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3 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Blog

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3 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Blog | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guid

1. I did not start off with a custom domain URL. I went into my blog as a self-professed commitment-phobe. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, didn’t know if I could keep up with content or regularly posting, and quite frankly, wasn’t sure anyone was going to read it. WORST. MISTAKE. EVER. Blog domains are super cheap. Spending $10 would have been well worth it even if the blog never got off the ground. But I didn’t. Instead, when I was pleasantly surprised, humbled and overwhelmed by the amazing response and support the blog received, I belatedly decided “Sure! I’ll take the leap for a real website domain!” and I traded my .blogspot.com address for a real www.yourdomain.com addy. AND subsequently lost every comment and +1 on every post that had run pre-new website name. After weeks of effort sharing blog posts, making connections, driving traffic, and great discussion (some posts had over 100 comments!)…and they were gone. Ground zero. I was heartbroken and more than a little deflated.

Lesson learned: Suck it up and buy the custom domain URL at the beginning. Commit to doing things right from the start. The best way to claim your blog’s future success is to treat it like it’s already successful.

3 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Blog - No custom URL on Blogger
See all of those sad little zeros where lots of comments used to be???? And how my post with over 600 hits has 0 likes and no comments at all? Insert cry fest HERE.

2. I did not create an organized business Pinterest account. This is another extension of my close-mindedness when I first started out and my mistake in not claiming (at least to myself!) that my blog was going to do well. When I began my blog, I went in to my personal Pinterest account and just added a happy little Chaos & Kiddos board and then added a Small Business board as an afterthought. Almost immediately, I was able to add some key contributors to each of those boards, which resulted in some pretty awesome content and some great activity. Both boards took off and my followers started to grow exponentially. The problem with this was that it became very clear to me very quickly that the boards were getting a bit overwhelming and difficult to navigate. It’s hard to find just the right post among 400 other posts and if you’re a Pinterest user, you know the pictures all start to fuzz together after too much scrolling. It became inefficient and dysfunctional.

Lesson learned: If you plan to store content on a variety of topics and methods, organize your boards accordingly on the front end instead of being forced to reinvent the wheel, repopulate and shift content from one board to others later on. Think about how you would want to find information. Make it easy and clear. A straight shot path straight to you. Chaos means followers click away.

3 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Blog - Organized Pinterest Boards
I’m still working to rebuild and reorganize the mess I created for myself! Slowly, but surely, the separate boards are coming together into a more manageable resource for my followers.

3. I did not organize my social media followers. Did you know that you can build private lists in Twitter that can help you sort the people you following according to interest, level of interaction and other parameters that are important to you and only you? Yeah, neither did I. I sure do now! Various social media platforms – Bloglovin’, Facebook, and of course the front runner being Google Plus – give you the tools to organize the people you follow so that you can approach their content and your own in a manner that makes sense to your needs. Guess when I did this little piece of organization? Right when I started out? Nope.

Lesson learned: Make sure you take the time to explore the social media platforms (and any other programs) that you use. Most are capable of so much more than we see at first glance and many are equipped with the tools needed to keep up with a large following. Categorize the people who follow you and whom you follow based on their genres, level of interaction, or any other qualifying feature that helps you view the information you need most, first.

3 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Blog - Private Lists in Twitter
Woot! Woot! See that happy little “Lists” option under Settings?

Ultimately, these three lessons could be applied to any small business marketing and process workflow and are not just for “bloggers.” And I’m still a little tiny peanut in comparison to most bloggers who have been doing this for years and years and have massive followings. I guess that right there is the most important piece of information in this whole post. Sure, I’m small potatoes now, but who knows what the future may bring? I certainly don’t want to make more work for myself later by taking shortcuts and not doing things right now. 

 

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Amanda S

    July 29, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing your lessons. I am currently making all of these mistake, oh no!

    • Katy Blevins

      July 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Ha! Well, the good news Amanda…is that so was I at one time and I survived! So, there’s always time to turn things around. It’s a painful short term transition, but an awesome long term payout!

  2. Cathy - Life's Hidden Treasures

    August 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    I went back and forth on both #1 & #2….Thankfully, I finally talked myself into buying a custom domain URL (so glad I did!!). Creating a new business Pinterest was a tough idea because I have so many awesome boards and PINS on my personal Pinterest, but I finally made the plunge and have done a lot of rePinning since then (also glad I did this!!)

    I have not, however, done #3….it sounds like a great idea though 🙂 I’ll have to get started on that

    Great Post!! Thanks for Sharing 🙂

    • Katy Blevins

      August 13, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Business Pinterest is worth it now more than ever just with the possibility of rich pins! So glad I made the leap to that platform when it started. I also hear there will be more control over feeds and quality content, which worries me a bit. I’m guessing that those who are businesses will have to be spot on, but will also get priority.

