// strategy for creatives who mean business

Happily Ever After: Your Little Blog, Brands and Nontraditional Blog Sponsorship

When you have a little blog it can feel like big bloggers get all the attention, but if you give your little blog a chance it can make big things happen in your life! Today I’m going to share what marketing and PR specialists already know and love about little blogs like yours, that you might overlook.

A small, low traffic blog holds an incredible amount of possibility.

Before I became self employed to work with bloggers and small business owners like you, I worked behind the scenes in entertainment marketing for theatre and music. I designed posters, hosted events and worked on six figure national advertising buys in web, print and television.

Having been behind the scenes in that world, I know that brands ask for your traffic information when they want to purchase advertising.

But if you’re interested in getting amazing experiences and products – like most bloggers I talk to are – a low traffic blog with an audience that isn’t being pummeled with sponsored posts is an incredibly attractive partner for brands.

Are you brand friendly? Put your little blog to work for you! - Kyla Roma

As I’ve written about before, lifestyle bloggers who make their living on advertising income are a dying breed.

That being said, there’s still a surprising lack of bloggers who are brand friendly and also create valuable content regularly. That happy middle ground between “After a lot of helpful ideas, here’s one neat thing that addresses an actual need in your life,” and “Check out my latest tattoo sponsored by the last brand that emailed me.” is still under served.

What that means for you is that savvy bloggers who only promote products and services that make sense for their audiences have an opportunity to really win.

And I’m all about helping you win, so let’s get to that!

 

Why Would Someone Want To Work With My Little Blog?

It’s natural to wonder why a big brand would be interested in working with you, and if this is even worth your time. (Hint: it is!) Let’s dive into the why:

Your posts and links matter.

When you blog about a service or a product there are things you’ll naturally do. You might use its name, or the company name, or link to the website in your post. To a blogger that might feel like nothing, but it’s valuable!

When someone searches for that product, service or company, your blog will pop up, even if it’s tiny. Your post and links tell search engines that the other site is real and trustworthy, and it helps the company’s potential customers or clients figure out if the company’s services are a good match.

 

If you’ve been blogging for a while, Google knows you’re more important than you might think!

As you blog, participate in link parties, and make friends who link to your site from their blog, Google is learning that your blog is important. That’s because search engines like Google, are engineered to find and reward websites with new content written by a real person. To Google, if you’re not spam then you’re important.

Pretty much everything you do naturally as a blogger will feed search engines more evidence that you’re important, so your site will start to float higher and higher in search results. This can give brands access both to your audience, and make it easier for their potential customers to find their brand naturally through a trusted source through search, social media or Pinterest, from the time you post until… the end of the Internet, your blog, or time. Whichever comes first.

Do you see how working with you is a steal? :)

 

Everyone loves to trade, but no one loves it more than marketing departments.

You’re usually more excited to trade services or products than you are to pay for them, right? Well, people who work in marketing and public relations are all about trades. These departments of most companies have very tightly controlled budgets for online advertising, and it all needs to be measured and tracked for return on investment. A lot of what they do on a daily basis is aggressively negotiate deals.

While they might be cash poor, brands tend to have a huge amount of flexibility with event invitations, merchandise and free access.

In marketing insider speak, this is called a “contra” deal. The marketing department will trade the retail value of a product or service instead of paying in money. The neat thing is that when you start trading with brands their behavior becomes much more generous.


Five Minutes to a Better Blog – Train Your WordPress Blog to Block Spam!

When my design clients switch to WordPress (my top recommendation for platforms!) usually it only takes a week before I get an email asking, “Do all these spam comments mean someone is trying to hack my site?” or “What is up with all this spam?” Today I’ll do some spam-comment myth busting, and give you a secret weapon for fighting it if you have a WordPress-based blog.

Spammers create comment spam using spambots – automated programs that never actually visit your blog – to abuse the comment forms on blogs. Comment spam works the same way as email spam does. Spambots  automate commenting for spammers and submit multiple junk comments that contain advertising links. Other times, comment spam attempts to get published to try and make fake sites seem real and important to search engines. When established sites link to each other, search engines see that as a sign that both sites are relevant and high quality. It’s a tactic anyone can use, but spammers can try to exploit it to make their fake sites look real and respected.

It’s annoying, but more of a nuisance than a threat. In fact, it’s a bit of a compliment, because it means your site is well ranked. You’re doing something something to attract attention!

