Dec 16, 2016

How to Find Your Most Popular Posts in Google Analytics

Determining which posts are your most popular of the yearNow that year is winding down, you should be looking back at your analytics to see which posts ended up being the most popular on your site.  Knowing which posts are your most trafficked is good in terms of determining what kind of content you should be sharing in the future, and also if you plan on doing a “look back” post or a roundup of your most popular posts of the year.

Today I’m going to share how to figure out which posts were your most popular ones. I’ll show you how to determine both your top posts written THIS year, as well as your most popular posts overall. (The posts that saw the most traffic this year, no matter which year they were written.)

Aug 26, 2016

How to Confirm Google Analytics is Installed Correctly

How to confirm GA is correctly installed on your blogGoogle Analytics is the gold standard of traffic monitoring software.  When site owners talk about their monthly page views or uniques, they are almost always referring to their numbers form Google Analytics.  This tracking software is the most accurate and therefore should be installed on your blog if you ever need access to your traffic statistics (don’t EVER use numbers from Blogger!)

However.. this accuracy is only true if you have Google Analytics installed CORRECTLY on your site.   This means the tracking script should be installed only one time, and in the correct location on the page.  If you have duplicate versions of the tracking code or have it installed too early in your head section, you can get falsely inflated analytics.

To demonstrate just how dramatic this inflation can be, I did an experiment on my own site.  I installed a second tracking code into my html and then watched my traffic over the next 4 days.  This is what happened:
My page views doubled and my bounce rate dropped to about 10%.  
As much as I wish those numbers were true.. They are completely an artifact of the duplicated code. 

Aug 13, 2016

How to Use Google Analytics to Determine Why Blog Traffic is Changing

Why Blog Traffic is Changing in Google Analytics

Often bloggers are faced with sudden and/or long term increases or decreases in blog traffic. Determining the cause of these changes isn’t alway the easiest thing to do.   Luckily, the data stored in your Google Analytics account can yield a lot of information about exactly why you page views are changing.

Jul 21, 2016

How to Add An Image Slider to Posts on Blogger

How to create a clickable image slider in a blogger post

Slideshows have been the hot new fad on blogs lately.  Many blogs have them on the sidebar, in the header and within the post content itself.  They are a great way to add a lot of images to a single post without making readers scroll and scroll to the bottom of the page.  They also can help loading time since they only pull one image at a time.  If the images are clickable you can also use sliders as a way of rounding up your old content.. almost like a fancy ‘navigation’ tool.

Jul 19, 2016

How to Paginate A Blogger Post

How to paginate long blogger posts into mutliple pages

Over a year ago, I shared a tutorial on how to split you Blogger post into multiple pages.  

It was an okay way of paginating, but the setup was clunky.  There were a lot of moving parts. It was far from ideal for beginning bloggers.

My Favorite Books For Growing My Blog.

Today I'm sharing my favorite books that I used for growing my blog.

Jul 15, 2016

How to Add Breadcrumb Navigation Menus At the Top of Your Blog Posts

How to Install breadcrumb navigation on your blogger blog
Breadcrumb navigation is becoming a more and more relevant when it comes to a blog’s user friendliness (which trickles down to search engine friendliness).   Most SEO and marketing experts agree that breadcrumb paths are a positive addition to almost any site, especially those where the content can be categorized with some sort of hierarchy. Today we’re going to discuss exactly what breadcrumb navigation is, why it is important and how you can install it on your Blogger blog if you don’t have it already. 

What is breadcrumb navigation?

Breadcrumb paths are the horizontal menus found at the top of a post or page that show the hierarchy of post content.  On Blogger, the cascade is typically:  Home >> Post Category >> Post Title

The term “Breadcrumb” is a homage to the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel where the children left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way out of the forest.  In that same way, your breadcrumb navigation shows the path of your content. (Although not necessarily in the order you actually got there.) It is more of a roadmap of your site structure to help users navigate through your content.

