Grow Your Instagram Following

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about growing your Instagram following. As I prepare to launch my ecourse next month on making money from home as a social media manager, I want to make sure everyone gets up to speed with their own social profiles, and that you know the basics so you can dive right into my course when it’s ready. Don’t forget to snag the freebie at the bottom of the page. It will also allow you to get updates about my course release!

instagram following

Instagram happens to be my current favorite social media platform. I love it because there are two separate things I can do on the account.

-One, I can post visually appealing photos to grow my following and tell my brand’s story, and

-I can also use Instagram stories to get a little more personal and behind the scenes.

It’s a great way to still post photos without cluttering up your feed with things that just don’t fit. I talk more about Instagram stories in my freebie so be sure to check it out.

Your Feed:

Ok let’s talk about your main feed and things you can do to get more followers. First of all, you want to make sure no one of your photos are blurry, and that they make sense in your feed. If you have a very narrow market, like only posting photos of coffee mugs, don’t randomly throw in a photo of a dog. It just confuses your readers who have come to expect a certain thing. Now if you are a lifestyle blogger like me, you have a little more creative freedom, but that doesn’t mean I just post whatever I feel like.

When people come to your page to decide if they want to follow you or not, they are going to take a peek at your feed as a whole, and if it confuses them or has photos that just don’t make sense, you may get passed over. Think of it this way:

If you went into a shoe store and every time you visited they had lots of shoes, that would make sense right? Then what if one day you went into the store and they were selling school supplies instead of shoes. Wait a minute, but every other time I came in there were shoes? If I had known it was going to be something different than what I was expecting, I wouldn’t have come, right? Think of your feed the same way. If your audience is used to you only posting pictures of your kids, or only posting workout photos, or only posting food photos, and if you all of the sudden start throwing in pictures of cats or rainbows, they may not understand what is going on.

Editing Photos:

I edit every single photo before it goes on Instagram in some way shape or form. Some it’s as simple as cropping in the app, and some get edited on my computer in Picmonkey. Still others get touched up in apps like Snapseed, which is free in the app store. You want your lighting, cropping, and exposure to look the best it can. If I know I’m taking pics for Instagram only, I will set my iPhone camera to “square” so I don’t have to worry about cropping so much or having a photo that doesn’t fit correctly. I also use an app called Isntasize to size down things for me to fit in Instagram. (Snapseed is shown below)

Comment Pods:

Another great way to get better engagement on Instagram is to join comment or like pods. They have gotten very popular since Instagram introduced the new algorithm. Basically, you join a group of people (usually between 10-20), and every time one of you posts a photo, you direct message it to the group in a group chat within Instagram or on an app like Telegraph, then everyone knows to go and like and or comment on the photo to help boost the posts engagement rate. Think of it as a I’ll scratch my back if you scratch yours. It really only works if everyone actually posts and shares and comments, and the best ones have people engage within the first few hours a photo is posted. I am a part of a couple of pods, some have worked and some haven’t. A lot of people don’t realize the amount of work they are on the front end and decide they don’t want to do it, but that’s because they don’t see the value in it or don’t take their business seriously enough. I encourage you to find one or two pods to join!

Links:

A great free tool I use to drive traffic to my blog is called Linktree. It’s a website where you can actually add buttons that link to different posts within your blog. So when you click on the link in my profile, you then can choose which of my posts you want to visit. I can update these at any time, whenever I have a new post or what to highlight an old post. Super easy and effective.

Instagram following

 

Hashtags:

hashtags are great for allowing people to find your content, but they can also be a great tool if used in reverse, for you to find people to follow that could potentially become YOUR followers. Search some common hashtags that have to do with your niche, and find some accounts that you like.

When it comes to you using hashtags on your own photos, hashtags with more photos associated with them are not always the way to go. Try to find some hashtags with less than 100k photos and use those. Your photos have a better chance at staying at the tops of those feeds than using hashtags that have been used several million times.

Another tip if you are a social media manager for a brand especially, is to create a branded hashtag that you use when posting, and that you can encourage others to use when posting about your product or service.

Also be sure to use the location/geotagging so that you appear in local searches for photos!

