2015 Design Trends in Blogging

Whenever we first begin blogging, our first order of business is to get quality content out to the world, of course. But, it is highly important to learn to develop an artistic eye to put together a blog design that will keep people interested, reading, and clicking allover the place! Each year, there are new design trends that start to become very apparent as we scroll through numerous blog, and it’s important to stay up to date and on trend.

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Stepping up our typography skills in the INTRO NYC blog!

Stepping up our typography skills in the INTRO NYC blog!

The bloggers who are drawing in the biggest audiences and returning visitors are stepping up their typography skills in 2015! We have all seen the beautiful images on Pinterest that combine different, more unique fonts together as well as different sizing and colors – this is what we should all be doing! It takes some practice, and I promise that I haven’t perfected it either. My suggestion is to spend some time on Pinterest and book mark images you are most drawn to, and try to recreate them for your posts. It will take some extra time, don’t get me wrong – but the reward is great!

Beautiful, Large Images

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We all know that photos should be a huge part of your blog posts, it’s what sucks everyone in! We have talked in the past about 5 Ways Photographs Will Make or Break Your Blog, so keep that in mind as your new blogging daily mantra! You can easily use a mixture of personal photos and stock photos, but make sure they are well thought out, and help you tell your story.

Background Video

If you are anything like me, you hear the word “video” and cringe! It’s been a learning curve for me, but I’m trying to make use of the stagnant YouTube Channel that has been sitting around since December of 2014. You just need to take the plunge and dive right in! The trend with video on blogs this year is background video, placed behind stationary text. A great example of this can be found on the airbnb website.

Content Experiences

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A blog is obviously a place to share your thoughts with the world, but the trend this year is to visually create content experiences. This is something that is becoming really popular among brands as a way to get their message across and hit people in the heart, but it can easily be done with your blog. How are bloggers creating content experiences? In addition to adding beautiful, huge images to your blog posts, add a simple message to them with text that adds further depth to the image. Hint, hint: these will also translate into highly pinnable images.

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Get Mobile-Friendly Now, and Why You Should Love Meerkat

I had an interesting conversation yesterday that started like this, “When is the last time you read an entire paragraph on a website?” Rarely, right? Most of us skim, look at photos and/or want to get right to business – the giveaway, the price for the product, the sign-up, etc. And here I go on and on in a paragraph….

My point is this: the digital realm is ever changing. If you’re writing novels and have low traffic, you might want to shorten those bad boys up. Can’t bring yourself to do it? Maybe you should put together an e-book for download. Wonder why Instagram is so hot? Because it’s MICRO BLOGGING. People get what they want in just one photo or video. Which leads me to:

Google will penalize you if your site isn’t mobile-friendly by April 21st

If you don’t know what mobile-friendly means, you better just give me a call. You can tell by browsing your own website on your mobile phone – does it fit your screen or do you still have the shrink and stretch to read it? If it doesn’t auto fit, you have about one month to find a new theme (or reach out to your developers) and get that fixed.

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You should be using RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN. What the heck is that? It means that the page uses the same URL and the same code whether the user is on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone – only the display adjusts or ‘responds’ according to the screen size. Google recommends using RWD over other design patterns.” This last sentence is Google’s emphasis, not mine.

Usually when you go to get a new template for a blog these days they will be responsive, but MAKE SURE.

Why? Because the majority of internet users are browsing from their phones more than ever, and Google wants the information that they find to be relevant and responsive (aka easy to read and navigate).

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Read Google’s Guide to Mobile-Friendly Websites here. You can also drop in your website and see if Google ranks it as mobile friendly or not.


Facebook cleaned up fake and dead likes

You probably saw a drop in your Facebook likes yesterday. Just like Instagram did a couple months back, Facebook went through and removed all the fake/dead accounts (and likes). If you commited the sin of buying likes, you might have seen a huge drop (and so did your followers), so I hope this is finally a a great reminder to STOP THAT. Enough with the like wars – get out there and start ENGAGING your communities!


