12 Dos and Don’ts to Make Your Blog Legitimate

12 Dos and Don'ts to Make Your Blog Legit #HE

The Difference Between Good Enough and Great

It’s easy to let little details slip by without caring, or sometimes without even noticing. But perfecting the things that most people don’t take the time to do or learn about is ultimately what gets an individual ahead of everyone else.

Don’ts

Pop-ups. They can be okay for a short period of time if you’re really trying to promote something major, but not permanently. And if you are going to have a temporary pop-up, wait 20-30 seconds before having it pop-up on your reader so they can at least get into your blog before being bombarded.

When I go to a site and the first thing that I see is a pop-up before I even have the chance to view the landing page, my next move is often times just to exit out of the page completely. This is because 1. I’m annoyed and 2. You haven’t even given me the chance to see your website yet before you’re asking me for something–I have no reason to stay.

Captchas. I understand if you’re a legitimate website, and even if you’re not, you’re probably going to get spammers, but the large majority of web hosts have some sort of spam filter in place already. Captchas are often frustrating to readers because they don’t work correctly a large percentage of the time, which makes commenting really difficult. On top of that, in several instances, captcha won’t work correctly with a smartphone or mobile device, which is a major problem when 80% of consumers now use smartphones to surf the web. Another flaw is that some captchas require the reader to scroll back down to the bottom of your page and press “comment” a second time; while a lot of times, people don’t realize that, which means you’re losing comments and engagement.

More times than not, when I’m trying to comment from my phone on a blog that has captcha, something goes wrong with it, which frustrates me enough to not even comment anymore.

Too many ads. I understand we all want to get paid, but at the cost of losing readers, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Without a solid following, no one’s going to want to advertise with you. So, it’s important to find a good balance, advertise things that make sense with your blog and have a layout that keeps everything from looking too busy and cluttered.

Let me put it to you this way: if t.v. shows were 3 minutes of show and 10 minutes of advertisement, I wouldn’t watch. Unless it was Game of Thrones, and then, maybe, I’d consider it. 

Too many sponsored posts. A good, general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 sponsored post for every–at least–3 unsponsored posts. Otherwise, your blog just begins to feel like a giant sales pitch.

A handful of blogs I enjoyed have gained traction and when they started receiving more offers, the sponsored posts began to take over. When that happens, I generally become uninterested and stop following or checking up on the blog. 

Inconsistency. This primarily includes fonts, image sizes and colors. Keep all of these consistent. I’m not saying don’t add variety, but there can be variety in the consistency. For example, if you like changing up fonts, use a specific font for your header, a different font for subheadings and another for main text. Same goes for images–if you don’t want to stick with just one uniform image size, at least have image layouts and sizes that you stick to or alternate between throughout your blog.

When a post starts in one font and ends in another or has images scattered throughout without any sort of consistency, it’s really just displeasing to the eye and often makes me feel like the blog isn’t good or professional–even though it really has nothing to do with the actual content.

Going overboard with design. You know the person who puts stripes with polka dots, and hearts and circles and rainbows and really anything they see. It’s too much. Having too many things going on at once can really hurt a blog’s appearance. Pick a few key elements, designs, colors and stick with them. Don’t go with something so crazy that it completely distracts from what you’re trying to do.

When I go to a blog, for example, with a really crazy, ridiculous font or colors everywhere, it distracts me from what I’m trying to read, and I can’t focus on anything else except trying to figure out why all these words are in this unreadable post.

Dos

Have a .com. Or .org or .net. Just avoid having, for example, name.wordpress.com or name.squarespace.com. Basically, I’m telling you that you need to purchase your domain name. I know, *sigh*, spending money sucks, but honestly, it’s the number one step to legitimatizing your blog. Are there some blogs that are doing okay and haven’t purchased their own domain name? Yes, but they generally can’t do much of their own design on their actual site pages, it’s difficult to advertise, and you’re not going to get near as many people who want to work with your blog simply because it doesn’t appear that you’ve gotten serious about your blog to have enough legitimacy to purchase your own domain name.

A consistent image or logo across your blog and all your social media platforms. In other words (or–er–word), branding. You want a primary, go-to image that people will see every time they visit your blog and SM sites. It’s cool, it gives people something to associate with you specifically, and if they happen to stumble across it somewhere else, they know exactly whose it is and where it’s from. Exploding fist<recognition<branding.