Be nice:

A tried and true way to gain followers on Instagram is to follow other people, and genuinely like and comment on other photos. Don’t be one of those people who thinks they are better than everyone and is only following 11 people. Use hashtags and find people with great content that you like, and go like and comment on some of their photos. To get their attention, I suggest liking about 5 photos so they will see them in their notifications easier and see that it’s all from one person. What I DON’T like is when people do this just to get a like, then they don’t follow you back, or they do but then unfollow you the next day. There will always be people that play games like that, so just try to ignore it and not let it bother you.

I try to set aside time a couple times a day to like my friends photos, and then search for new friends and people to follow. Just be a real person and it will go a long way I promise!

Thanks for following along! If you want to get tons of great info just like this, but ALL about Instagram stories, be sure to download my free printable cheat sheet here!

HEADS UP: I will be doing a post every week for the next month discussing growth hacks for four different social media platforms, all leading up to the pre-launch and launch of my new social media management E-course. If you are interested in news on my course but don’t care for the freebie, I encourage you to follow the link and subscribe anyway (you don’t have to download the cheat sheet), so you will be first to hear news on my pre-sale (which will be when the course is offered at it’s LOWEST PRICE!)

 

Tampa Tuesdays: Social Media Day

Happy Tampa Tuesday! This Tuesday is especially great because I am going to be talking about something I love: social media.

Every year Tampa celebrates social media day with a big party on June 30th. Since I am new to Tampa, this is my first year to participate but I can’t wait to join in the festivities. I will be caravaning with other bloggers in a group sponsored by Reeves VW during the day stopping at different locations, and then meeting up with everyone for the party that night. If you live in Tampa and are involved in social media, come join in the fun! Here are some of the details:

Hashtag: #SMDayTampa

Order your tickets: HERE

The party kicks off at Ferg’s Live at 6:00 with donations going to the Gasparilla Music Festival.

There will be food, drinks, and a raffle! We will also be hanging out with some of the amazing sponsors. I am already loving my blogger swag! (I have already eaten the popcorn!)

  

Be sure to follow along on Instagram with me @HeathersLG during the day/caravan and that evening. I will be posting pics and videos via Instagram stories the whole time. I hope you will consider joining us at Ferg’s Live on the 30th!

 

Creating a Social Media Content Calendar + New E-Course News

I spend a lot of time on social media, talking about social media, and researching social media. A lot of people spend mindless hours each day copying and pasting, retweeting in real time, etc. Instead of doing this, I spend a larger chunk of time once a month (or week in some client cases) planning out a content calendar for my own blog and for my clients. That way I only have to do a little maintenance here and there throughout the month. Let’s take a look at my process:

content calendar

The first thing you need to do is get a calendar template. You can use a Google calendar, a free template in Microsoft word, whatever you like the most (heck, pen and paper is fine, too…well, I would use pencil because you will probably end up erasing things).

Once you have your template, it’s time to fill it out…But with what? This is where the researching comes in handy, but don’t worry, once you have done it a few times you will get a lot faster and will be able to skip most of this part. When I first started managing social for my clients, I had to learn about their niche or brand. So let’s say you are doing social media for a clothing boutique. You will need to research…

1.) The best hashtags to use (which periodically changes)

2.) Their competitors (see what is working for them and what’s not)

3.) The clothes they sell (who is the demographic? Are there certain brands or types that are selling better? What words and phrases would appeal to this demographic?)

4.) Which platforms you are using and what times of day perform better on each? (it may take a little trial and error for this one).

This front end research will make your scheduling and posting go much quicker later on down the road.

Ok, so you have your calendar and you have done your research, now you need to decide what types of posts you will be posting on your/your clients pages. These categories will help mix things up so your page isn’t just images or just text or just product information. For instance, some categories for a clothing store could be:

-product photos

-sale information

-videos

-question and answer

-FAQ

-news from the industry

-other people’s content you share/repost/retweet

-repurpose old content <—yes this is ok to do!

Be sure to mix things up! These categories will help you greatly when it comes to plugging in information into your scheduling tool. Like I said, you will get faster and faster each time!

