January 2nd, 2013

blogging2

Blogging 2.0

blogging2 This has been quite a year.  Luckily the good has outweighed the bad and S&S has grown beyond my wildest expectations.  I’m so thankful for my readers, the friendships I’ve made through blogging, the brands I’ve been fortunate enough to work with this year, and so much more. Last year, I wrote this post, which was a great guide for the beginner blogger.  This year I thought I’d step things up a notch.

You’ve been doing this a while.  You know your way around Photoshop and even a little bit of code.  You’re building a brand, getting the pageviews, have the followers, and so on and so forth.  So… what comes next!?  I thought I’d share a few tips & tricks that have helped me this year. So here they are… all my “secrets.”  Some of it’s just plain common sense… other things, I’ve learned at work or through trial and error.

First of all, seriously consider the move to WordPress.  When I was on Blogger, I didn’t understand what could possibly be so great about WordPress.  Now that I’m on WordPress, I couldn’t imagine using Blogger.  The options for customization are endless.  With Blogger, you’re blog is always going to look like a blog and it is going to be very hard to differentiate your site from the millions of other sites out there.  It’s not a must for everyone but it was for me.  Note:  I use WordPress.org as I have a self-hosted blog.  Wordpress.com is great, but you won’t be able to put ads on your blog if you use it.

Maximize your social media channels by developing a clear + consistent strategy for each platform.

Let’s talk Pinterest.  For most bloggers, Pinterest is now the #1 traffic driver, social media wise.  If it isn’t for you, there is a chance that you may be doing something wrong.

  1. I read an article (cannot for the life of me remember where) that stated that customers/readers are 10x more likely to engage with a brand’s pins if it is pinned organically (by others) vs. pinned by the brand.  So… if you pin your own content, that is great… maybe you will get some engagement…but your real objective should be getting others to pin your content.  Install an easy pin-it button on your blog… or better yet, a pin-it overlay on each image.  This is pretty easy to install from what I understand – my developer did mine for me but I’ve heard that it’s just an easy plug-in to install.
  2. Optimize your pins!  You should probably be optimizing your pins to make sure that yuur pins are hitting when the bulk of your followers are online.  Sunday is Pinterest’s best traffic day so you should make sure you’re doing some weekend pinning.  If you are anything like me (avoid social like the plague on weekends) use a scheduling service.  I use Pingage at work (obsessed) but have also experimented with Pingraphy and a few other services.
  3. When pinning your images, make sure that you are clicked into the actual post and pinning from that… not the main screen.  Otherwise, as your pin gets repinned and time goes on, it’s going to make it really hard for your readers to find the original post.

Facebook… is a great way to engage with your readers.  To fully maximize it’s benefits (especially with the timeline format) you should keep it as visual as possible.

  1. Don’t just put up links to your posts (or use the automatic post to Facebook feature.)  Instead, post a photo, short description, and bit.ly link to your post.  This will get considerably more engagement – I promise.
  2. Use Facebook to build community.  Everytime one of a reader instagrams or tweets me one of my DIY projects, I put it here.  And every time someone instagrams or wears one of my Etsy creations, I put it here.
  3. Use Facebook to build your brand and show off a bit.  Highlight your outfits, events you’ve hosted, and key press.  These might not be the right “buckets” for you, but you get where I’m going, right?
  4. Update your timeline graphic frequently to show off posts you are proud of.  I usually use the timeline graphic to show off my latest DIY project.  It’s just another way to further draw attention to posts you are proud of.
  5. Just as you would with Pinterest, include easy sharing buttons at the bottom of every post.

Be the face of your own brand.  This was a hard one for me, at first.  I did not want my blog to be about me, so much as about all of the things I love and the projects I like to make.  But here’s the thing… your readers (and brands) want to get to know that person behind the blog.  It also puts a more personal spin on all of those clothes you are writing about.  So show your face here and there.  Maybe it’s not an outfit post.  Maybe you do recipes and you include a shot of yourself in the kitchen.  But by putting yourself out there more, you will instantly establish a more personal connection with your readers.

