Tips for New Bloggers

Tips for New Bloggers (2)

 

So, you’ve started a blog and you want some tips for how to get followers and exposure? Well, I’m not the be-all-end-all expert, but I have seen an upswing in the amount of traffic to my blog in the last year. Here are some of the hints and tips that I have used, and they have seemed to help:

1. Content: You can’t have people like your blog if you don’t write well or write about meaningful, interesting things. Find your passion. Check your grammer (yes, I did that on purpose). Write about something that is worthwhile to you. To make sure my content is “good enough,” I always have my amazing hubby Tim read each post. He does a quick spell/grammar check and a review of the content as well. It’s nice to have another set of eyes before it goes in front of the world.

2. Amount of Posts: I tend to write a lot in each post (I am VERY wordy), but I don’t post any more than 1 post a day. I try to limit myself to about 5 posts a week, but I know that often that is too much. Try to spread it out, but don’t forget about your blog either. However, you only need 1 good post to hit it “big.” When my grandfather passed away in 2012, I had about 600 independent views of his post, and that was what rocketed me towards the numbers I get now. That initial exposure gave me some interested readers, and that has fueled me to where I am now- steadily at 400-500 views a day.

3. Include Pictures in Posts: I love including pictures, because I find that my favorite posts on other’s blogs include good pictures. I have been known to skip over the words (gasp! since I write so much myself) and just look at the pictures.

4. Organization of Blog: Once I gave my blog a makeover in April 2013, I saw a huge difference in my viewership. Maybe it was my confidence or just that the layout was easier to navigate, but I think it’s a much cleaner, more organized look and feel. Plus, it’s pretty! People like pretty blogs! Oh, and include a search button somewhere easy to find! I can’t tell you the number of times that I am looking for something on a post on a blog, and I give up and move away from that blog because I can’t search it easily!

5. Pinterest is Your Friend: That is the number 1 way that I started seeing spikes in my views (From there, Google noticed me and it since took over as the #1 referrer through searches). Include a picture in every single blog post. Then, on your Pinterest profile, have a board that is your blog title. Pin a picture (or 14) from your post to that blog board. People like things that visually intrigue them. My Classroom (In Progress) post has hundreds thousands of re-pins because I pinned just about every picture from it. Teachers love organizational ideas, and I am always getting re-pins every day of my pictures from that post.

Oh, and when you upload pictures to your blog, give them an interesting title AND the name of your blog. That way, if someone is on your blog and pins one of your pictures, it automatically has a good pin description instead of “IMG1234.” It takes time at the beginning, but it is worth it in the long run.

One final tip: don’t just post your own content on Pinterest. Have other (well-organized) boards and post other content to them. I read somewhere that it should be about half original content and half pre-existing content from other sites. That will be the most interesting to other Pinterest users. Oh, and DESCRIPTIVE PINS ARE NECESSARY!

6. Link to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: You can automatically link your posts to Facebook and Twitter. You can connect your Instagram pictures to your blog. Your Instagram pictures can instantly post to Facebook and Twitter (and other social media sites too). Yes, Facebook now has some weird settings so it doesn’t get a lot of views, but there are ways to circumnavigate that and increase its exposure. I haven’t had time to look into that (raising twins, you know), but check Pinterest.

7. Link Parties: Bloggers host themed “parties” where they invite other bloggers to repost one of their favorite posts onto their link party. This is great exposure. Make sure to follow the rules of the party, but post your content onto them. Once I link up a post, I will go to the bottom of my post and write a little line like “This post was linked to XY’s Link Party #42” and have the link to that party. That way, I remember that it has been linked to a certain site, and I won’t do that post on that site again. Some of my better/favorite tutorials have lots of link-ups at the bottom of the post.

8. Blog Button: Make yourself a blog button. If you don’t know where to start, a new website called Canva can help you make a professional-looking and free button. Then, you can create an HTML code via “Grab my Button” for your blog.

9. HTML: You don’t have to learn HTML with the awesome blog sites like Blogger and WordPress. Still, it’s nice to be able to read  coding. Every now and then, switch to your “text” view and see if you can figure out what code does what. Also, simple searches will help you out too.