 Meerkat/Periscope War

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There’s a major storm brewing on Twitter, and for good reason. If you didn’t know – just a couple weeks ago this incredible new app called Meerkat came out. It lets you live stream from anywhere directly into Twitter with a link. Think Google Hangouts on Redbull. You can get lots more engagement, viewers, and more just by hosting and giving a sneak peek into your business. Well, Twitter wasn’t too happy about it, so they came out with their OWN live streaming app – Periscope.

So the big question – which one is better? That’s going to be something we have to follow and find out. What team are you on? Currently we’re still #TeamMeerkat.

Curious to see how it will work? Watch our LIVE Meerkat broadcast from our Coffee Chat on March 31st at 9am! (PS we literally have ONE SEAT LEFT – who wants it??)

If you need more info – you can always email me 🙂

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5 Tips For The Perfect Pitch

What is one thing that you think about everyday whenever you log into you blog? Creating opportunity, of course! We are always looking for ways to take our blogs to the next level, but achieving that is different for everyone. If one of your goals for yourself and your blog is to work with new brands, then you need to have an amazing pitch email ready to go at all times! After all, you never know when a creative moment will strike, and you want to be ready to approach the brand of your dreams at any given moment.

1. Be prepared.

My biggest tip is to make sure that once you have put together a general, yet stellar pitch letter, save it somewhere accessible to you whether you are at home or on the go. You never know when you will need it! Make sure that it is easily editable, so that you are able to update it to flow with the different types of pitches that you are making, but leave room for personalization.

2. Don’t just outline who you are, but what you can do for them.

Let’s face it – there are millions of bloggers on this planet. Whenever you are pitching to a company, give them a very precise few sentences that describes you and your blog, then let a bulk of the email be dedicated to what you can do for them. Brands are ALWAYS looking for new and innovative ideas to present their brand to their demographic, and if you happen to pitch them an offer they can’t refuse, you are golden!

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3. Showcase your accomplishments.

Take a sentence in your pitch letter to share some of your biggest blogging accomplishments. This is a great opportunity to outline a few of the major brands you have worked with, a major speaking engagement, or how you helped a brand double their twitter following in a month. No matter what it is, sell it!

4. Attach your media kit.

I can’t preach enough the importance of having a media kit that you can attach everywhere, especially when you are pitching to brands. If you are a little lost whenever it comes to media kits and need some guidance, we are hosting a webinar tonight – Creating a Killer Media Kit & Tips For Successful and Organized Bloggers, join us!

Why attach your media kit everywhere? Simply because you never know whenever the brand or PR rep you are pitching to will come back to you, presenting another opportunity. There is always a chance that they will pass on what you are pitching them, but if you make an impact on them through the process, they will come back to you.

5. Always end with a call to action.

Give yourself a sentence to recap what you are seeking from the brand you are pitching, and let them know that you are looking forward to hearing their feedback. If there is a certain date that you need a response by, share that information at this time. This closing detail will help them just as much as it helps you – promise!

Social Media – You’re Doing it Wrong

A lot happened last week in the world of social media. First of all, it was #SMWNYC 2015 – a week of everything social media including top tips, trends and setbacks by industry leaders like Mashable, Martha Stewart and the New York Times. Yes, Facebook is still here to stay, and your tweets are still relevant, but here are few key takeaways I thought were worth passing on to you, as well as well, the word on the street here in NYC. It’s pretty chatty if you listen –

1. You’re showing your age.

I hate to tell you guys, but the younger crowds are eating it up on SnapChat. If you’re still scratching your head wondering how brands are connecting with a private image app that you thought was only used for cheating husbands and wives – think again. SnapChat isn’t private anymore, you have the ability to make your profile public, and view public posts as well. Check out how this guy turned his account into a virtual resume for a JOB at SnapChat! Did he get it??? Your audience is here – just how are you going to reach them?

