blogger

The 7 Essential Tools For Leveling Up Your Blog

By Rachel Beaney

Whether you're new to blogging or you've been doing it for years, there's no denying the time and effort that goes into crafting a stellar post. But being a blogger these days is about more than writing a stellar post: whether you're distributing your content, jazzing it up with images or jumping into new mediums like podcasting, the world of blogging continues to evolve in exciting, sometimes unpredictable ways - and it's up to us to keep up with it.

For many of us, these new avenues are out of our comfort zone. If we're blogging for business, we don't have time to play with new tools, and for some of us all this tech stuff might be a bit much. But if you're looking to explore new ways to level up your blog, I've got a list of killer tools which save time, are easy to use, and make you look like a pro.

Here are my favourite tools for creating stunning and shareable blog posts, from concept to finished product:

Get your words down
For many of us, our focus is on our business. Blogging might be a form of content marketing to get our brand, values and skills out there in the world. So grammar isn't always our first thought. But as the old joke goes, "Let's eat, Grandma!" as opposed to "Let's eat Grandma!" - grammar matters. And it helps our business and brand look more professional.

For this, Grammarly is my BFF. Spellcheck will pick up regular typos, but if your word order is incorrect, or if you've repeated a word, Grammarly will be all over it. There's a free Chrome plugin for your browser for the basics, or you can pay for the advanced features. It works all over the web - whether you're creating a post in Wordpress, LinkedIn Pulse or drafting in regular old email.

Make it gorgeous
Canva is the darling of Australia's start-up scene - the graphic design tool that is drop-and-drag simple, but has the eye of a brilliant graphic designer at its core. Canva is amazing for creating all kinds of content. While it's most famous for pulling together gorgeous Instagram quotes, I use it on my blog every week, whether I'm creating a title image, a banner ad to cross-link between posts, or an infographic for a post. If you level up to a paid subscription, your business colour palettes and folds can be saved as a default. Love it!

Make it shareable
Did you know that SEO takes into account social links? So the more your community shares your content, the greater the SEO love. There are a few nifty tools out there to help you help your audience share your content.

Click-To-Tweet lets you pull a quote from your blog to highlight and embed it so that your reader can tweet that quote in one click. There's a straightforward wizard which means it's easy to use, and embeddable with a simple bit of code.

But not everyone is on Twitter. If fact, if you're a creative businesswoman, you're far more likely to be on Pinterest. If you're targeting other women on Pinterest, make sure your content is easily accessible to your fellow pinners.

One method you might consider is to take a quote from your blog, pop it in Canva, and jazz it up so that it's utterly Pinterest-able. Make it easy for your audience to share your content on their Pinterest boards so it's a new traffic generator for you.

Get Inspired
Looking for new content ideas for your blog? Use the data you've already got! Turn to the analytics of your social media channels to find out what your audience is passionate about, and turn that data into blog posts.

Look at the articles you've tweeted over the past month (even if they aren't yours!), export the analytics and see what content people have retweeted the most. From there, see if you can pivot on those ideas for new content.

I recommend cutting the data over different time frames to see which kinds of content engage people - you might see different kinds of content if you look over a week, a month or a year. What topics, headlines, themes or mediums are people sharing? Go bold and give them a go!

Schedule It
Using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite means that you can create content and schedule it over the course of the week without posting it to each of your social media channels each day. Hootsuite also has a rad bulk upload feature which makes it even easier to upload hundreds of posts at once.

If you have a lot of evergreen content, you might find a social scheduling tool like Buffer or Meet Edgar is more useful for you as they perpetually recycle your content over months, alleviating you of the burden of perpetually scheduling it yourself.

Cross it over
While cross posting to other sites can be controversial from an SEO perspective, it can be useful to cross-post to gain new audiences, especially if those sites are social media sites. With the shift in sites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse having their own community and algorithms, posting your content there using the right keywords or hashtags might just expose you to new audiences.

If you're using Wordpress, there are a few nifty plugins which automatically cross-posts all your posts to Medium as you publish them.

Explore new territory
There's a time in every bloggers life where they might want to experiment with a new medium. It might be a one night stand, or the start of a new relationship. Either way, new mediums help you share your content in new ways, spice it up for your audience and give you a new outlet to sink your creative teeth into!

There are some amazing services out there to help you mix up your content. Wideo.com, for example, provides a cloud-based video editing option on a subscription basis, while Biteable lets you create cute animated videos which are incredibly flexible. Similar to Canva, you can choose templates – either animated or stock footage – and completely customise them.

