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      How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success


      Designing a website is easier than it has ever been. Long gone are the days of manual coding and restrictive print-based layouts. Today, almost anyone can create a gorgeous, responsive, functional site in minutes — as long as you know where to start.

      Fortunately, the basics of website design are relatively easy to understand if you apply some common sense and careful planning. Your goal should always be to create a site that’s not just visually striking but is also easy to navigate and use.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of designing a website and show you how to get started with six key tips. We’ll also introduce you to the Remixer website builder and demonstrate how you can use this tool to create a site quickly and easily.

      1. Plan Your Design Thoroughly

      Before you do anything, you’ll need a concrete and thorough plan. At this stage, you should clearly define your goals and expectations for your site and outline what you hope to accomplish with it.

      Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to:

      1. Is the site personal or commercial?
      2. Do you want it to make money and if so, how?
      3. Will you be using advertisements or affiliate marketing?
      4. How much traffic are you expecting?

      Put your thoughts and ideas down on paper and start drawing up a plan. We mean that literally, by the way. A smart method of planning your site is to create sketches of how you want it to look and operate. You should also take everyone’s ideas into account if you’re working with other designers or collaborators.

      By the end of your planning phase, you should have a blueprint of the site’s top-level framework. This includes a plan for its user interface (UI), sidebars, and other page elements, as well as an idea of how navigation will work. Doing this first will make it much easier to bring your vision to life.

      2. Create Your Site’s Visual Identity

      When you’ve got an idea of what the structure of your site will be, it’s time to look at its appearance. You’ll need to choose the fonts and typography you’ll want to use. If you’re working from an established brand identity, consider how your choices match up to offline materials. It’s also worth exploring how well the fonts you choose work with multiple languages and how effectively they scale up and down on differently-sized screens.

      You’ll also need to decide on a color scheme. Again, if you’re creating a site based on a brand with an established visual identity, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Otherwise, picking a color scheme requires you to consider color theory and ensure your choices are accessible.

      Thinking about the ‘feel’ you want your site to have can make this decision easier. Colors represent different emotions and meanings, after all. For example, red is typically seen as an aggressive and impulsive color, while green is associated with health and the environment. You should take time to choose your colors carefully since they can help you create a cohesive visual identity.

      3. Consider the Layout and Navigation

      If you planned ahead as we discussed earlier, this step will be a lot easier. You’ve already considered how navigation will work on your site. It’s now time to dig deeper and think about your visitor’s journey.

      The visitor’s journey refers to the possible paths that people can take on your website. In other words, you’ll need to consider how users will access other parts of the site from any given page. After all, you won’t always have control over how users first arrive on your site, so you can’t just rely on a homepage to serve as your hub. Navigation needs to be available across your site, and it has to be accessible and easy-to-use.

      You also need to plan out the layout of each page carefully. To do this, ask yourself what each page on your site is trying to achieve. For example, if you want people to fill out a contact form, you’ll need a strong CallTo-Action (CTA) button. Your CTA should always be prominent and clear.

      Every element on a page should be designed to promote the overall goal. It’s best to start simple and add elements over time to ensure you aren’t adding unneeded information or features.

      4. Pay Attention to the Details

      When you’ve completed the overall design and layout of your site, it’s time to shrink your scope and focus on the details. These are the seemingly minor things that create the general look and feel of your site, such as buttons, menus, image placements, and so forth.

      Treat each component on your site as a stand-alone object and give it proper attention. This is the kind of precise work that can seem excessive but will greatly help to refine your site overall. Your goal should be to make the final product better than the sum of its parts, and spending appropriate time and effort on those parts is the best strategy.

      One way you can make your site ‘pop’ is by adding engaging elements like microinteractions. We’ve previously discussed that these are a popular trend — and for good reason. They help make your site feel more interactive and living since it’s able to respond to the user in small ways.

      You should also work on avoiding common mistakes, such as bad font rendering and poor color contrast. These are the kinds of issues that are easy to miss if you don’t get up-close with the individual components of your site. For that reason, make sure you give them the attention they require.

      5. Prototype and Share Your Design

      Prototyping is an important part of the design process. A prototype is simply a demo version of your site that you can share with others. It can be presented as images or you can create a static HTML representation of how each page is meant to look with little-to-no functionality.

      Creating a prototype is an important way to give others an idea of what the site will look like when it’s done. If you’re working for a client, they will naturally want an overview of your plans and the chance to suggest changes. You should, therefore, show them a prototype early on so they can provide feedback. This will save you time down the line, as they won’t be surprised or displeased with your work when it’s nearing completion.

      One thing to remember: site builders make creating a site so quick and easy that you often don’t need a separate prototype. You’ll be able to quickly put together a new idea and solicit feedback from others without creating a demo (more on this later).

      6. Challenge Yourself and Be Willing to Experiment

      Finally, remember that web design is a creative endeavor, and you should always be willing to challenge yourself. This applies when you’re creating your first website or your 50th. For example, you can consider new ways of approaching a particular design goal. Maybe you’ll experiment with different color schemes, images, or a more accessible navigation layout.

      This step is more important than it might seem. Not only will it help you to grow as a creator, but it will also give you an extra incentive to find new solutions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Giving yourself a challenge in each new project is an excellent way to keep yourself focused and invested in your work.

      One smart way to get started is by finding inspiration in recent design trends. You can consider how you can implement those trends yourself or even improve on them.

