Blogging

How to Break the Blogging Rules the Right Way

As a blogger, you want to be consistent. Your posts should have a consistent format, you should post on a consistent schedule and your content should be consistent and in keeping with your brand. Sounds a little boring after a while, doesn’t it? I think it can be. The antithesis (what’s up SAT word) of this is to have no plan and fly by the seat of your pants with regards to blog design, editorial content and schedule. 

As a blogger, you want to be consistent. Your posts should have a consistent format, you should post on a consistent schedule and your content should be consistent and in keeping with your brand. So how can you break the blogging rules, the right way? by @faithfulsocial

Let’s talk about life for a second. You know what’s consistent about that? Change. We’re getting a little esoteric here, but hang with me. How can you, as a blogger, break the rules the right way and still maintain consistency?

Consistency builds trust with your readers.

They come to expect and even wait on baited breath for your next post because you’ve let them know when and at what time they can expect an update from you.

Consistency gives you sanity.

If you’re doing it right, you never have to worry about what your next post is or how it fits in with your overall strategy of what to post. Planning, isn’t it great?

Consistency gives you a social life.

Setting a consistent blogging and content creation schedule means that you can then plug in everything else in your life like dinners out, time with friends or better yet, that early morning monthly massage!

Consistency allows you to be the Queen of all that you survey.

If you have your schedule set, you are in a better place to say yes or no to any upcoming opportunities because you have already committed to yourself first.  

And finally, if you’ve been consistent, that means you can break the routine every once in a while, and the world will keep spinning. It’s like your readers give you a pass. Why? Because it shows that you’re a real person and not a robotic machine. 

As a blogger, you want to be consistent. Your posts should have a consistent format, you should post on a consistent schedule and your content should be consistent and in keeping with your brand. So how can you break the blogging rules, the right way? by @faithfulsocial

I missed a video post last week (did you notice?) and it was just because I didn’t want to face a camera. I’m a little introverted, remember? I was in a bit of a funk, we’re moving, and I hate to pack. I thought it was better to just not share a video post because I am a slave to this consistent schedule.

Instead, I worked on updating my blog functionality and blog images, recorded podcasts, sent out my social media tip of the week to those that have signed up for it, and worked on my ecourse. I was still working and productive and that’s key. Be consistent in your progress, whatever it is that you want to get out of this blogging thing, work on pushing that – it doesn’t necessarily always mean a video post on Thursday at 9AM every.single.week.

So break the rules, if you’ve set them up right and stuck to them for a long while, it’s ok to break them. It changes things up and that keeps it interesting.

So tell me, how do you feel about breaking the cycle – every once in a while? Think your readers will notice? If you’ve done it, chime in and let me know how it made you feel. Probably pretty human, I bet.

 

As a blogger, you want to be consistent. Your posts should have a consistent format, you should post on a consistent schedule and your content should be consistent and in keeping with your brand. So how can you break the blogging rules, the right way? by @faithfulsocial

 

6 Ways to Crawl out of the Blogging Summer Slump

We’re in the thick of summer. As bloggers, do you find it hard to keep your momentum? Or maybe your just fresh out of ideas or motivation? I list 6 things you can do to help you polish up your blog over the summer and hit the ground running in September.

Over the summer we can lose motivation and blog momentum, because BBQ, pool time, beaches and vacations. Here are 6 Ways to Crawl out of the Blogging Summer Slump by @faithfulsocial

Update images

I’ll just jump right into it. My most clicked post is How to Share Your Blog Posts on Instagram. When I first published it, I couldn’t figure out a good image to go with the post. Believe me, I tried! Not to mention, it had my old url on it. Case in point:



It’s not the worst, but it ain’t the best. The color? Meh. The worst part? It’s got my old URL on there. I created a new image with the new branding, but it doesn’t keep people from re pinning this. It’s almost like a ball rolling down a hill, eventually it gains so much momentum that you just can’t catch it anymore. It still drives traffic though, so I’ll take it. 



Go through posts that get clicks consistently and refresh the content with updated information, if applicable and create new images for them.  I used Canva to create this new image. You don’t have to “republish” the post, you don’t want to lose all that SEO juice you’ve built. You can simply promote the post as new. With this post, I just shared it again to Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. It appears like a new post, because visually it looks like a new post!

