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Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Posts on Your Blog - 30 Lessons in Blogging


I've already talked about you getting your own work featured on bigger sites, but there is also the flip side of this where you can get other people to write posts for your blog. This can provide fresh content for you, and help bring new visitors and traffic to your guest's blog.


My experience with Guest Posts

I started out doing guest posts with other bloggers quite early on. It was often a swap - we both did a post for each other and promoted them to our readers. 

Then for a while, I ran a weekly 'guest post' spot on my blog where I had several great bloggers generously provide wonderful tutorials for me to showcase.  This provided something fresh for my blog and also sent some new visitors and traffic to my guests' blogs so it was  good all round!

You can see the guest post tutorials on my dedicated page here. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by quite how popular the tutorial on how to strip furniture was. Since it didn't really fit with my own sewing tutorials and posts - but once again reminded me that it's ok to go off topic now and again to add extra depth and interest to your blog!


How to get Guest Posts for your blog

Quite simply, you just ask!
As I mentioned I did a couple of swap posts at first - so you could contact your friends first and guest post for each other for a little fun.
Then when I decided to run my weekly feature, I sent emails out to lots of smallish blogs I admired, asking them if they would like to have a guest post on my blog.  Since my blog was growing quite a bit at that stage, I felt that I could offer them a decent amount of exposure by showcasing them on my blog.



Rules!

Yes, it is important to set out a few rules or guidelines if you're asking for Guest Posts. You want to maintain a standard and quality for your blog, so you need to be clear about the things that you require and are important to you. Here are some example guidelines for guest posts:

  • State the type of post you want - is it a tutorial? or perhaps a chance for someone to just showcase their creations? Also mention other things, for example if the quality and number of photos are important to you, the length of post or any other details you are concerned about.

  • Set a date for the post to be published and deadline as to when you want to have the post by. Give yourself enough time to edit and schedule the post, and also time to find an alternate post in case your Guest blogger lets you down!

  • Let your guest know if they can promote their blog at the start or end of the guest post with a photo or two and a link back - or whether you want to add that part yourself.


  • Let your guest know if and when you're happy for them to repost the tutorial (or whatever type of post it is) on their own blog. I usually asked them to wait a week before publishing it again.


By setting out these rules or guidelines in advance, it makes it easier to decline an offer of a guest post that you don't feel fits with your blog or isn't of a high enough standard. 

It also means that your guest posts will fit with your style of blogging and so are more likely to appeal to your audience and in turn drive new visitors and traffic to your guests' blogs.


Holidays

Guest posts are a great thing to set up if you're going to be away on holiday.  It can be a fun way to keep the blog fresh while you're away. You could schedule all of your own posts, but without you there to promote them and answer comments and questions, they won't have the same punch as usual!

Oh and by the way, I'm having a holiday at the end of this year, so may be looking for some guest posts then!! Feel free to let me know if you'd be interested! :)



How about you?

Have you done any guest posts for other blogs?
Do you accept guest posts for your own blog?
Would you recommend them?


A Round Tuit 223, Day 64, Use What You've Got

Hello!!
Well after a very busy couple of weeks with family visiting, kids trips and activities, things are finally calming down again. This is the last week of term for my girls and I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks with them - we're planning bike rides and science experiments so far! Can't wait!

Here's my review of last week in pictures - with my #100happydays that I'm still going strong with.

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Now it's time to party - and see what you've all been up to!


Welcome to this week's linky party. A place where you can link up your posts and creations, and be inspired by others.

Tuits are very hard to come by, especially the round ones. For years people have been saying, "I'll do it as soon as I get a round tuit". Well now you can have one of your very own, and all those jobs that have needed doing will finally get done!
 
 
 
Here's my favourites from last week's party:
 
First of all, a fabulous tutorial for making your own reusable sandwich bags from fused plastic bags and fabric scraps - by Vicky Myers Creations:
Just brilliant!!


Next, a really wonderful 
DIY Cork-board makeover from Titicrafty by Camila.
My daughter was just asking if she could make her cork-board look a little prettier, so I shall have to show her this!



