Build Your Blog Series: How to Stand Out


Build Your Blog Series: How to Stand Out


Each day, more and more people are joining the blogging world. There aren't accurate numbers to show how many blogs there currently are because people are starting and stopping blogs each day. Every blog out there is fighting for readers’ attention, but there are a couple of things that you can do to stand out from the crowd. Here are some ideas that worked for us:



Be original. Don’t follow the crowd- your blog is all about you and your opinion. Take an original point of view on a common topic and you will be amazed at the feedback you get! Some of our most popular posts are our original spins on everyday recipes. Another way to be original is in the title/purpose of your blog. Blogging with six women (six sisters, at that!) can be tricky sometimes because we all have different opinions on how things should be written or how the blog should be run, but it is what makes us stand out. There are not many blogs out there who are written by six sisters, so it is definitely a selling point for us.

Learn your demographic. By using Google Analytics and Alexa.com, we have come to learn our target audience (92% of our readers are women age 25-44, most of them have some college education and a child or two). We now gear our posts exactly to that demographic. Why would we ever post something that didn't appeal to our audience?

Don’t be afraid of controversy because IT SELLS! TV is the best example of this! But if you do write something controversial, be prepared for people with different opinions because they will surely share it with you! One of our most popular posts is “100 Healthy Snack Ideas”. To us junk-food-aholic sisters, they really are healthy snacks. However, we get SO many comments from people letting us know that they believe that the ideas we listed are not healthy at all (in fact, one lady let us know using many expletive words that the foods listed would kill us). However, we still got them to come to our site and we still got their page view.

Offer to guest blog for others, especially for blogs larger than yours. If they say yes, be sure to submit your very best work. Most of the larger blogs have a very dedicated following and if they like what they see when you guest post, you will have earned yourself some new followers. Also, don’t be afraid to ask blogs outside of your niche if they take guest bloggers because it’s a great way to expand your readership.



Learn all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is still so foreign to us, but I really like this tutorial found at SEOmoz that breaks it down in terms that most people can understand. If you can master SEO, you will see a huge increase in your traffic.



Ads and Button Swap. Purchase a couple of ad spots on other blogs or ask them if they would like to do a blog button swap. Anyway that you can get your blog out there will benefit you so much!


For more ideas, check out our E-Book of 10 Ways to Grow Your Blog HERE


Also be sure to check out our conference:

Saturday, February 16, 2013
 Salt Lake City, Utah.



Build Your Blog Series: The Power of Social Media



For bloggers, the power of social media is one of the most important things to learn. Today I am going to be sharing with you some tips on using Social Media to gain more followers (and in turn, more pageviews).

First of all, what is Social Media?
Webster defines it as:
Shortly after starting our blog (SixSistersStuff.com), we realized that while we were slowly gaining more readers, there had to be more ways to grow our following. I guess we were impatient and wanted to see our numbers rise faster. :) We looked at some of the bigger bloggers out there and tried to follow their examples- and almost every blog that we looked at used social media networks to connect and communicate with their readers.

Businesses are also starting to see the value of Social Media. Social Media Project Managers are quickly becoming a hot commodity for businesses and the demand for social media experts are in growing more everyday!

If social media is that valuable for businesses, it has to be of great worth for bloggers as well!
We learned that while there are some readers who will come directly to your site everyday to see your latest blog posts, many people simply forget and need a little reminder. Social media networks provide the perfect way to do that! There are millions of people out there updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts, pinning things on Pinterest, stumbling posts on StumbleUpon, and checking out so many other social media platforms everyday. Social media really is the perfect way to find new followers and readers, connect with the followers you already have, and remind those followers of the content on your blog.



Where do you begin?
There are literally HUNDREDS of social media networks out there- you have to find what is going to be best for you and your blog. Also, ask yourself these questions:
            -How are you going to manage them?
            -How much time can you devote to each one each week?
            -What accounts do you want readers to interact with you on?
           
When it comes to social media, my sisters and I feel that it’s like make-up . . . less is definitely more. Working hard on a few social media networks will be so much better in the long run than stretching yourself thin across many different outlets.

