9 Website Optimization Tips to Convert Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the high-converting elements!

9 Steps to Optimize Your Website For More Traffic + Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the steps!

Ever wonder how to optimize your website so that it does more of the heavy lifting in your business? Say, get out there and bring you some fresh leads + customers already? Or, maybe give the universe a shout-out to your superheroness?

I’m so with you on this one! Our websites should work harder. In fact, we want our websites to be the swiss army knives of the machine we’ve been working so hard to build.

The machine that’s going to drive traffic, build our audience, and make us profitable.

Today, I’m sharing 9 website optimization tips to help keep that machine running at peak performance. These tips will be especially helpful if your blog biz isn’t quite where you want it to be, or if you feel like you’re doing everything right but something is still a bit off.

You probably have questions about your website, or maybe you’re thinking…

  • I don’t have time
  • I’m done working on my site
  • How can this bring me customers?
  • Is spending time on my site even worth it?

I get it. Another thing to add to the list, right? And YES, optimizing your website for more leads and customers will take time.

Here’s the thing though:

Most people who visit your website are doing a quick fly-by, looking for something specific. Once they find it, they’ll likely peace out unless you give them such a bangin’ experience that they want to stay longer.

The beauty here is that once you optimize your website, you can pretty much set it and forget it. This is because all the heavy lifting will start happening on autopilot. You’ll have a system that builds relationships with complete strangers and a website that delivers leads + customers while you sleep.

Sound good? Here are my website optimization tips:


1) A Value Proposition


A value whaaa? This is a fancy way of saying let people know that you solve one problem for one specific person. A value prop should be the first statement people see on your homepage and it looks something like this:

I help (who) do (what) so that they can (benefit).

Confused by this? I’ve got tons of value prop variations, plus a template for you in this post. Your goal here is to let your audience know exactly what those 2 “ones” are above and to clearly communicate the value you provide. What do you do? How do you help? Who do you help? 

If you need help with your one person, you can download the customer avatar template I created to help you attract the right customers to your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to learn how to optimize a home page with a targeted message that attracts your ideal customer.

I recommend placing your value prop front and center on your homepage, ideally above the fold (which is another jargony way of saying don’t make people scroll for it).

Now, I know coming up with this kind of statement can be tricky, especially if you have a million topics you blog about, and that’s perfectly ok. Just know that if you have a hard time building an audience for your brand, your value prop is likely at fault.

Here’s why:

You need a wrapper for all your interests…some kind of angle that your topics point to so that people know which box to place you in. Plus, having a strong value prop is the best way to check the box on homepage optimization.

Note: When it comes to website optimization tips, people often skip the value prop step and head straight for SEO (step #9 below). This is a huge mistake, in my book. The reason is that after all your hard work driving traffic to your website, if you don’t grab people right away you’ll likely lose them forever. Please, friend, don’t skip this step!

Related: How to Find Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Your Story


Your About Page is where you hook people on YOU, your world view, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back! Your personal history has framed who you are and that’s the story your audience needs to hear. I call it The Story of You Plus Them because you’re connecting the dots between where your readers are in their journey and where you can take them.

Your About Page should communicate that you get how your audience feels. What have you experienced that may be similar to what they’re going through right now? How have you overcome your challenges? How do you personally know how they feel? What will change for them AFTER you?

Once you weave your story in a way that answers these questions, you’ll tap into how your audience secretly feels. Building an audience will become effortless because people will perceive you as having a solution and will naturally seek you out and want to work with you.

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design


Wondering how to optimize a home page? It starts with knowing how you want people to feel when they visit your website. Energized and excited? Deep and mysterious? Powerful and independent?

This is true for more than just your home page. Details like colors, fonts, and graphics have a lot to do with the mood of your entire website, and more importantly, how long people hang around. Your goal is to help readers get lost in your copy, with me? You want them to experience your website with no distracting elements to take their attention away from what you want them to do.

When you think about it, the function of design is to interpret copy. Ask yourself questions like How can I turn that huge block of boring text into an eye-guzzling graphic? What design elements can I add that will make it easy for people to digest my copy?

What you’re aiming for is to create a hierarchy of importance so that people know what to read first, second, and so on. We’re talking about deets like:

  • Easy navigation
  • Clear calls to action (step #6 below)
  • Harmonious colors, fonts, and graphics
  • Use of white space
  • Strategic positioning and scale of elements

When you’re first starting out, please don’t spend too much time on this step. The reason is that it’s easy to fall into a rabbit-hole with design. In the early stage of your business, your goal should be to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your audience.

I recommend using a theme like Divi as a jumping off point. Add your content and change the colors, fonts, and graphics. Then you’re good to go. Easy peasy.

#BOTTOMLINE Yes, design is important, but don’t spend so much time here that you put off other important things like LAUNCHING.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out


4) Opt-in forms + freebies


When we talk about how to optimize your website, this one’s a biggie. Opt-in forms and freebies are where you start turbocharging the machine and building an email list while you sleep. What’s not to love about that, right?

I include them on my home page and in as many posts as I can, without interrupting readers of course. If a freebie naturally fits and would help extend a post with even more value, I’ll include it.

I actually recommend including a freebie for as many posts as you can, which sounds like a lot more work than it is. You can start with a few that are related to your blog themes and use the same freebie on numerous posts. The double-whammy here is that the more freebies you create, the more you’ll understand what your audience secretly wants. You can use that intel to frame future products around.

Remember, freebies are a huge part of our content funnel, which I cover in this post. A high-converting freebie is:

  • Targeted – speaks to one specific person and addresses their most pressing pain point.
  • Actionable – is easy for people to digest and implement. Checklists, cheat sheets, templates and short workbooks (less than 10 pages) work well.
  • Simple – covers one simple topic rather than multiple topics. Your goal is to offer the easiest steps for people to get from A to Z.
  • Delivers results – gives people steps they can actually move forward with and see results.
  • Builds trust – establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Sparks curiosity – offers enough value to get people excited about future products, without giving away the farm.
  • Provides real value – is something that people would actually consider paying for.

For opt-in forms, I’m in love with Thrive Leads! They have so many options. You can tweak these forms all you want and then save them as templates.

Any type of form you want, Thrive can make it happen. Take a look:

  • Welcome mats – Full page opt-ins similar to Jeff Bullas’ home page. These are supposedly the highest converting. I can’t wait to test.
  • Standard pop-ups – I use these as “exit pop-ups”, where visitors are prompted to opt-in right before they leave.
  • In-content – Clicking on an image or a link triggers a pop-up. I use these for all of my content upgrades.
  • Ribbon forms – Appear as a bar across the top of your website, like the one on Twelveskip’s site.
  • Sidebars – Display on the right side of pages and posts.
  • Footers – Sit at the bottom of your site and prompt people after they read your content.

Can you see how powerful freebies are? I highly recommend purchasing the Thrive Leads’ plugin ($67 one-time fee) and experimenting with each opt-in form.

5) Landing Pages


If we’re really going to make our opt-in forms stand out, we need to give them a dedicated landing page. Here’s why:

All the forms mentioned in step #7 are designed to appear on an existing page or post on your website. They’ll pop up, slide in, slide down, or hang out at the top/bottom of a page. If we really want to shake things up, we’ll put our opt-in form on an entirely separate page, so people can’t help but notice it.

How is a landing page is different from other pages on your website?

Great question! I scratched my head on this one too at first. What makes landing pages different is that they include only 3 things:

  1. Details about your freebie
  2. A call to action (step #6 below)
  3. Your opt-in form

That’s it! The best converting landing pages are all about freebies and nothing else. We’re talking no blog posts, pages, sidebars, or even top navigation. Basically, no ANYTHING that might distract people from signing up for your freebie.

So there you have it! That’s my skinny on landing page best practices. Yours can be short and sweet (an image plus a few bullet points) or long and detailed (more copy, more images, more wow).

Wondering how to make a landing page? I’ve got 2 options for you:

  • LeadPages has a huge library of high-converting templates that you can easily tweak to suit both your freebie and brand. While I like their templates, I find that customizing them takes more work than I want. Plus, the $25 monthly fee is too steep, in my book.
  • Thrive Content Builder is a relatively new plugin that’s been giving LeadPages a run lately. These guys boast a huge template library too (162 and counting) and charge only $67, with a full year of support. That’s a one-time fee and a no-brainer, right?

6) Call-to-Actions


As people read your content, you want to encourage them to take another step. The way to do that is to use a combination of buttons, links, and copy that calls them to action (hence the term “call-to-actions” or “CTAs”).

CTAs have the smallest amount of copy you’re likely to write, but don’t let that fool you! This is one of those cases where big things definitely come in small packages. Here are a few CTA examples:

  • I’m In!
  • Heck Yes!
  • Hook Me Up!
  • Get Started Here

You’re probably thinking Why are CTAs such a big deal? Can’t I just say “Download” or Buy Now” and that’s it?

It depends. Sometimes that will work and other times not so much. I recommend brainstorming your CTA a bit more. If you hang in there, you’re likely to come up with text for your CTA button and heading that will get people fired up to sign up.

Take a look at Melyssa Griffin‘s website. See how she prompts people to Take Action: Click An Option Below…? It doesn’t get any clearer than that! Follow this example with your call-to-actions and you’ll be buildin’ your machine, quick like.

You want these babies ev’rywhere:

  • On your home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Blog posts
  • Opt-in forms
  • Landing pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Sales pages

Remember, CTAs are a huge part of creating an effective content funnel. People need to be drawn to both the copy and design of your call-to-action. This is the way you’ll be able to capture their attention long enough to guide them through your sign-up process.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

7) Thank You Page


When people opt-in, you need a way to assure them that their freebie is on its way. That’s where a thank you page comes in. You literally say something like Thanks for signing up! Your freebie is on its way! And leave it at that.

Nope, sorry. In reality, we can’t leave it at that. 🙁

We need to dig into the real potential of thank you pages and help people take the next step. After all, they’ve already raised their hands and said yes, so they’re likely ready to build a relationship, or maybe even purchase a low-cost product. Now we’re talkin’.

This page has some serious lifting to do! First, think about what you want people to do. Then make sure your thank you page includes:

  • A confirmation message
  • Specific instructions on what to do next
  • A clear call-to-action (step #6 above)

Speaking of CTAs again, here are some great call to actions for this page:

  • Ask people to whitelist your email address
  • Share on social media
  • Register for a webinar or event
  • Purchase a low-dollar offer
  • Purchase a related or affiliate product

Whatever you do, please make this page a priority! This is a huge website optimization step. Don’t back-burner it or treat it as an afterthought. Your thank you page doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be pretty. It just needs to prompt people to take a very specific action.

8) A sales process

What I mean by this is that you need a system to deliver your freebie, prime people for future products, and nurture the relationship you’ve started to build with your subscribers. That’s where automated email marketing comes in.

What you want to do is to create a 2-email sequence (one to deliver the freebie and one to introduce an offer). Now I get that delivering a freebie doesn’t sound like a sales process, but let’s take a closer look, k?

First off, you send an email that delivers your freebie. No brainer, right? You’ll want to tag subscribers with this particular freebie and then you can:

  • Send them weekly updates and blog posts
  • Tell them about a product you’re creating that is related to the freebie and offers tons more value
  • Tell them about a service you provide, again related to the freebie
  • Share an affiliate product that will help them implement an action step in your freebie

Can you see how this is shaping up into a bangin’ sales process?

Now that you know your audience and what they’re trying to achieve, your job is to build a relationship with them and get them excited about buying.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you bombard subscribers with salesy emails, but you get my gist. Setting up an email sequence to deliver your freebie is the first step in building your sales process, and it’s all going to happen on the same platform.

Looking for an email service provider? I recently switched from Infusionsoft to ConvertKit and am loving it. MailChimp is a good option here too.

9) Plugins


Let’s take a look at some plugins that will help turn your website into a sales machine. I’ve already shared Thrive Leads and Thrive Content Builder, which you can purchase at Thrive Themes. Here’s how to use other plugins that will turbocharge your website:


Put at the bottom of your posts

See the social media buttons at the bottom of this post? Those are share buttons from Shareaholic, which is a free plugin. Woop Woop! Share buttons encourage people to share your posts and send a strong social signal that your content is popular.

You can also place share buttons at the top of your posts or on the left side. I’m excited to try Social Warfare, but right now I’m shying away from their $25 monthly fees.

Contextual Related Posts

Put below your share buttons

A lot of what we’re doing with plugins is encouraging people to click through to other sections of our website. That’s exactly what Contextual Related Posts does best. Once you install this plugin, you can display 3-4 related posts based on the content of your current post. It’s easy to tweak the design too.

Google Analytics

Add to the <head> tag of your website

If you hired a sales person, you wouldn’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. You would track and measure their performance. The same is true with your website. You have to know which pages are most popular so you can optimize them for even more conversions.

