February 17, 2018 marked an important milestone in my life; my 1 year blogging anniversary! Woo Hoo!!! Cue the applause, pop the champagne and let’s start the dance party. I did all that, minus the champagne, as I’m allergic to vine! But I did have a celebration drink and a fabulous cake! This past year has been a crazy ride! Even though I read a lot before starting a blog, realistically nobody could’ve prepared me for the work ahead. This is especially true when you’re doing everything yourself and you don’t have a whole team behind you. Because let’s face it, how many of us are fortunate enough to get the help we need when we started? I learned a lot, cried a lot, learned some more, cried some more and went back to learning. After a year of doing this, I wanted to share with you all the trials and tribulations I went through so you don’t have to. So keep reading to find out my tips on how to optimize your blog for success.
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How To Optimize Your Blog For Success Now!
Get A Domain Name
If you’re serious about blogging the first step to optimize your blog for success is to get a domain name. Why do you need a domain name? Because from now on this is going to be your brand. Domain names disappear very quickly and if you don’t grab it now; it might be gone when you need it. Even now getting a 1 word domain name is virtually impossible. Unless, you’re willing to spend some big bucks for it and buy it from whoever owns it now. Same goes for 2 word domains and even some 3 word ones too. I can’t tell you how many names I went through only to find out they were all taken! It took me about 2 months to find a name for my blog that resonated with me. If you’re only blogging as a hobby, you can skip this step for now.
How To Pick A Domain Name
When picking a domain name you should focus on something that really speak to you. After all you will be the one using it and promoting it. It has to resonate with you, who you are as person and what your brand will be. Keep in mind the name should be easily understandable when you say it to someone. Same goes for spelling and pronunciation. Make it easy for people to remember it. Write it down and see how it looks. You need to see it visually and read it out loud. Run it by someone else if that helps. It’s always great to get a second opinion. A memorable name will help you optimize your blog for success.
My Thought Process
Here’s some insight into my thought process when I was deciding on the name of my blog – The Savvy Dreamer. If you read my bio you know that I always thought of myself as a bit of a dreamer. I’m not satisfied with just a typical life. And I’m always striving for more creativity in my life. I immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe; Poland to be exact. Which meant I had to leave everything behind; my family, my home, my friends and the familiarity of my surroundings. I had to start all over at the age of 14.
This really helped me to adapt, face my fears and make new connections. I’m a creative person at heart but I’m also very level headed, savvy and practical. I love to teach others what I’ve learned, offer useful tips and share my great finds. And this is how The Savvy Dreamer blog was born.
When I was doing research for my blog name I came across this great article. It walks you through the process of choosing your domain name. I highly recommend giving it a read and going through the exercises. It will definitely jog your mind and help you get the creative juices going. Once you settle on a domain name, make sure you search to see if it’s available. There’s a number of websites that will let you do that. I used the Domain Name Search.
Where To Register Your Domain
Once you choose your domain name I highly recommend you register it asap. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that name later. One great place to register your domain I recommend is Hover.com. They specialize in domains and they don’t try to up-sell you on any of their other products like hosting companies such as GoDaddy and the like tend to do. Hover won’t bombard you with frequent and confusing e-mails on a weekly basis. At the most, you might get an e-mail from them once every few months when they have a sale on specific domains. And that’s about it. Hover also has great customer service that can help you point your domain to your site or fix any related issues. Whenever I dealt with them over their online chat I always got the issue fixed asap.
PRO TIP: When you register your domain with Hover the privacy protection (WHOIS listing) is included in the price and it comes automatically enabled. Which means you don’t have to turn it on like you do with hosting companies. Hover also doesn’t jack up their prices and keeps the renewal price the same year after year.
Choose Your Blogging Platform
When it comes to publishing your blog there are a number of options you can choose from i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Weebly or Wix. The most recommended platform is definitely WordPress. It is considered the standard in web publishing. This is the platform I use as I did a lot of research and WordPress came highly recommended. The reason behind this is that WordPress can give you lots of options to stylize and optimize your blog and website. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that WordPress is easy for a beginner.
