MIH 047:What Makes a Perfect Blog Design?

MIH 047:What Makes a Perfect Blog Design?

Listen to “MIH 047:What Makes a Perfect Blog Design?” on Spreaker.

What is a perfect blog design?

Calling a blog design “perfect” is a far stretch, I know. Perfection is a relative as beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. But on today’s blog post and podcast I want to discuss a few elements- namely 12- of what I believe a perfect blog design will entail.  There can be more or less, mind you, but these are 12 elements that I believe will round out the development of your blog and make it as user friendly as possible.

Elements of a Perfect Blog Design

Simple color scheme

I believe a simple scheme for your blog is optimal. The amount of colors you can have in your color palette are completely up to you, but I usually shoot for no more than 4 or 5.  You want to have a few mainstay colors that are consistent with your brand, and just keep it simple.

If a turquoise blue isn’t found anywhere in your color palette for your site and logo branding, it’s probably best not to awkwardly throw in this color on your social media accounts.  It just throws people off, and they wonder if it’s the same brand they’re seeing on Facebook versus Twitter.  Keep things consistent with colors and simplicity in your branding.

Simple navigation

There is nothing quite like the confusion that happens when visitors can’t find anything on your site. Usually this is a result of having too much in your main navigation. We want to avoid information overload as much as possible and give our readers a great place to start finding our content. Make the navigation easy to navigate by reducing your blog into just a few distinct topics and placing those topics in your main menu.

Organization

A nicely organized website makes all the difference for your site visitors.  Think about the flow of your traffic as a reader lands on your blog.  Is it easy for them to navigate your site?

If your navigation menu is cluttered, try simplifying it.

Your bio

In a perfect blog design world, your viewers will want to get to know you better.  It’s always a great idea to include a “who am I” section. Your bio tells your audience a bit about yourself and a lot about your mission all in one compacted paragraph.

Your bio shouldn’t be extremely long as it usually goes in your site sidebar with your headshot. Having a bio in your sidebar as well as a bio page gives your readers a chance to get to know you and become familiar with your mission. Plus, it’s always nice to way connect a friendly face to a blog.

Social sharing buttons

You want your readers to share your content. Word of mouth is the best way to spread the news of your offerings. One of the best ways to do that is by using social sharing buttons. Many of these are free plugins. Just do a quick search for free social sharing buttons and pick from a variety of styles.  I’m currently using WP Social Sharing.

Yoast SEO

Probably the only reason I’m able to write quality posts that fly through the Google “good post” detector is completely due to Yoast SEO.  This plugin has helped to guide me through making sure my keywords are in my metatags and throughout my post and title as many times as needed to have a quality SEO-rich post. For SEO help when creating blog posts I highly recommend this plugin.

Beautiful images

It’s no mystery that blog readers love great images. Readers want to not only read but see pictures sprinkled throughout the post. It helps to break up the lines and paragraphs to make reading easier. Additionally, images are paramount for Pinterest users. If you want to bring a nice dose of traffic to your website with an image only, you’ll need to begin creating catchy images for your blog which you also pin on Pinterest.  It’s a nice deal!

Content then sidebar on right

I love sidebars for so many things. I place my bio there, a search bar, affiliates and sponsor information, and sometimes it’s a great place to add popular posts.

I find that when I place my content first and sidebar on the left of my content, readers find my content easier to surf through.  The eyes automatically land on the content without distraction. Here’s a post I wrote a few years back on creating content your readers will love.

Header and logo

Every great blog should have a nice logo and header. Branding is very important, and as I’ve learned over the years, it’s not enough to throw up an image and call it a day. Taking the time to craft a catchy logo that speaks volumes of what you offer will make a huge difference.

Be sure to hire someone who understands your brand because your logo or header will practically follow you everywhere!

Related posts

I like plugins that allow your readers to view related posts. This gives readers a chance to NOT hop away from your blog so quickly. Once they reach the bottom of one post they’re more likely to click through and read more of your related posts served up through the one of the many “related posts” plugins.

Sidebar opt-in

Check with your mailing list provider for the newsletter signup script and be sure to place one in your sidebar as well as other places throughout your blog.  Having a sidebar opt-in that’s always visible no matter which page your reader is on might make a difference in a new signup…or not.

Search box

I always love giving my viewers a chance to search for something on my site. You might be surprised at the types of content your readers want to look for on your blog, so providing them a way to search for a blog post you’ve written is a service you want to offer. It’s free and very easy to add. I usually add mine to the sidebar.

