growyourblog

Blogging basics:hostings, domains, DA and more

Today I wanted to chat about the technical side of blogging and how getting it right can be great for your business. The technical side of things is something I’ve learnt along the way; after many years of struggle, so I thought today’s post might be of use for those newer to blogging: I’m going to chat all about what domains are, hosting, what ‘DA’ means, its importance and more.

What is a domain and do I need to buy one?

We all have a domain- it’s our website address. However, usually, when we refer to ‘domain’ we talk about owning our own so we don’t have the .blogspot or .wordpress at the end of our URL. Owning your domain is the first step you should take as a blogger in my opinion: even if you’ve only been doing it for a few weeks. Owning your own domain is inexpensive (usually around fifteen pounds a year) and helps with…

  • Looking more professional: I do lots of blog outreach and I rarely work with bloggers who have a .blogspot or .wordpress address; as to me this marks them out as a new blogger. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel you can invest a small amount in your blog, why should I invest in working with you? Having your own address from the outset shows you mean business.
  • Paid Work: Domain authority (more on that in a mo) is one of many blogging ‘metrics’ that signals your authority. Without a domain, you don’t have any domain authority. Your DA can lead to paid work.
  • SEO help. Having a high domain can also help with SEO. More authoritative sites have higher DAs and therefore will possibly show higher in search engines. Search engines don’t just rely on this, but it will certainly help.

In most cases, it’s best to go with the .com domain for your blog; however, if you feel your blog is country specific (in my case, I want my audience to be UK bloggers largely so went for the .co.uk version) then a country-specific domain might be better. I would not recommend quirkier extensions, like .me and .info as many of these are not given a DA ranking (more on that below).

What is domain authority and how can it help me?

DA is a measure of how ‘authoritative’ your domain or URL is. The higher your domain, the more authoritative your site is. Which is why sites like The Guardian have domains of almost 100 and new bloggers have domain authorities of 0. It shows who we can trust-whose been around for longer and who is linked to more frequently. You can check your blog’s DA score by the MOZ toolbar.

Domain authority increases when…

  • your blog gets older. So this is why I would recommend getting a domain RIGHT NOW even if you don’t feel like working on your blog.
  • Other sites link to it. When first starting this site, I set myself a goal of guest posting on 10 sites. I spent 30 minutes-1 hour each day on guest content to help grow my name.

Therefore, to increase your DA:

  • Guest post for others.
  • Participate in roundup requests.
  • Collaborate with other bloggers.
  • Write amazing content that will naturally be linked to.
  • The more authoritative the site, the more beneficial the link so focus on guest blogging for those with high DAs.
  •  Interlink in your blog posts too-internal links between blog posts on your site can help! For example, in a moment I’ll share some of more blog posts you might want to read.

Enjoying this? Why not read…

How I turned my blog into a job

How to go from blogger to freelance writer

How will a high DA earn me money?

As you can imagine, a high DA is very valuable for companies- as is the chance to be linked by lots of other sites. Some bloggers with a high DA charge for sponsored posts and include a ‘link back’ to the company’s site. This ‘link back’ helps pass on some authority/link to the brand; helping boost their own DA and potentially their rank in search engines. However, this is only the case if it’s a follow link. I’ve done a little video explaining the difference between follow and no follow links below as it gets a bit tricky….

 

So one way to make money for your blog, is charging companies for sponsored content or links. If these links are ‘follow links’; the company will benefit more and the higher your DA, the more beneficial your links are (and the more companies will pay for them).

Just in case you didn’t watch the video, paying for links goes AGAINST google guidelines; which means it’s something bloggers weigh up carefully. It isn’t breaking the law but it means Google can blacklist you and stop you receiving traffic from the search engine.

However, whilst most brands who ask about your DA will be interested in follow-links; it can still show the authority of site (in terms of how many people are linking to the content) so it is still a metric PRs might consider and still worth being aware of even if you don’t charge for links.

What is the difference between having your own domain and self-hosting?

