Wednesday, April 23, 2014

how and when to reply to comments

Happy Spring Cleaning! My name is Kathryn and I blog over at As Told By Kathryn.

ATBK

That's me! I have been blogging for a year on "As Told By Kathryn" but previously had a YouTube channel for almost a year, and have had two other blogs as well. As much as I loved my YouTube channel, it wasn't for me. It was a very cliquey community and very limiting. Whatever you classified yourself as was what you had to make videos on, otherwise it was not accepted. And when you would be classified as "lifestyle" then that produced the assumption that you would do Daily Vlogs. It was just  a lose lose situation. So I started a blog. But I was a newbie and thought that I still had to abide by these non existent "rules" and posted really awkward posts about nail polishes and my favorite drug store makeup and it was just awkward and forced and weird. So when people would comment on any of these posts, I would never know how to respond to comments. If it was a question, I would answer it, and if it was a statement I would just let it sit there. I didn't know what to do with them! I also had my "comment approval" on as well as a "captcha" (that really annoying thing trying to convince you that you're actually a robot). 

Then I started "As Told By Kathryn." A blog where I could talk about what I wanted to talk about it, how I wanted to phrase it, what pictures I would post, when I would post. I was comfortable with my blog and loved it. And that is when comments became a thing. These weren't comments from strangers or a random person. These comments were from friends. They were thoughtful comments, comments that I wanted to respond to. So, with all of that: When and how are YOU supposed to respond to comments?

I like to respond as soon as I can. This being said, it is difficult to always respond right when I get the comment. Life happens, you will get busy, things will come up, and that comment notification or email will get buried before you know it. I try to respond to comments within the week it was posted. Just because it is fresh in your mind, their mind, win win situation. To help with this, be sure to have your comment notifications sent to your email! This is a new tip that I just added, but the comments are posted on my blog but are also sent to me as an email, so I can respond right away from my email if I have my phone on hand. With this, though, your response comment will not post on your blog, so if that if something you wanted, be sure to respond directly on your blog (thats's how it works for blogger at least)! 

Now that we have the "when," we get the how. BE REAL. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your blog is you, it is your personality, your life, your day, your experience, so let that shine through your comment! Even if it is just a simple "thank you! xo" or if you don't like that, at least something. Why? Because they took the time to read your blog, and leave a comment, letting you know their opinions, or just them telling you they read your post! It was an act of kindness, and we want to keep the world running so respond with another act of kindness. I get really giddy when people leave comments on my blog because I am still shocked that people actually read it. 

Luckily, I have not had to deal with hate comments on my blog, but I did have some of these on my YouTube. They aren't fun, but you just have to be the bigger person, because the bigger picture is that you are putting yourself and your life out there, on the internet, for everyone and anyone to see, and they are hiding behind a computer/phone/iPad/whatever other technology you can get internet on now-a-days. This is when people turn on their comment approval notifications, but I feel that that isn't necessary just because my blog community experience has been so positive that it has not been an issue. Either way, my rule of thumb is to respond to all comments! Even if it is just a quick "thanks" or a "hi" or anything! They took the time to let you know they read your post, the least you could do for them is let them know you appreciate them for that!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

staying true to yourself in blogging

true-to-yourself 

  1. Remember why you started. Everyone starts a blog for one reason or another. For some of us the reason was to keep a journal of our life happenings so our family could be up to date. For others it is a creative outlet so we can post fashion and crafts. Someone said to me the other day, "It still makes me happy just to have a place to share my thoughts, ya know?" Yes. I do know! And that is refreshing to hear, because at the end of the day... having that place is the best reason for blogging. 

  2. Know your strengths. This ultimately comes back to why you started. None of us started a blog to share the things we weren't good at. We started our blog to share things we think our worth sharing with the people around us. Let me give you a quick example from my own life. Sometimes I like to do crafts... but at the end of the day I am extremely impatient and within an hour of starting I try to figure out a crafting shortcut. By no means is crafts a strength for me... so while I will share little things I am doing sometimes, I don't put focus there because no one wants to see instructions on how to craft a craft that is only halfway done. Ya dig? 

  3. Focus on your blog and not how you can achieve another blog's status. The moment I started worrying about how to grow and how I could be like (fill in the blank) and her blog... I lost all sight of what I was writing about. It was more of, what can I write that will get readers over to my little corner of the internet? And at that point not only did I loose myself, but I lost the readers that had been extremely important to me in the first place! The ones that had supported me since the very beginning. They are more important than a million of trendy followers. 

