depending on the time of the year. Need a Christmas or Easter-themed photo? They have you covered!

4) Canva- There is no end to what you can do with Canva. Use it to create social media banners, blog posts, infographs or printables. I especially like using Canva to add text to my pictures from Picjumbo or Death to the Stock Photo.

5) Pexels- I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pexels. Simply type in what you’re looking for in the search(e.g, a picture of a laptop) and pick from one of their many choices.

How do you get pictures for your blog? Have you tried any of the above sites? I’d love to know below.

How I Schedule My Blog Posts

I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee that I have heated up for the third time this morning. This is also my third attempt at drafting this post. It has been getting harder and harder to get time to write blog posts since I started work. I think I have some sort of system going now. It is by no means perfect but I’m sharing it in the hopes that maybe it’ll help you.

Person with laptop

1) Generating Ideas:

I use Trello and OneNote to keep track of my blog post ideas. I basically just make a list of blog ideas in Trello and then expand on them in OneNote. I know I can write the entire blog post out on a Trello card but I am just more comfortable using OneNote. I write down ideas as soon as they come to me so that I don’t forget them. I also use a regular planner so that I can see in print when I want to schedule my posts.

2) Actually Writing the Posts:

Like I said above, I usually use OneNote to write down the blog post. On occasion, I do write the blog post on WordPress. WordPress is my last stop before actually publishing so I make sure that I edit the post here before publishing it. I write blog posts every Saturday or every spare moment I can get.

3) Getting images:

In my opinion, this is where the magic begins. In the last week of the month, I spend an hour or two on Canva, creating images for my blog posts. I know that I usually have a TBR, Book Haul and four book reviews. While the book reviews don’t need any images, the TBR and book haul posts do so these are easy to create. I also use my Trello list of blog ideas to see what blog posts I’m writing for the month and then create those posts.

4) Publishing and Promoting:

In the first week of the new month (eg, first week of October), I combine my blog draft with the Canva images. Voila! A blog post. I read through the post to make sure it reads well, I add the relevant tags and publish. I try and make sure that at the very least, I have four book reviews for the month already queued. Then I use Buffer to schedule social media posts for the week. Honestly I usually just do this the first week and then forget the rest of the month. (Hey, I am trying here. Like I pointed out above, finding time to blog is TRICKY!). On the day that a blog post is published, I promote it on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I repeat this a week or two later.

My process is not perfect and sometimes I do fall behind. Okay, lots of times. But I’m working on it and I found that having an actual process in place makes it easier to blog. How do you schedule your blog posts? I’d love to know below!

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Blogging

I’ve been blogging for about four years now and it never fails to amaze me how many things I don’t know. Despite this it also never fails to amaze me how much I have learnt so far. Here are 10 lessons I wish I knew when I first started blogging:

things-i-wish-i-knew-blogging

 

