bloggers guide to images
The Bloggers Guide To Using and Creating Images

A topic that constantly comes up in the blogging groups and forums I belong to is the use of images.

What images can you use? Is there anywhere you can get photos for free? What size of image should you share? How do you make Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest see your images and ensure the right ones are shared.

Finding and creating images for your blog is the topic of this weeks podcast. Listen below:



Key Points:

  1. Avoid using generic stock images
  2. Never steal images from Google search for your blog posts
  3. Use PhotoPin to find creative commons licenced images
  4. Search free stock photo sites
  5. Use Canva to create image templates

Key Image Sizes:

Facebook & Twitter: 1200 x 627

Pinterest:  735 x 1102

Tools & Resources

This Week’s Blogging Challenges:

Challenge 1: Find at least one  stock photo site you are happy with
Challenge 2: Set up templates for both Facebook/Twiter and Pinterest in canva
Challenge 3: Optimise all images so they don’t effect my page load speed

 

 

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Great website copy
Does your website copy welcome your customers in?

“Come inside for dinner, or to put your feet up by the fire”

That sign almost made me drop everything, I could picture myself by the fire, relaxing. Does your web content do the same for your website and business?

Find out more below:

Is your website copy enticing? Can you write content for your website that will make people want to come in and find out more?

If you want to be as enticing as the guest house in my story you need to start looking beyond your offer, beyond the sales pitch. Start thinking about writing website copy that paints a picture that your customers will be dying to be a part of.

Ask yourself how your product or service makes their lives better.

For example. I could tell customers that I will save them time by showing them how to put a social media strategy in place. It’s true but it’s hardly enticing.

Alternatively, I could ask them to picture what they’d do with an extra hour of time every day. I could ask what they would do if they finished their todo list an hour early on a Friday.

Which version works best for you? I’m hoping it’s version 2.

Once you’ve crafted your website copy make sure it’s clear what you do, how you can help. Tell people what the next step is. Maybe it’s to get in touch, perhaps you just want them to subscribe to your list at this stage and continue the sales pitch via email.

I know that humble guest house has got me re-writing the copy for my website’s key pages. Will it make you review yours too?

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

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seo beginners tips for bloggers
SEO beginners tips for bloggers

Are you a blogger struggling with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Are you wondering why everyone is talking about Domain Authority? These are some of the topics I cover in episode 12 of the Blogcentric Podcast.

Search Engine Optimisation has never been my strong point. I know the basics but when it comes to blogging I tend to just rush it.

Not anymore. 2016 is to be my year of SEO and it all starts here with this podcast.

Listen Below To Discover My 7 SEO Basics For Bloggers:



 

Here’s a recap of my 7 steps:

Step 1 – Check and fix broken links

Self-hosted WordPress bloggers can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to find, edit and delete broken links on their site.

Step 2 – Resize images for faster page load speeds

Load speed is an important factor both for your user and for Google. One easy way to improve load speed is to  resize of your images. Try using .jpg format images rather than .png as they take up far less space. Also consider resizing your images before you upload them.

There are a tonne of other factors that affect load speed but images is a good place to start. Google have their own tool that will check the load speed of your website and offer recommendations.

Step 3 – Have a plugin clear out

Plugins are great but if you have too many they could be slowing down the speed of your site. Take a look at your plugins and uninstall any you don’t use. Are there any you could live without altogether?

Step 4 – Check your site on mobile

In 2015 Google announced that they would consider whether a site was mobile friendly in their rankings. If you don’t already have a mobile friendly theme installed on your site it’s time to look at a redesign. Even though my site looks OK on mobile it looks like it needs a bit of an upgrade!

Step 5 – Use Yoast

Yoast is a plugin that assists you with your SEO. Tell it what keyword or phrase you want to optimise for and it will tell you what you need to do to improve your post.

Step 6 – Name your images before uploading

Change the name of your image before you upload it to your blog and include your keyphrase. When you upload you should also complete the ‘Alt text’ section and include the keyword you want to optimise for here too.

Step 7 – Create a checklist

What SEO tasks do you need to complete before you publish your posts? Write a checklist for yourself, print it out and stick it in a prominent place in your workplace.

I’m a real beginner at SEO. Here’s the MOZ SEO eBook I’m reading at the moment. Do you have any tips to share with listeners? I’d love your input so leave me a comment below.

 

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Cool new Facebook feature helps you keep track of users
Cool new Facebook feature helps you keep track of users

I’ve been travelling a lot over the last few weeks so I’ve been relying on my iPad and iPhone more than usual for keeping up with Facebook interactions.

