5 Huge Mistakes I Made As a New Blogger

I have been blogging over eight and a half years (wow) and there is still plenty that I don’t know. That’s what is so fun about this job, I learn something new every day because things change so quickly. If you want to be successful, you have to learn to adapt, which admittedly isn’t my strong suit…hence why this has been so good for me. Anyway, I’m rambling. I recently came out with an online guide for bloggers wanting to make money working with brands.  I wanted to help bloggers that were looking to make money with their blog and social media accounts that didn’t really know where to start. But then I started thinking…let’s back up to before you even get to that point, right? I feel like I skipped a step. I have a free email course for people wanting to start a blog, then I have my how to make money eguide I mentioned above…but nothing really for “in between”, so I thought I would craft a post with 5 huge mistakes I made when I was in my first 6 months or so of blogging in hopes that you can avoid some of them, and be on a faster path to success.

5 huge mistakes I made as a new blogger

1.) Blogging too often just for the sake of posting: When I first got into blogging, I was writing posts SEVEN days a week. Lawd. I mean, I know I didn’t have a child then so I had more time on my hands (can you believe I used to get BORED on the weekends?!? That clearly hasn’t happened in over 3.5 years)…but WOW that’s a lot of writing. The problem was, I felt like I “had” to blog every day because that’s what everyone else was doing, and so I would crank out a post even if I didn’t really have anything to say. This led to some really boring and useless posts that make me want to hide my head in shame. Now, I only blog typically two or three times a week, and my posts are much more informational and “deep”. Writing a post and editing photos is a big undertaking. Don’t get burned out by thinking you have to put up new content all. the. time. Because you don’t. It’s better to have QUALITY stuff that people will resonate with and want to come back for more of again and again.

2.) Not asking for help/not networking: Sometimes I will admit I can let my pride get the better of me, and this can lead to me trying to do things on my own. Blogging is NOT one of those things that you want to try to do on your own. Your peers are a wealth of information, and most bloggers are happy to share tips, help cross promote for you, and encourage you. If you put yourself on an island, you will remain on an island. People talk, PR agencies talk about bloggers to each other and to other bloggers. If you are viewed as someone who doesn’t play well with others, it could hurt you in the long run. There are some great Facebook groups out there you can plug into for some help and advice.

3.) Tried to be someone I wasn’t: I think at one time or another we have all fallen into this trap. We see someone else having success, and we want success too, so we do as they do. Granted there is nothing wrong with getting ideas from other bloggers, but there is a difference in getting an idea and making it your own, and trying to be someone you aren’t. Remember that your readers are reading your blog because they like you and what you have to say, not because you are just like someone else. Own your unique perspective and find your own voice. People will notice and you will find your tribe!

4.) Not being self hosted: It took me a minute after I started blogging to jump on the self hosted bandwagon. One because frankly I had no idea what it meant other than it sounding technical and complicated, and two, it meant spending money on my blog, and I had not even made any money, so it was scary to take that leap! Just remember, if you wait until you “have more money” to do things in life that have the potential to MAKE you money, then you will never make the leap. Being self hosted does have a cost, but it’s not high when you consider all the things you most likely spend money on in a week. You can get started for just $3.95 a month, and it will enable you to host ads on your site that will make you income. I don’t have to ever touch my ads and the money just gets deposited into my account every month, and it way more than pays for my self hosting.

5.) Not promoting my posts enough: When I first began blogging, I thought you wrote a post, shared it to Facebook and Twitter once, and that was that. It’s sad to think how many of my posts would have done so much better had I promoted them more. (I have gone back and reworked and re promoted some things, but still, it’s sad.) There are so many more ways to promote your posts, and you should definitely promote them more than one time! You did all that hard work, so get as many eyes on it as possible!

If you have any questions about the links above such as my free email course or my new eguide, let me know.