I have been using breadcrumb navigation on my DIY site for a while now and it has been great for reader retention and increasing pages per session.  This is what they breadcrumbs look like on my blog:
Breadcrumb menu example

Why are breadcrumbs so important? 

Breadcrumb navigation is extremely important especially on large commerce sites.  For example, Amazon prominently uses breadcrumb paths on their site:
Amazon breadcrumb path
and even though the structure of most blogs is not nearly as complex as Amazon, it still can be very valuable for a good user experience and SEO.


1. Aids in navigation: Having a breadcrumb path allows for easy discovery of related content. Since most blogs are written chronologically, the “next” and “last” post navigation options may not result in related or relevant content.  They are typically easy to understand for most users (and not as difficult to find as your menus in your header or sidebar) and don’t take up a lot of space or slow down you site.

2. Reduces Bounce Rate: Having a breadcrumb trail available has been proven to reduce a page’s bounce rate. By giving users an easy way to find related content they are less likely to leave after they have finished reading the content on the current page. I also increases time on site and pages per session.

3. Gives user a frame of reference: Many site visitors will not land on a home or menu page but will instead find themselves on a single post.  A quick glance at the breadcrumb path makes it quickly obvious where exactly they are located on your site, relative to the rest of your content.  Additionally, the label the current post is categorized under provides insight into the type of content available on your site.

4. Allows for easy back tracking: Breadcrumb navigation makes it easier for a user to backtrack to a parent directory (or in blogger’s case, to an entire category label).  Since breadcrumb paths tend to narrow down content by increasing specificity, they allow users to ‘back out’ of a post into a larger segment of your site’s content. 


All of the benefits for user experience chould technically also be listed under SEO benefits, since user friendliness and engagement is such an important factor when it comes to a page’s search engine rank.  There are also some ADDITIONAL SEO perks from having breadcrumb navigation available on your blog independant of user experience.    

1. SERP results markup: Google recently announced that they are updating the MOBILE algorithm to 
show breadcrumb paths instead of URLS on SERPs (Search engine results pages).  To insure your links show up that way requires some additional RDFa markup separate from the HTML for navigation.

With that markup search results now look different on mobile.
Google Fits Breadcrumbs into Search on Mobile 2. Keyword Density: Listing the keyword rich post and category names on each page increases the keyword density on your site.

3. Internal Linking: This navigation system links together similar content via the same category label. These additional links are beneficial SEO wise.

How do you install the breadcrumb navigation to your blog posts?  

It isn’t super difficult if you have a standard template.  Custom templates may be slightly more complicated, but for most blogs it is a few simple lines of HTML added to your template.  This is what this blog’s breadcrumb menu looks like using this tutorial.  Simple breadcrumb navigation


From your Blogger dashboard go to Template and create a backup. Next click on “Edit HTML”   Click INSIDE the window and search for: 
<b:include data='top' name='status-message'/>
Remember you need to click ON THE CODE and THEN hit “Control-F” or else you won’t actually search the HTML! 

Now Replace the highlighted text with the following (we are adding the navigation menu to the top of your posts):
<b:include data='top' name='status-message'/>
<b:include data='posts' name='breadcrumb'/>
Now you want to find this part of your code:
<b:includable id='main' var='top'>
Replace it with the following  (What we are doing here is adding code to generate the actual text in the menu itself) :
<b:includable id='breadcrumb' var='posts'>
<b:if cond='data:blog.homepageUrl == data:blog.url'>
<!-- No breadcrumb on home page -->
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'>
<!-- breadcrumb for the post page -->
<p class='breadcrumbs'>
<span class='post-labels'>
<a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl' rel='tag'>Home</a>
<b:loop values='data:posts' var='post'>
<b:if cond='data:post.labels'>
<b:loop values='data:post.labels' var='label'>
<b:if cond='data:label.isLast == "true"'>  » <a expr:href='data:label.url' rel='tag'><></a>
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "archive"'>
<!-- breadcrumb for the label archive page and search pages.. -->
<p class='breadcrumbs'>
<span class='post-labels'>
<a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl'>Home</a> » Archives for <data:blog.pageName/>
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "index"'>
<p class='breadcrumbs'>
<span class='post-labels'>
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageName == ""'>
<a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl'>Home</a>
 » All posts