For those featured, feel free to grab a 'featured on' button here.
Creating my way to Success
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Now it's your turn:
Link up your own projects - old or new - no rules - just share your creativity and inspiration!
I'd love if you grabbed the button - then you can have your very own Round Tuit!
And of course we all love visitors and comments so do visit some of the other links!
By linking up here you're giving me permission to use photos from your post in features here on my blog.
I will feature my favourites on this post next week.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Backing up your blog - 30 Lessons in Blogging


As with any work that is important, you should backup your blog in some way, just in case anything was to happen to it. It could be hacked and deleted; or if the stories you hear are true, Blogger could delete your blog with no notice if you do the wrong thing!


Blogger Backup

There is a lovely clear tutorial here that shows you have to download a complete backup of your Blogger blog. I just used it myself as I hadn't saved mine in a while.

There are plenty of posts out there about backing up your Wordpress blog - but I won't suggest any particular one since I haven't done that myself.


Other Backups

As I've mentioned before, my sewing tutorials are the biggest feature on my blog. I've created my own backups of these tutorials. I copied each one into a document and created a store of PDF versions of all of my tutorials which are stored both in a couple of different hard drives and storage USBs at home, plus they are all on Google Drive which gives you 15GB of free online storage.  I've only used a tiny fraction of this with all of my tutorials. You can also enable offline editing with Google Drive so that you can access these documents on your computer without having to access the internet.


I'm not concerned about losing my blog work.  If anything did ever happen to my blog, then I would start again with a new blog.
Creating my way to Success has grown and developed over 4 years in lots of different ways. The blog URL doesn't match the title of the blog, there are plenty posts that I've deleted over time, but they still show up on some of the widgets, and I'm sure there are many more small 'messy' aspects to my blog.

If I had to start again, then it would be an opportunity to do so armed with lots of knowledge and experience. A challenge to create and even bigger and better blog out of the ashes.

BUT - let's hope nothing like that happens and I shall continue to learn about and grow this blog!


How about you?

Have you ever done a backup of your blog?
Is is perhaps something you do regularly?
Have you ever heard of anyone losing their blog?


A little travel around Cairns - Day 63, Use What You've Got

(yarn bombed tree in Yungaburra - Atherton Tablelands)


This past week we've had family visiting and so have spent a little time doing the touristy thing and showing them a little of Cairns.

We snaffled the girls out of school one day and went strawberry picking..


We ended up with 4.5kg of strawberries, which was perhaps a little excessive - but all part of the fun, and they did all get eaten!

We also visited the botanic gardens  - which has some amazing plants, including this palm tree completely covered in cactuses!


It's good to have visitors now and again to remind you of all the beautiful and fun things to do in your area - that you may have forgotten about!

How often do you play the tourist in your local area?



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Going Off Topic With Posts - 30 Lessons in Blogging



It is important for your blog to have a focus. That was the first thing I wrote about in this blogging series (you can read that post here).  However - to blog about something that isn't 'on topic' for your blog?  Would you? Should you?


My experience

My blog is about sewing, upcycling and learning how to use those to gain success - so motivation and blogging posts too.  I try to post things that are relevant to the main theme of my blog - and add a few photos and comments here and there about what I've been up to.


I do think in blogging, it helps to share a little of who you are with your readers. If you have a 'blog' rather than a 'website' then it's more interactive and people like to know who the person behind the blog is.

It was only about a year ago that I finally started doing this. I added my picture to my profile and began to share more of what I was up to outside of blogging on Facebook, Instagram and also on the blog itself. Since then I really feel like I've connected with more people and that my blog is more 'me' than a separate entity (if that makes sense).

I used to be quite wary of posting things on the blog that were different. That was until a particular post last year. I shared a recipe for Cheesymite scrolls - an Australian recipe I make for my girls quite often for their school lunches. I was hesitant to share a recipe as that's not what my blog was about. However - when I saw how many people came and read the post, I was pleasantly surprised. 

