GROW YOUR BLOG

How to create a privacy policy for your blog

GDPR is just a few weeks away from being implemented! Hopefully, you’ve read my The Ultimate Guide to GDPR for bloggers’  and have understood a little more about what GDPR means and the consequences for your blog. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, one of the simplest things you can do today is to get your privacy policy sorted!

Why do you need a privacy policy for your blog?

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How to get engagement on your facebook page

Facebook pages are something I hear lots of people moaning about lately. I’ve seen comments such as ‘Facebook pages are dead or the only way to get engagement is like for like threads.’ However, my reach on my facebook page often hits thousands, and tens of thousands at times; despite having just shy of 5000 followers.

A few months ago, I too had pretty much given up on my facebook page too! It was languishing at 2000 likes and rarely got any comments or likes. I would just automatically share my posts to my facebook page when published and left it at that!

However, I’ve worked hard since then and have grown by page to almost 5000. More importantly though, I’ve focused each day on sharing relevant useful content to my page; and most of my posts get decent comments and shares.

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6 ways to be proactive during quiet blogging periods

Quiet periods and lulls are so common in the freelancing and blogging world- the summer months can be frustrating for bloggers as traffic can be down due to the hot weather and there are so many bank holidays which means communication can grind to a halt (especially when it comes to unpaid invoices and accountants not being in the office!) All of this can leave you feeling a bit deflated, so today I wanted to share some of my top tips to be proactive during these quiet periods.

This blog post is in collaboration with Boost Capital, who like me, are champions of small businesses and help them with flexible funding via their Merchant Cash Advance (which you only repay when you’re paid!). As a small business owner myself, they’ve asked me to share my own experiences and suggestions on how to keep proactive during these quiet periods to make sure your blog keeps ticking over and of course- money is coming in.

 

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Photography Tips To Take Your Blog to the Next Level

Photography is pretty much essential for any modern-day blogger. For me, it’s still vital that the written content is useful but, of course, there’s no denying the power of Instagram. People like vibrant, beautiful edited photos- a picture tells a thousand words, after all. That’s why it’s impossible to try to grow your blog without working on your photography too. But don’t worry-I’m going to share a few of my top tips!

Use the right tools.

Before you head out into the world to take some great pictures, you need to make sure that you’re using the right tools. I know that iPhones have come a long way. Gone are the days of phone cameras with only a few megapixels.  However, there’s still a reason to use proper digital cameras if you want your photos to have that professional finish. I use my Olympus Pen when taking food snaps.

Of course, the camera you use is only one aspect of taking great photographs. Anybody can press a button on an expensive piece of kit (and I’m pretty much still in auto mode at the moment!). What makes a good photographer is their ability to frame a photo, edit it and style it.

One investment you might want to make for your blog is Photoshop lessons. I’m not talking editing in seagulls or a different backdrop, but if you’re in a competitive niche such as food-this can help your pics stand out and it’s something I am hoping to try in 2018.

Lighting can be used to your advantage.

 

adventure, attraction, blurryEven a beginner to the world of photography knows that lighting is essential to capturing a great photo! Of course, different rules apply depending on whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Diffused sunlight is your best friend when it comes to taking pictures outside. Direct sunlight at high noon can distort perception with high shadows and ruin what appears to be the perfect shot to your naked eye. The Golden Hour (sunrise and sunset) is a perfect time to take photos in the soft and warm glow of the sun. As for taking pictures indoors, make sure you utilize natural light rather than artificial light; windows that catch sunlight indirectly are ideal locations for photographs.

Remember the rule of thirds.

Finally, you need to remember one of the most important composition rules: the rule of thirds.  I had read about this a few times before it clicked; it’s a bit hard to explain unless you’ve seen a few examples, so you should do your research. Essentially, imagine a photograph is composed of nine even square-shaped segments. Often, your focus will be in the centre square, but an image can improve its composure if the focal point lies on one of the imaginary intersections of the lines that form the nine squares! 

Photography is a tricky business but I hope these posts helped!

*Collaborative Post*

How I Increased my traffic by 10,000 monthly views (and hit Mediavine levels)

Hi everyone, today I wanted to do a quick post to blog about finally hitting Mediavine’s traffic requirements! Now I appreciate not everyone is into the type of posts about traffic stats, and, to be honest-they’re not my cup of tea all the time either. I don’t agree with random targets for the sake of it- but this time my goal was for a specific passive income.