      How to Design a Website With Remixer

      When it comes time to put the tips we’ve discussed into practice, you’ll need the right tool for the job. With that in mind, allow us to introduce Remixer. This is a website builder that requires no coding and enables you to create your site using an intuitive visual editor.

      The best thing about Remixer is that it enables anyone, regardless of experience, to create a website using the basics we’ve outlined throughout this article. With Remixer, you don’t need to know your way around HTML, CSS, PHP, or any other coding language to create functional and visually-striking websites.

      To start using Remixer, you just need to sign up for a free account. When you have signed in, you can start creating your site in two ways. The first is to choose a theme.

      When you hover over a theme, you can either preview it or select it as your starting point. This will open the Remixer editor, which we’ll look at soon. However, you can also choose the Create option in the upper right-hand corner. This will instead give you the choice of three different types of website.

      After you select one, you’ll be able to choose your site’s color palette. Remember to consider color psychology when making your decisions. You can select an option to see a preview of how it will look.

      Next, you can click on the Choose Images link in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. This will enable you to select a series of stock images to use on your site. You will be able to replace these later, so consider them more as a guide for yourself as you design your site’s appearance.

      Finally, you’ll select Choose Fonts to proceed to the next step. As you might imagine, this is where you’ll pick the fonts to use on your site. Find and select a font pair that matches the visual identity you’ve settled on.

      When you’re happy with your choices, click Preview Site. You’ll now be shown a snapshot of how your site will look. To preserve your preferences, select Save and edit this site. This will open your site in the Remixer editor, where you can edit its layout and content freely.

      Remixer is a click-to-edit builder. So to make any changes, you just need to click on an element on the page. For example, to update text, you just need to select it and make changes right in the editor.

      Other elements, such as images, can be changed with the menu on the left. Select the element you want to manage, and relevant settings will appear in this menu.

      To add new elements to the page, click the New buttons, which appear between existing sections. This will expand a selector, where you can pick the element you want to add to the page.

      At this point, you can freely make changes to your site. Every edit will be shown in real-time so it’s easy to experiment and see how your changes will affect the final result. As long as you remember the tips we’ve discussed throughout this article, you should be only a short time away from creating an excellent website with all the functionality you require!

      Need a Beautiful Website?

      Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.

      Ready to Design Your Site?

      Even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life, you can still create a great-looking, functional website. All it takes is understanding the basics of what makes a successful site and using an intuitive tool like the Remixer website builder to put it all into practice.



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      From the Experts: 19 Great Blogging Tips for 2019


      There are a lot of A-list bloggers out there. We interviewed a handful of them to gather 19 tips that will help take your blog to the next level this year.

      Just open your Instagram app and it’s obvious: there are a lot of bloggers out there. Influencers, sharing content on a myriad of topics — from paleo diets to patio furniture — seem to occupy every inch of internet real estate, peddling travel tips and gardening how-tos. With glossy photos and witty copy, it seems they’ve got it figured out. They’re real bloggers, right?

      Is there even room for aspiring bloggers like you and me?

      Short answer? Yes!

      Nearly 409 million people view more than 21.9 billion pages each month, according to WordPress. That’s a lot of opportunities. If you’re looking to enter the blogosphere (or increase the success of your already-established blog), you might think you need a lot of luck to make it happen. But there’s no need to buy lotto tickets or wish on shooting stars. You just need some expert advice.

      Luckily, we’ve got that in spades.

      We’ve done the legwork for you, talking with the web’s blogging elite and garnering their best tips. Consider these 19 tips an all-inclusive handbook to blogging success, chock-full of guidance from a handful of virtual mentors. These expert bloggers will instruct you on the keys to blogging success: how to get the ball rolling, create quality content, and stay dedicated, even in an evolving blogging environment.

      Are you ready to be a better blogger in 2019? Read on!

      1. It’s About Time

      Before you even think of pursuing a blog — with the intent to make money or simply as a hobby — you have to be real with yourself. Know your capabilities, as far as time and availability go.

      “Successful blogging requires time, dedication, and some strategic planning,” says Brittany Watson Jepsen of powerhouse DIY craft blog, The House That Lars Built. “I wouldn’t plan on doing it if you don’t have sufficient time to devote to it.”

      According to a survey of more than a thousand bloggers, a typical blog post takes two and a half hours to create. The same study reveals that a large number of bloggers write outside of regular “work hours,” including on weekends and at night. Translation: bloggers are always on; blogging is their lifestyle, and it requires quality time to produce success.

      And writing blog posts is just the beginning; in addition to creating content, bloggers must optimize for search engines, make time for social media, market their content, network, and engage with readers.

      For design guru, Emily Henderson, running a blog isn’t a back-burner endeavor, either.

      “I had to make it a major priority or else it won’t get done,” Henderson says. “Now I have a staff that helps keep it running on a daily basis, and we fill it with original content every single day.”

      Not being fully committed is what separates amateur bloggers from the pros.

      “I think the main mistake I see in new bloggers is not being totally committed to what they’re doing,” says Jill Nystul, creator of phenom blog One Good Thing by Jillee. “You can’t do anything halfway in the blogging industry and expect to be successful. I see a lot of people start blogs, post a few things over a couple of months, and then wonder why they’re aren’t getting any traffic. Commit to a topic and a posting schedule and show your readers that you are dedicated to providing great content consistently.”