Decide what social media networks you will belong to and place buttons or links in a prominent spot on your blog so that your readers know where else to follow you. Some readers might want to follow you on just one network, others will follow you on all of them. We decided to focus on 4 networks after trying out a handful. We went with Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google + because we felt that we had the largest response from them. However, some blog niches will find more success with different social media outlets. 
Here are the Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites (as of September 2012) and here are the Top 15 Most Popular Social Bookmarking Sites (as of September 2012). I would suggest starting here as you decide what to use to best promote your own blog.


Once you’ve started, you have to be proactive.
After you have your different accounts set up, you need to get out there and be involved on these networks. Most people will not just find you on their own- there are so many blogs and websites out there and you have to stand out! Decide how much time you can dedicate to each one- even 10 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference! Follow other bloggers and leave comments to connect with them through their different pages and accounts. If you continue to reach out to other bloggers by leaving kind comments or sharing their content, you will probably become friends. Many of our “blog friends” have been found through social media networks and although we have never met in real life, they are some of our greatest friends!
Another great thing about making friends on social media sites is that a lot of times they will promote your posts or content that you share. Chances are you will have different followers than your other blog friends, so sharing each other’s content will only help each other grow.

Be consistent.
Make your presence known on these different outlets by consistently posting new content (or even posting old content from your blog that people have not seen in a while!) and commenting on others' posts and content. We make sure that we share at least one new thing a day on each of our networks just to keep it fresh and to keep that connection with our readers. When people send us direct messages on Twitter or leave a comment on our Facebook page, we make sure to respond within 24-48 hours. It does require a little work on our end, but as I mentioned before, 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference!
We post twice a day on our blog and have found that we get more traffic when we share these posts on our networks a little bit later in the day (the busiest time on our site is from 7-11 pm. If you look at our demographic, you would see that 92% of our readers are women between the ages of 25-44. Most of them have children, so it makes sense that most of our traffic on our site would happen in the evenings, after kids have gone to sleep. The same goes for our social media- most of our followers are checking these social media networks between 7-11 pm each night). We have tried experimenting with the different times on different networks and found what works best for us; you will want to do the same for your social media connections also.

What is your goal in using social media?
As we were getting started with social media, we decided that our goal in using social media networks was two-fold: 1. Drive more traffic to our site and increase our readers. 2. Establish a community and connect with our readers. Here is how we have tried to reach our goal:

1. Drive more traffic to our site:
    -Posting content that will earn a "click-thru". Thousands of people see our posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter each day, along with pictures on Pinterest and Google +. However, if there is not something that catches the eye of the reader, they will not click on the link that will lead them over to your site and you won't see any additional traffic from them. Each "click-thru" is another pageview! Some ways to get a "click-thru" are to have an awesome picture or a catchy title that sparks their interest.
     -Once you get them to your site, make your site "sticky". It's one thing to get someone to click over to your site, but how do you get them to stay for a while and check out what your site has to offer? And more importantly, how do you "hook" them and keep them coming back for more? This could be another whole post all by itself! This idea alone is a whole section in our 10 Ways to Grow Your Blog eBook. Here are some of the highlights when it comes to making your site sticky:
*Put a picture of yourself near the top of your website. People will connect with other people, not a blog. Plus everyone always likes to see who it is that is behind the blog.
*Feature your most popular posts. In our sidebar, we have our top 10 most popular posts listed. We hope that people will see something that they like and click on it, or be intrigued by why those are our most popular posts.
*At the bottom of each post, we have added a LinkedIn widget that automatically generates other posts that the reader might like. It includes the title of the post and also a small thumbnail picture of the post. We see a lot of traffic from this everyday. If they like what they read in your post, chances are they will want to see more.
*Utilize your tabs along the top of your website. Always include an “About Me” page because people are usually intrigued by others' stories and through sharing things about yourself, others may find a personal way to connect with you. It’s fun to read about the person behind the blog, how/why they started this blog, and where they plan on going with their blog.

