// strategy for creatives who mean business

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.


New Podcast Interview About Blogging, Goals and Making Your Dreams Happen

This week I’m excited to have a podcast interview to share with you. Podcasting is something I love, both as a listener (Confession: just logged over 1550 hours on my podcast listening app!) and as a medium since I taught an online course delivered by private podcast in last year. The host and I had a lot of fun, and I think you’ll be able to hear it.

Straight Talk on blogging, change and getting things done with Kyla Roma

Sarah Bagley is a favourite podcaster of mine, and I’m happy to be featured on her podcast for a second time. In this episode we went deep into blogging, goal setting, being productivity nerds, how we choose if we should stick it out or quit when it comes to a goal, and talk about the ups and downs of making big huge change happen in your life. We’re candid, straight talking, and laugh a lot- and I hope you enjoy it.

To listen to the episode in a new window, click here.


Overwhelmed Blogger? Five Ways to Get Back to Effortless & Inspired Writing

Let me tell you a crazy fact about me: I started blogging when I was a teenager in 1998, and have written regularly on this blog since 2008. Even if you’re a new blogger, you probably already know the highs of inspiration and the lows of feeling like no matter how hard you work there’s always more that you should be doing. Today I’m going to share how I stay motivated after seven years blogging at KylaRoma.com, and seventeen years (!!) after I started my first blog.

 

Blogs come and go all the time. But mine isn’t still here because I’m special, or because I’ve always felt clear and driven.

 

I don’t have writing superpowers. My last English class was in high school. While I really enjoy writing, and I love connecting with readers, I’ve been through ups and downs in how I feel about blogging many times. Just like anyone who writes regularly, there are times when I love it – like right now – and there are times when I’ve really struggled with how I want to write, the kind of blog I want to share, and with what corners of my life I feel comfortable sharing.

 

One of the things I love most about talking with bloggers is that chances are that wherever you are in your blogging journey? I’ve probably experienced a corner of what you’re going through.

 

Here’s what I mean: I’ve blogged as a hobby, monetized my blog as a side hustle, used third party ads, sold my own ads, sold digital products, physical products, and made the work through my blog into my full time job. I’ve pitched media, managed lulls in sales, been booked out 8 months in advance, written and re-written my bio, and spoken at conferences. It’s so easy to relate, swap stories and advice when there is so much common ground.

I’ve even had someone knock on my front door and introduce themselves to my husband by saying, “Hi, my name is Sarah- I’m here from the Internet.”

(His completely unsurprised response: “Well it was bound to happen someday! Come on in.”)

Overwhelmed? Get back to inspired blogging plus free community by Kyla Roma

This isn’t to say that I’m perfect at any of this, but ultimately blogging is a huge part of my life. It’s how I’ve met most of the best people I know, it’s given me the amazing opportunity to work with people all over the world as a designer and coach for business owners and bloggers, it means I know people in almost every city I travel to, and it’s how I was able to start working for myself full time in my twenties! I love it.

And at the same time, no matter where you are in your blogging journey, it can be overwhelming.

No matter how high your stats are, or how big your dreams, sometimes we all feel like it would be a great vacation if there was only pressure to post. Instead, there’s a lot of talk about creating different content for all of our platforms, and the need to have a defined strategy for every aspect of your online presence. It can feel like there’s always something to improve, and another way to avoid certain doom by doing one thing wrong.

Here’s something else I know:

 

You won’t build your dream blog inside a pressure cooker of rules and expectations.

 

So let’s shake that off and find a better way to stick with it. And by a better way, I mean a way that feels better. Because even if you love blogging and are destined to take over the internet with your big ideas? You’re going to have lulls. So let’s arm you with some secret weapons…

These are a few of the ways that I’ve stopped being an overwhelmed blogger and stuck with it for the long haul:

.

Remember what you love about blogging, then make that more of your experience.

There are lots of little things that bloggers do each week. What is your favourite? Do you love community building? Writing? Finding new bloggers and encouraging them? Build habits that emphasize these things in your daily and weekly experience, and that will change  how your blogging experience feels.

Similarly, if you’re going through a season where writing is difficult, challenge yourself to a getting a ton done in a short amount of time, and then taking a break! Could you write 5 post drafts in one day? In two days? What would that make the rest of your month feel like? Shake up your habits, challenge yourself, and see what happens.

