Tag Archives: blogging tips

Choosing Your Email Newsletter Content

Show notes by host Kirsten Oliphant

blogger2business podcastSo you listened to the podcast with Amy Lynn Andrews, you know you should have a newsletter. You read the last post with the rundown of email service providers and chose one. Now for the million dollar questions: What do you put IN your newsletter? And how often do you send it?

Before you make the decision on what content and how often, you need to know WHY you are sending an email. What are your goals? This will help you make decisions on what you include and how often you email your subscribers.

Which brings up two MORE questions: Who is your audience and what do they want from you?

Now that I have harassed you with questions, here are some things to consider as you plan what you want to include in your email and how often you hit send.

Be a student of email newsletters.

I love to see what other people are doing! Signing up for email lists shows me how people handle even simple things like the emails that go out to confirm subscription. I like to see what kind of content people send, what it looks like design-wise, and how often they send me something. The point is not to copy what someone else is doing, but you might get an idea that you can piggyback from to tweak your list.

Make people AFRAID to unsubscribe.

This really stuck with me from the interview with Amy Lynn Andrews. She said that this was her goal in creating the Useletter. It is really HARD to think about creating something unique, isn’t it?  You want to give value, but value can look like a lot of things. Value can look like tips or encouragement or humor or curated links or a tutorial or getting your blog posts or something personal (if you have a very brand that centers around YOU). Brainstorm ideas. See what you like to read. Above all, have great content and value.

Don’t give too little; don’t give too much.

Some people prefer a once-monthly newsletter or twice a month. The benefit is that people don’t feel like you are hounding them all the time. But that is ALSO the downside! I have subscribed to lots of emails and then totally forgotten because there is no weekly email. A month later when I get an email, I may have NO IDEA who that blogger is. Sending on a weekly basis means consistency and also familiarity. The downside, of course, being that we all have 800 emails a day and you don’t want to just add to the noise. See above: MAKE GREAT CONTENT.

Be yourself.

If your blog is all about parenting, don’t send an email about how to blog. Make sure your email content lines up with what you tell people when they sign up, or the context in which they find the sign-up. If you talk about several different things, you can segment the list and give options where people can simply get tips for blogging OR your parenting posts. You want a consistent voice and brand that runs through your email and your blog and your social media presence. The benefit of this is that no one else is YOU. By being you and being consistent, you will already by nature have unique content. There might be 50,000 blogs about blogging, but you are the only YOU writing about blogging. Be personable and embrace the things that make you unique.

Don’t forget also as you’re considering this what you are able to sustain. If you want to write a weekly email with fresh content, remember that it takes time and you need to set that aside. If curating links sounds great, but you don’t have the time to spend looking for those links, then that might not be the best option for you.

How to create a must-read email newsletter for your blog!

Content Options Email Newsletters

RSS Feed- Set up your RSS feed to run through Mailchimp or MadMimi or the provider you choose. If you really care about hits and traffic, you may consider having truncated posts, where you have the first bit of a post show up and then a link for people to read more.

Teaser Email Per Post- When you have a new post up, send a teaser email that encourages people to click over to the blog and read more. This is different from a truncated RSS feed because this email is NOT a shortened version of the post, but totally new copy. Sign up for Blog Tyrant’s email if you want to see a great example of this!

Big News- When I first started my list, I was beginning to self-publish books on Amazon. My list consisted of people who wanted updates about when my books were live and when they were on sale so they could buy or help promote. This requires little work on your part, but may run the risk of having people wonder who you are if you email once a year.

Totally Fresh Content- This type of email requires the most work, but can also be the most rewarding. If your email list is such a valuable commodity, it is a worthy investment of time. You can hone this to look like whatever you want it to, but the key point is that you are sending something exclusive ONLY for subscribers. If you do this, it’s a great idea to also link (via text or image) to the recent blog posts so people can click over to your blog if they missed any posts. I love how Laura Fuentes of Momables creates her weekly email!

Tip: You want to have a WARM list. This means that you have a list that is engaged and opening your email. When people unsubscribe, think of it as your list getting warmer. You don’t want people who aren’t actually interested in you taking up space on your email list.

What are YOU putting in your email newsletter? Let’s chat in the comments or in the Facebook group!