Having your own domain is very straightforward and a great way to start taking your blog seriously. ‘Hosting’ your own site does not impact DA. Usually, when we start blogging, we host via WordPress or Blogspot. ‘Self-Hosting’ means we host the content( through a third party). Self-hosting is beneficial because it gives you much more freedom beyond wordpress.com or blogspot. For example:

  • There’s usually more flexibility and freedom in what your blog can look like;and you will have more flexibility in dividing your blog.
  • You have complete control of your site.
  • You can advertise more freely- there is some talk that advertising on a blogspot/wordpress.com could be against the rules but I have not tried this to comment on it.
  • You can use plugins. This is 100% the most important one for me. There are SO many plugins to help your blog grow and work more efficiently: from the Yoast plugin to make SEO so simple to the ones that help your readers Pin easily or others that allow you to entice your reader to sign up for your mailing list. I’ve lost count of the number of plugins I have experimented with and they make such a difference to my blog.

Self-Hosting is reasonably cheap in your first year, so if you’ve made any money at all; I’d recommend putting it back into hosting. I previously used Siteground- for my hosting and they do have some very good introductory offers. Siteground was a good beginners choice for me and I thought their technical support was great at first.

I was with Siteground for around three years but as I then owned three blogs and my blogs grew and grew; it kept crashing and going down-and my hosting became more expensive. I needed solutions and Siteground kept trying to encourage to pay a site developer rather than helping my fixing them. I ended up moving to Lyrical Host and am much happier. Note I am an affiliate both these companies but, as always, these are my honest thoughts (I am also approached to be an affiliate for other hosting companies and always say no as I do not have first-hand experiences of them.)

lyrical-host-affiliates-webmail-desktop.jpg

If you’re completely new to hosting, Siteground might work out cheaper for your first year (especially if your traffic isn’t high or you just own one blog and therefore you shouldn’t have my issues). However, Lyrical Host allows you to pay monthly with no commitment, which is a big advantage.

Lyrical Host is also run with bloggers in mind which is another big advantage; since they don’t expect you to have the techincal knowledge; do the migration for you without any fee and you get lots of bonuses (such as lovely, blogger-friendly stock images). You can use my code BLOGLANCER to get 10% off your hosting with them.

What if I change my mind?

If you decide that self-hosting is not for you, it is easy to ‘downgrade’ and just keep your domain- since the URL is what people link to. This guide explains how to do so. Therefore, don’t see hosting as a permanent commitment.

Phew, that was a super long blog post and I’m glad we’ve come to the end of it! Any other questions on hosting or domains? Pop them below and I’ll do my best to answer!

Before you go…

Read: 10 ways to grow your mailing list.

Watch: How to get engagement on your Facebook channel.

Buy: My Ebooks on how to pitch to and work with brands OR Everything you need to grow your blog traffic.

Subscribe: My weekly newsletter with weekly blogging tips and opportunities to work with brands.

This post contains carefully selected affiliate links.

Why outsourcing can help your blog and how to get started

Happy Sunday all! Today I wanted to share my journey of outsourcing work-how it’s helped my blog, how easy it is to get started and why you don’t need to be a limited company to do so. Outsourcing is something I’ve been experimenting with since the start of the year and it first, I wondered if I was doing it far too early (I worried I was being a bit pretentious or felt it was only something huge bloggers did).

However, it’s revolutionised the way I work and has helped me take on so many more projects. Today I’ve teamed up with App Paye a super-simple, effective payroll solution for small businesses and bloggers like me- to share my journey of outsourcing and tips to get started.

Why you should Outsource

‘Outsourcing’ is when you take the jobs you hate the most (or perhaps the ones that are the most time-consuming or you know that you aren’t great at) and pay someone else to do them instead. The beauty of freelancing today is that this can be super flexible. You don’t necessarily need to take on permanent employees but might want to find some ad-hoc help for things like…

  • Making pins: If Pinterest is part of your traffic strategy, it can be way quicker to pay someone to create a bundle of Pins for you.
  • Checking broken links. Who has time for this?
  • Social Media scheduling: Even more important now Twitter doesn’t allow duplicate tweets.

It might seem counter-productive to outsource these things, but they’re often things that take the most time and could be done far more efficiently by someone else. If you spend an hour faffing around finding the perfect pin-then you may well be able to earn more money in that time; if you dedicated an hour to pitching for sponsored post or networking, and paid someone who’s much better at it to create a bundle.