 

Give yourself permission to start now and make adjustments later.

The most important thing is to start. If you aren’t feeling confident, remember that what you can bring to blogging (and anything you do) today is more than you’ve ever been able to before, and you’re only going to improve from here as you practice.


Three Steps To Turn Your Sales Page Into A Hell Yes For Your Clients

When you’ve finally decided to share your talent  with the world and make what you do – from ads on your blog, to freelance work or selling a product – it can be really frustrating when the response is slow. It can feel a little like the only people visiting your site are you, while the internet equivalent of tumbleweeds, roll in the distance.

Why does this happen? What does it mean? And what should you do??

It’s tempting to start over and create all new packages or jump straight to the worst case scenario, but in most cases with a few adjustments you can turn what you do into a moneymaker. It’s just hard to see when you’re so close to your work.

Turn what you sell online into a hell yes for your clients!

The key is to make it easy for your ideal clients to have an ah-ha moment when they find you. You want to make sure that it’s easy for someone you’re able to help can recognize that- and unfortunately we sometimes make that hard for our people without realizing we’re doing to.

It’s hard for freelancers and makers to create an-ha moments for our clients, because we think in terms of what our solutions look like and how they’re delivered, instead of how it feels have that problem or to finally have a working solution!

Imagine if you were trying to pick a restaurant for dinner but all the restaurant websites focused on their  supply chain efficiency, variety of seating arrangements available and germ killing power of their dishwasher detergent.


Is Your Blog Ready To Go Viral?

As a blogger or a creative business owner, we always hope that our content is by more people. No matter how many readers we have, more would always be nice.

It’s easy to imagine that having a post go viral would feel like winning the lottery!

But most bloggers spent so much time writing, developing and sharing content that we stop there. And that means they miss a crucial step that makes it harder to succeed online – even if their next post goes viral and they suddenly have stadiums full of raving fans who adore your work.

Is Your Blog Ready To Go Viral? Catch and hold reader attention to help your readers and make a living by Kyla Roma

You don’t have to be a new blogger or business owner to make this mistake – in fact, I see it more from my clients who read lifestyle blogs for a long time before they started dreaming about being a solopreneur.

So what’s the mistake? It’s not asking yourself “What do I want readers to do when they come to my site, and how is that connected to how I make a living?”

If you had to answer that question right this moment, I think I know what you would say.

Did you answer: Leave a comment?

That was my answer too, for years.

The problem with that answer is that if you offer a product or a service and had to explain how blog comments help you make a living, you might struggle. In most cases, they’re our stock answer, but they don’t really help us keep doing what we do.

Now, if you’re thinking “Kyla, you can’t get me to stop wanting blog comments. You probably can’t pay me to stop wanting blog comments!” don’t worry. I like blog comments too! They make us feel like the world is a little friendlier to us and our ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Are you a blogger who means business? That means you’re not in the business of blog comments. Who’s with me? (Tweet it!)

The problem isn’t that we like having blog comments – it’s that they’re an incomplete and dangerous way for bloggers to measure their success.

Why is it dangerous to tie blog success to your comments?

Blog comments don’t tell you how long you hold the attention of your readers.
Blog comments don’t show which of your posts was the read most in the last month.
Blog comments don’t give you insight into what makes your readers take action.
Blog comments don’t share which websites are sending traffic your way.
Blog comments don’t pay your bills and they don’t delight or make change in your reader’s lives.

Blog comments are great – but they’re only one part of a bigger picture of how engaged your audience is, and of your success.

And if blog comments aren’t connected to how you earn income through your blog, then using them to make decisions about your blog makes as much sense as asking your doctor if your arm is broken, and insisting that she examines your second cousin to find out.

When new readers visit your website they’re immediately trying to decide if you’re for them. Most will look around, click away and continue on their day. They’re whole people. They might also be busy, tired, researching a project, or in the middle of fifteen other things.

When your ideal reader discovers you, it doesn’t make sense to just hope they remember you. Instead, have a system that gives you a chance to earn their trust.

Let’s go back to imagining that the last post you wrote went viral. (Imaginary congratulations to you!)