2. Video Video Video.

Now don’t freak out if you’re not ready to swallow the audio voice over pill. While YouTube is king, it’s not the only video options out there. But if you want to keep up on social media, you’re going to have to start adding some video to your life.  As mentioned, Vine is making a huge comeback and is really popular with fans if you can make witty six-second videos. Another cool trend? Fast-motion video. Check out Beyonce – and of COURSE there’s app for that – in fact there are a few. Here’s a list to get you started.

3. Watch this movie – Chef.

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John Favreau brilliantly incorporated the magic of social media into this super cute movie about a chef stuggling with his life’s passion and connection with his son. You’ll see some great Twitter references, as well as – wait for it – VIDEO! His son uses an app on his phone to take one second of film everyday for their entire trip across the country and then turns it into one amazing, tear-jerker video for his dad. Now, how cool would it be if you did that for your brand? Of course it’s a real app! It’s called 1 Second everyday. The movie is available now in Netflix.

4.  YouTube Kids and Google +

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Google has been making a lot of serious changes this week. For one – they launched their first-ever app just for families from the ground up – YouTubeKids. Brilliant. Yes it does exactly what you think it does it corrals all the stuff you want your child to watch in one safe place (and keeps the bad stuff out). It also has cool features like a timer (so you don’t have to be the bad guy!), and pre-set search settings. It’s free and available right now for iOS and Android.

With the addition of one thing, something else has to go, and we’ve all seen it coming. Say goodbye to Google+. Now before you freak out and worry about photos, those Google Hangouts and beyond – don’t worry, they’ll still be around, but they are going to break up. Tear.

Until next time –

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Photo credits: Chef the Film; YouTube

How and Why You Should Tweet Images With Hootsuite

If you are anything like me, you love to automate your social media, because your time is precious and it’s a huge time saver! Hootsuite is my favorite service to do this through, as it is free until you need to add team member, and very user friendly. Just this week, Hootsuite announced that they have integrated posting images through their platform directly to your twitter feed – which is HUGE NEWS!

Why tweet images?

Think back to all those times you scroll through your twitter feed. What are you most drawn to? The tweets with images, of course. Twitter research has shown that tweets that contain images increase engagement by 3 to 4 times, versus tweets posted with only text and links. That is a huge increase in engagement, bringing more eyes on to the content that you are sharing, and hopefully more click-throughs to your website.

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How to Tweet Images With Hootsuite

Once you have an account with Hootsuite and have connected your twitter profile to it, follow these simple steps to begin tweeting images:

  1. Click the Change settings now button below
  2. Click your profile icon in the top left corner
  3. Click on your Twitter profile
  4. Click the “Settings” icon
  5. Under Image Uploads, select pic.twitter.com

Looking for more ways to drive traffic to your blog? Check out our upcoming webinar on May 6th – What The Heck is SEO? You will learn how to start implementing SEO (search engine optimization) into your blog to increase your organic traffic from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Can Do Duck the Musical

This past weekend we had the opportunity to host a premiere viewing of the new off-Broadway kids show, Can Do Duck the Musical. We invited and brought in over 40 NYC bloggers and their families to see the exclusive performance.

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About Can Do Duck the Musical

Our favorite takeaways from Can Do Duck: (1) t it’s interactive (kids get called up to participate on stage)

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(2) it has an inspiring and motivational message. How sweet is it that the kids were totally mesmerized and sang along with the ending song, “You Are Loved.” What a positive way to end a show!

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(3) and there is also floor seating for the kids, so they can feel a part of the show! This is great for curious toddlers with a short attention span. It gives younger kids an opportunity to be exposed to the arts without worrying they won’t make it through the show. (If they get restless, there is a small arts and crafts area outside that they can venture into!) Talk about kid-friendly.

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The musical opens this coming Sunday, February 8th (with Saturday and Sunday shows every weekend at 11am through March 8th). Tickets are $40 for adults and $30 for children (ages two and under are free). They also have discounted pricing for group rates! Get tickets here!

