One of the main motivators for moving my blog to Word Press was the extensive range of plugins available. The plugins I use either optimise my site or make my life easier. I work full time and blog as a hobby, therefore anything to help me improve things quickly, is a winner in my book. In this post I want to share four of my favourite plugins with you.
- Yoast SEO
I am by no means an expert in SEO, and can use all the help I can get. Yoast SEO is a brilliant plugin that analyses your blog posts. Yoast analyses the focus keyword you set for your post and provides you with a traffic light report of your post. Tips on your meta description, word count, SEO title, links and more are given. The plugin also analyses the readability of your content, as well as suggesting improvements. Now before I post any blog post, I try to ensure my analysis is flagged green. You can upgrade to a premium version of the plugin, but for now I’m happy using the free version.
- Askimet Anti-Spam
If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, I’m sure spam comments will have been the bane of your life at one point or another. Askimet is a great plugin that saves me a lot of time. Askimet moves all comments flagged as spam into a separate folder. You can either simply delete all comments marked as spam, or review them yourself. I find 99% of the time, the comments flagged as spam are indeed spam. I personally prefer using Askimet to asking my readers to complete a captcha, as I find they sometimes put people off from commenting.
- Compress JPEG & PNG images
We’re told site speed impacts how Google ranks our blogs. You’re likely to include a lot of imagery in your blog posts, which are going to slow down your site if you don’t compress. Many people compress their images prior to uploading, or host on third party sites. Personally, I don’t as I’m always short on time, and therefore I use Compress JPEG & PNG images. I use the free version of this plugin which allows me to compress around 100 images per month. I don’t upload anywhere near 100 new images per month, therefore running the free version allows me to compress older images as well. In time I’ll have compressed all my images for free. You can of course pay to optimize all of your images.
- Title and Nofollow For Links
It is against Google’s terms to include paid of follow links in your blog posts. There is a lot of conversation out there in the blogosphere about this topic, as many people do not follow the guidelines set out by Google. I’m sure you, like I, have been turned down for opportunities simply for refusing to do so. In order to make marking links as ‘no follow’ as simple as possible, I use the plugin Title and Nofollow For Links. This plugin adds a checkbox to the ‘Insert/edit link’ pop up, and you simply check the box to mark it as Nofollow.
Are there any plugins that you find make your life easier? I’d love to try them if I’m not already. Get in touch either via my blog, Instagram or Twitter.
This week’s Guest Post comes from Lauren, from www.bylaurenjane.co.uk. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for us, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @talentedtalkers.
Balancing blogging and a fulltime job can be tough. Throw in the keeping fit, events, life admin (cleaning, and all that other boring stuff), and socialising, and 24 hours does not feel long enough. I couldn’t tell you how many tweets I’ve seen highlighting the constant (losing) battle. So, we wanted to gather a few tips and ideas from different bloggers themselves, to help you feel a little more on top of it, more motivated, and mostly so you can keep enjoying it – or at the very least so you don’t feel alone.
