Melissa Ibarra

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    • Member Type(s): Expert
      Communications Professional
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
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      Media - Web-only/Blogger
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    • Title:Online Community Services Specialist
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:Social Media, News Reporting
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    The Blog Blog: September 2015 Blogger of the Month

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 1:50 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)



    Every month, I highlight one successful blogger on The Blog Blog. By “successful,” I mean someone who has been blogging for at least three years and has seen their audience engagement grow significantly. For this month’s feature, we have Preeti Moberg.

    We conducted the following interview with Moberg:

    1) What is your name and title?

    My name is Preeti Moberg. I am the founder of Blue Mango Weddings.

    2) What is the name and URL of your blog?

    The Big Fat Indian Wedding: thebigfatindianwedding.com
    The Big Fat Jewish Wedding: thebigfatjewishwedding.com

    3) Which audience does your blog cater to?

    Each blog provides wedding inspiration catered to couples in niche markets -- South Asian weddings and Jewish weddings, respectively.

    4) What inspired you to create your blog?

    When I was planning my own Indian wedding, I was shocked by the lack of resources online to help me along the way. After a bit of research, I eventually learned that there’s just not much information for ethnic niche couples in the mainstream wedding blog market. With this in mind, I started writing about my personal experience of planning my own Indian wedding. Other South Asian couples found it to be a useful resource and we started seeing growth! Today, we are seed funded by an incubation company.

    5) What makes your blog so unique?

    While we do focus on wedding inspiration for our niche markets, we feature celebrations from all budgets, styles, and locations. We want every couple in our niche markets to visit our blog and find something relatable that they will save for later.

    6) What is your ultimate blogging goal?

    Our eternal blogging goal is to be the go-to blog for our niche markets! We aim to be a one-stop resource for all things wedding for South Asian couples and Jewish couples.

    7) If you could choose one piece of advice to give to new bloggers, what would it be? Have you made any mistakes and learned from them?

    Who hasn’t made mistakes? I, for one, have made tons of mistakes! What I’ve learned from the mistakes in my past is to always keep moving forward and to never stop believing in myself. You would be surprised by the power of a positive attitude.

    8) How successful has your blog grown to become versus when you first started it? If you could provide simple metrics, that would be great.

    The growth of our blog has been phenomenal. Initially, we were the “newbie” on the wedding blog scene, but over the years, we have grown to become the second largest wedding blog in the South Asian wedding market.

    9) How does blogging benefit you?

    Not only does blogging provide a wonderful outlet for creativity, but it has also helped me build meaningful relationships within the wedding community. Through my blogging experience, I’ve been able to increase the amount of conferences and speaking engagements in which I am a part of.

    10) Any other interesting stories or information you would like to provide?

    It all goes back to our wedding. My husband is Swedish and I’m Indian, which means when it came to planning our wedding, we had no idea what to do! At the time, we were trying to plan a wedding in India from our home in Sweden. I don’t think I need to tell you how crazy and confusing that could get. Growing up, I was raised between two religions and cultures, while my husband was raised Lutheran. We truly ended up with our “Big Fat Indian Wedding,” with sixty friends flying in from all over the world for our seven-day wedding extravaganza!
    I’d have to say that it was this whirlwind wedding experience that drove us to develop and grow the wedding blog.

    11) Which blogging platform did you use in the beginning, and what are you using now (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, etc.)? If applicable: Why did you switch platforms?

    Initially, I started out using Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr as a way to reach couples. At the time, those were the social media sites to be a part of. As time went on, it became clear that Pinterest and Instagram where the places to be, so today our focuses are on Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.

    12) Do you make a living off your blog, or is it just a hobby?

    I make a living from my blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t cherish it as much as a hobby.

    13) How do you feel about paid advertisements?

    Blogs are businesses; they are publishers. There shouldn't be problems with paid advertisements – it’s a win-win situation.

    It’s great to find inspiration through the success of others. If you feel you make a great candidate for next month’s “Blogger of the Month,” please feel free to email me at melissa.ibarra@prnewswire.com.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: How to Make Blog Graphics on Your Phone

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:13 AM [The Blog Blog]
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    Yes, the graphic above was created while I was commuting on the train. Our time is so precious these days -- every second counts! Why not boost your productivity by creating graphics from your phone in your down time?

    This blog post consists of two parts: 1) Editing Your Photos With VSCOcam; and 2) Overlaying Text With Kanvas. I have an Apple iPhone 5s, so this tutorial is mainly geared towards other iPhone users. VSCOcam is an iPhone/iPad application, but there are other photo-editing equivalents. Kanvas, however, is available for both Android and Apple users. 