This is how that plays out for bloggers who don’t have a defined way to capture attention and direct it toward their goals:

  • Hundreds of thousands of new readers visit your blog! Woo hoo!
  • Your visitors skim your homepage and try to understand who you are
  • They scroll through your most recent blog posts
  • About 10% – 30% of those people click on something they see, and many of those links take them to outside sites packed with distractions, like social media sites.
  • You may get some emails from new readers, and you’ll definitely get emails from confused and excited friends and family members who aren’t on the internet as much as you, asking if this is a big deal. (Yes! It’s a big deal!)
  • Hopefully a few readers remember your site on their own or add it to their bookmark list, if they have one.

In other words, once it’s over it’s almost like it never happened.

But if you remove distractions, and emphasize how readers can sign up for your email list to learn more about you, that might look like this:

  • Hundreds of thousands of new readers visit your blog! Woo hoo!
  • Your visitors skim your homepage and try to understand who you are
  • They scroll through your most recent blog posts.
  • You may get some emails from new readers, and you’ll definitely get emails from confused and excited friends and family members who aren’t on the internet as much as you, asking if this is a big deal. (Yes! It’s a big deal!)
  • Some of those people (generally between 5% – 30%) will click on something they see, including the form asking them to sign up for your email list in exchange for getting a neat opt in freebie that helps them with a problem they have.
  • They get email updates from you for several weeks and start to think of you as a trusted resource who’s helped them solve their problems.

The Simple Digital & Paper Organization Systems That Keep My Business Moving

Staying organized is tough. We all have life and work to balance, and when you add blogging and creative projects into the mix, things get complicated. Fast!

Today I’m sharing a behind the scenes look in my systems so you can compare notes with me, maybe try out a new habit and hopefully help you feel more relaxed and productive in your daily life.

But before we get too far, remember that before you worry about systems and tasks, you have to know your priorities.

If you can’t feel relaxed and calm if you’re always online, and you need to feel that way to work, you have to prioritize that and actively make decisions that create that feeling. And the same thing goes for what you say yes to and add to your list.

Without fail, I’m focused on doing the right things (as in, right for me) I’ll feel better about checking things off my list and can start to enjoy a life that feels more like what I’m dreaming of right now.

Knowing your heart makes staying in your integrity a hundred times easier, and that makes life feel easier. If you’re not sure of those things, grab some paper and start list making!

 

What I’m keeping organized today

Being a planner and an organization geek, I love trying new solutions that might make my life easier. I’ve used DIY pen and paper systems, gone crazy with bullet journaling, and created my own day planners for years.

The system that I’m using now is what I’ve found to be the most flexible and manageable so far, and it has a really simple divide between what’s digital and what’s on paper that’s kept it working beautifully.

For some context, this is what I have on the go at the moment: 

In my business

  • Day-to-day client web design work
  • Client correspondence for web design projects
  • Business coach training & homework for my apprenticeship
  • Calls with business coaching clients
  • My blog’s editorial calendar
  • My free Facebook community: Daring Creative Workshop’s facebook group and twitter chats (join in!)
  • Top Secret Blog Design Project #1
  • Top Secret Blogging Project #2 (Eek! Both are coming this spring!)
  • Getting the business ready for my giant trip to Europe in April!
  • All of the emails

At home

  • Meal planning (I do the planning, my husband Jesse does 75% of our cooking)
  • Cleaning the house  (We share this about 50/50)
  • Getting my taxes done before the trip
  • Being in touch with friends & family
  • Getting everything done that needs finishing (and planning some trip ideas) for the giant trip to Europe my lovely husband and I are taking in April!

 

If you look at this and feel like you’re not doing enough, know that I’m not able to personally touch on all of these in any one week. The list is just too big!

A key part of how I stay ahead is that I prioritize tasks that make other tasks easier, and delegate work to freelancers so I can focus on putting my time into what’s crucial.

I’m also deeply dedicated to having imperfection in my life. I’m happy eating cereal for dinner some nights. My car is rarely washed. There are currently dishes in my sink, and I know amazing people who I would genuinely love to be more in touch with.

I’ve embraced the idea that we can have everything we want, just not at the same time. And then I gave myself permission to stop torturing myself about the little things. (Out loud, and repeatedly.)

