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.

Wading Through Motherhood

Just BreatheMelissa Matters - Wading Through Motherhood

There are so many words bouncing around in my head that it’s difficult to begin. But I vow to always begin and strive to finish strong, because if there’s anything the past couple weeks have taught me, it’s that sometimes the very best of us are gone, suddenly, leaving behind our most beautiful families and friends, completely shattered. And because that’s so, living life to its absolute fullest should never fall by the wayside.

So, I’ll put my thoughts down for you to devour and understand, in a way that I hope makes you live life a little fuller.

Whoever says you can’t develop friendships via social media isn’t doing it right.

Those were some very true words (maybe not verbatim) spoken by a wonderful blogger I originally “met” on Periscope.

I’m generally not the type of person who immediately enjoys something the first time I stumble upon it–it took me three-fourths of my college career to like my now husband, most of my adult life to acquire a taste for red wine and generally several plays of a new song on the radio to really appreciate it–but Sarah from Ruffles and Rain Boots is just one those people that I really enjoyed and related to from the first time I listened to her on Periscope.

One of the most powerful topics she brought up, shortly after Melissa Matter’s from Wading Through Motherhood passed, was that of developing relationships on social media.

Although I never had a chance to meet Melissa in person and although my interactions with her were strictly online, it was still such a shock and sadness that came over the community of bloggers and mothers I’m a part of as we found out the news.

That feeling is real. There is no question. And because I had the opportunity to connect with Melissa through her blog and through her platforms, I am so, endlessly, thankful.

She was a beautiful, kind, intelligent and caring person. And her blog brought happiness, helpfulness and a much-needed, relatable and kind outlet to so many.

Live life to the absolute fullest.

Because you truly never know how much time you may have. Since Melissa’s passing, I’ve been kicking myself for all of the little things I complain about and take advantage of. It’s selfish of me to waste the life I have left when so many deserving, beautiful individuals, mothers and/or wives, like Melissa, no longer have that opportunity.

Although there’s no way to change what’s happened, I truly believe we should learn from Melissa’s words: wade out into life and take advantage of every single opportunity because today, we still have that ability. And I refuse to let that go to waste.

Wading Through Motherhood.

Melissa’s writing was so beautiful and relatable. I would highly suggest you take a minute to go read some of her posts. I’d just recently gotten to know her and began reading her blog over the past year, and when she passed, I went to her blog and read back through all the archives I hadn’t seen before. I’m so glad I did.

I want to leave you with one of my favorites. It was her first. It’s simple, it’s comforting and it’s just so encapsulating, appropriate and bittersweet:

When I was about 16, we took a family trip to Hawaii. In Waikiki, the water was warm and shallow; I felt as if I could wade for miles through the clear water. It was then that I cut my ankle on some coral reef. Now, in my mid-30s, I still have a few faint scars on my ankle. The scars are a reminder of the fun I had that day but also remind me that even wonderful things have their drawbacks.

Motherhood is often like wading through unknown waters. You don’t always know what lies beneath the surface, however you keep going. One day, the water may be clear and warm. Other days, it may be frigid and rough. And, sometimes, you may get hurt or even scarred from a bad parenting experience.

Living in Southern California, I’m often wading through the shallows at the beach. My daughter is getting older and venturing out further into the ocean. My toddler son, still timid,  likes to splash in the wet, muddy sand. I love experiencing all these firsts with them. As I “wade” through motherhood with my children by my side, I realize there will be highs with the lows, just like the rise and fall of the tides.

May Melissa continue to wade and watch over her children as they venture out further into the ocean of life.

For those looking to extend a helping hand, a GoFundMe page is available here.

To the family of Melissa Matters, I am so deeply sorry. She is a beautiful soul. Please, continue to wade. 

Broken Arms and Fire Alarms

Broken-Arms-and-Fire-Alarms

Yesterday was an interesting day for my family. And yes, it did include both a broken arm and several fire alarms.

It all started at work with a text from my husband.

Text

To which, of course, I immediately called him.

Our son’s been attempting to get out of his highchair for a while, and for the past week, my husband and I discussed finding the straps to his highchair … but never actually did it.

And it happened. Our almost 1.5-year-old got out of his highchair and tumbled onto the wood floor.

When I called my husband, I almost thought he was kidding. Like a sick, ‘oh, you should’ve gotten the highchair straps out sooner’ kind of a joke, but he wasn’t. O

Our son wasn’t crying much after the initial fall, so amazingly, neither myself nor my husband were panicked or overly worried. He was in and out of the doctor’s office in just a couple hours and came home with an adorable little cast on his arm.