    Editing Your Photo With VSCOcam:

    1) Take a picture of anything -- or even nothing.

    The following is a random picture I took of a brick wall at Newark Penn Station. Sometimes plain images make the best backgrounds. On the contrary, amazing photography can also make your blog graphics stand out. It all depends on what type of aesthetic you are going for. 

    2) Open your VSCOcam application on your phone.

    This is what the icon looks like: 

    3) Choose the image you'd like to work with.

    Click on the camera icon on the bottom left corner of the screen to take a picture *or* choose the image in your gallery you want to work with. 

    4) Edit your image as your please. 

    Click on the middle icon at the bottom to edit your picture.

    You can choose default filters/effects or you can individually customize tthe brightness, contrast, grain, etc., by clicking on the wrench icon. 

    5) Save your image onto your phone. 

    The following image was my end result after playing around with the effects. I desaturated the image and added some grain. I also applied a slight vignette. 

    Tip: When working with images as your background, keep in mind your overall color scheme. If you're looking to use light colors for your text, darken your background. If you're looking to use dark colors for your text, lighten your background. The more it contrasts, the easier it is on the eyes. 

    Overlaying Text With Kanvas:

    1. Open Kanvas on your phone. 

    This is what the icon looks like: 

    2. Click on "+" in the upper right corner. 

    3) Click on "custom."

    4) Add an image using the first icon on the bottom of the screen.

    You can also add colored tints to the image as you add them. I added a greyish-blue tint to my image. 

    5) Add text and play with colors and fonts. 

    For my graphic, I used different fonts. I also played around with what colors work well together. Consider colors that contrast or accent well -- or even color combinations you personally like. I like to search images on Google for inspiration if I'm really stuck. I also occasionally refer to a color wheel for help. 

    6) Save your graphic onto your phone. 

    Unless you want your graphic public, make sure you select "make kanvas private." After that, you have the option to share your graphic via social media or even text message it to yourself. Once you click "done," the graphic should be automatically saved in your gallery. 


    And just like that, you've created a blog graphic on your phone!

    Congrats, and good luck making your graphic. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. 

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    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: How to Become an 'Infopreneur'

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 2:18 PM [General]
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    “How to Become an Infopreneur” -- that’s the topic we tackled during yesterday’s #ConnectChat featuring Andreea Ayers, CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy. Writers are constantly looking to earn extra money on the side, or even make a living working from home full-time. One way is through freelance writing for various publications. However, another way to generate income is by using one’s expertise to become an “infopreneur.”

    An infopreneur is someone whose business is gathering and selling electronic information (“information” + “entrepreneur” = “infopreneur”). Some infopreneurs even eventually quit their day jobs to take on this self-managed role writing blog posts, consulting with clients, creating online courses, publishing books, speaking at events, etc.

    In case you missed our chat yesterday, here is a recap:

    First of all, how did you go about deciding what type of information you wanted to sell?

    It was something other entrepreneurs were asking me for. I had a successful t-shirt business and others wanted to know more. People were emailing me asking how to market their t-shirt business, so I created online courses around that. I basically listened to what my audience was asking for and created that. 

    What are some things you should keep in mind while planning an online course? #ConnectChat

    Some things to keep in mind are:

    • how long your course will be (how many modules/lessons)
    • how much time you have to create it
    • how you will deliver it
    • what support *you* will personally offer to members
    • how you will market it
    • who your ideal student is
    • how you will deliver your course (live video/lessons vs. pre-recorded)
    • what type of worksheets to offer along with the content
    • whether you will be on video or just your voice with slides
    • how long your course will run
    • how much to charge
    • if admission to your course is ongoing, or only for a limited time

    Have you had any prior teaching experience? And is this type of experience necessary?

    I didn't have any teaching experience before creating this course, and I don't think it's necessary to have experience. But it does help if you have a list of questions that you go into the course with -- if you already have an audience. If not, think about the questions you would want answers to if you were to purchase a course around that topic.

    What type of programs/services/apps did you use to create your online course?

    • Wishlist Member to password protect the course materials
    • Camtasia for Mac to record my screen and voice at the same time
    • Infusionsoft for my shopping cart and to charge members for admissions to the course
    • social media and my own email list to promote and market the course
    • affiliate marketing partners to help me spread the word about the course
    • OptimizePress to design my own sales pages when I first started (now I use a designer to design my sales page and members area, but that is not necessary to do when you first start).

    How do you know how much to charge people for your services as an infopreneur?

    It really depends on:

    • how long your course is
    • how much you will be involved in supporting members
    • how long your videos are
    • how many lessons you have
    • if it's a text-only course, or if it's a live course

    For example, I have charged anywhere from $47 to $1997 for my courses. For $97 my members got 5-6 video lessons and no personal support from me. For $1997, my course had 30+ videos, over 20 worksheets, support from me through our closed Facebook group. The more content and personal support your course has, the more you can charge.