You will need time to familiarize yourself with the platform especially if you never had a website or published anything on the web before. Even though I had some previous web publishing experience and knowledge of basic HTML I still needed time to learn WordPress. Therefore don’t be surprised if it takes you some time to learn and master WordPress. So if you’re intimidated by that or have very little time to devote to your blog the other easier drag and drop platforms may be a better option for you. You can always move your blog over to a more advanced platform later. If you want to hit the ground running, have the time and patience, WordPress is the way to go to optimize your blog for success.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
If you’ve decided on choosing WordPress as your blogging platform you might be wondering what’s the difference between the two. I know I was before I got started. There’s a ton of articles out there explaining all the pros and cons between the two choices. Here’s one that will give a great overview of all the features of both platforms. It basically boils down to having the freedom to customize your site and the cost of doing so. WordPress.com is free and therefore comes with limited features such as themes, plug-ins, SEO tools and very little ability to monetize your site.
WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress site gives you an unlimited array of options of themes (free and paid), tons of plug-ins, widgets and the ability to create an online store or to make money from your blog. This of course comes at a price. In order to take advantage of this you need to pay for your own domain and get a hosting plan. So if you’re not ready for the added cost you can chose WordPress.com and once you’re ready your site can be moved to a self-hosted option. If you’re not that technical you may need someone to do this for you or you can pay your hosting company to move our site to the new domain.
Pick The Right Hosting Provider
Now that you’ve chosen to go through the self-hosted website route you need to pick the right hosting company for your needs. Again, there are so many great hosting companies out there. But you need to pick one that will help to optimize your blog for success. I did a lot of research before I chose my hosting provider Siteground. It came highly recommended by many fellow bloggers. I chose them because they had a stellar customer service reputation and that was very important to me.
It was also important to me to pick a host that would be readily available to answer any of my questions. I’ve never been disappointed with their representatives I’ve dealt with either over the phone or online. If you want to read my whole review of all the Siteground features and to help you pick a plan that’s right for you check out my article here.
Make Your Blog Stand Out With The Right Design
Pick Your Theme
Honestly, this was one of the hardest things to choose for my blog besides my domain name. There are so many awesome blog themes out there. I went through what seemed like countless themes before I decided on the Noemi theme by Px-lab. What I was looking for was something clean, legible, coherent and visually pleasing. I wanted the writing and the photography to stand out on the page. I was also looking for easy navigation, good blog structure and a simple way to get my content shared across various social media.
You need to pick a theme and design that aligns with your own personal esthetic. But you also need to keep in mind the audience you’re trying to attract. I have to admit that I see a lot of blogs out there with some obvious mistakes. They can range from very dark themes, hard to see fonts, blurry pictures, poor or non existing navigation, no share buttons and worst of all spelling and grammar mistakes. Your blog is your brand. You need to spend time to ensure it’s visually pleasing, mobile browser friendly, easy to navigate, well written and provides an overall user friendly experience.
The right theme can solve most of these for you and add some much needed flair. It can definitely optimize your blog for success. I found a great place to look for themes in Envato Market. Not only you can find lots of themes here but they also hook you up with many other visual elements such as video, audio, graphics and such. This is a great place to get started. PRO TIP: When you sign-up for Envato you’ll receive access to monthly freebies such as WordPress themes, graphics, music, Power Point presentations etc.
Make Your Blog Shareable
You also need to make sure your blog posts are easy to share so more people can find your content. I cringe when I visit websites where I can’t find any way to share their posts. No social media links anywhere to be found. This is really important if you want to optimize your blog for success. There are many themes that come with social media share buttons built right in. You can also get sidebar sharing buttons that move with your content for easy share-ability. I love my sidebar that I got from Sumo. If you’ve never heard of Sumo and want to learn more about what they offer, I wrote a whole post about it. Essentially, Sumo is a suite of great tools you can use to grow your website’s traffic. Based on whether you sign up for the free or premium plan you’ll get a choice of available features. PRO TIP: Sumo’s share bar is part of their free plan.
Where To Promote Your Blog
Now that you’ve published your blog and started writing a few articles here comes the hard part. How do you get traffic to your blog? One of the best ways to get traffic to your blog is through social media. Whether you have existing social media accounts or you have created new ones for your blog now is the time to start connecting with others. I know this is not everybody’s cup of tea but there are ways to do so without being too pushy. I definitely had the advantage here as I’ve been working as a freelance marketing and digital media specialist and have some good experience with maintaining and growing my client’s online presence.
