What I Learned My Second Month of Blogging

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Last month I shared what I learned in this fantastic world of blogging. It was such an eye-opener, and I eluded to the fact that my comments from my very first post wouldn’t even scratch the surface. Well, I’m here to tell you that that is still the case for my second month of blogging!

There is too much to learn; on many days, I’ve just felt lost, floating around in a canoe that has no oars. But you know what? I’ve also learned so many little pieces of information. And when putting it all together, it somehow begins making sense. Although sometimes it feels like just the teeniest of bits.

What I’ve Learned my Second Month Blogging 

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive compensation at no cost to you for your referral.

My learnings are focused on two general areas:

  1. Website Optimization
  2. Pinterest

How’s that for two topics that are on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum?? But first, here’s a quick little tidbit I encountered on WordPress settings:

Comment Settings

In WordPress, you can control what happens when others comment on your blog. This is useful if you want to be notified whenever someone leaves a comment. However, you may not want to do this for some successful bloggers because you’ll be inundated with emails.

But for me, if someone comments on my blog, it’s like Christmas morning.

At any rate, you have the option to hold comments for moderation — meaning, they won’t be published on your site until you go into WordPress and approve them first. I have that setting activated because I want to read what people are saying first (and then there’s the whole Christmas morning thing).

Whenever I get a WordPress alert to moderate a comment, it’s like sunshine, rainbows & hitting the lottery all in one. So a week or two ago, I received a comment alert (Yaaayy!!). So I logged in and approved it for displaying on my site.

Then I went back to my site to take a look, and nothing. I then proceeded to pull my hair out for the next hour, trying to figure out why the approved comment wasn’t showing up on my post. I reapproved the comment, nothing. I refreshed the page many, many times, nothing. And eventually, I turned to Google, nothing helpful.

I even thought maybe, just maybe, someone was playing a joke on me. Like they posted a comment and then immediately took it away to mess with me. (Paranoid, much?) But I wound up going back to WordPress and meticulously going through every setting to see what was up. And I found the following:

Settings –> Discussion –> Before a comment appears

edited Capture

Big dope that I am, I’d somehow checked off the box that says, “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.”

Really? Like I had to make it that much harder for myself? 

It’s a constant challenge to drum up traffic & actual human interaction — hey, how’s about we also make it impossible to display any solid proof of readership? I had no idea when I made this odd decision, but thank goodness I found it.

And you, dear anonymous reader, will hopefully benefit from my error!

So, take a look at the settings above, and choose wisely. The more you know. Okay, now for the more exciting stuff.

Website Optimization

Note: This info is being offered at a pretty basic level, meaning I am by no means an expert. I’m trying to figure this stuff out as I go — but I will continue to share whatever I learn going forward. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If your website takes a long time to load, not many people will sit around and wait for it. This means your Bounce Rate will go way up, and no one will be reading your super cool blog posts. (High Bounce Rate = Bad, meaning people are bouncing away from your website).

Here is a helpful description (via morevisibility.com) on both site speed and page load time.

  • There are a couple of things that contribute to page load time and overall site speed:
    • Your webserver (overall performance and location)
    • The other stuff running on your website (plugins, extensions)
    • The stuff you’re displaying as media (images, gifs, graphics, music, etc.)

Here are a few free websites that will check the speed of your site:

Also, there is Bitcatcha, where you can test the response time of your server. Take a look at these websites, and see how the results compare to each other. It’s important to know that you’re not going to get perfection.

Some people have A’s and A+’s up and down the board for their site results. 

One article I read suggested you hire a programmer through Fiverr who will improve your website for roughly $400. Yikes. My blog typically runs around a B or C+ depending on the speed test site, and I’m happy with that. It appears to load pretty quickly. (Guess someone will ultimately let me know if it doesn’t).

Plus, some of the recommendations are over my head in terms of technicality. So I’ll wait to absorb more info before making any other changes.

