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Blogging

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What is Branding & Why is it so Important?

First of all, what even is branding? The easiest way to think about what branding is is that your brand is your business/blog’s personality and vibe that it gives off.

There are a number of visual components that go into your brand such as your logo, color scheme, fonts, and website design. Then there are intangible components like your tone of voice and mission statement that also go into representing and conveying your business/blog’s brand. Both of the visual and intangible components all go into creating your overall business/blog’s brand.

Guide to Starting a Blog – Budget Saving Tips Included

If you’ve done your homework then you know that there are some expenses that go into starting your blog. As with any expense you want to be able to justify the money that you are giving up. For a blog, it can be even harder to justify putting your money into a blog or website especially when you won’t see a return on it right away.

You’ll be able to make decisions for yourself by keeping your goals in mind and really know when you do need to spend money (if any at all) with this guide! This post will walk you through the steps of starting a blog and saving money throughout the process!

Getting Started – Choosing Your Niche

The first thing that you’ll have to do is to choose a niche. What’s a niche? Well, that’s the topic that you plan on blogging about. It can be anything that you want. A good topic to choose as your niche is something that you are truly passionate about.

For instance, the niche of Living as Elise is all things digital marketing, social media, and blogging. I am extremely passionate about those topics and love sharing my knowledge about them with people. One thing you should know is that when I originally started my blog I wanted to be a lifestyle and fashion blog. I started off flaky to begin with by not posting frequently. I was not fully passionate about that niche so I made the smart decision to switch to my current niche that I love to blog about. Moral of the story is blog about something you are passionate about and love!

How do you find your niche?

An easy way to find your niche is to turn your hobbies into full blown interests. It’s so much easier and authentic when you blog about something you already and know and love. Your readers will feed into you passion for your niche and reward you as a recurring visitor.

The thing not to do is to choose a niche based on what will be easiest to make money. Be warned, if you choose to blog about something you don’t have a personal connection with will be draining to keep up with. You might be able to keep up with it for a little while, but your lack of passion isn’t there and you’ll end up abandoning your project down the line.

Choosing a Name

You might already have a name picked out or you might not. Before you choose, remember that your name will stick with your blog for a long time. The name of your blog will be what your readers relate to and remember. To say the name of your blog is important is an understatement. The name of your blog will be the first piece of your new online brand. The right name will make all the difference to how your blog to perceived by your audience. No pressure, right?

So how do you even choose a blog name that is both 1. Memorable and 2. Sets the tone of your entire blog?

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm!

Simply grab a pen and paper and write down words that are associated to your chosen niche. Try to come up with at least three names just in case your top choice for a domain name is already taken. With two others in mind you won’t feel as let down if your top pick is already taken.

Purchasing a Domain Name

One of the first costs that you’ll have when starting your blog is getting you domain name. The domain name is the website address that people will type in to get to your website. For example, mine is LivingasElise.com.

On average, domain names will cost you anywhere between $3-15 a year. An easy way to bypass this expense is to get your domain name with the host provider that you plan on using. This saves you on having to connect your domain to your host if you purchase it elsewhere. Also, most hosting providers will give you your domain name for free if you sign up for hosting services with them. A scary thing about choosing a domain name is the commitment that comes along with it. But, don’t worry because you can always get a new if you really want to down the line.

One thing to really consider before purchasing a domain is what you’ll want out of your blog or website. If it’s just a hobby that you do in your free time? If this is the case then sticking to the domain you get with your free plan may be all you need! Do keep in mind though that your URL will have the name of whatever host you are using. For instance, a free WordPress plan domain name would be yoursitename.wordpress.com.

On the other hand, if your website or blog is something that you are really passionate about and wanting to make money from down the line, then purchasing your domain is TOTALLY worth the investment. Also, having your own custom domain name gives you credibility and the ability to shine through the rest of the competition.

PRO TIP: Is the domain name you want already taken? Use WhoIs as a easy and quick way to find who owns it and get in contact with them. You can possibly make out a deal and purchase the domain from them.

Choosing a Host – Free or Paid? 