When in doubt, just assume that people are lazy.  The easier you make it for your readers, the more they will engage with your site.  Since making my links pink, my click through has gone up tremendously.  Since adding the Pin-it overlay to my images, more people are pinning my images.  Make it easy for people to engage with and share your content, and they will.  Just PLEASE don’t ask them to do it… that’s tacky if you ask me.

Monetization is a tricky thing.   You don’t want to compromise your content, but you should be rewarded for all of your hard work.  Here’s what works for me.

  • Say no.  Say no frequently and have a reason.  I said no to some opportunities that paid really well this year, but didn’t feel right about them – either because the brand wasn’t the right fit or because I had so much else going on that it wasn’t humanly possible.  The funny thing is (and I know everyone says this but it’s true) the more I said no, the more amazing opportunities came my way.
  • Use Shopsense!!!  I absolutely love RewardStyle, but Shopsense pays you by the click vs. per sale.  Know your readers and their purchasing patterns, and use a balance between RewardStyle + Shopsense links accordingly.
  • Embed your links within your content vs. just linking to items at the bottom of the post.  You’ll see an improved click-through rate, guaranteed.
  • I mentioned this before, but by making your links a bright color (vs. gray or a neutral which is what I had before) you will see a much, much better click-through on your links.

The little things make a world of difference.

  • I invested in some beautiful stationery and send hand written thank you notes when I finish up a brand partnership, when someone does something really nice for me, when I’m really proud of a friend and want to tell her so, etc.  A pretty piece of snail mail goes a long way.
  • Say Thank You.  Every time a brand sends me a product, I email them to say thanks.  This sounds like an obvious one, but speaking from someone who also works on the brand side, trust me… not everyone does it.  In fact, it’s actually rather rare.  Even if it’s just a tiny something or other, that person or brand thought YOU were a good person to send it to.  That alone is worth a thank you!

Community is King.

  • Admittedly, I have not been as good as I once was at responding to blog comments.  But there are other ways to grow your community.  A weekly links round-up is something I’ve found to be quite effective in terms of highlighting the posts I really loved.
  • Having a good group of blogging friends makes blogging better.  As I’ve dove further and further into the world of blogging, I find that there are major highs and lows.  Having a few close people that you can talk to about it all makes a huge difference.  You’ll also find yourself bouncing ideas off each other and learn so much more than if you just kept to yourself.
  • The more ideas you share, the more ideas you’ll have.  I never really understood the point of keeping all of your ideas + knowledge to yourself, which was in part, the inspiration behind this post.  I’ve always found that the more I share with others, the more I get back and learn.

That’s it.. there you have it… all of my little tips + tricks.  What’s your best blogging tip?  I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Updates/Resources:

71 Responses to Blogging 2.0

  1. Lauren January 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Grace- quick question— are you referring to wordpress.org or .com?? I know there is a difference but not sure which you are referring to! Thanks!

  2. Jewel at Eat.Drink.Shop.Love January 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Great post! I’m looking to step up my blogging game in 2013 and this post reassured everything I was thinking.

  3. Lauren January 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Thanks! I was going with .org anyway, but I am glad that you just reinforced that it is the right option! Your other tips are very helpful too- have a nice week!

  4. Hitha January 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Awesome tips, Grace! Thank you for sharing them.

    xx,
    HPN

  5. Chelsea January 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Fantastic recommendations! Thanks for the insight and the push to start a great year of blogging :)

    Chelsea
    Haute Child in the City

  6. madeleine January 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I just added this to my favorites! So much good advice to look at and think about!

  7. Kim // Six2Eleven January 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Grace, you are the best! As a newer blogger, I SO appreciate people like you that are willing to take the time to help us newbies out. Bless your heart! :)

    Kim

  8. Nikki Rappaport January 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Great tips. The pinterest stuff is helpful. Thanks Grace!

  9. jennifer {fabfatale.com} January 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    excellent tips! thanks so much for taking the time to share!

  10. Tierney @ The Preppy Leopard January 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Great post, Grace! This is all very helpful advice. I, for one, am glad you made S&S more personal! You’re so pretty with such a great sense of style! :)

  11. Lisa January 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    100% agree about the colorful links. I switched to this format in early 2012 and at the very least it really helps differentiate the links from the rest of the content. Great tips!