Many themes have a clear section for adding Google Analytics, so you may not need this. But in case things get wonky and it’s not as easy as it seems, install this plugin, add your code, and you’re all set.

I recommend logging in to Google Analytics to check your site’s performance at least once a month.

Yoast SEO

Nothing to “put” here. Simply follow the SEO prompts at the bottom of the WordPress edit window.

Popping up in search engines doesn’t happen overnight, but anything worth having is worth waiting for, right? That’s how SEO works. You lay the groundwork, plant your seeds, and then wait for spring.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on SEO lately, and let me just say that it’s a big deal.

Get more traffic? Check.
Get clear on your ideal customers? Check.
Create better content? Check.

If you’re wondering how to make a blog post SEO-friendly and haven’t already installed this plugin yet, I say get on it. What Yoast SEO will do is prompt you with a checklist of things that will help you optimize your blog posts. Once you see a green light (right up there near the Publish button), you’re all set.

While this handy tool doesn’t replace SEO keywords or even Google’s ranking algorithms, it will help you optimize your posts with SEO-friendly content, title, headings, tags, descriptions, images, and more.

Need more SEO tips? I cover the basics of it here. If you want, you can also download the SEO checklist I created so you know how to get your posts ranked on Google. Click the image below to download.

SEO Checklist For Creating An SEO-Friendly Website

Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

Related: 7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish

There you go! Those are my 9 website optimization tips to help you put your blog on autopilot and generate leads and sales while you sleep. Nite nite.


Hey there! Let me preface this post by saying that this is going to be a little different.

I usually try to give you guys actionable tips…things you can apply in a reasonable time frame that will accelerate your growth and help you be successful blogging and in your business.

Buut, this whole being-an-entrepreneur thing has been on my mind lately, and today I’m sharing a bit of my story, mostly so you’ll understand why it’s been on my mind. My hope is that it will inspire you to never quit, to always keep going, to believe in yourself, and to hold on to that special thing you’ve been put on this earth to do.

Ok, first, a little bit about me…

As a young girl, I saw my dad work his tail off to grow the family business. It was an Air Wick franchise that he ran from our home, which meant our whole family worked hard too. My sister and I learned to do payroll, balance checkbooks, and some other light accounting stuff.

By the time we moved the office to a physical location, I was doing just about everything for the biz…filing, answering phones, handling shipments, inventory, cleaning, delivering, attending trade shows, installing stick-ups, even cleaning up sewage spills (ick!).

It wasn’t easy or glamorous work, but it was a crazy thrill to be a part of it…the brainstorming, the hustling, the troubleshooting, the scrambling, the shifting gears…anything to make it all work.

I’m sure that it’s this experience, at such a young age, that made me fall in love with being an entrepreneur. And it most definitely shaped my worldview, which is:

I believe that we were put on this earth to create, to share, and to realize our true potential. And to never let anyone else tell us how much we should make, what title we should have, or what ceiling is too high.

Now, I did hold a job for a short time after college, but that was really it. When my boss offered me a raise and a promotion, I politely declined because I had seen what my dad had built, and I wanted that too. I wanted a business and lifestyle that I loved, and I was willing to work hard to get it. I’ve been self-employed ever since then.

Throughout my business journey, I have learned a whole lot about what it takes to create a sustainable, scalable business. I’ve learned how to fail at to too (failures are successes in disguise, though, so I say that with a grain of salt).

I’ve had 9 businesses in these industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Designing
  • Marketing + branding
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Now blogging 🙂

Ok, so what’s been on my mind with all of this?

I’m so glad you asked! Something struck me the other day that may strike a chord with you too:

It’s one thing to be successful blogging when you’re fresh at it, with no frame of reference or expectations. It’s quite another to be successful blogging when you haven’t seen the growth you want, even after you’ve been at it for years.

Something similar happened to me, not with blogging but with my first business. I started a temporary tattoo business right after I left that one job I had. It turned out to be a total cash machine, almost like printing money. And after that win, I thought everything I touched was golden.

You know what? It took me 7 years to achieve anything even close to that kind of success again. Those were 7 hard years, I tell ya! I was working my butt off, trying to make something click, but nothing really did.

What made it harder was that I had been on top, and then suddenly here I was at the bottom. I felt shame and disappointment in myself. My confidence chipped away with every failure, and I wondered if I even had any good ideas left at all. I started questioning my self-worth as a human being.

When that kind of self-doubt happens, it’s hard to picture yourself succeeding. Failing, or even feeling like you’re failing, makes success look foggy and far away like.

But if you can get push aside the voices in your head (you know, the ones that tell you you can’t do it!), you’ll be able to see things clearly.

You’ll see that what we call failure is actually a straight ticket to success.

Or, as Brian Tracy says:

Failure is an absolute prerequisite for success. You learn to succeed by failing. All successful people know that it doesn’t come easy and they are bound to fail more than they will succeed at anything. While many people give up after failing at something, a successful person will persevere.

So, we’re going to keep on going, k?

You should aim to get as many failures under your belt as you can because the next one could very well be your success. And waaay too many entrepreneurs and bloggers stop right before they achieve success.

Now, maybe you’ve already had a blog or biz that didn’t knock it out of the park the way you thought. Or, maybe you haven’t even started your blog yet because you’re afraid you might fail.

I get that, I really do. Fear can be such a powerful force. But ya know what’s on the other side of fear?

Love. Beauty. Creativity. Abundance.

You just have to forge ahead, friend.

I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned along the way. I hope they help you overcome your fears, look failure straight in the eye, and punch the daylights out of it!

1) Create your success mantra

Live it, breathe it, say it, chant it. Every day. You are what you say and think, and mantras are amazingly powerful at resetting your mind. My mantra is “Don’t Quit”, and my favorite time to chant it is when I go for a run. It gets me all fired up and pumped to take on the world!

2) Envision your future self

A former business coach had me record a day in the life of my future self. He told me to play the recording when I first woke up in the morning, and again right before I went to sleep.

The idea is that when you go to sleep dreaming about your future self and reinforce it again as soon as you wake up, you’ll start moving throughout the day “as if” and step into your future self quickly.

This really does work, especially when you combine it with the mantra from Step #1. Little by little, your doubting voices quiet down and your conquer-the-world voice overpowers it.

The trick here is to force yourself to actually listen to it! If you can stick to it for at least a month, you’ll start to feel like you can achieve anything, which of course, you can!

3) Be kind to yourself

This is another one of those things that can be tricky to do, but hugely powerful. It’s so much easier to beat ourselves up than it is to nurture ourselves, no? Let’s ease up already! We did the best we could then, and today’s a new day!

Plus, I’m betting that you know more today than you did yesterday, so you won’t make the same mistake twice, right?

Which leads me to…

4) Evaluate your mistakes

Maybe you picked the wrong blog focus to begin with, or maybe you were never really sure what your blog was about in the first place.

Sometimes you can even quit too soon, right before you’re about to blow up.

Take a look at why you chose your niche and focus, what went wonky, and what you will change next time.

5) Analyze your resources

My biggest flops were a result of jumping in too soon, before I put everything down on paper and really evaluated if I had the resources and expertise to execute on it.

This is why having a business plan is so important!

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a Blog Business Plan Workbook you can customize for your biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!

For instance, for my clothing line, I was the pattern maker, seamstress, designer, and sales person. And I didn’t even know how to make a dress pattern! I had zero expertise in this area, PLUS those are all entirely different (and huge) jobs.

It’s a formula for failure, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I’m such a hopeless DIY’er that I just kept muddling through!

You have to think long-term and make sure that you have the resources (aka marketing budget, overhead, stamina, etc) to sustain your blog biz until it takes off.

6) Pick the right focus!

Tada! We have a winner. This is the jackpot (and another reason why you need a business plan, in my book!).

If you’ve got a shaky blog topic, you’re going to have a hard time getting it off the ground. You want to build an audience for your blog and to do that, you have to be very clear about who you’re writing for.

Your goal should be to solve one specific problem for one specific person. When you combine that with your knowledge and skills, you have a perfect intersection that’s ripe for success.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer, Even if You’re Just Starting Out

Buut, when you’re fuzzy about who you’re speaking to or even what your blog is about, it’s hard to know how to steer it in the direction you want, hard to come up with the right products and services, and hard for people to define your brand (aka, they won’t know what box to put you in).

If you want, you can download this workbook to help you get clear on your blog’s niche and focus:

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

Before you go, you might also want to check out:

4 Beliefs That Are Limiting Your Blogging Potential

10 Simple Ways to Write Blog Posts that Attract & Convert Customers

20 Types of Blog Posts that Drive Traffic (With Examples & Templates!)

120 Proven Blog Post Titles PLUS 10 Traffic-Boosting Copy Secrets

There you go! I say keep goin’, change what you need to change, and let’s knock it out of the park!

Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this Photoshop tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and help you brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!

Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!I spend so much time creating images for social media and my blog. It’s a big deal to me that my images reflect my brand and are uniquely ME, and at the same time appealing in a way that makes people want to click.

I admit, sometimes I’m better at this than others! When it’s crunch time and I really need to hit that publish button, there are times when my images fall flat. I know it, and boy does it hurt…

I also know that half of your image has ev’rything to do with the blog title (more on titles here). We can create the most beautiful images the sun has ever seen, and if our titles miss the mark our post is going dark on us. That’s the way it goes, right? Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss…

But I digress, because today it’s graphics tutorial time! I thought it might be fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how I use Photoshop to create my blog and social media image templates. Woop woop!

Having social media image templates is one of those things that makes your day-to-day so much more productive. No more worrying about what to share on Instagram at the last minute, k?

Here’s what I’m covering in this graphics tutorial:

  • Template sizes and editing tools
  • Design tips to help your images stand out
  • The Photoshop workspace, tools, and palettes
  • Using Photoshop to create an image template

Now, you’re probably wondering about images sizes and editing tools, so let’s kick it off right there.


What size templates do you need?

Great question! This one really got me too at first. Here’s what I’ve come up with that works well for me, and it may work for you too:

  • Twitter + Facebook: 1000 x 500 (I use this image as the Featured Image on my blog post)
  • Instagram: 1080 square
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200 (this is the first image on my blog) and a second, longer pin

Here’s an example of the image size templates I use:

Graphics tutorial: sizes for blog and social media image templatesI know you’re probably thinking Do I really need 3 or 4 different image templates? I don’t even have time to create one!

Really, you don’t need all of these, but there are a few reasons these work for me. First off, these are the social media platforms I’ve decided to build a following on.  Second, I like changing up my Twitter and Facebook images 🙂 And last, I’ve made it a habit to create 2 pins for every post, so that’s why that extra pin is in there. If you’re curious about that, this post explains why.

So that’s what works for me. What you create is really a matter of preference. You may decide to create templates only for Instagram and Pinterest, then use the same square image for Facebook and Twitter (keep in mind that part of your image will be cut off in the feeds if you do this).

Or, maybe you’ll want to be laser-focused on Pinterest at first. That’s perfectly okay. Actually, better than okay… Pinterest is the bomb for traffic so starting here makes sense, you savvy blogger, you!

Related: Social Media Image Sizes [Profile Pics, Cover Photos & Shared Images]

Do you have to use Photoshop?

Absolutely not! Photoshop is just my preference. I’ve read that you can do amazing things with Canva, especially the paid version. I think Canva will even resize the templates for you. Done, done and done!

The reason I prefer Photoshop is that I’m a graphic designer and have used it for 20 years.  Let’s just say Photoshop and me are BFFs 🙂

If you’re unsure whether to use Canva or Photoshop, I recommend looking into Canva first. Even their free version is jam-packed with design features and starter templates that will make you look like a design pro even if you don’t feel like one yet!

If you’re still curious about Photoshop, here are a few reasons why I love it:

  • Working in layers makes it very easy to tweak any element of your image
  • Endless creativity with images, textures, overlays, and fonts
  • Advanced controls over font spacing and image alignment
  • There are times (like most!) when my image is almost perfect but not quite. I can easily retouch the photo to make it work better
  • Designing is fun, easy, and rewarding!
  • I could go on and on…

Ok, speaking of design, this is just one of those things that we can’t overlook, because it will have a huge impact on your traffic and subscribers. The more successful your content is visually = the more your business will grow. Make sense?

I’ve picked up quite a few design tips through years of trial and error, and I’m going to save you all of that time right now!



Bright colors like oranges and reds get more shares, saves and repins. Think light, bright, poppy and you’ll be good. What this means is that any background images you use are open and airy. Whatever you do, don’t go dark! That’s where I started and darker images just don’t grab people’s attention the way that the brighter colors do.

Here’s an example of a dark image:

Graphics tutorial: example of a cluttered and dark pin image

Now I was right on track with the orange color in there, but the dark background pushes it back and makes it hard to notice in feeds. We want the exact opposite effect, so stick with lighter/brighter backgrounds and orange/red accents if you can.

