Weekend project: Spring clean your blog

It’s been awhile since I’ve assigned you all a weekend project, but I have a GREAT one this week!

This is something that I’ve been thinking about on and off all year already. It totally goes with my One Little Word NURTURE … And I’ve been newly inspired to really make my blog work for me from some long lovely conversations Andrew and I have.*

weekend project

Here are some ideas:

Recycle older content:

We talked a little bit about this on my free Pillar Content webinar a couple weeks ago, but just think about how many amazing posts you’ve written in your years blogging that are just languishing in the archives. There are a bunch of ways you can refresh and reuse those posts to make sure they continue to get read by your newer readers.

Refresh your about page:

 When is the last time you updated your About page? Had any big life changes? Tweaked the topics you write about? Win an award recently or published something big? Your About page is the first page most new readers visit, so just double check and make sure it’s what you want.

Purge your sidebar:

The problem with blogging for a long time is you make a little change here and a little change there and then after a year your blog design is a mess! This weekend, clean it up! Pull out the extraneous affiliate buttons. Pull out the Goodreads or Spotify widgets. Make sure that your sidebar has just a few options for readers, so you know that they’ll go where you want them to go.

Check out this big group Pinterest board – Blogging Tips and Tools – for even more ideas!

I would *love* if you leave your blog URLs in the comments below! Public accountability – can’t beat it. I’ll be looking forward to checking out all your blogs come Monday morning!

*He’s the best and always so supportive.

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Who is the BUILD ecourse for?

The BUILD ecourse has now been out for 9 months. That’s 9 months of focusing content, 9 months of brainstorming monetizing, 9 months of building marketing systems and 9 months of building online platforms to really get what you want.

I’m working on a new class tour document for those of you who are still hemming and hawing about whether or not the ecourse is for you. But in the meantime, I want to let some of the students tell what they have gotten from the course:

Praise for BUILDAllie from Alexandra Rae Design:

Most of all this class has given me courage to actually just get started making my blog even better. I feel confident that I know the information and material, and really, all that is left is the “doing.” The way Amy presents (and complied! Wow, those Resource pages are AWESOME) the information, you just want to get started right away. I’ve spent all my free time in the past few weeks watching videos, rereading modules… And I can’t think of any better way to spend my time. Thanks for such a great course, Amy!

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Praise for BUILDTrina from Feed the Birdies:

This class has taken all the little details of what I want my blog to be and helped me create a big picture and a PLAN of how it’s all going to work. I was having a lot of trouble with that part and always missed it by a mile, but now with Amy’s help, I can say I will be a well noted blogger and mean it. It’s already happening!

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Praise for the private Facebook mastermind group…

Praise for BUILDKristin of rukristin papercrafts:

The BUILD facebook group is the first place I come to when I’m looking implement a new idea for my blog or brand. Because I work at home (and alone) it is incredibly helpful to have a group of smart and savy like-minded people to bounce ideas off of. The wealth of information found in the BUILD ecourse is even more valuable when you can discuss it with hard-working, capable people who are looking to succeed in the same way you are. The BUILD facebook community is a must-have resource for every person looking to build something on the web.

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Praise for BUILD ecourseKam of Campfire Chic:

I know I can go to the BUILD private facebook group if I have questions or want to start a dialogue about the lessons in the course. I find myself going straight to the community with drafts to see what feedback I can get…it’s awesome knowing that I can count on those involved to really give me an honest opinion and share their own experiences.

 

The BUILD Facebook group is a real Mastermind Group. It is amazing.

It’s a supportive place that you can come to bounce ideas off of other bloggers and micro business owners. It has been such a delight to see how the private Facebook group has developed.

Still have questions? Check out my interview with Megan about who the BUILD ecourse is for:

free blogging tips

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5 easy ways to blog better

Sometimes I repeat myself.

When I chat with my consulting students or answer comments or emails, a lot of the advice and encouragement I give is the same. Most of the time if a blogger is struggling to really find their groove or find their voice or blog consistently or just blog better in general …. I give them the same advice over and over again.

Which means that if it’s working for someone else, chances are it will work for you too.