      2. Invest in Good Gear

      When you decide to start a blog, use whatever tools you have to get the ball rolling. But when you are financially able, your blog will benefit from getting your hands on some professional equipment.

      “The look of my blog definitely got a lot better when I invested in a real camera rather than using my phone which I totally did in the early days of my blog,” Nystul says. “And you don’t have to spend a fortune. We still use a Canon Rebel, and it works great.”

      A few other popular blogging tools: WordPress software, the Adobe Suite, a web hosting package, email marketing software, and useful plugins. The more professional and put together your blog, the more trust you’ll earn from readers.

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      3. Your Mission (Should You Choose to Write It)

      You’ve got a burning passion for blogging, yes? Well, first, take a breath.

      It’s crucial that you figure out a few things first, like what your blog is all about and what you want to do with it. Having a kick-butt blog is a good goal, but let’s dig deeper.

      Ever heard of a mission statement? It’s commonly used by businesses to identify values, goals, and purpose — typically in a few easy-to-remember sentences. And it’s critical to the success of your blog.

      “I wish I would have found my mission sooner,” Jepsen says. “But I started it in a time when bloggers weren’t making money, and I didn’t know that was a trajectory I could take so I didn’t write it accordingly. If you’re looking to make money, you will write differently than someone who does it just for fun. Create a focused mission statement in order to know what your content should be and who your audience is.”

      Let’s look at a few examples of mission statements.

      • Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
      • IKEA: “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
      • Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”

      Can you see how these concise statements guide how each business operates, shepherding big decisions to even the tiniest ones? It works the same way with your blog.

      Take creating content, for example.

      “Before we write a single post, we ask ourselves, ‘Does this help our readers make or save money?’” says Kathleen Garvin, editor and marketing strategist for finance blog The Penny Hoarder. “That’s key for us. We’re content creators, but we only want to publish a story if we think it’s truly helpful or interesting for our readers.”

      A well-crafted mission statement will, ideally, inspire and steer — but not confine — your choices and provide a roadmap for content, structure, and voice. A few minutes of work for a valuable return.

      Great! Now. Where to start? Begin by pondering the following questions:

      • Why did you start blogging?
      • Who is your target audience?
      • What questions do you want to answer?
      • What are you passionate about?
      • In what way is your voice unique?

      Next, try to organize these answers into a few short statements that summarize your goals. Try the Twitter approach — spelling out your purpose and goals in 280 characters or less. You could even try this fill-in-the-blank formula:

      My mission is to _______ for _______ through _______.

      Things to keep in mind: keep it short and sweet, grammar-and-spell-checked, specific but jargon-free, realistic, and focused. Then put it where you can see it — preferably in BIG, bold letters. Refer to it often and adjust as needed.

      4. Just Get Started

      Achieving top-tier blogging status can seem like a long shot. But every successful blogger started somewhere.

      “Produce, produce, produce,” Henderson says. “Leave your perfectionism at the door and just put your work out there. Get feedback, adjust, move on. Without creating and putting your product or service out there, no one will find you and hire you. Just start.”

      Begin with exercises to simply get you writing every day. This will help you form the habit that will make blogging easier.

      For content ideas, try a brainstorming worksheet to collect ideas (you can do this on a device, too).

      “Write as often as you possibly can,” says Erin Loechner, design and lifestyle blogger at Design for Mankind. “This does not mean publish as often as you possibly can. Get in the habit, work on your craft. Discover your voice. It takes great practice and great patience. Do it anyway. Sit down in your chair and type it out. Edit later. Publish later. For now, just write.”

      5. You Get What You Go After

      If you’ve been around the block, you know that blogging involves two very important Cs: content and consistency. These skills may be the most important keys to success. We already discussed the importance of creating. Now, let’s talk consistency.

      It’s proven that the companies that blog twenty or more times a month see the most return in traffic and leads.

      “A common mistake early bloggers make is not posting on a consistent schedule,” Garvin says. “Yes, it can be tough, especially in the beginning when you might not have much of a readership, but it’s important for SEO and to build a community. Producing quality content and consistently has been essential to our growth. Like they say, if content is king, consistency is queen!”

      Brittany Watson Jepsen found consistency a key to achieving success when she created her blog.

      “I think one of the best things you can do as a blogger is to keep your content constant and consistent,” Jepsen says. “Even when I started out nine years ago, I worked on my blog every single day. That consistency kept people coming back because they didn’t have to wonder if there was content. There was! The next best thing to focus on the main message I was trying to convey. It took my awhile to figure out the main thing I wanted to focus on, but once I did that’s when the traffic started to roll in. Once I focused on crafts and DIY making, I became known for that and people started to see me as a trusted voice.”

      If you wanted to be the authority, the go-to on a certain topic, your readership needs to trust that your blog will have content they need. Your quality content, consistently posted, will draw a following. The two Cs really are inseparably connected.

      “There are a lot of more detailed keys to blogging success like photography, SEO, social media tips and tricks, etc., but the number one thing I always tell bloggers is that content is king,” Nystul says. “That can mean different things depending on the topic of your blog, but readers will always respond to quality content. My team uses CoSchedule for our calendar, and we love it. It helps keep us super organized and on the same page even when we all work remotely. A couple of other things we love are Slack for messaging, and Wunderlist for making to-do lists.”

      There a host of useful tools available online for planning posts and establishing a schedule.

      “An important key is to have a plan for what you are wanting to post rather than sitting down and writing every time,” says Syed Balkhi, founder of tech-help site WPBeginner. “Tools like Asana or the WordPress plugin Edit Flow are great for planning out blog posts in advance.”