10. Reviews: I enjoy doing reviews for products that I use. It’s a perk of blogging to be able to get “free” stuff (though it’s not the reason I blog). If you want to get started in this realm, start by asking local artists (such as Etsy sellers, direct sales consultants, or local businesses) if they would be willing to give you ABC Product in exchange for a review. I have a “Sponsoring” page where you can see my spiel for reviews and giveaways.

Once you get established, you can go to sites like Tomoson and other review-based websites and apply for reviews. These often depend on your stats, so you do have to build up a following first.

11. Giveaways: These are a great way to get your name out there a bit more. You have to be willing to push your giveaway a bit at first, but hopefully if it’s for a good product, the news of it will spread. One of my favorite blog moments was when I received my first giveaway entry from someone I didn’t know. Eek! Strangers read my blog! Of course, you will want to have good content to keep them coming back! By the way, I love using Rafflecopter to host my free giveaways.

12. Message Boards: Once you know your niche, go to your already-established message boards and look for questions that you have already answered in a blog post. Then, say to that poster: “Oh! I wrote about that in my blog. Here’s the link: www.YourPostHere.com” Be warned, you will want to already be established first, or you will be known as The Annoying Blogger that Only Posts About Her Stuff (and you may get banned).

13. Comment on Other Blogs: This is a big part of link-ups and social media. Don’t just be a one-way street! Go visit other blogs. Love on them. And comment! Bloggers love to get comments! And then leave your blog address. We WILL visit your blog and share in the mutual love.

14. Bloglovin’: This is where I organize all of my favorite blogs. Then, I can read when they add new posts. Make sure your blog is on Bloglovin’ too! There are other sites that do the same, but that is my favorite. While you are at it, follow me on Bloglovin‘!

15. Guest Posts/Collaborators: Contact some of your favorite blogs and ask if you can do a guest post or if they will do a guest post on your blog. This is a great way to get more followers. Or submit some of your original content into review blogs, like I did with Favorite Paint Colors and Totally Tutorials. Better yet, link up as a continual collaborator (meaning you constantly give content to a certain blog), as I am with How Do You Do It? I have another really exciting collaboration coming up that I will announce in about a month. I’m so excited to share this one!

16. Links in Your Posts: If you refer back to something that you wrote, link to it. If you have a theme of posts, make a tab and do a bunch of links, like what I did with Life with Twins or Twin Pregnancy or Tutorials/DIY or Recipes or Reviews/Giveaways. Readers like easy access to content. Make it easy for them.

17. Social Media Icons: These are much more simple than you think. They are just pictures that, if clicked, link to your specific social media site (such as Instagram or Twitter). Some can be fancier and automatically make you “like” a Facebook page or “follow” on Twitter, but you don’t have to make them that special. Just a link to your other profiles is enough! If that reader uses that Pinterest site, they know how to follow you!

 

Shout Out Time: Thanks so much to Leah at That Mama Jama for being my inspiration for this post! I hope that you see lots of great stats in your blogging future, my friend!

Worry-Free Wednesday with Doyle Dispatch

Have a Hoppy Spring Silhouette Tutorial

You would never believe that with the snow that we have had in Virginia, we are into our first full week of spring. Crazy, right?

Well, it is! And to continue the decoration that I started with my Luck o’ the Irish sign, I thought that we needed one for the springtime. Since I am Jewish and Tim is Christian, I didn’t want a purely Easter sign (although I love the pastel colors), so I decided to use the colors and have a bunny theme. Hey, normally I try to keep it far from feminine in our house, but this is my one corner to cutesy it out.

Have a Hoppy Spring - The Doyle Dispatch

So, I used the essentially the same steps as I originally found on The Sensory Emporium, but I wanted to write my own tutorial since I have changed a few things.

Silhouette Studio Offsetting & Shape Words - The Doyle Dispatch

Start by piecing out the words that you will want to use. I have “Have a,” then “hoppy” will go inside the bunny (so I saved it for later), and then “spring.” You can also see that I was playing around with what I wanted my bunny to look like. I found these images through a Google search (you can actually do a safe search to be sure that you are allowed to use the images), then I traced them. To find directions on tracing shapes, look at my tutorial hereHave a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Next, I wrote “HOPPY” in all capital letters and placed it inside the bunny.Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then I chose my font and readjusted the size. I am currently obsessed with Oh {Photo} Shoot!, which I believe I got for free from KevinAndAmanda.com.Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I ungrouped the letters, which allows me to move, resize, and alter each letter individually.

Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Before I did too much readjusting, I duplicated Mr. Bunny, as I would need another copy of him later. I then readjusted all of the letters so that they will go past the outline of the bunny.
Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Next, I selected the image of the bunny and all of the letters and clicked Object –> Modify –> Crop.
Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

As you can see, this then cuts off all of the extra parts of the letter that are outside of the bunny. This also gets rid of the bunny (which is why you needed to have an extra copy of him earlier).Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, you can slide the duplicated bunny over again and do some last adjusting of the letters. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

This isn’t the most simplistic font, so I had to clean up a few points.Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I figured out what I wanted to cut on one color of my vinyl and I put it on the page. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

I always like using as little vinyl as possible, so I get creative with my spacing.

Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Once that was cut out, I realized that I wanted a little extra to the finished sign, so I highlighted the text and used the offset tool to outline the letters. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I sent these backgrounds to the cutter. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle DispatchI am so excited with how it turned out!

Have a Hoppy Spring - The Doyle Dispatch

Luck o’ the Irish

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

In just a couple of hours, you are going to find out about my new series, “No Spend Pin Day.” This is a great opportunity to try out your favorite pinned projects from Pinterest, without spending a cent (actually, you can spend up to $5).

I thought I should participate as well, so here is my pin:

I had seen these before in all different kinds of shapes (I love the ones that are in the shape of a moustache), and I thought, “Hm. I bet I can do that with a shamrock! We are the Doyles, after all, and we don’t have a bit of St. Patrick’s Day decorations at our house.”

So, I found a shamrock image, traced it, and edited a few of the points a bit. Then, I followed The Sensory Emporium’s directions step-by-step. I cut them out, pieced them together, and then went shopping. The vinyl was free, since I already had it lying around after a big order from an online vinyl shop.

Michael’s (tied with Hobby Lobby for the ultimate superstore for crafting) had a 40% coupon, the picture frames for 1/2 off, and my teacher discount (the reason why I usually go to Michael’s first… Hobby Lobby doesn’t do a teacher discount). I found that adorable shiny-wood-bark paper in the scrapbook aisle. I then slapped the vinyl onto the paper, put it in the frame, and propped it up on our console table in our front hallway. The best part of it is that when I put the gold wording on the green clover, there were some bubbles. By using this patterned paper, you can’t even tell, because the pattern comes through all of the words.

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

I can’t wait to re-use the frame and do another one for April!

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

Oh How Pinteresting

I am all for this linking-up to other bloggers. This brings 2 of my loves: Pinterest and blogs!

If you want to participate in this link-up, just read these directions.

The rules are easy: just pin what you love! So, in honor of the beginning of March and St. Patties Day, here are some cute ideas to get you ready for the 17th!

Source: google.com via Dory on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Dory on Pinterest

Source: listia.com via Dory on Pinterest

Source: mccormick.com via Dory on Pinterest

Source: tablespoon.com via Dory on Pinterest

Cold Water for Wet Nail Polish

Ten years ago, I was fortunate enough to play Lucy Van Pelt in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Four County Players in Barboursville, VA.

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On Thursday, the cast (now 10 years older) was invited back to the opening night of Snoopy at 4CP. In honor of this reunion, I decided to paint my finger nails yellow with the CB zigzag pattern. I do love my Peanuts, after all!

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(Please ignore the messiness. I did clean them up after taking this picture.)

I thought I would try the drying technique where you put your fingers in cold water for 3 minutes to cure the polish. I’ll cut to the chase: it didn’t work well with a thick polish (the stripes smeared). Maybe I’ll try again with just regular polish.

On the other hand, I do know two products that work amazingly: Nicole (by OPI) Drying Drops and Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat. I love both of these, and I use both of them (not at the same time). The Insta-Dri is a true top coat, while the Drying Drops are more like an oil. If I had to pick one, I love the 2-in-1 nature of the Insta-Dri Top Coat. It’s expensive but soooo worth it!

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