Today, let’s talk about the top 5 easy ways you can be a better blogger. Easy. Really.

blog better

Use an Editorial Calendar

This is one of my soapbox preaching topics. I have written about the wonder and glory of having an editorial calendar and then also how to maintain your editorial calendar. I’ve written about how the limits of an editorial calendar actually help get through creative blocks. Beyond those posts, my most helpful tip is just try it. Give it a shot for a month. If you hate it I won’t be offended but I 100% believe an editorial calendar will help you be a better blogger.

If you use WordPress, this Editorial Calendar plugin is helpful.

Reduce the number of posts each week

Again with limits. Your readers will REALLY be ok if you don’t publish 7 days each week. If you are currently publishing 7x / week, and cut down to 5x/week all that extra time can be put into crafting even better content. Either longer posts or better DIY projects or even more effective marketing of those posts so you can be helping even more people.

In fact, one of my favorite bloggers publishes once a week? Maybe even once every other week. And you know what? I don’t even care because I know that EVERYTHING he puts out is amazing, instead of having to click past ‘filler’ posts.

Show-off your personality

Please don’t be a faceless corporation. Please don’t water down your opinions or quirks just to try to appeal to a larger audience. It’s not likely to work. You’re unique, fantastic, maybe slightly eccentric and you will find your tribe if you show off your personality. There are readers out there just like you, who share your Austen obsession or who will love to hear all your estate-saling tips week after week.

It’s only through showing off those peculiar facets of your personality that you’ll be able to find those other members of your tribe who will be thrilled every day to see your newest blog post.

Focus

Ok, on the OTHER hand from showing off your personality, you don’t need to show off ALL of your personality. For example, I love to travel but I don’t post my travel stories on this blog. That would not fit into my L&R content. I love to cook (and make up recipes), but that doesn’t fit here. I will write about creativity and reading and blogging and storytelling here at Lemon and Raspberry but I’m not going to nerd out about how much I love my dutch oven.

Be able to focus your blog content enough that you can describe your blog in 1 sentence. It will make you a better blogger AND help your readers be able to share how amazing you are.

Include a takeaway

Your readers need a REASON to read your blog. Yes, your workspace is gorgeous; thank you for showing it off. But why do I care? Maybe it’s because you have a tip for working in a mess. Maybe it’s because you want to show off this new tool you think I should buy. Regardless of what it is, your blog post should have a takeaway, a valuable piece of info that will make your readers’ lives better.

Extra credit: Sign up for BUILD ecourse!

Build an online platform ecourse

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Creative small business resources

What are you doing this lovely (spring?) Monday afternoon? Not ready to jump into your week yet?

Procrastinate Spend quality time doing research by reading through these creative small business resources from around the web that I love.

Any good resources you want to add in the comments?

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Pillar Content: The backbone of your blog

webinar April 8Quick reminder: Tomorrow afternoon (April 8) I will be holding a FREE webinar!

It will be about an hour, about Pillar Content, AND all participants will get a discount code for a chunk off of my BUILD ecourse! Plus there will be a recording for about 5 days afterward, so if you can’t make it tomorrow afternoon you can still see the webinar.

But you MUST RSVP! Sign up here!

All that said …. What is Pillar Content?

Short answer: The backbone of your blog. The pillars that hold up everything else. The whole reason anyone reads your blog regularly.

Long answer:

Let’s call your blog your ‘online platform’ … because that’s what it is. It is your platform from which to spread your work and your ideas.

But the platform needs to have some kind of foundation. You need an anchor, or (in this metaphor) pillars to support your platform.

Your pillars are the solid, evergreen blog posts that provide enormous value any time. Not giveaways, not recapping your weekend, not Things I love Thursday. Those posts are NOT evergreen and (honestly) don’t provide a ton of value to the reader.

Pillar content are the blog posts that get pinned over and over again. Pillar content are the blog posts that can be tweeted or shared on Facebook any time. Pillar content are the blog posts that tie directly to your main keywords and really show your readers what they can expect from your blog. These will be posts that are solidly in your niche and covering your main keywords. These will be posts that have a very strong takeaway. These will be the posts that you find your readers most sharing, most linking to and most identifying your blog with.