  3. Melissa Matters

    September 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I don’t have a domain name yet so I guess I had better switch over soon!

    • Katy Blevins

      September 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      You’ll be so glad that you did, Melissa!!! Best investment ever!

  4. Tarynn Playle

    September 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I made the same mistakes. Luckily I got my own domain only a few months in, and I’m still working on organizing my lists. Great tips!

    • Katy Blevins

      September 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks Tarynn! I’m still learning new tips and tricks every day! The wonder never ceases. Congrats on your own domain and so glad you found the post helpful!

  5. Nicki Lewis

    October 8, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I have been blogging for about a year now. Actually working on trying to fix some of my social media accounts, and how to best use them. Was hoping doing that will help my blog grow. Wish I would have known some of these sooner.

  6. peppylady (Dora)

    November 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Living here in North Idaho one thing is techlogy. As things move slow. We had dial up longer then most people in rest of the country.
    I don’t think anyone got over 7mg now. I’m paying $60 a month for 1 mag.
    It seem we’re always playing catch up with the rest of the world.

    Found your blog though IBA blog share.

    Coffee is on

    • Katy Blevins

      November 21, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Oh man, you are a trooper! That sounds brutal! I sure hope the speed of the interwebz makes it way to you very soon!

  7. Momma Machi

    May 26, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Thank you very much for this post! I am like you in the beginning! I have done none of these! OMG I have a lot o work to do!

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Blogging Resources

How to Add Custom Facebook Tabs to your Business Page

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Custom Facebook tabs are a great way to spiff up your business page with touches all your own. In a visual flow format that’s mostly controlled by the social media platform itself, making the most of these tiny advantages and calls-to-action can be pivotal to expanding your reach. Take steps to prompt your audience to actively engage and direct visitors on your business page to your areas of greatest interest (i.e. subscribing or following you on social media). Custom Facebook tabs give you the opportunity to plant a tiny seed of interest by highlighting applications that otherwise tend to be ignored.

Implementing custom Facebook tabs starts with activating the appropriate applications on your business page. Connect your TwitterPinterest and Instagram feeds directly to your business page (Did you know you can set up your Instagram to post directly to your Facebook business page?). Explore your email subscriber tool for Facebook integration. If you’re using LeadPages via WordPress, activate the auto-Facebook tab (amazing!).

Search Facebook for App

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Your next step is to order your Facebook tabs so that your top 3 (the ones you plan to create custom Facebook tabs for) are at the top of the list. You can do so easily by navigating to your business page, clicking “More” on your top tab bar, and then selecting “Manage Tabs.” From there you can drag up or down to order your list and even delete tabs that serve no use for your page.

Click -More- and -Manage Tabs.- Then

Now we are ready to create your custom Facebook tabs. This feature is kind of hidden…which is why most people don’t customize their tabs! The phrase we hear most often when introducing this to our clients is “Wow! I never even knew that existed!” Click on your page Settings and then navigate to Apps, which should show a complete list of the programs you just integrated with your page. Click “Edit Settings” on one of your apps and there it is! You can accomplish two special customizations here. You can change the tab name (i.e. from LeadPages to Free Motivational Planner) and upload a custom tab image. Yay!

The appropriate size for custom Facebook tab images is 111 pixels wide by 74 pixels high.

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Customize your Tab Name AND your Tab

And there you go. You now have custom Facebook tabs that can drive traffic to subscriber portals, other social media profiles and more. Make sure your custom Facebook tabs are in line with your brand style and message. Maybe try a few different styles to see if any convert more than others. Take the opportunity to make the page your own and entice your audience to take the next step by clicking through.

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Blogging Resources

How to Make Custom Pinterest Board Covers and Upload Pins

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There are so many little ways you can personalize your online profiles and increase engagement with your market simply by improving your visual presentation. This week, we’re introducing a few ways to sharpen your Pinterest profile. The most visual of all the social media platforms out there, and second only to Google for searching for just about anything…Pinterest is an application that no small business owner can ignore. The case for Pinterest and how to maximize market engagement could be a whole blog in and of itself. We’ll have more tips and tricks to share later, but for now, let’s start small. Today, let’s talk about how to make custom Pinterest board covers and how to manually upload and edits pins (without hitting the “Pin It” button).

Custom Pinterest board covers create a strong visual consistency in your profile that can help visitors understand your brand, intent and authority in your area of the business (or blogging) world. To create them, you’ll need to understand how to manually upload and edit pins, so we’ll start there.

Log into your Pinterest account and open one of your boards. See that nice little “Add a Pin” button? Click it!

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Once you click that button, you’ll have two options. Add from Web or from your Device. When you click from Web, it’s going to remind you that you should just use a “pin it” button (and they’re right). For this lesson, let’s click from your Device. It will prompt you to upload a photo and you’ll browse your device (in this case, my computer hard drive) and choose the image to upload. It will automatically trigger the pin box and you’ll be able to choose your board and add a pin description. Voila!