What People Are Saying About Can Do Duck the Musical

Follow along or join in the conversation on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

hashtags #cddtm and #intronyc

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5 Foolproof Ways to Add Subscribers to Your Email List

Our last blog post touched on easy email marketing tactics using MailChimp, my personal favorite email marketing platform to send easy campaigns and connect you directly with your reader base. But, no matter what platform happens to be your favorite (it’s okay if we don’t see eye to eye on my love for Mailchimp), it’s important that you are building your email list and continuously adding to your subscriber list. I don’t mean to sound super “preachy” but these are all basics that organized bloggers (Check out our webinar on staying organized on February 11 or March 11th!) follow whenever they are taking steps towards blog monetization. (Check out our webinar “Show Me The Money!” on February 25th or March 18th!)

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So, if you are looking to strengthen your reach, increase your pageviews, and make a more personal connection with your readers, follow these 5 foolproof ways to get that email subscriber list rockin!

1. End each post with a note.

The same way that you would end a blog post you write with a question, prompting readers to answer by leaving a comment and stimulating conversation, do the same thing – but guide readers to a link where they can subscribe to your email list. Give yourself 2 sentences or so to explain what people will gain by signing up and how awesome being on your email list really is!

End with a note

2. Give something away.

If you sell products or services through your blog, awesome. If not, you can easily organize a giveaway that is exclusive to just your email subscribers – and they will love that! People love to hear the world “exclusive” and know they have access to something that others don’t, so use that to your advantage.

3. Offer something exclusive.

So this piggybacks on #2, but offering something exclusive that gets delivered into your readers inboxes on a weekly or daily basis that they won’t get just by visiting your blog is a huge bonus! The options are truly endless for instance:

  • If you are a fitness blogger, share a weekly meal plan.
  • If you are a beauty blogger, share an exclusive video to demonstrate how to use a new product.
  • If you are a fashion blogger, share a style tip of the week every Friday!

4. Add it to a giveaway.

We all love running giveaways on our blogs as a way to increase our social media presence, but also think of a way to work subscribing to your email list into what readers must do in order to enter a giveaway. This is a great way to quickly grow your list, but bare in mind that many people might just pop over to your blog that day to enter the giveaway and might not be a true reader. The outcome of this is a higher “unsubscribe rate” whenever you send out your email campaigns. Just be cautious that you are promoting your giveaways to your demographic.

5. Work it into your social media schedule.

Whenever we publish a blog post, the first thing we do it start promoting it on social media – its like clockwork! I have found that by scheduling a few tweets per day or posts per week on other platforms, I will capture 3 times more email subscribers than not – and that’s a lot of missed opportunity!

Email Marketing: Mailchimp Basics Every Blogger Should Know

Sometimes I think back to those moments whenever I first started blogging and thought that it was all about pouring my thoughts and feelings about very specific subjects through my posts and pressing “publish” whenever I was finished. Psh! How naive I once was! Blogging is about so much more than just writing, even though that is the foundation that you need. As a blogger, you need to learn so much (social media, pitching to brands, networking basics, etc), and sometimes it requires  stepping outside of your comfort zone. (Or taking some awesome classes with INTRO NYC – hint, hint!)

For me, that was email marketing. Until recently, this was a foreign subject to me and the thought of learning how to build email lists, set up RSS emails,and sending newsletters out to my community was daunting, to say the least. But I adapted and have learned to love Mailchimp (the service that I use for email marketing), and I want you to understand and love it, too! Here are some basics that every blogger should know.

First things first – it’s free!

Mailchimp has what is called a “Forever Free” plan, which costs you literally nothing, until you have 2,000 emails on your lists (combined) or until 12,000 emails are sent. This is a pretty awesome deal, especially since you can’t really get much for free these days. If you do have more than 2,000 contacts on your email subscriber list, I can tell you from experience that it’s worth every penny to upgrade and start paying a monthly subscription.

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Use the “recently sent” tab in your campaigns.

If I had to craft an entirely new email each and every time I logged in to create a campaign, I wouldn’t have time for much else in my life! Whenever you log into Mailchimp and start to set up your campaign, click on the “campaigns” tab whenever you are designing your template and drop down to the “recently sent” category. This will immediately give you access to everything that has been sent in the past – giving you he ability to click on a sent campaign that you loved and plug in the new information. Easy!