Some Ways you can Optimize your Website

  • Compress your images, so they aren’t taking up as much space: Use free online resources like TinyPNG – optimize PNG and JPEG images to reduce the file size.
    • Several WordPress plugins will optimize images for you.
    • In addition, this article from WPbeginner.com includes some helpful descriptions and ideas to speed up your site performance.
  • Make your site mobile-friendly by enabling Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. 
  • Take a look at plugins that can help optimize your website, like W3 Total Cache and WP-Optimize.
  • Deactivate or delete any plugins that you’re not using or that aren’t necessary. Are you using all of the ones that are activated on WordPress? If there are any you can do without, try it and see if there is an improvement in your site speed.

For example, I read online that the Broken Links plugin (which I’ve found helpful) takes up a fair amount of space. The suggestion was that you install and activate it intermittently but don’t keep it running all of the time.

Think about it, if you leave it running all the time, it’s constantly checking every single link to make sure none are broken. So that is a lot of juice that you’re giving to one plugin, hoping it doesn’t find anything at all?

Example two: I recently stopped using the SumoMe plugin. While I did find it easy to use, it also appeared in a bunch of my speed test results. Apparently, SumoMe was contributing to my higher load time.

So I stopped using SumoMe, and switched over to Shareaholic for my social sharing buttons. I still need to pick on an alternative for a call to action & landing page. Again it’s all learning.

  • Is your server slowing you down? Contact your web hosting service to see if there are any tweaks they can make within your plan.

Maybe they can double-check your settings to make sure your site is set up correctly. Bottom line, if you’re paying for the monthly service, they’re obligated to check things out for you. Many hosting companies are available 24/7 and have an online chat. They’re straightforward to get in touch with.

Or, if you’re not making headway with your current web host, you may want to consider switching. There are a lot of debates out there with the big-name companies. Each is continuously offering an online deal, and many make it relatively easy to transfer service. (This I’m currently looking at for other reasons, but I am not quite ready to jump ship just yet, we’ll see).

  • And finally, high traffic can contribute to slower load times — that’s a good thing! We should all have such problems, and if that’s what is causing your site issues, you’re probably super successful & are most likely not reading this post!

Pinterest

So I’m just starting with Pinterest after converting my personal account to a business account. Everyone says Pinterest is the place to be, and if you’re a blogger, it can make a huge difference in traffic.

While I will tell you my traffic has seen an increase, it’s by no means the fantastic influx of traffic that people write about. But again, I am in the beginning stages. And I haven’t implemented all of the strategies that people are offering in their posts, courses, etc.

Bottom line: I’ve bought quite a few ebooks & tutorials on Pinterest but haven’t read through all of them just yet. I know, I know, but I have competing priorities, distractions, and mostly information overload right now. (blah blah blah, excuses). Whatever you want to call it, I need to go through & finish them up.

But, I can tell you right now that there is one book I have fully completed twice and am currently taking the time to read for the third time, much more slowly and with a more detailed focus.

It’s an ebook by Carly Campbell (which I believe has now turned into a course). And it is one of the first ones I purchased because it had a sales pitch and connected with everything this author was writing on her blog. 

Instead of feeling like sharks were circling me, her perspective was more like, “Hey, this has worked for me, so I figured I’d share it. If it works for you as well, that’s awesomesauce!.” Well, no, she didn’t say that, but that’s the way her writing made me feel.

So I bought this book (which didn’t cost as much compared to other Pinterest books out there) and immediately proceeded to absorb the contents.  And then I read through it again, paying more attention to the pictures, examples and numbers. Then, finally, I started applying the specific strategies to my Pinterest account and boards, and I have to say I’ve been delighted with the results.

I will go into a full, all-out detailed post on this in the future, with pictures and graphs and stuff — But so that you know, I believe this book has made a difference in my traffic and reach.

It’s called Pinteresting Strategies, written by Carly Campbell. Feel free to check it out — I cannot say enough great things about this book. It was beneficial and provided accurate, actionable guidance (especially to newbies like me).

