Last week I shared my top tips for newbies. Hopefully you’ll have found those useful and be pleased to know I’m back with more – this time focusing on blog admin you need to nail.
I split that original post in two because I’ve crammed a ton of information into each of them and don’t want to overwhelm you! With that in mind, I’m going to dive straight in before this inadvertently becomes the kind of lengthy textbook which used to give us all backache…
When I started blogging, I didn’t use any. That’s very silly – they can make life so much easier! Here are my favourites:
If you are a little bit OCD in terms of organisation, this plugin is a lifesaver.
I’m not kidding (just slightly exaggerating perhaps). At the beginning of this year I downloaded this plugin and also bought myself an awesome organiser, the traditional kind with real pages. Which I wrote in for one month and then realised I’m too busy to keep it up.
This calendar allows you to easily schedule posts and provides a clear and simple visual, including unscheduled items. You can drag and drop your posts wherever you want them – and when you have several reviews, giveaways or sponsored pieces on the go (have faith – it will happen), it’s a very handy tool. I tend to create posts for every current project, even if it’s just a title, and pop it on my calendar so I don’t forget to work on it.
Today you’ll hate me a little bit for this piece of advice, but one day you’ll be grateful: get to grips with this now.
It’s totally worth improving your SEO (more on this later) and this plugin helps you do that. If you have twenty posts to go back over that may seem excessive. Try 200. Yep – not fun. Learn the annoying stuff now and stick with it as you go.
OMG, I have so much love for this one. If you despise social media as I do (because it’s like Alice’s rabbit hole crossed with a black hole, ie. you get sucked in and are lucky to find your way back out), you may want to download this immediately. It basically tweets your old posts for you without you having to lift a finger – ever (apart from initial set up, obvs). Uh-mazing.
Better Delete Revision
There’s a weird feature on WordPress which means every single time you save a post it retains the previous copy. This can quite easily equate to hundreds or thousands or redundant posts and create unnecessary lag when your website loads up. This handy tool allows you to very easily delete those unrequired posts.
Backup to Dropbox
Backup. Just do it. This plugin makes it soooo easy you really have no excuse not to. If you don’t do it and something bad happens, you do not deserve any sympathy. Not quite feeling it yet? Do us both a favour – bookmark this page and come back when you’re ready to go pro.
I jest, obviously. (On second thoughts probably not obvious – I do brand my blog around my cynicism.) But let us be serious: if you’ve never felt the dread descend upon you when your site goes down/you fear you may have been hacked/something else terrible threatens your online baby, then you’re either extremely lucky it’s not happened yet (I recommend joining your host’s affiliate scheme) – or you’re genuinely not ready.
If you run a series, this makes the job of copying and pasting so much simpler: you can clone a post with the click of a button. You’re welcome.
With thanks to Aby from You Baby Me Mummy for enlightening me about many of these plugins! For more, see Aby’s full post 20 WordPress Plugins You NEED for Your Blog.
Use Duplicate Posts
Alas, Duplicate Posts has a limitation – duplicates do not auto share to Facebook and Twitter (if you do not yet have this set up then hop to it!).
But…I’ve discovered a workaround: set up templates for your duplicate posts and only ever duplicate those.
Basically, there’s a ‘glitch’ in the system whereby any post which has already been published contains coding to tell WordPress not to publish for a second time. When you duplicate said posts, you’re also copying across that code. Thus, keeping an unpublished template negates this issue. Again, you’re welcome.
Social Share Buttons
Don’t simply add them – make sure they work correctly! Twitter is the main culprit here – it should be set up so that when someone shares directly from your site, your handle is auto-inserted and thus you’re aware of that person showing your blog some love!
Social Follow Buttons
Likewise, don’t make the schoolboy error of improper configuration here either – you’ll miss out on potential new followers if these buttons are not:
a) Very prominently placed and clearly visible;
b) Working. Duh! Actually, you’d be surprised; it’s easy to make a simple but grave error depending on the set-up of the plugin you’re using. (Guilty…)
Display Related Posts
I’ve a good friend to thank for this tip – and many others besides, as it happens (thanks Mim). Don’t underestimate the kindness and support the community will offer you – often even if you don’t ask!
Set up a Subscribe Form
How you choose to implement this is your own personal choice. Lots swear by pop-ups; many others despise them. Personally, I think I may have lost a couple of readers by using a pop-up (conjecture), and subsequently tried embedding a form at the bottom of each post using Mailmunch. I have to say, this second option has worked beautifully for me. (If you’re finding this post useful, please feel free to continue this trend!)