Relevant Links:

Chad R Allen on Publishing and Warm Lists
Setting Up an RSS Feed via MailChimp from Budget Girl and Setting Up an RSS Feed via MadMimi

Choosing an Email List Provider – Episode 012

Show Notes by host Kirsten Oliphant

One thing you cannot escape in the blogging world is the talk of email lists. You should have one, people tell you. You need a freebie, they say. This is what it should like like, they insist. In this minicast episode, we are talking about why you need and why choosing an email list provider matters. In the next minicast episode, we will tackle content and frequency of your emails.

 

Why You Need to Build Your Email List

People always talk about building your list, but sometimes it can be hard to see WHY. Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income has a story that illustrates one big why. Earlier this year, his site went down for ten days. TEN. DAYS. He estimates that he lost something like $12,000. Crazy! The site DID come back up (with no small amount of effort and a change in hosting), but if it hadn’t? Pat would have walked away with his email list and the ability to tell his audience about his new site. (Read the whole story of when Pat Flynn’s site went down!)

Choosing an Email List Provider is one of the most important parts of setting up your email. Why it matters and a breakdown of the most popular list providers!

Your email list is security. Your email list is a valuable asset. Your email list is permission. You have permission to send email into each person’s inbox. (And by the way, law REQUIRES this permission, so don’t buy an email list or import all your gmail contacts or something. Here is the full FTC post about email permissions and spam.)

Your email list is perhaps the most valuable tool that you have to connect with your audience. If Twitter closes shop, those connections you’ve built are gone. Even if your email list provider goes under, you can still keep your emails from the list saved in a spreadsheet and take them with you. Because you have PERMISSION.

What NOT to Do When Starting an Email List

  • Use the subscription box from Jetpack or WordPress. These do not give YOU someone’s email. This might work for someone to read your blog, but it doesn’t let you own the list.
  • Send all your followers an email from your personal account. Every so often I will send friends and family an email about something big via my personal account. This can get you in trouble (again: anti-spam laws) and also send your email to spam. It also doesn’t look professional.
  • Import emails from your personal email account. This is illegal. Do not do this. Also do not BUY a list. (Yes, there are still people selling lists and Twitter followers. Never buy these.) You do not want to import emails unless you have permission. Period.

Which Email List Provider You Should Choose

There are so many different providers and every blogger has his or her favorite. Here is a nifty comparison of some of the major players.

 

how to choose an email list provider

Things of note to point out: if you want customizable templates and FREE, then MailChimp is the place to start. If you are willing to pay and want to be able to use autoresponders (which are automated emails you set up to send to people in the days following when they sign up), then Aweber is the way to go. If want to stay free and basic, even for a larger list, Tiny Letter would be a great choice. If you are getting your entrepreneur on and selling well through your list, the big dogs swear by Infusionsoft.

The key is identifying your purpose in having an email list and then making your decision based on your goals. I think there are several great choices, so find what works for YOU. In Episode 11 of the podcast where I talked with Amy Lynn Andrews about email lists (and more), she said that the key thing to remember is that an email list is all about having the email.

Yes, your email list is important. 

No, you don’t need to freak out if you don’t have or use one. 

Breathe deep and think about your next steps. In the next minicast we will talk all about content for your email and how often you should send emails to your audience.

If you are building your list, what email list provider do you use? Share your experiences in the comments!

Relevant Links

Why You Should Build Your Email List from Social Triggers
Creating an Email List
Why I Switched to Aweber from Blog Tyrant

Creating & Curating Content with Amy Lynn Andrews – B2B Podcast

Show Notes by host Kirsten Oliphant

Do you struggle with what to put in your weekly email? Does it seem like everyone is doing the same formula of what to write, how often to send, and what to give as a free gift?

If we were to break down blogging and social media into its two most basic parts, they would be content creation and content curation. When you create content, you are putting your unique spin on an idea, even if the idea is not new. (Let’s face it: there are very few truly NEW ideas.) When you curate content, you are presenting content from other sources and bringing those to your audience. Great curators know how to share content that complements their own content and fits within their brand.

Amy Lynn Andrews is a master at both curation and creation. Her weekly email, The Useletter, is a great example of this. She curates five tips or resources related to blogging and social media, then presents them through her lens and voice. It is unique and fantastic! In this episode, she shares how she started blogging, how The Useletter came about, how she monetizes (hint: NOT through ads!) and also what choices she has made to keep feeling like a slave to page views.