That’s all for this podcast. I hope you enjoyed it.

Be sure to subscribe in Itunes for additional episodes.

 

MIH 046:5 Ways to Set Yourself Up as an Expert

MIH 046:5 Ways to Set Yourself Up as an Expert

Listen to “046:5 Ways to Set Yourself Up as an Expert” on Spreaker.

Are you an expert? If not, what’s stopping you?

Setting yourself up as an expert online isn’t rocket science, but I admit it takes some leg work.  Running an online business might seem pretty intimidating if you’re unsure of your digital marketing strategy– or how you plan to get known online.  It’s one thing to own a website, another thing to keep it updated, and an entirely different program to use your blog as a platform to display your expertise.

Mompreneurs: How to set yourself up as an expert online.

So, what’s stopping you from  setting up yourself as an expert? 

Is it fear of the unknown?  Lack of information on how to go about doing it exactly? Fear that maybe you’re not actually an expert?

Let me calm your fears a bit- you don’t have to do much to be an expert. You just need to know yourself.  Know your business. Know what you bring to the table.  And most of all, be confident in your field and in your expertise.

If you’ve done any of the initial groundwork and the laid the foundation for your business it won’t be so difficult to know what your expertise is.  This groundwork includes discovering your passions, setting up your online presence, developing your pricing model, discovering your customer avatar, and maintaining relationships with your tribe. You can find out more in my book.

The first step is to acknowledge that you are, indeed, an expert. Then you’ll be ready for the following steps.

1. Crank out awesome content!

Developing an online presence that matters means cranking out awesome content, and on a regular basis. I shared about batch scheduling a few months ago, and it’s one way I manage to keep content rolling at my three blogs.

You’ll need to do a bit of research and find out what your audience likes. You want to give them the kind of content they’re looking for, so keep their questions answered and keep them happy and looking for more from you.

There are more ways than one to deliver content (as you’ll see in my following points), but blogging is definitely a great way to start building your expertise online.

There are a few steps to creating a great blog post and it’s necessary to make sure you follow a decent format so that your audience knows what to expect when they read your blog. After a while, once you start getting pretty comfortable with blogging, you might even feel confident enough to reach out to sponsors for support and partnerships which can definitely further your brand a do a lot for your business!

2. Give your audience good visuals.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain consistency with branding and to create visuals that flow well with your brand. I haven’t always done this and I’m guilty of brand conflict. What do I mean by this?

Well, typically it’s a good idea to have your social media profiles all match with your business brand being the same throughout. I haven’t always stayed on top of this in my own social media profiles and just so you know, it is confusing to viewers who come to my Twitter page and see an entirely different logo than the one they see on Facebook.  So, I’ve gone through a cleaning spree this year to ensure that I get a lot of this brand mix-matching cleaned up.

Another important thing about visuals to note is that when you are blogging you have an important opportunity to capture an audience of image lovers- right there on Pinterest! So, including a Pinterest-friendly image with each post you write is going to be of paramount importance if you plan to incorporate Pinterest into your digital media strategy.  By Pinterest-friendly, I just mean images that are the best size for Pinterest so that they are more likely to be re-pinned and give you that extra boost of traffic to your blog.

I can affirm that Pinterest works for traffic-building and good visuals make the difference.

Your images definitely connect your audience to your brand and help them to connect to you as an expert in your field.

3. Consider public speaking, podcasting, or both!

Public speaking in front of a live audience isn’t my thing, but it might be yours- in which case, you should start booking some speaking engagements! This is probably one of the best ways to establish your expertise.  You’ll have an audience at your fingertips who want to hear from you and they are eager to hear your words.  This makes you an expert.

Since I don’t currently do live speaking, I decided that my best ways to connect with an audience on a more personal level was through podcasting and vlogging.  These two forms of public speaking behind a camera and a microphone have been my way of connecting to moms and entrepreneurs for the past 10 years and it has worked for me. My kids were young and I couldn’t get out and travel so I made the decision to build my business from my laptop.

I LOVE podcasting and vlogging because it’s a significant way to connect to my audience, hear from them, and establish relationships with them (some of whom I enjoy phone chats with or get to see in real life).

4. Take advantage of social media.

I get it- social media takes time. But if you can, carve out a little time to batch schedule your social media posts, using nifty tools like Post Planner or Meet Edgar.

With Post Planner I’m able to plan out weeks in advance of Facebook posts and tweets. I use Tailwind for Pinterest sharing also and that has been major for me in driving traffic to my site from Pinterest.