<a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl'>Home</a> » Posts filed under <data:blog.pageName/>
<b:includable id='main' var='top'>
Finally we need to format how the menu appears.  To do this you have to add the CSS (styling) to the text.  Find: 
Paste the following immediately before it:
.breadcrumbs {
padding:5px 5px 5px 0px;
margin: 0px 0px 15px 0px;
line-height: 1.4em;
This is CSS markup and you can change the way your menu looks by changing this text.  This is just the most basic formatting, but feel free to play with this code if you are comfortable with CSS.

For example, here is a much more complicated CSS markup you could use instead:
.breadcrumbs {
font-size: 14px;
background: #eeeeee;
background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #eeeeee 0%, #cccccc 100%);
background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,#eeeeee), color-stop(100%,#cccccc));
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #eeeeee 0%,#cccccc 100%);
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #eeeeee 0%,#cccccc 100%);
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #eeeeee 0%,#cccccc 100%);
background: linear-gradient(top, #eeeeee 0%,#cccccc 100%);
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient( startColorstr='#eeeeee', endColorstr='#cccccc',GradientType=0 );
height: 25px;
line-height: 25px;
color: #454545;
border: solid 1px #cacaca;
width: 100%;
overflow: hidden; 
margin-bottom: 25px; 
padding: 0px
With that CSS this is what the menu would look like this on my blog:
CSS markup for Blogger Breadcrumb Menu

Depending on how comfortable you are with your template, you also can move your menu to different parts of your post.  I put mine under the title, but you could also put it in the footer or near the comments.  It really will depend on your layout.  The standard location is at the top of your post.

Now you should have everything you need to install this extra navigation option for your readers and will help drive those readers to all the other related content on your site.

Jul 1, 2016

Post Planner for Bloggers: Improve Facebook Reach And Engagement

Post Planner for Bloggers

I discovered the power of Post Planner a few months ago when Gail, from MyRepurposedLife (who has a HUGE Facebook page) told me she was using it and really liking it.  She had seen her engagement skyrocket (which is really difficult for pages with more than 100K followers) and she told me she was saving a ton of time.

Jun 24, 2016

Optimize Your Blog's Meta (Search) Descriptions Using Keyword Research

Optimize your meta description using keyword research in webmaster toosl
One of the things many bloggers struggle with when it comes to SEO is what exactly to include in their posts' meta descriptions.  The meta description (also called the search description on Blogger) is the short text snippet that appears on SERPs (search engine results pages) under the page title and URL.  Typically the meta description is a summary of the page content.

Jun 19, 2016

How to Add RECIPE Rich Pins on Blogger

Recipe rich pins on blogger

I have previously shared a tutorial on how to add rich pins for articles to your Blogger Blog.  I have had a ton of positive feedback on that article, and since the majority of bloggers on Pinterest need article pins, it is relevant to most bloggers.  If you are a blogger who shares content on Pinterest, you want to have rich pins installed! 
There is a another subset of bloggers who could also use the additional resource of RECIPE rich pins.  Even if you only occasionally share recipes, it is a something you can use.  It is a little more complicated but it isn’t hard once you know what to do. 

Jun 9, 2016

How to Block Your Own Pageviews from Google Analytics

How to Exclude your own page views from Google AnalyticsI am constantly being asked by other bloggers: “Why do my Blogger page views not match my Google Analytics page views?” and the answer is: Because crawlers and bots are recorded in Blogger analytics, while google analytics only records legitimate page views.