Create a new landing page

What’s your bounce rate look like? Are you looking at me like I have 17 heads? Google says: 

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

This means, if you come to my site, scroll quickly through a post and then “bounce” (as in, leave), my rate will be higher. You want to have readers stay on your site and click around for a while. This tells Google that you have quality content that readers can’t get enough of. I’ve been watching and playing around with the idea for creating a landing page and then, I just did it.

When you came to my site before, you would be greeted by the most recent blog post. You could read the latest and then “bounce” out. Certainly, I try to keep your attention by adding links (at least two), where relevant, to other content on my site, but I wanted to keep going. What do you think?

Over the summer we can lose motivation and blog momentum, because BBQ, pool time, beaches and vacations. Here are 6 Ways to Crawl out of the Blogging Summer Slump by @faithfulsocial

I am working on some other tweaks to the blog portion of my site that has to do with summary blocks and creating collections of content to make topics easier to find as well. Squarespace makes creating a magazine-style look incredibly easy, so I have a disabled page that I have been working on. 

Take an ecourse that focuses on detoxing

Whether it’s called a cleanse or a detox, that’s what I am interested in over the summer. Taking a break from social is great, and necessary even, but how can you translate that into how you blog, and your social presence? I am in the middle of a 21 Day Brand Impressions Detox FREE ecourse by Erika Madden of Olyvia Media.

It’s a deceptively simple course delivered via email.  You clean up your act online and dust off the cobwebs on areas of your presence that you’ve long since forgotten, like pop-ups! Should you keep them, or ditch them? And what about your pricing (if you run a business)? It’s not too much, but just enough to freshen your brand and keep you squeaky clean as we go into Fall when all the writing and creating gets going again!

Another course I love is the 30 Day Creative Business Cleanse by Regina. Way more intense, I did this over Lent with a friend and loved it. You receive wallpaper, daily emails and checklists. This is not for the faint hearted, but it’s totally worth it if you need a serious overhaul.

Focus on something new (and slightly difficult)

What does that mean? For me, it’s SEO and Google Analytics. Currently, I am tackling SEO and signed up for a free webinar that’s coming up on July 1st (so there’s still time to sign up). It’s free and I only hear great things about the Intro to SEO – Core Skills to Rock Your Traffic webinar. See you there? 

Clean up your tags and categories

Related to the magazine style blog look I am going for (ultimately), I have to clean up the categories and tags on my posts. This is also a reason to review old content and clean up any alt image tags, remove old information and add and excerpt about the post. 

Julie at Fabulous Blogging really knocks it out of the park with visuals on how best to pare down your tags and categories, so I won’t even attempt it here! While this is for WordPress, I know the same thought process applies across all platforms. 

Look for opportunities to contribute and connect

I am a Community Lead for The SITS Girls. This means that I host Twitter chats for them (max 4 times a month) and contribute posts to their site. I am very active in the comments when I post for them and definitely reach out after Twitter chats are over to stay connected. I do this because I always push for a personal connection. It’s just my thing, I feel awkward not responding to comments, and have even reached out to people directly, after the comments close, to respond via email. 

This has resulted in requests to contribute to blog posts, collaborate on projects and suggestions on what my next serial binge on Netflix will be. I am not even kidding. 

Look for ways to contribute and expand your reach. A great place to start is Beyond Your Blog. I also recommend joining in on Twitter chats and making connections where you can. Last night, I ended the chat with this, and I meant it:

How do you beat the blogging summer slump? Do you take time off, work on the back end part of your site? I would love to know! And yes, cool beverages and pool time totally count!

Over the summer we can lose motivation and blog momentum, because BBQ, pool time, beaches and vacations. Here are 6 Ways to Crawl out of the Blogging Summer Slump by @faithfulsocial

 

For more blogging tips and tricks, check out my Pinterest board!

The Art of Saying No or How Not to Burn Bridges

In an earlier video post, I talked about how when you say no to opportunities, you’re really saying yes to yourself. In the video post, I shared how there’s an art to saying no that honors the person sharing the opportunity with you, while also honoring yourself. You certainly don’t want to burn bridges. You never know when that person will come around again, so while you don’t have to grovel, you do have to mind yourself when you respond. 