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The next piece is to actually come up with the content, which should be easy since you already have your categories and have done your research. This piece may involve creating graphics, finding relevant content to link to, coming up with news or product info, taking pictures or videos, etc. Once you have your content figured out (I personally like to create one long word document with all of my social posts for a client), it’s time to plug it into your scheduling tool.

I personally use Sprout Social. It’s not cheap, but it makes my life easier and my work more efficient so I don’t mind the price. Then it’s just a matter of copying and pasting my posts into the scheduler and picking the times. I then transfer everything into the calendar so I can send it to my client (**Some clients require the exact links and words I am using, others are fine with just knowing what topic I am posting about on what channel/what day.)

GUESS WHAT? I am working on an e-course for those looking into becoming a social media manager as a full time gig or side hustle. I’m SUPER excited to share all I have learned with you, and help you get your first clients and start making money from home! My course isn’t quite ready yet, but you can sign up here to be notified when it is, and also get a FREE printable, a social media manger checklist printable. Just go here to sign up and download!

QOTD: have you ever thought about making money from home with a side hustle?

5 Tips for Unplugging from Social Media

Ah, social media. I have quite the love/hate relationship with it. As a blogger, social media is a part of my job. It’s not realistic for me to never get on it all together, but I do realize that I spend way more time than necessary randomly scrolling, liking, and planning my next photo. I don’t ever want to look back and say I didn’t heed any tips for unplugging, and I missed out on life because I was too busy looking at a screen, so I have decided to put some parameters on my social media usage to help me not get sucked in all the time.

tips for unplugging

Check out these tips for unplugging:

1. Turn off notifications: Yall, I have so many notifications on my phone that I have to put it on do not disturb at night. I have slowly been turning off notifications so that I am not constantly checking things every time I hear a notification alert. Also, I have turned off the pop up notifications from Facebook on my laptop. I realized these were really a time suck for me while I was trying to do work on my computer.

2. Move apps away from your home screen: If it’s too tempting to click on your social media apps every time you look at your phone, maybe you need to move them off of your main screen, or put them in a folder so you can’t see the little red notification icons on each one.

3. Set limits: I don’t think it’s necessary to completely rid myself of social media all the time (and I wouldn’t be able to do my job!). I plan to try giving myself breaks during the day where I am allowed to check on things. Maybe while I eat lunch, and a 10 minute break in the afternoon before I get my daughter from daycare, as well as a few minutes in the evening after she goes to bed.

4. Stay busy: I feel that I often find myself defaulting to social media sites when I am bored. It’s not that I don’t have anything to do, it’s when I am procrastinating that I find I am the most likely to get distracted. If I have a list of things I need to do and stay busy, I am less likely to check social media.

5. Keep it out of the bedroom: My biggest downfall with social media is using it endlessly in the evenings, especially when I am laying in bed before going to sleep (c’mon I know some of you do it too!) I always complain I don’t have time to read more books or magazines, etc. but the reality is I just waste a lot of time on social media. I am going to try keeping my phone out of the bedroom in evening when I have time to read or do other things.

I have already started with some of these steps, and plan to implement the rest today. I hope they will help me have a more balanced life. You can still enjoy social media and your online friends while not neglecting your family, home, or job.

RELATED: Download the FREE Social Media Manager Checklist

QOTD: What is another tip you would add?

Blogger and Social Media Influencer Resource List

As a blogger and social media influencer who has been at it for several years, I feel like I have learned a lot. It’s kind of comical to look back at those first couple of years worth of posts (and cringe a little bit) and also think of the time wasted because I didn’t know about certain tools to help me to do things more efficiently, quickly, or professionally. I know TIME is so precious, and for most people, blogging or using social media is a hobby or job in addition to a “regular” day job. If you are like me, you don’t have time to waste trying to figure everything out on your own. That’s why I created a resource list.

blogger and social resource list

I used to try to edit photos in Paint (bless it) and didn’t even know what a plugin was and didn’t dare touch any of the settings in my dashboard. I posted long long long links on Twitter taking up all 140 characters, and my sentence structure was sometimes hard to read (and still can be when I don’t take the time to sue certain tools to help me!) Writing a single post plus editing photos and writing out social shares used to take me hours, but now I have it pretty streamlined into a more focused effort.