RELATED: The Ultimate Blogger Guide for Working With Brands

5 Reasons To Get Over Your Fear of Starting A Blog

A lot of people have really good things to say. They have knowledge on a topic, or many topics, and have thought about starting a blog. However, that’s as far as it goes for some. For one reason (or maybe many!) they have fears and reasons why they won’t actually take that next step and start a blog. Today I am hoping to ease your mind and get rid of some of those fears for you. Blogging has literally changed my life in so, so many ways and I absolutely love getting to share my life with you, my readers. I want you to have the same excitement and feelings I have as well if that’s something you desire, so let’s get over these fears together!

5 Reasons to get over your fear of starting a blog

Reasons to get over your fears of blogging. If you can do this, you can potentially…

1.) Make Money: Let’s call a spade a spade. A lot of folks get into blogging so they can make money and work from home. Don’t be afraid to speak out if this is your answer. ‘Aint no shame in my game, I definitely like to make money! Granted when I started blogging eight years ago it isn’t why I started…back then I didn’t even know it was possible to make money blogging, but things change and it’s definitely high on the list of motivating factors for me. I love being able to work from home, have a flexible schedule, and work with brands that I really love. It’s very satisfying to be my own boss and make my own decisions!

2.) Have a creative outlet for your thoughts and knowledge: This is kind of why I started. I wanted to start distance running, and decided to blog as a way of holding myself accountable, and a way to share my training with others, in hopes it may inspire them to do the same. Here we are eight years later. Many things have changed, but one thing remains: I love having a place to share and inspire and teach others. I have always loved to write, so this is right up my alley!

3.) Learn and grow as a person: If you asked me to tell you what I have learned about myself and about other topics in the course of the years I have been blogging, it would take me approximately 27 years to tell you all about it! When I look back at a lot of the ways I have grown as a person over the years, so many things stem from my blog and things I have learned, mistakes I have made, and people I have met. Heck, I even owe my husbands CAREER to a friend I met through blogging. It’s so fun and a little unreal to be able to trace back important life milestones, experiences, and decisions to your blog or someone you met via blogging.

4.) Meet great people: Speaking of people I met through blogging…some of my very best friends in the world I met all because of the internet. I love how it connects people from all over the world, and you can share a bond with people you have never met or don’t see that often. I have also made some amazing business contacts, met celebrities, and had mind blowing experiences all because of my blog. It’s awesome, and to think of not having them if I had never started makes me so, so sad.

5.) Have the chance to inspire and change the lives of others: This is definitely my favorite part of blogging. I have a folder in my email titles “happy emails” where I have saved emails from over the years where people have taken the time to write me and tell me that I have helped them, encouraged them, or inspired them in some way to make a change, get over a fear, or try something new. Those emails warm my heart and make me feel like I truly am making a difference in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, some days are hard or frustrating, and it’s not always happy emails, but I wouldn’t change any of it if it means I got to connect with or help someone through my written word. I hope that these reasons to get over your blogging fear have encouraged you to stop being a fence sitter! The best things in life are often the scariest, but come with the greatest reward. Who knows what your life could look like a year from now? You will never know unless you try.

Hey! guess what? Ready to take the plunge and get over your fear of starting a blog but don’t know where to start? You are in luck! I have a completely FREE 5 day email course on how to start a blog of your own. Every day for 5 days I will meet you in your inbox with tips, encouragement, and how to’s for getting your own blog up and running. You can sign up now and get going on that blog!

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!

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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!)

 

The Best Blogging Resource Tools To Make You Money

I have been blogging for a long time now, but am a perpetual student. I literally learn new things every day, and that is what I find so fun and fascinating about blogging and social media. I have been lucky enough to make money from my blog over the years, but have recently stepped up my game to make my blog even more profitable. I feel like there is plenty of space for everyone in the blogging world, and didn’t want to keep my methods to myself.

blogging resource to

So, I decided to create a Resources page for my blog, giving you the best blogging resource tools, and pin it up in my menu bar for easy access. When you click that link, you will be taken to a page that lists out (and links to) many of the tools, programs, and websites I use to keep my blog running smoothly. I will constantly be updating it I’m sure, but it’s a great start for someone not sure what they could do to take their blog or social media accounts to the next level.

resources

RELATED: Get my FREE Social Media Manager Checklist

While I won’t go through every single one here as the descriptions on my resources page are pretty straightforward, I did want to gush a little about my new favorite. If you subscribe to my email list then you already heard about this (and are hopefully using it!)