Amy blogs at Amy Lynn Andrews and is on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Sign up for The Useletter here!amy lynn andrews

 

Here are a few great posts from Amy:

My Top Branding Tips
My Top Affiliate Marketing Tips
Anatomy of a Good Blog Post

If you are not on iOS, you can now stream the podcast through Stitcher, a free app! Click for the Blogger2Business podcast on Stitcher!

Highlights from the Interview

  • A great online philosophy is to be freely giving with what you create for your audience and what you curate from other people.
  • Blogging has changed a lot in the past few years, becoming in some ways another form of social media through which people can connect to you. There are now YouTubers and Instagrammers and Periscopers and people creating online content outside of a blog. Don’t feel overwhelmed at how many ways we COULD connect. We can’t do it all!
  • When trying to decide if something should be free or paid content, consider your goals. If you want more page views, you want to give away a LOT.
  • The most valuable part of an email list is permission for you to “own” that email. If it works for you to use those emails to send all your posts via RSS, great! If it works for you to create some other kind of newsletter, also great! (Isn’t this freeing??)
  • The benefit of an email list is two-fold: you get an email and your subscribers should get value from you.
  • Hone in on what you enjoy and then filter your choices through that knowledge.
  • Realize that if your income is directly tied to traffic, you are setting yourself up in a situation where any algorithm change could affect you in a major way. Consider this as you set up an infrastructure and monthly costs to run your blog. Consider how you can monetize without SUCH a strong dependency on page views.
  • A solid reputation will take you further than anything else. Establish trust with your audience.
  • When you do hit a bump in the road, consider how you change to adapt. Consider it an opportunity for change, not a dead end.

How to create an email list and curate content! Wisdom from Amy Lynn Andrews.

Great Questions to Ask Yourself in Content Curation & Creation

How can I package information in a way that is convenient, useful, and unique?

What can I give people that they can’t easily get somewhere else?

What is the thing that is uniquely ME?

Relevant Links

Problogger’s Darren Rowse on Passion
Amy Porterfield on Three Strategies for Rapid List-Building
Monetizing Through Affiliate Links by Entrepreneur on Fire

Which is harder for you, creation or curation? Do you have tips for either/both?? Share in the comments!

Increasing Productivity – B2B Minicast

Show Notes by Host: Kirsten Oliphant

blogger2business podcastBlogging and being active on social media can be an enormous time commitment. I feel like there is ALWAYS something I can do. But am I doing the right things in the right order in the right amount of time?

When it comes to blogging, we can definitely find ways to work smarter, not just harder or longer. In this week’s minicast episodes, we are talking about how to be productive and make the most from our time. Paula Rollo has no choice but to blog smarter: as a mom to two, she is also writing for or running a handful of blogs. Here are some of her biggest tips!

Increasing Blog Productivity

  • Work in batches. It can be a huge help to do similar things in batches during a block of time. This helps you get a good workflow and also keeps your brain engaged on one thing rather than switching between different types of tasks. Example: Make one afternoon your blog-writing time and write several posts. Another evening could be your image editing time where you work on all the images for those posts.
  • Find YOUR best work time. Not everyone is wired the same way. Find the best time of day that works for you in terms of creating blog content and (if possible) schedule accordingly. If you do your best writing at night, don’t choose to work on social shares in that time. Stick to writing and do social shares at a time when you don’t need to be AS engaged as you are in content creation.
  • Schedule play time. Whether with your kids, husband, or just out in the real world, you need to make sure you are getting a break from the screen every single day. Whether you are specific in terms of the actual hours or simply put it on your calendar as a reminder to yourself, make sure you are shutting everything off for a good portion of every day. This will help you focus the time you DO have online so you work smarter, not longer.
  • Aim for excellence, not perfection. We all should aim for quality content. But quality content is not PERFECT content. Sometimes we spend too much time fiddling with images or changing headings or wording in an attempt to have perfect content. Will you make more money if you spend an hour instead of 20 minutes on an image? If so, then spend the hour. If NOT, then make a great image in 20 minutes and don’t spend 40 more minutes. DO create great content, but don’t spend too much time that won’t yield a return.
  • Hire someone to do repetitive tasks. Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant or other assistant to do tasks that don’t necessarily have to be done by YOU. You can find people to post on social media for you, link up your posts to linky parties, and any number of other blog-related tasks. This frees you up to spend your time where it is most valuable.