I have learned that having great photos, and making sure your page is optimized for SEO is so important. As is checking that links aren’t broken, and making sure my writing too hard to read. These may seem like little things, but they can make the difference in a reader coming back to your site again, or not. Or it could make them choose to give you a “like” or “follow” or not.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, so I have put together a resource list of ten tools that I use as a blogger and social media influencer that will help you with posting, photo editing, and social sharing. You have heard of some, all, or none, but even if I just teach you one new thing it will have been worth it for me!

Sign up in the box below, and I will immediately send you over a copy of 10 of the resources I use on an almost daily basis. Let me know if you have any questions!

RELATED: Free Social Media Manager Checklist

This Girl is Going to ShiftCon!

I know it’s a ways away, but I am super excited to tell you all that I will be attending ShiftCon in December! What is ShiftCon? It’s a conference for social media influencers that focuses on food, wellness, health, and the environment.

ShiftCon

This year, the conference is being held in my neck of the woods in New Orleans, LA!

*Dance party*

There will be workshops, parties, and lots of networking. This year, it will be held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and there is a special ShiftCon hotel rate available until October There are going to be tons of great speakers and great information. I can’t wait to get my nerd on and learn.

Want some even better news? You can use my special code at checkout to get $50 off of your ticket price.(Yes, five-zero, fifty dollars off!) Just enter FITLOOKINGGLASS to get your discount.

If you head over to the ShiftCon website, there is a great, short, video right there on the home page that will give you a glimpse inside the conference. I know it’s still several months away, but it has been awhile since I have been to a conference so I am excited! December is a great month to be in New Orleans. Not only will Christmas decorations be abundant, but the weather will be mild and perfect.

If anyone has any questions about the conference or about New Orleans let me know! I would love to meet up with some of you before, during, or after the conference in my old stomping grounds and show you my favorite parts of New Orleans. I hope to see you there, I would love to meet some of my blog readers.

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QOTD: Who wants to go to ShiftCon? Have you ever been to New Orleans?

Disclosure:  I receive a small commission if you purchase your ticket with my discount code and will be attending this event on behalf of ShiftCon.

Dealing with Negative People Online (and taking my own advice)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at Refresh Summit South on dealing with negativity on social media/blogging, whether it be someone being negative towards you, or falling into the comparison trap and having negative feelings about yourself. I have been meaning to blog about the two main points I discussed with the ladies in attendance, but I just wasn’t sure exactly how to go about turning a talk into words, and due to an unpleasant exchange with a neighbor on Friday, I decided to use it as an example for a blog post on one of my two main points.

negative people

Being real here. One thing that I struggle with is holding my tongue. It’s a constant battle, and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy blogging (I can go back and edit before hitting send.) Even with that filter of sorts in place, I still get myself in trouble from time to time for things that I say, that I really should just keep to myself. I can get angry in a hurry, and instead of giving myself time to think and cool down, I often spout off and it ends up leading to more damage. The Bible is clear on this, and says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19), but boy is this one tough for me!

quick to listen

You can make fun of me for a lot of things and I will let it roll off my back, but to state something about my husband or my child as a fact that is NOT true, is something I have a hard time biting my tongue about. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, here is my own learning moment:

Our neighborhood has it’s own private Facebook group, which in theory is awesome, but sometimes not so awesome because as of late it has turned into a huge gripe fest. People complaining about folks speeding, running stop signs, dogs pooping in their yard etc. All of these things are valid complaints, but really, blasting your neighbors online for speeding it’s well, very neighborly, and we have had some issues with some not so friendly folk posting negative things. Anyway, somehow, on Friday there was an assumption made about my husband that was NOT true, and it turned into a nasty argument between me and a lady in my neighborhood I don’t really know. Come to find out from other neighbors letting me know, this is not the first time this particular neighbor has been less than neighborly. Part of me felt good about it, knowing that other people were “on my side” in letting me know how difficult this person is in general, but then I realized that honestly, I probably just should have kept my mouth shut to begin with and not even engaged with her, and it could have avoided a long morning of frustration.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is exactly the kind of situation I spoke about at Refresh Summit (how to get through/avoid/act kindly in) and here I was doing THE EXACT OPPOSITE. It all happened so fast I didn’t put two and two together and then realized I had messed up. If I had followed my own advice, maybe it would have had a different outcome, and hopefully I have learned from this and will be quick to listen and slow to speak next time. Instead of what I did, the following are things I should have done (things I shared at Refresh Summit for dealing with bullies/negative people online).