  12. Meredith January 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks so much for these tips Grace! These are really helpful. Thanks for being so candid!

  13. ALISON January 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    These are fabulous tips! Somethings I didn’t know and have been blogging for nearly 2 years. Thank you! Happy New Year too:)

  14. Bettina January 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Loved this post, I remember your 1.0 post and this is a great follow-up. Very concise and you included great actionable tips for us all to follow through on.

    I really need to get a design going for my blog. I think 2013 is my year to finally take the plunge and invest a little more behind the blog’s design. Going to take a look at CooperHouse, the company you used and see what the rates are. I’ve been hesitant thinking maybe I’ll just get a friend to create bits and pieces, but I really want to enhance the experience and create a more user friendly interface versus the typical long, long roll of blog posts on the home page.

    Thanks for the inspiration & motivation!

  15. Rachel January 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Great post! I cannot agree enough with WordPress. SO many bloggers still use Blogger, but the evidence is out there that WordPress is better for search results and far more customizable. I’ve noticed a decline in my re-pins in the past few months, so I’m going to try to post more on Sundays now! Shopsense was difficult for me to understand/install, so I’ll have to look into it more now!

  16. Noemi January 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    It’s very kind from you to share these tips. I think it’s the first time a blogger give advice to others, with all these details.

  17. Emily | Sparkle Meets Pop January 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Thank you so much for the great tips — probably the most practical list I’ve read in very long while. Happy New Year to you, all the best!

  18. ashley January 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    what a fantastic post!! i relate so much to your experience about not wanting to focus to much on ME, but i’ve had such a better relationship with my readers since i started sharing more. oh mannn i know i need to switch over to wordpress, i’m honestly just overwhelmed by the thought! happy new year, lady! xox

  19. Brittany January 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank you SO much for this! As a juuust starting out, baby blogger, this is incredibly helpful information to hear.

    Happy New Year!

  20. Brittany January 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Thank you SO much for this! As a just starting out, newbie baby blogger, this is incredible information to have.

    Thanks again, and happy New Year!

  21. Alex January 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    I’m definitely going take your tips into consideration!

  22. Sara Strauss January 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    These are amazing tips! I will definitely be utilizing them!! I especially like the one about the pin-it overlay and being the face of my own brand! Thanks so much for this!!
    ~Sara

  23. Kait January 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    This is such a fantastic post! My blog is still a baby so these are awesome tips–also checked out the other blogging info posts you’ve written and I cannot say enough good things about them!

    I have been reading Stripes & Sequins for quite some time now; thanks for always being so real! Xo

  24. Emily January 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Loooved this, Grace! I have been weighing switching over to WordPress for a while now and this may have just pushed me to action. It’s intimidating because I’ve never used it before, but I need to start learning! Also loved your Pingage suggestion – my main issue is that I feel like I never have time to effectively manage ALL the social media content I have going on. This sounds like it will help! Thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration. xo
    Isn’t That Charming.

  25. Missy January 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Love these tips very helpful. Thank you Grace :)
    X
    Missy
    Popofstyle.com

  26. Amberly January 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Thanks! These are great tips Grace! I’ve repinned this to keep as a reminder.

  27. Patti Borrelli @BeSoStyle January 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Thanks for this post (and the one from last year). Why has it taken me so long to find you? Looking forward to following and learning more. Visit me sometime. I’d love, love your words of wisdom. Happy New Year!!!

  28. Kristin January 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    Amazing tips! This is absolutely a bookmarker!

  29. Nnenna January 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    These are really great tips Grace- thank you for putting this post together! There are definitely lots of areas that I can work on, particularly the things you mentioned about Pinterest. I’ll definitely be giving your suggestions a try!

  30. Shaniece January 3, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you for the advice, I am in the first month of my site, not too many followers or comments but would love the engagement. Grace would you check it out and let me know your thoughts please, http://www.heelsandcrumpets.com I also posted today about your LuLu frost Evil Eye Necklace today and would love to challenge you to an idea of DIY that I totally would love to buy!

