Guest Post | Best Plugins for WordPress

blogger lauren jane on talentedtalkers.com

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 chat@talentedtalkers.com or tweet us @talentedtalkers. 

We ask a Journo | Holly Brockwell of Gadgette

We ask a Journo | Holly Brockwell of Gadgette

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!

Behind the Blog | What the Redhead Said

Behind the Blog | What the Redhead Said

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your blog? How did you first get into blogging?

I’m a married Mum of two based just outside of London. I started blogging when my first child was seven months old to document our baby led weaning journey – and it’s snowballed from there!

You’re currently listed in both Vuelio and Tots100 top ten lists – that must be lots of pressure?

On the contrary, it’s a massive privilege and a spot that I appreciate so much. When I started blogging I didn’t even know charts and things existed and when I found out about them I realised that all the blogs I read regularly and admired where in the top spots. I never in my wildest dreams expected to be up there myself and to be in this position now is incredible. I am so proud of my blog and how far the blog and I have come but I don’t feel pressure – I know that these things can change so easily so I’m just enjoying it.

What do you think is the best “service” a blogger can provide their audience?

I know that my bloggers really appreciate my product reviews – they trust my opinion and so for me the best service a blogger can provide is honesty and impartiality. I always think that consumers deserve to read reviews that are honest and constructive and I like to write reviews that I would appreciate reading if I were looking to buy something myself.

Do you have a full-time job as well? How do you find the time to run your blog so professionally?

Up until the start of November I worked 19 hours a week for a High Street bank but I have now left that to focus on my blog. I returned to work after maternity leave over two years ago and have spent the last two years juggling work, the blog, childcare and my husband’s shift work but I hoped, at some point, the blog would grow into something that would enable me to give up work – which it now has. The last couple of years have been about being as productive as possible, using time well, being organised and having late nights. But, it’s been worth every minute – I still love blogging as much as the day I started.

How has your blog changed since you first started it, to now? What was your first post about?

My first post was really an introduction. Since then my writing style has changed – I’ve definitely found my voice and my blog name has changed too – I used to be Redhead Babyled but switched to What the Redhead said when I felt like we were outgrowing the ‘baby’ tag and I love my blog now – it’s definitely one for keeps!

Do you have a favourite post that you’ve written? Does it differ from your most popular post?

My most popular post is actually my Top 10 Baby Led Weaning Tips post that I wrote quite a long time ago now. It gets found on Google every day and has done well on Pinterest too. But, my favourite post was probably History in the Making or Just Plain Selfish. I quite like writing opinion posts and this was one of the first times I’d written something off the back of a news article – I usually steer clear of current affairs. It was so easy to write and it got a really good response too.

What’s been the best thing about your blogging journey?

There have been so many positives. The best thing, without a doubt, are all the friends I have made. My social circle is huge now – I have so many ‘real life’ friends that have stemmed from blogging and the blogging community makes you feel like you have someone to talk to whatever the topic and whatever the time of day or night. Other bloggers are a massive highlight for me.

We all know you’re a fantastic parenting blogger, but if you could do it all again, would you choose a different niche? Why/why not?

I think because I’m a parenting blogger but I also cover other topics it’s very easy to branch out and not be too rigid where niche is concerned. I love being a ‘Mummy Blogger’ but I also love writing about whatever I feel like. If I could start all over again I’d like to do things exactly the same way, I’ve loved carving this space over the last few years.

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money, but we all know it’s not that easy. What advice would you give new bloggers?

I would ask any new blogger to think about why they are starting to blog and to always remember that reason. Many start to create an online diary, a record of their children growing to look back on or just somewhere to get their thoughts out on paper. But, it’s easy to soon get sucked into charts, stats, review items and email opportunities, to get sucked into the work side of blogging and lose focus of why you started blogging in the first place. Always keep that in the back of your mind and hopefully you’ll keep enjoying blogging – whatever direction it takes you.

And finally, we want to share the love, so who would you like to see us interview in the next newsletter?

Colette from We’re Going on an Adventure – she has been blogging around the same time as I have and she has been such a constant in my blogging life. Everyone should have a Colette and I think she’d be ace to interview!

Have something else you’d like to ask Donna? Head over to Twitter now and get chatting!

 

Behind the Blog | Mummy and Boo

Behind the Blog | Mummy and Boo

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your blog? How did you first get into blogging?

I’m Rosie, and I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years with my most recent blog, Mummy and Boo turning five last month. I’m a Travel and Lifestyle blogger.

I see you’ve just been announced as an official judge in this year’s UK Blog Awards – what an honour that must be?

It’s a great honour, It’s a great opportunity to see fist hand the amazing talent and hard work that goes into a successful blog.

What do you think is the best “service” a blogger can provide their audience? 

Authenticity – anyone can google a holiday destination and read the marketing material, but what makes my account stand out is that it’s real, relevant and I hope helpful enough to allow the audience to feel as if they have already been.

Do you have another job as well? How do you find the time to run your blog so professionally?

Blogging is my full time job, I’m grateful that I can hand on heart say I love what I do.

How has your blog changed since you first started it, to now? What was your first post about?

It’s unrecognisable, I launched Mummy and Boo when Boo was 100 days old and the first post was about how I couldn’t find a decent changing bag, I quickly realised that I didn’t enjoy writing about parenting issues exclusively so it quickly evolved into a lifestyle blog. It’s like anything, you have to live it to improve it vente cialis france. Progress comes from writing, editing, coding, seo-ing, photography and repeat! I enjoy blogging because it’s a constant journey of learning, it’s great to pick tips up from fellow bloggers.

