* Affiliate Links may be used at no additional costs to you
I’ve been in the blog slumps over the last couple weeks, but really, it’s mainly due to Instagram. I know I shouldn’t let a social media platform dictate my happiness, but after working hard to build an extension of HTC there and seeing my engagement go down because #algorithims, I’ve been feeling pretty woe-is-me. But, I decided that I needed to stop throwing a pity party and focus back in on where everything started: my actual blog!
I had to remind myself that one: Instagram does not make the world go round. While it is important to my brand and story-telling, I don’t own Instagram and I could wake up tomorrow and find that my account was gone. I will ALWAYS own my blog and that is something that can never be taken from me.
And two: I didn’t start blogging to be on Instagram. I started blogging to write and share what was on my heart and to encourage others to live a vibrant life. So, instead of moping about Instagram, I decided to put myself back into my blog and work on improving it over the long weekend. Since I love sharing blogging advice to anyone out there thinking about blogging themselves, I decided I would share all my tips and tricks here (and hopefully they are new to you and not the typical ones!)
15 Ways to Improve Your Blog
Revisit your Mission Statement – Remind yourself why you started blogging in the first place and why it brings you joy. If you don’t have a mission statement, take some time to write one down. Having a blog without a mission statement is like writing a paper for English without a thesis. You want to have a point to your blog, especially if you are working on growing your audience and hoping to monetize your site down the road. Having a mission statement doesn’t mean you need to have a super specific niche (I believe the lifestyle blogs matter) but it does give your audience a general idea of why you’re writing and what the whole point of it all is. It also helps YOU as a blogger to know why you’re writing and will ensure that you put out strong and helpful content!
If you don’t have a mission statement, this is the time to do some brainstorming and get one put together and if you DO have a mission statement, this is the time to revisit it and see if your blog’s direction has changed and if it needs to be tweaked.
Some questions to chew on while thinking about your mission statement:
Who do you write to? Who is your ideal audience? What age are they, what do they like, what do they not like?
Why do you write to them?
How is it different from other blogs out there? What’s your unique twist?
Once your have some thoughts written out, it’s time to put it all together as a mission statement about 2-3 sentences long! Obviously, there is going to be much more to your blog than just those sentences, but this little paragraph should be the soul of your blog. Think about it this way: if someone could only read these 2-3 sentences about your blog and what they would get from visiting it, what would you tell them?
When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a mission and my content was pretty scattered. Over the years, as I grew as a blogger and as I grew in life, my mission and purpose in blogging changed. That’s okay! I just kept tweaking my mission statement until I finally landed on the right one: To encourage women to pursue a vibrant life despite their scars or pasts.
Be Social on Social Media – For the last few months, I have been sucked into the numbers game instead of focusing on what social media is actually for – to be social! Last week I sat down and decided to leave real comments on people’s Instagram photos and try to have real conversations and you know what? I actually made some real genuine connections! Imagine that. I then took my new-found “strategy” to Twitter and did the same thing. It was a blast to actually have some tweets back that weren’t about blog posts!
So, take a minute to not worry about numbers and get on a platform and actually connect with someone! Find someone new on Instagram that you would want to be friends with in real life and leave a meaningful comment. RESPOND to their reply, or even send a DM. Get on Twitter and say hi to someone you admire.
How does this improve your blog? Well, it shows others that you actually care about real connections and not the numbers and makes you more genuine and authentic!
Only focus on 1-2 social media platforms – It can be absolutely overwhelming to keep all social media channels running at all times, and let’s be real, no one really has time for it all AND to continue to blog. So, take some time to figure out where your audience hangs out the most and put 90% of your effort into those social media platforms and put the rest on autopilot.
For me, that means putting most of my effort into Pinterest and Instagram and putting Facebook and Twitter on the back burner. Not only does this reduce the overwhelm of having to do it all, it gives me time to really put my efforts into cultivating and growing those platforms and expanding my audience.
Take some new Headshots – If you’re like me, you change your hair color more frequently than you change nail polish. Plus, there is something refreshing about having new photos to update all of your profile pictures with. So, book a photographer and get some updated headshots! Not only will it help your audience recognize you if you’ve changed up your hair, but it will give your blog a mini face-lift!
Join a Mastermind – This has been one of the BEST things I’ve done this year for my blog (and myself.) I joined a small mastermind of like-minded bloggers and we meet once a week online (usually google hangouts) and discuss different strategies and bounce off ideas of one another. We also chat every day on our Facebook Chat to continue those conversations and be a source of support to one another.