Make sure your site, design and images appear correctly across all devices, whether that be mobile or computer. Cross-device usage is now–67% of users move between devices while online. People switch from their phone to their laptop to their tablet without blinking an eye, and if your website isn’t accessible or viewable across all devices, people are going to get frustrated and stop viewing it.

Consistent fonts and sizes + quality images. Being consistent is talked about above, but it’s worth mentioning again because so many people overlook it and don’t think it’s a big deal. Basically what it boils down to is appearing professional or appearing unprofessional. Every single one of our blogs is interviewing for each reader that stops by, and if you’re the interviewer, I’m willing to bet you choose the person who comes in a pantsuit over the person who shows up in ripped jeans and a halter type every time. Beyond consistency, it’s SO important to have quality, especially with images. If you don’t have the time or skill to design a quality image, it’s unbelievably easy (and free) to find them, meaning there’s no excuse! Olyvia.co is my favorite go-to for a spectacular list of free, quality stock photo sites.

Make your site easy to maneuver. Whether that be searching for something, sharing a post or seeing your other platforms. If people have to spend more than a few seconds searching for something, more often than not they give up or get distracted and move on.

Maintain a theme. Or something recurring that’s unique to you. For readers, it’s nice and it’s clever to see some sort personal touch that remains present throughout your blog. It’s kind of a level-up for people to be able to associate something specific with you.

Ultimately, if you’re blogging professionally or even just to gain a personal following, your blog is your business. Represent and treat it as such. Put the extra time and effort in to perfect your blog and take it above and beyond, because truly, people will notice and often remember their first impression upon entering your website.

EDIT:

Bonus Tip

When linking to other sites, make sure your link is set to open in a separate tab. If your links don’t open in separate tabs, it makes it easy for readers to lose your page if they’re trying to view your links while reading through, or it allows readers to get distracted by your link and forget to come back to your page.

8 Blogging Gurus That Will Help You Become An Expert

8 blogging gurus

When I first entered into the blogging world, I was like an innocent doe–wide-eyed and bushy-tailed–with very little idea of what the heck I was doing. I just wanted to write stuff people could relate to and gain a following I could interact with just from being awesome.

About three years later, I realized I wanted to become seriously serious about this whole blogging thing because I enjoy it, and although it’s a lot of work, it’s fulfilling to me. So, I finally purchased my domain name [homemadeexperience.com] and amateurly continued stumbling along.

Turns out, blogging isn’t just throwing words onto a screen and hitting publish. It’s actually very intricate and time consuming if you want to do it right. Aside from the actual writing, I have an email account I spend a good portion of my day sifting through, a calendar and apps I use to organize and schedule posts and reviews, subpar photography skills that must be utilized for each post’s photos and just enough background in design and html to scrape by with my branding and blog layout. Throw in promoting your blog daily and keeping up on just about every social media platform in existence and you just might have a full-time job … no, seriously, people really make a substantial full-time job out of blogging.

So, in order to sharpen my professional edge and climb up to the next level, I believe it’s important to build a solid platform by researching and learning from those who have been and are currently successful in the areas I strive to be, which in this instance is blogging professionally.

By creating that knowledgable platform and continuing to devour tips and tricks from those around me who are successful, it allows me the opportunity to take my creativity, ideas and personal uniqueness, confidently, to the next level.

With that in mind, here are 8 blogging gurus whom I admire and am constantly striving to learn from:

Chic Geek Academy A great resource for taking the basics that every brand and blog needs and making them as powerful and useful for your blog as possible. For those who are trying to become successful in the blogging world, or simply just level up in some areas, Dre offers some great tutorials and simple step-by-step advice. She’s also pointed me in the direction of several of my other blogging gurus.

Rebekah Radice The all-encompassing social media guru. Rebekah offers tips and tricks on how to navigate and market using the major social media platforms, engagement, visual content and various other clever tricks.

Peg Fitzpatrick Another great social media expert. Peg, however, is primarily geared towards marketing and appearance, which is also insanely important and helpful. She gives GREAT tips and very specific step-by-step advice on branding your stuff for social media with some great techniques that can easily step-up your blog game.