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1.) Realize you aren’t going to change them: I an usually spot someone pretty set in their ways from the beginning of a conversation, but my desire to defend myself can get in the way of realizing that no matter what I say or try to “prove”, people like this are just not going to change. It doesn’t matter if the facts are right in front of you, they will argue with you until the cows come home, so it’s wise to just save your breathe and realize nothing you say is going to change them.

2.) Don’t feed the animals: With a desire to be right and people please, this one can be tough. Not engaging or “feeding the animals” is a good tactic for keeping the peace. Sometimes it’s just best not to get involved. There have been so many times in my “blog life” where I have wanted to set the record straight or stand up for myself, but I knew that in doing so it would just add fuel to the fire, and I am glad I chose to ignore in the end. When I engage, I usually end up saying something I will regret later.

3.) Get some perspective: Perspective is a funny thing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being the victim we forget that a lot of people lash out because they themselves are or were at one time, victims. Hurt people hurt people. If you can take a step back and remember that simple statement, that those hurting themselves in turn hurt others, and instead of getting angry, feel sorry for the person, it will start to soften your heart towards them and help diffuse frustration.

4.) Forgive: There have been times in my blogging and social media life where people have really hurt my feelings. I still remember a very specific time where I was on a run replaying something someone had said to me online over and over in my head, trying to figure out why people are so mean to those they don’t really know, when I suddenly felt like I was supposed to forgive them. Through gritted teeth (because yall, I really didn’t WANT to forgive them) I said out loud “I forgive you, and Lord HELPE to really mean it”. I had such an overwhelming freeing feeling come after that prayer. it was SO hard to say and it took awhile to work up to, but once I let go of it, the anger and frustration had no power over me anymore. After all, the Bible calls us to forgive others, just as God forgave us (Mark 11:25).

5.) Move on: This one usually takes me a little bit of time, but moving on helps diffuse the anger that comes with seeing and hearing negative things about us. Remember that not everyone is going to think just like you, or be your BFF, and that’s ok. We are all so different, and some people just are going to flat out not get along with you. Move on, and as queen Elsa would say, LET IT GO! I know I know, so much easier said than done, but your heart will thank you if you can move past it and not dwell on it or let your thoughts constantly go back to a wrong done to you.

I hope someone finds these tips helpful, and please know that if you ever need to talk to anyone about any of these issues, I would be more than happy to oblige. Email me any time at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com Have a great Monday!

QOTD: Which of these 5 things do you struggle with most? Have you ever been the victim of online negativity?

Time to Refresh

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that not only do I have a passion for fitness and social media, but I also have a love for encouraging and helping others. At the end of October, I will be heading out on a solo road trip to Tennessee for a couple of days. I was presented with an amazing opportunity, and I hope to see some of you there (hurry only a handful of spots left!)

That’s right, I will be attending (and speaking at!) Refresh Summit South at the lodge at Deer Run!

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My friend Bobbi has done an amazing job with Refresh, and I am stoked to be a part of such an amazing weekend where I will get to learn, grow, speak, listen, be inspired, and hopefully inspire others. my faith is so important to me, and sometimes a weekend away to reconnect and listen to God speak is needed, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me and all the crazy things going on in my life!

I will be leading a workshop sharing from my personal experiences with social media, but not in the sense that you would think. I am going to be sharing my heart about the ups and downs social media can cause. The pitfalls, the comparisons, the haters, and how I handle it all. I by no means have it all figured out, but dealing with the damaging side of social media is something that has been on my heart for awhile now, and cannot wait to share what God has been teaching me.

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As I mentioned before, there are NINE spots remaining for the summit, and I hope you will consider going. We will be up in the beautiful mountains in Tennessee, working out together, eating together, learning and worshiping together, and having a lot of fun! Be sure to check out the website for all the important details. I hope if this is something that interests you that you will pray about it and consider coming!