Free Hosts

An important thing to do is to choose a host for your blog. Basically, a “host” is the company that will house your website online and make all your content accessible to your readers. Blogging hosts can provide a variety of different services to you.

When it comes to choosing a host, there are both paid and free options for you to pick from. Some free options include Blogger https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g#welcome and WordPress.com. With the free options you can easily get started without having to pay a cent. The biggest benefit of having a free host is the most obvious, but other benefits include having easy to use site templates.

Cons of a Free Host

But do keep in mind, there are cons that come with having a free host. One of the first cons include having an unoriginal domain name. For instance with the free WordPress.com plan your domain name will look something like YourDomainName.wordpress.com. Not only does this domain name come across as unoriginal, but it’s also hard to remember when typing into your browser. Also, these types of domain names don’t rank in SEO results which means you won’t pop up in search engine results. Another downside to having a free host is that there are a many limitations when it comes to customizing your site. If you so have a domain purchased you can use a free host but may have to pay a fee to map the domain to the host. I know with WordPress.com it will cost $13 a year to map a previously purchased domain. This is an easy way to get out of having to having the unoriginal domain name that free host plans come with.

If blogging is just a hobby for you then having a free host is perfect for you and will just do the trick for what you need. However, if you want to really get serious about blogging and eventually turn it into a career then paying for a host is what you’ll want to do.

The Benefits of a Paid Host

  1. It’s more affordable than you think! With most paid hosting services, a starter plan will only cost you $2.95 a month. Some great options are Bluehost, iPage, and Hostgator.
  2. Your blog will rank in search results! Unlike with free hosting plans you have the ability to rank in online search results.
  3. Customization, you can make your site just the way you want in a breeze!
  4. Monetization options become available for products, ads, and sponsored sponsorships. Most free hosting plans don’t allow you to monetize your site.
  5. You’re the sole owner and in charge of all your content! With free hosts like Blogger and WordPress.com they are the sole owners of all your content so if they want to they can shut down your site at any time!

Choosing a Theme

The theme is essentially the layout of what your blog will look like. You can choose what page layouts, colors, fonts, and more! You can determine the overall look of your blog with your theme.

There are both free and paid themes that you can choose to have on your blog. Free themes normally do not have as many customization options as paid themes do. The good thing about free themes is that they can be a good way to save money early on in setting up your blog. If you want full control of the way your site looks then I highly recommend getting a paid theme.

Benefits of a Paid Theme

  1. High quality design that will give your blog a professional and clean look.
  2. Regular updates for web changes.
  3. Security features for your site.
  4. Support from the pros, most paid themes come with support from the designers.

Other Blogging Expenses

  1. Photography equipment – If you have a fashion blog or share a lot of pictures on your blog it maybe a good idea to invest in some good photography equipment. A way to avoid this expense is just using your phone for pictures. Most phones now have really powerful cameras that are great for taking quality pictures.
  2. Stock photos – If you rather not take images yourself you can save by using stock images. There are a number of great free stock photo websites. You can even pay for a stock photo membership if you rather pay for high quality styled photos. Check out this post that has a list of my favorite free stock photo sites.
  3. An email address with your domain name – You can get an email address with your domain name like hello@yourdomainname.com for only $5 a month from Google G Suite.
  4. Training – Knowledge is power when it comes to having a blog. You’ll want learn as much as you can on how to expand your brand and optimize your site for more traffic. Trainings normally come in the form of workshops, webinars, eBooks, courses and more. There are many free options as well if you aren’t wanting to pay for these.
  5. Email provider – As you gain readers you may want to send out a newsletter and other email blasts. There are many free email providers like MailChimp (free up to 2000 subscribers) and MailerLite (free up to 1000 subscribers). Paid plans for larger email lists start as little as $10 a month.

In the end, starting a blog will take some work. Depending on how serious you are about blogging and what your goals are for it can make it all worth the upfront expenses, but as this post went over there are ways that you can save throughout this process.


I hope this post helped you with getting your blog started. If it did be sure to comment and share!



 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the difference?