In addition to these great tips, consider the type of planner that works for you (digital or physical) and how you can utilize the time you have to get the most out of your time spent!

What are YOUR tips for increasing productivity and managing your time?

Relevant Links:

How to Optimize a Viral Blog Post

In the first B2B Minicast episode, we talked about how to write viral posts and why you might NOT want to go viral. But the key is how to optimize a viral blog post once you have one.

You could sit back and keep hitting refresh to see the numbers grow. OR you could make sure that your post (and your site) are prepped to grow and maintain a lasting audience. And maybe even some money, too!

How to Optimize a Viral Blog Post

  • Include internal links. Use links in the text to other relevant content on your site. Even if you have a plugin that shows related posts after the content, you still might consider putting an image and link for a related post at the end. The goal? Keep people on your site.
  • Embed a mailing list signup form. If you have a mailing list, make it easy for people to sign up in that post.
  • Use related affiliate links. Think about items you mention in the post that you could find on Amazon or another company. (See this post from Paula about how to use Amazon affiliate links!) If your post revolves around a common problem people have, think about items that might solve that problem. *Always be sure to use proper disclosure!*
  • Embed widgets for your social platforms. You can embed a Pinterest board or profile widget in the post or a widget for your Facebook page or Twitter stream.
  • Link to your own products. Have a book? Have a course? Make sure these new readers know about it!
  • Consider how you might foster community. If the post struck a chord, consider starting a Facebook community or finding another way to connect with those readers. Think outside the box!
  • Make sure your site is in order. Is your About Me page outdated? Is your navigation clear and easy? Can people find what they are looking for on your site? It’s hard to see things clearly yourself, so consider asking a friend to take a look for any red flags.
  • Consider adding a CPM ad to the post. Consider adding a CPM ad to the bottom of the post. The only time I personally REALLY hate seeing ads in a post is when it is a particularly serious post about real issues. Every so often ads can really cheapen sentiment. Consider this before adding extra ads.

 

What should your goals be when you have a viral post? I think they should be two-fold. The first is to have the post monetized well. Blogging as a business does NOT mean selling out.

The second and more important and long-term goal is to grow and maintain your audience. Lasting audience trumps page views. You want the people who read your viral post to connect and to STAY, not bounce.

You might not want to do everything on that list to every blog post, but you should always be thinking about how to give the best user experience possible.

What are your tips to optimize a viral blog post?

Some Great Links on Optimizing Posts:

The Anatomy of an Optimized Post from HubSpot
19 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Bounce Rate from Venture Harbour
What Happens After You Go Viral from The Raven Blog

 

How to Write a Viral Blog Post

In this first B2B Minicast, we are talking about how to write a viral blog post!

Did you know that the term viral doesn’t have to mean that millions of people see your post? Viral posts are those that are viewed by a large number of people in a short period of time, especially when compared to the normal rate of viewing or sharing. That means that your viral post and my viral post might not have the same numbers.

So how do you write a viral blog post?

Viral content has two important parts: strategic writing and strategic sharing. Read how you can do both!

The Basics of How to Write a Viral Blog Post

  • Write content that solves a problem for your audience
  • Create great images or graphics
  • Use catchy, clickable titles
  • Research SEO keywords
  • Evoke an emotional response

Shouldn’t we be doing that ALL the time? YES. Rather than focusing on the idea of going viral, let’s focus on the idea of creating great content that will resonate with our audience.

There is sometimes a bit of luck to how someone stumbles upon your post, or who shares it where and when. But we can do our best to encourage our content to spread like a (good) virus!

How to Encourage Your Post to Go Viral

  • Share at a good time for your audience. Check your analytics for when your posts tend to get a lot of readers.
  • Share across your social media channels. This seems obvious, but you can tweak this as well to be optimal. Check Facebook analytics to see when your fans interact with your posts. (See this great post from Becky on where to share your content!)
  • Ask your audience to share. As long as you aren’t abusing this, you can occasionally as for a RT or a Facebook share in your post.
  • Share with influencers. I feel like the most important thing to remember here is not to be smarmy. Don’t leave comments on blog posts and paste in your links. Don’t tag influencers you haven’t connected with in your shares. What you CAN do is share to influential Facebook pages that welcome this or post on larger collaborative boards. (See Paula’s post about large Facebook pages that allow shares!) You can also link authentically to other big influencers’ content in your post.