Examples:

If you write about memory keeping and travel, your pillar content would probably be an ‘ultimate guide to scrapbooking on the road’ or something similar. If you write for your handmade children’s aprons company, your pillar content would probably be something like, ‘top 10 reasons to cook with your child.’

There is so much more to Pillar Content! I hope you join me for a FREE webinar ‘Pillar Content: The backbone of your blog’! All you need is an internet connection to attend! I’m pretty excited!

We’ll discuss:

  • What is Pillar Content?
  • How do you come up with Pillar Content ideas – and how do you identify posts you’ve already written as Pillar Content?
  • What is the best structure for your Pillar Content?
  • What can you do to get the most bang for your Pillar Content?
  • How to you change or grow your Pillar Content as your blog grows?
  • … and more

 CLICK HERE to RSVP – I’ll send you details!

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Are you on the list? New free business resource

As part of my goal to NURTURE things in my life, last month I completed my new free guide for my newsletter subscribers!

Current subscribers already got it, so make sure you’re on the list to get it too!

I get asked a ton what I use for my shopping cart or what I use for blog or what kind of camera or other tools. For so many people, it’s just easier to get recommendations from people/bloggers they trust rather than go through the trouble of hours and hours of research. That’s simply the kind of economy we have now – recommendations and word-of-mouth is how I find most of the companies I work with.

So here’s mine!

CLICK HERE to sign up for access to the L&R Library!

Once you are signed up, you can download a simple 1-page resource of the 5 tools I use (every single week) to build my business AND my free guide on how to jumpstart your creativity!

I was able to quit my day job last June and these are the biggest things I used to build my platform and get me to that point. I hope you find something that works for you!

Sign up here to get it. Print this out, save it to your computer for future reference, or just go get all five of them right now and save yourself the trouble.

And, as always, let me know if you have other questions or requests. I’m happy to help you all as much as I can!

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Free blogging webinar: April 8

webinar April 8(I announced this to my email list last week! Are you on that list?)

You are hereby invited to join me for a FREE webinar ‘Pillar Content: The backbone of your blog’! It will be about an hour long, focused on pillar content and all you need is an internet connection to attend!

I’m pretty excited!

CLICK HERE to RSVP – I’ll send you details as the date gets closer.

We’ll discuss:

  • What is Pillar Content?
  • How do you come up with Pillar Content ideas – and how do you identify posts you’ve already written as Pillar Content?
  • What is the best structure for your Pillar Content?
  • What can you do to get the most bang for your Pillar Content?
  • How to you change or grow your Pillar Content as your blog grows?
  • … and more

CLICK HERE to RSVP

I’ve already collected a bunch of questions from BUILDers, but please leave your own questions about Pillar Content below!

I also would love to do more of these in the future, so let me know if there are any topics in particular you’d like to learn about.

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Getting ahead is my favorite

I’m writing this blog post about 2 weeks in advance. Because of the magic of editorial calendars.

As of the time of this writing, I know I’ve got a big weekend coming up AND it turns out I need to go out of town for a small family emergency and may not have internet for 5 days. Being able to work ahead is a god-send in this specific situation, but even aside from that …. I get A LOT more done when I write and format a bunch of posts in a big chunk.

And then I can sit back and work on another project or two in a big chunk. Being able to FOCUS on just one project, and not jump in between tasks, allows me to be SO much more productive!

If you also want to get ahead on your work:

Know your priorities:

What are your deadlines? What needs to be done next? The first thing is to make sure that you’re not going to miss an important date on Project B while your working on getting ahead on Project A. It just doesn’t make sense to work ahead on your blog posts if you’re going to miss an important guest post deadline.

Plus being aware of your REAL priorities helps keep you off of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other (super-fun and addicting) time wasters.

Do your homework:

Here is my post on how to maintain an editorial calendar. The *specific* examples in that post are a bit out of date, but the strategy is the same. The trick is, of course, to know what you’re going to work on. Knowing what you’re going to blog about 3 weeks out is the biggest step in being able to get those posts written 3 weeks out. I’m working on a new model this year, where each month has a rough theme of blog topics, and it really does help me plan and come up with topics even easier!