A big bonus here is that people click on red the most, so your images will get more saves, repins and click-throughs.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

Balance + Hierarchy

The other thing to pay attention to is the overall balance between elements. This is especially true with background images. Make sure things aren’t bumping into each other and distracting people.

Your overall goal is to make people focus on something and that, friends, is your blog title – not some fancy pants image in the background. Think of it like your text is the star of the show and graphics/images are just supporting actors and actresses.

Now, I get that design can be a delicate balancing act. It seems so much easier than it is, right? For instance, in the pin example above, my text gobbles up the entire pin! Talk about stars and their egos!

What happens when you make your fonts too big like that is that the image gets crowded and noisy. People won’t know what to focus on. Instead, leave some “white space”. What you’re really looking for is that fine line where your text stands out enough to grab people’s attention, but not so much that it ruins the show and clutters up your pin. Make sense?

Aahhh, this is so much better:

Graphics tutorial: Understanding balance and design

You see how this is more open and airy? Now we’re talkin’!


It’s just too tempting to see beautiful fonts like these and want to use every single one of them in your image. Let’s resist, friend! This is definitely one of those things where less is more. Of course, you’re going to want to play with fonts, and you should. At some point, though, make sure you narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3.

Everything we’ve just covered here is part of creating a kickin’ brand. You want that when people see your images on different platforms, they instantly recognize them (and you!) because your brand is harmonious and cohesive everywhere.

Related: How to Create a Branding System for Your Blog and Business

Still with me? Great, let’s do this!

3) Photoshop Tools and Palettes

Before you create an image template, you need to understand the Photoshop workspace a bit, specifically the tools palette and layers palette.

First up, the tools palette

These are some of the tools you’ll use most frequently:

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Tools paletteNow, you’re probably wondering what each of these tools does, so let’s get that out of the way right now:

The Move Tool – Pretty obvious, right? This is the tool you can use to move things around on your canvas. So if you’re on a layer and you want to move it but can’t, that’s why!

Marquee – When you want to tweak something on one of your layers, use this tool…

…or, use this one:

Lasso – Works the same as the marquee tool, but you can actually draw your selection area with the lasso. This is great when you want to get very specific and just change a piece of an image, for instance.

Eyedropper – Such an awesome tool! See a color in an image or graphic you want to use? You’re gonna love this. Just drop the eyedropper tool on it and that color will become active.

Eraser – To erase things!

Text – Add text to your canvas. Tip: before you start typing, drag the text tool to create a text box first. This will make resizing text so much easier. Pinky swear.

Shape – Create rectangles, rounded corners, circles and more with this tool. To see the other shapes, just hover over that little triangle in the bottom right corner.

Now that we have our tools covered, let’s start creating!

Over to the layers palette…

The layers palette looks a bit like the image below. I’m using a verrrry old version of Photoshop, so your workspace probably looks different than mine, but everything’s still in the same place, so we’re all good.

Graphics tutorial: Accessing the Photoshop layers paletteTo build your template, you’re going to have 3 different groups of layers. Say whaaa? Stay with me here, I’ll going to clear it all up for you right now. Time to build a template!

4) Finally! Let’s create an image template

For this tutorial, we’re creating a Pinterest template that is 800 x 1200px. The reason I’m focusing on Pinterest is that this is where the bulk of your traffic will come from, so it makes sense to nail that platform first.

Before we dive in, be sure to download this template so you can tweak it with your own amazing design: Photoshop Pin Template.

First, create a new document

Our first step is to create a new document. Make sure you’re working in pixels, at 72 pixel/inch, and the color mode is RGB color. I like to append my file names with the word “template”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: creating a new document in Photoshop for a pin image template.

Now I know that a blank canvas can look intimidating, so let’s fill this bad boy up with some creative genius, k? You’re probably thinking where do I even start? How do I start filling up this *$#@! screen with pieces I can use over and over?

This is where the layers palette comes in. That’s where all the components of your image will live, and each one is “layered” on top of the others. So any element layer #1, for instance, will appear behind layer #2, layer #3, and so on. Think of it like building blocks!

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Layers PaletteFor our template, we need 3 groups of layers. We’re going to have a background (layer group #1), some text (layer group #2), and our logo/branding elements (layer group #3).

Uh, why am I calling them layer groups? Great question! Each element is going to have its own layer, and then those layers will be grouped according to function. You will probably be working with more than one text box, more than one image, and more than one graphic. Groups are a simple way to organize our layers into something that makes sense:

  • Logo/branding
  • Text
  • Background

Before we even create a layer group, though, we need to create our first layer. Let’s start by creating a background.

Next, create a background layer + group

To fill your entire background with a color, select the shape tool, fill it with a color and drag across the canvas. This will automatically create a new layer (if you want to change the color, just double click on the layer, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Adding a background and changing color in PhotoshopNext, select the shape layer from the layers palette. From the top right corner of the layer’s palette, you’ll see a tiny triangle shape. Select that, and then select “New Group from Layers”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Working with layers and layer groups in PhotoshopWoop woop! See how we’re starting to create our layer groups? I recommend naming the new layer group “bg” or “background”. Now anything we want to add to the background, say an image for example, would go on its own layer inside the background group. This layer group will always be at the bottom of the layers palette. Text, branding and other graphic elements will go on top.

Next up, add text

You can use any text you like, but for the purpose of this post and because we’re talking about blogging here, let’s assume that the text will be your blog title image, cool?

Select the text tool, and drag it across the center of the canvas to create a text box, then start typing. Whatever you do, don’t leave the text tool without adding text to it! You will have a crazy hard time finding that text box if you do 🙂

Graphics tutorial: The Photoshop workspace and text toolNow the fun starts! It’s so much fun to play with different fonts and get creative. You may want to break your text apart into separate text boxes so that you can have more control over spacing, sizing, fonts, etc. That’s totally fine! I do it all the time.

Just remember to create a separate group layer for all text layers, like we did with the background group layer.

I’m going to say this again because it’s a biggie. You really want to find a style where you use 2-3 fonts (I use Gotham, Thirsty Script, and Angelface) and no more than 2 graphic elements. Then you want to use those same fonts and elements on every image you create! I know it’s so tempting to change fonts on every image, but the problem here is that your brand is going to start to look a bit all over the place, and you want to look consistent and cohesive. If you need some font inspiration, this post is a good read.

Related: How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog

I think I want to add another shape behind the text so that it really pops. Something like this…

Graphics tutorial: Putting a background behind text in Photoshop.See how our blank canvas is starting to turn into a masterpiece! So exciting!! But it’s still missing that wow factor, no? Let’s see how we can perk it up.

I’m going to add a background image and make the peach box behind the text slightly transparent, which will completely transform the image.

Graphics Tutorial: adding an image and changing opacity of a box in Photoshop.Phew! We’re almost there. Once you have your template styled the way you want, the only thing left to do is to add your logo and branding.

Add your logo and branding

This is so that people start to recognize your images and brand.

If your logo was created in Illustrator, this part is super easy! Keep both Photoshop and Illustrator open, select your logo and drag it over to Photoshop. It will automatically import as a vector smart object, which means that when you click on the logo layer in Photoshop, your logo will open up in Illustrator to edit it there.

I highly recommend adding your URL next to the logo, like this:

Graphics Tutorial: Adding your branding to the image template in PhotoshopThat’s all there is to it. I hope this graphics tutorial has made you fall in love with Photoshop! There is so much you can do once you become familiar with it. You know when you see something in your mind and just wish you could create it? You can with Photoshop! Anything you can imagine, you can find a way to do it. Now you might think the learning curve is too much, and I hear ya! It does take a little more time to master than Canva, but there’s also sooo much more you can do with it!

Have I convinced you yet? Grab the Photoshop template we created here and start tweaking it with your amazing design (free download, no email required!): Photoshop Pin Template

Let’s recap!

  • Create image templates for Pinterest and Instagram first. If you like you can add a third size for Facebook and Twitter, or use the square Instagram image.
  • Canva and PicMonkey are 2 other photo editors you can use as alternatives to Photoshop. I know Canva comes with preset templates to get you started, but as you’ve seen in this tutorial, turning a blank canvas into a template isn’t as daunting as it seems at first!
  • As you create the image templates, remember that you’re building your brand at the same time. Be intentional with your use of color, fonts, and other design elements. And of course, the star of the show is your blog title or text…
  • The tools and layers palettes are where the magic happens in Photoshop. Layers can be a bit confusing at first. If you hang in there with it, you’ll be on your way to creating masterpieces in no time. Promise. Just think of layers like a stack of bricks, where one is on top of the other. The bricks that are on the top will cover up the other bricks, so you can’t see them as well as the one on top. The same is true with layers. The top-most layer is going to cover that portion of the image beneath it.
  • Work in layer groups with your background as the bottom layer group, text in the middle, and branding on the top. This way your background will always be at the bottom and not covering up another part of the image (if it does, you know that your layers got rearranged somehow!)
  • Always add your logo and any branding elements or submarks to your images so that people will recognize your brand.

As you create your image templates, you may find these posts helpful:

I’m so excited for you guys! I love Photoshop and know you will too. Here’s the link to the template again so you can get started: Photoshop Pin Template.

Are you having fun with it? Let me know if/where you get stumped and I’ll try my best to help!


checklist for a blogHi friends! I don’t know about you, but for the past few weeks all I can think about is how to get more traffic to my blog. I mean, I want it so bad I can’t even see straight!

Does that happen to you too?

You wake up dreaming about traffic, go to sleep thinking about it, and are literally consumed by it during the day? Maybe it’s my OCD, but there’s something about the thought of traffic pouring into my site that makes me feel all warm and snuggly inside.

Today, I want to talk about more ways to get the traffic we’ve been dreaming about. In this post, I’m sharing a short blog checklist of things you should do as soon as your posts go live so that your amazing content is found by as many people as possible.

Before we dive in, I’ve already covered some things to do before you publish (14 to be exact!), so be sure to read that post too.

Now let’s get into some things you should do after you publish.

You may notice that one of the steps (#4 below) is included in both the Before and After Checklist. If you’re curious, it’s because this step is something you want to do both before and after you publish. And if that sounds confusing, don’t worry, it’ll all be crystal clear in a few minutes!

I’m forcing myself to keep this list short, partly because my brain’s a bit woozy today, but mostly because I really want you to have a checklist for a blog that includes simple, actionable steps to take right after your post goes live. I figure if you can count the steps on your fingers, they’ll be easy to remember. Plus, I’m committed to writing a blog post a week (how about you?), so looks like we have to jump in and do this. 🙂

And if you really want a deep dive on this topic, be sure to read this post where I show you over 32 ways to get free traffic to your blog.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Blog Checklist: 7 Things to Do Right After You Publish Your Post

Step 1: Create a second pin

You might be thinking Do I really need to do this?  It took me forever to publish my post with just one pin… Isn’t that enough? There’s no way I have time to create another one!

I’m with you. This is one of those things that is a biggie though, which is why it’s step #1 on our blog to-do list. Trust me, having two pins will make a huge difference in your traffic. I know this for sure because I tested two different pins and one of them was a complete dud, while the other one is my top performing pin of all time! If you’re curious, you can read my case study for that test here.

#MORALOFTHESTORY  Don’t get left with a dud pin! Make sure you have a second pin so you can compare. Once you get into the habit of creating two pins for every post, it’ll go much faster and you won’t even think about it. Promise.

How different should your pins be? Great question! I recommend creating one short one and one longer one that highlights points from your post. My longer-form pins almost always get more traffic (and sign-ups) than the shorter ones. But you still need the shorter one for your blog post, so that readers don’t have to scroll too far to read your epic post.

Easier if I just show you, right? Here are two pins I created for my last post:

social media strategy for a blog

Wanna know how I hide that second longer pin so it doesn’t appear on my post? I picked up a ninja coding tip from Sarah at xosarah.com. Here’s how to hide images on your posts:

  • In WordPress, use the text editor and locate your pin image
  • Once you find it, put this code around it: <div style=”display:none;”><img src=”your image here” /></div>
  • Make sure the first <div> is before <img and the last </div> is right after the />

Now both pins will show up when you save your pin to Pinterest, but the longer one will be hidden on your actual post. Cool stuff, no?

Step 2: Socialize it!

After you create your second pin, it’s time to get social with it. Don’t be shy here! Make sure you share your work everywhere so people can find it.

As soon as the post goes live, I share it a few times the first week like this:

  • The first day
  • A few hours later (for Twitter)
  • The next day
  • A week later
  • Then into SmarterQueue, where it cycles through every month or so.

I’ve already covered how often to share your posts here, so if you’re still feeling your way around a social media strategy, you definitely want give it a read.