If you feel so inclined you can read some of my tips on growing your online presence here. Or if you need further social media or WordPress help feel free to reach out to me via the Contact Form and I will gladly work with you within my rates. The more social media presence you have the better you can optimize your blog for success.
Great Places To Promote Your Blog
1. Facebook Groups – Here you can make friends with fellow bloggers, support each other endeavors, participate in daily threads to promote your blog, social media accounts or get answers to technical questions. PRO TIP: join these groups before you even launch your blog to get lots of tips and to start to build rapport with fellow bloggers. This is huge if you really want to optimize your blog for success.
2. Instagram – Sign-up for a business Instagram account for your blog to easily post visually pleasing images that funnel your audience to your blog content. PRO TIP: get a Linktree account so you can create a one-page info sheet with all your relevant links i.e. blog, giveaway, freebie, discount, affiliate link or other social media accounts. Post this one Linktree link in your Instagram Profile. Instagram only allows you one clickable link so this is a perfect way for people to find everything you want to share with them.
3. Twitter – This platform is an easy way to share your blog posts with your audience. Follow relevant accounts in your niche and anybody who’s interested in what you’re trying to offer. PRO TIP: Tweet every day at least 4 times per day to maximize exposure. I use a scheduling tool for this like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck so I don’t have to spend too much time tweeting live. Check out my post about other scheduling tools you can use for various social media sites here!
4. Pinterest – I was not that interested in Pinterest until I started reading about other bloggers getting massive traffic from this platform and I knew I had to explore it. I was so clueless when I started and totally intimidated by it at first but took a great Pinterest course from McKinzie Bean of Moms Make Cents that explained everything to me in detail and gave me step-by-step instructions. This course was crucial in my huge growth in Pinterest reach and the way my pins have continued to get more traction. A great Pinterest course can help you optimize your blog for success. If you want to read more about my experience with Pinterest and about the course check out my article here!
5. Medium.com – I started writing for Medium before I even launched my blog. Before that I was writing articles on LinkedIn’s now defunct Pulse. Once Pulse disappeared I found out about Medium and I started reading a lot of great articles there. It’s a great platform to write for whether you have your own blog or not. You can take advantage of Medium’s well-established audience and funnel those people to your blog.
6. Quora.com – This is a good place to establish yourself as an authority on a particular subject. Quora’s platform is based on a Q and A type of system. Somebody poses a question and gets responses from the community. If you’re a specialist or have lots of knowledge about a certain topic you can answer people’s questions and offer advice. You can then easily plug in your website address or social media profile to further connect with that particular audience.
These are just a few online places that you can take advantage of to share your blog or spread the word about your business. They can be a great help to grow your audience and optimize your blog for success. For some more social media tips feel free to download my Free How To Rock Social Media – 25 Essential Tips & Tools for Small Biz & Bloggers Guide!
Build Your Own Tribe
Building your own tribe is one of the most challenging things about blogging. For you to be successful at this you need to connect with people. This can be through your writing, your social media style and through connections you find in blogging communities. As I mentioned before, I joined blogging communities before I even started blogging. One of the reasons for this was because I was clueless and needed answers to so many questions. Blogging communities especially Facebook groups helped me tremendously. I got answers to technical questions about WordPress plug-ins, themes, widgets and received daily encouragement and motivation. Being part of this community will not only help you optimize your blog for success but also keep you on track.
Spread The Love
Once I grew my knowledge I made sure I helped other people out in return. This is a give and take kind of relationship. You can’t simply get all the knowledge and not try to spread it around. Make sure you’re generous with others as well. This way you’ll build meaningful connections and not just take advantage of free information. This is one of the great ways you can help your blog grow and optimize it for success.
I can’t tell you enough how much support from other bloggers has done for me. It’s very hard to explain what you do to all the non-bloggers in your life. You will get blank stares and confused looks from most people who are not familiar with the blogging world. Get used to that lol! I’m very fortunate to have an understanding partner who supports my blog crazy lifestyle. Having some kind of emotional support is very beneficial because it can sometimes get lonely and frustrating. That’s when people in your life and in your blogging tribe will step in and help you should things get tough. I’ve definitely been there and even thought about scrapping the whole thing. This feeling will pass and you’ll be happy that you didn’t give up.