      To nail down a consistent blogging schedule, try an online calendar or one of a variety of template worksheets available.

      6. Be Your Own Reader

      When you want to have a successful blog, you really should put yourself in a new pair of shoes — the shoes of your reader, that is.

      While you are blogging to share a passion, you’ve got to stay focused on the visitors of your blog and how your content can appeal to their needs and questions.

      The team at The Penny Hoarder made their content more functional to readers by breaking down complex and jargon-heavy financial information into useful, readable packages.

      “When people think of personal finance, they usually expect the content to be dry or boring,” Garvin says. “So, we do our best to make it accessible and fun. We write in a friendly, conversational manner, and try to showcase that tone across all media. With that said, we take our readers’ trust seriously.”

      The team at Emily Henderson takes a similar approach to considering their blog’s usability for readers.

      “With every post, we want to be our own reader and ask ourselves, ‘Would I find this interesting, helpful, informative, and beautiful?’” Henderson says. “If not, then we come up with different content that we feel will better suit the audience.”

      Sure, while you’re slaving away at your keyboard, it’s easy to forget that someone is on the other side. But remembering your reader as you produce will help you to create attractive, useful content that draws a crowd.

      7. Think (Twice) Before You Hit Publish

      As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to hastily click “Submit” the instant you finish a blog post.

      “Once the blog posts are planned out,” Balkhi of WP Beginner says, “a common mistake is not going back through to take a look at some of the finer points of the blog post to ensure it reads well for your visitors as well as search engines.”

      Prep your post for publishing by working through a checklist (or a WP plugin) to help you optimize the content — a tool like Naytev works well — and make it appealing to search engines (48 percent of consumers start mobile research with a search engine) and readers.

      Take time to make sure you’re citing sources correctly and that you haven’t overlooked glaring grammar mistakes (don’t make the off-putting their/they’re/there error). This extra time is a worthwhile investment.

      8. Talk About Yourself

      It may seem like a silly thing, but talking about yourself on your blog is important. And by this, we mean: don’t neglect your blog’s About Me page.

      This page is crucial for helping readers to get to know you, your purpose, and what they can expect to find on your site.

      “This is one of the most highly trafficked pages on any blog, because it tells people who you are, gives your background, and explains why someone should follow you,” writes Matthew Karsten, travel blogger at The Expert Vagabond. “Keep it fun and personable. Let your readers know who you are!”

      Instead of listing random facts about yourself, have a purposeful statement that answers the following questions.

      1. Who Is Your Audience?

      Let’s look at Karsten’s blog, Expert Vagabond. On his “About Me” page, he writes:

      “It’s a place for people like you who are looking for daily inspiration and motivation to live a life full of adventure.”

      For whom? Check. Karsten clearly identifies the intended audience of his blog.

      2. What Value Are You Offering to Readers?

      Look at The Penny Hoarder’s manifesto:

      “We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more.”

      Bam. Garvin and her team have readily identified what they’re offering to those who visit the site.

      3. What Credibility Does Your Blog Have?

      You could share sites your blog has been featured on, like done on WPBeginner’s About Me page or reader testimonials. Share why your content can be trusted.

      4. Why Are You Passionate About What You Do?

      While it’s better not to be haphazard about the info you share, you should let readers connect with you by offering a snapshot of yourself and specifically, how your blog grew out of your passion. After all, your readers’ connection to you is what will likely draw them back for more.

      Take Jepsen’s About Me for example. A little of her bio:

      “Brittany Watson Jepsen here. I grew up teething on the seaweed of Southern California though I preferred reading and creating in the great indoors. My mom’s favorite quote was ‘a creative mess is better than tidy idleness’ and so my childhood was spent creating artwork, music, and yes, lots of messes.”

      See? Well-written, purposeful statements connect Jepsen to her readers, and them to the purpose of the blog.

      5. What Is Your Call to Action?

      Don’t let your readers browse your About Me page and click away with an “Oh, that’s nice.” Encourage them to visit other pages of your blog by providing links to more content, whether that be additional blog posts or social media handles. After all, more clicks equal more traffic.

      And if it wasn’t already obvious, make sure your About Me page is accessible and easy to navigate.

      9. Give Your Blog a Facelift

      Ever happened upon a website that seems like it never left the dial-up, over-animated era of the early internet? Well, we have.

      Shudder.

      Even if your site isn’t outfitted with rainbow colors and crowded layouts, its design could be unintentionally frustrating readers. A smart design sets your reader up for a good experience that will entice them to visit again. Never neglect a user-friendly design.

      “A good site design is like settling in to write at a clean, beautiful-to-you desk,” Loechner says. “It is surprisingly important, for you and for those who might be visiting such desk. Pay attention to it; design needn’t be complicated.”

      Be flexible and willing to alter your blog design based on what works best for your readers.

      Keep learning and always be willing to adapt,” Garvin says. “For instance, we recently got rid of display ads on our site because it negatively affected our user experience. It can be scary to remove a revenue source and pivot, but it’s necessary for continued growth. Don’t be afraid of change, but do find out what works best for you and your readers.”

      Have a friend or outsider look at your blog and consider a few questions:

      • Is it dated, confusing, or “broken” or attractive, functional, and engaging?
      • Is there clutter?
      • Does the site load quickly?
      • Would a first-time visitor immediately know what it is about and how to navigate it?