You’d think that would be enough excitement for one 24-hour period, but you’d be wrong.

All was well in our house, both of the kids went to bed by 9pm and slept soundly. And even I, for the first time in three days, went to bed before 2am, and for the first time in weeks, fell asleep before 11pm.

I have an ongoing joke with myself and most moms–who often agree, except it’s not a joke. I’m being very literal when I say:

Every single time I go to bed early, it happens to be the one night an event occurs that keeps me up most of the night. Tweet: Every single time I go to bed early, it happens to be the one night an event occurs that keeps me up most of the night via @homemadeexp

So continues my unwavering roll of never sleeping more than 5 hours at a time.

Around midnight, our power went off. No big deal. That wasn’t going to stop me from sleeping. The event that was going to stop me from sleep occurred at 2am when the power came back on and all the interconnected fire alarms throughout the house went off, waking the ENTIRE family.

We got the fire alarm shut off, but not the children. Not until 4am at least.

So, as my husband and I finally settled back into bed, he said, “What a night” to which I replied, “Broken arms and fire alarms” and promptly laid awake another half an hour excited about what a perfect post title that will be…

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5 Things to Stop Saying About the Crying Baby

5-Things-to-Stop-Saying

We’ve all gone out to eat or gotten on an airplane to see an adorable smiling baby, and before kids, our thoughts are generally somewhere along the lines of wondering if or when the crying will set in.

And that’s fine. As parents who were once child-free, we get it, but children are a part of this thing we call life. You were once a baby for crying out loud–pun intended–and if you don’t have the ability to civilly endure a couple minutes of noise from a tiny human being, life may get rough.

So, in an effort to help us all deal with it better, here are 5 things to stop saying about the crying baby:

Someone’s not happy. No, really? I think we can tell–there’s no reason to be that person who awkwardly brings up obvious things for forced laughter from everyone in earshot.

Why won’t he just stop crying? Oh, I’m sorry. Are you having to do anything but sit there and endure a little bit of noise while someone else struggles to find the actual reason their baby won’t stop crying and fix it in a huge, embarrassed huff because of people who are judging them like you? No, so just sit tight and it’ll pass in probably two minutes or less.

I hate going ______ and hearing crying babies. Well, then, cut your ears off or stay home because over 50% of Americans have kids (including your parents) and chances are they’ll always be in existence, probably wherever you go. Unless it’s the library or a rager at 3am, stop complaining.

I can’t believe she’s just letting her baby cry. Yes, because there’s a way to stop her baby from crying but she decided to just let her baby do it anyway, constantly, in public, so everyone would stare and judge. No, actually, probably just specifically to ruin a couple minutes of your precious time.

I feel so bad for them. No, no, don’t feel bad! All any of us parents want is for everyone to pay zero attention–whether that be judgement or pity–and continue on with whatever they’re doing like nothing’s happening. Like being flustered and worried about who’s annoyed isn’t enough, we don’t need your ‘oh, poor you’ looks unless you want to come over and offer a helping hand or kind words.

We’re raising the next generation’s society, and we know they can be annoying. Trust me, WE KNOW. But the annoyance of cliché, overused comments from grown adults is preventable. Help us out. Come up with more creative ways to dis our crying babies. Or at least wait until you get home to complain!

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12 Reasons to Love Your Kansas City Roots

KC Roots

Kansas City is, literally, too much city for just one state. There are too many things to count that make the city great, but only if you’re a part of Kansas City do you truly understand why it’s so outstanding. For those who aren’t a part of Kansas City, here’s why our roots run deep, and to those who are locals, here are 12 reasons you should be proud to call Kansas City your home.

1. Contrary to Lorde’s belief, we will always be Royal. The Kansas City Royals may have their ups and downs throughout the years, but Kansas Citians always stay loyal. And it has paid off, royally. Last season, after coming back from trailing 7 to 3 in the eighth inning of a game that merely put them into the playoffs, the Royals ended up one big hit away from winning the entire World Series.

2. Because parties at Paul Rudd’s mom’s house. Paul Rudd loves himself some Kansas City Royals, too, and after the Royals won the ALCS last season, he told a local news station, “Kegger at my mom’s house!” He may have been kidding, but of course, Kansas Citians aren’t going to let him off that easy. He did redeem himself on one of David Letterman’s final shows by promising that if the Royals win the World Series this season, there will be two kegs at his mom’s house. We’ll hold you to that, Paul. For now, drinks bought by Royals’ players at Power & Light will suffice.