  4. Be honest. Don't pretend. From day one I made a promise to myself that I would never sugar coat my life. I have had some really awesome times but I have had some really sucky times too... and I do not want to be the person that makes other women feel like their life is less than perfect because they are not living on cloud nine all the time. So I share how hard it is to be away from my husband, but I also share how wonderful he is to me while we are apart. And I share that I lost my job, but I also share when I get a job I love. Don't pretend your life is hunky dory. Because eventually that will carry from blog life to real life and you will miss out on some of the greatest lessons in life. There is a lot more too my remaining true to yourself list... and you can read all over it over at Love, The Skinnys. I can tell you from my own time blogging that I have learned a lot about myself because I followed these steps. And I have fallen into the trap of keeping up with the next big blogger more times than I care to admit. But at the end of the day, the choice is up to you if you want to live a life for yourself or live a life to impress others. And the only way to become confident in the person you are, is to remain true to yourself... in your writing and in your life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

choosing blogs to sponsor

Hey there, ALTJ readers!  It's Rachael again.  I'm so excited to be a part of Brooklyn's "Spring Clean your blog" series!  Today let's chit chat on how to choose what blogs to sponsor.



I'm a college student, so I'm not really ROLLING in the dough.  I have, however, invested some money into my blog because I think it's definitely worthwhile!  However, there are some things to keep in mind when trying to decide what blogs to sponsor.  Here are my guidelines that I stick to when deciding who to sponsor!



Size of the Blog
It's tempting to try and just buy ads for "bigger" bloggers, but I've noticed that honestly you get better attention from smaller bloggers that are willing to do more with your adspace!  To me, I've learned it's better if I buy an adspace with a blogger I have a connection.  If they're already reading your blog, that's a bonus!  That just means that they'll be more willing to share what they already love!  It's a win win :)

Content
This is KEY.  I am a lifestyle blogger (fancy schamcy way of saying I write about what I feel like writing about!), so I advertise on lifestyle blogs!  However, I have advertised on faith/relationships/Christian blogs too, because the "core values" of my blog align with those.  I would not, however, advertise on mommy blogs, health/fitness blogs, or anything that I don't really blog about.  Not that I don't read those (because I do!), but because I know that those readers might not love my blog.

Price
I'm in college.  I do not make tons of money off my blog.  Therefore, I do not spend a lot!  I always look for adsales ;)  Also, I always want to get the most out of my money, which leads me too...

What they Offer
Things to consider: Can you guest post? {great way to get your voice to their readers and truly make an impression!}  Will they give you social media shoutouts?  Will they read and comment on your blog?  I personally always want a little feature on their blog, because I think that's a great way to "show me off!"

What are things YOU consider when you choosing to sponsor a blog?

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

how to effectively promote your blog on social media

*This is a guest post by Hayley from A Beautiful Exchange.


Hey there, you guys! I'm Hayley and I normally hang out over at A Beautiful Exchange, but just had to pop in for Brooklyn's amazing series! I'm so excited that she asked me to join her for this round and am happy to be here! :)

If you're a blogger, which I'm assuming you are since you are reading this post, then you know the importance of a good social media engagement and what that can mean for your blog. The greatest things about many of the social media outlets that are available right now, is that they give you multiple platforms to share with readers--bloggers and non bloggers alike! We all know that social media can really help us "get our foot in the door," but often times it can be overwhelming when we start thinking about all of the different accounts you can have and the different approaches that you should take when posting on each one! So if you are feeling a little lost when it comes to social media and its relationship with your blog, I hope I'm able to help you out a little! I've broken down promotion into the top 3 social media platforms that are beneficial to bloggers. (I do know that there are other outlets that are helpful for blogging as well, but these are the ones that I have seen most success with, so bear with me!)


In my opinion, Twitter is the most difficult of the three when it comes to promotion. It's the absolute best for interacting with other bloggers and readers, but because you only have 140 characters to convince someone that they have to click on your link, you have to be very picky with what you choose to say. When I'm promoting on Twitter, I try to consider what would make me want to click on that link. It frustrates the dickens out of me when I see a "promotion" that looks like this:

"Check out [BLOG TITLE] on @abexchangeblog's blog today!"

