Using social media scheduling tools image

Taking your blog to the next level means that you need to use a social media scheduling platform. A social media scheduling platform is a programme that you use to write your posts in advance for them to publish on the social media networks of your choosing. It is beneficial because:

  • You can write posts and schedule posts for them to come out at the time of your choosing
  • You can continue to advertise your blog, even when you are doing something else
  • You can schedule posts so it hits a different time zone, perfect for building a foreign audience
  • You will be keeping a consistent presence on social media, important if you want to take your blog to the next level.

So with that in mind, what social media scheduling platforms are there for you to use and what are the pros and cons of each?

Hootsuite

  • You can have all the main social media accounts
  • You can set an auto schedule where Hootsuite will pick a time where it thinks most people look at your twitter timeline and then schedule your post at that time
  • It does have a mobile app, but in experience I prefer using the desktop version
  • You can have multiple streams showing your home feed, tweets, even hashtags
  • You can use their link shorter to shorten hyperlinks

Cons

  • You can only schedule 30 posts on the free version

Tweetdeck

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • You can schedule as many tweets as you want

Cons

  • Only available to schedule tweets so not helpful if you want to schedule things on more than one platform

Buffer

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Again you can schedule different networks
  • It pulls images so you can pick which image you want to schedule

Cons

  • You can only schedule 10 posts per platform before having to pay

Tailwind

Pros

  • You can easily pick which pins you want to repin
  • Approved by Pinterest, so you haven’t got the danger of your account being suspended
  • Lots of stats available for you to look at

Cons

  • It may just be me, but I found it quite difficult to use – there is almost too much that I didn’t know where to start.

There are the four main ones. In my previous marketing roles I have used the paid version of Hootsuite which did the job fine. I did have a dabble in Buffer when the Hootsuite contract was coming up for renewal but didn’t see the reason to swap. For any blog posts I tend to use a mixture of Hootsuite and tweetdeck.

What do you use?

Image of a laptop and cup of coffee and the word dream

Today’s Blog 101 I am talking about how a vision and mission statement can help enhance your blog.

What are a vision and mission statement?

A mission statement is a statement on what your blog’s purpose is, a vision statement is what you want your blog to be in the future. It would make complete sense that your blog’s mission statement would inform the blogs vision.

Why are a vision and mission statement important?

A vision and a mission statement will inform the reader about the purpose of your blog and for yourself it can help you understand what you want your blog to be about. For example, if you want your blog to be focused on restaurants in the West Midlands and you do a content audit and you find a lot of your content is based on clothing shops in the West Midlands you have to think about possibly changing your content or the basis of your blog to help get yourself and your readers the most out of your blog.

How to go create your vision and mission statements

For myself I found it easier to focus on my vision first and work backwards. Questions I asked myself:

  • What is my blog currently about
  • What do I want my blog to be about
  • What do I want readers to come away from my blog thinking
  • What do I enjoy writing about
  • What do I want to be writing about
  • What do I want my blog to be known for

Keep your mission and vision statement’s short and sweet, 1-3 sentences will do it. It shouldn’t contain any technical words. There is nothing more off putting then reading a vision or mission statement that you don’t understand. A good mission and vision statement should invigorate, inspire and motivate you to keep working on your blog.

Do I need to publish my mission and vision statements?

It is entirely up to you. I don’t publish mine but I feel confident enough in the fact that I know where I am going with my blog.

Image of a desk with a pennant and books

Welcome to Blog 101, session four is focusing on free or low cost photo editing and image creator apps.

I can and do regularly use Photoshop in my day job for quick tweaks to artwork (I am not a designer at all!) but I don’t have the application at home and neither the advance skills needed to make use of the program. Here are four tried and tested programs that are free that I use.

Canva

This is my favourite program for creating social media images for my posts. The templates are wide and varied from social media images to adverts to printed media or you can create your own custom dimensions. The templates make it very easy to upload your images and overlay them onto your template. Canva gives you great design ideas and tonnes of different fonts and you can get a precise colour by typing in the hexcodes.  If you are creating a poster using canva and wondering if it prints well, my previous manager has created a 60×40 inch poster before and it has printed fine.

Picmonkey

I often resize my photos using Picmonkey. Again this program is easy to use with its resize, text overlay and has templates like Canva. You can add more effects with the photographs itself such as light effects. Less tools seem to be available free unlike Canva.

Fotojet*

I was recently contacted by Fotojet to try out there online graphic design maker. It very much reminded me of Canva albeit a more stripped down version. Again there are lots of functions such as templates to create social media images, create your own custom templates and background. I will write a more comprehensive post about this program separately. It does what it says on the tin, you can edit and create images and the program is easy to use however I think if I had to choose either Canva or Fotojet I would choose Canva as there are more design options.