You might even want to branch out and host an interview on Facebook Live (using an extension like BeLive.tv to add guests) and embed it in your blog, or recycle it (the mantra of every blogger!) and turn it into a podcast for easy listening (and embedding!) later on.

I hope I've given you some new tools to play with and inspired you to jazz up your blog - and if you've got recommendations for any others, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Rachel Beaney is a freelance social media specialist who writes over at rachelbeaney.com. A freelancer with extensive experience working on big brands like Microsoft and Samsung, she enjoys teaching businesses of all sizes how to level up their social media with strategy and killer content. You can catch her regularly posting about dogs on Twitter or Instagram @beaney.

Why Your Next Blog Post Should be Evergreen

By Lauren Fraser

What is it?

Evergreen content is also known as pillar content. You’ve probably heard that it’s super important for your blog, but often people forget to mention why that is and how you can make it work for your blog specifically.

So first, let’s cover the basics. Evergreen or pillar content is content that lasts all year round, for many years – just like the leaves on an evergreen tree. For blogging, this means that your post continues to attract readers to your site continuously after it is first posted.

Your evergreen content is often your most popular, because new readers keep finding your site through these ‘pillar’ posts.

As these types of post support your site with visitors in the long term, they need to really reflect your blogging brand and niche. They are the pillars or building blocks of your blog. When your posts do reflect your overall focus, the visitor to your site is highly likely to find other content on your site interesting and stay a little longer to look around.

Why Evergreen Content?

For us busy bloggers and biz owners, every moment is important. We wear so many different hats, being writers, social media whizzes, educators, salespersons, and more – you don’t need me to tell you our time is pretty stretched.

That is why evergreen content is the must-have type of content for your blog. Why? Because it has the biggest return on investment for your time (ROI).

Rather than constantly producing new content that will be forgotten the next week, your time is much better repaid by producing content that people will continue to visit weeks, months, and years later. A few hours of work for continuous return in visitors. Sounds good, right?

Even more importantly, by creating your evergreen content intentionally, the visitors it continues to attract will be the right kind of visitors. They will be interested in your blogging niche. This makes them more likely to click through to other posts on your site, to sign up to your mailing list, to share your content, and to buy your products and services.

Pretty valuable visitors, huh? And the content that keeps them coming – even more so.

Spoiler! You have already posted evergreen content

Some of your existing blog posts will already be pillar content.

You can usually find these types of post by looking at your analytics. Which posts attract the most page views? Which attract the most engagement through comments, likes, shares, and pins? These are the current cornerstones of your blog.

If these posts accurately represent your blog’s niche, then use them to guide the next blog posts you create. Look for a trend and create posts from different angles on the same theme.

Let me give you an example. I discovered that recipes including chocolate bars were really popular on Knead to Dough, so I produced more of those. As expected, these have all moved up to my most viewed posts and continue to bring visitors to my site. My target readers are foodie bloggers which many of these visitors are, but not all of them.

I also discovered that my how-to style blogging posts continued to attract traffic. As these directly appeal to my target reader, and the recipe posts offer valuable case studies to them, this is the more valuable of my two types of evergreen content.

It brings the right people to my site to then look at other recipes and my blogging posts. They are also likely to sign up to my free resource library, which includes some guides specifically for foodies as well as general content resources.

How to use evergreen content on your blog

So you know how I use evergreen content to boost traffic continuously for Knead to Dough, but how can you apply it to your own blog?

You’re already starting to assess your popular posts for their suitability as pillar content for your blog and using them as inspiration for more.

You can also create pillar content by creating content that is already known to be successful, shareable, and regularly searched. How-to and list posts are typically very popular as they usually provide in depth, valuable, actionable advice.

The key to writing successful evergreen content is to provide as much value as possible. Pick your frequently searched niche topic and cover it in depth. Don’t leave your readers with unanswered questions at the end. If your content is valuable and informative, people will continue to find it useful.

Set yourself the challenge to make every blog post evergreen for the next month. If you can, challenge yourself to do this forever.

Tip: don’t forget to update pillar content as and when changes occur that apply to that topic.

If you’ve found this post helpful, you can sign up for my FREE Resource Library full of content and social media tips for your blog here.

The takeaways?

§  Evergreen content gives you the best ROI for your time

§  It attracts the right kind of visitors who are likely to subscribe and buy

§  Create content intentionally to attract these visitors and provide them lots of value

§  How-to and list posts are great options for creating evergreen content

Lauren Fraser helps other blogs and businesses (especially foodies!) transform their social media and blogging strategies to get the traffic, engagement, and leads they want. You can find blogging resources and guides on her site, Knead to Dough, with a pinch of delicious recipes thrown in for good measure! 