Anna C. Bennett | White Glove Social Media Your absolute go-to for becoming a Pinterest queen, or king. Anna gives great step-by-step guides on how to market yourself on Pinterest and use Pinterest to better your business, image and following. She has an awesome Pinterest marketing video and online course, and really, if there’s absolutely anything you can think of that’s Pinterest related–and probably 100 other things you haven’t thought of–Anna covers it. Great resource to strengthen your blog on that social media platform.

Regina Anaejionu | By Regina Regina offers awesome advice and tools on how to blog efficiently. Whether that means utilizing your blog budget to its fullest, gaining paying clients or simply how to write, her blog and published works are a great go-to. She offers superb advice on how to be creative and organized, along with great worksheets and resources to do so.

Elle & Company A seriously amazing resource all around. Elle & Co. offers an entire library of worksheets, files and templates, archives with over 100 tutorials, tips and how-tos, e-courses and weekly posts on general blogging, professionalism and design. Very organized and easy to find exactly what you’re looking for to help boost your skills or organize yourself.

Pauline Cabrera | Twelveskip Pauline is all about strategy, numbers and getting noticed based on your technical and branding abilities. She specializes on how to present your blog/yourself, website and graphic design, website review, website marketing and content marketing. Pauline also gives great advice on how to generate more traffic, plan ahead and several of the other little tips that make blogging easier and more efficient.

Copyblogger Founded by Brian Clark, Copyblogger covers the tech-y tech side of blogging, because it truly does make a difference. The information this site provides–that a lot of others don’t– is primarily over SEO, email marketing, keyword research, landing pages, etc. I’m sure there are several successful bloggers that aren’t huge into the tech side of their websites but knowing more about the technical aspects of blogging can really be the cherry on top and the thing that puts your blog one step ahead.

To the new mom who was bullied by “the girls” for posting photos of her baby…

…this one’s for you.

I am in no way going to pretend like some Facebook posts don’t annoy me. We all have those eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-our-head people posters on our friend list. Guess what? You can unfollow them, save your eye rolls and continue scrolling your timeline in peace. There’s no excuse for lashing out or bullying others for posting what they want on their own personal accounts.

No one deserves to be bullied, especially as a new mother. We have enough on our plates with lack of sleep, tears, hormones, diapers, spit-up and anything else life throws our way. For Jade Ruthven, new mom to 6-month-old Addison, “the girls” decided to throw a nasty letter her way to let her know how much her new babe was inconveniencing their lives:

Letter

A letter from “the girls” to Jade.

I’d like to respond to that letter. Not because Jade hasn’t done a wonderful job of confronting it head on–considering it’s gone viral–but because I’d also like to let “the girls” know that they’re “pissing a lot of people off.” So here it goes…

Dear “the girls,”

So glad you were able to take time away from your kids to let Jade know you are “SO OVER” the running commentary of her life on Facebook.

From your letter, I couldn’t tell if you were aware of what Facebook is, so let me share. Facebook is a running commentary of people’s lives. If you’re SO OVER that, you probably shouldn’t participate in Facebook.

I’m unsure if any of “the girls” work, but maybe you can all find other things to do with your time besides scroll through Facebook if it annoys you that much.

It’s awesome that your kids are great too. A great place to share that is on Facebook.

If you’re uninterested in what Jade and Addy (or anyone for that matter) are up to, there are a couple quick and simple options you may be unaware of available on Facebook. If there are posts, photos or updates from a “friend” that you don’t like or agree with, you have the option to click the unfollow button. This means you will no longer see any of their updates unless you seek them out yourself. If you no longer want to be Facebook friends with someone, you can also unfriend them. Along with no longer seeing their updates, this also means you are generally unable to seek them out as well.

As long as a person’s posts and photos remain within Facebook’s guidelines–which can be found here–”the girls” do not have the authority to control what others do or do not post on their personal accounts.

I’m writing this to let you know what people really think.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear how you feel about “the girls” letter to Jade.

Little Eyes Are Watching

Note: I advise you to scroll down a bit and press play on the YouTube song before you start reading– listening and reading, it’s the way to go.