Other social media platforms that have been proven beneficial to me are YouTube (mainly for my homeschool platform) and I use Google Plus for SEO benefits only.

The key is to find the social media platforms that work for you and work them.  I don’t especially like Twitter much, so I don’t use Twitter often. I only use what I love and what works for me.

Using social media will help to draw your tribe and help you establish your expertise across many platforms.

5. Leverage the power of search engine optimization.

Last, but not least, is the power of SEO. You don’t have to do it every time you write a blog post (although it’s optimal) but if you have strong search engine optimization habits you’ll land your blog in a better position of getting noticed in Google.

Remember your titles and header tags and to include pertinent keywords in each. Add your keywords in your blog post description and in your images as well. If you need a little help figuring this out, simply installing the Yoast SEO plugin can help you navigate through these steps.

You have an awesome piece of content- so why not ensure Google finds your blog post one of the relevant ones on the topic and rank your site high for it? Just doing a little extra prep work in advance and learning how to use your keywords effectively throughout your blog posts can be extra helpful and go a long way in helping you establish your expertise online.

That’s it guys! I loved sharing this podcast (and blog post) with you and hope that this episode helps you to see yourself as an expert in your field.

Leave comments below if you’d like to add to this conversation! I always like hearing from my listeners 🙂

 

MIH 041:Is it really possible to make money online?

MIH 041:Is it really possible to make money online?

Listen to “041:Is it really possible to make money online?” on Spreaker.Many mompreneurs and stay at home moms ask me if it is really possible to make money online.  The answer is- emphatically- yes! There are a myriad of ways to make money online- and if you want to turn your profit to cash, operating a web based business as a professional blogger can help you accomplish this goal.  Here is a brief overview of different ways you can make money online with your blog.

Make money online in a variety of ways!

The sky is the limit, really.  You can’t (or shouldn’t) limit yourself when it comes to ideas on how to generate an income online.  If you believe it, you can have it.  Below I am listing just a few ideas you can use to help you generate an online income.

make money online

Create your own digital products

Info products, or digital products, are the ultimate passive-income makers for most online marketers and internet entrepreneurs.

If you create one digital product: an ebook, a webinar, a video, or audio for example, it has the ultimate money-making potential if you play your cards just right. Find out what your audience needs and give it to them. That’s the key, and that’s all you really need to do when creating your info products.

You also have to put your product through the continuous cycle of getting seen in front of your readers- through opt-in opportunities in various placements on your page.

These opt-ins result in more subscribers and more potential customer base for you so that you can have the opportunity to sell your digital products to a tribe who loves your content.

Ads

Once you’ve built up enough organic traffic, I always recommend adding additional streams of income.  Ads is one of these.  Ads are simple to bring into your blog.  You can use Google Adwords, or Bing Ads-for example, to make an additional stream of revenue.  The more traffic you have coming in, the greater your chances of receiving clicks on the targeted ads and making money. Currently I am using Bing Ads on one of my sites but I don’t have a lot of experience with it yet. I know of many bloggers who have been successful with placing ads this way and making good money through Adwords.

One way I like to use ads is through joint ventures with brands. The client pays me a flat fee per project and I run their ads for consecutive weeks on my website.  I enjoy working directly with clients this way- for quicker turnaround in pay and sometimes at a higher rate.

 

Joint ventures

Partnering with larger brands as well as smaller businesses through joint partnerships has proven to be beneficial- especially as a small brand.  You’ll find that there is power in numbers and the more connections you can make with influencers in your niche, the easier it will be for you to progress and grow.

Joint ventures can be formed through different types of relationships: guest blogging, being a guest on someone’s podcast (or having guests on yours), and co-hosting webinars together for examples.

Figure out which type of partnerships will work out in your favor and go for it.

Coaching and consulting

Coaching and consulting services are a wonderful way to make money online.  If you’re a health and fitness coach, an attorney, or a web designer, for example, you have great potential for making money online by offering a service you’re already pretty comfortable with.

There are plenty of people ready to learn from you! You just have to let them know what you offer and how you offer it.

So, there you have it.  These are a few and some of the most popular ways of making money online.

Here are a few more ways to make money online that I mentioned on the podcast.

Professional Services on Fiverr or Upwork

Ebay and Amazon

Selling Photos (like with iStockPhoto.com)

Build a YouTube channel

Sell courses on Udemy or Teachable

Become a tutor : Verbal Planet, iTalki

Did you enjoy this podcast?  Leave a review in Itunes!