Working to Feed My Soul

By Aggie Armstrong

As far as I can remember, I've always been a creative person and a creative person who worked. It was something I had to do... After I had left the corporate world of marketing and communications, I became a creative entrepreneur as a photographer and blogger. I had incorporated my photography business and blogged part-time, and both seemed to feed my need for creative expression happily.

As I finished off a huge wedding shoot and had a few clients booked for several months, the universe decided to throw somewhat of a wrench in my plans, and I got pregnant. Let me preface this by saying that we have tried having a child for years before this but it was of course during a time when my energies moved from wanting to mother a human to nurturing a small business that came about. She's cheeky, the Universe, isn't she?

I worked till I was eight months pregnant, feeling large and not so in charge. My spirits were up, though; I was happy that my business was gaining traction, and I thought that I could keep up working right away after a few months of maternity leave. 

I tried after six months. But it wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. I felt extreme guilt that I had to go away for a couple of hours, even if the shoot was right in my backyard. The post-production process was a bit of a nightmare because I wasn't getting enough sleep, and when I got back to editing, I felt uninspired but rushed to finish the project.

The timing didn't seem right to me, and I wasn't exactly jumping at the notion of being behind the camera. After another six months of still feeling not like myself, I finally went to see my doctor to discuss the state of my health, and she diagnosed me with postpartum depression. It totally made sense - I was constantly anxious about the baby's well-being, but I felt a sense of annoyance whenever she cried and wanted me. I was also very detached from all the things I used to find pleasure in life, like spending time with my husband, going out to meet with friends, and even something menial as reading a book.

It was difficult to focus, and it seemed like my emotions were all over the place. After seeking help, and taking some medication, I started to feel better again. Bit by bit, I thought of going back to work and was getting some of the same fire in my gut to do something creative. I took all of these as significant signs that I was on the right path to good health.

Within the year of getting better, I slowly made changes about how to go about getting back to work. I am very fortunate in the sense that I have my husband's great support, not only emotionally but also financially to take my time to heal and get back on my feet with regards to my business. I am quite aware of this. And this has added fuel to my desire to get back to the trenches. 

Motherhood changes one's life; there's no doubt about that. But I'm of the persuasion that motherhood should not stop you from being who you were before you had children, it should enhance you. As I take my role as a mother with great responsibility and privilege, I do too as a creative thinking person, as it rounds me up as a complex human. 

I've been taking workshops to better my online presence as a blogger, photographer and as an entrepreneur. And it has been quite helpful to get my confidence back to attain success by my design. What I'm finding with these business workshops is that the lessons are all encompassing with one's personal life too. Shouldn't that be the primary purpose of continuous learning, though? So that we can apply it in all aspects of our lives?

Working with my confidence as a business owner makes me a more secure version of myself. When I do my creative work, it fulfills a different side of myself that motherhood can't. In the same respect, it makes me extremely excited and grateful that I have my role as a mother that inflates my heart like no other job I've ever had can.

Aggie Armstrong is a city-bred mama but now a bucolic countryside transplant. As a mother who's had a child later in life, she's finding it hard to be solely “just a mom” after having a career before hand. As a writer and blogger, she shares her mothering triumphs and mishaps – all of it; steeped in humour, vulnerability and more often than not, in expletive-laden tirades. As a photographer, she captures all the great moments of family life not in a perfectly posed frame, but with the imperfections that make life real, beautiful and full of emotion. Join her in her celebration of women as mothers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and perfectly imperfect beauties on her website, Instagram, and Twitter

6 Pinterest Essentials for Business Owners

By Anne and Kathleen 

As a business owner, you have so, so many threads to chase. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling on Etsy, designing new software, or providing a coaching service to female entrepreneurs, you wear a lot of hats. Some are fun, some are fabulous, and others? Well, you’d just as soon never put those hats on at all.

That’s how many people view Pinterest. Sure, it’s girly and fluffy, and has more banana-bacon pancakes than the world needs, but it’s also a visual bookmarking tool. One you can use, even if you think your audience isn’t using Pinterest. If your audience buys things online, they’re using Pinterest.

And Pinterest is an excellent driver of traffic to your website. It’s better than Twitter and Facebook combined. Why? People head to Pinterest when they’re in a buying mentality instead of a “hmm, I wonder what my friends are doing on social media” mindset.

We want to help you succeed, so we put together six Pinterest essentials for business owners. Get these ducks in a row, and you’ll see a marked increase in your traffic.