  31. Shaniece January 3, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you for the advice, I am in the first month of my site, not too many followers or comments but would love the engagement. Grace would you check it out and let me know your thoughts please, http://www.heelsandcrumpets.com I also posted today about LuLu frost Evil Eye Necklace today and would love to challenge you to an idea of DIY that I totally would love to buy!

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  32. Patti Borrelli @BeSoStyle January 3, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    THANKS so much for the great info. I’m still navigating this blogging world + figuring it all out. Would love for you to visit me sometime + share any words of wisdom. Happy New Year!

  33. Simone January 3, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Thank you so much for this, these are really helpful tips for every new blogger in town. Maybe, if you have time for it, you would like to take a look at my blog http://www.flaircat.com and give some personal advice? I’m really curious what you think of it. Thanks again and I love your blog, recently discovered it. Very inspirational!

  34. Miro - Dose of Dash January 3, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Great post, Grace! Lots of really helpful tips that I’ll look into! I’m on wordpress.com but use wordpress.org for work. Was a little disappointed when I started my wordpress.com blog and found that I couldn’t install any of the great plugins like SEO or “more like this.”

    What site do you host with?

    Miro

  35. Katie January 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Thank you for the great tips! We have been working to grow our readership/community and these are great tips!

    Happy New Year!

  36. Becca January 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks for all of these tips! xx

  37. Bea January 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Such great advise! Ive got a whole list of items to research and consider. Thank you for sharing.
    Bea

  38. Samantha January 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Nice tips.

  39. Lisa // Elembee January 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    I LOVE the idea of updating your FB timeline frequently. Definitely a space I forget to take advantage of! I didn’t do a very good job of maintaining my social media towards the end of 2012 (except for Twitter, because I can’t stay off it!), so this was perfect timing to kick things back up again in 2013!

    I wrote a tutorial on adding a pin it image hover. There are several plugins out there, but it just depends on what theme you’re using as to which one will work best. I use the one from Collective Bias, which adds a standard pin it button when you hover, but you can also use CSS to customize it. Here’s my tutorial: http://elembee.com/blogkeeping-archives-how-to-add-a-pin-it-image-hover/. Code it Pretty also wrote a tutorial for implementing in Blogger (tricky, but still possible!), which I linked in my post.

    • elizabeth January 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      I loved the post and wanted to say thank you but the bonus was your comment, Lisa. I’ve been trying to sort out the best plugin and your link/tutorial is perfect.

      cheers!

    • victoria | vmac+cheese January 4, 2013 at 12:46 am #

      Everyone should check out Lisa’s Blogkeeping series! It’s so helpful! (As is this post, of course, G!)

  40. Tiffany @ Savor Home January 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Updating my blog is one of my goals for the next few months, so this is right on time! Thank you!

  41. beka @ rebeccaroams January 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Great post!! definitely going to take some of your tips and apply :) thank you!

  42. Tamara January 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Great post with lots of easy to implement ideas. I’m clearly not using Pinterest as well as I could…

    One tip that was given to me (by a brand that I really wanted to work with)? Keep your posts to the point. Avoid the tendency to ramble and talk about lots of different things. If you talk about a brand within a rambling post, they’re less likely to want to link up to it. If you have lots to say, write several blog posts, each with a single, specific focus!

  43. Daniel Aronoff January 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    Hello Grace, first of all, this was an excellent and informative post! Thanks so much for sharing this information, but I was wondering if I could get some advice: I am the “blind food critic”, my blog contains reviews of various restaurants and events in New York City. Many of your tips contain great visual tips, but I am unable to access pinterest or look at links, I’m wondering if you have any other advice about monetization? (I’m not doing this for the money, but I’m looking to step up my blogging career.) If you could email me, I would really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

  44. Chic 'n Cheap Living January 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for this Grace. This was informative, thorough, and a reminder/kick in the booty that we can all blog and engage a little better!

    xoxo,
    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  45. victoria | vmac+cheese January 4, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Agreed about timing Pinterest pins! I actually find that if I have just a few minutes to pin on Friday night or Saturday morning, I get huge gains in likes, repins and followers over the weekend. So funny how that works!