How to manage outsourcing

So far, so good. But how to go about it? Do you need to set up as a limited company? How can you do everything above board? Here are some of my top tips for managing outsourcing…

-There’s no need to set up as a limited company-unless you want to. A limited company has many benefits but if you’re happy as a sole trader, you can still outsource and pay workers! App Paye is a new payroll system that allows you to pay workers without being a limited company.

-Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more. When I first outsourced, I used sites like fiverr and also found a VA that offered low rates. I thought it made sense to pay as little as possible, but the time I spent chasing them and redoing the work meant it was actually worth spending a little more!

Now, I outsource a lot to my lovely friend Emma (here’s her blog; I’d 100% recommend her for VA work) and we’ve built a great working relationship. It was worth taking the time and money to find someone reliable; it will SAVE so much hassle and money in the long run.

-Make sure payment is secure. One thing that worries me about Paypal is that things can obviously be refuted and I’m always nagging people to send invoices. Once you invoice, you’ve no idea if that person is declaring it on their taxes etc and  AppPaye keeps payment in one place; with payslips and the ability for them to upload hours and then helping ensure tax is deducted.

The freelancer/contractor can also just press ‘pay me now’ button; making payments secure and so much easier than faffing around with bank transfers. I can log on to the app and see the hours I’ve outsourced and clear record of payment. I’m hoping that companies I work with in the future might also consider this as a payment method-as freelancers are offered benefits like BUPA healthcare that regular employees would have!

 

-Use the time gained wisely. The whole point of outsourcing is to maximise your time; so make sure you put the time you’ve gained to good use! You might choose to dedicate one hour a week to a passion project or tackling introductory emails! There are a few books worth reading about outsourcing, such as The Four Hour Work Week (although that takes it to the extreme!)

I hope you’ve found this blog post useful. And remember: don’t be afraid to outsource! You don’t need to be earning lots of money to do it and you may very well find it boosts your blog traffic and earnings! Once you’ve set up, do take a look at App Paye to help you navigate payments. I’d love to hear your experiences of outsourcing:would you do it? has it helped?

*This post is in collaboration with App Paye*

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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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The lies I’ve told as a blogger (and why it needs to stop)

Today is one of those blog posts that came to me when I least expected it to! So, let me tell you a little story. Ages ago, I saw an Instagram ad campaign for ‘The Bold Type’ on Amazon Prime (this is not in anyway an advertisement for it, I promise!)  At the time, I thought ‘wow, it’s a bit weird that Amazon Prime need Instagram ads.’ and promptly forgot all about it. Yet today, a month or so later, I  was bored; watched one episode and I’m now hooked! So I guess influencer marketing really does work folks!

So what the bloody hell has that got to do with this blog post? Well, the show is all about those who work at a fictional magazine (and to be honest, a magazine that is probably not at all realistic) and the protagonist’s struggle to create pieces that really resonate with people instead of just social shares and traffic. It got me thinking about my purpose and my goals when it comes to blogging; and in honesty, some of the times I’m really not truthful about things.

I’m not talking about Instagram followers (those 4000 followers I’ve earnt over the last five years are all real dammit!) but the conversations I have on my blog…

I’m constantly writing about growing traffic and freelancing: giving the impression that I’ve got this shit all figured out. All of my blog posts create a narrative that you’re just one step away from tons of traffic via Pinterest-and when you do; it’ll be plain sailing and money-making from there out.

Not often do we talk honestly about blogging and what it means to us. We lie (or perhaps simply ‘present our best version of ourselves’)not only to our readers but also to ourselves. So today, I wanted to be really honest with you and make some confessions…

1. I’m sorry, but I do get unhealthily obsessed with my numbers.

I think it’s healthy to know your stats. But, to be honest, I can view my stats as a form of validation rather than a success in their own right. If they’ve dropped: I’m not interesting, I’ve got no voice and nobody cares. If they’re up? I’m an amazing success. Yet, It’s often not relative: I had so much lovely feedback from my Youtuber channel-even though I don’t have many subscribers yet.