Read your reports.

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Knowing which campaigns were the most effective relies heavily on reading your reports. Don’t ever send a campaign and just immediately look at your blog pageviews to see how much of an impact it had. Click on your reports! (Mailchimp will also send you an email whenever your campaign has been sent prompting you to click on and read your report -do it!) Here are the key questions to ask yourself when viewing your reports:

  • Did anyone unsubscribe? If so, try to figure out why that may have been.
  • Are people clicking? Where are they clicking?
  • What is your 24 hour performance telling you? Is it letting you know that the time you send your campaign is or isn’t reaching your audience?

It pays to automate.

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Now this is a feature that you do need to pay for, but it’s worth it a million times over! Automating through Mailchimp gives you the option to set up very specific emails that are automatically sent to specific email lists as soon as you get a new subscriber or import new subscribers. You only have to do it one time and then – boom – its a continuous cycle of pageviews or whatever your call to action is for your new subscribers, without having to put in much effort. This feature is priceless to me.

Make good use of different lists.

You can have endless lists with Mailchimp, so use them to your advantage. If you have different categories on your blog, your readers might be interested in reading different things, so you can separate your lists by category so that your readers are getting the content they want. This will help you to better personalize your campaigns, increase engagement, and avoid unsubscribes!

5 Updates You Must Do Right Now for Your Blog to Start 2015 {Giveaway}

Ahhh it’s a new year and everyone is all about new goals, new resolutions and new everything. But before you get all excited about all the “new” stuff, let’s polish up your “old” stuff first.

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1. Get your taxes ready.

Being a blogger means you own a business. Do you have an accountant? Kept track of all your expenses and income? Then you’re in good shape! Get a head start by planning to meet with them early and get it over with. Did you pay a virtual assistant? You’re responsible to get 1099 out to freelance work (over $600) before February 15th. If you haven’t kept track, start now by looking back and try to put your expenses and income into an excel sheet. This can take some time so you won’t want to wait until the last minute. This way, you’ll also have your template ready to start keeping track for 2015. Set columns for advertising, office expenses, tech support/set-up, income, etc. That way you can break it down and see what you really made vs. what you spent and know how much you need/want to make this year!

2. Start tracking.

Have you been keeping track of your goals and setting new ones? Allison has great points on how to set these goals, but you also need to know your growth to know where you’ve come from and where you’re heading. So right now, take screen shots or start a Google Doc of all your current blog numbers and social media followers. Set a reminder to check them once a month and write them down to see how they are increasing. Are you hitting your goals? You should also be looking back once a month at your best posts – what is getting the most attention and traffic? Do you even know? You should be writing other posts that are similar, or putting your best ads on those pages to be generating the most revenue.

3. Change your passwords

Did you read my last blog on security and the big WordPress hack? Don’t lose all your hard work to some bot from a third world country. There is no time like the present to update your logins.

4. Update!

When is the last time you looked over your blog and social media profiles? Are they all up-to-date with correct emails, stats, photos and data? Do you like what they say? Did you need to add some new press and praise to your media kit or about you page? Take a minute to go through them all and refresh! What about that copyright date on the bottom of your website? Unkept websites look dated and are turn-offs to readers and brands who might be checking you out for opportunities!

5. Research and Analyze

Lawyers and doctors are required to take continued education courses every year to make sure they are up-to-date on all the industry trends and practices, so why aren’t you? There are lots of great Blogging conferences every year, so research them and pick one or two that are worthwhile each year to attend.

Some of our favorites?

Well, here in NYC we host a monthly Lunch and Learn to discuss all the currently trends and news in social media and blogging. Join us on February 9th!

Blogging Concentrated is great for those who are looking to take the leap and push their blogs into serious revenue and career. (We’ll be in Philly in March!)

BlogHer is probably the most popular, and it’s coming to NYC this July!

SITS Blogging Boot Camps are amazing. Tiffany and Francesca will give it to you straight about the business. If you really want an insiders look to blogging, attend one of these!