“Take some time out if you need it – working AND blogging is hard on the brain, and it’s better to post less but higher quality content than to churn out a post when you’re not feeling it because you feel like you *have* to. The blogging part should be FUN!” – Milly @ mini-adventures.com
“Take your full lunch break! It’s amazing how much you can get done in an hour :)” – Natalie @ hellocuppies.com
“In lifestyle posts, don’t be afraid to use stock images – credited properly or use from a website like pixabay” – Bonnie @ bonnieinwonderland.wordpress.com
“Always keep a note pad handy to note down ideas when you’re out and about or at work as you never know when inspiration will call” – Kathy @ glitzandglamourmakeup.co.uk
“Write about your passions and what you want to…Don’t be hard on yourself” – Afshan @ afshanesque.co.uk
“I find it good to have some ‘spare’ photos ready to post to social media on days where you may not be able to get pictures” – Daniella @ myspiritualvibes.com
“I’ve found dictation very useful. It’s great to just talk into my phone when an idea comes into my head. It saves time typing it all out and I have something to edit later” – Victoria @ Thegrowingmum.com
“It’s important not to use all of your free time to do your blog, it will only get too much for you and you’ll find that you may just produce something you aren’t happy with” – Emma @ carpediememmie.co.uk
“As a new blogger, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed with everything you need to do. The physical act of writing a list with pen and paper is a lifesaver, as well as being oddly therapeutic!” – Terri @ musingsonmidlife.com
“Have a plan, that’s flexible and find what works for you in terms of posting schedule and content creation, but most importantly still find time to have fun blogging” – Stephanie @ lifeat139a.com
“Get a tweet scheduler to take some of the work out for you, there’s nothing worse than coming home and having to worry about promotion on top of writing” – Kariss @ shystrangemanic.com
“I use apps that sync from my phone to my laptop. That way I can write on the go and all my notes are up to date and in one place” – Rosie @ damzelinthisdress.com
“Be nice to yourself and do not compare your blog to someone who blogs full time – at some points you might find yourself trying to reach their levels of productivity and time dedication and it will do more bad than good. Instead, congratulate yourself for doing the things you do and allow yourself all the breaks and time you need” – Kamila @ kamzonline.com
“Wherever I am, if any content inspiration hits me, I’ll always note it down in my phone’s notes. I could be on the tube heading to work and an idea will hit me but rather than let it pass and forget it, I’ll always write it down and come back to it when I have time to pursue it” – Leigh @ foxandfeatherblog.com
“I personally use my lunchtime to listen to podcasts and audiobooks which is where I get a lot of my inspiration from. I’ll often be out on a walk while I do as I tend to get my best ideas then. I’ll make notes on my phone for blog post and promotion ideas, drafting in bullet-points that I then turn into posts in my evenings and weekends” – Lee @ quitefranklee.com
“Most importantly, you should remember that not blogging if you are busy is okay! Make sure you are having fun and don’t see your blog as a chore”. Viki @ vikibell.com
“My best tip – don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t have time, don’t force yourself to produce blog posts filled with substandard content – only publish posts you are proud of – if you don’t have time, cut back on how often you post” – Lucy @ absolutelylucy.com
“Write from your heart. Don’t write for writings sake. These are the posts that make the most difference!” – Becci @ swordsandsnoodles.co.uk
“Write when it feels right and don’t push it when you’re not feeling it – it might not be that it’s a bad topic your brain might just be needing a break since you’ve been at work all day/week” – Kirsty @ kirstythroughthelookingglass.com
We hope you found these tips helpful. But as always, feel free to tweet us/comment below with any questions, or any more you think will help others.
Have a fab week!
Chloe is a digital promotions exec at Talented Talkers, and runs a lifestyle blog at lashesoflifestyle.
Find out more about the #TalentedTalkers team here, and don’t forget to use the hashtag if you found this post helpful!
Instagram: it’s the platform we all love to hate, right? Especially now that the Instagram algorithm changes are no longer published on their blog, meaning that you have to dig through their help section for details on all the changes.
What was once the fastest-growing and most engaging social media for most of us has, after one-too-many algorithm changes, quickly become a source of stress and far too many rules for almost every type of blogger or influencer.
And, January marks yet another update, with more and more rumours circling of what is and isn’t likely to get your engagement up, how to avoid shadow-bans, and whether your followers are even able to see your posts…so, it’s Fran here, and I’m rounding up the best tips and tricks for the latest updates, as well as some general ways to improve your engagement.
1. Use those stories
One of the biggest changes Instagram have made lately is the changes to how stories are displayed in your feed, with story suggestions not only being much larger than they were previously, but are also now showing up mid-feed. What does this mean for you? There’s now even more reason to add to your stories and keep them updated! Instagram counts story views as engagement in their algorithm, meaning that if someone watches your story often, your posts also show up higher in their feed – win/win!