Focus and get rid of social media:

This last step is hard for me. I took Facebook and Twitter off of my bookmarks toolbar, and yet I STILL find myself going to those sites (and others). Like, every 3 minutes. Just to “see” if anyone replied to my post/update/etc. It’s ridiculous. Truly. I’ve taken alerts off of my phone AND I keep it on silent always, so that helps a lot. My next attempt will be to write blog posts off the internet. But even with those distractions, I can still set aside enough focus time to work ahead.

And what am I going to do now that I’m a couple weeks ahead? Enjoy my weekend with my husband. Not stress about being unplugged for a few days. Finish the first draft of the novel I’m working on. Read A TON. Any of the large number of projects I’m still in the middle of.

How far ahead do you usually work?

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Pay attention to your bio

Why is it so hard to write about yourself? Is it because we’re not comfortable “bragging” or maybe because we only see the crazy interior and don’t have a good grasp of what others see? Whatever it is, some kind of mental block consistently keeps me from writing about myself. If it’s an About Page or a short bio for a guest post or even just my little bio blurb on Twitter, I put it off and put it off.

But, if we’re going to have an online platform … if we’re going to try to leverage the internet to create something amazing, we really do need to pay proper attention to our bios.

Do this today: SCHEDULE an hour or so in the next week to look over your bios online or prepared for other use and identify which ones need to be updated.

Look for:

  • Typos, spelling and punctuation errors. Chances are you didn’t really look over your bio after you wrote it initially so give it a good once-over. Editing is critical.
  • Hints of your own personality. You need to include YOU in your online presence, so try to stay away from being too formal, jargony or otherwise disconnected from the reader.
  • Out-dated photographs. On your About Page especially, make sure you’re including a photo of YOU that looks like you. Not what you look like with a camera in front of your face. Not what you looked like on your wedding day. Just a current, simple photo of you.
  • Out-dated references. Either pop-culture jokes that make you look out of touch. Or a reference to your age (or children’s ages) that is no longer correct. Any other fact that you included in your original bio should be reviewed in case anything has changed
  • Your Call to Action. You should include a link to sign up for your newsletter, or follow you on Twitter or read your top blog posts or SOMETHING. If someone is reading all the way through your bio, make sure you give them something more to do when they are done.

Don’t forget to put it on your calendar because this must get done! You can’t get new readers excited about your blog if it’s obvious YOU don’t even pay attention to it!

For more, be sure you check out Kam’s ebook and workbook About You.

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5 easy ways to build trust with your readers

One of the best ways to BUILD an online platform that can help you get what you want is to build a supportive community of readers. So let’s talk about how you will use your content to build trust with your readers, which will in turn build a community around your blog.

how to build trustBe honest.

You are of course entitled to your own privacy, but if you’re going to start a website with yourself as the primary (or sole) person behind it, you owe it to your readers to at least be honest with a little bit of yourself. There are a lot of nuances to being honest, and you need to set your own boundaries, but just don’t be deliberately deceptive.

Be transparent (about what you’re writing about).

If you write a fitness blog, you don’t have to talk about how much money you make. But if you write a how-to-make-money-on-the-internet blog, you might want to offer that as evidence you know what you’re talking about. If your readers find out later that you didn’t they’ll feel like you were trying to deceive them and you may have lost any trust you previously built.

Answer questions.

Don’t just be a god-like voice from on high, when your readers try to interact with you. You are positioning yourself as a leader in your niche, so demonstrate that you have some answers. Or, at the very least, opinions and some kind of guidance. Elsie and Emma regularly answer FAQs and give behind the scenes glimpses of their lives.

Go to where they are:

If your readers are on Facebook, join them there. If they have their own blogs, visit them and comment when you can. Show your readers that while you are a leader in your niche, you still are interested in them and what they are doing.

Display social proof:

People look at reviews before they purchase something; they are easily persuaded by the evidence of their peers. People want to know that they are not the ONLY one reading your blog. Show your comment count, display testimonials, promote how many subscribers you have.

How do you connect to your blog readers?

More resources for building trust with readers in the BUILD ecourse

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