I’m Kyla Roma - a business coach and web designer who teaches gutsy bloggers and creative entrepreneurs how to shake off uncertainty and make strategic decisions that transform their online worlds into thriving businesses.
In my down time I hang out with my husband, bad little dogs and hedgehog, make popcorn, drink pinot noir and watch marathons of early 90's Law & Order.
“No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.” - Amy Poehler
If you’re not in the facebook community I host, Daring Creative Workshop, you need to sign up to my email list and get your invitation stat!
Today is the last Thursday of the month, so we’re throwing our monthly twitter party this afternoon – and there’s going to a big surprise at the end of the party that will be a huge help to your business or blog.
I’ve never done something like this before, and you’ll want in on it!
The news will be released early to the twitter party attendees, daring creative Facebook group, and to email subscribers.
Can’t attend? To get your invitation to the group, click here and sign up for email updates. You’ll be taken to a thank you page with your invitation & will hear about the news as soon as it’s public.
Wondering how to join a Twitter party?
Don’t worry, you’ve got this!
To join in, log into Twitter at the time of the party and follow @KylaRoma for the questions.
Questions are asked & you answer, using the hashtag. It looks like this:
Last week I was speaking with one of my coaching clients, and as soon as she got the words out my heart dropped.
“She told me she had considered firing me, but was just going to cut my hours instead.”
I’ve heard so many stories like this from amazing women who are now successful small business owners, but it’s not a story you hear a lot.
We don’t hear these stories because there isn’t an obvious “10 easy steps you’ll have to see to believe!” post about it. And we don’t hear them because the in-between parts of our personal story is hard to share. Especially in the moment, when things are messy and unsure.
When it comes to striking out on your own, your story might start with an unexpected boom or with a confetti cannon. What really matters is that you have choices to make today.
There isn’t one right way to get there, and there isn’t one right way forward.
There are people who work for themselves who knew what they loved to do, but struggled to make that into a business.
There are people who started their family, and then realized that going back to full-time work wouldn’t work for them. They had to find a business idea that could create a lifestyle they were passionate about.
There are bloggers who have an audience without a business engine to make it profitable.
There are business owners who wish they had the audience and engagement that bloggers had.
Again: There isn’t one right path. But thank goodness for that! Can you think of anything more boring?
Let me tell you how I got started – it’s anything but boring.
My bumpy start to self employment
I’ve shared my story about becoming self-employed before, but as I spoke with my client I realized that I hadn’t ever shared the full story here. And the full story is definitely not something glossy like you’d see on Pinterest.
When I knew I wanted to work for myself I worked to make my hobby into a part-time job wage. When I go to that point, I quit my full-time job and got a part-time one at a florist shop so I could focus on turning my work into a full income.
I loved working with the florist. I would press thin green wire through blooming flowers, then place it just so. I’d wrap flower stems with tape until they turned into bouquets for wedding parties. For my peace of mine, I was up front about my intentions. I let them know that after Christmas I would leave to work for myself.
A few weeks before my last shift, I saw a message on my phone. The shop owner’s voice sounded strained as she told me my shift was cancelled and I should come in for a meeting the next day.
When I arrived the following day the owner calmly explained that sales had been low lately, and that it was clear to her from this that something was going on.
She looked right at me and said “I know you must be stealing from the store.”
One of the things that I hear from business owners all the time is that they need more website traffic. I understand the thinking and I’ve been there too.
More traffic feels like it means more chances to find your people, right? To some extent that’s true, but focusing on your traffic can also be a big distraction.
That’s because most websites with a traffic problem really have a communication problem.
Every person who visits you online is quietly asking themselves if you can heLp them. It’s the job of your website to weed out people who aren’t right for you, stand out to people who are ready to purchase from you now, and guide those right people toward how you help.
If you’re willing to turn off who you don’t serve, your ideas can jump off the page to the people you do! (click to tweet it)
To be clear, I’m not saying you need to actively offend people or be shocking to capture attention. That’s communicating with gimmicks, and that’s not how you or I roll. This is about putting in the time to make sure you present your ideas in a way that’s engaging and strong.