    What do you think is key to getting an audience to trust your advice?

    I think the best thing is to establish trust *before* you launch your course by providing free and relevant content.

    After your clients make a payment, which platform do you use to share your course videos -- live and pre-recorded?

    I use Wishlist Member to deliver the content, along with hosting the videos on Amazon S3. Some other platforms are Memberium, OptimizePress, MemberMouse, Wistia or Vimeo. I've also seen other infopreneurs use Facebook video and groups to deliver their course content. They were closed Facebook groups.

    Other than through online courses and books, how else can an infopreneur generate revenue?

    You can also generate revenue through:

    • speaking opportunities
    • live events that you organize
    • promoting other infopreneurs' courses as an affiliate (where you receive a percent of sales)
    • having a blog or a podcast and getting sponsors or advertisers
    • creating a membership site and providing weekly or monthly live Q&A or trainings

    How do you go about charging people you know or your friends?

    Great question! You can either offer them a special price in exchange for their feedback on your course, or you can let them know that you put in X # of hours in your course and you have to charge everyone the same price. But interestingly, most people who end up paying for your course will not be people you know. I am a huge fan of charging what you are worth *regardless* of who is actually purchasing your programs. 

    Which do you prefer: live web courses or pre-recorded videos, and why? Also, which has proven more success?

    I prefer pre-recorded videos because you can share more info that way and your members can watch it in their own time. Also, I think you can also offer a live Q&A with your pre-recorded courses to answer any questions your members have. With a live Web course, people might feel like they are missing out if they can't attend live.

    With pre-recorded videos, you can also break things down into bite-sized videos (10-15 min) to make it less overwhelming for your members. But with live Web courses, you have to cram a lot of info into one or two hours and it can get overwhelming for people. I think that you can also charge more for a pre-recorded course, because you can share a lot more info. 

    What is the *biggest* problem you’ve ever run into as an infopreneur?

    The biggest problem I've ran into is not knowing whether your course is going to sell as you expected. In one word, the "fear" that holds you back when you think "what if no one signs up or buys this?" But if you believe in yourself and if you create something that fills a need *and* if you market it well, people will buy. Also, the technology is always changing, so keeping up with tools/apps is important too.

    And for our last #ConnectChat question: If you could offer one more *major* piece of advice to aspiring infopreneurs, what would it be?

    Your course will not be *perfect* the first time, so don't wait to launch it until you think it's perfect. Launch it anyway and through feedback from your students/members you can improve it as you go along.


    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    Upcoming Twitter Chat: “How to Become an Infopreneur”

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 3:07 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    “How to Become an Infopreneur” -- that’s the topic we’ll tackle for our next Twitter chat (#ConnectChat), featuring Andreea Ayers, CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy.

    Writers are constantly looking to earn extra money on the side, or even earn money working from home full-time. One way is through freelance writing for various publications. However, another way to generate revenue is by using one’s expertise to become an “infopreneur.”

    Are you an expert or influencer in any particular area of interest? Did you know you can turn your knowledge into a business? That’s what infoprenuers do. An infopreneur is someone whose business is gathering and selling electronic information (“information” + “entrepreneur” = “infopreneur”). Some infopreneurs even eventually quit their day jobs to take on this self-managed, full-time role writing blog posts, consulting with clients, creating online courses, publishing books, speaking at events, etc.

    Ayers created a service called Launch Grow Joy. If you have a product line, Launch Grow Joy is the right place to visit for tips on how to start your online store as well as how to promote it. One can find related blog posts, podcasts, and courses on her site.

    Ayers will be available to answer your questions and more during the chat, which will take place Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Twitter. To follow the chat or ask Ayers a question, just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag. We’ll start the chat off with a few questions for Ayers, but you can jump in at any time with your own questions.

    About Andreea Ayers

    Andreea Ayers is the CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy. Her mission? To make PR less intimidating for product-based entrepreneurs. Andreea opened her first product-based business selling inspirational t-shirts in 2007. Despite knowing little about the industry, she went on to sell over 20,000 tees in over 300 stores in the United States and around the world. In more recent years, Andreea has focused on helping hundreds of entrepreneurs secure media coverage through one-on-one consulting and online courses.

    Andreea’s products and services have been featured in more than 300 magazines, newspapers and TV shows. Andreea is also an instructor at CreativeLive and speaks regularly at events across the US. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three kids.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: August 2015 Blogger of the Month

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 2:40 PM [The Blog Blog]
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    Every month, I highlight one successful blogger on The Blog Blog. By “successful,” I mean someone who has been blogging for at least three years and has seen their audience engagement grow significantly. For this month’s feature, we have Adam Hartung.

