• Moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress

    It’s been a long time coming, but after several false starts, technical issues (e.g. my failure to read instructions) and tedious tweaking, I’ve finally moved to WordPress.

    Thanks to tutorials by Rosalilium, Beautifully Invisible and  Techieminx, I finally managed to get around my teething problems. These included:

    • Installing WordPress. I got extremely impatient with being unable to login, only to discover it took several hours to go live. By this morning it was loaded up and ready for me!
    • Transferring my feedburner. Techiminx solved this one for me, but some of you might have a bunch of my old posts sitting in your reader. Sorry!
    • Images Thumbnails. The most time-consuming task was going through each post and uploading the images onto the server, so they showed up as a thumbnail.
    I’ve still got to go through and fill in the All-In-One SEO section for the posts, and some of the formatting needs some work, but for now I’m quite happy with it!
    Additionally, I’m loving the following WP Plugins:
    • Tweet Old Post: Does exactly what it says on the tin – sends out tweets of old posts occasionally to maximise traffic.
    • Thank Me Later: An email sent out to those that leave a comment, thanking them and reminding them about my Twitter account and Newsletter.
    • BlogGlue SEO button: Tests whether I’ve fully SEO-optimised my blog, and makes suggestions for how to improve.
    • Skimlinks: Not a new one, but easier to install on WordPress.
    • Akismet: For getting rid of any spam
    I’d love to know what you think of the blog? Anything you love? Anything you hate? Any Plugin suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

  • Five ways to make your blog pretty

    When I first built this blog, my gut instinct was to make it as pretty as possible. In the ‘real world’ I’m very girly, so I figured it was a good reflection of my personality. But as time went on, I felt the theme didn’t reflect the actual content. So I redesigned it, took out the cutesy, vintage-style bits, and added in clean lines, plain texts and simple (hopefully) navigation.

    That’s not to say I’ve managed to stop the magpie tendencies towards blog pretties though. But instead of confusing my own blog design, I’m going to share them with you!

    Shabby Blog Resources
    Shabby Blog Resources is run by a kind lady who happily shares her blog backgrounds, icons, post dividers, headers and more. If you’re into vintage-inspired blog goodies, then you’ll like this site. It’s particularly good for backgrounds if you’re using Blogger.

    Sexy Bookmarks
    Sexy Bookmarks is a plugin or widget for various blogging platforms, that adds a bar of social media sharing sites to the bottom of your blog posts. So far, so normal then, right? This one is seriously cute though. Each of the buttons pops up when you hover over it, and readers are actively encouraged to ‘Share the love!’

    Etsy and Folksy are wonderful places to find pretty things to add to your blog or website. I’ve used Bonitta at It’s All About The Graphics on several occasions for banners and business cards, and I’d highly recommend her skills if you’re looking for a budget-friendly blog revamp.

    Social Media buttons
    To be honest, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pretty social media buttons. There’s a great selection over on Ezuca at the moment, featuring everything from hearts (below) to cocktail glasses.

    The right adverts
    Your choice in adverts can make a big difference to the look of your blog. Affiliate advertisers know this, and make a constant effort to update their designs and create enticing ads that appeal to the eye. The better the design, the more people will click through, and the more money you’ll make, so it’s in your best interests to use aesthetically-pleasing ads.

    Have you got any great resources to add? Let me know in the comments, or over on Twitter

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  • Image crediting: What images can I use in a blog post?

    Love this handy little infographic/poster detailing what you should do when you want to use an image for your blog post. It’s from Pia Jane Bijkerk, “an internationally acclaimed stylist, photographer and author specializing in interiors, still life and food”. Go check out her blog now, it’s full of loveliness.
    Alternatively, if the concept of image crediting still bamboozles you, try MorgueFile. It’s a site full of images free to use, and you don’t have to give a credit. Zemanta is also good for pulling up images you can use on your blog (and it automatically inserts a credit to your post too.)

    Do you have any great resources for finding images for your blog posts?

  • How I became a blogger

    Today’s #30dayblog challenge is to write about how I started in the blogging industry. I have a feeling I’ve written about this before, so apologies if I have. (I actually feel a bit of a tool writing these sorts of posts, as I don’t imagine they’re particularly interesting, but that’s the challenge I guess!)

    So, here’s a brief overview of my employment history…

    Age 20: A year of IT telemarketing and reception duties as part of my business degree – Um, learnt the lesson of persistence. Also, the importance of a very thick skin. Wore a suit lots, and memorised the sales pitch for a CRM solution. Looked forward to Monday mornings thanks to a lovely group of people who worked there.

    Age 22: A year in recruitment – Made wonderful friends, learnt a lot about organisation, processes, persuasion and interviewing. But confirmed that cold call sales techniques are not my bag. Felt ok about Monday mornings.