3. The Love Longer KC Project. If you live in Kansas City, and even if you don’t, it’s very likely you know local radio personalities Lazlo, Afentra, Jeriney, Danny Boi and the rest of the crew. The radio station, 96.5 The Buzz, is well-known for The Big Fat Morning Buzz and The Church of Lazlo, while also recently starting an amazing movement called The Love Longer KC Project. The whole movement started when Lazlo saw a billboard off I-70 that was hateful, and instead of responding negatively, 96.5 The Buzz took it upon themselves to turn to Kansas Citians via Kickstarter. Their goal was $7,000, but together, the radio station and Kansas City raised almost $20,000 to create billboards that encourage others to be kind and accepting. “Be Kind” and #LoveLonger is the message they display.

4. We take our art with a side of GIANT badminton. If you haven’t been to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, well, you just wouldn’t understand, but that’s just one instance of Kansas City’s passionate love of art. We also have the Plaza Art Fair, Kauffman Performing Arts Center, Starlight Theatre, Union Station, Brookside Art Fair, the Midland and the Kansas City Art Institute to culture ourselves. Creativity thrives in this city.

5. The Plaza lights at Christmas. As Christmas nears, so many communities decorate their homes, streets and buildings. It’s a warm and fuzzy time, but the plaza lights take it to a whole new level. What began as one single strand of lights in 1925 has easily become one of the greatest Christmas lighting displays in the nation. To top it all off, there’s a traditional lighting event on the Plaza every Thanksgiving, and tens of thousands of people show up to watch the kid who’s chosen at random hit the switch. Could it get any warmer and fuzzier?

6. Boulevard Brewing Company’s craft beer. Wine’s not the only thing we drink with our pinky in the air. Now one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S. and the largest specialty brewery in the Midwest, Boulevard Brewing Company is a local brewery dedicated to the production, craft and deliciousness of unique beers and brewing techniques. We don’t settle for just any old beer around Kansas City; instead, we drink the best of the best.

7. First Fridays. A seriously impressive compilation of local artists and crafty, unique goodies located in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. On the first Friday of each month, Kansas Citians gather for a great cultural, musical and thrift-ful experience. For many people, the draw isn’t just the artistry but also the history of the area, old buildings and gorgeous architecture.

8. This performance of “Kansas City” by the The New Basement Tapes and Marcus Mumford.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3hdFWmerQ

9. We know how to get LOUD. Baseball isn’t our only strong suit–the Chiefs’ fans know how to bring it, too. Kansas City’s very own Arrowhead stadium is officially the recorder holder for loudest outdoor stadium in the world. The Chiefs received their Guinness world record spot when the noise level at Arrowhead reached a booming 142.2 decibels. Go CHIEFS!

10. We really love fountains. Every city as its own thing and Kansas City’s is fountains. They’re gorgeous, they’re unique, and they’re everywhere. When in Rome… No, actually, when in Kansas City–the city of fountains–do as the Kansas Citians do. It was profound locals like George Kessler, August Meyer and J.C. Nichols that originally envisioned and created a beautiful city with “more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome.” Today, some of the most famous Kansas City fountains include J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain, Northland Fountain and Crown Center Square Fountain.

11. Kansas City BBQ. Arthur, Jack, Joe and Gates are all great friends of ours and for delicious reasons. According to Carolyn Wells, executive director of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, “The beauty of Kansas City barbecue is that you can ask ten different people to define Kansas City barbecue and you get ten different answers and they are all correct.” As any Kansas Citian will tell you, if you want to try real BBQ, come visit us.

12. Jazz music is our jam. We even have an entire Jazz District to prove it. As Kansas City Jazz took over in the 1920s, it filled the streets of 18th & Vine and made the area an essential pillar for Kansas City throughout the Depression. A few decades later the area began to decline, but eventually, Kansas Citians breathed new life into the Jazz District and nearing the 90s, it was reborn again. Now, the Jazz District maintains and represents a historical musical legend that can be heard throughout Kansas City.

#OctoberScopers and Navigating Periscope

I don’t generally jump on the new social media bandwagons very fast. As a matter of fact, I’m generally the one dragging myself onto the platform months later, attempting to figure out how it works while everyone else enjoys themselves freely.

BUT there’s a new thing everyone is flocking towards called Periscope, and for the first time, I don’t think I’m late to the party. I can also say, for the first time, I’m obsessed with some new, shiny, trendy thing because I’ve been obsessed with Periscope the past week or two.

What Exactly is Periscope?

Periscope is an interactive app where yourself or other users create live video that people can join in to watch while also commenting. The person creating the video can then respond to comments and interact with other users that way. Yes, there’s also a way to limit who can watch your videos–don’t worry!

If you don’t catch a video live, you can always watch the replay, which will be listed on your main screen (or by clicking the bottom, left button that looks like a television).