Sometimes content that you don’t expect to go viral will and what you think might go viral won’t. You can research and find conflicting information about what can make a post go viral. I’ve read that short content is best. AND that longer content is best.

Posts that make an emotional connection with the audience inspire sharing, whether the post makes someone happy, angry, or simply laugh out loud. If your post moves someone to FEEL something, they are more likely to pass it on to someone else.

One word of warning: viral posts may not be the best ultimate goal. Consider whether you would be comfortable if a million strangers saw that post or were on your site. That can be a wonderful OR scary thought!

Create your BEST content. Always. But consider how you would feel if that post blew up all over the internet. In the next Mini Podcast Episode we will talk about how to optimize that viral post!

What are YOUR tips to write viral posts? Do you WANT to go viral? Have you had a viral post experience? Share in the comments!

Some Great Reads on Going Viral:

10 Quick Tips for Going Viral by ProBlogger
How to Measure the ROI of Social Media from Zoetica Media
The Truth about Going Viral by Jeff Goins
Lessons from Blog Posts that Went Viral by Jeff Bullas
32 Ways to Make Your Post Go Viral from Startup Bros (I don’t think this one is great, but I mention it in the episode!)

Blog Entrepreneurship with Ramsey Taplin of Blog Tyrant

Blog Entrepreneurship – Ramsay Taplin from Blog Tyrant

Show notes from host: Kirsten Oliphant

We’re now on iTunes! Subscribe to the B2B Podcast Here!

A lot of people dream about making a full-time living being your own boss and working from home. Ramsay Taplin from The Blog Tyrant did just that in his early 20s, selling his first five-figure blog when he was 19. Blog Tyrant started as an anonymous blog until Glenn of Viper Chill asked Ramsay to be his very first guest post ever—if he would un-mask and reveal his true identity. (Read that post here!) His site is a wealth of knowledge and has a great community of readers.Ramsay Taplin

Some of my favorite Blog Tyrant posts are:

(We didn’t really talk post titles in our interview, but we SHOULD have, right??)

You can find Ramsay on Blog , Twitter, and Facebook. He is great about answering emails and responding to Tweets!

Highlights from the Episode:

  • You have to adapt and grow as a blogger and online entrepreneur. The internet is always updating and you must follow suit!
  • Keep clever people around you that inspire growth.
  • Permanent curiosity is a great tool to have!
  • Take calculated risks and experiment to find what works for YOU.
  • Pay attention to the successful people around you are doing. Be a good student of other bloggers or people in your niche.
  • A Google penalty can tank your traffic and sales. An email list is a great way to keep your own audience no matter what algorithms change.
  • An email list is the best way to grow in your market. It’s a platform to promote products, new websites, posts, or anything you’re doing. Email is a trusted signal from you to your audience.
  • NOT having a search bar can help you funnel your readers where you want them to go. You are the best curator of your own content, so this is less arrogance and more an understanding of what people need from you.
  • Don’t let fear or perfectionism keep you from moving forward!
  • Having definitive goals for your blog can help you build your email list and following. Think about what kinds of people you want to attract and what you can offer them to keep them around. Be specific in your mind about the person you are pitching to.
  • Ramsay is in the opinion that reach trumps loyalty. (What do YOU think in the comments?)
  • You need to be distinctive as a blogger. How do you stand out from the rest? You don’t need to be original, but you do have to be unique.

Good to Know!

  • Using a Facebook Boost, you can’t choose metrics the way you can in ads. If you’re going to pay, it may be easier to just click Boost, but setting up the ad and choosing the metrics is a lot more helpful!

My Favorite Tip:

  • Keep your email subscribers in an excel spreadsheet doc on your computer and keep it backed up.