So you’re ready to launch your website and you know you want to use WordPress, but you’re stuck. Do you use WordPress.com or WordPress.org? What exactly is the difference between the two? (There’s way more than you probably think!) Is one better than the other? These are all questions that I’ll answer within the post and the included infographic. I hope that I help you on the decision of what platform you want to use for your website!

WordPress.com – What is it?

WordPress.com does all the behind the scenes work for you. It has it’s own hosting, its own site backups, and site maintenance. All you have to do is register an account, choose what you want your site to be named, choose a theme for what you want your site to look like, start creating content, and publish away.

Now that all sounds fine and dandy, right? But actually all these benefits do come at a price, especially if you are only using the Free Plan on WordPress.com. Here’s what you’ll be limited to:

  • All Free Plan WordPress.com site addresses have .wordpress.com tagged onto it. So for example your site address would be YOURSITENAME.wordpress.com. If you want to use your own domain (YOURSITENAME.com) it’ll cost you $18 a year.
  • Storage space is limited to only 3GB of storage, so you can’t upload very many pictures or videos.
  • There is no ability to upload themes of your choice. This leaves you limited to only the themes on WordPress.com. 
  • You won’t be able to upload plugins so you’ll be limited to a small range of plugins that come with WordPress.com. 
  • WordPress.com will show ads on your site and you aren’t able to run your own ads until you qualify to do so by your site averaging 25,000 page views a month.

If you are wanting to use a WordPress.com here there are different price plans that range from $35 – $300 a year. Do keep in mind that the cheaper the plan, the less control and customization you get with it. 

WordPress.org – What is it?

WordPress.org does come with a learning curve, but once you get past it you get the benefit of freedom and customization. WordPress.org is easily the best option if you aren’t afraid of using a little elbow grease to get your website started. Here are a few thing to keep in mind about WordPress.org:

  • You’ll have full control of your site, but it will take a little work to get it up and going.
  • You can upload any theme you want paid or custom and brand your site to just the way that fits your taste.
  • You can upload any plugin you want, they will help with the usage and functionality of your site.
  • You aren’t restricted to what ads that you can run on your site. You can choose what ads you want on your site and when you want them on your site.

A good thing to keep in mind about WordPress.org is that now you’re in charge of the way that your site runs unlike with WordPress.com. You’ll have to take some time to learn how to maintain your site, update themes and plugins, keep your site secure from hackers, deal with spam, backup your site regularly, and other technical things.

If this all seems too daunting for you, don’t fear because there are a TON of free resources online to help you learn WordPress to do what you need to and even possibly become an expert at it. If that is still too much for you then you can hire a professional that will do it all for you.

Which one for you?

No matter what way that you look at it both WordPress.com and WordPress.org have their pros and cons. A good way to think about it is that WordPress.com is like renting a house where you are limited to what you can do with your website and WordPress.org is like owning a house where you have no limitation to what you want to do with your website.

If you want a just a simple personal blog with no intention of wanting to run ads, generate a income, or bother with your site’s maintenance then WordPress.com is for you.

If you want website for a blog where you do want to generate an income, or a website for a small business, and have full control over the design and functionality then WordPress.org is for you.


I hope that this post and infographic was able to clear things up for you on which WordPress platform is best for you and your website! Please share if you found it helpful. 🙂



 

How to: Embed a Video from Google Drive to a Blog Post

So you want to share an awesome video but you don’t want to deal with having to create a YouTube account, upload your video, and then embed it from there to your blog post(s). The easier version would be to share from your Google Drive. Follow the steps below on how you can have your posts be even more amazing with your personal touch of videos!

Upload Video to Google Drive

So with your existing Google account sign into your Drive and then proceed to upload the video you want in your post. (If you don’t have a Google account, GET ONE NOW!) I like to upload all my videos for posts to a specific folder that I created in Drive, this just keeps me better organized with all the other files that I have in my Drive.

PRO TIP: If you have videos on your phone that you want to share but don’t want to email them to yourself to upload from your computer if you download the Google Drive app to your phone it makes uploading way easier.

Getting the Embed Code

Next, you’ll want to double-click on your video file, this will have a preview of it pop up. In the preview screen, you’re going to click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and click Open in New Window.” 

In the new window that was opened, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner again. Click on Embed Item.” 