For those of you who don’t know- Mediavine is an advertising networking that has strict entry requirements-25,000 sessions per month (a session is not the same as a page-view FYI); so I’d set myself this as the goal of meeting this by the end of the year on my main blog-A Balanced Belly.

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10 blogging resources I can’t live without (books, podcasts AND 2 giveaways)

Today I wanted to talk about all my favourite blogging resources-whether its books I’ve delved into, stationary I’m loving or Podcasts I can’t get enough of! I’d love to hear your favourites too-and stay tuned for information on TWO GIVEAWAYS- One on my own blog to win a copy of ‘Blogging your Way to Riches’ and another with Old English Company

just a quick reminder of my two self-published resources before I begin (I’d feel a bit silly put my own books in the top ten but they’re definitely worth a read if you haven’t got them already!)

    

        Pitching Toolkit                                        Blog Growth Toolkit

With my shameless self-promo out the way (hey! a girl’s got to eat); let’s get down to my top ten…

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7 tools for bloggers and freelancers

computer, electronics, hands

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I have already covered so many different ways for you to make money online, from your blog, or as a freelancer. As an online entrepreneur, there are plenty of things you’re going to want to consider when you first set up your business – from that initial idea through to the dreaded tax self-assessment. Along the way, you’re going to find new ways of running your online business and plenty of hacks, tricks, and tools that make your life easier. To give you a bit of a headstart, I have put together a list of tools that any new online entrepreneur may want to check out. If they make your life a little bit easier, then that has to be a good thing right?!

1. Canva

You could hire a graphic designer to make all of your imagery look beautiful (if you’ve got the money) OR you could use Canva. Use one of their templates to create an amazing blog featured image or create something unique for social media. Canva also comes in really handy for things like social media banners, Pinterest images,media kits and eBook covers!

2. MailChimp

As you may already know, offering free guides, eBooks and printables is a great way to expand your online business nowadays. MailChimp makes this super simple, by offering an easy way to set up email campaigns. Automatically send out your freebie when people sign up and also keep them in the loop with a regular email newsletter. If you don’t already have MailChimp on your blog or online business, this is a must-have.

3. Buffer

Faffing around with social media can be a real pain and take up a lot of valuable time. If you want to cut that time in half, you can use a scheduling tool like Buffer. Simply set the times you want your posts to go out, add your tweets or Facebook updates, and let it do its thing.

It’s important to note that social networks like Twitter don’t like a feed full of automation or scheduled tweets, and people don’t always interact with a scheduled post, so don’t leave the whole thing on autopilot. A few a day should keep things ticking over nicely, though.

4. Shopify

Many prominent bloggers and freelancers are expanding their source of income by selling their own merchandise. This is such a good idea, as the profit is all yours – no measly affiliate payouts. If you want to set up your own online store, then Shopify seems to be the most popular platform. There’s a huge guide and review of Shopify here  (really useful), along with how it all works, which might help you out. You can either make your own merchandise to sell or use a third-party to provide the products for your shop!

5. Google Drive

If you’re paying for something like Microsoft Office to run your business, stop now! Google has a whole suite of free tools that you can use for writing documents, creating spreadsheets, and even making presentations. Not only will these free tools save you money, but they are all stored safely in one place – your Google Drive. This means you’ll never lose anything important, as it all saves automatically. You’ll be able to do your self-assessment in Google Sheets and craft perfect blog posts in Google Docs; it really is so handy.

    6. Google Analytics

Analytics Text

Do you have Google Analytics linked up? Lots of bloggers use their own host’s stats or blogger-but these are often inaccurate! Google Analytics can seem quite tricky to get the hang of to start with, but give it time. Google also offers free courses to help you get to grips with all of the ins and outs, if you’d prefer.

 Once you have some Analytics know-how, you can monitor where your traffic comes from, what your bounce rates are like, and a whole lot more. You can then use this information to improve your marketing campaigns.

7. Trello

If you like keeping everything organised, Trello might just be the tool for you. This project management app is perfect for keeping all of your to-do lists together in a pinboard-style. It’s like Pinterest but for organising your business! You can also add team members which is handy for those who work with others, especially if your team are all over the world.

There are plenty more helpful things that online entrepreneurs may want to add to their collection of tools, but I think I have the main ones covered. Have you got any you would add to the list?