Ideas for Experimenting

  • Promotional End: How can I get the cost per click down for a campaign? How can I fine-tune promotions (like on Facebook) to reach the right subscribers?
  • Colors & Placement: Will a button color affect sign-ups? Will placement in the sidebar or a pop-up have a better conversion rate?
  • Email Open Rates: What kinds of email do people want to open? What subject lines get the best open rates?
  • Search Bar & Navigation: How can you best funnel your readers to the places you want them to go and the places that would be best for them?

Helpful links:

Dealing with Your Critics – B2B Podcast

Dealing with Your Critics – Podcast Interview with Kami Huyse

Show notes from host: Kirsten Oliphant

The saying goes that it takes ten compliments to balance out one insult. How many good commenters does it take to balance out one troll?

Kami HuyseI’m sure I’m not the only one with a distinct memory for those mean-spirited or otherwise critical comments on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog. They stick with us and they sting! In this episode I talk with Kami Huyse from Zoetica Media about her experience with online critics. She spent two years with a critic who followed her to every online space she frequented, calling her names and publicly attacking her. Yowza!

Kami offers advice on how to deal with criticism and even when we should consider criticism a GOOD thing.

You can find Kami at the Zoetica Media, on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Check out her SlideShare for more great content!

Highlights from the Episode

  • You will not be able to avoid conflict online, but you can minimize it by the type of content you post and the ways you interact.
  • Many times conflict in the comments deals with character of the commenter, not the issue at hand. (Make sure you don’t fall into this trap!)
  • Deleting your Facebook account is pretty drastic, but it is not a bad idea to evaluate whether online interaction is something you can handle.
  • Don’t react. RESPOND.
  • Criticism stings, but can also sometimes help you see where you have room to grow. Take some time to think about whether the criticism has any truth before you dismiss it.

Easy Traps to Fall into with Criticism

  • Defending yourself TOO much
  • Taking things too personally
  • Unleashing your fans on the offending commenter
  • Responding in the moment without taking time to think about it

How to Handle Critics & Trolls

  • Prepare yourself from them and know that they WILL come.
  • When you receive a negative or nasty comment, pause.
  • Type out a response in another program that is not online so you won’t be tempted to hit send. Come back and read it later to see if you REALLY want to send it.
  • Remember that you are not likely to change someone’s mind about you.
  • Keep some amount of separation between your online world and your real world.

Questions to Ask before Diving into the Fray

  • Is there any truth to the criticism or comment that you might grow from?
  • Do you really NEED to respond?
  • Are you adding value to the conversation?
  • How will the readers watching perceive your handling of the situation?
  • Does a response to the critic fit with the brand or persona you have built online?
  • What will you gain from engaging? What will you lose if you don’t?

Helpful links:

CiviliNation

Civility in the Digital Age

How to Deal with Social Media Trolls

Should You Turn Off Comments on Your Blog?

Have you experienced criticism online? How did you deal with it?

Rebranding Your Blog – B2B Podcast

Rebranding Your Blog- Podcast Interview with Paula Rollo

Show notes from host: Kirsten Oliphant

Rebranding is somewhat of a four-letter-word in blogging sometimes, eliciting moans and groans. For most of us, rebranding is inevitable. Our blogs don’t exist in a vacuum. They are affected by the eventsRebranding_Paula Rollo and changes in our world as the creator, but they also are impacted by our readers and our outside world.

Smaller changes to your blog happen all the time. A rebrand is something much more substantive, like changing your niche, who writes for your site, or the way you write your posts. You can tweak your blog more frequently, but rebranding is a huge change that should span years.

How do you know if you need to rebrand? You might need to rebrand if:

  • your goals change (ex: you WERE writing for fun, but now need a viable income)
  • your life changes (ex: you get divorced and move to Germany as a single mom with three kids)
  • your audience changes (ex: you are attracting 18-25 year old males, not the moms you thought you were writing for)

You will likely experience rebranding if you haven’t already! In this episode of the podcast, Paula Rollo talks about how Beauty Through Imperfection evolved from a very personal recreational blog about parenting into a purposeful blog that garners an income. She makes it sound manageable, not like something to fear!