But here is the lowdown on what I’ve absorbed so far, either by trial and error, interactions with others, or reading advice on other blogs:

  • Increase your time spent on Pinterest by actually using it (“pinning”). Pinterest takes notice of how often you are in there. Your credibility as a user is partially determined by the amount of time you spend pinning helpful information and the number of times you are “re-pinned” by someone else.
  • When you create a new pin, don’t just pin a random image. Create what is called a pinnable image by enabling rich pins with keyword-optimized descriptions and using hashtags
  • Practice creating the best pinnable images using a free graphic design resource like Canva or PicMonkey. Use vertical images, bright colors and large readable fonts.
    • Don’t use lighter-colored fonts or ones that are too small/hard to read (scripts).
    • Try to use your images instead of free stock photos; the Pinterest search engine tends to favour real images.
    • Try not to use images with people, as those tend not to do well overall.
    • Once you have created your perfect pin image, save it as a template to work off of for your future pins. It will help you save time in the long run and build your brand recognizability.
  • Once you have your business account enabled, take a look at your Pinterest Analytics daily to see how your pins are doing.

This section of your Pinterest account evaluates the overall reach of your pinned images. It tracks the impressions your pins make (how many viewers are seeing them). It also tracks the number of clicks and saves for your pins and the views to your profile.

  • Request to join a few group boards to start building up traffic & credibility. Do this by taking a look at others in your niche. See what group boards they belong to, click that board, and read the instructions on how to get added as a contributor.
    • Some group boards are closed, meaning they’re not taking on any other members. 
    • Don’t be discouraged if some admins don’t respond to your request to join their board. Try for other ones; new group boards are created every day.
    • If you belong to any Facebook blogging groups, see if anyone has recently posted about new group boards.
    • Build up credibility and reputation by pinning to group boards and reciprocating by repinning from other members’ boards.
    • Make sure you follow the rules of each board! Typical requirements are only to post vertical pins (no square or horizontal images), not to pin too frequently (spamming), and to always re-pin someone else’s pin whenever you pin your own (one-for-one).

Up Next

So, where do I go from here? For this coming month, I plan on doing the following:

  • Keep learning more about Pinterest, and see what I can learn about pinning schedulers, like Tailwind. Although there are several tools like this in existence, Tailwind is probably the most popular and reputable. Plus, it’s an official partner of Pinterest, which means they fully support its use.
  • Experiment with what pins to post where. When I first started using Pinterest, I became massively confused about what pins I should be posting to each type of board.

For example, do I post my pins to my boards or only to group boards? And what exactly do I post to group boards, and how often? Am I not supposed to post other people’s pins there???

That last question is a doozy. I’ve seen so many back and forth opinions on whether you should post other people’s content to group boards, it isn’t even funny. One Facebook group was going nuts on this topic, and I felt like a super-dork for supposedly doing this wrong.

People were adamant that you should only post your own content to group boards. However, I’m not convinced. I mean, a group board increases its power based on the popularity of the enclosed pins, right?

So if I’m re-pinning someone else’s super valuable & viral pins on there, won’t it add to that board’s credibility? Then once in a while, mix in one or two of my newly created pins from my website. 

But alternatively, if we bombard the board with only our own newbie pins, wouldn’t that bring down the board’s reach? That’s my current theory, which I’m testing out. More to come on this topic, for sure.

  • Also, look into Tailwind tribes — which are part of Tailwind, but supposedly they are free to use. Still evaluating this, but I have read enough articles to believe there is some credibility to increasing blog traffic this way. 

I think tribes might be kind of like group boards, on crack.

  • Start a spreadsheet or some sort of cheat sheet to keep track of my pins, as well as the group boards where I’ve posted them. When you start rotating/shuffling the images onto other boards, you need to know at a glance which pins are on which boards, so you’re not skipping any or re-pinning the same pin to one of the boards.

Whew! Well, that was a long one. Anyone still with me? Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, well, if you are — thanks for hanging in there, and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Hit me up in the comments!

Robin

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