Title text with an image of a beach in the background

Hello, hello today I am talking about why leaving behind a digital footprint is one of the reasons why I love writing on the internet. I have had my little site now on and off for about three years! It started as a site to talk about cycling but then I realised I didn’t actually know that much cycling (other than the fact that my Boardman bike is my best friend FYI!) so then I switched to talking about lifestyle then just social media and blogging and now I feel that I have found a happy medium in talking about blogging/ social media and lifestyle thrown in on occasion. One thing that has not changed is that I do really enjoy writing and reading comments either on my site or social media.

I enjoy blogging because it is just so easy and accessible for everyone. I started originally because I wanted to improve my writing at work (one of my responsibilities was writing articles for the site and social media) but one thing that I liked about blogging is that it was somewhere I could leave my footprint, I could have my say. It wasn’t just blogging tho, Twitter was another platform where I leave behind my thoughts, less so feelings but also have conversations with like-minded people, read interesting articles. Even on Strava the cycling app, I could view how well I had done on bike rides against myself and other cyclists – the perfect example of the digital complimenting my real life! I loved the way I see the miles mounting up (I was pretty gutted when the GPS on my phone stopped working!).

I was watching Rest in Pixels a programme on BBC Three ages ago about digital legacy. In the programme it spoke about companies using algorithms to message from your social media profiles after your death about topics that you were interested in. I found it interesting because it was focused on keeping these profiles alive after you were gone. However for me I didn’t see the point – well honed algorithms are fine but they are not going to bring the person back and surly it would extend the heartache? I knew that if something was going to happen to me I would want people to look at my social media profiles and see the tweets and posts that I had written.

I remember a conversation on Twitter a while back and a blogger said that they loved the idea that our children now will grow up and be able to remember us very well as creating and saving videos are accessible and that our lives now as the (digital native generation) are lived just as much online as they are offline. I think that is a lovely way to view this.

This blog post was not planned and at all and as taken a slightly morbid turn then I thought it would! But I would love to hear your thoughts on this? Does anyone feel that they are leaving behind a legacy as such when they write?

Desk with laptop, pencils, iphone and books

I definitely fall into the camp of being a ‘lazy’ blogger at times. Especially working in Marketing there are some things I don’t do or haven’t done properly that I know I definitely should do.  Let me know how many you agree with in the comments below.

Not using a self-hosting platform
I am currently using Blogger as you know I should move over to self-hosting but I am so meh about it. I know the benefits its just it seems like a enormous task I don’t really want to take on by myself right now.

Using stock images way too much
I know you should ideally take your own images but I do feel like a bit of an idiot doing it for my own blog – I don’t know why. I don’t have the jazzy motivational note pads just the standard stationary ones haha!

Not using Photoshop
This is more on the principle that I cannot really spend the money on Photoshop at the minute so I am using the free version of PicMonkey – which to be fair is pretty good.

Not having a consistent layout
I am pretty consistent with image first but titles – do I go with all capital letters or not, should I have the title within the image or just have the image bare… the list is endless!

Not consistently posting
As much as I hate to admit it – I suck at posting often. I do feel that when I post my content is of value but it isn’t as often as I would like it to be. Its mainly time management and it is something I am working towards improving. This also affects my social media following as I tend to get more followers as I post my posts.

Not updating my own profile image
The one of me in my hoody – yeah that was taken when I was at Uni (and first year at that!) I have left Uni fours year ago now and have had that on my list to update but I can never find the right light/time…

BUT there is something I am good at I reckon and that is posting evergreen content. The majority of my content is evergreen (i.e. it stays relevant) long after it has been posted.

 

Image of laptop, iphone and journal

Blogging can be hard for many reasons – generating ideas for posts, having the time to write and schedule in content, editing photographs… the list can go on. However planning and structuring a blog post correctly means the article is likely to be well written and a well written article is more likely to be shared and this means more hits to your site and that ultimately is the aim of the game 🙂

Today I will tell you the way I like to structure my blog posts, none of what you see below is revolutionary but hopefully helpful.

How I Structure My Ideas
I like to either bullet point them or use a mind map format to write down all my ideas. If I am particularly stuck for ideas I will have a scroll through what other bloggers have written for inspiration. Some may argue that it is copying but the majority of content written on blogs is repackaged or has been rewritten already anyway, so I don’t see it in that way.

Your post ideally should contain ‘evergreen content’ this helps boost your SEO. Evergreen content is content which isn’t dated so for example if this article contains lots of data then this article will be out of date very quickly as the stats would become out of date. Fashion blogs are another example. My social media and blogging articles I like to keep the content ‘evergreen’ as much as possible.

Once I have an idea on what I want to write about, if I need to do any research this is usually done first. It helps inform the rest of my writing and helps me think of points that I may not have thought about originally or from a different view point that I then may expand upon. I tend to write intro, middle and end as titles and then list the points I want to make below each.

The writing part
When I start writing, I tick off each point to help keep me on track and additionally keeps me motivated to finish the post (I am one of those people that like lists!). When I am in the planning stage I like to have a lot of time to plan my posts. I turn off all distractions, this means leaving my phone in the other room and not being on Twitter to keep me focused and it speeds up the creation of the post. Additionally, setting myself a deadline helps to keep the momentum. At the end I find a image using a free image site, sometimes I will add text it depends. Just keep in mind with your deadline to take time to find or create a decent image and make sure you include an alt tag in the image. At the end if you have written any previous blog posts that link with the post you are about to publish, add them at the bottom to boost engagement to other posts.