    The story behind every blogger is different. Hartung’s readership increased as he started writing for Forbes, where editors eventually republished his blog posts. Hartung tells us:

    “I started blogging in 2007 as a way to promote a book I published via The Financial Times. In 2009, Forbes editors reading my blog asked me to start writing a monthly column for them. In 2010, they set up a blog environment and asked if they could republish my blogs -- which I agreed -- and that has vastly increased my readership, as well as provided some income.”

    Creating the right network is always key to a blog’s success.

    We conducted the following interview with Hartung:

    1) What is your name and title?

    I am Adam Hartung, CEO of Content Laboratory (a communications services and app provider), Soparfilm Energy (an independent oil and gas exploration and production company) and Spark Partners (a strategy consulting firm).

    2) What is the name and URL of your blog?

    My website is AdamHartung.com, and the URL of my “It’s All About Growth” blog is adamhartung.com/blog/. At Forbes, I write the Leadership & Growth Blog

    3) Which audience does your blog cater to?

    I write strictly for business people -- mostly to educate people on how to be better leaders, and investors. My audience is predominantly C-suite folks and other people in management. I’ve had my readership evaluated several times and every time they report back, “everyone in business wants to have C-suite readers -- Adam you really do have them.”

    4) What inspired you to create your blog?

    Originally to promote my book, but soon I realized that few people read books anymore, and if I wanted to spread my management insights, a blog was far better than a book.

    5) What makes your blog so unique?

    Few people who write business blogs make strong predictions, and few will go negative on companies and their leaders. I do both -- in spades. I’ve made dozens of long-term predictions, months in advance, and had a staggeringly successful hit rate. Also, I’ve had an impact on the longevity of CEOs in public corporations.

    6) What is your ultimate blogging goal?

    I use this as a platform for speaking opportunities and to introduce my management thinking to CEOs who can offer me a board position in their company.

    7) If you could choose one piece of advice to give to new bloggers, what would it be? Have you made any mistakes and learned from them?

    Blogging is the ultimate marathon. Everyone I know who really tried ran out of gas. I’ve been doing this for years, and even my editors are surprised at the depth of blogs for such a long time. So don’t go into this if you aren’t really dedicated. Have a strong point of view and be willing to do research constantly to apply your viewpoint in a meaningful way for your readers. I can’t say I’ve had many mistakes from blogging.

    8) How successful has your blog grown to become versus when you first started it? If you could provide simple metrics, that would be great.

    I’ve had over 3 million readers and something around 6.5 million page views.

    9) How does blogging benefit you?

    It keeps my relevant to current and potential clients. They know I’m not someone operating on auto-pilot, or seeking retirement. It keeps me in “the thick” of business issues and with a voice people want to hear.

    10) Any other interesting stories or information you would like to provide? 

    I’ve had to change my use of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Even though you probably never heard of me, I have enough “celebrity status” in my readership that I can’t talk about my personal life any longer. For example, my insurance company told me I can’t pre-announce travel for fear my house will be broken into. With 20K twitter followers and 5K LinkedIn fans, I have to keep everything very business-oriented or it can cause problems.

    Hartung shows us the importance of having the right network, content and niche audience. He also stresses the important of consistency.  

    It’s great to find inspiration through the success of others. If you feel you make a great candidate for next month’s “Blogger of the Month,” please feel free to email me at melissa.ibarra@prnewswire.com.

     

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    7 Cool Blog Tools Every Blogger Must Try

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015, 10:06 AM [The Blog Blog]
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    cool blog tools

    In case you felt it was time to spruce up your blog, I stumbled upon a few cool tools I think you ought to try. Enjoy!

    1. Tweak Your Biz - Title Generator

      "An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes and visitor traffic by 50% or more" claims the website.

      This tool helps users generate efficient titles for blog posts. Not only do these titles help with SEO, but it also helps with content ideas. 

      I typed "baby fashion trends" in the search field. Some results were:

      "Best 20 Tips for Baby Fashion Trends"
      "Top 20 Quotes on Baby Fashion Trends" 
      "The A-Z of Baby Fashion Trends" 

      Results are organized under categories "Lists" and "Best." Also, to the right, you can view a long list of potential blog post titles -- and print/download them too!







    2. Ritetag
       
      "Findability" is key in terms of your blog traffic numbers. Be smart with the hashtags you use -- there is a strategy behind everything. 

      What Ritetag does is it directs users towards the strongest hashtags. Other features indicate: "unique tweets per hour," "good tweet length," "no image in tweet," and "too many hashtags." 