A pop up with the embed code will come up. Simply copy that code that is given.

Finally, go into the post where you want the video to go then change the editor to Text (code editor) from Visual. This is where you want to paste the embed code. Once you paste the code into the post you can preview the post and if you like it you’re done!


I hope this post was easy to follow helps you with sprucing up your posts with your videos. If you found it helpful please share!



 

Writing a WordPress Post From Start to Publish

Believe it or not, you could be a part of the staggering 75% of people that don’t complete their blog posts on WordPress as well as they should be. Use the tips in this post to ensure that you key in all the right information, improve your readers’ experience and push your SEO through the roof!

Setting Up Your Post Editor

Screen Options When you open up a new post through the ADD NEW button, you’ll see a tab at the top called SCREEN OPTIONS. This allows you to pick and choose what fields and toggles you want to be able to see in the post editor. For me, I don’t need the “custom fields” option so I don’t have it selected. Setting up your post editor for what you specifically need to save you time in the future when having to go to those specific fields.

Help Button This tab gives you quick explanations about the various parts to the post editor. You can have a lot of your questions answered here.

Getting Ready to Write

Yoast SEO Plugin

Typically when I begin my first draft I begin with focusing on SEO. For me, this allows me to stay organized and on topic when I begin writing. I do this through the Yoast plugin that makes it really easy to set up your post for great SEO.

Focus Keyword: While I’m writing the post is when I normally choose what the focus keyword will be the post. The keyword will work as the backbone of the post and shape what the post is gonna look like. When I’m writing and keep in mind of the focus keyword is when I produce both my best work. I little tip is to have your focus keyword to be a word or phrase that is used often throughout the post.

SEO Title: This isn’t just the title you think is good or catchy but it is the title that is gonna give you the best SEO. Make sure your SEO title includes the focus keyword as it’s what is gonna get people to see your post in search results.

Meta Descriptions: The is a small description of your post that is 1-2 sentences long. It’s the small preview that people will see when they search for the post below the title.

Content Toggles

Post Title This is the title of what the post is going to be when it’s published. The blog title is what is ultimately going to be the headline of your post and what will be the deciding factor on if readers choose to read your posts.

Pro tip: Include your keyword in your post title for even better SEO!

Post Permalink / Slug A good thing to do for the post permalink/slug is to keep it simple and to have the keyword included for better SEO.

Content: You can have a whole post full of great content but there are a few items that you should be sure to include.

  •         Introduction: You want to be able to give your readers a small taste of what’s to come before they get to the bulk of the content, it will also help with keeping your readers focused on the whole post.
  •         Closing/Call To Action (CTA): The end of your blog post should give some direction on what you want your readers to do. This can be asking a question and getting a response on the post comments or subscribing to your newsletter.

Images are a vital piece to every post! You want to sure that you are using them correctly and optimizing them in the best way possible.

  1.    Save them down for web and save them the same size. For most blogs and sites, if there is a sidebar, then saving images down to 700-800px wide (less than 500kb) is optimal.
  2.    Name your images descriptively and in simple English, this is will help with SEO.

Example: FreePeople-fringe-top.jpg  NOT: img4738.jpg

  1.    Add Title Tags to Your Images
  2.    Add Alt titles and descriptions

Don’t Forget These Important Pieces

Featured Image This is the image you select to represent the post. Featured images are often seen as the thumbnail of your post and the picture that is seen in post excerpts. Depending on what theme your site is running, they can have a huge impact on your blog.

Tips for featured images:

  1.    Have images follow the same ratio. You’ll want to keep a uniform look for all of your featured image sizes.
  2.    Should be your branded graphics (and brand graphics should be consistent with your overall site branding)
  3.    From post to post, your featured images should be similar. (Though it doesn’t always have to be)

Categories Don’t go crazy with the categories. One category is just as good as if there were 3. Typically, 1-2 are ideal. 

Tags Along with not inputting images correctly on posts, leaving tags out of your posts is also bad. Tags are keywords that are relevant to that post. If I use a tag in one blog post, I should have used it at least three times throughout the post.