  1. The importance of social media- I cannot stress this enough. When I first started blogging (a very casual Tumblr that was filled with posts about my day at school and shirtless pictures of Ian Somerhalder), I saw no need to promote posts on social media. Unfortunately this habit carried over when I started blogging seriously as well. I had social media accounts but they were for me and my friends and not my blog.
  2. How to make friends- Okay, this is still something I feel awkward about and don’t really know how to do but I have made far more friends through my blog over the past year than I did when I first started blogging. The great things about having blogger friends is that they get the pits and peaks of having a blog. They get why certain blog-ish things make you excited or disappointed.
  3. The Value of Pinterest- Pinterest is a HUGE source of traffic and I will forever regret not using it in my earlier blogging days. Pinterest is a constant source of my traffic and it isn’t even for recent posts. Once you Pin a post and it’s repin, you can get tons of new views.
  4. Blogging is not always free- When I first started blogging, I didn’t want to pay any money for anything. I was a high school senior with little to no steady income (my allowance was solely reserved for data). So I didn’t have my own hosting and domain. Now that I do, it is a move that I definitely do not regret. Blogging is not always free especially if you want to be taken seriously as a blogger.
  5. SEO- Another great way to get traffic is through SEO. Unfortunately I didn’t know much about SEO so this was not something I used to bring traffic to my blog.
  6. Blogging is not easy- Blogging is time-consuming and tiring. Ever since starting my job it’s been more difficult to get time to blog especially if I happen to be working on a Saturday. As a newbie I assumed I could post whenever I wanted to and no one would care. However if you want people to keep coming back to your blog, you need to have a consistent schedule.
  7. Not all bloggers get free stuff- While I didn’t start my blog in order to get freebies, I was very confused when I saw other bloggers getting free food and clothing vouchers. Why did they get those things? Why didn’t I? (Hint-they’re a) overseas and b) have a larger following than I do so they have a lot more perks.
  8. Free stuff is not actually free- There’s no such thing as a free lunch. When bloggers get “free stuff” they usually have to promote it with a blog/social media post. Which, as you can see in point 6, is not always easy.
  9. You don’t have to be online 24/7- When I first started blogging, I was glued to my phone (granted I’m still pretty glued to my phone but that’s usually because I’m chatting to my friends). I didn’t want to miss any social media notification or review request. I do have moments when I’m waking up at 2AM to see if I have review requests for Historical Romance (I get such amazing historical fiction reads, you guys. St. Martin’s Press really knows what they’re doing in that genre) but besides that I leave all blogging stuff for days/times when I’m blogging.
  10. How to Use a Social Media Tool- Like I mentioned in the point above, you don’t have to be online all the time. Using a social media tool such as Buffer, you can give the appearance of being online and you can promote your blog without needing to log into Facebook/Twitter ten times a day.

What things do you wish you knew before you started blogging?

My Favourite Blogging Apps

I love blogging apps. They make it so easy to create posts, edit pictures and blog on the go. This is great since I don’t have to be attached to the computer 24/7 in order to create content.Here are some of my favourite blogging apps:

My Favourite Blogging Apps

 

  1. JotterPad- I love using Jotterpad to jot down ideas or drafts for blog posts. I have a memo pad app on my phone but there’s just something about Jotterpad that I love when it comes to taking down quick notes. I also use JotterPad for non-blog notes such as phone numbers, lists or reminders.
  2. Trello- I use Trello to keep track of my social media and editorial calendar. I occasionally also use it to track my reading and book reviews. The Trello Android app now has the Calendar Power-Up which makes it even more   effective for blogging. It also makes using Trello as an editorial calendar SO much easier
  3. Pixlr- I don’t always edit pictures on my phone but when I do, I use Pixlr. This is mainly because when I first started adding pictures to post, I used Pixlr and the habit stuck with it. I’m just really comfortable with it and hey, if it isn’t broke why fix it?
  4. WordPress- For some reason the WordPress app on my phone does not let me blog but I use it to reply to             comments and check my blog stats. This is probably my least favourite app on my phone even though         WordPress is my favourite blogging platform.
  5. Pinterest- I love Pinterest for tips on blogging, sharing my own blog posts and to keep up with friend’s blogs. I feel like you can find anything and everything on Pinterest. It’s like a visual Google.

Blogging would definitely be far more difficult without these apps. What are some of your favourite blogging apps? I’d love to know below.

 

6 Pinterest Tips for Newbies

Since my post on 10 Tips for the Instagram Newbie was so popular, I thought I’d do one on Pinterest. Not many people use Pinterest that often which is a shame as it can be so useful. I got my first sponsored post opportunity through Pinterest so I believe in it strongly. Here are six tips for the Pinterest newbie:

Pinterest

1) Have a decent number of pins per board

Personally I feel that your board looks abandoned if it has any less than ten pins. Make sure your boards have a good number of pins so that people know that you’re active on Pinterest.

 
2) Be active on Pinterest

Like, follow and repin other members. They may return the love. If not, atleast you know you’ve found great new pins.

 
3) Create a Pinterest board for each of your interests

My Pinterest boards consist of fashion, college, books and blogging. Make sure you state clearly in your description what can be found inside your Pinterest board.