      Using this tool can ultimately increase traffic towards your blog.

       


    3. Piktochart

      Nothing is more boring to look at than large blocks of texts -- especially when it contains a heavy amount of numbers and statistics. 

      Piktochart is an easy-to-use tool that creates infographics. It allows users to condense loads of information into one, fun graphic. Infographics also have a better chance of going viral versus regular images. Even throughout Pinterest, one can see loads of pinned and repinned infographics. 

      With infographics, your readers can grasp tons of information with just once glance. 

       

       

      View Piktochart's instructional video
       
    4. Canva

      I've mentioned Canva before when talking about Facebook cover dimensions. I've come across numerous blogs that have so much potential content-wise, but sadly turn away readers with large blocks of text and unprofessional-looking graphics. Canva is the perfect tool to use for those who don't have the time or money to invest in graphic design classes or services. 

      The best part of Canva is that the service is free, however, if you want to use certain images you have to pay for the graphic. It's worth it in the long run, because you want to make great first impressions as you network with new people.




       
    5. Wefollow

      In my 10 Twitter Tips for Bloggers post, I mentioned reaching out to influencers:

      "Influencers are those with the greatest amount of followers. Sometimes when you tweet at them or respond to one of their tweets, they can end up retweeting you to. This can result in greater exposure of your work or even more followers for your account."

      Now the question is, where can one find influencers? Wefollow is a great tool to help find the best influencers, or as the website says, "dicover prominent people." With this tool, not only can you reach out to influencers, but you can use them as your own resource and rolemodel.








      As you can see above, I typed in "personal finance," and the tool provided me with a number of personal finance influencers. 
       
    6. Iconfinder
       
      Iconfinder provides its users with half a million premium icons, licenses for commercial projects and royalties to contributing illustrators. It's a great tool to use in the designing your blog -- to add a more professional feel to things. 





      You can read more about Iconfinder here (and watch a video).
       
    7. FlipSnack

      If you've hit a creative plateau, somtimes you're forced to think out of the box. Perhaps a simulated book/magazine may do the trick. Depending on your audience, some may find a flipbook more engaging. 

      This tool converts PDFs to HTML5 Flipbooks.





      Good luck revamping your blog, and if you know any other cool blogging tools, please feel free to let me know! 

      Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query. 

    10 Things to Check Before Publishing Your Blog Post

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 3:39 PM [The Blog Blog]
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    After all the hard work you put into your blog post, hitting “publish” can be as rewarding as sipping a glass of wine after a long, hard day of work. However, just as one must complete tasks before leaving work, a blogger must check certain things before hitting "publish."

    Below is a list of things bloggers should check before publishing a blog post:

    1. Is your blog post consistent in format?

    The more consistent your blog is, the more professional it comes off.

    • Are all your headers formatted the same way? (Some bloggers write headlines like titles, while others write headlines in complete sentences.)
       
    • Are you consistent with how you spell/type words and phrases (e.g., “Q&A” versus “Q and A”)? Our blogs on ProfNet Connect follow the AP Style format.
       
    • Do you consistently categorize your blog posts (e.g., Art, Music, Fashion, etc.)? This helps readers easily navigate through your site. 

    I’ve also seen blogs show consistency through their visuals. One example is ByRegina.com. Notice below how professional her images look when there's consistency in font and style:

    2. Have you proofread your post?

    Bad grammar and typos can really hurt your blog.

    • Did you reread your post more than once?
       
    • Can you possibly ask someone else to look over your post?
       

     3. Does your blog post contain at least one pinnable image?

    Images make blog posts more enjoyable to read. They are easy on the eye and even break up lengthy blocks of text. Every blog post should contain at least one pinnable image. Overlaying text onto the image also makes the picture more appealing on Pinterest.

    Below is our ProfNet Community Pinterest page

    pinterest page blogging tips

    Take a look at our board, and see which pins stick out the most. Your pinnable images should give people a reason to repin your image, or better yet visit your blog. 

    4. Is your blog post SEO-optimized?

    Your blog traffic will not increase if people can't even find your blog -- no matter how amazing your content is. Having keywords in your post's title can help people find your article. Think about what people search for on Google (e.g., “How to Start a Blog” or “10 Easy Summer Fashion Tips” or “An Easy Recipe for Chicken Pot Pie”). Also, make sure some of those keywords lie within the text of your blog post. 

    5. Have you added titles and alt text to your images?

    Adding titles and alt text to images you upload makes them more likely to appear in search results. For example, if someone searches “cute baby boy” under images in a search engine, your image is more likely to pop up in results if it contains the words “cute,” “baby” and “boy” in its title or alt text.