Not only has it been super helpful to have people who “get” what it’s like to be working a blog as a side-hustle or full-time gig, but these girls have become some of my closest friends in general. In fact, they show up for me more than a lot of my “real-life” friends do these days. They always have my back in blogging and in life.
Update Plug-Ins – Once upon a time, the plug-in I used for social share buttons stopped working. I have no idea how long ago they stopped working, but they did and someone finally told me a few weeks ago. And, for some reason, I took my sweet time to find a new plug-in! I’m sometimes a ninny because social share buttons are pretty important to blogging and I’m not sure why it took me so long to find a new plug in.
Once I forced myself to sit down and install a new plug-in (which took all of 3 minutes) I decided to update and add some other things to my site as well. I wanted to add a “previous post” pop up in the corner of my blog when someone got to the bottom of a post. I also wanted to try Milotree to see how that would do for social media promotion. It took me 30 minutes to add some new plug-ins, update some old ones, and it gave my blog a bit of a facelift and improved its user-friendliness.
Don’t let the “niche” get you down (but revisit your focus) – So many big bloggers will tell you that in order to be successful, you have to have a super specific niche. I don’t want to say that niche blogging is bad (some of my favorite bloggers are niche bloggers) but I do want to say that it isn’t the only way to be successful! You CAN have a lifestyle blog and write about several topics and see the same amount of success as a niche blogger. However, I do think that all lifestyle blogs should have a focus.
While your mission statement tells the purpose of your blog, your focus tells your reader what kind of content they will be getting. I, for example, focus in on style/beauty, travel, and personal stories. I do not focus in on crafts or recipes all too much, and if I do, it’s because I feel like there is a clear connection back to my m
Take control of your Monetization Strategies – If you are feeling like you are in a rut or solely relying on one blogging network to monetize your blog, it’s time to take your income into your own hands. Yes, you CAN monetize your blog, even if you are just starting out or don’t have thousands of followers.
How? Pitch companies yourself. Know your worth as an influencer and make it happen.
Change up your Strategies – What’s that saying? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? I realized that’s what I was doing for the last year. I was going through the motions, posting photos to Instagram and pinning pictures to Pinterest and expecting different results than what I was getting. I was feeling pretty discouraged and bummed out.
Helloooo, Chelsie! Algorithms have changed the game and doing the same old things isn’t going to keep producing the same results. I needed to stop resisting the change in social media platforms and adjust my strategies. It was time to shake things up.
I invested in this eBook about Pinterest and not only has it TOTALLY changed the way I think about Pinterest, it’s helped me completely change my strategy when using it. Guess what? Three days into implementing just some of the strategies and I’ve seen an improvement already!
Re-visit some of your favorite blog posts, update them, and promote them again – People who have been spending time with me on the internet for a while will know that I used to blog at Life with Rosie (named after my pup) before Hey There, Chelsie. Some of my blog posts from those days are pretty funny (like my very first DIY tutorial one) but some of them are still relevant and important to my story. However, they are all branded with the Life with Rosie URL and fonts. Some of the posts still have old giveaway widgets in the text or the blog post title.
Since I do work with brands on HTC on occasion and my own personal branding it important, it’s crucial for me to go back and updates these posts. I never know what post a person is going to land on first, so I don’t want to confuse them with Life with Rosie branding or an out-of-date giveaway post.
Going through old blog posts and updating any branding, adjusting content so that it’s more evergreen (as in, it will always be relevant no matter what time of year) and taking out old giveaway widgets is a great way to improve your blog. It gives you the opportunity to refresh some content and get it recirculating on your social media channels and it also may inspire you to come up with more content ideas!
Update your Branding/Blog Template – When I first rebranded to HTC, the designer I worked on my new branding came up with a beautiful color palette that was exactly what I was asking for. It was full of muted lavenders, blue-ish greens, and grays. But, since I refocused my blog around the idea of living a vibrant life a few months later, I knew I needed to change up the colors to reflect that theme and message. Muted and pastel shades were not translating my message the way I needed it to or wanted it to.
So, I took some time to think about what colors and fonts would best represent my mission and focus and came up with a vibrant palette of colors. I knew that since I was overhauling my color palette, I wanted to change my template, too. I spent several days looking at different options and finally settled on the Scarlett Theme from Bella Creative Studios.
