I never thought I’d find my passion and purpose when I started blogging 5 years ago on a free blogger account. Over the years, my blog has changed along with my season of life and so have the rules and best practices that come with running a successful blog. In my mission to turn my blog from hobby to professional, I have found excellent resources and learned valuable lessons along the way that I want to share with you. Whether you are a newbie or veteran blogger for hobby or for income, I hope you’ll find this page of blogging tips and tricks to take your blog to the next level helpful in your blogging journey.
What is the next level of your blogging journey? What goals do you hope to achieve with your blog? What are your favorite blogging tips and tricks or resources? If you have a particular blogging question you’d like to ask or a topic you would like me to write about, feel free to ask in the comments. I’d love to help you be successful on your blogging journey, wherever that next level takes you!
Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you. I only include affiliate links for resources I’ve purchased, used or would use myself. Prices and deals listed are subject to change, check the affiliate’s website for current pricing.
Blogging Tips and Tricks to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
BLOG SETUP AND MAINTENANCE
Domain Registration and Hosting:
- If you want to make an income from your blog, you need to own your domain name on a self-hosted blog. New Blog Hosting* is a small business domain registration & hosting company with excellent, prompt and personal customer service. I can contact the owner directly and receive prompt response and resolution.
- My FREE 2017 Blog Planner comes with 36 customizable worksheets to get your blogging tasks organized so you can achieve your blogging goals. Download to Google Drive, Microsoft excel or print. I downloaded mine to Google Drive so I can update it on my phone or computer as needed.
- I used a my Plum Paper Planner in 2016 weekly format with checklists, blog planning section and lots of notes pages which was a great all in one solution for planning and bullet journaling. I used it for my blog’s strategic planning, weekly goals, checklists, bullet journaling and noting my stats and small victories for my blog.
- My Day Designer Planner* is the one to juggle the chaos of family, home and blogging. Everything I need to do or random ideas that come up during the day are in here. With a page per day, I love that there is enough space for all my randomness, I have not run out of room on a particular day yet.
- 5 Time Management Tips to Achieve Your Dream Life
- Staying Organized – Guest Post Contribution on Book Bloggers International
- Getting Started Blogging + 4 Tips to Help Your Blog SOAR from Fit Triangle Mom
- 5 Things I’m Learning About Blogging from On D Bookshelf
The first step in good blog design is to organize it so that your readers can find what they are looking for. I used the Blog Structure Blueprint (a FREE resource from Elite Blog Academy)* to figure out how to organize my categories and tags to optimize my reader’s experience on my site. Simple and straight forward, the Blog Structure Blueprint will help you on your way to designing a beautiful blog you can be proud of and your readers will enjoy visiting.
Theme & Plugins:
- I purchased the Genesis framework* and the Hello Trending child theme* from Hello You Designs over Black Friday Weekend and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. The Hello Trending theme is more gorgeous than anything I could have created myself. It has capability of portfolio and shop pages that I’m not using now but can use in the future as I grow my blog and business. I’m still making final changes and figuring out how I can optimize this theme, it’s so robust and a fraction of the price (currently $65) of a custom design. The designer/owner Jennifer was awesome to work with and I highly recommend both her design and install service ($90) so she sets up the demo theme for you and then you get to customizing. Get 10% off when you subscribe to her email newsletter. The features I love most about this theme are on the home page:
- Welcome section which I use to feature benefits for email subscribers to grow my email list
- Beautiful homepage grid using TwigyPosts stock photos (see below about that one) that directs people to the landing pages I want readers to notice
- Sticky navigation bar that changes color so it stays at the top as readers scroll down the page
- New on the Blog section has Pinterest sized images and social sharing buttons so readers can pin/share right from the homepage
- Instagram feed on the bottom
- Other themes from Hello You Designs that I loved with many of the same features as my theme:
- I used Tweak me v. 2* – Who knew creating a site as unique as you are is so easy and affordable? Tweak Me v. 2 by NoseGraze is a robust theme that gives you the uniqueness of a custom blog design for a fraction of the price (currently $69). Super easy to customize without knowing a lick of CSS, you will want to check out the theme showcase* just to see how diverse and gorgeous this theme is!
- Deal alert! Sign up for NoseGraze’s mailing list for 10% off your purchase!
- Other premade themes by NoseGraze that I love:
- Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin* – also by NoseGraze, this plugin is a must if you blog about books to easily retrieve book info, format book reviews and create review indexes, currently $35.
- Jordan with J&J Social for brand design. I could not afford a custom design so Jordan created my ideal brand with patience, professionalism and at a very reasonable price. I have received many compliments on my branding from readers and more attention from brands and sponsors wanting to work with me.
- PicMonkey: crazy-awesome photo editing*– I prefer PicMonkey Royale over Canva for Work for ease of use. I can use my own fonts, save images and templates to the Hub to edit later which makes creating brand consistent images a piece of cake. Current price $33/year (vs. $119/year for Canva for Work) though both programs have a free version with limited capability.
