Quick Fixes for 6 Common Blog Mistakes

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Fixes for 6 Common Blog Mistakes

You want to look like you know what you’re doing, but is your blog plotting to make you look like a fool?

I see these same content and technical mistakes on blogs over and over, and most are easy to fix. If these common blog mistakes have been driving you crazy on your own site, I’ve got some tips for you today.

My fixes use WordPress menu names, but most blogging programs will have similar functionality, though perhaps tucked behind a different menu.

 

The mistake: Images that click to the same size image

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This is a common problem with a simple fix. As a reader, I see a photo in a post, and notice that when I hover over it, it’s a link. Expecting to either get a lightbox-style pop-up over the screen with a larger photo, or at least be taken to the larger photo directly, I click, and I get… the exact same photo at the exact same size, but on a blank page. Now I need to click my “back” button to get back to what I was reading.

The fix:

When you’re adding the image to your post, make sure the “link to” choice is set to “none” in WordPress. WordPress will remember what you did last time, so it’s always good to check the setting for each new image, rather than assuming it’s set how you want it.

If you do want to link to a larger image, make sure you upload the large image itself, choose to have it resized in the post, and set the “link to” field to “media file” or “attachment page.”

 

The mistake: Images that are the wrong size

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It irks me when I’m reading a blog and the photos don’t take advantage of all the width of the column they’re in, or  when photos are all different sizes throughout the blog.

The fix:

Always upload images that are as large or larger than the space you have. Sometimes this isn’t enough, though, as your WordPress admin might be set up to size and display photos smaller than they are.

If big photos turn small when you add them to the blog, you need to adjust some settings. Find out how many pixels wide your photos need to be to fill the space available. There are a lot of different ways to do this, none of which are quick to explain, I’m afraid. Ask your friendly web designer friend (me)!

Now that you know how wide you want your photos to be, make sure WordPress is set up to help you with that. Go to Settings in your WordPress admin and choose Media. You can set three standard sizes, and then you’ll be able to choose from between them whenever you upload a new image. Your small size could be used for thumbnail graphics that lead to posts, your medium could be the photos in the posts, and large could be the size people see when they click to view it larger.

 

The mistake: Photos that have been distorted

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It’s weird to come across a photo that’s obviously been stretched or squished, like a piece of chewing gum.

The fix:

You are probably changing the height or width of your image without changing the other side. For instance, if your image is 400 pixels wide and 400 pixels tall, when you change the width to 300 pixels, you need the height to change by the same amount.

The fix for this depends on where you’re having the problem. If the problem happens when you edit the photo, be sure that when you change the width of an image, the height is also changing proportionately. This would be in Photoshop or whatever other photo editing software you use.

If your photos look fine on your computer, but then look crazy on your blog, check your media or file upload settings to make sure that they aren’t automatically being resized on one dimension only.

 

The mistake: moderating comments unnecessarily

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If you want your comments section to be lively, it’s always best to have a discussion going as quickly as possible. Holding comments to be approved manually by you slows things down, and in the time it takes you to click and approve a comment, people may have missed out on the opportunity to discuss.

The fix:

Allow comments to flow freely on your site, unless you begin having a problem that requires you look at each comment individually. This is under Settings > Discussion in WordPress.

 

The mistake: being overwhelmed with spam

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As soon as your site is ranked in Google and starts getting traffic and interest, spam robots will flood it with tons of garbage comments. Letting these pile up on your site is bad for business, and spending all of your time manually deleting them is a waste of your time.

The fix:

Pay Akismet $5/month to wipe this stuff out before it even makes it to your blog. If you spend more than 5-10 minutes per month tackling spam comments, I’d say this is money well spent.

 

The mistake: A bunch of garbage in your sidebar

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WordPress gives you so many handy dandy widgets that it’s super tempting to fill your sidebar up with lots of neat looking goodies. However, clogging your sidebar with clutter will just cause visitors to ignore everything they see to the side of the real content, and you will have lost the opportunity to make your blog an easy place to explore, or to promote what you most want people to know about.

The fix:

Edit your sidebar ferociously. Look at each thing you’ve added, and ask if it’s something your reader needs, or if it helps you with your business goals. Remember that the more distractions you give your reader, the less you’ll be able to guide them through your site to your ultimate goal (purchasing your products, signing up for your service, etc.).

I share many more tips like this in my Aeolidia newsletter.

What mistakes do you see on blogs that drive you batty?

What questions do you have about your own blog?

P.S. If you missed my post with 260 blog post ideas, that’s a good place to get started on improving your blog!

How to Bring Quality, Targeted Traffic to Your Online Shop

 

 

 

 

How to find quality, targeted traffic

This is a guest post by Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia.