2. Hashtag wherever you want – but do it fast
There’s a lot of debate all over the web as to where you should hashtag – in your caption or in the comments – but the truth is, the actual location of the tags doesn’t matter as much as how quickly you do it. The reason some people prefer to hashtag in their caption is because it means that your post appears in the hashtag feed, at the top, as soon as you post it, whereas if you post in the comments, you’ll appear in the feed, but your order in the results will depend on when you posted the picture, not when you added the hashtag (source: adweek). That means, if you post a picture at 6pm, then don’t hashtag it until 7pm, you’ll show up in the hashtag behind all the other people who have posted their photo in the hashtag in the last hour – not great if you’re posting in a packed hashtag, as it means you’ll spend no time at the top of the tag page.
If you’re posting your picture and then commenting straight away with the hashtags, however, it probably won’t make a massive difference.
3. Respond to your comments
If you’re anything like me, you probably forget to reply to Instagram comments
all the time occasionally, but that could be why your engagement is suffering. The more likes and comments you get on a post, the more your followers are likely to see it in their feed – so if you’re getting one comment, that’s great – but if you’re getting that comment, responding, then getting a conversation going, your post is doing even better by the Instagram algorithm standards…! Get chatting!
4. Get yourself a business account
We’ve already covered the benefits of your Instagram business account on the blog before, so we won’t bore you with too many details if you’ve already read it – but if you haven’t, or if you’ve got a business account and aren’t sure if you’re using it as well as you could, have a read – you’d be seriously surprised how much having all those extra stats and analytics can help your engagement sore, weird Instagram algorithm or not.
5. Stop spamming
Okay, so that’s a little harsh – we’re sure you’re not actually spamming anyone…at least not deliberately. It’s a not-very-well-kept ‘secret’ that Instagram’s algorithm tends to view any comments under 3 words as spam – meaning not only does it flag your account if you’re leaving comments like ‘so pretty!’ or ‘that’s cute’, but it also doesn’t count them towards your engagement if you’re receiving comments like that. Your best bet is to leave slightly longer, more specific comments on others’ posts, and hopefully get some in return.
Bonus: have fun!
Whilst there are definitely a few tips to take on board to help defend your feed against the Instagram algorithm changes, everyone knows that engagement is hard to get – brands aren’t necessarily all caught up in the numbers when they’re looking for influencers and bloggers to work with, and as long as you’re producing great content and having authentic conversations, you shouldn’t be, either. Don’t let the algorithm get you down!
When we think of social media, Pinterest is always included on that list. That said, it’s a bit of a weird social media. You tend to have people either SUPER into Pinterest but not totally sure how it relates to their blog, or people who avoid the platform all together ‘cause it’s a bit confusing. (and of course, the people who smash it out). So, I want in this little article to explain why you should be using Pinterest, then a few quick tasks to get you started.
So, why as a blogger should you be focussing on Pinterest?
If we look at Twitter, an average post lasts about 30 minutes. In Instagram, you’re talking 1-3 days that people are actually seeing your content. This means that if you’re promoting your posts there, you only have a limited amount of time where people will click through. However, with Pinterest, that isn’t the case.
When you add something as a pin, that pin has a life of years. For example, I’ll write one tweet and get about 10 views to my blog in the following hour or so. I added one pin to Pinterest 22 months ago and I get 100+ views to my blog every single day.
This means, if you really want to increase your page views and get more people reading your blog, then Pinterest is a fabulous platform to really focus on and grow. Other socials are about community, Pinterest is different, it’s basically a giant visual search engine, and one we can really utilise.
What are the basics to using Pinterest?
If you’ve not used Pinterest before, then it’s basically a giant pin board. You see lots of nice pins, and ones which you may want to look at later, you add to a board. For example, I have a travel board for quite a few countries, when I see a blog post I like on that country, I pop it on the board. Then when I’m holiday planning I have a great resource to use.
So, the basics to get your Pinterest set up includes:
- Setting up a business profile – so that you can show the link to your blog. Pop in an interesting bio about you too.