    Age 23: Nine months in HR – Learned how to think before I speak (um, even if I don’t always put it into practice). Dealt with payroll. Chased builders. Bit of a confidence-killer this job, but it’s actually the job that made me determined to find a career I’m genuinely passionate about. Didn’t look forward to Monday mornings.

    Age 24: Left my job just after my birthday, after saving up for months. Then did two things that made a huge impact. Firstly, I picked up Dude, Where’s my Career, which changed the way I looked at approaching my career. Secondly, I joined Twitter.

    On Twitter, I started following the blogs I loved at uni (Shoewawa and Catwalk Queen) and discovered brand new brands like Wahanda. I got chatting and networking with people I could only have dreamed of meeting in real life. I learned that you could actually make a career from blogging.

    A month or two in, two tweets popped up asking for interns. I applied, figuring it was a great way to fill my CV with some experience. After several months, I went forward for the role of editorial assistant role with Katie at Miramus. Got the job. Finally discovered job satisfaction and ambition.

    Two years on and I’ve written for more than a dozen blogs, including several of the blogs I used to read as a student. The zero confidence I had on leaving my job in HR has gradually increased. Learnt a lot from jobs I’ve loved and jobs I haven’t.

    And I actually look forward to Monday mornings now.

    That’s my story, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments!

    This post is the 14h in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.

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  • How to write a blog post

    I spent a couple of hours today with a new blogger, Sally Todd (check out her entries for the #30dayblog challenge), discussing everything from blog layouts to how to write a blog post. The latter is something that often comes up when talking about blogging, particularly by those completely intimidated by how to get started.

    If I’m honest, I don’t think there’s ‘one way’ to write a blog post. Everyone works in different ways, so I think it’s more to do with getting the basic approach and structure right, rather than getting everyone on the exact same path.

    Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the last few years, that should be helpful in getting you started.

    Blog Post Inspiration

    • The notepad: Whether it’s an actual notepad, your Filofax (my personal choice) or your iPhone, having something to make a note of that amazing idea you’ve had will save you kicking yourself later that evening when you can’t remember your little spark of genius.
    • The scheduled spreadsheet: I discussed this recently on a guest post on PLR Internet Marketing, but having a blogging spreadsheet is something I was told about a couple of years ago, and it’s invaluable. I fill it with my scheduled blog posts, blog ideas, PR details and any events that are worth covering, and it keeps me organised and ready to blog.

    Blog Post Format

    • Some people like to jot down the basic structure (intro, middle, conclusion) before they get started, while others have a conclusion already in their head, so start there. Try out different approaches to see what you’re most comfortable with. Personally I find shorter posts can be done off the cuff, and then tidied up afterwards, whereas a post like this requires me to brain dump everything in a post then write it up as I go.
    • Break up your content with sub headings (Google SEO gold dust too!) to make it as readable as possible for visitors.
    • Finish posts with a question. It’s a prompt for them to leave a comment.

    Blog Post Content

    • Embrace lists. Top 10 of this and five of the best of that is great for people to dip in and out of, and often leads to some interesting additions in the comments.
    • Check your spelling. Install a British Dictionary into your browser and run a check before you publish. Also keep an eye out for grammar issues. After The Deadline is great as a final check, but don’t rely on it as it won’t pick up on everything. Read it out loud if that helps.
    • Add a picture. A big block of text can be off putting, so a picture or two breaks it up. I like MorgueFile for credit-free images. You can use Flickr images too, as long as you use one with a creative commons licence and credit it (see bottom of this post for an example of how to credit)
    • Credit other sources if you use them. For instance, if you see a post on another site about a news story and use one of the quotes, it’s good manners to add a credit and link within the post.
    So that’s an overview of how to write a blog post. Do you have any tips? Share them in the comments!

    Image: photosteve101

    This post is the 10th in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.

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  • Down the blogging road we go: Lessons in blogging by Warren Wooden

    Today’s post is a guest post from Warren Wooden, who regular readers might have spotted making the occasional comment on here. Warren has been a successful freelance blogger for a year now, and has kindly agreed to share what he’s learnt in the last year.

    If you’d like to do a guest post, please feel free to get in touch

    I just want to start by saying thank you to each and every blogger out there spending the time and energy to post tips, tricks, and knowledge in the hopes of helping others to accomplish their goals. The online community can seem to some at first glance a wide open unconnected place where everyone struggles to build their own brand, and carve out their own niche on the web, but in reality all those who choose can reach out and connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time regardless of location, time zone, color, or even experience level.

    It is because of this generosity of spirit and knowledge that I am able to work from home and earn a living online which in turn allows me more time with my family and friends. Everything I’ve learnt stemmed from something someone else taught freely, or from those questions someone else asked that I was able to answer, or inspired me to come up with the answer.