I love to share goodies, tips and tricks like the ones I am about to share with you. Be sure to sign up for my VIP list to receive exclusive tips that I don’t share with anyone else (or anywhere else, for that matter). You’ll also receive my top 7 tips for creating a successful online community, just for signing up! So many tips! 

Maria, from Collecting Moments had a few questions and while I’ve already responded to her offline, I thought I would share the exchange with you because we’re a sharing bunch around here. Let’s get started!

The Art of Saying No to Opportunities where you can honor the person who is offering the opportunity, we don't want to burn bridges as a blogger. We also want to walk away feeling empowered. Check out these email scripts you can tailor to your blogging situation. @faithfulsocial

Maria writes: 

I just read through your blog and listened to your Vlog about saying no to an opportunity. I absolutely loved it! I can relate. As a new blogger, there’s a few opportunities that have come my way, and sometimes it’s hard to say no. I’m fairly fresh (my blog is only a year old) and I would think that every opportunity lends itself to more doors being opened–whether it’s monetary or just exposure…I do have a question, however.

You mention on your vlog that there’s an art to saying no to opportunities, that we should do it in a way that honors both the person that’s presenting the opportunity and us as well. How does one phrase that without sounding dismissive or just plain, “no thanks, I’m not interested.” I would assume that burning bridges is the last thing we want when we say no (because who knows there might be other projects that fit our criteria from that same company in the future).

I guess what I’m trying to say is how do I say thank you, but no, without cutting ties with the person/company that offered it in the first place? 

Here’s how I do it: 

Dear Sir Smiles,

Thank you so much for thinking of me for [insert this opportunity here]. I am flattered that you thought of my blog as an avenue to promote [insert promotion here].

In reviewing your offer, I don’t feel it’s a fit for me at this time. I do have a solid [insert your industry here] friend/s in mind and am happy to make the connection for you if you’re interested. Her/His name is [insert name here]. She/He blogs about [insert relevant topic here]. 

While this particular collaboration wasn’t in the stars, I look forward to others you think may be a fit in the future.

[However you sign off in an email]
Cristina

You’ll notice that I created a “Graceful No” sandwich. Can you see? 

  • Bread aka Flattery: Thank you so much for thinking of me for [insert this opportunity here]. I am flattered that you thought of my blog as an avenue to promote [insert promotion here].  
  • Meat aka Your Graceful No: In reviewing your offer, I don’t feel it’s a fit for me at this time. I do have a solid [insert your industry here] friend/s in mind and am happy to make the connection for you if you’re interested. Her/His name is [insert name here]. She/He blogs about [insert relevant topic here]. 
  • Bread aka Gracious Ending: While this particular collaboration wasn’t in the stars, I look forward to others you think may be a fit in the future.

This kind of email, honors you by sticking to your boundaries, and honors the person offering you the opportunity because you are sincerely trying to help them find a match. The caveat to this is, if the person offering the opportunity to you is difficult or shady, you don’t want to refer them to anyone.

I experienced this recently and paused before I responded. I thought that there must be someone I could refer. I remembered that my community is just as important to me as honoring this person offering the opportunity.  I removed the “meat” part of my email sandwich and pressed send.

You don’t want to damage the relationships you’ve cultivated with people in your industry by referring nonsense to them. Trust me, they won’t appreciate it. 

Maria continues to write:

I’ve been getting many inquiries for product reviews lately. All of which have compensated me for the product and the shipping free of charge. Like I said, my blog is still small, so I’m not expecting monetary compensation for these. The fact that they send me products for free is good enough for me for now.

With that said, I still want some compensation for my work (as you know, it takes great time and effort to craft a worthy post, and I put 110% in it every time.) I’m not asking for much, mainly it’s in terms of networking or exposure (a retweet/mention on twitter, a shout out on instagram, a link of my post on their blog).

There’s been a few instances where I’d have trouble communicating that to my clients. The fact that my blog is still so small gives me a bit of a complex, and I don’t quite know how to word  that I appreciate the opportunity, but would like some networking and exposure in return. 