      Utilize themes on WordPress for tried-and-true designs, consult experts, or outsource to a designer (we can help with that!) to ensure your design is aesthetically pleasing. Trust us — no one wants spinning graphics or animated mouse icons. No one.

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      10. Think Mobile

      It’s a pretty startling statistic: 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone.

      Chances are good that readers are accessing your blog on a mobile device, likely while they’re commuting to work, sitting in a waiting room, or logging miles on the treadmill. So along with establishing a good-looking design, you’ve also got to optimize for mobile users.

      “Blogs are widely read on the go, so consider a simple and minimal design that looks just as great on your phone as it does in the cubicle,” Loechner says.

      Often, this means choosing a responsive template, but you can also utilize plugins to optimize a WordPress theme. In addition, you should consider the following:

      • If using a pop-up opt-in form or ad, are mobile users able to navigate around it?
      • Are outbound links mobile friendly?
      • Do your social media buttons work properly?
      • If using video, does the player work? Some mobile devices don’t allow Flash.
      • Is your comment platform still mobile friendly?
      • Are slideshows functional?
      • Can users read infographics?

      And really, the only sure way you have to analyze your site for effectiveness across devices is to test it. Use this handy Google tool.


      11. You’ve Got Mail

      You’re probably used to sending most of your inbox to the trash bin, so you might not think that email plays a big role in blogging success. Think again.

      “One mistake we’ve talked about is neglecting our email list,” says Garvin. “In the beginning of The Penny Hoarder, Kyle used to write a regular, personal email to readers; it was one of his best traffic sources, and he had an open rate of over 50 percent! However, as the site started taking off and he was pulled in different directions as CEO, we dropped the personalization in favor of a simpler format. We turned things around this year: We’ve started offering a ‘weekender’ roundup email, a daily newsletter, and several other targeted ones. So start an email list early, and keep working to improve it for your readers.”

      Think about this: a survey reported that most of us spend four hours checking our email each day. FOUR! Why not capitalize on the habit? It’s easy to monitor your success with email marketing, and it can help you establish a lasting relationship with readers.

      12. Accept the Daily Grind

      You’ve heard that the biggest part of success comes from showing up, right? Ask anyone at the top of their field — Michael Jordan, Martha Stewart, or Yo-Yo Ma — and we’re pretty sure they’d be the first to say that their success amounts to hours, days, and years of putting in hard work.

      Well, that’s true in blogging too.

      “Determination is an essential quality to have as a blogger,” Balkhi says. “There are no overnight successes with blogs, but when you write about what you are passionate about they can be great successes.”

      Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours principle? Just like playing the piano, painting, or running sprints, honing your blogging skills requires lots of work.

      “Our keys to blogging success are practice, practice, practice,” say Ryan and Sam Looney of travel blog Our Travel Passport. “Seriously, it’s just about putting in the time to learn your skill and becoming an expert at what you do. We think it’s important to remember that the industry is always changing and content is king. Be original and adaptable and authentic. Don’t use bots. Focus on what makes you unique and tell your story in a way that people can relate to what you have to say.”

      Try a goal chart to keep you motivated when the going gets rough (blogger’s block is real). And of course, keep your mission statement close by. Sometimes all it takes is to remember why you started in the first place.

      “I think the main quality that is essential for bloggers is passion,” Nystul says. “Blogging is not an easy business, and when the going gets tough passion is the thing that keeps you motivated and working hard.”

      13. Have a Strategy

      Say you’ve got great content and a snazzy site. How do you get people to see it? If you have social media platforms, then you have multiple channels to market your content.

      “Our social media, video, and PR teams work to amplify our content, engage our readers, and raise our profile,” Garvin says. “All of these things contribute significantly when growing our community.”

      The Penny Hoarder team is right. According to consumers, the three characteristics of an effective social media strategy are:

      1. The brand shares new content.
      2. The brand’s content is relevant.
      3. The brand engages with followers.

      In addition, social media is the most effective digital marketing tactic for customer retention after email; it’s essential to choose the right social platforms to get your content in front of readers.

      If you intend to manage your social media marketing on your own, then utilize tools like HootSuite or NUVI to manage and monitor on one dashboard. And there’s no shame in admitting that assembling a social team or hiring an agency to help distribute the content online could be best for your blog. You can only bootstrap so much, right?

      14. Engage With Others

      In the blogging game, it’s not you against the world. In other words, it’s not you against every other food/travel/tech blog in your field. Running a successful blog can be a collaborative, community effort that’s personally validating (as opposed to competitive). Go, team!

      Good engagement starts with your content. (Need a refresher? Return to tips No. 4 and 5.)

      The Looneys recommend staying engaged by posting regularly. “Whether that means posting blog posts once a week or on Instagram every day, it’s important to keep your community involved in what’s going on and what you have to share.”

      But connecting with others goes beyond your own site, the duo says.

      “Respond to all of the messages, emails, comments, etc. that you receive. And engage with other people in the community as well. Comment on their pictures, send them emails or messages about how much you love their work, and find ways to collaborate together.”

      Say it with us: one, two, three — go team!

      15. Go Easy with Analytics

      Numbers say a lot. For instance, a game score tells us who’s on the winning side — and who’s not. The nutritional information in a meal tells us whether or not we can justify dessert.

      Numbers are important. But they aren’t everything.