    Bleh. I guess I really AM going to have to put more shots of my mug up on the blog this year. Does this mean I have an excuse for more facials/blowouts/manis/pedis?

  46. Stephanie B. January 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Does anyone know how to get the “PIN IT” hover plugin for typepad?

    Thanks Ya’ll
    Steph B.

    XoXo

    • Jasmine Rochelle January 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      Do you have WordPress Stephanie B.? If so, then the app is called ‘LinkWithin.’ Hope this helps!!

      • Jasmine Rochelle January 6, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

        Do you have WordPress Stephanie B.? If so, then the app is called ‘LinkWithin.’ Hope this helps!!

        • Grace Atwood
          Grace Atwood January 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

          LinkWithin works for blogger, too! Jasmine – you should also check out NRelate – it’s amazing… a bit more customizable!

          • Jasmine Rochelle January 12, 2013 at 12:32 am #

            Hi Grace,

            Thanks for the recommendation I’m checking it out now!!! :)

          • Jasmine Rochelle February 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

            Hi Grace,

            I wanted to ask if you use Bitly? I have been having problems getting mine to work using WordPress. I was wondering if you had any advice?

  47. The Enchanted Home January 5, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    This was excellent! Has me really thinking in a new direction…..was starting to think more about WordPress and optimizing and taking advantage of my readership growth but totally at a loss of how…..thanks for including some great links and resources! Valuable information indeed!!

  48. Jasmine Rochelle January 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    I read a comment you left over at IFB and I thought… What amazing insight! So, it made me want to visit your blog and turns out that your blog is just as great. This is a very detailed but structured article. I appreciate you taking out the time to share your trials and tribulations with us ‘newbies’ and even those who want to freshen things up a bit.

  49. Joyce (bronzerbunny) January 6, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    what a great post! thanks for sharing all of your tips & tricks and resources too! :)

  50. A Girl, A Style January 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Grace, this is such a brilliant post and all the things I wish I had known early on (thankfully I figured it all out, but I hadn’t actually thought of adding a Pinterest overlay button on my images so will work on that this week. Thank you SO much for this!)

    My main tip to new bloggers (or those trying to establish themselves) would be this: always practise editorial control across all channels (blog + social). Sometimes it’s more important to spend longer making sure the images + words are as good as can be (and that the images on Pinterest, Instagram, etc are all beautiful and represent the blog’s brand). When I discover a new blog & am scrolling back through the content, I’ll always favour one that posts less often, but where every post is great over one that posts frequently but not as well (you do this brilliantly, by the way).

    Thank you again for being such a sparkly part of the blogging community (& so happy to call you or of my blog friends)!

    Briony xx

  51. A Girl, A Style January 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Grace, this is such a brilliant post and all the things I wish I had known early on (thankfully I figured it all out, but I hadn’t actually thought of adding a Pinterest overlay button on my images so will work on that this week. Thank you SO much for this!)

    My main tip to new bloggers (or those trying to establish themselves) would be this: always practise editorial control across all channels (blog + social). Sometimes it’s more important to spend longer making sure the images + words are as good as can be (and that the images on Pinterest, Instagram, etc are all beautiful and represent the blog’s brand). When I discover a new blog & am scrolling back through the content, I’ll always favour one that posts less often, but where every post is great over one that posts frequently but not as well (you do this brilliantly, by the way).

    Thank you again for being such a sparkly part of the blogging community (& on a personal note, I’m so happy to call you or of my blog friends)!

    Briony xx

  52. Michaela January 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Great tips, Grace! Love the addition of the pin it button over the photos. Will have to work on that for my blog :) Having friends in the blog community does make it so much more fun– I’m so thankful for the girls I’ve met and for the daily inspiration. Your blog is one of my favorites. xoxo

  53. Alice January 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Very great tips :)! thank you so much this is what I was looking for! I go subscribe to pinterest now…

  54. Ashleigh (Act on Inspiration) January 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Thankyou fo such a wonderful post Grace! I’ve had my blog for 2 years this Feb and this year I want to take it more seriously/to the next level – your tips will certainly help =)

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