- Creating boards around your target reader – it’s good to have boards in the niche that you blog about, for example, if you’re a travel blogger then lots of boards on different countries is great. That said, think about your target reader – they may like travel but they probably also like cooking or other related things. So, you don’t need to keep your boards super niched.
- Get pinning – this is the most important bit. You should be pinning every day, a range of content that isn’t yours and some from your own blog too. Ideally, you love Pinterest so that this doesn’t turn into a chore! If you struggle with consistent pinning then consider using a schedule tool like Tailwind or Boardbooster, these allow you to sit and pin for an hour or so and they will the spread your pins throughout the week.
So, your Pinterest profile is set up, what do you need to do now to get your pins moving and people heading to your profile?
Some quick tasks you can do to help get your Pins moving
- Create some optimised graphics with Canva – when you go to Canva you can select Pinterest and it will give you the optimum size for your pin. The best pins have text on them, so pop some text on there to encourage more repins.
- Add a ‘pin it’ hover on your blog – encourage people who visit your blog to add your images to pinterest easily. You can do this through a plug in.
- Join some group boards – group boards basically mean you pair up with some other people and when you pin to the board it goes to all the contributor’s followers. They are a handy way to help grow your profile and have your pins seen by more people. You can find group Pinterest boards through blogging facebook groups or having a search on Pingroupie.
- Try some promoted pins – you can promote on Pinterest which helps your important pins get more of a boost. Good thing is that you can spend as little as £5 and that still gives it a decent boost.
There we have it, as with any social media, you need to spend time on Pinterest for it to really grow and flourish. But if you need to pick any social to get your head around and start using more, then Pinterest is most definitely the one which will give you the best returns!
What tips do you have for Pinterest?
By Jasmin Charlotte – follow her on Pinterest here!
(Jasmin is a lifestyle blogger and blogging coach at jasmincharlotte.com. She writes loads of tips to help you grow your blog and social media, plus understand the more techy bits of the blogging world. She offers blog coaching which includes Pinterest if you need tailored advice!).
By now, Instagram Stories is a constant in most influencer’s daily routine, and why shouldn’t it be? All the perks of SnapChat with a ready-made audience, and the opportunity to still have a curated non-instant grid while you still instantly share your day? What a winning combo we have there! Even I – the confessed Social Media Noob, is on the Insta Stories bandwagon, finding the engagement on my grid pictures goes through the roof when I do add to my Story, as well as loving being able to see those old school friends and exes peeping on my life like they think I can’t see them. I SEE THEM. Whatever the reason for your Stories use (and Jasmin has written a great post on things you should know about the function), there’s a hidden gem lurking in your Instagram Business account that it sounds like more than a few members of the community aren’t aware of – the See More function when it comes to your Stories’ analytics data.
You can actually retain and revisit the data from your 24hour footage for up to 14 days with a Business Account once the feature is activate, which is 13 more days than those without the business profile, and will absolutely help you when it comes to feeding back to brands and agencies that you’ve worked with if a Story has been part of your agreement. And even if not, this sort of info is an incredible added value that you can offer the brand – and why shouldn’t you! It’s evidence of a successful campaign, of incredible engagement, of brand awareness, and you should be excited to share that info just as you would any page views or comments your blog post received, or how many times your Tweet was engaged with.
The thing about Instagram Stories is that no-one but you has the access to that data (yet), as Instagram hasn’t opened up the API for reporting tools. So while we can see your likes and comments on your grid, we – as brands and agencies go, can’t see what engagement you’ve had on your stories. If you don’t already know how to find the information, here are some simple steps:
- go to your profile
- click on the Analytics icon
- scroll down to your Stories’ Insights
- click See More
From there, you have the option to look through a host of things like engagement (how many people watched), reach (the potential views from your following), skip forward and back (to rewatch), and exits, as well as the option to filter by 24 hours, 7 days, and 14 days. This is really useful information for brands, so if you don’t already offer it as part of your collaboration round-up, then have a think about it for the next one. The brand will appreciate the above-and-beyond information from you, and it will put you in good stead for future collaborations. So, what do you have to lose?!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Instagram Stories, and if you think this is in fact an added value, or if you think it’s a bit cheeky of brands to ask for it. And if you do, then why? We’d love to hear your side of it too.