I also recently blogged about increasing my traffic from 20,000 to 30,000 monthly views; and whilst that has led me to apply for Mediavine-it hasn’t seen any more opportunities come my way than previously. In fact, I have had more work on my blog some months, when my traffic was 1/2 the size I get now! So, I’m sorry if I present traffic as a ‘magic key’ to unlock opportunities: I do think it’s vital but after you reach a certain point, you might not find it as important as you’d think.

2.Pinterest really isn’t the be end all.

I know I’ve blogged about Pinterest a few times and I’ve had loads of people get in touch asking me to help them with it. Pinterest is great but it does have its flaws too: it’s a search engine and that means the people that find my posts are likely to click on and click off- a loyal reader they do not make. Although I am pleased that some of my pins have done amazing through Pinterest, I’m also envious of those who gain traffic through loyal, superfan readers too.

3. I compare myself a lot.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few moments recently when I’ve seen bloggers get campaigns I’m perfect for me (in my own head at least) and I compare myself. Am I getting as much work as them? Am I as popular? Note that actually, my worries about not receiving a campaign is not even a money thing necessarily- it’s a validation that I’m succeeding and people are interested in me.

4.I get quite bored of taking photos

Don’t get me wrong-I like taking photos but I’m not brilliant at it. Instagram natural I am not! So, I’d love to say I relish the opportunity, but most the time I want to eat or my husband is telling me to put my phone away. I seem to always attract shadows, inadvertently drop my own hair in the food, shoo the dogs away who try (and sometimes succeed) to eat the food and by the time I’ve taken it, It’s cold and I’m no longer hungry.

5.I’m really glad I don’t have an ‘Instagram husband’

What is it with all these bloggers recently sharing that they know their boyfriend is the one because they are just so invested in their Instagram feeds and celebrate their milestones?. I’d like to share the following conversation I literally just had with my husband:

Me: I’m writing a blog post, so for research purposes how many followers do you think I have on Instagram?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Guess

Him: About 500?

Me: No!

Him: 10,000 then

Me: Err also no!

Him: I don’t even know what’s supposed to be a good number!

So, there you have it. But oh my goodness guys- it’s a bloody photo sharing app; it’s not rocket science. I understand you taking an interest in your partner’s work but it’s also very helpful to have someone to tell you to turn your phone off and not to take it so seriously;because ‘yeah, it’s Instagram!’

6. I don’t just ‘blog for me’, I blog for traffic

I think blogging for yourself is a really nice sentiment and one that I followed for many, many years. I think once you take that transition into blogging as a job (whether it’s for money or simply putting yourself out there as professional) and delve into all the stats that come with it (What’s your twitter impressions? your average comments per Instagram post? your bounce rate?)  it’s very hard to detach and blog purely for yourself. There’s some type of content I know is more relevant to my audience each time I write it, and sometimes there are occasions when I know something won’t get lots of traffic, but I’ll write it anyway.

7. I do blog for money

What is with the stigma of ‘if you’re starting a blog for money, you’re doing it wrong.’ Imagine if we said that to people studying a qualification or starting a new career. Now, when I first started out, I definitely didn’t consider blogging as an income-but my second blog (this one you’re reading), I do think about how to make it financially viable and have done since I set it up; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

This leads me on to the next part, I think it’s really exciting to be blogging as ‘a job’ but, you do start to think about your time constantly and how you use it-and if you’re time is compensated. It can be difficult to separate things like admin time and just enjoying blogging: I can sometimes think ‘is this work?’ ‘how is it benefiting me?’ However, The Bloglancer at the moment is largely sponsored-post free and I still really enjoy it. Yet you do feel a little guilty spending time on it; since any time is essentially ‘work-time.’

8. I do feel as if it’s all falling apart

There are quiet days, weeks, months sometimes. Days where you check your inbox isn’t broken and wonder why everyone around you is getting opportunities. I’m sure there’s people who read my blog and my freelance work and think ‘where is she getting all these opportunities from too.’ I’ll mope for a while; then grab my notebook and start sending emails out again. I’m pushy I suppose: I’ll follow up emails; I’ll pick up the phone and just get going again. We don’t often talk about the wall of email silence, campaigns falling through and weighing up how long to chase again but it happens!

I hope this blog post helped-and in the interest in honesty, I’d LOVE to hear your confessions!

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

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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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