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As a small business owner I wear a lot of hats: blogger, graphic designer, marketer, social media consultant, email copywriter etc. The list is endless. Each week I learn something new that I can apply to my business. Comparing what I know now to a few years ago makes me realize how far I’ve come. Looking back, here are 5 blog tips for beginners I wish I had known before starting a blog.
Blog Tip #1: Buy A Good Theme – Don’t Go Free
Yeah. Everyone wants free. I use a lot of free resources, but I realize some items are worth paying for. Purchasing a versatile wordpress theme with support is one of those resources worth the fee. A good theme makes running a website so-o-o much easier.
I’ve purchased and tested roughly a dozen themes so I think I can speak on this subject. The first ones I used and tested were painful. Initially, they looked good. After using them, I actually switched themes on the first two websites because of performance and image optimization. I don’t recommend changing themes unless absolutely necessary so building with a good theme is critical. Lesson learned. A good theme supports being modified and works with many plugins.
Good themes are versatile. They have features without being slow.
Support and user forums are available to provide answers.
Better themes work well even when custom tweaks are added.
They are easily optimized for performance and are mobile responsive.
Great themes integrate with social media and can look unique for each website that uses them.
Free themes rarely do all that. Maybe with a lot of searching, testing and time, there are a few that might. For me, it’s not worth spending hours trying to find the perfect free theme that does what I need, so I pay the fee and buy my themes. I have 3 themes I recommend and if you want to know more check out my 3 WordPress Themes Every Blogger Should Consider Using.
Seriously need help with your graphics and visual content? You one step away from getting it.
Blog Tip #2: Pick An Email Provider That You Find Easy To Use
UPDATE: While I love Convertkit I’ve recently moved to ActiveCampaign. The support is awesome. If you’d like to know more about ActiveCampaign, check out my article here.
A lot of new bloggers and small businesses use Mailchimp. I did because it is initially free. Mailchimp is kind of a defacto standard out there; it has been around for a long time. I wasn’t quite comfortable with Mailchimp interface; I thought it could be more user friendly. However online support was always available and pretty good.
Had someone introduced me to MailerLite when I first started I would probably would have used it. The starting plan is also free so I’ve recently decided to take a look. The drag and drop interface is easy to use. The support is not quite what I experienced with Mailchimp but for my small Etsy store I’m using MailerLite.
My blog and main business uses Convertkit. I love this email service provider but they don’t have any free starter plan. The way that Convertkit handles subscribers meets my needs. I discuss Convertkit tags and groups in my other article “Mailchimp Alternatives . I’ve not found any other service provider that tags and sorts subscribers for maximum efficiency and engagement like Convertkit does. Convertkit is about $39/month which is a significantly investment for a new blogger or online business. For me, the email sequence and automation features are worth it. My only issue is with building custom forms; that process could be easier. However, Convertkit does provide support and has easy to understand documentation and videos.
Blog Tip#3: Learn To Schedule and Post On Social Media
No one ever told me that driving traffic to my website was an art form. Well it is. When I started I never thought about social media. I was too busy learning wordpress and basic website design. Choosing an email service provider was the next hurdle. Then I had to figure out how to optimize my website. Once my site was functional I waited for traffic and only heard crickets. At that point I realized the importance of learning how to schedule and post on social media.
Yes, Google adwords can get traffic. Realistically few bloggers or startups can afford it. It’s not that adwords is bad; it’s just financially out of reach for most. Being on the Internet is not like it was 7, 5 or even 2 years ago. In general costs are higher and driving traffic requires certain skills, knowledge and at minimum a small budget. Even social media costs are more. With social media, the payout is that it targets potential customers and readers better than most marketing methods. So understanding how to schedule, post and reach the right readers using social media is critical. Good marketing requires knowing how to create eye-catching visual content for social media purposes.
Blog Tip #4: Find Easy To Use Visual Content Editors
When it comes to traffic, visual content creation is king. Visual content is traffic driving images, those eye-catching ones that make people remember a website. How that is created and with what is key. Visual content includes anything from logo’s, banners and blog article images to the small ones used in website sidebars, icons on forms and social media images used for profiles and photo covers. That’s a lot of images so finding a way to minimize costs is a consideration. I purchase my first logo for my first website and online store; I’ve since learned how easy it is to make my own as well as most of the other images I need. I also learned where to get professional images, illustrations, icons and vectors, in most cases without paying anything at all. I edit, overlay, annotate and manipulate my visual content thus creating unique images for my site and social media. Learning this skill doesn’t mean I’m planning to spend hours as a graphic designer. Actually editing my own images saves time, money and is a lot of fun. Plus it helps with image optimization leading to a faster website. It would have saved me a lot of time if I’d known how to do that initially.
In fact the image for this article took me less then 25 minutes to create and I’m making it for both the article and social media.
The power of images in today’s digital world simply can not be ignored. If you’d like to know how to easily and quickly create great visual content just sign up for my free 8 day email course “8 Days To Better Visual Content”.
Blog Tip #5: Create A List Of Free Image Sources
This is a no brainer; anyone online knows at least a few sites where they can get images. I use those sites as my starting point or create my own final images and illustrations with online image editors. Of course I bought a images when I first started and quickly realized that learning to create and edit my own was well worth the time spent. So I built my list of sites and continue to grow that. The more sources I’ve found the easier it has become to edit and create images for my blog.
So these 5 blog tips for beginners are just the tip of the iceberg when blogging. Like every blogger out there, you have to just start and be open to learning something new each and every day.
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