      We know it’s tempting, but clicking the refresh button every ten seconds on your website’s analytics page fuels an unhealthy obsession that won’t help your success as a blogger (or your blood pressure). Instead, focus on your content, prepare for fluctuations in the stats, and breathe.

      “Forget stats,” Loechner says. “People are not numbers. Readers are not stats. They are humans in all of their lovely complexities. Do not fret yourself over bounce rates and conversion metrics. There are plenty of other things to fret over, after all.”

      Keep an eye on a few metrics for goal purposes, but don’t obsess — numbers change.

      16. Understand Revenue Sources

      The ideal for most people is that their blog becomes a valid source of income. Now, this won’t happen right away, so don’t panic (see No. 11). But you should understand the different ways that you can make money online, so you can decide how — and if — you want to incorporate those methods into your blog.

      Consider using affiliate programs to earn a kickback for the products you promote on your site or running display ads with Google’s AdSense. These revenue streams increase as traffic increases. So if you want to make money from your blog, your first priority should be getting eyes on your content.

      “The more traffic your blog receives, the more money you can make with it,” Karsten says. “But it takes time to build an audience and grow traffic. Don’t focus on making money right away. Focus on building your audience.”

      17. Combat Internet Trolls

      It seems like anyone who dares to send their work out into the web is, sadly, bound to face the ceaseless negativity of cyber bullies.

      You don’t have to grin and bear it, though. Be intentional about combating the mean-spiritedness you might encounter (no boxing gloves required).

      “For better or worse, I can be really emotionally affected by how people perceive or respond to my blog,” says Lindsay Ostrom, creator of viral food blog Pinch of Yum. “I wish I had that toughness factor, but what I have is more like Sensitivity with a capital S. So I set rules for myself when it comes to reading and processing my social media content and blog comments. Bottom line: be selective about what voices you let speak into your life.”

      Whether you decide to refrain from reading blog comments before noon or you post a motivational message above your computer as a reminder of your potential, know that it’s your blog. Take control and set your own rules.

      18. Don’t Be a Copycat

      Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but in the blogosphere, it’s just plain ol’ copying. And it’s not going to do anything for your online rep — readers can see right through it. With the inundation of blogs and content creators out there, it can be H-A-R-D to produce content that’s new, fresh, and original. But for a quality blog, a loyal following, and a distinguished brand, it’s more than essential to think outside the box.

      “It’s important to remember that you need to create your own original content,” the Looneys say. “A lot of people go to the same places and pose in the exact same way as big travel bloggers. That’s not creative or original. That’s copying someone else’s work, which doesn’t tell anything about you or your story.”

      Build a blog that allows people to get to know you — and what you’re passionate about, not just simply posting a CTRL + C reproduction of similar work produced in your field or industry. Be aware of the exhausted been-there-done-that content and remember: followers will reward the extra effort you take to put your own touch on what you produce.

      19.Find A Cheerleader

      With all the hard work, long days, and (probably) blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating a successful blog, you really need someone in your corner — an encouraging mentor who will wave that foam finger when the going gets rough.

      “Having a single person — literally just one, although more friends equal more party — to talk with when things are spinning into that downward spiral is so important to your ability to bounce back,” Ostrom says. “I guess that’s just true in life, right? And it’s especially true for me in blogging. Find someone who really understands and can relate in some tiny way or another why it’s frustrating when people scrape your content, or what it feels like to deal with that rude comment, or how challenging Facebook’s news feed changes have been lately. It is one thing to talk about this stuff, but it’s another thing to talk about it with someone who really understands blogging.”

      Who is this person for you? A spouse, a friend, a coworker? Finding that supportive someone will help you to overcome the difficult days and celebrate your blogging successes.

      Because, after all, success is just around the corner. 2019 is your year!

      Share Your Blogging Know-How

      We want your input! Have you tried out any of these tips? What are your best words of wisdom for creating amazing content, an appealing blog design, or dealing with internet trolls? Share with us on social media — we’d love to hear from you.



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      10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business


      Whether you sell routers, pillows, shared web hosting, or car washes, your customers — and potential customers — are on social media. Not only do you need to be there too, but you also need to be there in the right way.

      Jumping into the world of likes, snaps, pins, and tweets can feel overwhelming. But if you know the basics, you can build a social media brand that supports your company the same way a loyal employee does. Follow these 10 rules as you start this journey.  

      1. Limit Your Platforms

      From Twitter to Snapchat, there are a lot of social media sites and apps out there that everyone seems to be using — plus another dozen you’ve probably never used or even heard of. However, being active on social media doesn’t have to mean using every social media platform there is. Choose just two or three and learn to use them expertly, rather than floundering your way through them all.

      To determine which two or three to pick, figure out where your business’ audience already is. One way to find out is by surveying your mailing list. You can also check Google Analytics to see which social media sites most readers use to find your website by looking under Acquisitions → Social. A third way would be to watch where your competitors and other influencers in your niche spend their digital free time.

      Once you’ve narrowed down your social media targets, it’ll be a lot easier to focus on offering quality content for your audience. (Plus, since you’ve only got a few places in which to learn the ropes, you won’t have to worry as much about making embarrassing social media snafus! Not that you ever would. We believe in you.)

      2. Plan Everything

      Although many people are attached to their phones, they are hesitant to actually use them for calling a stranger. Nowadays it’s much easier, often preferable, to post a question to a company page or feed. And if your company is too slow to respond, it will most definitely make you look bad.