1. Set up a Pinterest Business Account

If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, head over to Pinterest.com and set up an account. Set up a business account, not an individual account, because Pinterest will give you the tools and insights you need to make the most of this experience.

Already have a personal account with followers? Convert your account to a business account. It’s just a few clicks and doesn’t require any extra information or hard steps.

2. Set Up Boards That Appeal to Your Audience

You know your ideal client, right? What’s she like? What does she do when she’s not buying what you’re selling? Set up lifestyle boards that relate to your audience.

Goal: set up at least ten non-branded boards with at least ten pins each that show your personality and the personality of the people you’re trying to attract.

3. Pin Your Products

This is a no brainer if you are a product-based company, but even if you’re selling coaching or other non-tangible services, make a point to pin those as well. Call this board “Your Business Name” and add enough pins so your customer knows exactly what they’ll get from you if they decide to hire you.

4. Make it Easy to Maintain

Hire someone to set up your pins and boards for you, then make that person responsible for maintaining your Pinterest profile. If hiring is not in the cards, there are affordable tools like Board Booster to keep things going.

Maintenance tasks include: pinning other content to your boards (aside from your branded board), pinning your new content and products, applying to group boards, creating a group board, deleting pins with a low repin count, adding your pins to the appropriate group boards, etc.

5. Help Your Customers Help You

Prompt people to pin your images while they are reading by installing a Pin It button that displays when readers hover over your images.

SumoMe Image Sharer adds not only Pinterest, but also Twitter and Facebook. Best of all? It’s free!

An alternative free option is jQuery Pin It.

6. Experiment with Promoted Pins

Brands are seeing huge success with promoted pins. Read about how lingerie-subscription service Adore Me gained more customers using promoted pins here.

Why promote pins? Thus far, they tend to be cheaper than Facebook, which is one point right away. Secondly, promoted pins result in re-pins. Re-pins lead to longer lasting traffic. A Facebook ad is displayed in a feed, perhaps a few times to the same person, and then is gone. A promoted pin is displayed in a feed and if it gets repinned, it goes on to become an organic pin that brings you long lasting traffic.

Now What?

Implement these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a strong Pinterest presence. And trust us when we say that a strong Pinterest presence means a strong boost in traffic. And traffic? Traffic converts to revenue.

Want to learn even more? We’re looking for a small group of dedicated bloggers to join us as we teach you how to leverage Pinterest to bring your website dedicated sustainable traffic. Find out more about the Pinterest Strategy beta course here.

Anne and Kathleen have started dozens of websites over the past several years and they are always looking for ways to grow their traffic and efficiently utilize their time. You can find Anne at UniqueGifter.com and Kathleen at ForProfitBlogging.com (among other places!). Their Pinterest strategy course is bursting at the seams with actionable content to help you level up your business. Beta launches in February, full course launches in May.

Intern Wanted // Join Team Blog Society

I'm so excited to announce that the Blog Society team is growing and that we're on the hunt for a driven, social media savvy, digital dreamer with a desire to get shit done to join us on this incredible adventure. Here's the details...

DETAILS

  • 3-6 month, non-paid internship (includes access to our Digital Bravery E-course, social media training, monthly coaching sessions and more!)
  • Starts in March 2016 
  • 5 -10 hours per week (flexible)
  • Work remotely with weekly catch up calls & meetings.
  • Global applicants accepted, Sydney preferred.

BLOG SOCIETY INTERN MUST HAVE:

  • A love for blogging, social media, online marketing and events
  • Knowledge and experience with Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram
  • Graphic design experience preferred
  • Motivational self-starter
  • Have a laptop or desktop computer
  • Desire to learn and problem solve
  • Creative, positive and passionate soul
  • Exceptional organisation skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Skilled writer
  • Attention to detail

EXTRAS (but not necessary!)

  • Experience with Squarespace
  • Experience with Photoshop 

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Social media copywriting 
  • Scheduling and tracking social media
  • Creating content and images
  • Drafting and editing blog content
  • Responding to emails and tracking newsletters
  • Attend local events (if applicable)

TO BE CONSIDERED, PLEASE SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING: 

  • Resume 
  • Links to your blog, business website and social media (send all that apply)
  • What you hope to learn from this internship and why it interests you
  • Any additional information that will help us get to know you better!
  • Send all information to: Jaclyn@blogsociety.com.au with 'Internship' in the subject line.

I’d love to welcome this new team member by the end of February so submissions will close on 23 February 2016 - good luck! x Jaclyn