I created this Blog Promotion Plan + Checklist to help you plan what types of content to share on social media and when. If you want, click the image below to download it.

blog promotion plan checkllist

One thing that I haven’t covered clearly, I think, is how to create a time-saving blog promo system, so that every time you publish a post you know exactly what to do with it (almost like a daily blog checklist for social media).

Let me take a quick stab at it now and break it down into 2 parts:

  • Part 1: Scheduling Tools
  • Part 2: Manual Sharing

First up, Part 1 (Scheduling Tools)

Your bangin’ system starts with going into your scheduling tools and setting up your posting schedule. Whether you use Buffer, Hootsuite, Edgar, Tailwind, or other is really up to you. You just want to make sure you do that first. This way whenever you add a new post to your queue, you know when and where it’s being shared.

Next, Part 2 (Manual Sharing)

You need a way to track where and when you manually shared each post. All that really means is When did you add it to Hootsuite? When did you share it to Pinterest? What about Tailwind? You get the gist here. You want a system where you can say done, done and done, so you know your post is out there in the socialsphere. This part actually took me a while to figure out! I would lose track of where I shared my posts, and then a week would go by and I’d think Wait a minute, did I schedule to Buffer?

After some trial and error, I came up with this simple tracking spreadsheet:

social media post planningSee those notes there? That’s where I add my post text, so all I have to do is paste it into my tweet/comment/description, etc. Now for Twitter, I create 15-20 tweets to go out the first week. They all have to be slightly different, so I write them out ahead of time in a simple doc, like this:
Tweets to schedule in Buffer and SmarterQueue

Now you may be thinking I know I need scheduling tools, but I’m on a tight budget and really don’t want to pay monthly. I’ve got you covered! You will love this free way to automate and loop your posts using IFTTT and Google Calendar. I’ve tested it and still use it in my other business for Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to watch the video tutorial where I walk you through how to set it up.

Step 3: Share with groups and communities

Almost halfway through our blog checklist. In step #2, we shared to our social media profiles, pages, and scheduling tools. Now it’s time to share your post to groups and communities!

Here’s the thing: you need to take a more personal approach when it comes to sharing posts in groups. Don’t just spam your groups and disappear (especially with Facebook). Get in there and talk to people! Make sure you participate in the weekly promo threads too. It only takes about 15 minutes a day to go through your groups, share your post, like and share posts from other members, and you’re done.

How do you track of all your groups? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a separate spreadsheet I use for Facebook groups:

 schedule for Facebook groupsEach group name on here is a direct link to the group’s page, so it’s super fast and easy!

Step 4: Make it SEO-mazing!

Remember the step that gets repeated in both the before and after checklists? Here it is!

We’ve already used Yoast SEO to target a keyword and write an SEO-friendly blog post before we published, so we should be all good.

Hmmm, or are we?

I highly recommend giving your post another look-see. The reason is that I’ve searched Google for my keyword months after publishing a post, and believe me when I say it was out there in the blogosphere. I’m talking waaa-yy out, like nowhere to be found. My keyword has zero competition and I’m on page 14? Nope, that’s not going to work.

What’s happening here? Why was my post so far down in rankings?

Well, first off, I thought I was using a long-tail keyword but it turns out it was too broad and so, highly competitive. I needed to go back into Yoast and narrow down my keyword so I could give my post a chance to get up there on page #1.

See where I’m going with this? This same thing may happen to you. You might think you’re all set with your keyword, but in reality it needs tweaking (maybe there’s even an easier keyword to target). 

This is perfectly ok. Nobody becomes an SEO wizard overnight. It will take some time to get it right and you’ll be learning as you go, k? That’s why I want you to check your keyword twice, once before and once after you publish. Heck, maybe even twice after.

How to #SEO your blog posts: Make sure your keyword is in the title, post, images, and headings.Click To Tweet

You might be thinking, no way…I can’t even get my head around SEO. Now you want me to do it 2 times?

I get it! This is one of those things that once you get it right, it will pay you back double in your investment. Google is going to be an employee for your blog, working hard to bring you leads and customers. I call that worth it!

So right after you hit publish, go back and give your post another once over. Take a look at your keyword, go back to Keyword Planner if you need, check your title, double- and triple-check keywords in your post, your image tags, headings, and so on.

If you want, you can grab the Blog Post SEO Checklist I created to help you boost your posts up to page #1. Click the image below to download.

blog post seo checklist

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs

Step 5: Repurpose it!

Repurposing your post is a fancy pants way of saying that you turn it into another type of content, like a podcast or video. I like to think of it as repacking one piece of content and making it unique for a new platform and audience.

The reason repurposing is on the blog checklist is that it gives you a chance to reach a broader audience. Anytime you can expose your content to more people, that’s the way to go! It also takes some pressure off when you feel like you just can’t come up with another blog post idea.

This looks like: You write a post and pin to Pinterest, then you record a quick tip video and post it on Facebook and YouTube the next day. 10 people repin your post, 4 people share your video on Facebook, and 7 people share it on YouTube.

See how your reach is snowballing? Are you getting a sense of the greater impact you can have on your audience this way? From one post, you now have 2 different types of content to share on at least 3 different platforms. You can actually share that same video to Instagram and Pinterest too. Woo! That’s what I call smart content…

But wait, there’s more. Your new content will also help you rank higher on Google because you’ll have different content linking back to it.

Have I convinced you yet? Let’s look at some types of content you can create:

  • A video
  • A podcast
  • Infographic – if you followed step #1 you already have this
  • Slideshow
  • Quick tip graphic
  • Webinar or hangout
  • Create a challenge
  • A twitter chat – build off of your post idea
  • Turn it into an email series (this is great for popular posts)
  • Create a free offer (help build your email list)
  • Publish it on Medium or LinkedIn (more like reblogging, but still good)

Bonus: Grab the Social Media Cheat Sheet and Content Calendar so you know what to share and when, plus the best tools to use for each platform.

 social media cheat sheet for bloggers

Don’t overdo it

Okay, so now you know this is something you should be doing, but hold up a sec. Not every post is a good candidate for repurposing. You can overdo it here, especially if you’re reaching the same audience with the same thing over and over again. We don’t want to burn people out. Let’s throw some randomness into the mix so our content doesn’t become formulaic and blah.

So for every content piece, ask yourself How can I present this in a different way so that people don’t see the same thing in the same way? What can I do to extend on this idea?

And remember, it’s okay to be choosy with what you repurpose. You want to be sure that whatever you create, you create it well. You don’t want to hurt your brand.

You probably have some more questions about repurposing, so let me give you some guidance here:

Which posts should be repurposed?

Great question! Popular posts are a good place to start. You know that people love them so it makes sense to reach a broader audience. Another thing to do is go back and look at older posts that you can turn into something else today, kind of bring it back to life in a new way.

When should I share my new content?

You don’t have to share your new content all at once. In fact, why not spread it out? Let people breathe and explore other ideas until they’re ready to come back to it. Maybe you share a slide deck next week, then a video at the end of the month, then an infographic the next month. The more different types of content you have for each post, the more creative you can get with what and where you share. Make sense?

Oh, and I highly recommend investing in some tools to create amazing visual content. This makes such a huge difference, and when you think about it, we’re all becoming publishers these days, so the better your images are, the more traffic you’re gonna get. Pinky swear. It makes a huge difference.

Should I include a link back to my post?

Absolutely! Now you’re thinkin’. You can actually link between all your repurposed content, and this works like SEO fairy dust. The more links you have back to your post, the better your post will rank on Google. How’s that for making our traffic dreams come true! Gotta love it!

What linking looks like: In YouTube you link back to our post, in your podcast you link back to it, and even in your slideshow you link back to it.

By now you can see how creating multiple pieces of content for your ideas starts to give you a library of things to share, which is something I cover (and tons more!) in this social media strategy post.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

Step 6: Reply to comments

It’s important to engage with people who read your blog posts. Watch how people respond to a post and make sure you reply to their comments. Let them know that you’re paying attention to them and that you value them.

When people feel like you really want to know their opinion (which of course you do!) it makes them feel like they are important, and of course, they are. Comments mean that people liked your post enough to invest their time in leaving a comment. That takes effort, friends! Try to deepen and expand on what they’re saying, maybe ask them for a question or for an example. Who knows? Maybe they’ll leave you a second comment.

The other thing you can do is to provide more info in your replies. Or, you can add a poll to your post, which will give you a perfect excuse to re-share it on social media. I’m thinking something like I’ve added a poll and would love your opinion!  You can even highlight conversations and share them. So if you love Mary’s comment, for example, share it! This way you highlight the community and show that you value these types of conversations.

Step 7: Extend it with future posts

Great blogs take their readers on a journey, which is a fun way to build momentum with your blog post
. Once your post goes live, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do with what you’ve just written to extend or follow up with on the idea.

Even if you’re going off-topic a bit, as long as you have a relevant blog post, you can write about it. Your reader comments may contain questions (step #6 above). Can you turn those into a post? Psst… This is a quick and easy way to come up with new blog ideas when you get writer’s block!

Sometimes, one post naturally triggers another post. Maybe your post triggers a question that you don’t know the answer to. You can write a new post to answer it. Or, you can follow up with a new juicy nugget you’ve learned since writing the blog post.

Here again, check your analytics to see which of your posts are most popular. Similar to repurposing in step #5, brainstorm how you can extend on a popular post. There’s something in it that resonated with people, so you have a golden opportunity to extend on it, deepen it, and even mimic the style of that post.

Step 8: Fooled ya, one last step!

Now I know you may be thinking How do I remember to do all this? It’s all I can do to stay on schedule with writing and publishing my posts!

Once you put a system in place it will be a natural part of your blogging process. You’re not even going to have to think about it. Promise.

All you need to do is set up a blog post checklist (in Google Docs, Excel, or Word) with prompts to help you do these 7 things. And don’t worry. You may not get to all of these steps the minute your post goes live. That’s perfectly okay and nothing to stress about. The best way to approach this is to master one step at a time.

So at first, you might get into the habit of creating a second pin and socializing your posts. That’s a lot right there, no? Soon you’ll see how just focusing on steps #1 and #2 will help you get monster traffic and exposure for your blog. Anything that brings you more traffic is time well spent, in my book! So right there, you’re already increasing your reach and your traffic with those two steps.

Once you’re comfortable, move on to step #3, and so on.

The other thing to do is to keep your blog checklist handy, so that every time you publish a new post, you can just reach for it. I find that when I have those questions right in front of me, even if I don’t get to it right away it’s making me think about it while I’m doing other things. Keeping your list front and center will naturally trigger some of these steps, so you’ll be doing them without even realizing it!

If you missed the first part of this series, the things to do BEFORE you publish your post, you can download that checklist below so you have it on hand for your next post.

blog checklist pdf

How to Create a Business Plan for Your Blog | Ready to build a platform for your blog to be profitable? This blog plan includes a template for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help you turn your blog into a full-time business FAST. Click through to see the sections!

How to Create a Blogging Business Plan | Plus, why you need one and how to rock your blog business by getting all your ideas down on paper and in one place. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, just a simple road map for where your blog business is going so you know what to do and WHEN to get there faster. Click through to see all the sections.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series called the Blog Profit Plan that is designed to help you propel your business forward. I’m hoping it will be a jumping off point to get from zero to profit as quickly as possible so you can start making a living with your blog.

The way I see it, there are two parts to building a successful business (hence the 2-part series):

Part 1: creating a business plan
Part 2: executing on the plan

In today’s post, I’m going to cover how to create a blog business plan.

This is the perfect starting point, because having a plan for your blog business will give you a platform to make it profitable. Without it, you may find yourself stumbling around with what topics to cover, the value you provide, what your peeps really need, and many other things. Or you may spend too much time in one phase of your biz and forget to set a foundation for the next phase…simply because you’re not aware that said phase exists.

A blog business plan only gets us halfway to the finish line, though, which is why I’m making this a 2-part series.

You don’t really act upon them, which means they’re likely to sit in your laptop, inside Evernote, and that’s it. It’s easy to forget that you even have a business plan in the day to day of running your biz.

What we really need is a blog action plan to help us execute on our business plans.

Suh-weet, now we’re talkin’. B-plan + A-plan = Jackpot!

An action plan is where the money is anyway, no? That’s what’s going to whip our butts into shape and keep us accountable for turning our big dreams into a reality. An action plan is about getting under the hood and getting it done – really, a blueprint for executing on our business plans.

If we pair these two bad boys together, I think we’ll have a winning formula for success.

More on blog action plans in my next post… Today, let’s jump in to creating a blogging business plan.

To help you with this part of the series, I created the Blog Business Plan Workbook so you can get the most benefit from the steps we’re covering today.  Each section is full of prompts that will help you create a road map for your blog biz, identify goals you want to achieve, how you will market your business, and how much money you want to make. Click the image below to grab it.
blog workbook



This section is a snapshot of your business, kind of like your business “at-a-glance”. You may want to complete the other sections first, and come back to this after you have everything else together. Here’s what you’ll want to cover in your business summary:

1. Mission Statement

This is your  “Why”. Briefly explain why you created your business, what it is about, and the purpose it serves.