What does your head shot say about you-

You’re probably going…something is missing! Where does the newly created pin take you? And you’re right. We’ve got one more step. Once the pin has been created and uploaded. Click to edit the pin and then add the URL that you want your audience to click through to in the Source box. Now…ta da!!! Voila!! You’re done!

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The process for adding custom Pinterest board covers is 90% what you just learned and 10% PicMonkey fun. Click “Custom” to get started.

The magic dimension size for custom Pinterest board cover is 217 pixels x 147 pixels. 

Once you have your board covers created, you’ll upload each of them via the process above. You don’t have to add a source URL to click through if you’re just going for Pinterest pretty, BUT…our recommendation is to take the opportunity to link through to your website wherever you can! So, if you have a landing page on your website that relates to the items on your board, link your custom board cover through to that page! You never know who might click! To assign the new custom boards as the cover images in your profile, click “Edit” and then “Change Cover” and you’ll be able to scroll through to the new cover image. Click “Save Changes” and you’re done!

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Blogging Resources

Are Your Product Photos Hurting Your Business?

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Why are Quality Product Photos Important to my Business?

There are a lot of factors that impact your sales success (or failure). Just like the right strategy and mix of medias can propel sales forward, most marketing mistakes are closely intertwined and can often work against each other to create a rapidly downward spiral. Often, new business owners overlook the power of their product photos when considering market strategy.

Improve My Etsy Product Photos

Today’s world is visually driven by the real-time access that social media provides. The good news is that great images get a lot more love these days. The bad news is that it’s made us a bit complacent when it comes to quality. Not everyone is a pro, and seeing blurry or poorly exposed photos in our news feeds has become a regular occurrence. The result has been small business owners that underestimate the importance of consistent, high quality product photos. Many make do with poor images straight from their camera phones (you can get good images on your phone!) and few take advantage of the massive range of editing software available.

Overlooking the power of your shop’s visual draw is a huge mistake. In a visually motivated society, a certain level of complacency has desensitized our eyes and we often find ourselves aimlessly scrolling through images until something truly powerful catches our attention. The“Well, that’s good enough, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” response to mediocre images most likely means that your product photos are getting lost in a churning sea of visual garbage that your market blindly scrolls past instead of clicking through to purchase.

We live in a world of options. Gone are the local general stores as the only source of food and supplies. These days you can quite literally order something from any corner of the globe with a few clicks or swipes on a computer or phone. The availability of endless options is overwhelming for consumers. Most will gravitate towards the easy button, which typically factors in two key markers. 1. Ease of Website Navigation (More on that later!) and 2. Stellar Product Photos. You have one chance to grab their attention, and even less than that to keep it. All of the factors need to play to your success, not your demise. And that means your product photos should be impeccably styled, consistently clear and properly presented to your marketplace.

How Do You Improve Product Photos?

1. Simple Presentation: Make sure your images highlight your wares. Remove distractions and design a simple layout that makes your product the star! Use simple backdrops and keep product photos tight and clean, avoiding background furniture, people or other elements that do not directly correlate to your market or highlight your product. If your images show your product in use by clients, make sure your background is staged, clean and devoid of the busy of life (i.e. piles of bills, food out, laundry, fridge covered in magnets). You want your buyers looking at one thing. Your product. Don’t tempt them to look away. 

2. Consistent Styling: Your product photos should present as a body of work. This means that each product should be photographed similarly. If your product photos are laid out in an Etsy shop, and their design and presentation differ considerably, your buyer will spend more time (even subconsciously) contemplating the differences. The end result may be poor decision-making or confusion, because the styling has become a stumbling block instead of a showcase. Use the same set up for each product, edit them consistently and make sure the images compliment each other instead of competing with each other. The last thing you want to do with your business is to create an environment where you are competing against yourself! 

3. In-Focus: Blurry photos belong in one place. The trash. That may sound harsh, but you’ll be much happier when you throw away poor product photos and take the extra time to create stellar product photos. Out-of-focus images send a few messages to potential buyers. You don’t take your business seriously, you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t care enough about me to present your product in a way that I can clearly see…just to name a few. None of those thoughts are encouraging click-throughs. Show value to your audience by taking care to make their visit to your shop as enjoyable as possible, which means they can look at your images with ease, clearly understanding your talent and services, and properly interpreting whether it meets their need.

4. Properly Exposed: Admittedly, there is a bit of a learning curve here, but this is important! If your product photos are overexposed (too bright) or underexposed (too dark), then your prospective buyer can’t see all of the details. They have to work harder to visualize your product in their hands. Like we mentioned before, don’t make them work hard to consider purchasing your services. Whether you invest in professional help or explore today’s popular editing software, make sure your final product photos are well-balanced and properly exposed. 

Improve My Etsy Product Photos

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