And incidentally, the form I used to have in my sidebar was a shocking waste of time. I’ve recently removed it altogether.
Make Your URL’s Relevant
When you write a post, be sure to make your url’s reflect the post: they should not be a random string of numbers. That ain’t pretty and does nothing to encourage clicks (or help you remember what on earth a specific url is when you have something you need to share off the top of your head).
You can set this up as default in your dashboard, or change manually. Go through all your old posts and fix any with ugly formatting – setting up redirects first, natch.
Thanks again to Mim of Love from Mim for putting me straight here!
Use Large, High Quality Images
Something else you do not want to be having to fix on 200 posts when you update your theme and find your poxy 500 pixel images don’t fit the bigger screen. Not cool, and takes weeks to correct.
Save yourself that headache: start now and be consistent.
Also, you may want to use Smush or similar to compress those beautiful big images.
Use Landscape Images
Everything on your blog looks better landscape. The end.
Learn a Little About SEO
I know – boring. But again, I wish I’d just done this in the first place because I’m still going through my old posts to optimise them. And yes, it’s non-negotiable if you want any hope of being found by Google.
A couple of examples of good practice:
- Pepper your posts with approx. three internal links and three external links (I’m not super disciplined about my external links and tend to use them organically, only when they add value);
- Where possible, make anchor text relevant to the link, rather than using ‘click here’;
- Use relevant headers.
I’m not going to go into anything more because that’s what Yoast is for – have you dowloaded it yet?!
This online photo editing tool is awesome – so long as your laptop is up to speed. If you’re nursing a turkey along, the time you spend attempting to use Picmonkey’s features will roughly equate* to the time required to earn back the cost of a new, faster laptop.
* This may be a slight exaggeration, but suffice to say that pre-MacBook I was not in love with their website, and now I absolutely am.
Create Pinnable Images
The bane of my life… I hear that Pinterest is an incredible tool for driving traffic to your site. If I’m honest, I struggle with it; however, this is what I understand:
- Don’t think of it as yet another social media platform;
If you view Pinterest as a search engine with images, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches – and hopefully gain some benefits from it too.
- Always use portrait images;
Annoyingly portrait does not work well in posts. I used to hide my pins (you can do this using code); however, this means people won’t see them and pin from your site – not ideal. Many people put large pinnable images at the bottom of their posts, but as I have my sign-up form there – and since that does work for me – I’m not about to alter my layout. You’ll have to find your own way on this one I’m afraid!
- Make your pins pretty;
Seriously, spend the time now to make them look good – you don’t want hundreds of pins to improve at a later date – yet another thing I can tell you from experience! #bloggerproblems
- Use pins only when appropriate;
For your own sanity, save yourself the time of creating pins which are unlikely to get any traction. Focus on tutorials, recipes and other how-to’s.
For more on how to get the most out of Pinterest, check out How I Nailed Pinterest and Doubled My Blog Traffic in One Month.
My final piece of advice is to be nice.
Play nice with everyone, because we all know each other – and I speak from experience when I tell you that the community look after their own. It’s totally worth taking the time to make friends, it will take you far. Here’s what being amiable inadvertently achieved for me:
Way back when my blog was in its infancy, I was ready to quit because I had much to learn and didn’t really have the first idea about what I was doing. Serendipity took a hand when a blogger I didn’t know followed me. Amy Treasure appeared to be quite a big deal (she is), and I was so overwhelmingly (pathetically) grateful for the follow that I felt compelled to email her.
Fast forward ten months and I’ve sooooo much to thank my unofficial mentor/guardian angel/firm friend for. Amy and I have now met and we talk all the time (we’re chatting on Facebook right now; and email too as it happens). We have tons in common and it’s a real shame we don’t live closer together.
Suffice to say, a nice email I sent on a whim has flourished into a genuine friendship.
And FYI, if being cordial seems a little obvious to you, then that’s great – it’s not directed at you. But believe me there are plenty of newbie bloggers out there who seem to feel entitled and have huge expectations of their more successful peers: nobody owes anybody anything in this game. But be nice, and you’ll be amazed at the generosity of the community.
All that remains is to wish you lots of luck with your venture! (And to bring you some pro tips from my pro blogger pals – subscribe below to be sure to catch these!)