Paula’s Tips:

  • Keep your voice & authenticity, but focus on the new direction.
  • Move slowly and steadily.
  • Involve your audience. (Tip: Use a survey to ask your readers what they want.)
  • Have thick skin. Whether you stay the same or change, some people won’t like it.
  • If you are just starting out and want to avoid rebranding, consider using an SEO-friendly name that describes your blog or topic. Think about long-term goals, not just what interests you now. Spend some time researching before you jump on a blog or blog name. Make sure you have enough to write about and that you are actually interested in the topic for the long haul.
  • If and when you rebrand, know that you are not alone! Bloggers have gone before you and survived! You will too. Above all, remember your goal and keep your audience in mind. Give yourself some time and some grace to incorporate the changes.

Helpful links:

Are you in need of a rebrand? Have you been through one (or two or ten) already? Leave your tips or your questions in the comments!

Blog Designer Basics – B2B Podcast

Blog Designer Basics – Podcast Interview with Elaine Griffin

Show notes from host: Kirsten Oliphant

Blogging is an investment of both your money and your time. Is blog design an area where you want to invest your money or your time? You will absolutely have to invest one or the other to have a professional site. I’ve learned a lot about CSS and blog design hacks over the years, but often I spend way too much time trying to figure things out. That time equals money! Especially if I break something in the code (it’s happened!) and then have to call someone to fix it. When making a decision whether to hire a blog designer or not, ElaineGriffinDesignsconsider the investment of both time and money.

In this episode I talk with designer Elaine Griffin of Elaine Griffin Designs about why you might hire a designer or what you can do on your own if you choose not to hire a designer. Elaine also discusses how to pick and work with a designer, what her pet peeves are in terms of design and why you DON’T want to use a plugin to be mobile-friendly.

You can find more about Elaine’s services on her site or follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Highlights from the Episode:

When You Need a Designer vs Design DIY:

  • Designers help you establish your visual brand.
  • You may be able to use plugins to do a lot, but those can slow your site speed if you use too many!
  • Designers know about back-end technical things you may not.
  • Designers provide an expertise about aesthetics & functionality that you might not have.
  • You might break something. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever broken your site!!)

Being Mobile-Friendly:

  • You need a good mobile responsive theme (most of the Genesis themes are).
  • New iPhones sometimes need a coded work-around.
  • Use Responsinator to check how your site looks on different devices.
  • Headers can be an issue. Designers can code them down, but larger headers can be a large problem!
  • Sometimes ads visible in the truncated view of posts also cause problems.

What You Get When You Pay a Designer:

  • Design expertise
  • Header sizing
  • Where things should visually be located on your blog like ads & content
  • Technical and back-end knowledge
  • Best plugins
  • Where you might need special coding
  • Support for emergencies
  • Your TIME
  • Professional look

Elaine’s Personal Pet Peeves

  • Too much navigation (she suggested two nav bars, neither one too crowded)
  • Huge header
  • Grab a button widget (no one is grabbing your button!)
  • Too many badges

Tips If You Can’t Afford a Designer:

  • Don’t be afraid of white space.
  • Be simple and clean.
  • Use Google Fonts (free for commercial use) rather than just what fonts come with a theme.
  • Have big, beautiful images. (Use stock photos if you aren’t a great photographer.)
  • Make sure your header isn’t too big.
  • Have an About section in the sidebar with your email. (Brands don’t like contact forms.)
  • Mobile Friendly!

Elaine’s Favorite Plugins:

  • Simple Social Icons
  • Shortcodes Ultimate
  • Studio Tiny MCE
  • Visual Editor
  • Gensis eNews Extended
  • Featured Widget Amplified

Important Mobile Friendly Tip: DO NOT use a plugin to make your site mobile friendly. Even if the Google test says your site is mobile friendly when using a plugin, Google has actual defined mobile-friendly as an actual responsive sizing-down and coding. Your plugin is not really doing that, so while it technically IS responsive and may show up as fine on the Google test, you may actually NOT be mobile-friendly and lose search traffic. Use a theme rather than a plugin!

Tips for Working with a Designer:

  • Find someone whose designs you like, but make sure your personalities seem like a good fit.
  • Have some vision for what you want. If you don’t, be prepared to accept the designer’s vision.
  • Don’t approve something and then later decide to change it.
  • Ask if the designer can show you test sites in WordPress rather than just a view in photoshop.

Helpful links:

Have you worked with a designer? What are your tips for getting the most bang for your buck?

Are you doing design DIY? What made you choose that route and where did you learn the tools you used?