Would you want to click on that? I know I sure wouldn't unless the post title was eye-catchingly crazy. The tweet above doesn't tell anyone anything and doesn't make the reader of the tweet feel like they are missing anything at all. Instead, something like this would work much better:

"I love this list of budgeting tips from @ABExchangeBlog! There are 2 or 3 that I really need to implement! [LINK]"

Not only do you have to be careful with how you choose to promote a link, but you also need to promote that link multiple times a day on Twitter. I would say that the "magic" number of promotion for one link a day would be somewhere between three and five. Now, this doesn't mean you should go promoting four different posts of yours, each link getting three to five shout outs. This means that you focus on ONE post and promote it multiple times to your followers. The reason for this is that most people follow tons of people on Twitter and your links will get lost in the shuffle very quickly. Don't go all tweeting crazy, but keep your links visible in your followers' feeds!



Oh, Facebook--the one we hate to love and love to hate. If you haven't been using Facebook until recently, you probably haven't felt the sting of Facebook's new algorithms, but engagement from readers is getting more and more difficult because of the blue guys wanting to "force" people into paying for advertising. In short, all of this craziness means that you have to catch people's eyes even more, soliciting some sort of interaction from them in order for your posts to be seen regularly in their feed. If you ask me, the "old ways" are much more effective, but I guess I'm not a billionaire social-media-managing genius. 

So if Facebook's algorithms suck so much, why do bloggers continue to use Facebook? Well, quite simply because everyone else does! As of February 2014, Facebook has about 1.23 billion users worldwide, while Twitter only has about 243 million. There's a much larger pool of people and even with the introduction of Instagram and Twitter, most people still regularly check their Facebook pages, leaving a perfect opportunity for you to toss your content into the mix among pictures of babies and engagement announcements. Since you're going to be going up against a large amount of content and a frustrating algorithm, you want to (again) make readers feel like they have to click on your link. Thankfully, you have a lot more space to get that done than on Twitter. Take advantage of that space and add a little quote from your post right before your link. For example:


I have often found that it is also very beneficial to use a photo when you post a link on Facebook so that it doesn't just slip into the background on everyone's news feed. Combinbing those two methods, I usually submit one "main" promotion, then one later on with a smaller quote or just a little tease phrase similar to what I would use on Twitter! I don't recommend promoting the same post more than twice a day on Facebook. My posts typically look like this:

visit this page


I saved the best for last you guys, because Pinterest is the BOMB when it comes to promoting blog content! I could (and probably should) do an entire post dedicated to Pinterest alone, but since I've already kept you for too long today, we will just touch on the basics. Since I began looking at stats and tracking referrals, Pinterest has always been my second most traffic source, right behind Bloglovin'! Pins bring in people that wouldn't normally visit my site and allow them to enjoy content that is useful or encouraging to them, possibly even resulting in their following the blog or becoming a regular reader! If you work it to your advantage, Pinterest can completely transform your monthly statistics (not that that is what's important, but it does matter, yeah?)!!

Before tackling the different methods for bringing in an optimal amount of traffic from Pinterest, let's just talk about the type of content that is appropriate to pin. A lot of people say that you should pin everything, but I personally think that would be annoying for your Pinterest followers and wouldn't really help you all that much in the end. The things that normally do the best on Pinterest are recipes, quotes, fashion, beauty, and helpful tips/tricks, although your entire post doesn't have to revolve around one of these things in order to generate a successful pin. You can write about something personal, while including a few pictures of you in a cute outfit, pin those, then watch the traffic come in.

When you do share a post that you think has great Pin-potential, make sure that you:

Use plenty of keywords in the description

Use a description that will show how awesome your post is 
ex. "Taco Soup Recipe" vs. "The most amazing taco soup recipe! SO easy, SO quick, and SO delicious!"

Use VERTICAL photos--they show up bigger on Pinterest

Re-pin your own pins every once in a while to throw them back in the mix

ADD TEXT to your photos, especially recipes or helpful tips--give people a good idea of what they can find if they click over to your post.

Organize your boards by topic, then include a lot of keywords in their description boxes to drive some search traffic over to your pins.

I think that just about covers it, although there are SO many things to consider with Pinterest that I just don't have time to mention with you guys today! There are a ton of resources out there if you want to know more about Pinterest statistics and demographics! Also, if you currently use Google Analytics to track your statistics (which you should be, because it is the most reliable option), you can look at which pins specifically are bringing in the most traffic. Find that tutorial here!