When I was a little girl, I used to race out of the double doors of my elementary school and onto the playground to grab one of the six swings before anyone else. I’d swing as high as I possibly could with not a thing to worry about in life–it was pure bliss. Each time I was swinging in the sunlight, higher and higher, smiling from ear to ear, I would long for the people I cared for most to be watching. I had this urge for the people that I loved to one day just be at the fence of my playground watching me in all of my glory, content and proud. It was just a simple, childhood wish that I never shared with anyone.

Years later, I was a teenager, hanging out with my cool friends in my cool clothes talking about cool stuff. Sometimes I would say or do something I thought was so grown up or intelligent, and in those moments, I wished that any of the people I cared for most would have been there to see me, basking in all my grown-up coolness.

When I had my first heartbreak, it was monumental. I wished the person I most respected were alive to help me, to see me, to witness it–my grandma. I talked to her everyday and never expected or received a response.

When my husband and I had our first child, there were moments when something beautiful happened to strengthen the motherly bond between myself and my daughter. Each time, I wished my mother or my husband could be there to witness it. To be proud. To smile.

After graduating from college, I had put my career on hold to start my family. Eventually, I began taking steps towards my dreams again–doing it all. There was a professor during my college years who had scooped me up and nurtured my talent into something I could never thank him for enough. I received a competitive position in my field and wished he’d been there to see it, to be proud of what he’d helped me accomplish.

Yesterday, while listening to Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream,” I had flashbacks to all of these times in my life when I wished that one of the people I cared for most had been there to witness me, in all my glory, doing something that I know would make them, simply, happy.

As I turned around–reminiscing, singing, cooking, content–I saw my son … watching me bask in all my glory. My unspoken wish finally came true and I realized, as a mother, that will continue to happen for the rest of my life: little eyes watching me, learning, taking me in, smiling.

Watching

Little eyes are watching.

It makes me beyond happy and proud to catch a surreal glimpse of that. And to reciprocate what I’d repeatedly felt throughout my life during simple everyday occurrences or monumental moments.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Go Blog Social: Three Things I Learned

1. I’m a true awkward loner when not accompanied by a comrade, and nothing brings it out like networking. I think Zooey Deschanel “Jess” in this clip encompasses me fairly well…

I just do not possess the personality or vibe that draws people in. I’ve got to try–really hard, and that’s okay. I like a challenge, and as one of our awesome speakers pointed out, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

2. I need to invest in a jean jack. Seriously. I think at least half of the people I saw had some sort of jean jacket on during the two day event.

3. There are some amazing bloggers and experts out there and so many of them shared their success tidbits in Kansas City this weekend. I learned more than I could have ever imagined from being able to attend Go Blog Social. Keep scrolling to learn all about it!

Sign

“Go Blog Social ahead”

This past weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Go Blog Social conference in Kansas City via Visit KC and the Midwest Influencer Network.

Inspiration

Creators and inspirers behind Go Blog Social. Pictured above (from left to right) are Katelyn Herlein, Samantha McClelland, Sarah Ruhlman and Kathryn Snellen.

Go Blog Social is a conference created and put into action by six lovely ladies–four of whom are pictured above–who’ve designed the conference to “inform, educate and inspire” by bringing together bloggers and brands along with social media and business experts to share their expertise.

Day one speakers

Day one speakers included Alissa Circle of Diary of an Addict (top left), Andra Barkey and Kelly Zugay of With Grace and Gold (bottom left), Alea Bębenek of Alea Lovely (bottom middle), Kilee Nickels of One Little Momma and Nickel & Suede (bottom right) and Laurie Davis of eFlirt Expert (top right).

Day one included five wonderful presentations from Alissa Circle, Andra Barkey & Kelly Zugay, Alea Bębenek, Kilee Nickels and Laurie Davis. Each one of these women talked about their personal story in the blogging/career world and what it takes to be noticed. Mostly, be authentic. There may be thousands of bloggers and creatives out there, but there’s only one you. People can appreciate that.

Day two speakers

Day two speakers included Mandy Beveler of Sugar Bee Crafts (top left), Enza Ketcham of Enza’s Bargains (bottom left), Landon & Meggan Wood of Lily Jade (bottom right) and Callie England of Rawxies (top right).

Day two included more amazing tips but with an emphasis on personal businesses. Speakers included Mandy Beveler, Enza Ketcham, Landon & Meggan Wood and Callie England sharing their inspiring stories on persistence and passion.