 

How to Develop Your Web Presence

How to Develop Your Web Presence

Mompreneurs, we have to start somewhere in order to be successful online-and we can’t start with nothing!  Start with a vision, a purpose, and then goals…but you’ve got to quickly move into the framework portion of your online business- which is to develop your web presence.

web presence

In a blog post and video years ago, I discussed the overview of 5 key strategies for web success.  Step #1 is developing your web presence, and that’s what this following video is all about.

Steps to develop your web presence

Start with a solid blog framework

At this time, I absolutely prefer WordPress to any other web development application and I wouldn’t suggest any other.  I’ve used many over the years- starting with HTML and Dreamweaver and migrating to Blogger, Joomla, and then on to WordPress.

Nowadays we have Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace– all of which I can work with in helping you develop a site.  I’m flexible and can work with any of these, but…my favorite is self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress is a rock-solid content management system that serves the purpose for both blogging and a company website rolled in to one.  There are a lot of benefits to using WordPress, which I talk about in another post.

Hire a professional to design for you who understands your vision.

This one is extremely important.  You’ll need to hire someone who understands your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish with your business.  With your goals in mind your website can be designed according to your preference, and include much of your flair and personality.  Try to find someone who catches your vision and wants to see your business succeed.

Purchase a quality theme.

I personally prefer Genesis framework by Studiopress, but there are many other great theme sets out there as well (such as Thesis).  At any rate, make sure you choose a theme designed by a company who backs up their product and gives you the customer support you deserve when you run into a rut.

Get your content flowing regularly.

Regular content is going to keep your site full and your visitors happy.  You’ll also find that regular content brings back your readers and many times turns your regular readers into clients and customers who find you trustworthy simply because of your content.

I’ll get more into the details of content creation in another blog post and video.

For now, I hope you’ve gleaned from this post!  If you don’t already have your web presence developed and designed, I’d be happy to connect with you and see how I can be of help to you.

If you use WordPress for your web presence, what are some of the benefits in your opinion?  I’d love to hear from you.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org- Which is better?

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org- Which is better?

There are so many blogging platforms today that honestly it can be a bit of a headache figuring out which to use.  And if you’ve narrowed your options down to WordPress, you now have even fewer options and can start to look at WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Is there a difference between these two, and which should you choose to host your site?

wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org

The obvious answer is YES, there is a HUGE difference between even these two WordPress platforms.

There are benefits to both, but in the following video I’ll be giving you some comparisons of using WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. I want you to see the difference between these two and why there are some great perks to running your online business on Worpress.org, hands-down.

I’m quite biased when it comes to WordPress.org, and here’s why.

You have complete control over your virtual territory.

There is nothing holding you back from just the right design and functionality you want for your site.  Adding themes and templates is a cinch and it just opens up and makes a world of difference

You have the ability to add your favorite plugins.

With a self-hosted site, you can add and delete plugins at your discretion.  Plugins will play a major role in how your site functions so you’ll want to be sure you free up your virtual domain for the ability to select plugins.

Plugins are what make your site so much fun- it’s the bread and butter of your blog and allows you to build it to your heart’s content.  Some of the plugins I use help me to make this blog function at its best-including adding on podcasting (using the Blubrry plugin) and batch scheduling my posts and sharing them.

Sorry WordPress.com- but you don’t offer unlimited plugin options.

You can select your favorite themes and templates.

Your choices for templates are limited on “.com”.  Extremely limited.

Switching to self-hosted allows you the freedom to install themes by companies of your choice. Suddenly, a world of thousands of templates are available at your fingertips- many of them free.

I use Genesis themes by Studiopress which offers excellent customer support.  It’s not free, but the support is so worth it. Thesis is another great option, although I’ve never used it myself.

You can’t advertise on WordPress.com sites.

On a self-hosted “.org” site, you can advertise as much as you like because it’s your domain, your space, your territory.

You’ll find so much freedom on WordPress.org that is just simply not available at .org.

When choosing WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org, these are just a few reasons why I like self-hosted sites, and have chosen to host all my sites on WordPress.org!

 If you have any questions about this video, I’d love to hear from you.  Thanks for watching the video.

How To Start a Blog Sponsors Notice

How To Start a Blog Sponsors Notice

5 tips on how to start a blog sponsors notice.