 

I’ve discussed conversion rate on on the Aeolidia blog before, and this is a useful companion piece, about how to get serious buyers to your website in the first place.

It can be very puzzling figuring out how to get people to visit your site, especially if you’ve been relying on a service such as Etsy to drive traffic to you. Once you have a website of your own to promote, you need a plan to reach out to all the right people.

I have a lot of great email chats with creative business owners who receive my newsletter, and I was recently asked:

Another thing we are currently working on right now is probably something a lot of new e-commerce site owners are trying to figure out – good quality traffic. We are working through our marketing plan/checklist now, but I know it’s just going to take time to get the traffic flow we want. I think all the pieces are there – good quality site, good products, and good social media interaction. We just need to grow our trickle of customers to a steady flow!

This question shows a lot of insight, because the biz owner knows she should be looking for good quality traffic, not just traffic. “Traffic” is how we refer to the flow of people onto and through our websites. Your traffic is how many visitors  you get. If you have low quality traffic, you may get hundreds of thousands of people on your site, with only a few remaining there to purchase.

High quality traffic will give you a lot of sales with less people visiting (and less marketing effort on your part).

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Why you want targeted traffic

Many of our clients run creative businesses that are so unique and out of the mainstream that they’re going to want highly targeted traffic – meaning visitors who understand the type of business they are, and who are looking for the kind of stuff they sell.

For instance, we featured Finspo on our blog recently, a business that creates wearable mermaid tails. You can’t just tell a random person on the street about Finspo and expect them to bust out their wallet. Advertising someplace for everyone to see will likely be a waste of Finspo’s ad dollars. But advertising in places where she knows mermaid tail lovers are hanging out will pay off well, such as a sci-fi/fantasy conference where people dress in costume, or a mermaid-loving Facebook group.

Your business doesn’t need to be wildly unusual to want targeted traffic. Most readers of a blog like Design*Sponge, for example, are interested in design, naturally, so a business selling design-oriented products or services would much prefer the targeted traffic of a Design*Sponge editorial post than a mention on a website that caters to an audience who don’t value design.

The more unique or niche your business is, the more carefully you’ll want to target your marketing efforts. If you feel like you offer something most everyone would want, go ahead and send a firehose of untargeted traffic to your site and enjoy! But generally, it’s easier to distinguish yourself by not appealing to the masses, and instead speaking to your own group of likeminded people.

Research your target customer

So, how exactly do you do this?

Research your target customer

Things to know when marketing your products or services:

  • Who is my target customer?
  • What problem can I solve for my target customer?
  • What desires can I fulfill for my target customer?
  • Where does my target customer hang out?
  • How does my target customer communicate?
  • What motivates my target customer to make a purchase?

Spend some time in your customers’ shoes and find out what blogs they’re reading, what hashtags they’re following, what Pinterest boards they build, what language they use.

This will allow you to do the right thing when trying to attract them.

Make a plan to attract the right people

Understanding your target customer will help you know:

  • What blogs you want to be featured on
  • What sites to advertise on
  • What keywords to pay for
  • How to word your pitch, advertisement, or website
  • What benefits to point out
  • What offers to make
  • What collaborations to forge

How can you apply this research?

Here are some ways to market your business and get the traffic that will convert to sales on your website:

  • Get editorial features, do giveaways, or guest post on blogs that you know your perfect customers are reading.
  • Pitch your business to niche publications.
  • Use Google’s retargeting ads to only advertise to people who have already visited your site and are likely to be interested (best quality traffic!).
  • When purchasing keyword ads, use very specific keywords, rather than vague or broad ones (for Finspo, “mermaid tail,” not “costumes”).
  • Adjust the copy/content on your website to speak directly to your target customer, and remove anything that’s trying to pander to a wide audience. This will help with retaining the traffic you get, and making sure Google shows your site to the right people.
  • Post regularly to a blog on your site that is very specific to what your target customer is interested in. This will make you show up on Google when these people are searching for their interests.
  • Be familiar enough with your audience that you can keep them subscribed to your newsletter and  your social media feeds, and share with their friends.
  • Collaborate with a non-competing business that has an audience that will like your stuff, to promote each others’ work in a win-win way.

How do you market your business?

Are you trying to reach a lot of people, or enough of the right people?

How do you know when you’re doing things right?

What questions do you have about applying this advice to your business?

Please share in the comments!

 


Get your targeted traffic workbook

Arianne has created a free PDF workbook to research and pin down what you know about where your best customers are hanging out. It explains the concepts above in more detail, and you can use the included tips to make a plan to get high-quality, high-converting traffic to your website. Click here to get the worksheet and bring buying customers to your site!