Shout out to Gina, the owner of the shop, who not only creates beautiful and feminine WordPress themes but also installed mine and customized it to my colors basically overnight. She made my vision completely come to life, was SO easy to work with, and communicated every step of the way. If you are looking for a new theme or even a web designer, I HIGHLY recommend her!
Anyway, updating my branding and theme was one of the best things I’ve done to improve my blog. It made my mission and focus more relevant and made my site look more professional!
Switch Hosts to prevent Headaches – When I first started blogging, I didn’t do much research on hosting for my blog. I just figured that Bluehost was the way to go since so many other bloggers said that’s who they hosted with. I wish I had done a bit more digging before signing up because it would have saved me SO many headaches. Like, that one time I rebranded and Bluehost broke my site when setting up the wildcard redirect and I was on the phone with them from 10 PM to 2 AM trying to get it fixed and had to have my husband get on the phone and yell for a manager because no one was fixing my issue. Of course, this was all happening right the day before a huge sponsored post was set to go live. What a nightmare.
I finally switched hosts last November after Bluehost announced that they were laying off over 400 employees and I am kicking myself in the pants for not doing it sooner. I have had NO headaches since switching to Siteground and the one tiny issue I did have was solved in 20 minutes from the start of me entering the support chat. It was painless. I cannot recommend them enough.
I am never worried about my site being down or having to wait on the phone for hours to get it back up. Switching hosts has improved my blog drastically and all’s I had to do was sign up!
Ask “this or that” questions to your audience – Want to get your audience more excited about your content? Want to interact with them more? Ask them for their opinions and make it easy for them to voice them. I’ve been doing this a lot on my Instagram stories by asking for help choosing paint colors for my new house or helping me decide on what dress to buy when shopping. Turns out, my friends/followers are pretty legit and are great at helping me make choices. Plus, it makes it easier for me to connect with individuals and even gives me content ideas for HTC!
Create a Simple Blog Plan – Ever feel at a total loss of what your “big picture” is with your blog? Take some time and write out a blog business plan! I did this at the beginning of the year and it’s really helped me stay on track and give me some goals to work towards. It also gives something for me to refer back to when I need a reminder of what I’m trying to accomplish.
I’ve seen a lot of “blog business plans” out there on Pinterest, and they are all really complex. For me, the more complex they are, the more overwhelmed and discouraged I feel. So, it’s important that my blog plan is SIMPLE!
I break mine down into quarters and pick a social media platform I want to focus on for that quarter (and set a goal for it.) I set a goal for sponsored posts/brands I want to work with that quarter and write down dates that I want to have made progress on them by. Finally, I write down three goals for the following categories: Backend, Content, and Growth
I choose a backend goal (like switching hosts) a content goal (like updating 7 old posts) and a growth goal (like gaining x amount of page views.) I also write out HOW I plan on achieving those goals so I have a plan of action, and leave it at that!
If this is something that anyone is interested in, let me know and I’d be more than happy to share my exact process for creating a simple blog business plan.
Invest in yourself and your blog – This is a scary one, but investing in my education when it comes to blogging has been one of the best things I could have ever done to improve my blog. Yes, there have been some things that haven’t returned the investment for me, but there are have other courses that have returned the investment tenfold. The one that has helped me the most? BossPitch.
What is BossPitch? It’s an online eCourse designed by my good friend Erica of Coming Up Roses that teaches you the step by step process how to pitch yourself to brands and get paid your worth.I have paid over 1,000 dollars in blogging courses and I can say hands down that BossPitch has been the best investment I’ve ever made into my blog. It has completely changed the way I approach sponsored content and has given me the confidence and power to monetize my blog on my own terms.
BossPitch is closing its doors TONIGHT at 11:59 PST and if you’ve been on the fence about it, it’s time to jump on it! A new payment plan was just unrolled (6 monthly payments of $99.00) so that it can be more affordable to those who may be worried about putting a lot of cash down up front. If you still need some extra information, be sure to watch this Q&A that I (and some other BossPitch Alumni) participated in last week.
Conduct a Reader Survey – Reader Surveys are a great way to gauge your audience’s interest in the content your producing, to bound ideas off of them for future projects, and to see what more you can be bringing to the table. It can be a little nerve-wracking to ask for constructive feedback (I was totally a wreck after conducting my first survey because I thought no one liked my blog) but in the end, it can give you a lot of insight and ideas on what you can do to improve your blog for those who read it.
That being said, I would be SO grateful if you took this 6 question reader survey for me! I’m trying to figure out what this summer is going to look like for HTC and would love some honest feedback! Thank you!