Annoyed & confused by spam comments? Bloggers, Fight Back! - Kyla Roma

If you have a blog on WordPress, there’s a secret weapon you can use that many bloggers don’t know about. It’s so important that it comes installed with WordPress! You just need to activate it and the spam in your life will dramatically decrease.

Your Five-Minute Challenge to a Better Blog: Arm Your WordPress Blog Against Spam!


Don’t let your blog design sabotage your success

Today I want to talk about a problem I see all over the internet and it’s probably happening to your site right now.

The problem is that because you’re familiar with your blog or website, that changes how you see it. And that can have a real cost in lost readers, fans and sales.

If you’ve ever told someone your website’s URL and then wanted to shout “But it needs to be updated!! 😭” then you know that blog or website design you feel confident about can be a game changer. Especially if you work online.

(What, you can’t shout in Emojis? We’re really overdue on working together! Call me?)

The problem of perspective isn’t unique to blogging or online business. You see yourself differently when you feel confident. A great outfit, good hair day, or having a great start to the day can change how you experience your world, and that experience makes us see ourselves a little differently – hopefully in a positive way!
We’re also often our worst critics because we’re so familiar with seeing ourselves in the mirror. We fixate on details about our appearance that no one else sees, because their perspective is different.

Being familiar with your blog or website also changes how you see it. That means that when your readers and customers view it, what they see is completely different than what you see, and unless you’re aware of this it can end up causing you big problems.

Don’t let your blog design sabotage your success - Kyla Roma

I know this firsthand from designing blogs, websites and shops for the past five years.

Where you see your familiar blogroll in the sidebar, your readers may see a wall of text that doesn’t seem important, so they choose to ignore it – along with your sidebar content that is important!

Where you see cute wording in your nav bar (because you know exactly what the pages link to) new readers can see confusing phrases that make them unsure they’re in the right place.

Turn Your Blog Design Into A Superhero For Your Business

If your blog or website is under performing, instead of looking for a blog designer to make your world prettier, go on clutter-and-clarity patrol. It’s not enough to have the right answers for your readers, customers and clients – you also have to remove the things that let doubt and confusion creep in.

1. Go simple

Give clear, self-explanatory titles to any links on your blog. Make sidebar buttons easy to understand at a glance, and re-think anywhere you have small cursive text that your readers have to work at understanding.

One of the best ways to give any aspect of your website or social-media presence a more professional look is to add space around each element. But you don’t have to edit your blog theme to make this happen – you can delete non-essential items from your sidebar and add space between them (even just adding blank text widgets). Look at your blog navigation and remove anything that’s not crucial. Having a few links that actually get clicked will do more for your blog than sharing all your pages at once. Finally, make sure you state exactly what your blog is about somewhere prominent on your site because what’s clear to you isn’t necessarily clear to your readers.

Confused readers don’t opt-in, share your work, or experience the results of your work. Removing clutter means the important parts of your blog will shine and receive more clicks than when they’re surrounded by distraction.


Is it too late to create a successful blog?

I received a great question by email last week:

“I realize there are thousands of blogs out there and the majority of them do not make money. I’ve also heard that many are saying that blogs are passé but I rather enjoy reading them and from all the comments they receive I would say there are many others that also still enjoy them. What’s your opinion? Is it too late to start a blog that could actually be successful?”

I wish we could be instantly transported to my favourite cocktail place so we could really have fun digging into this question, but as a consolation prize I thought we could talk about it on the blog today.

The best time to start anything was five years ago, but starting today is a good back-up plan.

Sometimes it can feel like the world is moving so fast that by the time we discover what we love, we’re already behind. It reminds me of my favourite scene in the roller-derby movie Whip It:

Iron Maven (Played by Juliette Lewis): Hey, guess how old I am.
Bliss Cavendar (Played by Ellen Page): [guessing] 27?
Iron Maven: [not at all touched] Oh, that’s sweet. I’m 36. Guess when I started skating. I was 31. ‘Cause it took me that long to find one thing that I was really good at.

Is It Too Late To Create A Successful Blog - Kyla Roma

The one thing no one tells you is it’s a little terrifying when you find something you love.

It’s not a “The call is coming from inside the house” kind of fear, but more of a “Tremble and feel awe! Behold your passions! Also, no pressure, but if you screw up at these then you’re officially doomed. Have fun!” kind of fear.

In my world, the best response to the fear showing up and bullying you is always curiosity and action.

Followed by naps and mojitos, in the order of your preference. But first, curiosity and action!