I’m happy to share this information with you today because working with sponsors has been helpful in my money-making endeavors through blogging. I give you even more juicy details in my book.  For now, let’s dig into making blogs that sponsors will notice.

how to start a blog sponsors notice

Have you been approached by sponsors for the opportunity to sponsor their brand in partnership with yours?  If not, is this something you want for your blog?  I honestly think that if you learn how to start a blog sponsors notice, you’ll receive so much benefit in your blogging business- and the benefits will blow your socks off!  Without much additional effort on your part- you could possibly link up with big brands and find an income accruing on your blog just from these partnerships.

I’m going to share with you a few tips that will help you link up with these brands.

I hope you enjoy the video as well!

 

5 tips on how to start a blog sponsors notice…

Stand out from the crowd.

In order to truly start a blog sponsors notice, you first have to stand out from the crowd.  Make sure that your blog is different than others in your industry.  Stand out by being extremely niche-specific in your market and who you are trying to reach.

On each of my blogs (both my homeschool moms blog and this blog for mompreneurs) you probably noticed that I am very narrow in my  approach to my target market.  I’m not just reaching moms, but homeschool moms, and not just homeschool moms, but faith-based homeschool moms of a particular faith.  Here at Mompreneurs in Heels I’m focusing on not only women business owners, but moms in business- and specifically moms who consider themselves mom entrepreneurs- or “mompreneurs”.  My focus in being this specific is to to ensure that whatever I write about at these blogs is so narrowly focused that there is no doubt at all who my target audiences are.

Brands love this narrow approach because it helps them to see just how well they can partner with you.  If they are certain who your target market is, they are better able to determine if your blog is a good fit for their product before they ever approach you.  Here’s a podcast I did recently about changing your blog topic. I share this one because it goes into detail about why a focused blog topic is so important.

Blog regularly and consistently.

Blogging consistently lets brands know that you are still in the loop, still active, and giving great value to your readers on an ongoing basis.  You are not just some run of the mill, hit or miss blog. You update your content regularly because you care about your readers.  This is especially important to brands as they want to make sure their product will be promoted to avid readers of your blog.

Blog authentically.

Being yourself is what being authentic is.  Make sure your blog’s tone sounds like you and not anyone else.  This goes without saying, but so many bloggers start off a little intimidated of producing so many blog posts that they begin to copy the style and voice of other bloggers out there.

Being yourself is important because brands (and your readers!) will pick up on it if you are not.  Being authentic is the most important quality of working with a brand because they want to know your opinions about their product in a real way.  Storytelling is important, and bringing your side of the story into the equation will be important in getting your audience on board with the brand you’re promoting.

[tweetthis]Sponsors love authenticity! Be authentic at your blog.[/tweetthis]

Keep your stats up to date.

If you plan to work with companies you’ll need to have your blog stats up to date. Companies working with you will want to know how large your audience is.  They will, of course, be more willing to work with you if you have a larger audience that they deem is a ticket to their marketing campaign.

When figuring out how to start a blog sponsors notice, keeping your statistics up to date should be one of the first things on your agenda. Each month at least you should take a look at your analytics as well as check on the growth of any of your social media platforms and record this on your media sheet.  That way, when a company says, “We’re interested in working with you. Can you send us a media sheets?” it doesn’t take you a week to figure it out.  It’s already prepared and ready to send as an attachment within 15 minutes or less.

Creative attractive packages.

You need to prepared to work with sponsors by knowing up front the type of partnerships you are willing to create with sponsors.  Would you like to participate in product reviews?  Promote brands through your Youtube channel?  Share their company banners on your blog?  Write sponsored posts?  It’s really up to you.  Figure out the types and ways you’d like to work with brands and begin building sponsorship packages along with pricing so that you’re ready to talk when brands approach you.

Deliver on your promises.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most important part of working with sponsors, is delivering on your promises.  Learning all the ropes on how to start a blog sponsors notice is great, but sufficiently incomplete if you do’t follow through by delivering on your promises to them.

Make sure that whatever you say you are going to do that you are able to follow up on that.  If you agree to deliver a sponsored post with integrated SEO and inbound links by a certain date, this should be completed by that date.

A good rule of thumb is: as soon as you land a contract, go ahead and begin working on your end of the deal asap.  If you are waiting on a product to review, at least go ahead and set up your post, start gathering extra graphics, gathering keywords, anything you can do in advance basically until your product arrives.  When the product arrives begin using it immediately and take lots of pictures and detailed notes.

In other words, don’t wait around to do the job. Get it done as soon as possible so that you don’t run the risk of falling behind on deadlines.

Delivering on your promises is crucial for success in working with brands.

So that’s it! These are my top tips for how to start a blog sponsors notice. Let me know your thoughts!