Writing blog that attracts people who are ready for what you offer is a huge part of the battle, so give yourself credit if you’re doing that already. (Good job!)
But know that if you want to stop people in their tracks, the first draft of your big idea that you’ve never said out loud probably isn’t going to do it. This is where collaborating with friends, creating a mastermind group, and working with a professional come in and make a huge difference. Being with other people and working on your ideas in partnership with them will make them better.
Next time you look at your pageviews and wonder what you can do to get those numbers higher, make sure you consider the story your website tells.
Do you tell the story of what you do in a way that’s natural and authentic?
Like any blogger with… *ahem* well, a pulse… when I write a great post, I want to make sure that I get as much value as possible from that hard work.
What you might not know is that what you do after you publish your latest 800 word masterpiece is just as important as the blog post you wrote. And what you do after you publish a post often has a huge impact on its success!
In this post I’ll walk you through a checklist of what you can do to make your blog posts work harder for you.
This checklist has a social media emphasis, because I love it. I’ve also had a lot of success with audience building and engagement on social media (5100+ followers on Twitter and 143,000+ followers on Pinterest). It’s been important to my business, so it could be important to yours too!
Your blog post checklist: Five things that pro-bloggers do after they publish a post
1. They make their posts SEO & Pinterest Friendly.
Now, let’s be clear. The biggest factor in your search engine visibility is regularly writing high quality content. If you have a blog and post once a month, you’re already winning. But if you want to stand out and compete, you can do a little more that will be a big help.
Chose a post title that uses keywords and short phrases. You can get fancy and use keyword tools, but to start ask yourself how you would search for help with that topic if you went to Google.
If you can edit the post’s web address, make sure the most important keywords are in the url, and words are separated with hyphens.
So for example:
kylaroma.com/seo-tips-for-bloggers is great for SEO, but kylaroma.com/seopost20zomg is less SEO friendly.
Make sure images have keyword rich Alt tags and descriptions. If someone pins an image from your blog, Pinterest will use what’s written in your “Alt” field as the default pin description. I use the same keyword dense description for both the “Alt” and “Description” of images on my blog, and and keep both to under 300 characters.
2. They create specific social media content for each platform
With so much in depth information out there on social media platforms it can feel like you have to be everywhere all the time.
Before we go forward, let’s be clear: Pick your battles! The only people who blog regularly and have original content for more than one social media channel have help.
This is the new customer service front, so it’s worth an investment. If you don’t have a virtual assistant, you’re in the majority – just don’t compare your middle to someone’s end.
If you have a system for posting but still feel behind, scale back to what you can rock every week.
Create content that’s optimized for each social media platform you use. This means creating different posts, images and messages for each platform.
Research and use the following information for each platform:
Best image sizes for posts
Colours that drive engagement
Posting conventions for each platform (i.e. #TBT – throwback thursday and #FF – follow friday for Instagram & Twitter)
Create multiple posts with different messages. Variety will keep people clicking, so look at your post and see how you can create different messages based on the same post.
– pull quotes from your post?
– ask a relevant question?
– be inspiring?
– create mystery?
– use passion?
– issue a challenge?
If you want to get even more geeky you can write and schedule messages for the following week, coming months, and next year.
3. They prime their social media audience for an easier win.
When you first start out it can feel like you’re posting, launching or selling to… your mom and tumbleweeds.
Before you beat yourself up, please know you’re not doing anything wrong! Audience building is a a topic on its own so I won’t go into detail here. However, to fix this you need to start doing specific list building activities to grow your audience.
To make social media a fight you can win, it helps to be active online before you post. What makes the difference is the kind of activity you focus on. Focus on other people. Engaging with other people in a meaningful way before you put a post out can increase the likelihood that your next posts will catch their eye.
On social media, be active before & immediately after you post to increase engagement.
On twitter: Re-tweet and reply to other users
On Instagram: Like several photos by a user, and then leave a meaningful comment for them. Repeat until it’s midnight you’re done.
On Pinterest: Pin from real websites and make sure you write high quality descriptions
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.