I’ve decided that sometimes it’s more important to put Youtube on and teach yourself the Charleston. In fact, most of the time, it’s more important to dance.

 

Five ways my digital and paper organization system keeps my blog and business organized – even when life gets crazy:

.

1. Capturing big picture goals and ideas

System: Paper  | Method: In a Binder

I use loose leaf in a binder for strategizing, working out pricing, and long term planning. I love getting really hands on, and if I have a great session that I want to keep with me I can upload photos of the pages into Evernote or Google Docs for instant access.

 

2. Pick top three tasks every day

System: Paper  | Method: Weekly Planner

At the end of each work day I use a weekly planner to create a list of three things I’m going to complete the next day.  I try to work on these before I take on anything else, to make sure I’m spending the day on my priorities instead of someone else’s. Throughout the day, I’ll respond to emails and finish things on the fly that take under 3 minutes to reply to, but everything else gets scheduled using my overall tasks & projects system.

 

3. Have a dedicated place for tasks & projects

System: Digital  | Method: Asana

I’m in love with Asana! It’s completely free and incredibly helpful. I have a project for all of the major areas of my business that I work on, and I use headings to keep ideas and brainstorming notes separate from what needs to be scheduled.

Daily Task Management in Asana

Daily Task Management in Asana

 I can set sub-tasks with deadlines, assign them to other people, and key project resources like images or google docs, and have conversations about any aspect of the tasks in Asana.

The key way that I use it is to send emails to Asana where I make them actionable tasks. This lets me get out of my inbox and into my work, so I’m making things happen instead of putting out fires. (Here’s the basics.)

At the start of each day, I also check the “My Tasks” area to see what needs my attention next. This is the main way that I use Asana to see what’s coming up for each day.


Mobilegeddon is Coming For Your Blog. (Yes, YOURS!) Here’s How to Be Ready.

If you have a blog, website or online shop, we take it for granted that when someone searches for your online that your work will appear. That’s not necessarily the case, and if you stay uninformed your site could be in big trouble, but if you take two simple actions that I’ll share today, you’ll be ready for the changes.

Check Your Blog Before Google Wrecks Your Blog - Get Mobile Friendly Before the April 21st Deadline

So what’s with all the changes?

Search engines use complex formulas to decide what information is relevant and what isn’t. These are called algorithms, and they are how search engines are able to show helpful content written by real, knowledgeable people (yay! humans!) in first pages of  search results, while sites full of keywords and questionable links get less exposure.

The changes are happening because Google has announced that on April 21st it will adjust the algorithm to put more emphasis on sites that are mobile friendly.

Google’s past changes have resulted in significant traffic decreases for some sites, leading to developers giving the coming changes the nickname “mobilegeddon”.

This makes perfect sense – and since by some estimates 50% of google’s searches are mobile, if your site isn’t ready by April 21st you could lose a significant amount of potential readers, clients and customers.

 

The good news is that times of change are the best time to show up and shine.

This is the perfect time to set yourself apart, and if you’re someone who writes high quality, helpful content online, you’re already ahead of the game. With all of these changes Google is working to help make sure content like yours is easy to find.

Even better? You don’t have to be tech savvy to make your site is ready for mobile users. I’m going to show you exactly how to be ready, step by step.

 

First, Take the free test to see if your site is mobile friendly enough for Google:

  1. Visit the Google mobile friendly test site
  2. Enter your domain name, and click Analyze.
  3. If your site is not mobile friendly, don’t panic! Most won’t pass, but there are easy steps to follow below.

 

Next for WordPress Users: Install a Plugin

You can go mobile with the help of a plugin. It’s an easy process, and I’ve made a quick video tutorial that takes you from testing your site to passing google’s test with flying colours in under 10 minutes.

 

Next for Typepad Users:

Typepad hasn’t publicly addressed the upcoming Google changes yet, but their social media team has confirmed that their solution is in the works. And that’s a good thing, because the algorithm changes stand to put their entire network at a significant disadvantage.

Their answer is the Typepad Nimble Design Lab is a one and two-column responsive theme that lets Typepad users create themes that should pass the mobile friendly test. To gain access, Typepad users can opt into the beta team and start making changes.


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