    6. Have you checked your links?

    • Did you include internal links?

    Internal links can increase page views. It also helps with SEO. You should link relevant thoughts and ideas to past blog posts within your text. This especially works if you’ve already built your loyal blog audience. (See what I did there?)

    • Did you test-run your links?

    With any link (internal or external) you include in your blog post, always check if they work. One little character can throw off the whole link. I also like to click the option to “open in a new window.” This way, if the reader wants to finish reading my post after clicking a click, he/she does not get lost in navigation.

    7. Did you provide a call-to-action?

    You’d be surprised what a simple question at the end of a blog post does. It can evoke comments and conversation.

    On top of that, if you’re blogging for a business, do not forget to include a link to where to buy your product -- make things easy for your readers. I always tell people to assume their readers are lazy.

    Furthermore, do not forget to include visible contact information or other ways to be reached – email address, social media links, etc.

    8. Would your own post appeal to you?

    As you scroll down your page, does your blog post look boring? Would you be interested in reading it? Are there big chunks of text that don’t look appealing to read? Formatting can make a huge difference when deciding whether or not to read your post. Don’t just think numbered lists and bullet points -- add images, videos. Embed tweets or vines. Infographics are great too. Make your posts fun to read!

    9. Is your post easy to understand?

    Sometimes a blogger can become too comfortable writing in his or her own voice. Reread your blog post and see if you've said something that another reader may not understand. Did you use any shorthand, slang, abbreviation, or references your reader may not get? If so, try to explain it, or even link the phrase to an article, YouTube video or website.

     10. Are you proud of your post?

    This is the *most important* question to ask yourself before publishing your post. Every time I click publish on Diaper Etiquette, I must say I am proud of what I write and the original photography I’ve uploaded. The more proud you are of your post, the more effortless it becomes to share your work. 

    Happy Blogging!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    How to Build a Loyal Blog Audience

    Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 10:23 AM [The Blog Blog]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make is assuming readers will automatically revisit their blog. Little do they know, building a loyal blog audience takes effort -- as much hard work as creating content for your blog (or even more). 

    Here are a few tips I’ve gathered on how to build a loyal blog audience: 

    1. Focus on your niche, rather than everyone.

    As cliché as it sounds, you can’t please everyone. In the blog world, this especially proves to be true. Those who count most are those who visit regularly. They are the ones who are more likely to share and appreciate your work, simply because they relate to your work. As you keep blogging, you'll start to notice who and what type of people your blog attracts. Try to cater to that demographic specifically and keep them in mind when you create content.

    2. Be original. 

    Originality adds to the quality of your blog. You want to be able to offer your readers unique and valuable content. The more original your work is, the more likely visitors will choose to read your blog over other blogs.

    Having a great personality may lead to original content, but I believe there's is a thin line between incorporating your personality into a blog and lacking a sense of professionalism. It's easier said than done, but try to find a unique voice while maintaining formality. Although I write in a conversational tone, I try to maintain professionalism by writing in complete sentences, AP-style format, etc. If you can find the balance between using your own voice and presenting yourself in a professional manner, then you are on the road to success. 

    3. Constantly seek improvement.

    There is always room for improvement, no matter how successful your blog has grown to be. Research veteran bloggers within your niche. Not only use them for inspiration, but seek constructive criticism from them. Then, try to find success in your own unique way. 

    4. Publish with full confidence.

    Always be proud of your work. If you don’t feel confident in the content you create, then you are doing something terribly wrong. Every time you click “publish,” you should be proud enough to share your work with the world. Remember: Your viewers seek value!

    5. Use catchy headlines.

    Consider using catchy headlines (while keeping SEO in mind). Headlines should lure your readers in. Most readers make a decision to read a post based off a headline alone. If a headline can’t catch one’s interest, one may miss out on some of the most amazing work you’ve written.

    Aside from using catchy headlines, when you share your posts on social media, you can use catchy captions. For example, my blog post name on Diaper Etiquette was “Lobster Fest 2015.” However, my caption via Facebook and Instagram was “Cloudy with a chance of lobster mac-n-cheese balls!” 

    6. Keep your posts easy on the eye.

    Most people scan versus read. (Even I’m guilty of this. Our time is just so precious these days.) Try using sub headers, bullet points, line breaks, or images to break up long blocks of text -- anything to make it easier and faster for people to read! 

    7. Take the time to show your readers appreciation. 

    For example, on Twitter, retweet your readers (adding a personal message if you may). Take the time to comment on their blogs, social media accounts, etc.

    For my Diaper Etiquette blog, I take people who hashtag #diaperetiquette on Instagram, and repost them on my Instagram account. I also take the time to interview others via email and write blog posts about their kids.

