5 Sites That Will Change How You Blog

How do you consume content? By that, I mean in this blogging and social media world we live in, how do you stay in the know? Yes, you come here and get the deets, but where else do you go?

I thought I would share my secrets and give you a list of the 5 sites I go to daily (I have 29 must read sites, but I’ll give you the first 5 on my list, right now) that have changed how I blog – and how I do social. These sites are noted in my Feedly as “Must Read”. This means, that Feedly shows them to me first, before any other site or blog.

5 Sites That Will Change How You Blog I share the cream of the cream from the 'Must Reads' on my Feedly List that will help you become a better blogger, instantly @faithfulsocial

Don’t know how to promote a blog or site to “must read’ status? Here, let me show you:

  1. Expand your blog/site list (on the left)
  2. Click on the blog you want to promote to “must read”
  3. Click on the gear icon (when you hover over it, ‘change layout and filtering’ should show)
  4. Select ‘Edit Subscription’
  5. A menu at the left will appear with your selected blog at the top
  6. Click ‘Must Read’
  7. Click update

5 Sites That Will Change How You Blog I share the cream of the cream from the 'Must Reads' on my Feedly List that will help you become a better blogger, instantly @faithfulsocial

Now, if you want to demote the blog or site, follow the same instructions set out above and uncheck the ‘Must Read’ box.

Ready to see the ‘Must Reads’ in my Feedly?

Social Media Examiner

I mean this is a no brainer. If you could rummage through my social media closet (aka Pocket) you would see a ton of saved content for future posts. If you’re looking to learn anything at all about social media, this is a definite go to. They always provide actionable tips and I recently listened to an interview with the founder of Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner, where he shared how many people are involved with the publishing of one post. His answer made me appreciate this incredibly valuable resource even more. One of my favorite posts lately, is this post: 5 Unusual Tips to Improve Your SEO With Social Media.

AdWeek | Social Times

Can I get an infographic?! I can always count on AdWeek to provide me with a great infographics to pin! My favorite one? A Complete Checklist for Social Media Managers. Granted it was from Sprout Social initially, but that’s what’s so great about AdWeek, if you missed it somewhere, and it was solid, AdWeek will have it. It’s like a magazine of social media for me. Shhh, let me sneak this in, it’s sister – to me, anyway – is Mashable/Social Media. Add that to your list too.

Brilliant Business Moms

I’ve been lovin’ on this site for a hot minute. From their Facebook Group, to their podcast, to the incredible, personally tested processes they share freely – this is a must have. I would start with this post Easy SEO for Mom Bloggers (that I share all.the.time with anyone who will listen – just ask my clients!). If you’re not a mom blogger, read it anyway, and then listen to this podcast with Stephanie O’Dea. If you’re not hooked on them by that point, you’re a robot. And if you’re looking for more blogging Facebook groups to join, I’ve got you covered with these 7 Facebook groups to join.

Jeff Bullas.com

I love this blog. The titles are always just what I was looking for (without even knowing it, so maybe he’s got a job in psychic content marketing?). The tone is straight to the point (like the title of his site), and provides step by step tutorials with pictures. Who doesn’t love that. My latest fave? 27 Tricks to Boost Blog Post Conversion Rates. I thought, you’d like that one. And because this site is just so good, here’s another one I can’t wait to pick apart A 6-Step Writing Process to Blog More and Stress Less. See what I mean? You can’t help but click on those titles!

QuickSprout

Oh Neil Patel, how you slay me with information. From titles like Why do Sites Rank High On Google When They Aren’t Optimized to The Day After: 11 Things to Do After You Publish a Post these long titles are lessons in and of themselves. Take the first post listed, doesn’t that read like something you would search for in a moment of frustration as a blogger? BOOM. That’s exactly why it’s found. Genius. His posts are super easy to grasp and most times, I’m left scratching my head and saying “Well, duh!” to myself. Sometimes, when looking at the bigger picture, we forget the common sense stuff. Take the second link noted here. The first tip is respond to comments. Why?

“If you can get five comments on a post, you instantly double that to 10 if you reply to all of them. As a result, you instantly get more social proof.”

Those sites are what’s in my Feedly right now and they have definitely made me a better blogger and way better at social. So tell me, what’s in your Feedly? Share your cream of the cream of the crop of your “Must Read” lists.

I love to share tips and behind the scenes process like the ones I shared with you today. 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!

 

How to Keep Your Blogging Head in the Game

I’m moving, I’ve been sharing about it all over the place. I’ve been sharing, partly because the move is a real upheaval for me. I didn’t realize just what a creature of habit I am and packing all of my stuff away is hard. There’s always a silver lining though, right? Or at least that’s how I roll.

How to Keep Your Blogging Head in the Game With all the packing, I've been keeping my head in the game of blogging, social media, marketing and strategy with podcasts. So what are you waiting for? Press play on this video post. I dare you! @faithfulsocial

With all the packing, I’ve been keeping my head in the game of blogging, social media, marketing and strategy with podcasts. So what are you waiting for? Press play. I dare you!

Here are those podcasts, twitter chat and app I mentioned, and where to find them!

Amy Porterfield

Invisible Office Hours

Being Boss

Brilliant Business Moms

Oh So Pinteresting

Social Media Examiner

Headspace App

BufferChat, so necessary when moving (on Wednesdays at 12PM ET!)

And MY podcast, Building Bridges Podcast, especially this week. It’s hilarious. Do you know Ike Ndolo? If you don’t, he will be your BFF within the hour. Stay tuned till the end where the bloopers will slay you. I was writing the show notes last night and couldn’t stop laughing.

That’s how I do it, I stay motivated and brimming with creativity with podcasts. Not just any podcasts either. I listen to podcasts about social media, pinterest, being your own boss and hustling your face off. I can listen and my hands can still do all the packing and bubble wrapping. When I am able to create content, craft a tweet or share a post, I’ve got all the ideas ready to go.

And just as a P.S., here’s the latest post I wrote for The SITS Girls around Organization Tips for Efficient Blogging, sounds fancy, right?

How to Keep Your Blogging Head in the Game With all the packing, I've been keeping my head in the game of blogging, social media, marketing and strategy with podcasts. So what are you waiting for? Press play on this video post. I dare you! @faithfulsocial

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!

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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