Blogging Is Hard Work
I left this as my last thought, because I didn’t want to discourage you from the get go. But here’s the hard truth about what it’s really like to start a blog. And even more so if you want to ensure you’re doing your best to optimize it for success. Even though I felt prepared before I started my blog, I had no idea how much work blogging really involved. There’s a lot of articles out there that make it sound so easy but when you get down to it, it really isn’t. Nothing happens without putting in some hard work. This is especially true when you don’t have a whole team behind you. When I first started, I had nobody to help me. I had to learn everything myself. That requires a lot of time and determination.
Make Good Use Of Your Time
If you have a lot of money to put into your blog right away you can definitely save yourself some time and hire people to do things for you. But for many of us that’s just not possible. So I’m being real with you here when I tell you that you will need to put in a lot of work to get your blog started. And once you have it up and running you’ll need to put even more time to promote it. You can’t just count on your friends and family to visit your blog and spread the word about it. It just doesn’t work that way and you’ll be disappointed when that doesn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m simply trying to get the point across that blogging is not as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot to learn, mistakes will happen and you need time to grow and be consistent. It’s best to stick to some kind of blogging schedule and keep a checklist of all the tasks you need to accomplish. I know from experience that there are a lot of distractions out there that can easily get you off track.
Even though I consider myself to be well organized, I still struggle with his frequently. This is crucial to helping you to optimize your blog for success. This year, my goal is to be better organized when it comes to my blogging schedule. And I want you to do the same. That’s why I created and started using this awesome Monthly Blogging Calendar. Get your free Excel spreadsheet below.
Motivation Is Key
Motivation is anther obstacle you might need to get a handle on. It can be hard to get yourself motivated especially when you haven’t seen the results you’ve been expecting. This can be a hard pill to swallow. You need to understand that although some bloggers can get huge traffic to their blogs right away this might not be the case for everyone. Same goes for making money off of your blog. This can take some time to achieve. And you need to be prepared for that reality. Unless you have a specific niche that is very lucrative and easy to get into, it may take you longer to grow your audience. You need to be okay with this. Having the right motivation is very important if you want to keep going and eventually optimize your blog for success.
Your Take Aways
Starting a blog and and being able to optimize your blog for success is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of research, preparation, motivation and perseverance. There’s no magic wand that can just make things happen for you if you have limited resources. If you’re starting a blog as a hobby you can definitely take your time and start with pretty much no money involved. Simply sign-up for one of the free blogging platforms such as WordPress.com, Blogger or Wix. Then just pick a free theme that’s easy to follow, and just start writing. If you’re running out of ideas on what to write, check out my 25 Great Blog Topics That Will Actually Generate Interest article. But if your goal is to grow as a serious blogger, sell a future product or service or use this platform to build a business there’s much more work ahead of you.
Use The Right Tools
Thankfully, there are many tools to help you optimize your blog for success whether it’s choosing your blog name or the right platform for your blog’s purpose. Next you need to devote some time to decide on the proper design aspects of your website. Make sure you make it easy for people to engage with you and share your content. Whether you’re fan of social media or not you’ll need to use this venue to promote your blog. Download my Free Social Media Guide to get your started.
Keep Up The Good Work
It’s also important to understand that growing your blog’s tribe will take some time. Don’t get discouraged by your blog stats and numbers or lack thereof. If you’re writing great content, connecting with your audience and supporting the blogging community you will see growth. Know that many of us newer bloggers struggle with this issue as well and we can be there for each other to offer help and support.
I hope you find these tips to optimize your blog for success helpful. My goal with this post was to share my experience with other bloggers and hopefully encourage you to keep going with your creative endeavor. I believe that one thing that separates successful bloggers from those who fail is that they never give up until they accomplish what they set out to do. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how hard it may be. You just keep going, learn, grow and make any necessary changes along the way. If you do that, you will be successful.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill
What do you think of my tips on how to better optimize your blog for success? What was your experience when you started? Are you a beginner or a seasoned blogger? Do you have any other tips? Feel free to share with me in the comments below. And if you want join my tribe sign up for our newsletter. You’ll get more tips, special offers and dibs on upcoming giveaways.