1. How did you get into writing and journalism?
Like all writers, I was born one. The idea of getting paid for it was too enticing not to explore, but unfortunately, I was given some fairly bad career advice along the way. This included “don’t bother trying to get into journalism unless you’re the editor of the student paper.” Well, I had to have a job at university, which didn’t leave much time for that. So instead I went into advertising, which was still writing, but with a lot less control over the words. I enjoyed it, though, and I learnt a lot. Much of which was very useful later. Commercial awareness is a very good thing.
From there, I saw a tweet from my friend Becca Caddy asking for phone reviewers at ShinyShiny. I couldn’t believe you could get paid for that, so I did it on top of my day job for a while, then eventually they offered me the position of Editor. And that was my door into journalism.
2. When and why did you launch Gadgette?
Gadgette started back in May ’15, because I’d been in tech journalism a while and was getting pretty tired of seeing the same demographics at every publication. The same mid-twenties, middle-class white guys, giving the same perspective on the same products. I wanted to read something more inclusive and interesting. It didn’t exist, so I made it.
I ran it as a full-on business for a while, with an all-female staff writing about tech for a female audience. But running a startup wasn’t for me (it turns out I do need sleep, after all) and now Gadgette is more of a passion project that I do in my spare time.
3. What three things do you love the most about your job?
- I can’t get enough of tech, and if this wasn’t my job I’d still be going on about it, trying to get to the product launches and boring everyone stupid talking about my new gadget. So I love that I can do that as a career.I love the community around journalism.
- I always read the comments (yep, really) – sometimes they make me sigh, but there’s a lot of insight there too. Plus you can always count on someone to point out your bad maths in a post written at 7am on a Monday.
- Finally, I love online media. Writing for print has a special significance, but I’m far too impatient: I love being able to hit Publish and instantly see people reading what I wrote. The analytics are fascinating: where did the readers come from? What did they search for? Which articles did they share with their friends? What did they click and buy? I could bury myself in it for weeks. You just don’t get that with print.
4. If you could invent one technology that would help the world, what would it be and why?
What a fantastic question! I could ponder on this for years. But I’ll go with the Point Of View Gun from the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie (not the book… they added it for the film). Firstly because there’s no point trying to out-think Douglas Adams, and secondly because I think it would do us all an immense amount of good to be able to instantly understand each other. You fire the gun at someone, and they repeat your point of view to you. It might not ever exist, but there’s a technique counsellors recommend called reflecting, where you repeat what the other person says back to them in your own words. It’s also something I learnt as a Samaritans volunteer. It makes people feel really heard, and it forces you to clarify your understanding of their perspective. A gadget that did it instantly could foster world peace in a fortnight.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers, bloggers and journalists?
Get your words out there any way you can. Write for your own blog, write on Medium, write for other people’s sites, write stories, write tweets, write your life story. Just write, write, write – which you most likely do already – but for the love of everything, put it somewhere people can find it. Then point them at it.
Secondly, don’t imagine you know the bits that will resonate best with people. The jokes you think are genius will fall flat, and the thought you had in the shower at 2am will set the world on fire. It’s a mystery, but a fun one.
Thirdly, if you want to be a journalist, I highly recommend taking a course to teach you pitching skills. The Guardian’s Masterclass is a good one, that’s the one I started with.
Finally, remember your voice. It’s very easy to read other people’s work and start to write like them, but your own experiences, perspectives, even your favourite words are ultimately what will make your name. If you’re not allowed to write that way at work, do it at home. In secret. On toilet paper if you have to. Just keep that voice honed until it’s time to sing.
Have something else you’d like to ask Holly? Get in touch on Twitter now!