The Crowd

Socializing at Go Blog Social

I left this conference feeling empowered and happy to be on the right track. So many people think blogging is simple–like we sign on whenever we feel like it and spend five minutes throwing together a post–but the truth is it takes a lot of time and a ton of effort. Whether that time and effort be from taking photos, talking to people, researching, linking, social media-ing, being consistent, interacting, the list goes on and on. Blogging is a full time job for many. I hear you non-bloggers snickering and rolling your eyes, but really, it’s an investment to create something–truly–and do it well, whether it be writing, designing, taking photos or having an online presence, and blogging encompasses them all.

GBS

Stay connected at #GBS2015 #goblogsocial #MWINetwork or @VisitKC

During and after the two-day Go Blog Social event, I was able to bask in the wonder that is my home town. Yes, that’s right, I’m a KC lady at heart. Here are some of the LOVEly places I was able to enjoy while at home:

P&L

Always a little too much fun had at Kansas City’s Power & Light District.

Ambassador Hotel

A gorgeous and relaxing place to rest my head at night with Ambassador Hotel–courtesy of Visit KC.

Royals

Seated at Kauffman Stadium watching my boys in blue [Royals] win, yet again.

 #HE is proud to team up with MWIN in promotion of Go Blog Social!

Midwest Influencer Network’s VIP Blogger Lounge…

…took place over the weekend and it was a seriously exciting gathering of St. Louis bloggers, local vendors, free massages, booze, food and an awesome goody bag. What more could a blogger ask for?

#MWINetwork

#MWINetwork displayed at this weekend’s VIP blogger lounge.

There were so many brands, opportunities and networking possibilities available along with a chance for a local blogger to win $1000 and become the next St. Louis Ambassador via Explore St. Louis in collaboration with the Midwest Influencer NetworkALIVE Magazine and KSDK. Bloggers were able to present themselves in a 20 second video clip, filmed onsite, in which they could express why they love being a tourist in their own town. These clips will be displayed on the KSDK site soon for St. Louisans to vote!

Video Room

Allison Apprill of Warm Up Sunshine giving a wonderful 20 second video during the VIP blogger lounge.

If you want to become a part of the Midwest Influencer Network and enjoy free membership and member resources, you can join here.

The official entrant agreement and requirements for the St. Louis Ambassador search–for those who participated–are here:

Entrant Agreement

Click the Midwest Influencer Network information desk above for more info on the St. Louis’ Ambassador entrant agreement and terms.

 

 

To the Moms Who Want to Find Themselves Again

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
–Jonathan Safran Foer

IMG_4953

“The Art of Teaching Art” Exhibit. Huntington Museum of Art.

And I can. There are so many things I want to be and do each and every day, but I find myself being and doing less and less. I refuse to dwindle away into a person I don’t know or like. I refuse to lose myself in being somebody’s mom, wife, co-worker. Although those parts of me are pieces of who I am, they are just that, pieces. Who I am is not defined wholly by them.

“Be as you wish to seem.” –Socrates

So, I will, and as a testament to myself, I’ll list all the things I wish to be and to seem. I hope it inspires you–mama, co-worker, wife, husband, dad, student, athlete, whoever you are–to do the same.

I wish to grow a vegetable garden.

I wish to seem confident, even on days when I’m not.

I wish to shrug off hurtful things others say and not merit them with a reaction.

I wish to be the mom that listens to classical music. And dances when I think no ones watching.

I wish to drink my wine red and my coffee black.

I wish to spend my free-time–whatever that is–writing. Writing something that will make an impact.

I wish to be the wife that plays cutesy games and writes little notes.

I wish to actually do my hair more often.

I wish to recycle.

I wish to reuse and refurbish the things around me, whether for myself or for others.

I wish to know happiness as a truth.

I wish to listen–I mean really listen–to what people are saying more often.

I wish to run far and eat clean.

I wish to leave people feeling empowered.

I wish to inspire.

I wish to do yoga and stand on my head, effortlessly.

I wish to consistently be on time.

I wish to travel.

I wish to get my Master’s degree.

I wish to be the person that people feel they can confide in.

I wish to laugh so hard I cry more.

I wish to seem like this person, and so I will strive to become her. To become who I wish to be. To become who I am. To be as I wish to seem.

Your turn, mama.