2. Establish a community and connect with our readers:
The main way that we have tried to connect with our readers is to interact with them- ask them questions, answer their many questions, and make them feel like they are so important to us (which they are! Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today!). We find that it is easiest for us to connect with our followers through Facebook (we mostly use Twitter to connect with other bloggers and businesses and we haven't quite figured out where we stand with Google +). Here are some of our tips when it comes to connecting with readers through Facebook:

1. Get personal. It's fun for your readers to learn a little more about you and the person behind the blog (we are all about connections here!). They want to be able to relate to you and see what you are all about. It's a fun way to share bits and pieces of your life that maybe you wouldn't be able to on your blog. And if someone likes what they read about you or finds a way to connect with you, chances are you have a reader for life! :) (Well, maybe not for life, but for a long time . . .)
2. Use pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words! When people are scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed, they may not have time to read all the million status updates, but they will quickly glance at pictures. If you picture sparks their interest, they will stop and check it out! Pictures also take up more room in the newsfeed and standout more than a test post. We use a picture almost every time we post something on Facebook.
3. Have fun. Let your readers see your fun side! Share a funny story about something that happened to you or leave something that will brighten their day. The other day I dropped a glass jar on the floor as I was preparing dinner and had pickle relish and glass shards all over my kitchen floor. I was furious! However, as I was thinking about it, I decided to quickly take a picture and share it on Facebook- the response that I got from readers was overwhelming! So many other people could relate and they shared stories about things that had gone wrong in their day. 
4. Have great customer service. We get A LOT of comments everyday on our Facebook page and there are days when I wish that we didn't have to respond to all of them. :) However, we feel that it is so important to make our readers feel important. I think that a perfect example of this is Campbell's soup- they are so good about making their readers feel important (how cool that a company as large as Campbell's soup takes the time to answer and respond?!) and responding to both the good and the bad comments. Here are some perfect examples:

5. Engage, engage, engage. Sometimes we forget how important this is and we get caught up in just sharing posts from our blog, but readers love to be involved and we are always trying to think of ways to make them involved. When we learned that we were going to be releasing our first cookbook, we immediately asked the question, "What would you like to see in our cookbook?" and the response was overwhelming! We had over 300 answers and some of their ideas were brilliant! We have also found that it's fun to interact with your fans using polls, questions, and fun photos. Let them get to know you through the things that you post and get to know them through the questions you ask. One fun thing to do is a “Fill in the Blank” question . . . something like: “_______ is my favorite way to spend my free time.” It may have nothing to do with your blog and the things that you post, but it’s connecting with them on a more personal level and establishing relationships that you hope will last!

Don't Get Caught Up With Numbers.
The pay-off of working on your social media outlets is a growing number of followers, but it's important to not get caught up in the numbers. While some sites may have thousands of "followers", do they actually have the pageviews and the "click-throughs" to back those followers up? You want to make sure that you are growing your readership, not just your followers. With giveaways and different contests, many people will "like" your page or become a follower just to enter the giveaway and they will never return to your site again. Did you know that you can actually BUY followers on Twitter? While the big number may look impressive, they aren't true readers and could care less about the information you share and post.
If you are spending a lot of time and energy on social media, but not seeing an increase in pageviews, you are probably wasting your time. I would recommend re-evaluating what networks you are involved with and see if there is another network that would be more worth your time.

Find a Balance.
Let-s be honest- even if you only use two different social media networks, they can quickly become a time sucker. You will never be able to do everything you want with social media; there are just not enough hours in the day! And if you are anything like me, blogging is not your entire life- you most likely have another job, a family, school, or other responsibilities. Try to find a balance with social media and don't feel bad if you can only devote 10 minutes a day to it, that will make a big difference as compared to someone who devotes no time at all. Every bit counts!

Here are a couple of tips to help you manage your time on social media:
1. Set a timer. Sometimes I lose track of time when I am surfing Facebook or browsing Pinterest. If you don't have a watch or time close by, here is a great one that is available online: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/. We get many comments on our Facebook page each day and I just don't have the time to sit down and answer each one, so I set the timer for 10 minutes and try to get through as many as I can.
2. Use a Social Media Management Tool such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or Socialoomph. Every time you post something on your blog, it will automatically send it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts (and other accounts you choose). We have used some of these before and while they are very convenient, they lack a personal touch. However, if you just don't have time to be more proactive with social media, something is better than nothing.
3. Plan ahead. Set us a schedule of some things that you would like to share or post, such as a great quote or funny picture. You could share a quote on every Monday, a cooking tip on Tuesdays, a funny picture on Wednesdays, etc, etc. Sharing things like this also helps you make a personal connection and interact with your readers with little work on your end. Pinterest has endless quotes, pictures, and tips, so you don't have an excuse of where to find them. :)

The Possibilities are ENDLESS!
I really feel that I have only skimmed the surface when it comes to social media- there really is so much information out there! If you would like to learn more, be sure to check out our eBook,

In our book, we share the ways that we increased our pageviews from a couple thousand a month to over 6 million a month and how you can do the same for your blog!