- Blog Design for Dummies* – excellent resource if you want to DIY blog design
- Design Your Own Blog – Marianne’s blog and Facebook group are amazingly helpful
I like using unique photos that aren’t being overused. Many bloggers seem to know and use sites like Unsplash and Pixabay (don’t get me wrong, they have great photos), but when I realized just how many people used them, I knew I needed to find different sources for stock photos. Here are my favorites and some samples of using them in my blog post/social media images.
- Seaside Collection from Twigy Posts* are the images I purchased and use in my homepage grid. The coastal color scheme and vibe perfectly with the branding I had Jordan do. I LOVE all of Jana from Twigy Post’s work. This pack is reasonably priced (currently $35), included 40 images and I could edit them in Picmonkey since I don’t have Photoshop. I’m also trying out her Instagram photo subscription service so you’ll see some of her photos on my Instagram feed. She also sends free stock photos to her newsletter subscribers.
- picXclicX is an entire site of FREE stock photos. Jill’s collection has really grown and become more beautiful since I started using her photos a few years ago. Attribution is required or you can pay $5 for LIFETIME use of any of her photos. Since I used quite a few already, I went ahead and paid for the $5 so it came to less than $1 a photo.
- Haute Chocolate has gorgeous stock photos. I have not plunged the money down for a subscription ranging from $75/quarter to $225/year but Rachel offers a few free stock photos for subscribers monthly . I should have bought the subscription service during the Black Friday sale, maybe this year. I love that membership includes high resolution images, branding guides, social media quotes, and unlimited downloads!
- SC Stock Shop has a wonderful variety of stock photos and brand builder kits if you are looking for a new look. These are high resolution images and you can shop by color or collections. Prices vary from $69 for a single image to $274 for the larger brand builder kits. Be sure you read the specifications in each photo before purchase. Although some photo titles indicates a “collection”, the price could still be just for a single image. Shay offers stock photos free for subscribers so that’s what I use.
- Got Bloggers Block? Content Brew Can Help!
- Lessons Learned From Taking on NaBloPoMo
- To Write or Not to Write Negative Book Reviews
- 5 Challenges Facing New Writers (& Bloggers) and How to Overcome Them by Author Adria J. Cimino
I take advantage of Elite Blog Academy’s* freebies throughout the year, and especially in February as the 5-day sale of the new course approaches. This year EBA is offering these amazing freebies that I’m working my way through. All of these are short, concise and packed with actionable and useful information to get your blog growing and reaching the traffic and income goals you desire. These are the order in which I’d recommend you do them:
- EBA Blog Assessment*, a quick and painless personality test to see if you have what it takes to be an elite blogger
- Goal Setting for Bloggers Workbook*, pinpoint why you blog and what you want to achieve with it
- The Blog Structure Blueprint*, an essential tool to map out your blog’s design and categories so that users can easily find what they are looking for and what your blog is all about
- 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income*, simple and effective tips for new bloggers or people starting to monetize their blogs
- Blogging Made Simple* webinar coming soon. Blogging can be overwhelming with the amount we need to know and how to manage it all. Ruth has tips to simplify it all for us.
- FREE Simple Framework for Success webinar* on 3/2/2017, limited space. LIVE webinar with Ruth with the 4 things you need for a successful and profitable blog or business. Register now!
Every single resource was simple, actionable and effective. I love Ruth’s down-to-earth style and her contagious “if I can do it, you can do it too” attitude. Even if you don’t buy the full Elite Blog Academy* course like I did, you will want to sign up for the waiting list so you can get notified of her fabulous free resources.
- How I Grew My Traffic from Pinterest by 1,899%!
- Skyrocket Blog Pageviews with Google Analytics* – a book full of actionable items to boost your traffic
- Dominate Google Search Webmaster Tools Free 5-Day Course*
- 3 Tools to Optimize Your Blog’s Holiday Traffic & Income
- 6 Reasons Why Link Parties Are Worth Your Time + Link Party Directory
- 8 Facebook Groups to Grow Your Blog
- Top 5 Tips for Creating a Sense of Community on Your Blog
- How Commenting on Blogs Can Grow Your Network
- Blogging Events to Learn about Blogging and Build Your Network
- Career Opportunities in Blogging from The Book Wheel
- 5 Tools for Your Online Business from Life from My Laptop
- How Traveling with T Met She Reads Book Club and Created Opportunity
- How To Run a Successful Blog Event from The Book Wheel
- 4 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts on My Social Media
- TailwindApp scheduling for Pinterest* – download a free trial to schedule pins for your follower’s optimum viewing time and join tribes to get your pins promoted faster
- I use PicMonkey Royale* to create my pinnable images. I can use my own fonts and save templates and images to the Hub to edit later which makes creating brand consistent images a piece of cake.
Pin for Later
I will continue to update this page for additional blogging articles I write and resources I find useful. Be sure to let me know what you would like to see and learn about in the comments. What are your favorite blogging tips and tricks and resources? Let’s share and help one another be successful in our blogging journeys!