    (Above is where I highlight members of our #diaperetiquette community. People love to be featured!)

    8. Build genuine relationships.

    Attempt to work with others in your niche – collaboration forms symbiotic relationships. Chat via social media. Most people via social media list their email addresses -- reach out to people! Build communities across all social media platforms. Networking works best when you build friendships.

    Also, don't forget to give yourself time to answer questions and reply to comments. If your blog offers value to readers, chances are they may have questions or may want to engage in conversations. 

    9. Form email lists.

    Every marketer knows email lists prove to be successful. I’ve heard great things about MailChimp, and I recently just signed up for them. I haven’t personally started my own email list yet, but I am subscribed to plenty. I enjoy them, and they keep me in the loop with promotions, news, Twitter parties, giveaways, etc. 

    10. Write guest posts.

    Guest post on blogs wherever you can. It not only increases your exposure, but also builds your credentials as an influencer. 

    11. Offer free content.

    People gravitate towards free stuff. Offer free e-books (they’re actually easy to write and publish), printouts, e-courses, videos, or podcasts. In addition, try hosting giveaways and contests. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: July 2015 Blogger of the Month

    Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 9:40 AM [The Blog Blog]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Every month, I highlight one successful blogger on The Blog Blog. By “successful,” I mean someone who has been blogging for at least three years and has seen their audience engagement grow significantly. For this month’s feature, we have Nora Murphy, creator of Connecticut Country House, a blog about adding the "Country House" style into your life.

    I conducted the following interview with her:

    1) What is your name and title?

    My name is Nora Murphy, and I am the Founder and President of Connecticut Country House, LLC.

    2) What is the name and URL of your blog? 

    In 2012, I founded my blog, ConnecticutCountryHouse.com. In 2013, I felt that my "blogging shoes were feeling too tight," so I created and launched my online lifestyle magazine: Nora Murphy Country House Style (NoraMurphyCountryHouse.com).

    3) Which audience does your blog cater to?

    My blog and e-magazine speak to the reader whose home is very important to them, and who aspire to live the Country House lifestyle.

    4) What inspired you to create your blog?

    My home is truly a Connecticut country house, located in Newtown, Conn. I love the country-like environment and the laid-back vibe of our home. My home is my lab for ideas on styling, decorating, gardening, cooking, and baking. The blog was a great starting point for me.

    5) What makes your blog so unique?

    My blog is unique because it offers simple solutions along with beautiful, original photography. All photography is art directed by Connecticut Country House.

    6) What is your ultimate blogging goal?

    The blog has been reimagined and was re-launched about a week ago. It is a more fashion-forward format. I wanted to grow the format of the site to have more varieties of inspiration. I wanted the images to be larger. I wanted to upgrade the site for it to become more of a "command central" for Country House. Eventually, I have plans to evolve the e-magazine, NoraMurphyCountryHouse.com, into a flip book format and have it be an integral part of the blog site.

    7) If you could choose one piece of advice to give to new bloggers, what would it be? Have you made any mistakes and learned from them?

    My advice for new bloggers is to always stay true to yourself -- not to follow the pack, but to make the blog truly your own, with your own POV. Be original (and blog often, and consistently)!

    8) How successful has your blog grown to become versus when you first started it? If you could provide simple metrics, that would be great.

    The blog brings readers to the e-magazine, and the e-magazine brings readers to the blog. The two work very well together. I have over 100,000 views on the blog, and over 20,000 unique visitors to the e-magazine that has a global reach of 110 countries!

    9) What do you think is the best blogging platform to use (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, etc.)?

    WordPress.

    10) How do you feel about paid advertisements?

    Actually, we are working towards that right now with Google ads. It's really a natural progression for us to grow our reach and bring in revenue! Since we just re-launched the blog with our new format, we've taken time to work out all the kinks before we integrate ads. The goal is to have advertisers that reflect the Country House lifestyle, brands that I believe in. I want our advertisers to be brands I know, love and can stand behind. And actually, I talk about many of these brands in articles within the blog and e-magazine already!

    11) How does blogging benefit you?

    The blog gives me a forum in which to share my ideas and talents, and see if anyone was interested in what I had to communicate -- and they were!

    12) Any other interesting stories or information you would like to provide?

    For more of the back story on Nora Murphy and Connecticut Country House:
    www.connecticutcountryhouse.com/about-no...

    It’s great to find inspiration through the success of others. If you feel you make a great candidate for next month’s “Blogger of the Month,” please feel free to email me at melissa.ibarra@prnewswire.com.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: What Makes a Successful Blog?