 

4) But don’t make it too broad

I once saw a great pinner who had about 20 different boards from make-up and organisation to blogging and food. I was too lost to even look at the pins. Ensure that your boards are not too different from one another.

 

5) Don’t have a million different boards

Just like boards that have nothing to do with each other, a large amount of boards are overwhelming. Stick with enough boards that someone can browse through them and not feel like they’re in a Pinterest maze.

 

6) Update your Pinterest whenever necessary

Delete boards and pins, create new boards and pins. People change and your Pinterest should change with you especially if you’re using it as a business.

What are your tips for Pinterest? What are your favourite tips of pins? Let me know below.

10 Tips for The Instagram Newbie

When I first got an android device, Instagram was the first app I installed. This was about two years ago. I’ve only just started figuring out how to use Instagram and use it well. If you’re a newbie to Instagram, here are my tips:

Instagram Mobile

1) Always add hashtags: Hashtags increase the visibility of your posts. Don’t know what hashtags to use? I always use “Instaworthy” (if a pic isn’t Instaworthy why would it be on Instagram) and other variations with “Insta” such as “Instatravel” or “Instapets”.

2) Interact with others: Like all social networks, Instagram is a place to be social. I’ve met so many great people through Instagram.

3) Return likes and comments: if someone likes or comments on your pictures, it’s always a good idea to return the favour.

4) Try to take as many shots as possible in the daylight: I don’t know if I’m the only one who didn’t know this but natural light is the best for pictures. Take out as many pics as you can during the day.

5) Photo-editing apps are made for Instagram: okay no they’re not but they make your photos look so much better. My favourite apps are Photo Editor and YouCam.

6) People are less likely to follow you if your profile is on private: With private profiles there’s always the risk you might be rejected and who wants that?

7) If your profile isn’t on private, ensure that there’s nothing that would give a future employer a bad image of you: you don’t want or need your employer seeing your Friday night out on the town.

8) Don’t overload people’s feed: Don’t post so often that your photos are the only ones that appear on your followers’ feed. That’s like Instaspam (which, if it’s not a thing, should totally be one).

9) Post regularly- Don’t post once a month either. Post on a regular basis so your followers know that you’re still around. If your last photo is from ages ago, chances are people are going to unfollow you thinking that you’ve abandoned ship.

10) Find your community- I think this is the most important thing. There is someone out there Instagramming the same shots that you are. This may be someone who Instagrams their German Shepherd (if you’re this person, kindly leave your Instagram link in the comments thanks) or pictures of beautiful sunsets. Find the people who Instagram the same things you do and connect with them. I love seeing pictures of German Shepherd puppies and pretty bookstagrams when I log in to Instagram.

What are your tips for Instagram? What do you post on your account? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Why Your Blog Needs a Business Plan

Laptop and books

Whether you’re blogging for fun or to make some extra cash, you NEED a business plan. It’s like a road map for your blog and it’s so helpful!

Why I Created a Business Plan
The first person to take my blog seriously was my uncle. He was also the one who suggested I draw a business plan. I thought he was crazy because why did I need a business plan? Except I did. My blog was a mixture of book reviews, college posts, fashion and me ranting about stuff. My blog needed direction. Creating a business plan helped me decide precisely what I wanted out of my blog. As a result I was rewarded with greater opportunities and page views.

Why You Should Create a Business Plan Too
Creating a business plan allows you to see where your blog is and where you want it to go.
By writing everything down you’re able to see if there’s any gaps or mistakes you’ve made and how to rectify them. My business plan allowed me to see that I knew nothing about stock photos and if I really wanted to be taken seriously as a blogger, I needed more content and less “me using my blog as a diary”.
I strongly suggest that you create a plan regularly to ensure that you’re on track with your plan. I revise my business plan every three months just to keep it fresh and relevant.
The business plan of someone blogging for fun will obviously differ from the plan of someone blogging to make money but you can see how to create a business plan here

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