Truly, it’s not too late to succeed at what you love. It just isn’t.

If your definition of success is making a living at your blog, then monetizing a blog isn’t as easy as installing Google Adwords. But it’s also not impossible – not by a long shot! I’ve seen it done many times, and by people who are as human, wonderful and imperfect as you and I.


Three questions to discover the perfect blog posts for your readers

When you start a blog and write down your first few ideas, it can often be difficult to know what you should write about next. It can feel high stakes and like there’s only one right answer that’s just out of reach.

You’re not the only one confused about blogging – but I have a way out for you (for good!)

When you have big dreams, the reality of low sales and real-world expenses can cloud your previously inspired view. This is when we tend to hide in over-preparing, research, social media, curating other people’s opinions, or creating products without feedback from the people we want to help.

We don’t mean to, but when we’re scared we hide. Since you’re a smart and savvy person, having a hiding strategy that feels productive is part of the package. Unfortunately, the biological strategies that are meant to keep you safe (as in, physically safe and not mauled by a tiger) also flare up when we take risks that can’t physically hurt us. This can make it extremely difficult for you to succeed, so the first step is to acknowledge what’s happening and break the cycle!

How do you shake writer’s block for good?

What’s been helpful to me and to my clients when we get stuck is having three tools to rely on: our blog values, our blog topics, and how we want our customers to feel. With these three pieces, you not only solve your writer’s block for good, you also create a blog full of content that will attract your ideal clients or customers. Your site will then help you cultivate a following of people who understand your perspective and trust your work.

Sounds like a dream, right? So let’s make it happen!

Three Questions to Discover the Perfect Blog Posts for Your Readers - Kyla Roma

Blog Topics

Blog topics are what you might traditionally think of when talking about an editorial calendar. However, this is about the themes and topic ideas for your entire site, not ideas for individual posts.

Your blog topics are made up of:

  • The subjects and themes that you want to help your readers with
  • Categories you can use to brainstorm and break into post ideas
  • If your blog was a magazine, start with the broad theme or topic it would be categorized under, such as lifestyle, design, business, or food. Then you can get more specific and inventive with yours.

Blog values

The best part of your blog values is that they’re already in everything you do; you just have to start looking for them. Even if you haven’t started a blog yet, you can keep an eye out for them.

Traces of your blog’s values are found in:

  • How you talk about your work
  • The big-picture ideas behind your content which drive it forward
  • The direction you want to take your readers in
  • What bothers you about your industry – what could you talk about for hours?
  • The things you love about your closest friends
  • The vision you hold for your readers, customers or clients

You’re looking for the personality of your brand and its unique flavour. This is often hard for us to see for ourselves, so if you can, try looking at older blog posts or your emails to friends and see if you can pick up on your perspective. If you’re blogging for someone else, or for a company, consider the voice of the brand, any hidden morals in the founding story, and the function of what the company does for its supporters.

Some ideas for values are: craftsmanship, perseverance, precision, emotion, relationships, independence, rebellion, discovery, adventure, empathy, kindness, self care, prestige, equality, resilience, humour, creativity, ease, sensuality, invention, leadership, community, trust, mystery.

If you’re struggling with these at all, use this post to get started. It guides you through this process step by step, and gives examples of how you can create your own enticing description of what you do.

How Do Your Readers Want To Feel?

Here’s where the magic happens.


Let your little blog change your life

There are a lot of bloggers who have been doing their thing for a long time. I should know; I’m one of the guilty parties! I’m also a pretty practical lady, so most of the time I share tips and challenges, but today I wanted to talk about the big picture of blogging and business.

A lot of conversation online about blogging recommends following one path: start a blog, find a few readers through commenting on blogs, focus on doing this more to grow, add ads to monetize it, make writing into a huge part of how you spend your time, work on posting a minimum of three times a week, and comment your heart out until you’re successful.

I get why this is attractive, but speaking plainly?

No one quits their day job with this plan.
No book deals arrive in the mail.
This is the territory of late nights, burn out, and feeling like you’re giving your all but can’t find a way forward.

How To Use Your Little Blog to Change Your Life - Kyla Roma

You’re not alone. Many business owners and women with big dreams stall out here, and it’s not because they’re not talented or smart – it’s because this path to success is broken. It only leads to working longer and harder.


Five Minutes to a Better Blog: Does Your Site Link With Intention or Send Readers Away?

Take a glance at any blog – links are everywhere!