I sometimes wonder what 'should' be posted where. For example should you just post articles and tutorials on topic on your blog, and use social media like Facebook and Twitter to share a little of your personal life?  In the end, I don't think there are any rules.  Your blog should have a focus, but it should also be more personal than just endless tutorials or facts and for that there has to be a variety.

Nowadays I do share the occasional recipe or post about places I've been or things I've done. It doesn't seem to harm my blog, on the contrary, I believe it has a positive effect.


How About You?

Do you share a little of your personal life on your blog?
Or do you think you should restrict that kind of thing to social media?



Saturday Spotlight - Use What You've Got, Day 62

This week in the Round Tuit party we had some wonderful projects linked up as always.
Today I'm at a swim carnival with our girls, great weather for it - sunny and warm!

So while I'm enjoying a sporty day out, I wanted to highlight some.....

Wreaths






And, some chocolate treats!





Hope you enjoyed those features.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Using Google Analytics - 30 Lessons in Blogging


Google Analytics is a great tool to be able to look at who's coming to your blog, what they're reading and how they found you.  It can help you identify areas that are worth spending time on to help grow your blog, and also ones that aren't worth it.

If you haven't got Google Analytics installed on your website - there's a great tutorial here that will walk you through the stages. This is definitely something I would recommend doing for your blog.

So here's a run down on the basics of Analytics and how you can use them to grow your blog.


How people are finding your blog

In your Google Analytics dashboard, if you go to 'Aquisition' in the left sidebar you can then see all the stats for how visitors find your site, whether it's through referrals from other sites, Google searches or maybe through your social media sites.

For my blog, more than half of my traffic comes from referring sites - this is my tutorials via places like Allfreesewing (see my post on getting featured on bigger sites). To make the most of this, I'm continuing to make new tutorials and submitting them to these larger sites. Then it's pot luck as to how often they get mentioned and featured in one of their newsletters or perhaps on their social media site. Pinterest is also a big traffic source for me and something I'll be looking into more. A post about Pinterest is coming later!

I get a small amount of traffic from social media sites like Facebook, Google + and Twitter, but as yet not a large amount and I'm still exploring how to use those.


Another large traffic source for my blog is a plain Google search.  You can check what keywords people are searching, then use this as a guide for the types of posts that are your most popular in this sense and write more of those - including the keywords that people are searching in your post titles.

For me, the keywords that people are searching that bring them to my blog are upcycling, recycling and how to make. Again, my tutorials and all of the clothes upcycling posts and links I share are things I try to do most of as this is what people are coming to read!




Where is your audience?

You can see where in the world people are coming to your blog from. 
The vast majority of my visitors are from the US, although I also get lots from Canada, Australia and the UK, plus others from almost every country in the world - quite amazing really to think so a wide variety of people and nationalities are reading my little blog!

But how can you use this information to grow your blog?
Timing.
If you know where your major traffic is coming from, you can choose to schedule posts or get on your social media sites at peak traffic times for those countries.

Personally, I find this a really tricky one - as from Analytics, my large concentrations of visitors are spread right across all the time zones of the world, so there's not one specific time that shows more visitors than others.  But maybe for your blog there will be a clear trend you can use!


Real Time

You can also use the 'real time' option in the sidebar of your analytics dashboard. This will tell you about the people who are on your site right now. This might prove useful if you've just sent out a newsletter for example, to see what kind of instant response you get from that. Or perhaps just after you've done a big promotion for your blog on your social media sites.



Which pages or posts are most popular?

You can see which pages people come to on your blog to see what your most popular posts are, and know what kind of content to provide more of.
For me, once again it's my tutorials, and clothes upcycling posts. However, I'm also trying to build up my resources of blogging posts to add another dimension to my blog - since I am Creating my way to Success, not only creating!


Further learning

As you click on each section of analytics in the sidebar, there is an analytics education box that appears at the top of the screen.  There are small videos explaining each section.  Since I have already found with Google Adsense that studying and learning more about the tools available has increased my revenue - these videos are something I'm working my way through. 
As I've mentioned before, a large part of blogging is about educating yourself and learning about the processes and tools available.


How about you?
Do you actively use your Google Analytics account?
Do you have any tips to share about making the most of your Analytics?


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