Do you have a favourite post that you’ve written? Does it differ from your most popular post?

My most popular posts are anything to do with cruises! My favourite post would have to be the one I wrote about dating as a single mother, the feedback I received both publicly and privately was so encouraging with many identifying with the modern day motherhood dilemma. There’s no greater feeling than when your audience identify with what you’ve written and you as a person.

What’s been the best thing about your blogging journey?

It has to be the amazing adventures Boo and I have been fortunate enough to experience as part of the blog… Boo is one accomplished traveller even though she’s only 5!

We all know you’re a fantastic lifestyle and parenting blogger, but if you could do it all again, would you choose a different niche? Why/why not?

I love what I right about, however I’d love to have a political blog. It’s always something that I’ve had a great interest in and it’s fast paced nature would make for a dynamic blog.

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money, but we all know it’s not that easy. What advice would you give new bloggers? 

The blogging world may have exploded over the last few years but the same golden rule will apply: content is king. It’s absolutely ok to approach blogging as a revenue stream but that doesn’t mean you should lose sight of the your message and more importantly, your audience. Whenever people comment that blogging looks easy, I invite them to join me for a day, one that begins at me getting up at 5am to get ahead with writing!

And finally, we want to share the love, so who would you like to see us interview in the next newsletter?

Donna from What The Redhead Said – she’s a great blogger and friend.

 

Have something else you’d like to as Rosie? Head over to Twitter and get chatting now!

The Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Trust

We are proud to be supporting The Prince’s Trust again this year, by helping to raise awareness around the incredible work they do in transforming young lives. This year is the charity’s 40th anniversary – forty years of transforming and improving the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. Forty years of funding businesses, scholarships and work experience to help get young people into the work force – some for the first time. Forty years of giving access to education, support, and development opportunities to those who really need it.

For the past forty years, The Prince’s Trust have been committed to changing lives affected by homelessness, trouble with the law, a lack of community support, and those suffering mental health problems alone. To continue being able to offer their services to those in need, they need your support. Their newest campaign proves why…

 

The powerful video shows what a difference The Trust can make in but one life. The opportunities and support available are only there because of the generosity of others, and so we urge you to donate if you can. Check out the #TogetherWeCan tag over on Twitter to read more stories of hope and rehabilitation thanks to the Trust’s tireless work in the community. If you’re interested in hearing more about how you can help, do get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.

Behind the Blog : Faiiint

Behind the Blog : Faiiint

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your blog? How did you first get into blogging?
I started my blog after I finished my fashion design degree. The course completely drained me & I came away from it with no enthusiasm for fashion left. I started the blog as a way to help me hopefully regain my passion for the subject I’d once loved – and it worked!

Your tagline is “dark fashion and style”, which really sets you apart from a lot of fashion blogs; was this intentional or do you just reallllly love the black lyfe?
I’m definitely all about the all black everything life! I dressed this way long before I started my blog, so it wasn’t an intentional thing to stand out. Having such a specific style really has helped me to make a mark in this huge blogosphere though!

What do you think is the best “service” a blogger can provide their audience?
Inspiration! Whether that’s how to style a particular piece, creating a signature look, or introducing them to designers and artists they might not have otherwise come across.

Do you have a full-time job as well? How do you find the time to run your blog so professionally?
I currently work as a Content Marketer, as part of a wonderful PR team within a creative agency. I landed this role purely because of my blog! Before this I was a full time blogger for a few years, but I never wanted to blog as a career forever, it’s definitely not as easy or glamorous as it sounds! I much prefer it now it’s back to being more of a hobby again. I shoot outfits with my Gran on weekends or my lunch break and then create posts during the evenings after I get home.

How has your blog changed since you first started it, to now? What was your first post about?
In the beginning I didn’t really do outfit posts. It started as more of a personal scrapbook for myself, somewhere I could put artists and designers I enjoyed so I could look back over them. My first post was just a collection of images I liked! I never really expected anyone else to actually read it, but the occasional outfits I posted started to get more & more attention. Now they make up the majority of my posts!

Do you have a favourite post that you’ve written? Does it differ from your most popular post?
I’m not sure I could pick one single favourite post, and I actually don’t know which my most popular is. I try not to look into the stats too much now, so it feels less pressured. I do always do a roundup of favourite outfits of the year though & these are always extremely popular – http://www.faiiint.com/faiiint/2016/01/best-of-2015/

What’s been the best thing about your blogging journey?
The people I’ve met & the skills I’ve learnt. I can honestly say I’ve made some of the most amazing new friends, and ones I feel like I’ll know forever, all because of being part of this community. It still makes me feel fuzzy just thinking about that!

We all know you’re a fantastic personal style blogger, but if you could do it all again, would you choose a different niche? Why/why  not?
Not at all! I feel like I am very honest and true to myself with the blog, and I think that’s a big reason why people enjoy it and can relate to it. I try not to limit myself to just style, so I feel I can post anything on the blog as long as it’s interesting and fits with my aesthetic.

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money, but we all know it’s notthateasy. What advice would you give new bloggers?
Find a niche! This has helped me immensely, and with the sheer number of blogs out there now it’s becoming so important to have something that makes yours stand out. Yes it will not appeal to everyone, and so naturally you may not reach the numbers more generic blogs might, but the readers you do have will be extremely loyal and engaged. I love that about my own audience, and I much prefer that to having a huge readership who never interact.

And finally, we want to share the love, so who would you like to see us interview in the next newsletter?
Emily at http://www.recipesandreviews.co.uk/ – I  challenge you not to want to make absolutely everything on her blog!

Have something else you want to ask Steph? Head over to Twitter and say hi!

 

 

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