We would also love to have you attend our

And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at SixSistersStuff@gmail.com.

Have a great day and happy blogging!


Build Your Blog Conference Ticket Giveaway Winner!

We are so excited to announce the winner of a free ticket to Build Your Blog Conference 2013!


The free ticket to BYB 2013 goes to......


Congratulations!
Please contact us within 48 hours to claim your prize!
buildyourblogconference@gmail.com
 
There are still tickets available!  
Hurry and register before ticket prices increase from $99 to $149 (starting December 31, 2012)!

A ticket to BYB 2013 makes a great Christmas gift!

Join us for a fun-filled day including lunch, workshops, and panels. This will be a great opportunity to network with lots of other bloggers and businesses, plus you'll get lots of free prizes, swag, and loads of information to help you grow your blog!
 
We can't wait to see you there!

Blogger vs. WordPress



VS.

          
There are a wealth of blogging services and software out there -- so which should you use?

If you want to spend your valuable time on creating content rather than wrangling with technical issues, you should opt for a service that hosts your blog for you -- for free. The two most popular are.
Blogger and WordPress.

Blogger was one of the first blogging tools available. Launched back in 1999 by Pyra Labs, it was bought by Google in 2003 and has been upgraded considerably since then.
WordPress is based on the popular WordPress open source server-based blogging software first released in 2003 that underlies many sites on the Web -- Wordpress.org claimed in August of 2011 that its server software powered nearly 15% of the top million web sites in the world.
You won't go wrong choosing either. But as you'll see, they're very different services, aimed at different users. Check out our head-to-head review to see which is right for you.

Setup
No surprise here: Blogger has been designed, from the ground up, for simplicity, and so once you sign up, it's very easy to create your blog, write your first post, and publish. WordPress's myriad options can be intimidating at first, while Blogger guides you through the creation and publishing process with ease. I found it much faster to create my blog with Blogger than with WordPress.

Adding content

For basic posting, Blogger is clearly superior, offering simple buttons and navigation for adding new content, scheduling content to be published, and automatically adding geotags to posts. WordPress also offers a quick, simple way to add content, but it falls short because some important features are missing such as the ability to format text. However, once you get used to its more feature-filled Dashboard, you'll find plenty of tools -- more powerful ones -- within reach.
WordPress is superior for anyone who wants more advanced content-adding features in a blog. Those who care foremost about simplicity will favor Blogger.

Social networking

WordPress gets the slight edge here, because its Publicize feature goes beyond merely linking to social networking services -- it lets you automatically send messages to those services with links to your latest blog post. For including links to social networking services, Blogger is simpler to use, although if you dig deep in WordPress, you can find add-ons that will perform the same functions.

Site management

I found WordPress to be far superior to Blogger when it comes to site management, most likely because it's built on top of the WordPress platform for managing blogs. Its comment-management tools are exemplary, and it offers plenty of extras such as creating polls, ratings for individual posts, and more. Blogger offers just the basics; however, those basics are quite simple to use.

Traffic management

WordPress offers an extremely wide range of tools, including plenty of free widgets, the ability to customize just about everything about your blog, and even a theme that will display when people visit using an iPad for optimal viewing. Blogger doesn't offer as much, but if you have dreams of making a few dollars from blogging, it makes it easy to use Google AdSense to try to bring in some revenue.

Support and community

WordPress gets the edge here because its forums are more clearly organized and it's easier to quickly find a solution.

Conclusions

Both Blogger and WordPress are excellent choices for anyone looking for a hosted blogging service. WordPress is clearly aimed at those who are willing to spend time learning its features and can handle an occasionally confusing interface. It offers a wider range of tools for adding content, more widgets and better social networking integration, and superior customization.
Blogger, on the other hand, is much simpler to set up and easier to use; you'll be able to create a blog and manage it in less time and with less effort than is required in WordPress.
So the choice is clear: If you want the fullest set of blogging features, you want WordPress, but if you're looking for simplicity and streamlined blog creation and posting, Blogger is the way to go.

Build Your Blog Conference Ticket Giveaway!