2. Business Goals

Based on where you’re at now, where do you plan to take your business in the future? Don’t be afraid to dream big here! If you can see it, you can do it! Think about the next year and even further down the road, say five years from now. You can mention things like money you’d like to earn from your blog, to new products you’re thinking of, to how often you will blog and the size of your mailing list.

3. Products and Services

What products and services do you have, or will you have? Briefly describe here how you are or will be monetizing your blog.

4. Your Current + Future Growth

This part is inspiring! You may already have a blog or you may be brand new to blogging. Mention any growth you’ve already experienced…anything from number of page views, to social media followers, list size, money you’ve earned, and so on. From here, how will you take your business to the next level?  List specific steps you can take to reach your goals.

Related: 100+ Ways to Market Your Business on a Small Budget

5. Your Financial Goals

Being crystal clear about how much money you want your blog to make will force you to you hold yourself accountable to it. Plus it will help you prioritize what to do each day so you can nail it! List how much money you want to make in the short-term and longer-term.

6.  Your Expenses

Your blog is your business, so even if you’re just starting out, you have expenses. Some of them, like web hosting, will be fixed and recur every month, and others are more flexible, like hiring a VA. Describe the expenses you have today and will have tomorrow.

7. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?

Every business has 3 primary phases: startup, momentum + growth. The way to build your blog through each phase is to spend your time on the things that only you can do and build a team to help you with everything else. Upwork is a great place to start to build your team. List the tasks that you outsource right now and those that you don’t outsource, but should.

8. Business Structure

If you are currently running a blog and accepting money as a blogger, then you obviously need to file taxes on that income. If you are the only employee of your business and choose to keep things simple, you can file as a “sole proprietor”. As you work with more clients and continue to grow you may want to create an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or incorporate your biz to protect your income and your business from things like lawsuits.


This section is about setting a tone that inspires and attracts readers to your blog and positions you as the go-to authority. You are building a blog, and at the same time, you’re building a brand. It makes sense to look at how you see yourself so that you can teach people how to see you too, and ultimately build consistency and clarity around your blog, because after all, you are your brand, right?

1. What makes you unique?

What sets you apart from others? Remember, your skills are only half of the picture here. We’re really talking about everything that makes you YOU. Include your personal history and experiences, plus any professional skills and knowledge that would make people want to read your blog over others.

2. What’s your one thing?

I know there are so many things that you’re great at, but you don’t want to try to be all things to all people. It’s going to be much easier to build your blog if you occupy one space in people’s minds. So let’s get very specific! What’s the one word you want your brand to stand for? What’s the “one thing” you want readers to seek you out as the go-to authority on?

3. Who’s your person?

We’re going to just keep narrowing things down. Here’s where you look at the target audience for your blog. You may have more than “one person” you want to reach, but let’s make things simple for now and just include your primary customer or reader. Get as specific as you can about things like their age, income, personal and professional situation, and overall goals. If you need help with this, check out the Niche Research section.

4. What’s your brand promise?

This part is about creating your big promise. Most people call this your core message or value proposition. How do you help your one person solve their biggest problem and what does that look like? (P.S. This is what you want front and center on your homepage. Let people see it right away so they know they’re in the right place.)

5. Brand tone and mood

Developing a true personality for your blog will help you stay consistent and harmonious with all of your brand elements. It’s okay to try on different hats at first, but when you find your sweet spot you want to stick with it. The most successful blogs have a unique and distinctive personality.


A huge part of building a business is branding, that’s why we dig into this so much. Your brand summary is not only about your brand identity, it’s how you attract your readers to your blog and deliver your brand promise. This will help you clarify your true purpose and stay on track with your brand mission. You may switch your brand positioning over time, but your overall brand summary should stay the same.  For more on creating your brand identity, check out this post.

1. Fonts and colors

Which fonts and colors describe your blog’s personality? List 1-2 fonts and 2-4 colors you will use for your brand. It’s okay to use the same font family in different weights for headings and body text, and then use a stylized font as a contrast for featured or emphasized text.

Need some font inspiration? Check out these font pairings.

If you want, you can download this printable Color Scheme Kit to help choose your brand colors. Click on the image below to download.

Download the free color scheme kit to help you choose and apply colors to your brand!


2. Types of images

What images and textures will you use for your blog? Dark and edgy? Vibrant and bright? Open and airy?

3. Logo

Your current logo may be perfect already, and then again, it may need work. How well does it communicate your blog’s personality? How can you improve the font to make it better? Will you use other words in your logo, like a tagline? What about an icon?


As you launch your blog business, it’s important to take a look at what other blogs and brands in your space are doing. This will help you get ideas for how you want to grow and position your business.

1. Who are your competitors?

List 3 competitors you like and 3 competitors you don’t like. Who is in your niche, doing something similar to what you are or will be doing?

2. Analyze their strategy

For the 3 competitors you like, find the common themes or strategies that you can use to frame your own strategy. Do your competitors have products they sell? If so, what types of products and at what prices?  Where do they have a following on social media? How frequently do they post and what types of things do they share?

3. What sets them apart from others?

Take a look at what really makes your favorite brands stand out. What do they excel at? How do they structure their blog, business, and offers? What can you learn from them and integrate into your own strategy?


The more targeted you are with your blog’s niche, the more you’ll be able to attract and connect with your ideal readers. The trick here is to define a niche that’s small enough to be very specific and large enough to make money over the long term. What we’re looking for is that sweet spot – where the combination of your skills and knowledge intersects with what your audience needs, in a way that is unique enough for you to stand out.

Related: How to Choose the Perfect Niche for Your Blog


You should have a good idea from your niche research about products that will help your target audience. Think about different price points you can offer so that people can experience working with you at the level they’re comfortable with. Think about low-cost, high-cost, and even VIP packages. What about discovery or strategy calls, will you offer them?

1. How are your products different from your competitors?

Go back to your competitors and take another look at what they’re promoting. How is your offering different? What can you add to make it extremely valuable for your peeps?

2. How do they help your audience?

Go back to your niche research and think about how your monetization method will impact the lives of your peeps. What will they be able to achieve/do/have/save/grow/build through your products and services?


A huge part of building a blog business is building a community with your readers. Otherwise, you will be developing your products in a vacuum and not get the same results. You can use social media to get your work found by people. From there, your website and mailing list will help you build relationships with your peeps.

1. Your website and mailing list

Your website is the Swiss army knife of your business. If you set it up it right, you can actually have a system that converts complete strangers into subscribers and customers!  Look at areas you can and should improve on your website so you can do that. If you don’t have a site just yet, make a note of the things you will need.

2. Social media

One of the best ways to build your audience is by leveraging the power of social media. Social media is an amazing way to get traffic to your blog, especially when you’re new to all the ins and outs of search engine optimization. As you’re building your following, you’re basically building your own traffic source. Pinterest is a phenomenal way to get traffic, but don’t stop there. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter too. And even others like StumbleUpon and Reddit will help you get traffic. If you want a peak at how I drive traffic to my blog, this post is for you!

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest


You’re doing so good! You have a strong brand foundation and you’re building your audience. The next step is to dig into the strategy for your blog’s content. You want all of your content to be part of a cohesive system. We’re drilling down on more than just blog posts. Everything you create – articles, cheat sheets, challenges, videos, webinars, courses, and more – should form a system that turns complete strangers into loyal readers and ultimately, excited customers.

1. Specify your high-level goals

Goals can look really impressive on paper, but if you’re too ambitious they can actually work against you! The flip side is that you need to have a specific end game in mind if you really want to skyrocket your blog’s growth (which of course, you do!). Given the time you have each week to work on your blog, what specific milestones do you want to achieve?

2. What strategies will you use to achieve them?

List three things you will do right now to change the future growth of your blog and to achieve your goals.

3. How frequently will you create content?

Specify the frequency (for instance, 2x per month) that you will create these types of content. Only fill in the ones you’ll create in the next 6 months and leave the others blank.

4. Time and resources

Turning your blog into a business takes time, especially when you’re juggling a full-time job or clients on the side. it’s important that you devote enough time to your blog. How many hours each week will you spend writing? It could be blog posts, freebies, workbooks, etc.

5. How will you create content that converts and sells?

Time to take a look at your content as part of a system. Looking at your content from a high-level will help you stay focused when you sit down to write and create products. I suggest working from the end first, meaning that you have (or will have) an Ecourse or service offering. What posts, freebies, free courses, and challenges can you create to build a content funnel for it?


You made it this far! Who knew planning a business could be so much work? But really, you are putting in the effort right now and I am so excited for you. Finally (finally!) we’re going to talk about your marketing system, because once you create your products you need a system to promote them. The same way that you need to build your audience, you need a way to connect with them and deepen your relationship. A solid marketing system will let you do both, and most of it on autopilot. Let’s dive in.

1. How will you market your business?

Write down the methods you will use to market your products, services, and blog. Think about things like Facebook ads, committing to a full-core Pinterest strategy, and leveraging Facebook (or LinkedIn) groups.

If you’re looking for new ways to market your blog, check out this blog post where I share over 100 ways to market your business on a small budget.

2. What marketing tools will you use?

There are things you need to do after you publish a new blog post so that your work gets found by more people. It can take sooo much time to do these things manually, but alas, you still have to do them! That’s where marketing tools like these come in. They let you automate most of those things you find yourself doing over and over again. Decide which tools you feel comfortable using (or learning).

3. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?

We all have to delegate if we want to grow. There are certain tasks that other people can help you with and then there are things that only you can do (like creating courses!). What tasks that you do over and over again can you outsource to a virtual assistant, blogger, or designer? Think about the things you do every day that if you were freed up, would allow you to focus your time better.

4. How will you promote your blog posts?

Decide which marketing and promotion strategies you feel comfortable with. Will you SEO your posts? What about email sequences and freebies, will you create them? Where and how will you post your updates on social media?

5. How will you grow your blog?

What techniques will you use to continue to grow your brand? Once you’ve been at it for a while (and maybe that’s now!) what marketing and promotion strategies will you use to scale your blog even more? Think about things like monthly webinars, daily posting in Facebook groups, guest posts, creating new products every quarter. What can you add to your offerings to keep your business flourishing?

That’s about everything! Make sure you document your blog business plan somewhere handy, so you can reach for it and reference it as you need. Keep in mind that as your blog starts to take shape, you will need to revise, edit, tweak and modify your plan. I recommend revisiting it every 6 months to make sure you’re on track. The business plan for your blog should always reflect your vision, which is likely to evolve as your blog biz grows and you want to document each shift.

If you want help putting all of these steps into action so you can turn your blog into a biz even faster, the Blog Business Plan Workbook is for you! Each section is full of prompts to help you get clear on specific goals, like how much money you want to make with your blog, PLUS action steps so you know exactly what to focus on right now to turn your dream into a profitable business. Click the image below to learn more.

blog plan template

That’s about it for part 1 of the Blog Profit Plan series. Now you have a blog business plan and a rockin’ success path. Next up, let’s turn this into a heavyweight action plan:

Part 2: The 12-Month Profit Plan to Make Money With Your Blog


What Should I Include in My About Me Page | This post is for entrepreneurs and bloggers to help get people hooked on your blog and your business, why you do what you do, and how you can help them. Click through to get started!

What Should I Include in My About Me Page? If you’re asking that question, this post will help! It includes all the points entrepreneurs and bloggers need to cover to get people hooked on your blog, your why, and how you can help them. Click through to see all the tips!

You’re just about to launch your blog or business and have a rock-solid brand identity that includes social media profiles, your website, logo, messaging, and more.  Now you’re ready to share your brand with the world. You want your readers to be able to learn more about you and your business, why they should stick around and what’s in it for them.

Could it be time to create an epic About Page?

Definitely! Today, I’m going to walk you through how to write an About Me Page so that you cover all of the important points to make this page one of the most useful and popular pages on your blog.

Here’s what your About Page should do

Preferably in this order:

  1. Communicate that you know who you’re speaking to
  2. Let them know that you get what they want / need
  3. Tell your story and how you can help
  4. Ask them to do something

That’s all there is to it. When you get this right, you’ll have all of the ingredients to grab people’s attention, make them fall in love with you, and turn first-time visitors into raving fans and subscribers!

In a nutshell, your About Me Page is the story of you.


Your About Page is the story of you AND them.

Your job is to weave these two legendary stories into an experience, or a movement even, that hooks people on your blog and your business. And also on YOU, your world view, how they connect with you, and why you’re the perfect person to help with their problem.

So how do we weave these two beautiful stories together? Let’s start by drilling down on each of the points above.

1) Who are you speaking to?

This one’s a biggie. Even though your About Page is about you, it’s mostly about your readers. You want to connect with them and let them know right away that you know who they are and what they’re struggling with right now.