      Social media, however, can suck up a lot of time for busy small business owners. That’s why we recommend picking one day a week to schedule all of your posts in advance and then checking in daily to review comments and answer questions. Schedulers like Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social all allow you to sync multiple social media accounts and plan your posts in advance. You could also use If This Then That to apply a rule. (For example, “If I add a new item to my Etsy shop, automatically post a photo of it on my Instagram.”)

      Also strategically choose when you’re going to post. Morning is better because then you’re on the clock when questions and comments come in — as opposed to when you’re driving home in the evening.

      3. Curate Content

      Scheduling a week’s worth of social media in advance might seem daunting if you’re worried about where all that content is going to come from. But you don’t have to do it alone.

      Chances are you already see a lot of share-worthy content online that is extremely relevant to your business. For example, if you run a grocery for people with food allergies, you probably read a lot of articles about food and health in the news. Perhaps you’ve read relevant blog posts from chefs or health advocates. These types of content may come from other people, but as long as you give credit where it’s due, there’s no reason you can’t share these links.

      Sharing other people’s work isn’t just a useful way to provide content to your audience — it’s also just a nice thing to do. When you promote other people’s work (with attribution) on your social media accounts, it’s likely they’ll notice and perhaps even return the favor. Get into the habit of bookmarking helpful missives from other people so you can schedule them into posts.

      4. Be Pretty

      Taking Picture

      Gone are the days in which you can use boring or low-quality pictures. People expect professional businesses — even small ones — to have a social media image to match.

      While a slightly blurry photo may slide on Snapchat, that same picture will not translate well on Facebook viewed on a desktop, and it can subtly damage your reputation.

      A couple of options: watch tutorials on how to take good shots with your smartphone. Or track down someone with a nice camera who can spend a few hours taking pictures of your office, candids of your employees, and stylized products.

      If you decide to DIY, take multiple shots, pay attention to lighting (natural light is usually best), use the rule of thirds, and remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.

      5. Write Killer Captions

      As important as it is to have good images, a strong caption will take your photo to the next level. Review the following tips for making your captions captivating.

      Tell a Little Story

      You could introduce your new sales manager with a simple “Here is so-and-so” or you could share her experience selling Girl Scout cookies. Which one would make a lasting impression? Cookies. Always.

      Watch out for Repetitive Info

      You don’t have much space to capture readers’ attention, so carefully choose your words. Use the “location” tool if available so you don’t have to repeat that info. Avoid using the same word twice and be succinct.

      Always Proofread

      Reading your captions slowly and out loud will catch a lot of embarrassing typos. You’re just one “s” away from turning “assess” into a social media blunder.

      Avoid Clichés

      “And they’re off!” “We had so much fun today!” “We’re over the moon.” If you don’t see these phrases on social media posts every day, you’re not on it enough. Just kidding. But start to think of using clichés like filing your taxes — an annual event.

      Captions Just Want to Have Pun

      See what happened there? While you generally want to avoid clichés, you do have permission to take one, tweak it to make it relevant, and voila: you’ve just entered a whole new level of caption writing. Use this site to find the idiom that’s right for you.

      Run Captions by Someone Else

      Something that’s funny to one person could be offensive to another. And when social blunders happen online, people take note.

      Quality Is Way Better Than Quantity

      If you’re showing up too often in people’s feeds, you’ll look too eager and possibly annoying. Composing thoughtful posts or tweets twice a week will fare better than hastily sharing two every day.

      6. Harness Hashtags

      Who would have guessed that the symbol formerly known as the pound sign would have a mid-life crisis and rebrand itself as a hashtag?

      These little guys are A-list characters now, and using them correctly can help your business reach a wider audience. Obsessed with the venture capital world? Search for #VC on Twitter, for example, and you will find hundreds of thousands of posts to peruse — and lots of infographics too. Instagram now lets users follow hashtags specifically instead of individual accounts.

      Using popular hashtags for your field can help potential customers find you, but, like anything that should seem simple, there are a few dos and don’ts for this catchy form of communication.

      Do:

      • Use popular hashtags to garner a broader interest. Instagram, for example, quantifies how many others are using a particular hashtag  (Search function > tag tab). Say you’re in the business of selling bow ties. The most-popular hashtags are #bowtie, followed obviously by #bowties. Scroll down, and #bowtiesarecool, #bowtietuesday, and #bowtieready are other top options. Using all these hashtags will help you reach people who are obsessed with this form of neckwear. 
      • Include your company’s name and nickname in your hashtag list.
      • Jump on the #TBT bandwagon. #TBT, also known as Throwback Thursday, has more than 413 million TBT hashtags on Instagram. Read this article for more marketing tips related to this retro movement.
      • Try using hashtags to make people smile. If you’re selling socks, try something like #nostinkyfeet or #happyfeet.

      Don’t:

      • Use too many. Unless someone is really patient — or married to an employee — he or she won’t read through a long list of hashtags. Put the most relevant ones at the beginning and the funniest ones at the end, the two places people are most likely to read.
      • Create long hashtags. Since they are harder to read without spaces, limit them to four words.
      • Use hashtags that beg for bots to follow you. Remember that quantity is nice, but real, live people are best. And begging for followers is not professional. Avoid hashtags like #followme, #like4like, or anything else that could be considered pandering. 
      • Forget to proofread. Some words without spaces can be read different ways.