Any insights? Should I even ask for this or just let it go and appreciate the fact that they even reached out to me? 

I got’chu. First of all, don’t don’t let being small give you a complex. Just as you don’t want to burn bridges with bigger bloggers, they shouldn’t want to burn bridges with you either. With hard work, you will be the next big blogger that they wish they were nicer to back in the day. #firsthandexperience

I think this question was around asking for social media promotion/networking instead of monetary gain? For now, that makes TOTAL sense. Sometimes, you just gotta ask for stuff, you know? In this case, here’s what I would say:

Dear Ms. Fancy Pants,

I was so excited to receive your product in the mail for review. The post about [insert product] is about to go live tomorrow. To help make this a complete success for your brand, I would appreciate any social media shout outs that you could give of the blog post review.

To make this easy for you, please see the pinnable images, pre-crafted tweets/FB updates and the permalink to the post. All you have to do is copy, paste and share!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all. I can’t wait to share [insert product] with my audience!

[However you sign off in an email]
Cristina

In any working relationship, remember to make it easy for the other person always, and in all ways. 

Appreciate that they reached out to you, but don’t forget that they reached out to you. You are providing a service (and value) to them. You are sharing an audience you nurtured with them. They wouldn’t have access to your people without YOU. 

Always know that you are inherently worth it. Every.single.time.

So let’s all follow Maria on all the things. She’s at @MBette827 on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! 

I have created a secret Pinterest board for The Art of Saying No with inspirational quotes to keep you on track. If you’re interested in having access, just shoot me an email at faithfullysocial@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up. I feel like we should start a revolution? Come on! Don’t say no to this one!

How would you have responded to Maria? Help a sista out in the comments! Remember, if you have any questions for me, please reach out. I would love to share the answer as a blog post along with the social platform/s of your choice!

Did you love this? Sign up to receive exclusive tips like these right in your inbox every Friday!

The Art of Saying No to Opportunities where you can honor the person who is offering the opportunity, we don't want to burn bridges as a blogger. We also want to walk away feeling empowered. Check out these email scripts you can tailor to your blogging situation. @faithfulsocial

Be Your Brand

If we ever met me in real life, I’d be just as I am in the following video.

If we ever met in real life, I would be encouraging, talking about others who have inspired me that I think you should check out. 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

If we ever met in real life, I would take you to my favorite ice cream shop where they serve up Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

If we ever met in real life, I would have a smile on from ear to ear, just like that picture of me on the right.

If we ever met in real life I would listen to you, ask questions and make you laugh your face off. I’m funny. Even this chick thinks so, and she’s a hilarious humor blogger that has written for HuffPo, Scary Mommy and others.

If we ever met in real life, you’d get that I am no different online than I am in real life (except maybe that funny part. I think my funny doesn’t translate as well in the written word. You need all the theatrics because I’m 4’11”).

Be Your Brand. Be who you are and own it. 

In today’s video post, I talk about being the same person on line that you are in real life. It should be an equal blend. If not, what’s the point? I talk about a person I met over the weekend who embodied this perfectly. It blew me away. 

Take a peek…

Remember that the profiles you are connecting with online, are real people.

People want to feel like they are being heard, because deep down we all want to matter. 

To stand out, all you have to do is remember that in every interaction you make. Ask yourself, how can I make this person feel heard? And act on it.  

The book I referenced is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

And here is Uncustomary Art (Mary), on Facebook so her birthday present of 2,000 fans will be realized!

Here is the Instagram quote I referenced that was the inspiration for this post

I’m going on vacation next week. I’m authentically being my brand and taking a break, for realsies! I am not just doing it in real life and pretending that I’m on with automated tweets and shares. In real life, we need time to recharge, refresh and spend time with our families. But, you can go on vacation with me! Wouldn’t that be fun! We can share caramel lattes and glazed donuts on the lake and talk about that time I thought cutting my hair short was a great idea (The Karate Kid circa 1984 is not a good look for me).