Find out more below

The feature allows you to tag and write private notes about the people who interact with your Facebook page. It doesn’t seem to be available on the web, just the pages manager app.

What can you use this Facebook Pages Manager feature for?

  • Keep a note of your top interactors
  • Keep links to websites and Facebook pages associated with that user
  • Store details of any conversations you’ve had with that person. Have they mentioned anything significant? Their love of Dr Who? A new trick they are trying?

The information that you store here is just for page admins, it isn’t available to the public.

This feature may look familiar, it’s very similar to a LinkedIn tool that gives you the opportunity to store notes about a connection.

Have you noticed this feature? What other ways could you use it? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

get customers from your blog
Pet Sitters Ireland answer customers questions to drive traffic to their site.

Kate had been blogging on and off for about a year when she discovered Marcus Sheridan. Now after five years of blogging the Marcus Sheridan way she’s getting traffic to her Pet Sitters Ireland site and more importantly, getting customers from her blog.

Listen Below To Find Out How She Gets Customers From Her Blog



 

It’s impossible to talk to Kate without discussing Marcus Sheridan. If you haven’t encountered him before you should definitely check out his River Pools & Spas blog. It was this blog that turned his failing business around. His success story has inspired many business bloggers.

His method has been to answer questions in five main categories:

  • Cost & price
  • Problems
  • Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • Best of articles

When you answer your customer questions on your blog it will drive traffic from Google and other search engines who are searching for the answers online.

Resources mentioned in this week’s show:

Tools for finding customer questions: 

Top Tips From Kate

Answer your customer questions on your blog.

Don’t be scared of sharing pricing information. You don’t have to be specific but give an idea. People are more likely to get in touch if they know what they are getting into.

Create an eBook from your most popular blog posts, giving customers information about your website. Kate sees a very high conversion rate from people who download and read that eBook before they call.

Spend time on your images so that they look good for sharing on social media.

Work on themes for your blog. It will help you focus during the month.

Kate’s Challenge

This week’s challenge from Kate is to Take the five topics:

Write five titles for each of the five topics below. Focus on customer questions that fall into these categories.

  • Cost & price
  • Problems
  • Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • Best of articles

You can find Kate online at Pet Sitters Ireland and follow the Pet Sitters Ireland Facebook page.

Don’t forget to follow me @spiderworking on Periscope for updates on my blogging challenge progress.

If you enjoy this podcast please do me a massive favour and give me a review on iTunes, Stitcher or leave me a comment on this post. I’d love to hear your blogging stories and how you are getting on with my blogging challenges.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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like for like facebook reach
Are your likes damaging your Facebook organic reach?

I’m in a lot of Facebook blogging groups. Some of them are all about sharing knowledge, some of them are just about sharing content and others… well some I’m not sure about.

I joined them to meet other bloggers and yes, to share my content with people I thought might find it helpful or share it.

The value of these groups varies. The discussion groups are really helpful, I can ask questions and find out what blogging issues are important to others. I can also help out when someone asks about something within my expertise.

There are one or two groups that I’m struggling to see value in and these ones seem to be a constant stream of people asking for Facebook page likes. Most are ‘Like for Like’ threads. The idea is, you ask for a page like and will like the other pages in return.

On the surface, this seems like a supportive thing to do. It helps everyone build their numbers and push their content out further right?

I’ve seen quite a bit of comment on these pages recently complaining that people are Liking and unlocking and calming it’s not fair.

It’s true, if you agree to take part in Like for Like it doesn’t seem right to instantly unlike the page once the job is done but there are far bigger concerns than this.

‘Just hide the page posts if you don’t want to see them’ one commenter says…

To see why this is damaging your page rather than building it lets talk about the Facebook page algorithm.

How Like for Like Is Damaging Your Facebook Reach

How Do You Know If You Are Getting Negative Feedback?

Facebook considers the following negative feedback:

  1. Hide post
  2. Hide all posts
  3. Report as spam
  4. Unlike page

We will all see some negative feedback from time to time. Most of the time it’s nothing to worry about but if we frequently get a lot of negative feedback the Facebook algorithm steps in.

Facebook assumes that if you get a lot of negative feedback you are producing poor quality content and will start to penalise all your posts in future. That means you will start to see very low organic reach on all your posts.