Picture one specific person when you’re writing. What are their core desires? Being very specific with things like their name, age, where they work and what’s holding them back will help you visualize your one person.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customers

2) What do they most want?

Next up, you need to show your audience that you know them and you get it. Let them know how you identify with them and their challenges and struggles. What is it that they want to do, but aren’t able to do right now?

I find it helps to describe their current situation, like this:

  • What do they have right now? (chaotic mornings, marketing that doesn’t work, not enough time, boring exercise routine, flat hair, tasteless meals loaded with carbs, you get the gist)
  • What do they want right now? (calm quiet mornings, effective marketing, time to do the things they love, exhilarating workouts, vibrant hair, delicious healthy meals, and so on)

What this helps you do is to understand the pain points your audience has in their before state, and what changes for them in the after state. Make sense? Then all you have to do is connect the dots and get them from Point A to Point Z.

Let your audience know how you identify with them and what their biggest challenge is right now.Click To Tweet

If we put steps #1 and #2 together, we can start to see a story unfold. For example, my audience is entrepreneurs and bloggers, so I lead with:

We’re a lot alike. We both want to make a successful career and life as entrepreneurs. Which means that neither of us can fall behind with the latest marketing trends. What we really need are operations and systems to put our brands out there strategically.

Can you see how this About Me Page example is a perfect set-up for my story and how I help? But first it’s all about my crew, what they need, and how I relate to their problem.

When you’re writing your story, try to paint an uplifting picture that makes people feel excited about where they’re at right now. Infuse your story with inspiration, hope, and a sense of “we’re in this together”. Whenever possible, stay away from words like don’t, can’t, and no.

If you need help here, the Build My Brand Toolkit includes an entire section on crafting your About Me Page. Plus, sooo much more. You’ll have everything you need to build an epic brand that stands out online – done for you logos, social media images, web copy, brand elements, spreadsheets, templates, and more. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Build My Brand Toolkit.

3) Explain what you do and how it relates to them

Next, tell the story behind your blog or business, sharing why you love to do what you do and how you got here.

This is where you share the story that only you have…your personal history, the obstacles you’ve overcome, how you view the world, what made you come to do what you do…you want all of you in there.

Make sure people understand how you’re uniquely qualified to help them and how you help.

What do you offer to help them bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be? How will you take them from Point A to Point Z? What does it look like to work with you?

Paint as vivid a picture as you can, and as your story unfolds, let go of any idea of what your About Me Page is supposed to sound like. Just have fun with it and let the words flow. Pages are never perfect right out of the gate. That’s why we edit, edit, edit later!

All you need to do now is to connect with your readers and speak to them as you would a friend, so they can get to know the real you. Knowing you is the first step to trusting you, and you’ve got to earn their trust.

So just be real. Be bold. And leave your heart on the page.

4) What do you want them to do next?

Want to really know how to write an awesome About Me Page? Don’t make people guess what you want them to do.

Tell them!

Do you want them to check out how to work with you? Great! Make that easy for them and put a link at the bottom of the page.

Maybe you want them to read some of your latest blog posts. Again, let them know where to go next.

Maybe (just maybe!) you’re super sassy and want to encourage them to subscribe. Maybe you want an opt-in form to pop up when they reach the end of the page. If that is the case, let people know what they’ll get when they sign up. Tutorials and guides? Lazy Sunday craft ideas? Value-packed tips? Make it clear.

Point is, whatever action you want people to take next, make sure you are very explicit with it.

Whatever action you want people to take next on your About Page, make sure you are very explicit with it.Click To Tweet

Putting the stories together

So you know who you’re speaking to, what you do and how you help. But how do you create a story around that? How do you write a whole page that’s compelling and interesting and portrays both your audience AND you?

First, take a deep breath and think about that one person you’re speaking to. Is it your favorite client, or maybe someone you’d love to have as your client? Pretend you’re sitting in a room with this person or simply writing them a letter.

Answer these questions as though you are talking right to them and addressing them personally. Picture that YOU are your one person, and ask yourself:

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What am I trying to do but can’t?
  • What’s stopping me?
  • How can you help me?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How do you know what it’s like to feel the way that I feel?
  • What will change for me after YOU?
  • How will I feel when I’ve overcome this problem?

That’s a wrap! I plan on creating an About Me Page template to help you write your story. Let me know if this is something you’d like and I’ll set it up!


12 Popular WordPress Plugins For Bloggers | Here’s a list of plugins I use on my blog and what I use them for. I'm hoping that a few of them will be useful for you too! Click through to see all the plugins!


I confess! I had no idea what the best WordPress plugins were when I created my first site. I only knew I needed them.

WordPress plugins are software “snippets” that add additional functionality and features to your website. You need them too! They will make your blogging life so much easier and help you build an audience quickly.

Here are some of the features you can add with plugins:

  • Contact forms
  • Search optimization
  • Social media share links
  • List-building pop-ups
  • and tons more…

There are literally tons and tons of blogger plugins from which to choose. So, how do you know which ones you need?

Today I’m sharing some of the plugins I use on my blog. Some I use for SEO, some for social media, some are more administrative, and others are for email list building. These are grouped in order of priority (what to install first, what to install next). I’m hoping that a few of these will be useful for your blog too.




You get so excited when you see 25 comments on your dashboard, but then find that 95% of those are spam. Bleh, who has time for that? You don’t! Time to shut-down spam comments before they happen.

Spam is such a huge issue for WordPress sites that each install comes with a spam filter plugin called Akismet. I’ve never used it because the set-up seems like too much work. Plus, I’ve heard the filtering can be aggressive. It can block valid comments as spam and you won’t have a chance to see real, true reader comments.

WP-SpamShack is very effective and easy to use. Just activate it and you’re good to go. What can be easier than that?

Update: It looks like WP-SpamShack is no longer being updated. I am switching my recommendation to a plugin I’ve recently installed, Akismet (yep, I’m going against what I just said). The set-up is not the huge mountain I once feared. Since installing it, I’ve received zero spam comments. My inbox, and I, are in a much happier place. 🙂

This brings up an important point about plugins:

As I mention at the end of this post, outdated plugins can break your site. They also create an easy target for hackers. Before installing any plugin, make sure it’s compatible with your version of WordPress. While you’re at it, take a look at the number of active updates (the more, the better). The best WordPress plugins are updated at least once a month. Many of the ones below are updated weekly, which is why they top my list of must-have WordPress plugins.

Psst…You should always be using the latest version of WordPress. Just sayin’.


Yoast SEO


WordPress is by default a search-engine-friendly platform. But, you’ll need the help of Yoast SEO to optimize your site even more for search engines. I use it on each of my posts. If you want to make it easy for people to find your work on Google, you need to use it too!  Yoast is hands-down one of the best SEO plugins for WordPress.

Yoast SEO will analyze your posts and give you a list of prompts for headings, content, post title, descriptions, images, and even URLs to make sure everything on your page is optimized for your target keyword. It does a whole bunch of other things too, like Facebook OpenGraph data and XML sitemap generator.

I recommend installing the Yoast plugin and playing around with it a bit. There’s a lot of functionality in there.

#WORDOFCAUTION Following Yoast’s prompts does not guarantee that your post will rank according to Google’s algorithms. For instance, simply entering “blog post checklist” as the Yoast target keyword doesn’t mean Google will see it the same way. I know this is true. It’s happened to me.

There’s a lot that goes in to SEO. Most of it starts with thorough keyword research. From there, it’s a matter of how you integrate your target keyword (and related keywords) into the post. What Yoast will do is give you an SEO checklist you can use before, and even after, you hit publish.

Related: 7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After Your Post Goes Live

Related: SEO for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Gravity Forms


Do you even need contact forms anymore? Not many people use them, but I like knowing my audience can easily reach me. Anything that gives readers a channel to get in touch with you is a good thing, so why not include one?

I prefer Contact Form 7 to Gravity Forms because it’s prettier on the back-end and easier to use, but alas, CF7 doesn’t integrate with my email marketing platform. I had to switch to Gravity Forms simply because it has integrations with more email marketing platforms. Contact Form 7 does integrate with most of the email marketing tools out there, but not Infusionsoft (which is what I use). If you use MailChimp, Aweber, MadMimi or Constant Contact, CF7 is a good choice.

Google Analytics


This one is one of those great “optional” WordPress plugins, and I’ll explain why.

You know you need Google Analytics to monitor your site’s traffic and performance. But, sometimes Google Analytics can be tricky to install. Now, most WordPress themes include a dedicated section for GA tracking codes. With others, it’s not as straightforward. For instance, I put my tracking code for ConversionMinded.com in the wrong section. I only realized this when I popped into Analytics to find a blank screen–nothing to report. This happened to me on other sites too.

If you feel a bit flustered about how to add the code to your theme, I highly recommend installing the Google Analytics plugin. Just enter your tracking code ID and let the plugin take care of the rest. What could be easier?



Click to Tweet


I keep telling myself to use this more because it’s such a killer plugin.

Click to Tweet gives you a pretty box with a tweet quote that readers can share with their followers. It’s very easy to use and a great way to encourage sharing.

Here’s an example:

Check out this post on 12 Blogger Plugins that will skyrocket your blogClick To Tweet

What you should know: When you create a Click-to-Tweet, keep the “username” box checked once you enter your tweet text.



See the share buttons at the bottom of this post? That’s Shareaholic in action. Shareaholic is a social media plugin that makes it easy for readers to share your amazing posts. They’re also a form of social proof.  The more shares you have on your post, the more new readers will want to share it too.

Here’s what it will look like at the bottom of your posts:

Shareaholic Is The #3 Essential WordPress Plugin For Your BlogJust install it and you’re done. It will sync with the API of your social media platforms to track the share counts. You can also use the Shareaholic (or SumoMe) plugin to add share buttons to your post images, which is yet another way to encourage sharing. See this post for how to create share buttons.

What you should know: Before you install this plugin, head over to Google Webmaster Tools. Create an account, verify your website, and then choose your preferred domain. This is just a techy way of saying Tell Google if you want your site to appear in browser windows as the “www” version or the “non-www” version.

Mine was originally “www” and I recently changed it to the “non-www”. No big deal, except Pinterest and Google+ recognize them as completely different sites. With this change, I lost my share counts and had to start again from zero. I don’t want this to happen to you, so be sure you set your preferred domain beforehand!

Update: Time to add Social Warfare to our Best WordPress Plugins list! It’s become my new fav for adding social share buttons…no worries about lost share counts due to a change in your permalink.

Thrive Leads


I’ve written extensively about Thrive Leads in this post and in this post, partly because I love it so much, and mostly because it does so much. For me, this plugin blows away SumoMe and other list-building plugins. It’s not free, but it’s also not expensive (about $65 for a license) vs SumoMe’s ListBuilder Pro, which costs $20 a month.

Here’s what it can do:

  • Standard pop-ups, slide-ins, top or bottom forms
  • Full-page opt-ins: Fill the entire screen with your form when someone lands on your site
  • In-content pop-ups: Triggered from a link, button, or image in your post
  • Menu-triggered pop-ups: Great for creating a Resource Library tab on your site
  • Different pop-up states:Readers who have already subscribed will see another opt-in or nothing at all.

What you should know: The features in this plugin are fierce, but it’s not the easiest to use. If you’re a new blogger, you may prefer to start with a form plugin like Popup Ally. As your blog builds up a bit and you need more functionality, I highly recommend checking out Thrive Leads. No doubt, it will become your go-to WordPress blog plugin for list-building.

Contextual-Related Posts


Related posts are a great way to keep readers on your site longer which is always a good thing. Plus, as I covered in this post, internal linking is like a popularity vote for your site which will help you rank higher in Google.

With a plugin like Contextual-Related Posts, a list of related posts will appear at the bottom of your article, which you can either show with thumbnails or links.

What you should know: If your site is hosted on a managed WordPress hosting company like WPEngine or Flywheel, Contextual-Related Posts will be blocked. The reason is that plugins like this can potentially slow down your site. In that case, try Jetpack, Related Posts for WordPress, or even Shareaholic. If you decide to go with Jetpack, make sure you disable their other features, as this plugin can seriously slow down your site’s speed.

Duplicate Post


Definitely one the best WordPress plugins around. I used to pull my hair out designing pages manually, one by one, until I discovered Duplicate Post.

Duplicate Post does just what it says, only I use it for pages instead of posts. And I use it aallll the time…

Here’s why it’s so great: Say you’ve spent hours tweaking the design of your About page and want to use it as a template for your Services page. With Duplicate Post, you don’t have to start from scratch or spend hours copying CSS styles. Simply clone the page and you’ve got a custom design template ready to go.

What you should know: You want to duplicate the design of the page and not the actual content. Make sure you change the title, content, keywords, images, buttons and anything else on the page so that Google will see it as an entirely new page, rather than duplicate content, which will hurt your SEO.