Users are also able to tap the screen, giving hearts during live video or replays. These hearts essentially equate to your popularity count (much like followers on Facebook or Twitter) on Periscope.

Videos are viewable for 24 hours if you allow them to be.

When you’re watching someone’s video, you can swipe right to view their profile and follow them. You can also swipe up to share their live broadcast via Twitter or Facebook.

Setting Up Periscope

I can’t say I’m an expert–yet–but I can tell you downloading and catching onto Periscope basics aren’t too difficult.

  1. Download the Periscope app.
  2. Follow the prompts, connect through Twitter and that will be your Periscope handle. (Twitter created Periscope).
  3. For this app, I highly suggest you allow the push notifications through. Never do I ever for any apps except my email and Facebook, but Periscope is a platform where you want to catch people live. You can only catch people live if you get a notification that someone you’re following is Periscope-ing live. It’s not super annoying like most push notifications–to me, it’s the equivalent of a text or Facebook notification.
  4. Follow people or brands you know and like. There’s a search friends button in the bottom right of the app that looks like three people from the shoulders up. It gives suggestions or allows you to search people you know.
  5. After that, all that’s left to do is catch people live or make a live video yourself.

#OctoberScopers

October Scopers is an awesome Periscope group that started last month (#SeptemberScopers). It creates a prompt each day for those involved to Periscope about, and everyone can share the love, watch each other and just have great time diving into Periscope and getting to know others.

For Those Participating

  • Include the #OctoberScopers hashtag in your title and share it on twitter. That’s how others participating can find you!
  • If you don’t follow prompts perfectly, we’ll all survive–it’s not a big deal.
  • Do your best to get to everyone and catch replays when you can!
  • Don’t be stingy with the hearts–because, who doesn’t like hearts?

To connect with everyone taking part in the challenge, we have created a Facebook group called Scoper Support. The group is set to private, but anyone can join! My Periscope handle is @HomemadeExp.

october scopers

 

10 Things No One Tells You About Post-Baby Body

10 Things No One Tells You

For those women who were blessed with super pregnancy genetics or able to stay in shape and maintain their glorious pre-baby body, my hat’s off to you, and I also have some built up anger towards you stored in the back of my brain that I blame for my inability to lose more weight. It’s okay though. It forces me to compensate in other areas, like writing and making lists.

And with that, here are 10 things no one thinks to share with you about post-baby body.

1. Getting dressed and using the restroom while you’re dressed—with the underwear and the spanks and the bra that’s a full body suit—will now be, at least, a 10 minute ordeal. And by ordeal, I mean the definition of ordeal: a painful or horrific experience.

2. People may tell you that every time they sneeze they pee a little and you may laugh, but what they really mean by that is your bladder has gone from let’s say the capacity of a dam to the capacity of two swinging doors at your local saloon.

3. If you thought periods were rough before, you may beg to experience the pre-birth ones again. Periods are just so much more generous in your post-baby body, with the blood and the bloating and the hanger. Really, you shouldn’t have, Aunt Flo. It’s too much.

4. The shopping and the mirrors and the clothing sizes, oh my! *Insert hysterically laughing and crying emoticon here*

5. Your post-baby body will likely react to summer like it’s the plague. Before it was a relaxing, happy, sunny time; now, it’s a sweaty, overheated, kids all around making noise, smelly, disgusting, headache of a mess.

6. It’s a very real possibility that you may go from never, ever considering plastic surgery to Google searching “tummy tuck” on your computer.

7. Your body will surprise you with how long it can run on no sleep and caffeine.

8. If you didn’t have it before, you will acquire super sonic hearing that allows you to hear or awake to any noise a child makes within a one-mile radius.

9. You may never willingly put on shorts or a swim suit again.

10. Who needs tattoos? You have tiger stripes—more commonly referred to as stretch marks—and they’re just as artistic … and permanent.

This all may seem a bit disheartening, but if you have children, you know, really, it’s not. They’re worth every grey hair and sleepless night, but sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and laugh about the changes and transitions we as women and life-providing vessels must endure. Still, I would rather turn into one big stretch mark than think of my life without children. Plus, when you find the right person to raise children with, it becomes obvious having a Victoria’s-Secret-model body is not what life’s all about.

Our physicality is never permanent, and it should never define us. Our influence, our character, and our family are what is truly important. Regardless of the size of your mom jeans, you’re still you, you’re still beautiful, and you can still enjoy a laugh on behalf of all mom bodies out there. Who knows? Maybe the ‘mom bod’ will become the new ‘dad bod’ trend sometime in the near future.

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