Here’s how to find out if you are getting negative feedback on your page:

What to do if you are getting large amounts of negative feedback:

  1. Review the content you are posting. Is it interesting, informative, entertaining or educational? If it doesn’t fit into one of these categories you shouldn’t be posting it.
  2. Stop looking for Likes from people who have no interest in your business or industry.
  3. Consider setting up a targeted ‘Likes’ ad to build a more relevant audience.
  4. Target your organic posts to segments of your audience. You can do this by location, gender age and interest. (see below)

Your Turn

Are you getting a lot of negative feedback? What have you done to combat it? Let me know in the comments below

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

How To Create A Written Style Guide For Your Blog
A 6 Step Method For Creating A Written Style Guide

Is your blogging writing style consistent?

  • Do you know when to capitalise your headlines and when not to?
  • What about numbers? Should you use the number itself or spell it out?
  • What about numbers? Should you use the number itself or spell it out?

These are some of the questions I discuss in episode 10 of the Blogcentric podcast.

Last week we looked at how to create a consistent visual style guide for your blog. Creating a written style guide is just as important. It will make your readers feel comfortable and build trust and loyalty.

A written style guide is a set of rules that define how you should use and format specific words and phrases on your blog. For example, should each word in your headlines be capitalised? How should you write the word eBook?

6 Steps To Creating A Written Style Guide

Listen below and follow my tips for creating your own style guide.



Here are the steps again:

Step 1 – Define your brand personality

This is particularly useful if you have more than one writer on your blog. Although their own style is important their posts should fit withing the parameters of your brand personality.

Here’s the worksheet from BigBrandSystems that I mention in the podcast.

Complete the worksheet to identify aspects of your brand personality

Step 2 – Choose a style guide template

You don’t have to start from scratch with your style guides. There are some well documented guides already in use that will set out the basic rules of your writing style. This include:

Choose a stylebook and make a note of where bloggers and editors can find it.

Step 3 – List Exceptions

Although the stylebook or guide you have chosen will inform most of your decisions you will need to list exceptions. Cases where your own styles will differ from those laid out in the book.

These will include your preferences and industry specific terms.

In their eBook on the topic, Hubspot shares their own style guide. This is a great resource for me as they are in the same industry as me. It lists terms such as eBook email and tweet. Although in many cases I’m taking their suggestions on board I do differ in some cases.

Brainstorm industry specific terms and add them and their usage to your style guide.

Step 4 – Lets talk about Jargon

Every industry has specific jargon and acronyms. Decide how you are going to handle these. In many cases, this will be down to your reader. If you are writing for peers in your industry you may not need to define these terms but if you are writing for others it might be a good idea to define them when you first use them in a post.

Make a list of jargon and acronyms in your style guide document, define how they will be used.

Step 5 – Headlines

I use four types of headings in my blog posts

  • H1 – This is the title of the post
  • H2 – Main subheading
  • H3 – Secondary heading
  • H4 – Tertiary heading (if I need one)

Decide if you will capitalise all words or just some words in each of these headlines. You will also need to decide when you will use each of these. 

Step 6 – Numbers

Will you use numbers themselves or spell them out? The Hubspot guide uses both methods depending on the length of the number.

Decide how you will handle numbers and, if there are variables, add examples to your style guide document.

Tools

There are two tools that I frequently use to hone the style of my blog posts. I’d recommend them both as they can help keep you on track.

1. Grammarly

Grammarly is an alternative to a standard spell checker. It underlines words that are spelt incorrectly or that have grammatical errors. To edit these, I can just click on the word and it will show me alternatives or suggest what I may have done wrong.

As someone who struggles with spelling and grammar I find this tool indispensable. It not only corrects my mistakes but I learn as I go.

2. Hemingway editor

When you have finished writing your post plug it into Hemingway to find out how readable it is. Hemmingway will give you a readability score and highlight complicated sentences and other annoyances. It will make your writing more concise and easier to read. I reviewed Hemingway here on the blog a few years ago and still use it frequently.

Additional Resources For Your Written Style Guide

Challenge:

Complete the steps above to create a written style guide for your blog.

Don’t forget to follow me @spiderworking on Periscope for updates on my blogging challenge progress.

If you enjoy this podcast please do me a massive favour and give me a review on iTunes, Stitcher or leave me a comment on this post. I’d love to hear your blogging stories and how you are getting on with my blogging challenges.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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ecommerce checkout problems thumb
Is your online store putting customers off buying?

I’d been waiting in two queues for five minutes each. Finally I reached the cash desk and they needed a phone number.