Excerpt If you run a theme that uses excerpts, instead of pulling the first 50 or so words, it will pull the excerpt you write for the post. Another benefit is that excerpts are pulled when the post is shared on social media. With excerpts, you can craft a message that best represents the post.

Publish toggle allows you to customize the status, publication time/date, and to what profiles you are sharing your post automatically. If scheduling your post, make sure to select “OK” after you’ve entered the date and time (a very common beginner mistake). You may want to think about publishing your post at a crazy time like midnight to accommodate for your readers from around the world. I publish my posts between the hours of 12:00 am – 3:00 am Pacific standard time for my UK readers. By making this simple change you may be surprised by the increase in your readership on your posts.


Let me know in the comments if there is anything else I should have added or if this post helped you out with writing your posts for your blog.

Until next time,



 

Must Have Tools for Every Blogger

Had I known before creating my blog that these tools would save me an incredible amount of time and be extremely helpful to running my blog I wouldn’t have spent hours looking for other tools to use and end up not liking them. I myself can attest that the tools I mention in this post will make planning, promoting and running your blog so much easier. The best thing about these tools is that they are all FREE to use!

  1. Google EVERYTHING

If there’s one thing you should do, it should be to install the Chrome web browser right after reading this post. Chrome is not only an easy to navigate browser, but also offers many extensions that can come in handy. Another plus to using Chrome as your web browser of choice is that most blogging platforms fun better on it versus other browsers like Mozilla, Safari, and dare I mention Internet Explorer.

Sign up for a Google (Gmail) account if you don’t have one already. With a Gmail account, you get access to so many FREE tools that it would be a waste not to have one. Of these tools, Google Calendar is tremendously helpful for planning out my life. Google Calendar allows you to assign certain tasks to a color so that you don’t get items mixed up. Easily one of the best tools that Google has to offer would be Google Docs. You get just about everything that Microsoft Word offers but for FREE. On top of that its cloud based so you can find all your files on any web-enabled device. When collaborating, Docs is my go-to tool because it has the ability to have more than person edit and contribute to a document at once.

  1. FREE STOCK PHOTOS

Having the ability to have good looking photos on your blog for free is especially helpful if you don’t have the budget or aren’t willing to pay an arm and a leg for stock images. Another alternative to not paying for stock images is to take your own stock photos, you’ll also get more freedom over what’s captured in the photo. With taking your own photos you also don’t have to worry about any copyright issues that come along with some free stock photos. If you have a nice DSLR on hand you can take them easily with that and if all you have is the camera on your phone, don’t worry, most phone cameras today take very great quality images!

Here is a list of my favorite sites for free stock photos!

  1. Canva

My personal favorite of everything I’m going to mention, Canva. Canva allows for you to create everything from a logo to a flyer. Canva is what I use to create all of my feature images (including the one above). It allows for easy customization of premade layout or you can start with a fresh canvas and create all the magic on your own. Do keep in mind that some of the elements that canva offers cost $1 other than that everything about it is FREE!

  1. Hootsuite

HootSuite is an amazing tool that allows you to schedule posts across various social media platforms. I use Hootsuite to schedule out my Twitter and Facebook accounts but it has the ability to schedule for much more. You can get a free 30-day trial to see how you like it. HootSuite has saved me so much time and headaches because I don’t have to worry about constantly posting throughout the day, I simply schedule what I want to be posted and the work is done for me. Hootsuite even has the ability to post at the best optimal times when more traffic is bound to see your content.

  1. Pinterest

I would be surprised if you didn’t already have an existing Pinterest account, but if you don’t make one. Pinterest is one of the best free ways to market and share your blog posts. Pins that link to your content have the ability to create a lot of traffic to your blog with only a few pins. It takes just a few people to re-pin a post of yours and your traffic will sky-rocket.

Also if you can find them join Pinterest Blogging groups with fellow bloggers of the same niche. This is a good way to get feedback on your content from likeminded people and also a good way to meet people you can potentially collaborate with.

I hope that if you haven’t used any of these tools you highly consider them because they make running my blog so much easier. If you enjoyed any of these tips please share them with your friends and be sure to subscribe to never miss another post!