QOTD: Have you ever been to a retreat similar to Refresh? Do you love the mountains?

My Favorite Social Media Apps

Social media is a big part of my life, and since I am on the go a lot, so are social media apps for my phone and iPad. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you, aside from the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The following apps are all things that HELP already existing accounts you may have on those platforms.

social media apps

Buffer: The Buffer app is a great tool for scheduling things like Tweets and Facebook posts. You can add in 10 updates with the free version and they will be posted during the day at times you set, so you don’t have to worry about posting too many things at once. You can also add a buffer button at the top of your toolbar, so anytime you are on a blog or website and see an article you want to tweet or post about but don’t want to do it this minute, you just click the button and the post gets composed and added to your buffer que to be posted at a later time, it’s so easy. My favorite feature is that I can see the likes, comments, shares, and reach for each post.

Facebook Pages Manager: This one should be a given if you have a Facebook fan page. It is especially helpful if you have multiple pages like I do. I can easily toggle between them and see notifications and messages, write new posts, post photos, etc. Without having to go into my actual Facebook app.

Flipboard: This is a great app where you can get up to date content and news that would be relevant to your blog or topics of interest to your followers. (You pick the topics that come up). Once you find an article or story you like, you can share straight to Facebook or Twitter among others. This is a great tool to increase engagement and is a good conversation starter among your followers.

Snapseed: This is a photo editing tool I use a lot before I post photos to Instagram. It has a lot of basic options like frames, straighten, and copping, but also has some great ways to fine tune the coloring, sharpness, and focus of an image. There are a ton of editing choices and it’s fun to play around with.

RELATED: Get my FREE social media manager checklist

QOTD: What is your favorite app that helps with social media?

How to Get More Blog Readers

 

After the post I wrote about starting your own blog, I had a lot of questions along the lines of “ok, I started my blog, but how do I get readers?” Great question. Keep in mind it won’t happen overnight. The numbers I used to get excited about for a whole day on my blog are now what I get in an hour. But it took time, and lots of hard work. Here are a few simple things you can do to start building your pageviews.

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1.) Pinterest Pin It Button for Images. Pinterest is a great way to get traffic, but you have to use it effectively. That is a whole other post in and of itself, but this free WordPress plugin puts a pin it button on your picture when you hover over it (like on my blog) so readers can pin any photo on your post.

2.) Comment on Other People’s Blogs. While you are sitting around waiting for a blog comment…so is everyone else. So take some initiative, and go comment on some blogs! I try to hit at least 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon/evening, more if time allows. Also I try to read NEW blogs and mix them in with old favorites. You will start to see people clicking over to your site from a comment you wrote on another blog!

3.) Interact with your readers. No one wants to feel like they are talking to an empty void, so try and reply to comments when you can.

4.) Be active on Twitter. I avoided Twitter like the plague when I was first blogging because I didn’t understand it, but now it’s my preferred form of social media and I get a ton of pageviews from it daily. Don’t just talk about your stuff, but engage in conversation with other people and make some friends! Also, twitter chats are a great way to get exposure, more followers, and readers.

5.) Host a giveaway. This may cost you a little money, but could be worth it. You may even be able to get someone to donate a product. Put a post up announcing your giveaway and have people enter, and share about the giveaway as an additional entry. That way, you get extra exposure! (I use Rafflecoptor, so easy!)

6.) Write a guest post. A lot of bloggers will put out a call on their blog or on their Twitter or Facebook asking for guest posters. This is a great opportunity for you to be seen by new readers and get exposure on a more experienced blog. It takes a little time to write that extra post, but is definitely worth it if you are guest posting on more known blogs!

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7.) Sprinkle in other forms of social media.  There are so many to choose from. Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Facebook, etc. are all great ones to get involved with to make new friends and get new followers.

don’t forget, I highly recommend becoming self hosted. I use Bluehost, and WordPress is free through them, and the prices are very very reasonable, and it is pretty user friendly. Click the image below for more info:


 

QOTD: What is your best tip for getting more pageviews on your blog?