The bit after you click publish

The planning just doesn’t stop at the blog post it also extends to social media. There is really no point writing a blog post unless you are really going to push it (I don’t know, maybe you want to keep it to yourself, each to their own I guess!). When I plan social media, I take into account popular hashtags (I use ritetag) and twitter profile pages that will retweet posts. I use Hootsuite to schedule the posts in and I tend to have a social media scheduling session when I am too tired to write a blog post. I pin my blog post on Pinterest straight after it is has gone live so it is done and I don’t have to think about it.

So the short version of all of the above:

  • Turn off all distractions
  • Mind map or bullet point ideas
  • If your stuck for a topic then have a google to see what other bloggers are writing about or what the popular topics are at the moment (taking into account making your content as ‘evergreen’ as possible)
  • Start with a topic and plan a beginning, middle and end
  • Remember to include scheduling in social media and finding images within your allocated time limit
  • Add in links to other relevant blog posts

Have you got any tips on creating an effective blog post? Which has been your best blog post in terms of views? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

Open laptop on a table

Hello, hello today I am writing about self evaluating your blog via a SWOT.

A SWOT analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It may sound boring and time consuming but by writing down what each of these are, it can visually make you see your blog’s weaknesses are so you can tweak them to maximise potential. The strengths you don’t need to ignore either – by capitalising your strengths it will help make your blog stronger.

It sound’s like something that takes a lot of time but there is no point publishing content that your readers do not like to view. At the end of the day it is your blog and you can publish what you want – but if your aim is to increase readership, earn money, or increase engagement – then you need to get strategic.

To show you how a SWOT can work for you I have included a SWOT of my own blog below. If you google SWOT analysis you will see many done in a box. Personally I prefer working from a list, hence listing them below.

SWOT for becbec.uk

Strengths
Own URL and professional blogger template installed.
I have full control over my blog.
I have a full – time job so don’t need to worry about making money from my blog.
My social media and blog posts do very well in terms of page views and comments and that is the content I prefer writing about.
From working in marketing I know the a lot of websites to get good quality royalty free imagery etc

Weaknesses
Struggle to find the motivation to write content regularly.
Not enough regular content.
Social media strategy needs to be better.
My content away from blogging and social media do not so as well.

Opportunities
Know several contacts where I can get my work published – which gets my name out more.
Very confident about Twitter chats and hosted several chats before so can do those again.
Getting a lot better at Photoshop so can start creating some work sheets.
Know several graphic designers that if I reach out too, could help me make my brand better.

Threats
Established bloggers.
Blogging is a market that has become very saturated and it is getting harder and harder to stand out.

What have I learned from my SWOT?

So from my strengths I know that the social media and blog tips posts are my best posts so it is best to keep writing posts about them. Having a full – time job means there isn’t the pressure of me having to churn out content to make money.

I know I need to work on writing regular content therefore by dedicating time per week to do this is one way where I am more likely to achieve writing and getting my content published. Again by dedicating time just for social media means that I am more likely to hit my goals of pushing more people to my site. I am going to stop writing life posts because there is no point spending my time writing them as it is not what my audience want to read.

Knowing your opportunities is easy, now it is finding the time to make the most of those opportunities. It is important because if you don’t realistically have the time to take advantage you could waste other people’s time and it can make your life harder in the future when you do have more time or you try to take advantage of other opportunities because people talk to each other!

Therefore, ideally by maximising on your opportunities, expanding on your strengths and working on your weaknesses this should help reduce your threats. Your threats are likely to always be there – you should always keep an eye out on what your threats are doing so you can capitalise on there failings or find a gap in the market they are not catering for.

I hope this SWOT blog post has been useful, ironically for me by listing everything down it has made the task of getting my blog up to date not as daunting as first thought. Let me know your thoughts and how you got on below.

If you liked this post, how about reading my other posts:

Best sites for blogging and social media beginners
Best sites for blogging and social media beginners #2
How to link your blog posts to pages in blogger

 

image of a female holding a mobile phone
A Twitter chat (incase you don’t know, this site is written for blogger and social media newbies!) is where lots of likeminded bloggers come together and usually answer and then discuss four or five questions in an hour on a particular topic that happened to be that week. I have hosted one chat myself on #PABChat and will be hosting another one on March 14th (if you are interested!). However I have taken part in a few including #bloghour hosting by the UK Blog Awards and #lbloggers chat. From being a weekly avid user of #bloghour after a while I found the chats to get boring in general so I looked into what and why I found the chats boring. So I share some tips below for you getting the most out of your chats:

Don’t just use the chat to promote yourself

If you are only joining in a chat to promote yourself then don’t bother. I don’t mind people promoting themselves at the beginning or at the end of the chat, if they have to leave midway though (and have contributed) or use the hashtag when the chat isn’t happening (I have done that). I just hate random companies that promote part way through. It just clogs up the feed and half the time it’s not hitting the target market for their product anyway.

Only join the chat if you are interested with the topic

#bloghour chat is great and I joined in every week but I found after a while I was losing interest because some weeks there were topics that I was just not interested with at all. By just taking part with the topics you are interested with means you are likely to get more out of it because you are gaining ideas and sharing best practice.

Make it more than just answering questions

I am notorious at just answering the questions. It is like a fun quiz, but that isn’t really what blog chat is all about. Interacting with other people and even disagreeing and putting forward your own views is so much more fun.

Use the chat to gain new and exciting blogs

The best thing I like about the chats are gaining new blogs to read. If a chat is going a little slow or I want some new bed time reading material blog chats are where I go first. I have found some lovely little blogs I wouldn’t have found otherwise through them.

Host your own blog chat

I have done it myself and trust me it is harder then it looks. It is scary and you do worry no one is going to take part but seriously you get out what you put in and the sense of accomplishment once the chat is over makes it all worth it.

So have fun with your Twitter chat and let me know how you get on!