I have recently been loving using Link in Profile for my Instagram account. (<—Affiliate link) For years, whenever I had a blog post I wanted my Instagram followers to know about, I would post a relevant photo, tell everyone to go to my profile and click the link to be taken to my blog post. That’s definitely a great thing to do and a way to boost traffic, but I got frustrated with having to go in and change that link every single time I wanted to redirect it to a new post. With Link in Profile, you don’t ever have to do that again (Halleluiah!)

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You have ONE link that is forever in your Insta profile, and when people click it, they are taken to a page with all of your photos that have links associated with them. From there they can choose what blog post to go to. (Below you will see my most recent Instagram photo that has a blog link attached to it. On this page you can scroll down and see more photos and click more links!)

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It’s awesome, super easy to use, and a great value for the price. During the free trial, I saw a huge uptick in traffic being referred from Instagram to my blog. (YES I said free trial! What are you waiting for?) It’s definitely been a game changer and time saver for me.

You will find links such as this on my resources page that can be a game changer for you, too. As always, feel free to email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

 

PS- Can you take 10 seconds and fill out a poll for me? THANK YOU!

QOTD: What tools would you add to my resources page?

Stay Fit at the Computer

Hi everyone I’m Renee’ Benda I blog over at http://Bendifulblog.com. I am very excited to guest blog for Heather! I’ve enjoyed reading about her running & travel adventures for some time now and jumped at the chance to guest blog. I’m a 30 year old mother of two working hard to stay fit and healthy while balancing a my family, life and fitness. I hope you share with you some great recipes, workouts, and fun finds from across the interwebs.

We’ve all been there whether you’re in cubicle farm or a freelance writer, we find ourselves sitting in front of a computer for hours a day! This has become normal for many career tracks and often wreaks havoc on our healthy- living goals. There are some simple steps you can take to staying fit while at the computer.

The obviously solutions would be a walking work station, but who has $300 for one of those? Plus not all employers are yet on board with alternative solutions to the ole’ desk, chair computer set up. Save yourself $300 and try these easy and inexpensive options.

Posture Check! Sitting for hours in s slouched position can be destructive for back and your heath! I like to set posture check reminders in my outlook calendar, you can set them on your phone too! A simple quick reminder to check your posture. This will remind you to sit up straight and push back your shoulders. This simple instruction will help you engage your core. Feeling extra ambitious add in some tummy pulses.

Pack your lunch and your sneakers. How close is the nearest park to your office? If you can’t answer this question it’s time to find out. During your lunch break get out and explore. Pack your lunch and your sneakers. Taking a walk around the closest park or even just taking a stroll around the block gets your heart pumping, feeds your brain fresh air, and can help burn a few extra calories. Chances are good that by packing your lunch you will make healthier choices than the vending machine. You will have more time to walk at lunch when you aren’t waiting in line at the fast food place. Getting fit is about making a healthy decision and then making another.
Standing during conference calls. Conference calls can be long and boring, we can all admit that right? Take a break from your chair and stand up during the call. It’s a simple solution and also a healthy one. You burn more calories standing than you do sitting. If you’re comfortable standing mix it up! You can bring in a 5 pound weight and do curls while standing and listening.

Play Ball! Have a fur baby or a real baby? Then you probably have a small ball kicking around your house. Bring it to the office, place it under your feet. Trying to balance the ball under your feet helps engage your core and work on stability. This is also a great solution for those of us who are not allowed to sit on a stability ball as a chair. The best part about this exercise is most of the time you can do it without anyone noticing!
HYDRATE. The office atmosphere can lend itself to overeating. It’s Sally’s Birthday, a client dropped off cupcakes, you know the drill. You can offset the amount you eat by hydrating. Drinking water is a proven step in staying healthy and active. I have a friend who packs two water bottles each day full of ice cold water. Throughout the day before 5pm her goal is to drink them both. The water helps her stay full and keeps her hydrated for her after work workout. If you’re full you will eat less of the snacks around the office.