Another essential WordPress plugin for SEO…

Let’s say you’re playing around in the Google Keyword Planner and stumble upon the perfect keyword for one of your published posts. It looks like you have a great chance to rank for it and you want to replace your old keyword with this new one. No biggie, right? Just change the keyword and follow the Yoast SEO checklist to update it on your page.

But, hold on, friend! You already published the post with the old URL, which means that Google is looking for the old one, and not the new one you just created. By updating the keyword in your URL (which you will have to do), you’ve created a new path for your post and confused Google.

That’s where the Redirection plugin comes in. Anytime you update the actual URL of a page or post on your site, use this plugin to redirect Google from the old URL to the new one. This way you won’t wind up with 404 errors on your site.


Pretty Link Lite


Pretty Link Lite is a plugin for creating shortened links, similar to Bitly, but better. They’re like “vanity” links that include your domain and help to solidify your brand so that people recognize it.

Pretty Link Lite is great for affiliate links, which are generally long and not so “pretty”. People are more inclined to click on simple, short links than they are long ones that are hard to read.

This plugin will also track and analyze how your links are performing, much like Bitly.

WordPress Editorial Calendar


I haven’t used this yet, but I have it installed, and it’s next on my list!

This plugin is designed to help you organize and plan your posts in advance, which you can mark as Drafts or Scheduled. Sounds like a much better system than what I’m currently using (an outdated Google spreadsheet). From the little I’ve experimented with the Editorial Calendar plugin, it looks like you can specify your calendar view (1 week, 2 weeks, etc.). Then, enter post titles on the days you plan to publish. You can then use the calendar to write/edit your post directly from the plugin.

I’ve heard this is one of the best WordPress plugins for planning the content you want to share.  I can’t wait to give it a try, and I think you should too!

Before you install any plugins:

  • Don’t install more plugins than you will use. Plugins tend to bloat your site and can seriously affect your page’s load-speed.
  • Start out with plugins 1-4, and then gradually add the others as needed.
  • Take a look at the number of active installs (anything over 50K is good) and make sure it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.
  • If you find what seems to be an awesome plugin, but the last update was 1-2 years back, this means the developer hasn’t continued updating the plugin and there’s a good chance it’ll cause conflicts with WordPress. You’re better off looking for another similar plugin that is compatible.
  • Check your site after you install a plugin to make sure everything looks/functions okay (good page load-speed, no white screen, everything intact, an so on).

What plugins do you rely on to grow your blog? I’d love to add them to the list!


How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Blog or Business | A style guide for your blog will help you be consistent, cohesive and harmonious with all of your important elements, plus save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post.Hey there! A brand style guide is just one of the many elements I cover in the Build My Brand Tool Kit, which is a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step system FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that attracts your dream customers. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the kit.

I get it. And I’m sure you get it too. How important it is to really know your brand on a deep level. Things like:

  • Your mission and what you stand for
  • Who you are speaking to
  • How you want your audience to feel when they experience your brand

So. What’s next? What do we do with everything we know? I think maybe first, we should step back and take a minute to realize how incredibly amazing it is that we have the power to define how people experience our brands. And that the only thing that stands in between us knowing our brand and our peeps knowing our brand is…

…the way we communicate it to them.

That’s where having a brand style guide can help. A brand style guide is like a brand guidelines template that will help you document your important elements so that your brand is consistent and harmonious everywhere. It covers how you plan to treat things such as fonts, colors, images, icons, tone, messaging, and more. As I mention in this post, a style guide will save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post. And it will make it easy for people to recognize your brand online.

Before we dig in to how to create a brand style guide, I have to say one more thing because this is so very important and I don’t want to forget.

Let go of being perfect

Creating a style guide template is usually one of the last things I do when I launch a blog or a business. Why, you ask? Because I know me. I can get pulled into a design rabbit hole really, really quickly. I’m the world’s biggest perfectionist and I can get hung up on every last detail, the kinds of things others don’t even see. I’m a Virgo and that’s what we do, right?

The practical, business side of me doesn’t like falling into rabbit holes. That’s why I wait to create a style guide template for my blog until I have more information. There’s a lot that can happen in a year, especially if it’s your first:

  • Your audience can change
  • Your vision can change
  • Your products can change
  • Your tone can change
  • And more

So here’s the big question:

Do you need a brand style guide now or can it wait?

The short answer is Yes, you need one now. As I mentioned, it will save you time. But…

…how much time you spend creating it should be directly related to how long you’ve been in business.

If you’re just starting out, don’t spend a ton of time on a style guide. It’s too early in the game for a deep dive. Give yourself a certain amount of time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Building a blog brand is important, but please don’t get hung up on things like finding the perfect font or the perfect colors. It is so much more important to get out there and start to interact with and build your audience! You’re going to learn so much about yourself and your peeps, and then you can bring that information back to the table and tweak and refine and edit your brand style guide until your heart’s content.

If you’re in a momentum or growth stage, congrats! You’re starting to establish your brand and really know who your readers are on a personal level. You’ve developed things like your tone and your blogging style, maybe you’ve pivoted your brand position once or twice and tweaked your offerings to get them where they need to be. You’re probably due for a complete style overhaul. In this case, you can and should spend more time on your style guide template.

For this post, I’m going to assume that you’re in the early stages of your blog. I really want you to get that things don’t have to be perfect to build a strong brand foundation, so I’m structuring this post as a quasi-challenge. If you’d like me to turn this into more of a formal challenge, where we break it all down and get things done each day, just let me know in the comments, please.

Day 1: Create a Mood Board

This step is easy and fun! Gather inspiration. Don’t edit your ideas. Just find things you like. Create a private Pinterest board where you gather everything that inspires you on to a “mood board”. Pin anything that grabs you, especially:

  • Colors
  • Fonts and font pairings
  • Images and photos
  • Icons and graphics
  • Textures
  • Interiors, workspaces
  • Fashion styles
  • Anything else that grabs you

So week one is about igniting your creativity…

Day 2: Edit Your Mood Board

Look at your mood board. Do you see any common themes emerge? Is there a specific color you’re drawn to more than others? How about textures and fonts? Maybe it’s a certain contrast of colors that really grabs you. Or maybe the images make you feel a certain way. Try to get specific about why each element captures your attention. This will help you to recreate that mood/tone in your brand.

And! There’s no right or wrong answer when you’re doing this other than to identify the images, titles, colors, elements, and so on that make you feel the way you want your readers to feel. One of the biggest things that will help you create a brand for your blog is to edit. Narrow down and delete any elements/colors/styles that don’t connect with you or your brand. Continue refining your mood board and delete anything you have on there that doesn’t feel like you.

Day 3: Choose Your Colors

Pick 2-4 colors from your mood board that you will use for everything on your blog – headings, subheadings, text, images, icons, accent colors, background colors… all of it. Commit to using these colors and no other ones! The point of creating a style guide is to stick with it. Your brand will look inconsistent and fragmented if you choose a different color for your website than on Pinterest and Instagram.

To find out the Hex code (e.g. #000000) for a specific color in one of your pins, save it to your desktop and then upload it imagecolorpicker.com.  Once you have it, document the Hex code in your style guide so that you can make sure you’re using the exact same colors everywhere. If you need additional ideas or want to find colors that compliment others, use a site like coolors.co to generate color schemes. They even have the Hex code listed right there to make it easy.


brand style guide colors


For general guidance with colors, use black or dark gray (#333333) for text, a bright color for headings and subheadings, and then one or two accent colors for social media, Ebooks, and other uses.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

Day 4: Choose Your Fonts

brand identity guidelines

Do the same thing you did in week #3, only for fonts. Decide which fonts from your mood board best reflect your brand’s personality and tone. You want to choose 2-3 fonts that compliment each other. Here’s a quick guideline for choosing fonts:

  • Text: The font you choose for the text on your website should be very easy to read at a font size of 16-20px. Make sure it also feels true to your brand. Sans-serif fonts are best for legibility.
  • Headings: If you choose a font like Open Sans for text, you just need to change the font size and weight and then you can use it for headings as well. Or you choose a different font, perhaps one where you can showcase your personality a bit more. Note: blog titles are considered headings and can sometimes run long. You want to make sure your heading font reflects your brand without distracting people or making it hard for people to digest your title.
  • Featured or emphasized text:  Here’s where you can have some fun and throw in some contrast! This is really to give readers some eye-candy and break up the page a bit. Think about choosing a jazzy hand-written type or whimsical script font for featured text. Of course, only do this if it’s appropriate for your brand!
  • Play with font pairings: It’s amazing how you can change your brand’s tone simply by pairing different fonts. If you combine a serif font like Playfair Display with Open Sans, you’ll get an entirely different mood than when you pair it with a narrow, bold type like Oswald.
  • Social media: Just a note that you will be using these same fonts for your blog title images and on social media. Make sure they all work together and will be easy to read when you overlay them on images and background colors.
  • Downloading fonts: Google Fonts and dafont.com are both good sources to download free fonts. Just be sure to check the license on dafonts.com to make sure it’s not limited to personal use.
  • Font weights: I recommend choosing font families with more than regular and bold font weights. This will give you some flexibility to be a little creative with some parts of your text so that they stand out from the rest. A font like Open Sans will have light, regular, semi bold, bold, and extra bold font weights. You’d be surprised at how much you can bring your page to life with all of these weights to choose from!

Once you’ve decided on a few fonts, write them down in your style guide and then stick with only these! Remember that every time you create a blog title image, you want to use these same fonts so that people begin to recognize your brand.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to experiment with each new image! Part of the reason we’re creating these brand identity guidelines is to save you time. All the high-level creative choices are being made and documented in your brand style guide now so that you don’t waste oodles of time deciding which fonts, colors, and images you want to use later on. Make sense?

Related: Free Fonts and Font Pairings for Web, Social Media, and Blog Images

Day 5: Choose your social media platforms

Based on what you know about your readers, where do they hang out? Which social platforms are they on? Choose 2-3 (max!) platforms that you will dig into and really build your following. While you’re at it, write down two other brands in your niche that you like based on their social activity. What strategies have they used to build their following? What types of posts and images are they sharing? Which ones have the most repins, retweets, and shares? You don’t want to copy your competitors…instead, use their strategies as inspiration and a jumping off point for your own images and themes.

Document everything from here in your blog style guide.

Related: Why You Need a Social Media Strategy and How to Create One That Works

Days 6-8: Choose Your Image Style

You know where I’m going. Based on your mood board, decide on the style of images you will use for your blog posts and social media.

First, decide if you prefer to DIY your photos or use stock ones. If the latter, spend time on these free stock photo sites to see which ones best suit your brand. I find that even though there are many great sites out there, I tend to use the same ones over and over simply because they reflect my aesthetic more.

Based on your mood board, colors, and fonts, decide if your image style will be earthy, bold and vibrant, muted and serene, whimsical, with lots of contrast, or maybe none at all.

Once you decide, document it in your blog style guide (you get the gist!).

Next, hop back on to your preferred sites and download your first ten images to Dropbox (or your desktop) inside an “Image Library” folder. Or if you prefer to DIY them, take your first ten photos and save them.

You’re doing great! We’re just about there…

Now you need to decide your image styles for these uses:

  • Featured blog post images: What sizes and styles will you use? Will you overlay text onto images or a color background? If you need some direction with share sizes, this post will help.
  • Secondary post images: The ones that are in the content of your post. What size will they be and how will they look?
  • Content upgrades: What image style will you use to feature content upgrades within your posts? You want these to stand out from your text so that your readers notice them.
  • Social media images: Will you watermark your images with your logo and colors? How will your Pinterest images be different or similar to your Instagram images? Is there an Instagram filter you like here?
  • Other image types: What about other images and graphics on your site? How will you differentiate them and still remain cohesive?

Day 9: Create Your Image Templates

This is a huge time-saver! Create a template for your featured blog post images (that’s all you need to start) using either Canva or Photoshop. Select your size, add your colors, fonts, and a branded watermark so all you have to do is simply update your image, change your title and you’re done!


Whew! You just created a killer brand style guide template for your blog and business. Plus, you made it easy for your audience to recognize your brand because from here on out, you’re going to present one consistent and cohesive brand presence everywhere. Great job!

Psst…A style guide is just ONE of the many brand elements you’ll create with the Build My Brand Tool Kit. With this kit, you’ll have an entire done-for-you branding system that includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS your brand copy (About page, Home page, blog tone and format) and worksheets to help you track each element. Click the image below to learn more.

The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.Have you created your brand style guide yet? I’d love to hear about it!


How to Chose Your Blog's Niche + Focus | These tips for choosing your blog's niche will help you gain clarity on what inspires you, define your target audience, and approach your blog like a biz!Choosing your blog’s niche and focus is one of the easiest ways to grow your audience and sometimes the hardest thing to figure out.