    It is just in the last few years that blogging has become more popular, and a small portion of these bloggers were successful enough at it to quit their jobs and go at it full time. For those already working from home I don’t have to tell you of the challenges that need to be faced or the perks that you get to enjoy, but I’m sure you’d agree it’s all worth it in the end.

    I myself have just entered my second phase, or second year of my blogging career. Unlike some I didn’t work up to quitting my job and building my blog on the side. I only had about a month head start, and then jumped in with both feet. I also just finished my very first interview with a writer turned friend over in Winnipeg Canada, and was thrilled at doing it because it made me look at the big picture that was the past year, and truly see what I’d been able to build for myself. If you’d like to read the interview it can be found on his blog here.

    I want to share with you the advice I wish I had read somewhere when I was starting out or even partway through. There are a lot of challenges to be faced and overcome, but I want you to know that no matter how hard they seem, or how out of your comfort zone they fall, you can do it!

    Setting blog goals

    The very first piece of advice I’d give is this, set out all the goals that are important to you. Write them down, spend the day, or even the week researching the different blogs already out there and jot down the aspects you like about them, and even those you don’t. (you can avoid using those on your site) If you don’t know what it is you want, you’ll end up with whatever you happen into and chances are you won’t be happy with the results. Know where you’re going, and how you plan to get there!

    “Goals that are not written down are just wishes”

    Keep going!

    Don’t give up, don’t listen to those who tell you it’s impossible, and don’t tell yourself it’s impossible. While the blogging lifestyle can provide you with a ton of freedom and time for yourself, and your family it’s important to remember that you set your pay check with your creativity and drive. The beginning is the hardest part, but also the most exciting. Stay true to your course, and if something isn’t working find a new route to take you to those goals you wrote out for yourself.

    “He conquers who endures” ~ Perseus

    Play to your strengths! 

    If you are an amazing writer, but couldn’t search engine optimize a landing page to save your life, then write your way to success. Find someone great at SEO, but who perhaps isn’t as great at writing, and offer an exchange of services. Money isn’t the only commodity online.  Look honestly at your skillset, and then choose those that you would learn and spend a portion of your day learning that skill. The others that don’t interest you, or are simply not a good use of your time should be outsourced to someone whose passion is that skill.

    “Play to your strengths and outsource the rest” ~ Warren Wooden

    Learn, learn, learn

    Always be learning – Unless you are the ultimate Guru in your chosen field, I’d suggest setting aside a portion of your work day toward learning something new or enhancing knowledge you already have. It’s this thirst for knowledge that will help keep you in front of the pack, and ahead of the other bloggers. Much of our industry changes regularly.  (Take SEO for example)

    “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge” ~ Thomas Berger

    Content is king

    Always be Creating – There is a buzz phrase going the rounds of the internet that states that “content is king” and the simple truth is… it is! The more content you can create in the form of quality posts, quality guest posts, quality products to offer for sale, the more valuable your blog will become. It’s also a great way to get those visitors we all love to have stop by from time to time!

    “I like creating images” ` Kate Moss (model)

    Warren Wooden is the owner and CEO of PLR Internet Marketing. If you’re an entrepreneur, or would perhaps like to learn how make money online, through internet marketing, blogging, or affiliate marketing, please stop in for a visit, or to grab your free copy of his 79 page e-book. 

    This post is the ninth in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.

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  • A day in the life of a blogger

    Day 7 in the #30dayblog challenge, and today’s task is to describe an average day in my work life.

    So, um, here it goes!

    I usually wake up around 7ish and check my emails and Twitter. Yeah, I’m one of those people that checks my phone before I do anything else. Even before I pee (TMI?)

    Laptop on, kettle on, and I’ll spend 30 minutes or so checking through emails and checking Google Reader. Breakfast and a dog walk follow before I kickstart my blogging for the day.

    I write for 3 or 4 blogs a day, writing 5 or 6 posts, plus dealing with several social media clients. I tend to give a social media tutorial once a week too, so every day is different.

    Still with me? I feel like I should throw in some super-glamourous details. In fairness, on the days when I’m in London for press days, it’s a bit more exciting. Usually because there are fancy new products, great venues with tasty snacks and wine, and goody bags. I tend to have a day like that maybe once or twice a week. Those glam days stop me slipping into the tracksuit-wearing trap.

    Aside from writing blog posts and carrying out social media tasks, I deal with a few email accounts, respond to PRs, call in products and check Google Analytics (somewhat obsessively). As I write for a beauty blog, there’s a certain amount of putting make up on, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off….

    Inevitably, I’ll end up editing some HTML at some point, and trying out new social media resources.

    And that’s pretty much it! A mixture of blogging, tweeting, reading, emailing, Facebooking and reviewing until around 6-7pm.

    What’s your average day like?

    This post is the seventh in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.

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