VSCO

VSCO is an mobile phone app where if you are a bit bored of the Instagram filters and want to move up in the world it is the equivalent of the cooler older brother or sister. I mainly use VSCO for the filters and to resize images normally to put straight on Insta or Twitter. Favourite filters include HB1 and HB2, X1 and A6. A while ago it underwent a massive redesign and it looks pants now and I feel made the app harder to navigate.

Which low cost image and design programs do you use and recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

 

How to grow and maintain a blog

Your blog is up and running, well done! Now you just need to maintain and grow your blog to help you achieve success. This is how you can do it:

Take part in Twitter chats

Being a massive twitter fan anyway, I love twitter chats. I have been part of some great conversations, spoken to some lovely people on Twitter and it has been a great way to push people to your profile, obtain followers, gain new ideas for posts and find some new bloggers yourself.

It can be daunting at first taking part in chats, especially if you are hosting one (read more about my tips on hosting a Twitter chat here). If you join chats based on your blog topic this will push more interest to your site then say your location as it is reaching those with the same interests.

Read more:

Creating a movement online – my recent twitter chat

How to #win at a Twitter chat

Using hashtags and pages that retweet your blog on twitter

By promoting your post using popular, relevant hashtags this can push your blog out to an audience that may not have come across your site otherwise. Sites such as hashtagify.me can help you easily see how popular the hashtag you want to use is and other relevant tags. By adding the handles of twitter pages that retweet your blog as well may mean a retweet out to a large audience. Bare in mind, however, to only add one twitter page handle per post. If you don’t then you are less likely to be retweeted as those pages are not going to retweet their competitors as well.

The Twitter pages that retweet your blog

Facebook Fan Page

Like what I said with the Twitter chats below, you could create your own Facebook page promoting your blog or you join ready made communities tailored to your blog topic, region or interest. I am part of several blogging groups in the West Midlands because I live in the region and like to see what local bloggers are writing about (I have some fab new restaurant places I want to try out!), and blogger opportunities are also posted on there too.

Instagram

If your blog is very aesthetically pleasing, then Instagram is the place to flog your posts. Engagement on Instagram is high because it people are more willing to double tap a image to give it some love. If your Instagram is themed then likes are more likely. Evidence as shown that those Instagram pages that have a theme are more likely to get likes than those that are not. Again using hashtags for people to find your images is key. I use tagblender for easy copy and pasting lots of hashtags. Just remember Instagram only allows a certain number of hashtags and if you go over then it will post without the tags and that can be frustrating.

Creating a blogging schedule and sticking to it

I firmly believe that to really maintain a blog you need to regularly post. If you consistently times a week you are more likely to have followers keep returning to your site for more.

How is your blog going? Leave me your links below as I am always on the look out for new blogs to read!

 

 

How to write a blog post

Hopefully you have read my first post ‘4 questions to ask yourself before you start a blog‘ and have decided to go ahead and create one yourself. Well done! Now is to set about writing your content.

There are many ways to write a blog post and I am not saying I am an expert in the slightest but writing a blog post is a craft and as they say content is king. The benefits of good content is clear, you will gain more in engagement and followers.

So what is needed to write a good blog post?

Strong topic

Your post needs to have a clear subject, if you are writing for the sake of writing people will see this and just click off.

Clear structure

Your English teacher was right, your writing needs an introduction, middle and end. The best way to do this is to plan what you are going to write before you write it. It really helps make sure your writing is heading in the right direction. For more information on planning a post read my post on ‘How to plan a successful blog posthere.

Ideal blog post length

The jury is out on this one! This does very much depend on the topic you are writing about, Yoast recommends your post length to at least be 300 words long. Yoast goes on to mention that longer posts are more likely to be ranked higher because there are more opportunities through text, images and links to include your keyword. Researching further, digitalmarketingpro.net recommends to Google blog posts of a similar type that you want to write and seeing how many words were written in the top five ranking posts.

Consistency

I should really practice what I preach on this point! All the headings should be the same size, font and style. I am still experimenting with mine, but as soon as I have a style nailed I will update everything else.

Images and all the little things that make a huge difference

Images are so important to add on a blog post. Think about how many blog posts that do not have an image or graphic of some kind. Not many! Images help reinforce and explain a point, help people make an emotional connection and even persuade them to make a purchase! People are more likely to share a post if it contains an awesome image.

It helps with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as when you save your image you should name the image properly and use the alt tag function and description. It also helps those with e-readers who cannot see the image know what the image is as the e-reader picks up the alt tag.

Comment

Unless it is something very sensitive your posts should contain a comment section and make sure to respond to people’s comments! They have taken the time to written, you should take the time to respond.

Make sure you add your relevant pages and social media links

After writing your blog post make sure your social media links are there so people can pin the image, tweet and Facebook it. The more chances you give them to be shared the better. Also if you have written relevant blog posts in the past, make sure you add those links in the text too as it pushes people to look at that content which means extra views to your posts.

I hope you enjoyed my Blog 101! Are you finding these tips useful?

 

 

 

 

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