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today! I hope that this post has been super helpful to you! If you want to check out a few more tuturials and tips for blogging resources and growing your blog, you can do that here. I also offer blog consulting that is super fun and also a great way to lay out tangible plans for growing YOUR blog specifically!

Be sure to click on over to the blog or say "hi" on Twitter. I'd love to "meet" you! 
Until next time...XOXO



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Friday, April 18, 2014

what i learned from the trolls on frozen


Some mornings I wake up with the song "Fixer Upper" stuck in my head. It's SO catchy right? But my favorite part of the song comes towards the end.

"People make bad choices if they're
 mad or scared or stressed,
 throw a little love their way, 
you'll bring out their best! 
True love brings out the best! 
Everyone's a bit of a fixer upper, 
that's what it's all about...
 We need each other to raise us up and round us out."

Three points from those lyrics.

1. When people you love make a bad decision, ask yourself if they were mad, scared or stressed. Those emotions often execute themselves in the form of bad decisions in an effort to try and take control of their lives and seem less vulnerable. Throwing love their way is the BEST thing you can do for someone who is truly struggling, and even people who are treating you awfully. True love, done in the right way is not manipulative. When you are kind to others because you genuinely care, that true love brings out their best.

2. Everyone's a bit of a fixer upper. You don't marry a perfect person. Your parents aren't perfect people. Your best friend isn't perfect, and YOU aren't perfect. Remembering that everyone needs some fixing up can give you more patience with the people around you and yourself.

3. We need each other. The truth is, the most rewarding parts of our life come from the relationships we create with those around us. We need each other to be there with us through the hard times as support and encouragements, and we also need them there to celebrate with us when we have victories.

What's your favorite song from Frozen?


The Best F Words

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powered by InLinkz
Click on the button below to add your link!
Insert your name and/or the name of your blog and the link to your F word post!
1. Lauren @ The Best F Words (Host)  2. Brooklyn @ A Little Too Jolley (cohost)  




(Submissions close in 6d 21h 37m)
powered by InLinkz
Click on the button below to add your link!
Insert your name and/or the name of your blog and the link to your F word post!
1. Lauren @ The Best F Words (Host)  2. Brooklyn @ A Little Too Jolley (cohost)  




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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

3 deep conditioners for dry, damaged hair

So you have dry, damaged hair do you? Join the club!

I've often seen it suggested to do a deep condition in the shower once a week if you have damaged hair, but let's be real, if your hair is severely damaged or dry, I would suggest twice a week.

But now that you know that you should be deep conditioning your hair twice a week, what product should you use to do it?? Here's 3 Deep Conditioners I love!

It's a 10 Miracle Hair Mask

Perfect for over dyed hair or hair that gets heat on it every day.



Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Intensive Treatment

Anyone who has ever lightened their hair NEEDS keratin. This little guy is chock full of it. So if you have recently lightened your hair, twice a week is fine. But if you have not lightened your hair recently, switch off with this product and another to avoid over proteinizing your hair.

Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment

Dumb Blonde Reconstructor

Want to feel like you're in Hawaii? This yummy conditioner smells like pineapple and coconut! It also balances the pH levels in your hair while repairing hair from damage. It also makes your hair super soft!


How often do you deep condition your hair?


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Monday, April 14, 2014

love story part twenty: getting to the temple

The drive to the temple seemed never-ending. I remember looking out the window and thinking, "This is it. THIS is my wedding day. I'm the bride, and I finally get to marry my prince charming." It was all so surreal.



When I got to the temple they had a spot for bride's to drop off their dresses and bouquets. (I didn't wear mine until after the ceremony. Read my post here to find out why!) They checked me off and sent me to get dressed in my white clothes for the temple wedding ceremony.

I was then led to a room in the temple that they call the Celestial Room where Mr. Jolley was waiting for me. They told us that the temple was a little behind schedule for weddings so we could wait in there and they would come get us when they were ready for us.


Mr. Jolley and I sat on a couch cuddling. There wasn't too much talking besides a few sentences back and forth, we were both just taking in the moment and enjoying these last few minutes before we were officially married. I remember it feeling like they left us in there for hours, when really it was just around a half hour before they came and told us our family was all waiting in the sealing room, and they were ready for us. 


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