Making these 5 simple adjustments to your work day can help you stay fit while in front of your computer. You will still need to schedule regular sweat sessions but these small steps can help you make healthier choices during the day.

QOTD: Any suggestions to add to this list? 

Dealing with Blog Negativity

 

Hi everyone! First of all a warm welcome to the new readers coming over after Healthy Living Summit posts, sent from other people’s recaps, etc. Welcome to RWS! Sit down, stay awhile! Check out the About Me section and my Top Posts section for starters!

One of the sessions I attended at HLS was on dealing with blog negativity. Imagine that, someone leaving mean and negative comments on a blog!

blog negativity

Who would EVER do a thing like that, hhhmmm? If you have a blog and have not yet had to deal with this, consider yourself lucky. I feel like I get a fair share here because I choose to be very real on my blog. Of course, I like to try to keep things positive and upbeat, but at the same time, I don’t gloss over real issues, problems I am dealing with, and the way I really feel about things.

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life isn’t always rainbows and flowers. I am NOT perfect!

Constructive criticism vs. mean comments

As much as I would love to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (and I REALLY try to) some people are just what I like to call “a bad egg.” They are going to find something mean to say, and then cover their backs by saying it was “constructive criticism.” This is one of the things the panel at HLS talked about…there is a difference in CONSTRUCTIVE (building up and helpful criticism) and just being mean , hurtful, and evil for no good reason.

I think the biggest problem is, we have these people hiding behind their mask that is the computer screen, and who feel like it gives them free reign to say whatever to whomever they choose. I mean really, is it something you would say in real life to a friend? Then why would you think it’s ok to say to a stranger? You don’t know what people are going through behind closed doors.

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mommy says not to talk to strangers

Creating your own reality

Another thing we talked about is creating your own reality. Hate to break it to the haters, but it’s my blog, my space, and I can write on it whatever I choose, and I can choose to hit the button labeled spam. Not to mention….I can track your IP address and see if you have ever commented before. If I don’t want mean comments on my blog, I can block them. If I want to share my opinion on a controversial topic, I can. If I KNOW there is a blog out there that is going to upset me, I can choose not to read it. (Why people waste their time reading and commenting on blogs that “annoy” them blows my mind. Time is so precious, friends!) I remember the first mean comment I ever got…I was devastated, and it upset me for days. It seemed to be all I could think about, until one day I realized by letting it disrupt my day, that person had WON! I refuse to give people the satisfaction, so now I just get over it and move on. Not everyone is going to like my blog and I am totally ok with that.

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Cool off before responding

This is where I have failed in the past and let my temper get the better of me. It is in my nature to immediately write out a snarky response, and have kind of a “take that”attitude, which isn’t very kind on my part, and won’t help the situation. I am human, I make mistakes (a LOT of them, trust me!) But this is an area where I feel I have really grown over the past years of blogging. If someone leaves a negative comment instead of responding right away, I get away from my computer, think about it for awhile, and 9 times out of 10, I end up responding differently (and more ladylike!) then I would have if I had answered right away. Let cooler heads prevail!

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This cream colored puppy has TOTALLY taken the spotlight, I need to take a w-a-l-k and cool off before I deal with her.

Ultimately, how you choose to handle negativity on your blog is up to you, it’s YOUR blog! Yahoo!!! Some may ignore, some may delete, and some may confront. You have to choose what is right for you, your personality, and your blog. My main takeaway would be to not let a naysayer control your emotions. They aren’t worth it! For every negative comment, think of the dozens of comments you get telling you how much people love your blog, how inspiring you are, etc. THOSE are the ones you want to stick with you, and that is why I blog. To help, to give hope, and to inspire. If it ever becomes more hurtful than helpful to myself, my relationships, and my readers, then I know it is time to stop. Blog negativity is real, it’s rampant, and there is only so much we can do. I think it’s wise to have an action plan in place before it happens to you so that you don’t make a decision you will regret later. I am rooting for you and hope you don’t let blog negativity get you down!

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QOTD: How do you deal with negativity on your blog? Do you get negative comments on your blog?