If it’s super early in your blog-as-a-biz journey, you may be struggling with this right now. I know I did! I felt incredibly flustered and my mind was spinning with all of my interests and big ideas for my blog.

I’d spend hours on Google hunting for an answer to point me in the right direction. Expert #1 would say to look at the money first and Expert #2 would say to blog about something I loved.

I had a huge list with “Pros” and “Cons” for each of my ideas. I even walked away from my ideas thinking that would bring me clarity, but alas, I was stumped!

I finally picked one (or two, actually – fashion design and music production). And after about 10-15 posts on each, I was completely out of ideas! I thought How could that be? My two biggest passions and I’m fresh out of ideas already!?!! 

It made me realize that some of the ideas I had for my blog weren’t blog niche ideas at all, they were ideas I had about myself. Ideas about the person I thought I was supposed to be. Ideas about what I was supposed to excel at. And secretly I was hunting for a winner…some jackpot idea that would guarantee success (I drove myself crazy tracking monthly search volumes and competition for my ideas). If I could pick a “winner”, then I would be a winner too.

It wasn’t until I let go of those ideas that I was able to discover my true passion and blog’s niche. I’m sharing this because I think we all have internal voices we battle around shining our light for the world to see. It’s a scary thing to do, I know.

In this post, let me hold your hand and share some tips to help you discover what truly inspires you in life (and in business) and to celebrate your blog’s niche.

I’ve also created a Blog Niche Workbook which I’m hoping will help you find the sweet spot for your blog too.Click the image below to download it.

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

Let’s dig in!

First, start with what you love

This should be a no-brainer, right? You have to really love what you’re writing about in order to keep doing it after six months or a year. You should wake up dreaming about it, spend every minute thinking about it, and have at least five post ideas you can’t wait to write. When you have this kind of energy on your topic, it’s a win-win! You will love writing your posts, and the readers you most want to connect with will pick up on your enthusiasm and love seeing your posts. Writing about something that interests you will also make you write longer content, which tends to rank higher and get more social shares than short posts.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I wake up dreaming about?
  • What do I most think about during the day?
  • What are my innate talents or skills? Which areas would I like to grow?
  • What ideas make me feel like I can really be myself and express myself?
  • What topics can I think of a least 10 post ideas for right now?

Think of your blog as a business

Even when you’re just starting out, dream out loud and dream big. Think of your blog as a business right from day one.

Every business, including your blog, is on a hunt for the sweet spot – where what you love to do intersects perfectly with your ability to earn a great income from it.

To find that sweet spot, I recommend starting with the place where you belong. Don’t start by choosing a topic solely for the money-making potential. The thing that encourages you to be all of yourself is where you’re really going to express yourself and grow. Monetizing your blog is important, just know that it’s not your starting point. That will evolve as you grow your blog and start seeing some traffic.

To make it extra easy for you to approach your blog as a biz, I’ve created a Blog Business Plan Workbook to help you create a bangin’ success road map. Just click the button below to grab it.

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!Connect similar topics

If you’re like me, you have multiple things you want to blog about. Maybe you want to write a travel blog, but you also want to write a cooking blog and a music blog. If this happens to you, think about how much you really love each topic. Is it really a passion or could it be “shiny object syndrome”? I went through a whole lot of oh, yeah, I could blog about fashion designwhat about songwriting… wait a minute, I forgot about graphic design…

Related: How to Find the Perfect Name for Your Blog or Business

You owe it to yourself (and to your readers) to pick one topic as your primary focus. You can always find ways to connect some of your topics and weave them into your blog. For my fashion design blog example above, I could have easily included graphic design and music as sub-topics: there’s textile design, fashion branding, songs from the runways, the whole music-fashion connection. You get the gist. First and foremost though, your readers need to know where to place you. You should always be thinking to occupy just one space in people’s minds because that’s all they have room for.

Can you write about it every day?

This question is the one that most helped me focus. By now you should have narrowed your blog niche ideas down to one or two topics, maybe even three. Picture yourself writing about each one for the next six months or a year. Can you see yourself doing it? Do you enjoy it enough to keep coming up with new posts? Your topic has to be broad enough and you have to love it enough to write about it for a long, long time. If you can’t, friend, it’s time to cross it off your list.

How can you help?

Now you’re down to just one or two ideas. It’s time to run them through the “target audience” filter.

Your blog should solve a specific problem for a specific reader and clearly communicate how and who you help. When you write about too many different blog topics, you’ll start to feel a bit all over the place and kind of fuzzy about who you’re speaking to. Next thing that happens is the readers you most want to connect with start feeling fuzzy about your brand too. They simply won’t get that you’re writing for them. Remember, real community is born when people connect with your brand so it’s up to you to help them make that connection.

Ask yourself these questions about your niche ideas:

  • Who is your blog for?
  • How can you inspire or help your readers? What can you teach them?
  • Which topics solve a specific problem for readers? (If you can’t identify this, you may want to choose another topic)
  • Which of your current posts received the most shares, likes, repins or retweets? (knowing which posts are most popular is a powerful way to understand what your audience needs)

For a deep dive on how to identify your ideal customer and create a killer value proposition, check out this post and this post.

Money-making potential

I wasted soooo much time thinking about monetization when I first started. Now I realize that it was my own fear and lack of confidence with blogging that made me obsess so much about it. Don’t stress the money just yet. There are many ways to make money from your blog – freelancing, coaching, selling courses, books, affiliate programs. The money will come over time. Don’t worry, you got this!

Having said that, you may want to do a little research, even if all it does is get you thinking about it now. After all, every blogger needs to make money, right? Is there an eBook or mini-course that pops in your head right away? If so, your blog niche idea is probably right on target. What about competition, do you have any?

Ask yourself these questions as well:

  • Can you find products that you can promote on your website or even something you can personally sell?
  • Can you create a course around this topic and truly provide value to your audience?
  • Are there other blogs or brands that are successful with your blog topic? (When other brands are making money from your topics, there’s a good chance you will too)

Choosing your blog focus and niche can really get your head spinning, but it doesn’t have to! Think about the intersection where the posts you love to write are meaningful and useful to your one specific audience. This will give you confidence that you’re writing both for yourself and your readers, plus give you clarity on what topics to cover in your future posts.

What is your blog’s niche? Have you narrowed it down yet? Let’s hear it!

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!


How Songwriting Helped Me Grow My Blog, Plus 7 Tips for New Bloggers | Are you a new blogger? These songwriting-inspired tips will help you write posts that your readers will love and quickly grow your blog audience. Click through to see all the tips!Stick to the structure.

That’s what my instructor would hammer into my head over and over again when I was learning how to write songs.

And every time I ignored him, I wrote lyrics that rambled on and on without a beginning or an end, or even a break in between.

In fact, one of the songs I wrote was actually three songs jumbled up into one. Back then I couldn’t understand why people weren’t in love with it! Now I can laugh about it because I get it. That song suffered from a major identity crisis. I kid you not, it’s the most confusing song I’ve ever heard.

And it’s all because I didn’t stick to a structure.

This got me thinking about the challenges of entrepreneurs and bloggers. Is there a way we can limit our rambling so we don’t confuse people? What if we used a song-structure approach to create great content that’s easy for people to digest?

Here are seven songwriting-inspired tips that helped me write better posts and grow my blog:

1. What do you want people to do?

Every great song has an unforgettable chorus or “hook”. Those are the lyrics you write first and then your intro, verses and pre-chorus lyrics all lead back to your hook. It’s the part of the song that everything leads back to.

If you apply this to blogging, you have to think about what you want people to do once they read your blog? It’s highly unlikely that they’re going to go to your Contact page and fill it in. They’re still in the get-to-know-you stage and need to build up more trust first.

The best way to lead people through your sales funnel at this stage is to include a button at the end of every blog that brings people to a premium piece of content (a content upgrade). This is probably the single biggest thing that has helped me grow my blog.

Use these tips to maximize the value of your content upgrade:

  • Turn it into a checklist. Checklists are very actionable, and although they may take a long time to apply, people can easily digest them in a couple of minutes.
  • Keep it tightly related to your blog post. Resource lists are a great option here. Let’s say you write a blog on fitness. You can create a resource list of the best online workouts, as well as sources for fitness gear, healthy recipes, the squat techniques, and more.
  • Focus on one thing. Your ebook should solve one big thing for your target audience. If you try to cover too many topics, you’ll wind up sounding vague and readers will have a hard time figuring out immediate action steps to take.

2. Add a second link

The same way that some people don’t listen to an entire song, some people won’t read your post all the way through. So they won’t see your content upgrade at the end of it.

Knowing this, place a second link to it within the first few paragraphs of your post. Your offer can be as simple as a one-page guide or template. You definitely don’t have to re-invent the wheel here, just make sure it’s related to your post and flows naturally with your writing.

By doing this, you’ll grab the attention of people who are pressed for time and double your chances of converting those who do read your post from top to bottom.

3. Link to a follow-up post

Most songs have a pre-chorus section that connects the verses to the chorus. Songwriters use it as a bridge to build up excitement leading into the chorus.

You can create a similar anticipation in your blog by giving readers a follow up post or “next step”. A link like this makes readers feel like they’re not done yet, and that there’s more for them to know.

As the next step you can take them to what appears to be another blog post, but is actually a content landing page with a CTA and a lead capture form. If you design your content on this page to be free of clutter and focused on the action you want people to take, you’ll have a good chance of getting them to click.

4. Write a killer title

Writing great blog titles is just as important as writing a great song title, and it’s definitely something that has helped me grow my blog. There’s a big difference between “meh” titles and titles that people just have to click.

Your blog title is the first interaction people will have with your post, and it may be your one and only chance to grab their attention. Make sure you let your readers know immediately what they can expect once they accept your click. But here’s the trick – you want to make them curious enough that they wonder what they are missing out on if they don’t click.

In order to capture people’s attention the right way, you have to really know who your audience is, what their goals are and what challenges they face. Then you can write titles that address their problems and grab their interest.

More than anything else, make sure your blog title focuses on customer value. You want to set realistic expectations with your title so that readers don’t feel betrayed and tricked, thinking you’ll do anything to get them to read your post (which definitely won’t help you build trust!).

A good way to provide solutions and spark curiosity at the same time is to use numbered lists, like this post. Take these titles for example:

  • 20 Ways to Find Targeted Twitter Followers
  • Top 7 WordPress Plugins That Will Turn Your Blog Into a List-Building Machine

Blog titles like these work because they ensure that your blog post will deliver on the value you promise and make people curious enough to click through.

5. Write a great intro

The minute I hear the opening guitar riffs of Heart’s Barracuda, I’m ready to start singing from the top of my lungs. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the song.

When people read your posts, they’re going to quickly scan your first paragraph to decide if they want to keep reading. That’s where having a great intro comes in. You have to capture people’s imagination and create momentum the same way that the most memorable songs do.

Here are a few ways to get creative with your intro:

  • Ask a question to spark their curiosity
  • Share a quick story or anecdote that leads in to main point of your post
  • Use analogies in your story to help people can visualize their own story in yours

Just be sure you stay on track and don’t lose focus with the opening. You want to tell enough of a story to make people curious without going off topic and sending them down the wrong road.

If you keep the opening paragraphs short and make your point as quickly as possible, people will know immediately why they should keep reading.

6. Avoid using buzzwords

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to avoid using buzzwords like “secret” “simple”, and “tips”. Words like these can date your content, and they can date your brand.

The thing about them is that one day they’re popular, and the next day they’re so overused that they sound spammy. After being bombarded with buzzwords over and over again, people become desensitized to them and they no longer have impact.

With this in mind, stay away form these words from Hubspot that have been shown to decrease click through rates (instead of increase them):

  • Credit
  • Cure
  • Magic
  • Free
  • You
  • You’re
  • Yours
  • Best
  • Always
  • Simple
  • Trick
  • Amazing
  • Secret
  • Need
  • Now

Put these words aside and focus on the value you’re providing audiences. Speak to them conversationally, the way you would in person, and use words and a tone of voice that are genuine and consistent with your overall brand.

7. Use short paragraphs

Songwriters usually use a framework of eight measure verses to tell their story. And trust me, it takes quite a bit of practice to write lyrics in that short time.

The same is true with your blog. People are in a hurry and have short attention spans. Even though your post can fabulously helpful and informative (which I’m sure it is!), people will have a hard time getting past your first few sentences without some visual cues.

One of the simplest things to do is to break up long paragraphs into bite-size chunks and use subheadings and bullet points. Try using fewer words to express your idea and keep your paragraphs to one topic.

Subheadings are great because they give readers anchor points to lock on to. Try to write them so they tell the complete story so people can easily see what interests them.

Pro tip: If you’re struggling with what to write or start going off topic, speak what you want to say out loud first. Then write down what you just said. When you speak you usually find the most direct way to say things, and your readers will love you for it.