      7. Know — and Engage — your Audience

      Figuring out your demographic is an important step as you understand your audience. The more specific details you know about your customers, the more effective your social media messages will be. An easy way to start is to review the questions and exercises presented here.

      Another tip is to build suspense. Got a new product coming out soon? Tease it a few times before you introduce it at a specific time on your accounts. If your company is hosting a conference, highlight individual presenters via social media the weeks before registration goes live.

      You could also try hosting a contest or a giveaway. We all love the idea of getting something for nothing. One popular contest strategy is to give people extra entries in exchange for tagging a friend, who may end up following you. Check out a few more tips here.

      Instagram App on Phone

      Be sure to take advantage of the polls functions on Instagram and Facebook. They offer quick and painless ways to get into the minds of your customers. Or flat out ask a question in one of your posts. If you haven’t noticed by now, people are more than willing to share their opinions online.

      You can also get help from your fans. Gently encourage the people who already love your business to make it a point of discussion on social media. The easiest way to do this is to make your website effortlessly shareable. You can use the Social Bookmarks or Shareaholic plugin for WordPress to add one-click share buttons for a variety of different social media sites to each post and page. Since images improve shares, you can also use a plugin like WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol to ensure that your posts automatically include a featured image when posted on Facebook.

      8. Keep a Social Eye on Competitors

      Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Obviously, copying everything your competition is posting is bad business. But looking at other accounts can also spark creativity. (And in reality, there isn’t a ton of originality on social media anymore, just everyone doing the same thing a little differently.)

      Ask yourself these things about your competitors — and other top brands on social media. What hashtags are they using? What kinds of posts are generating lots of comments or shares? What pins are getting lots of saves?  

      You can also look at the people who are interacting the most with your competitors — and follow those people too. If they are taking the time to converse about the field, there’s a good chance they will engage with you too.

      Beyond social media stalking, you could even try following or liking your competitors’ posts. Just because they’re rivals doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Who knows? They may even like you back.

      9. Show Personality

      If you make people snooze, you’re going to lose — followers. Brainstorm with key people to conceptualize the image you want to present, but keep in mind that social media is all about fun. It’s an escape for people, and you want to be subtle as you promote your company — and even post things that aren’t self-serving.

      To get your creative juices flowing, consider these ideas and read the success stories of some other bigger businesses.

      Highlight Your Employees

      That guy who wears flip-flops year round? The woman who brings in a new scented candle each month for her desk? Share their stories, and you’ve got an opportunity to connect with followers.

      Showcase Your Customers

      Same idea here. Who was your first customer? Who was your last? Who’s your youngest? Who comes to your store every day at 2:15? It doesn’t have to be super unique — it just has to make people smile. Then, as people start posting and tagging your company, you can share their posts (assuming they’re positive and have high-quality images), and you’ve just scored some extra content in minimal time.

      Use Holidays to Your Advantage

      You know the main ones: Halloween, April Fools, Christmas, etc., etc. But then there are hundreds of other, slightly unofficial holidays that people go crazy for, like Star Wars Day (May 4), National French Fry Day (July 13 this year), and there’s even a Programmers Day (September 13 this year). Use this list and start brainstorming how you can use these “hashtag holidays” to influence your social media accounts. Don’t forget to tag these posts with the correct holiday name to reach a wider audience.

      Share Inspirational Quotes or Fun Facts

      Creating a simply-designed quote or a meme is another way to connect with your audience. Sending out happy vibes is always a good idea, just make sure you’re sourcing the right person and sharing accurate stats.  

      10. Product Promotions

      Always Link Up

      The product you’re touting needs to be a tap or a click away or else people will lose interest quickly. Including links on some social media platforms can be a little trickier than others. Instagram, for example, relegates links to bios and stories, and Snapchat has only recently allowed clickable URLs. But the extra seconds that it takes will pay off in the long run.

      Offer Discounts

      Who isn’t hunting for a good deal nowadays? Sharing discount codes or free shipping for followers will keep them bonded to your business. Forbes reported that 72 percent of Millennials search for a coupon before making an online purchase. Another survey said 71 percent of consumers follow specific brands on social media with the purpose of getting coupons.

      Connect with Influencers

      Influencers — the lifestyle accounts with large social media circles — live up to their title, and most thrive off of collaborations too. By connecting with an influencer and offering a free product in exchange for social media promotion, you’ll not only get a personal endorsement (the marketing equivalent of gold), but you’ll also get a potential new audience from their followers. Here are more details on what to expect if you dabble in influencer marketing.

      Purchase Ads

      We know, we know. We’ve spent the last 2,000+ words talking about how you can do this yourself. But hear it out. A lot of these social media platforms can figure out who might be a potential follower/customer/friend based on things like bios, web and app usage, and other algorithms. (If you’re really interested, read this article on some ways Facebook collects data on its users — fascinating and a little creepy too.)

      If you’re serious about taking this to the next level — and especially if your target audience is on the younger side — then spending money on social media ads can help. Chances are these ads will go much further than any email newsletter will.

      Although social media is used all over the world, it doesn’t mean you have to have deep pockets to jump into the game. The ads can be targeted, and these platforms offer a variety of pricing options. Check out this detailed social media advertising guide — broken down by platform — complete with steps on how to buy and create your ads.

      So now you’re armed and ready with enough information to make your head spin. But just remember: social media is an escape for most people. Enjoy the creative outlet and the ability to connect with your customers in a whole new way. There will be a little rush when you get that first retweet, guaranteed.





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