I just wanted to buy something and they were making it really hard. The experience reminded me of many e-commerce experiences I’ve had.

Watch the video below to find out more:

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve abandoned a website because of their checkout system. There was the time when I found the perfect swimsuit but was put off buying because the site I was purchasing from wanted my date of birth. There was the Christmas gift I’d tried to buy but there was no way of finding out how much shipping was before going through the purchase procedure.

As someone who used to run an e-commerce business, I know how easy it is to ignore the checkout process, to not think it through. A seamless checkout experience will ensure you’ll get more sales and less abandoned shopping baskets.

Here’s a few things to do to ensure you are offering good customer experience:

1. Get a friend to test the buying process. Watch over their shoulders as they go through the system and ask them afterwards how they found it.

2. Ensure you’re not asking for too much at checkout. Is all the information you are asking for completely necessary?

3. Make sure the FAQ section of your site is easy to find from the shopping cart and contains all the answers to common buyer related questions.

4. Consider adding live chat so that those who are stuck can get in touch immediately.

Your Turn

Have you had problems checking out online or in real life? Do you have any tips to share for offering a better e-commerce experience? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

How To Create A Visual Style Guide For Your Blog
Build trust, be consistent

Is your blog memorable? When people visit it for the second time to they recognise where they are? If you aren’t sure this episode of the Blogcentric podcast is for you.

I’ve developed a loose visual style guide for my blog over time but it’s time for me to formalise it. Having consistent visuals on your blog will:

  1. Make you more memorable to readers.
  2. Make you appear more trustworthy. There’s a reason people keep going back to their favourite big brands and that’s often because they are recognisable wherever we find them.

Listen below and discover:

  • A four-step process for creating a visual style guide
  • How to find colour codes for your business to use on the web and in design
  • Where to find and choose fonts for your business
  • How to implement your visual style guide


Resources mentioned in this post:

  1. My post on INBOUND 2015 (Including visual style guide tips)
  2. Web Developer plugin for Chrome (see below for video on how it works)
  3. Canva For Work
  4. PicMonkey*
  5. Fonts.com
  6. Google fonts
  7. Evernote

Download my visual style guide worksheet here.

How To Find Or Choose Your Brand Colours With Web Developer For Chrome

 

Challenge:

Download the visual style guide template and create a guide for your blog.

Don’t forget to follow me @spiderworking on Periscope for updates on my blogging challenge progress.

If you enjoy this podcast please do me a massive favour and give me a review on iTunes, Stitcher or leave me a comment on this post. I’d love to hear your blogging stories and how you are getting on with my blogging challenges.

*Affiliate link

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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increase twitter character limit 10000
Should Twitter increase the character count to 10,000 characters?

I’ve been away on my holidays in New York for the last week or so. I have just about been keeping up with the news and one topic that popped into my newsfeed was the possibility that Twitter would increase their character limit from 140 characters to 1000.

I really hope the rumours about Twitter increasing their character count to 10,000 characters are false. There have been rumours for a while that they were considering an increase but I expected it to be incremental and almost invisible.

A jump this big would be a shock for Twitter users and would remove the thing, that for me, makes Twitter special.

I understand why they are considering it. The 140 character count sounds like a gimmick. They need to appease shareholders and get more people signing up and using the service. Is the 140 limit one of the things holding people back?

As much as I love that the 140 character limit forces me to be concise, I do feel that on Twitter I’m part of an exclusive club. A club that understands the rules and the language that the character restriction demands. I’m sure to an outsider that this can seem intimidating. By increasing the limit, by essentially removing it, Twitter will be a crowd pleaser.

I object! Here’s a quick (not entirely serious) video I made on holiday in NYC last week to express my feelings on the topic…

When I access Twitter and Facebook from my phone I already find the two networks very similar. So much so that on occasion I’ve been using Facebook whilst convinced I was looking at Twitter. The interfaces are so similar it can be hard to spot which one you are using.

I love Twitter for its uniqueness. I love that it makes us concise, that because of the limit I can pop in for five minutes and get an overview of what’s going on in the world, what concerns the people I follow today, what stories do they have to tell? If we want to tweet longer we can already do so, we don’t need 10,000 characters.

Of course, at this early stage we don’t really know what Twitter is proposing. My guess is that they are keen to jump into the blogging arena like LinkedIn have with publishing and Facebook have with Instant Articles and Notes.

What do you think, should Twitter expand its character count? Will it encourage you to use Twitter more or would it make you abandon the network? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

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