Take Your Blog to the Next Level with these 5 Tips

One of the professional highlights of my summer was hosting the #IowaBloggersUnite Mini Conference at our little homestead last month! It was a great day of learning and networking with over 30 Iowa bloggers in attendance and today, I’m sharing some of that knowledge with you!!

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It’s a Wrap! #IowaBloggersUnite Mini Conference

For the past three years, a group of Iowa bloggers has come together for learning and camaraderie. It started in 2014 when Allie from Sweet & Savory Eats first got us together for an afternoon of networking in Iowa City. We had so much fun that the next year Bethany & Nick from Reality Daydream took over and hosted at their homestead. This event including presentations by seriously smart Iowa Bloggers as well as a potluck lunch.

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At that time, I offered to host it in 2016 and actually kept my word! This year, more than thirty bloggers from all over Iowa drove to our homestead and spent the day networking and learning. Although I dreamed ahead of time that no one would show up and the day would be a complete bust, it turned out to be a great day. I’m happy to share some of the useful tips we learned at the third annual #IowaBloggersUnite gathering!

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5 Tips to Take Your Blog to the Next Level

Get a professional head shot

Readers really want to see your beautiful face on your blog so it’s a great idea to have a professional head shot above the fold on your sidebar. We were really lucky to have a professional photographer snap head shots at our conference and upload them online for everyone to use. Use that head shot across all of your social media platforms so that readers can connect with you when they see your smiling face.

 Many thanks to Kelli from The Sustainable Couple for the contact, and to Kirby Eagle of KirbyEaglePhotography for her generous gift of time and talent! 

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Network with other bloggers

You all know the poem “No Man in An Island” by John Donne, yes? (Maybe the words “For Whom the Bell Tolls” ring a bell?) It’s a classic poem my kids memorized last year in our homeschool and has a great message that we are all connected and important! Bloggers, we can’t do this alone.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We all can support each other as business owners if we network. Find a tribe by reaching out to bloggers in your area or bloggers in your niche who you admire and help each other succeed together! Make sure you network with other bloggers as often as you can for inspiration, help, knowledge, commiseration. Not very many days go by where I don’t reach out to at least one other blogger and I wouldn’t still be plugging along without their camaraderie and help. The day I learned there were facebook groups full of kind and helpful bloggers was a great day in my blogging career.

Tell an authentic story

To succeed in blogging, you have to do you. I know you’ve heard this before, but with so many, many different blogs out there, something has to set you apart from your competition. I’m still trying to figure out what that is about me, but make sure you do your blog your way! Dare to be different and really connect with the people who read your blog each day.

Consider hiring a VA

This may come as a surprise, but the really successful bloggers have a lot of help. It is impossible to do everything by yourself. I have a lovely VA, Amanda Long, who’s been working with me for about a year now. Amanda keeps me on my toes, is detailed oriented, very trustworthy, and I can’t recommend her highly enough. If delegating tasks can help free up your time and make your life fun again, do it!

You can find groups on facebook dedicated to VAs and blogging professionals of all sorts. Decide what your time is worth. If you can pay someone to do something that frees up your creative time to make more money, then why wouldn’t you do it?

Improve your photography

Blogging is very visual and pretty photos sell. I’ve been working hard on my photography and it’s helped my Instagram really take off. I have a little secret too. I take almost all of my photos with my phone. I’ve even started editing them on my phone. I still bust out my Nikon to take the “money” shots of my recipes, but honestly, nine times out of ten, I even prefer to use my phone pictures for the money shots as well. I know, sacrilege, but totally true.

I edit primarily in the VSCO app and then use PicMonkey to make a long pin and add verbiage to some photos. I also use the IFTTT app to do all sorts of sharing for me once I share my favorite shots on Instagram.

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Many thanks to Iowa bloggers Beth and Nick, Kristin Porter, Chrissy Taylor, Crystal Rapinchuk, Nicole Brady, and Nicolette Brink for their presentations! If you haven’t checked out their blogs, I highly recommend doing so!

Thanks also to several companies for providing fun swag bags. NOW Foods sent over so many great items: gluten free quinoa pasta and brownie mix, organic popcorn, Coconut Infusions Butter, their new Quinoa Q Cups (quinoa in 5 minutes!!), Zyli White Toothpaste and more! Their generosity was unbelievable and I’m so thankful. Kalona Super Natural shared their fabulous Organic Chocolate milk and a bunch of organic cottage cheese. Eco-Lips sent out a bunch fun lip balms and sugar scrubs. And Taste of Home provided magazines for each blogger.

In all, we had a great day out here in Eastern Iowa during our mini conference and potluck. If you’re a bloggger, I highly recommend reaching out to other bloggers in your state and getting to know them. I have found everyone to be so friendly and open. It might be because we’re Iowans, but I don’t think that’s it. 😀 And if you’re an Iowa blogger and would like to be involved in #IowaBloggersUnite, please reach out to me and I will add you to our list.

These tips from many Iowa Bloggers will help you take your blogging to the next level! IowaBloggersUnite2016
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