{GIVEAWAY}

To get you started – we want you to join us here in NYC for one of our monthly Lunch and Learns, as well as one of our upcoming webinars on how to get your blog oiled and greased for better opportunities this year.  So we’re going to give one of each away! Enter below to win and join us!

Get Ready for 2015 Giveaway

New Year, New Blogging Mentality: List, Plan, and Kick Bad Habits!

As the ball drops at midnight as a symbol for newness in our lives, we look back on the past year to reflect on the good and bad in our blogs. Reflection is a great time to think about the way we are running our blogs in every aspect and focus on what needs to to stay the same and what needs to change in 2015.

Think about it.

Think about 2014 – the good, the bag, and the ugly. What worked out great for you? What challenged you? Think about the big picture. Scroll through your blog, your social media platforms, your calendar and pin point what’s working for you and your blog and what needs to change so that you can move forward in your blogging career.

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Set goals

Think about the points that you reflected on and what stood out to you the most. Then, get out that paper and pen and set those goals the old fashioned way! I like to break things down and decide what major goal I need to work on with my blog each month or each quarter and then break it down into smaller daily to-do tasks that will help me reach that big goal.

Get organized

The main trait of a successful blogger is organization. You must have a clear cut idea of what needs to be accomplished each day in order to move towards the direction of your goals. The thing is – organization looks different for every blogger. Some people need to write things down in a notebook, which others love using Google Docs and calendars, for some its a mixture of both. Figure out what system works best for you to keep you on top of your game and maximize it!

Get social!

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We all know about the changes happening with good ‘ol Facebook (If you aren’t, read about them HERE), so we need to take matters into our own hands. You are going to need to sit and strategize a way to reach your audience if you heavily depended on reaching them through Facebook in the past. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where is my audience? (Cause that’s where you need to be!)
  • Do I need to move my audience from Facebook to a different platform?
  • Am I willing to pay for advertising on Facebook? If so, how much is my budget?

Once you are able to answer these questions, figure out a plan that you need to put in place to help re-connect with your community in the new year! Also, check out our combo class: Secrets of Successful Bloggers & How to Create a Killer Media Kit! Once you take the course, we will give you access to our super Daily Social Media Checklist that will keep you on track and balanced!

Give bad habits the boot!

We all have bag blogging habits, it’s inevitable! But in the grand scheme of things, these bag habits are only holding us back. Here are a few tips to help combat some of the worst blogger bad habits:

  • Instead of looking at other blogs and lusting over how beautiful they are or how engaged their audience is, take notes! Look at what they are doing that you love and figure out a way to work that into your strategy.
  • Set aside designated social media time to keep you focused and on task.
  • Utilize “distraction free writing mode” as a way to get those blog posts done and published without any pesky distractions!

Get featured

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Let’s be honest here – you are awesome! You need to be sharing your awesomeness with the world! There is no better way to open the new year to new opportunities, connection, and a little extra blog traffic than getting yourself featured on a website. We have a Featured INTRO NYC Blogger Program that you can sign yourself up for that will highlight a new blogger every Friday and share your experiences, background, blog, interests- everything, with the world!

Beyond us, there are many other ways to be heard! Surf the web for like-minded blogs as see if they feature contributors or guest posts to share your work with a similar audience!

Educate yourself

I can’t say this enough, “blogger education NEVER ends!” You work in the digital medium, which is an ever revolving door for change. You need to stay on top of these important media trends, industry updates, and new social tactics to always be on top of your game. The webinars that we offer are a great way to make sure you are setting yourself up for success year round!

Try something new!

Sometimes it can be hard to step outside of your blogging comfort zone and try something new, since as we get older we tend to get set in our ways. But make a promise with yourself that you will try something new with your blogging and see what kind of an impact it has with your readers, traffic, or social community. For me, I promised myself that in the new year I’m going to step up my Pinterest game and try scheduling pins to get better click through results with a program like Tailwind or Ahalogy.

We wish you an amazing blogging new year!