I am sending an email to my VIP subscribers telling them how to spend a week with me in the Adirondacks (along with an exclusive social media tip of the week, per usual). 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas

How do you feed your content monster? In this post, I am sharing the step before turning your ideas into content, where you come up with your ideas in the first place. If you’ve got a system down for this, great! At the end of this post, head over to my post on The SITS Girls, where I share the next step in the blog writing process.

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas by @faithfulsocial

 

Still with me? Great! Let’s get started.

1. Check your analytics. I once did a whole post around the random things people searched to get to my blog. Considering that I was able to use ridiculous search terms to create a post, think about ways you can slice your analytics to come up with ideas. Search terms are certainly one way, but what about those posts that get the most hits? Why recreate the wheel?! Try writing about the same topic from a different angle, or ask other blogger friends in your niche how they would respond and gather up a round up post.

2. Know your audience. You can certainly use your character persona. Mine is named Terese, by the way. Why? It’s my Confirmation saint. I know what she does when she wakes up in the morning and know what she daydreams about as she’s doing the dishes. It’s important to have that one person that you write to and for every time you click “New Post” because whether you really know her or not, she’s out there in real life and she loves that you write just for her. 

You can always ask for the kinds of topics your readers are interested in via a note in your email newsletter, a quick question on Twitter or post to Facebook. If you feel weird about that, ask your online communities what they would be interested in reading about. I do this to gather up ideas for Twitter chats that I host for The SITS Girls. Speaking of which, I am hosting 4 more this month: June 8th, 22nd and 29th at 8pm and June 27th at 10am (all times ET).

3. Steal like an artist. Blog reading isn’t just to pass the time or keep up with friends. You can keep a list of posts that you really loved, or save it to Pocket and look at that later for ideas to share your thoughts on a particular subject. You can even share the link to the post you are referencing. I know I don’t have to tell you that you shouldn’t do this if you’re going to blatantly bash someone. We all know how hard blogging is and how important it is for us to support one another in our writing endeavors.

If you just read 10 Ways to Make Homemade Cheese, why not write 10 Ways Not to Make Homemade Cheese or 10 Ways for a Newbie to Make Cheese? You don’t have to come up with ideas yourself. You do have to follow others in your niche and take their ideas a step further, because you’re that smart!

4. Trends. Are you signed up for Google Alerts? It’s free! I have a few keywords that I zone in on and receive an email daily with all of the information on the interwebs on that keyword. I have a digest of ideas to parse and put back together in a way that my readers want, or don’t know that they need, yet. You can easily generate ideas this way, not to mention keep on top of the latest and greatest going on in your niche!

5. Feedly FTW. This is also a great title generation practice too. Go to your Feedly account (or whatever you use to read all of the sites you love) and view them in list form, so no thumbnails. You just want words here and it’s best done on a desktop so you can skim quickly. If you need to use your fingertip, you can. Go to the first headline and pass your finger over the titles and stop when you read something that catches your attention. Write it down. When you have 10 or so, see if there are any commonalities in those titles that you can use to reference in future posts you write, or as springboards for new ideas you could write about. 

To use this as a title generator, take that same list of titles that caught your eye and see how those titles were crafted. Coming up with catchy titles isn’t easy and when title creators and analyzers aren’t giving you titles that flow (they’re not foolproof!) take lessons from sites that are doing titles well, like Copyblogger. 

Here’s an extra tip, that’s just personal to me that I wanted to share with you. When I am coming up with blog post ideas, sometimes being too close to it frustrates the process. I have to walk away from it and do something else so the idea generation becomes fuzzy. I do this by actually going for a walk and using my phone to record ideas on the way, flipping through a magazine or taking a hot shower or bath which ALWAYS generates idea, it’s a scientific fact! 

Those are just 5 ways you can unlock fresh blog post ideas. Interested in learning how to turn your ideas into great blog posts? Head here and read my top 7 tips!

What other ways do you generate blog post ideas?! I would love to read them in the comments! 

Just a note, I will be on vacation with my family June 13th. I am taking this time to enjoy the lake, go for long walks, stuff my face with deliciousness and feed the ducks. This means that from June 13th – June 22nd there will be no posts! I will be around on Instagram sharing all the pretty that upstate New York has to offer. Come on vacation with me!

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas by @faithfulsocial