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 11:40 AM [The Blog Blog]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Many bloggers dream of seeing their Web stats skyrocket out of nowhere, but although every blogger wants this, most have no idea how to achieve this. Is this type of success something one must work hard towards, or is it merely a string of good luck?

    For some, yesterday’s #ConnectChat may have shed light on the answer to that question. The conversation was led by Bryce Gruber (@BryceGruber), co-founder of TheLuxurySpot.com. For serious bloggers, this was definitely a conversation you did not want to miss -- but in case you did, here is a recap:

    So, first question: I heard you studied medicine at Florida Atlantic University. How and why did you get into writing?

    Great question. I always loved the technical aspect of things -- medicine, science, writing, etc. Also, I always loved science and so much of beauty writing is science! I went to school for medicine, but found my happiness in writing. 

    Which platform do you think is the best to start a blog (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, etc.), and why?

    I’ve found WordPress easiest!

    Do the ads on WordPress ever get in the way of your blog?

    I guess it depends on the reader -- but they definitely don’t get in the way of keeping the lights on.

    I was wondering how you get your blog to stand out from the 100+ others that also cover lifestyle topics.

    I think the first step is being totally authentic -- don’t try to mirror what other people are doing. Only cover what inspires you -- the honesty usually resonates with other people!

    Can you make a living blogging? Does it pay the bills, or is this a myth?

    Yes, you can make a serious income via blogging -- but like anything else, it boils down to numbers. You need high traffic before your ads even generate enough money to pay for your servers, never mind your mortgage. Generating serious, authentic traffic is the only way. Consider traffic like friendships. Real is the only way.

    Some people assume freelancers just party and lunch. Can you share what a typical work day looks like?

    A typical day for a high traffic blogger/freelancers = longer than 9-to-5 hours. If you’re getting into blogging thinking you’ll work light and earn big, no -- you’ll work hard, just on your own terms.

    Other than working harder on your own terms, what is your #1 piece of advice for earning with a blog?

    Building strong relationships, even virtually. You catch more flies with honey.

    If blog revenue boils down to numbers, what do you think generates the most traffic to your blog?

    Don’t try to copy a major magazine. Don’t cave to mega corporation advertisers. Write what you would want to read. Major print magazines fold all the time, but your blog has the benefit of you. Build traffic like you’d build friendships. Finally, create content nobody else has. Stop all the re-blogging, *please*.

    In the very beginning, how often did you post? How often do you post now?

    In the beginning I personally posted 1-2 times per day, but my team has since expanded. Now we usually have 3-4 pieces go live each day, but I personally write about one each day. I recently told a friend of mine starting a blog to just say whatever the hell she wants to say for the first 10 posts. Just pick your topic, and get it all out. The writing will start to come more naturally then. But don’t profess to be the leader in any information if you’ve never blogged before. No ego, mmkay?

    Between contributing articles to various pubs and being a mom of three, how do you keep a consistent blogging schedule?

    Balancing parenting with any career is a real juggling act! Sometimes, I take a kid or two to an event! I like to involve my kids in my work though -- I’ll ask my daughter, “OK, you pick the nail polishes I write about today.” My sons are really good about contributing food ideas: “Mom, why don’t you write about French fries? That’s what people want.”

    Many people start a blog, but fail to keep the firburning. What keeps you inspired and your blog alive?

    Consistency is everything! Would you stop calling your lover or spouse for a few days? Your blog is your side lover. But really, if you don’t put the work in, you don’t get to the top. Blog daily. Otherwise people find Internet love elsewhere.

    What are your feelings towards Instagram and microblogging? Do you think it takes away from the essence of “real” blogging? Or enhances it?

    I think Instagram is a great *add-on* to real blogging. Not everyone can read, or in your language, so pictures are great.

    What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in the past as a blogger -- any mistakes new bloggers can avoid?

    My biggest mistake in the beginning was using a voice I thought was like the big magazines. I’m not a big magazine though. I’m me. I wish I found my real, authentic voice from day one, but I guess that’s trial and error!

    What was your inspiration behind TheLuxurySpot.com?

    I was pregnant at 24 years old and sick as a dog. I had to find at-home work. TheLuxurySpot.com and my son are the same age. Also, i just felt like a “no BS” voice was missing in the women’s lifestyle space -- Jane magazine was gone. Blogs were hardly a thing.

    What’s the best way to grow your network as a blogger?

    Talk to people on social media and be *encouraging* of other people’s work. The Internet is a lot like real life, but without makeup. Don’t be catty. Also, it never hurts to collaborate with other bloggers!

    What would you say is the hardest part of being a blogger?

    The hardest part of being a blogger is when you get five times more traffic than a print magazine, but you’re taken half as seriously.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.


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