*This is a collaborative post*

10 Reasons Why I Am Not Joining Vero (And The Bloggers Who Agree With Me)

So you might have seen the new social media app that suddenly went crazy recently is Vero. I woke up one day and my twitter timeline was FULL of bloggers saying they had joined and to go follow them.

My first instinct, was just NO. But that’s pretty normal: if a bunch of big bloggers tell me to do something; I’ll pretty much do the opposite (see my terribly curated Instagram feed or the fact I think most blogging awards are shit).

 

However, once I did a little more reading; it became apparent that 99% of people we’re only joining because they were terrified of it being the next big thing. Yes, it’s annoying that nobody sees our Instagram content anymore- but if you genuinely think Vero is going to replace Instagram, I think you’re mistaken.

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Pitching, engagement and budgets: Email with Alex from CCD PR

For regular readers, you might remember when I interviewed PRs and small brands on working with bloggers. I interviewed Icelolly.com about press trips, Fran from PrezzyBox about gift guides and Sam from Socially Sam about engagement, pitching disaster and everything else PR deal with!

Today, I’m back- and interviewing the lovely Alex-Account Executive at CCD PR who look after all sorts of lovely natural health, food and wellbeing brands. Alex shares such amazing insight which I know you’ll all find so useful!

Before, I begin, just to ask if you could (if you haven’t already!) fill out my big blogging money survey-to help me share how much bloggers charge for sponsored posts.

 

Q:Hi Alexandra, thanks so much for chatting with me today! Would you mind briefly introducing yourself, your role at CCD PR and a few of the brands you represent?

I’m an Account Executive at CCD PR working across natural health, food and wellbeing brands, I work across brands such as Nairn’s, Ombar and Equinox Kombucha . As an account executive my role encapsulates everything from getting our products into the press, working with bloggers and influencers, hosting events and brainstorming campaign ideas.

 

Q: All of my favourite brands (sidenote: If you haven’t tried Ombar, please do immediately!) How much of your day-to-day work is working with bloggers?

It often depends on what we’re working on with our clients. If we’re creating campaigns with bloggers or putting together a series of blogger reviews it can be a big focus of my day-to-day work. I think the work we do with bloggers of all sizes is definitely growing and brands are increasingly open to working with them.


Q:We’ve discussed projects that would suit both my blog and the publications I write for. What are the differences between the two pieces of media do you think? What are the benefits and the drawbacks of getting something in front of bloggers instead of traditional media?

We constantly work to get our clients in the media as it lends a recognised authority that people will trust and respect, also these days a greater number media outlets now have social media with hugely influential followings, so we do have devote a lot of our time to gaining exposure through these channels.

However, working with bloggers can add a more personal touch, so we’re always on the look out for innovative bloggers and influencers to work with who will help introduce a brand to more specialised and dedicated audiences.

Times are definitely changing and I think a lot of PRs now aim to get a balance of both blogger and media exposure for their clients, as we do find that blogger exposure can have a longer-lasting impact for brands.


Q: Very true! Us bloggers are constantly told brands are looking for good engagement-but what does that really look like to a PR company?

Engagement can come in many different forms, but essentially, when I look at a blogger’s engagement it’s to make sure their following isn’t just a number but rather an audience that are genuinely receptive and involved with the content that is being published.

When I look for engagement I often look for bloggers who engage with or work with other bloggers, produce beautiful imagery, have interesting or unique angles for their blog posts, and those that evidently engage with their readers, whether this is replying to comments on their Instagram and blog posts or through Instagram stories.

I also usually look at how they’ve worked brands on previous projects, I’m always really impressed with bloggers that create multifaceted campaigns, even on a small scale, where they showcase brands on both their blog and social media in a way that is unique to them.

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How to network as a blogger with brands and PRs

In today’s blog, I really wanted to talk about networking. I’ve had a busy few days in London and purposely made sure I fitted in some networking opportunities around my trip (leaving my poor husband to hit the shops alone!). Networking can take many forms: meeting other bloggers, attending events, meeting with PRs and brands for coffee or simply getting linked-in savvy. But if you want to get your name out there, be on everyone’s radar and make a go of your blog, then networking is pretty vital.

This is something I didn’t take much notice of in the first few years of my blog. So it’s absolutely fine if you don’t want to jump right into to it. But since I’ve gone freelance, I’ve found networking has made a huge difference! So here’s my advice on why you need to network to grow your blog AND how to do it!

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