5 Website Must-Haves: Blogger's Kit

This article is a follow up to 5 Website Must-Haves: Starter Kit. If you have read the article, and followed the must-haves, then you are prepared to take your website to the next level with this blogger's kit.

WordPress has been the go-to platforms for bloggers for years, which is one of the reasons I use it. The recommendations below are mostly for WordPress (specially when I'm recommending plugins!), but external software or courses I recommend apply for whatever platform you use.

As a blogger, the way your visitors interact with your website makes all the difference! So, you want to make sure they enjoy the experience and keep coming back. The following tips keep that in mind: how to improve your reader's experience on your blog.

Disclaimer: some of the recommendations below include affiliate links, meaning, I may receive a commission of you purchase it through my link. But I honestly would not be an affiliate to them, if I wouldn't have tried out their product beforehand and sincerely recommend it.

1. YOAST FOR SEO AND RSS

Yoast was one of the recommendation on the 5 Website Must-Haves: Starter Kit. But I wanted to talk more in depth about some of its features. Yoast rates your content and helps you determine what changes you need on your blog articles and pages to increase your score with search engines. It suggests whether sentences should be rephrased, if you need to use more images, or if you use the keyword too much.

A less known feature is that it helps you configure your RSS. Your RSS is how your blog feed looks when it's depleted from any style. People that follow your blog for updates get notified via your RSS. If you have an email list, you can set it up so that an email goes out to your followers whenever a new blog entry is posted. You need to know your RSS link to set this up. Usually, typing http://yourdomain.com/rss redirects you to what your actual RSS address is. You can use that to set up the automated emails in your newsletter system (I use and recommend Active Campaign). Now, when these emails are created, you usually don't get to choose the type of layout you want for the information that is pulled to the list. But this is when we jump back to Yoast, because they provide options to customize that layout from your WordPress admin area, and your RSS is then pulled directly with the layout you want. Go to Search Appearance, and then to the RSS tab, and you will be able to customize your layout.

Yoast SEO for RSS

2. SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION

More than adding just icons to your blog, I recommend integrating some of your social media content on your website. You have to determine which social media platform connects you with your readers better. Then, integrate it on your website. Facebook and Twitter integrations can be more tricky because they follow their platform's design and don't integrate aesthetically to your website. I prefer Instagram because once integrated, it just pulls images, and I control what those images are. This gives me the flexibility to control how that integration looks. But I care a lot about how my website looks because my business is a lot about the visual aspect, so, choose the platform that will enhance your website. If you have a website as visual as mine and you want to use Instagram, I recommend Instagram Feed by Smash balloon. It's a free plug-in, easy to set up, and it gives your control on how everything looks.

3. PINTEREST: PINS AND INTEGRATION

You might wonder, isn't this social integration? Partially, but not completely. Pinterest is both a social media platform and a search engine. If you want to show up on more Pinterest results, and gain more followers for your boards, you have to follow some steps that differ from other social media platforms.

I use jQuery Pin Button for Images, a free plugin for WordPress. It lets you choose what "Pin this" button you want people to see when they hover over your image (you can even upload your own!), and it lets you determine the minimum size you want your images to be for the button to work on them.

Another plugin I started using recently is Tasty Pins. It is a paid plugin for WordPress, but it is worth it. When one of your articles get shared on Pinterest, it might not always display the best image from your article. With Tasty Pins, you can choose what image pops up when someone pins your article. In addition, it provides an additional field on your image's media gallery options for your Pinterest description. That way when people pin your article it will pull the description you wrote, with the keywords and hashtags you prepared it with. Tasty Pins plays an important part if you want to upgrade your Pinterest game!

If you are looking to invest more time on growing your Pinterest and use it to generate traffic, I recommend you take the Get Pinned and Get Pinned Academy courses from Kimi Kinsey. The first one if a free course that covers all the basics on how to get you started, and the second one goes way more in depth, making sure you become a Pinterest pro!

4. AFFILIATE LINK MANAGEMENT

As a blogger, a big chunk of your income comes from your affiliate links. That's how most bloggers I know earn most of their income. Still, affiliate links can be a pain. They are difficult to type because they're very long, not easy to remember, and often don't make sense. These type of links can jeopardize your marketing approach. You want an easier way to share them on social media. So, I have two tips for you:

Get an affiliate links manager: I use Thirsty Affiliates, a free plugin for WordPress. You insert your long links and it'll convert them to a branded URL with your domain, and you can choose the slug you want. For example, Active Campaign is an affiliate link. Therefore, instead of sharing with you a very long link with lots of random characters, I simply share with you saraobando.com/goto/activecampaign. And that's it. It makes your links look nice and professional in social media. People won't be afraid to click on your affiliate link because it'll have your name attached to it, instead of some unknown, long url.

If you don't want to get an affiliate manager for some reason, then there's another pluggin that can help you with that: Pretty Links. It works like a short link generator, creating a link with your domain and followed either by a random set of letters and numbers (for example saraobando.com/123abc), or you can choose your own slug as well (saraobando.com/LinkName). Just like Thirsty Affiliates, it brands your link and people will trust in it.

5. OPT-INS

Although we love social media and can find all our followers there, we don't own social media. Social media platforms can suddenly shut down, lose popularity, or our followers might simply stop hanging around there. And because of algorithms changing all the time, some people that like your content might not even see you on their feed as often as they'd like to. So, you want a place to keep your followers together, a place to communicate important things with them. And that place is your email list. But people will likely not sign up to your list without an incentive, since everybody is asking them to do so. This is where opt-ins come in.

The way to have your followers join your email list is by providing them a valuable opt-in, a motivation to do so. Create an opt-in that goes with what you do. Some opt-in ideas are checklists, little e-books, a special tutorial, your favorite filters, or something that is valuable content that your followers will want. Create an opt-in and make sure you have an email automation software in place to collect the information provided. You can present your opt-in(s) on your blog posts or have it linked in your social media. I use Active Campaign because it covers all my needs: it creates forms to embed on my website and lets me have automations to segment people depending on what opt-in they downloaded. This way, I can nurture my list with what they signed up for.

You're ready!

If you're a blogger, these are 5 to-do's to implement in 2019. They will upgrade the way you interact with your users, provide them with an experience they will love, and have them coming back for more of your awesome content!

Good luck enhancing blog, and feel free to ask any questions about any of these topics below in the comments.

A BLOGGER WITHOUT A BLOG?

It's time you move on from social media and start your website as well. Otherwise, how will people find you on search engines? Learn how to DIY your first website and brand visual through my course Online Presence 101, so you can start blogging outside of social media as well!

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