Did you know it’s incredibly hard to make people click online? Chances that you don’t think so, because exploring is so natural to you. But if you have Google Analytics installed on your website you can see exactly how common it us for your readers. The percentage of people who visit your website without clicking on anything is called bounce rate, and for blogs and website that provide content – think lifestyle blogs, informational or tutorial websites, and businesses with active blogs – between 40-60% of visitors visit without clicking anything. (Source: Quicksprout)

If 40-60% of your readers leave without taking any action, it’s important that what you link to supports what you do!

But what makes a click do more for you as a blogger, freelancer and entrepreneur?

  • When a click builds engagement, through commenting, feedback or sharing your content.
  • When a click builds a relationship, through subscribing to your email list.
  • When a click supports your business if you have a product or service (Hint: You should!)

Links are also a way of directing people away from your site, and when you direct people away from your site you’re ending their chance to fall in love with what you do, and get the help that you offer.

Links are a tool in your toolkit as a blogger, but if you don’t use them with intention they can send potential fans and customers away by the dozen or even by the hundreds.

I want to be clear: I’m not encouraging you to stop using links. In elementary school we all learned that sharing is caring, right? (That’s what we told kids with tasty snacks at lunch, at least!)

This isn’t about skipping crediting your sources, avoiding linking to helpful resources, or about hogging the spotlight without sharing the love. It’s about being aware of how you use links to make sure that you’re using them with intention instead of using them left right and center.

Take a look at how these three bloggers use links with intention:

Stop your blog from sending readers away! Examples of linking with intention from KylaRoma.com

Blogs: Lemon Thistle / A Nerdy World / The Laughing Medusa

Take the Five Minute Challenge to a Better Blog:

  1. Write out what 1 – 3 actions you want your readers to take that are important to your big picture goals. (If you earn income from your website, make sure this is on the list!)
  2. Take a screenshot of your blog or website (Not sure? Here’s how.)
  3. Print it out, then circle all the links to other websites on your front page.
  4. Journal your answer to these questions: How many links do you have on your front page? Which actions are linked to your goals? Are there as many or more things linked to that directly support your goals? If not, how can you remove non-essential links and add more that support your goals?

Don’t know what to email your newsletter list? Start here.

One of the most common questions I get from bloggers and makers is, “I have an email list that I’ve never sent to. How do I start? And what do I send them?”

I’ve been in your shoes, and it can feel really intimidating when you’re stuck in limbo. So many bloggers, creative small-business owners and freelancers know that email marketing is important. They’ve even started an email list, but are wasting time and energy worrying about what they’re doing, or are taking no action at all.

Today, I’m going to change that. This post is written specifically to help you.

Dont know what to email your newsletter list - Start Here

How did sending out email newsletters become a thing?

Email marketing started because it’s an incredibly effective way of reaching your people and knowing they’re going to see your email. But before there were emails, there were real, physical papers that businesses would send out like tiny newspapers.

The idea behind this is simple: people need to feel sure before they’ll purchase. If they see your name and feel aligned with your business, staying in touch with them increases the likelihood that when they need something you can help with, you’ll pop into their minds. Effectively, people need to remember you and know they can trust you before they’ll trust you with their money.

Here’s where coaches, business owners, and the like get confused, but any email you send to your list can do this, and it doesn’t have to be different than a weekly blog post.


How I increased my Pinterest impressions by 240%

Let me tell you something you already know: Pinterest is a force of nature. Since it joined the scene, social media has rapidly evolved to emphasize eye-catching images, making visual content more important than ever to bloggers, artist, and creative entrepreneurs.

I’ve had a lot of fun and success on Pinterest, gaining a following of over 140,000 users in just over a year. But that success has been lopsided – while I get great referral rates on my old Craft and DIY posts, my new posts lag behind. And if my current work isn’t being seen? My Pinterest following really doesn’t help me much.

So lately I’ve been on a mission to learn what makes the perfect pin!

It’s like Captain Ahab and his white whale, only with more mason jars and less seafaring.

Now that my business is focused on helping bloggers and small-business owners, I’m making sure those posts reach Pinterest too. And I’m challenging you to join me.

How I got 240 percent more impressions on Pinterest in One Month - Kyla Roma

Today I’ll share the principles that I started using two posts ago, and that I’ll continue to use in the coming months. So far they’ve had amazing results and (you know me!) when I find something that works, I’m excited to let you know about it.


<< older posts