We are so excited about our conference and are giving away
one free ticket to Build Your Blog Conference 2013!
Build Your Blog Conference 2013 will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2013.
The conference will be held at the Miller Professional Development Center in Salt Lake City, UT.
Tickets are on sale now for just $99 (Price increases to $149 after December 31, 2012)!

Join us for a fun-filled day including lunch, workshops, and panels. This will be a great opportunity to network with lots of other bloggers and businesses, plus you'll get lots of free prizes, swag, and loads of information to help you grow your blog!

All of our speakers are experts in their field and will provide you with heaps of information to help you "build your blog!"

Our keynote speaker is Brooke Walker, from KSL's Studio 5, Utah's #1 Lifestyle TV Show!

 Here's how to enter:
 1.  "Like" Build Your Blog Conference on Facebook and leave a comment to let us know.
2.  Follow Build Your Blog Conference on Twitter and leave a comment to let us know.
3.  Follow Build Your Blog Conference on Pinterest and leave a comment to let us know.
4.  Share the giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment to let us know.
5.  Share the giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment to let us know.
6.  Share the giveaway on Pinterest and leave a comment to let us know.

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry.
You can enter up to 6 times.
Please leave your email address in the comment so that we can contact you if you win.
 
 We are counting down the days until the conference!  
Be sure to get your tickets before they are gone!  

The winner will be announced Friday, November 16, 2012.

Build Your Blog Series: 7 Common Blogging Mistakes

If you take a look at some of our first posts, you can definitely see how much we have learned.  From our pictures to our content, we had a lot of mistakes - and we're still working on most of them. :) Through our experiences, we've come up with a list of 7 common blogging mistakes to avoid:


1. Bad Blogging Etiquette:
Make sure you give credit where credit is due - add a live link to the site where you got your idea or recipe. Always ask permission to use another blogger's photo - whether or not they are copyrighted. If they are copyrighted and you do use them, you could get in big trouble (hopefully they will at least warn you first!). Be polite - use the golden rule. Treat bloggers (and their posts) the way you would want to be treated. As an overall rule of thumb: if you are questioning whether or not it's ethical, it probably isn't. ;)

2. Inconsistency
When we first started blogging, we would post sporadically with no organization whatsoever!  We would post at random times and go a few days without posting anything at all.  If you are inconsistent in your blogging, your readers will never know when to check back for new content.  Set up a schedule. Whether it's once a day, three times a week, or every Tuesday, just make sure you stick to it.  We post twice a day 12 hours apart (except for our link party which starts Friday night and goes to Saturday). Occasionally we'll throw an extra post in there, but not too often.

3. Bad Planning
This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding inconsistency. Between all of us girls, it is sometimes hard to all get on the same page and to plan far enough in advance to so that we aren't throwing together a post 20 minutes before it is scheduled to go live. Generally, we try to have our posts scheduled out two weeks in advance. Planning ahead gives you time to re-read and improve your post.  Re-write your title to make it more SEO friendly, clean out the info you don't need to include, and our favorite - check for grammatical errors, which leads us to number 4.

4. Grammatical Errors
Grammatical Errors can make a huge impact on your credibility. As a blogger, your content is everything, and if your content is spelled wrong, you're going to get backlash.  That is why planning ahead is important - it gives you time to check for errors.  I love this list from CopyBlogger of 15 Grammar Goofs (and I know we are totally guilty of some of these!).

5. Not Responding to Reader Comments
This is one of the hardest things for us (and we still struggle with it!). But if you don't respond to comments, you miss out on a lot of great chances to build relationships with your readers. While it may seem inconsequential, there is definitely a lot that is lost by not reading or responding to your comments.

6. Zero Community Involvement
As a blogger, a lot of your life is online. That's why it's so important to build strong relationships in your online community. Relationships with your readers (see #5) and also with the other bloggers in the blogosphere (especially in your own niche) will only enrich your blogging experience.  Hold group giveaways, blog hops or events. Swap buttons or other advertising.  A lot of places have Facebook groups specifically for bloggers in a certain area. Build a network of friendship and support, and everyone involved will benefit from it.

7. Clutter
If there are too many choices of what to look at, the majority of people will stop looking.  Make sure your blog is organized and clear.  You may want to cut down on ad space or rearrange your layout for easier navigation around your site. Keep it simple, clean, and focused.

Our Build Your Blog Conference is coming up quick!
Make sure you register before space runs out!