It can be a little depressing, since Blogger analytics can be orders of magnitude higher than Google Analytics (GA), but those page views aren’t real.  When search engines load your content in order to index it and add it to search engines, blogger analytics counts that as a page load.  But that is a computer program that isn’t actually ‘viewing’ anything.  On the other hand, google analytics records every time a script is loaded and your page is displayed in a browser window… TO SOMEONE READING IT.  The difference in those numbers can be dramatic.

Jun 3, 2016

Search Engine Title Swapping: Make Post Titles Appear Before Blog Titles on Google

Search Engine Title Swapping on Blogger to Improve SEO
How your blog posts show up in Google’s search results is extremely important.  Since search engines take into account how frequently a displayed listing is clicked when ranking content, you want to make sure that your search results accurately reflect what your post is about.  Since the most predominant part of a search result is the post title, ensuring that it is displayed in full is very important.  But by default, Blogger does not have your search listings formatted that way.  

May 27, 2016

How to Back Up Your Entire Blogspot Blog (Content, Template, Images and Widgets)

How to Back Up Your Entire Bloggger Blog
If you google “How to backup your blog” you will find 1000 tutorials.  But what I  have noticed about almost all these posts is that they are incomplete.  They either tell you how to backup your content (which is important! don’t get me wrong) or your template, but typically they don’t cover your entire blog. They don’t explain how to save a copy of ALL the stuff you want saved in case of a zombie apocalypse or nuclear war.  What would it take to rise from the ashes and build a new blog? THAT is what you are really asking when you say “How do I backup my blog?”

So today I’m going to cover all the things you can (and should) have copies off.. just in case something goes terribly wrong.

There are 4 main parts to your blogspot blog that you should be backing up: 

1.  Your content.  The HTML that makes up all of your posts and pages.

2.  Your template.  The code that packages up your content so nicely in your browser.

3.  Your images.   Contrary to popular belief, no, in fact your images are NOT backed up when you
back up your content.  Your images are actually hosted outside of your content and so if you want to make sure they are never lost, you probably want to keep a copy of each and every one of them.

4. Your HTML gadgets.  The content within your HTML gadgets (your sidebars and footers) floats in a strange “no mans land” when it comes to Blogspot.  It isn’t backed up with your template, nor is it backed up with your content.  Typically it wouldn’t be catastrophic to lose the little bit of HTML in your sidebars (usually it is images and text for things like buttons or ads or whatever you keep in your side bar). However, if you ever want to migrate to a new blog or new template, having a copy of those gadgets is a good idea.

How do you do it?  It is easier than you think.

May 19, 2016

How to Divide Your Email List and Target Your Subscribers Automatically

How to divide your email list and target audience with post labels
On my “real” blog I actually write about a LARGE variety of projects.  I am not one of those bloggers who has a very specific niche, but I cover a wide range of topics from remodeling and woodworking, to kid crafts, recipes and holidays.  Because of this, I always had a hard time retaining email subscribers and/or getting them to open my emails.

Since I wanted to make the process of sending out emails as painless as possible, I had been using RSS driven campaigns (meaning anytime I posted a new post on the blog, it would automatically detect the RSS feed and send out an email.)  The problem was that not everyone wanted to hear about every project.  (I totally get it, we are busy and you only want to read about what you are interested in.)

Then I discovered the beauty of the “LABEL DRIVEN RSS FEED”!!   Game.changer!  

Label driven feeds are the same RSS feeds that you are familar with, but instead of going out for EVERY post, it only goes out for posts with a certain label or tag. This means that I could flag posts with different labels and set up different automatic RSS emails for different target audiences.

May 12, 2016

How To Set Up Custom Blog Domain Emails To Ensure Newsletter Delivery

How to set up an email address for your custom domain in order to make sure your newsletter doesn't get caught up in the DMARC spam filters

Since Google recently announced it will be moving its Gmail platform to strict DMARC regulation this coming June, following the lead of both Yahoo and AOL a few years ago, there has been a little panic about email newsletters getting caught in spam filters or listed as “undeliverable.”

Many bloggers are using Gmail addresses for all their incoming and outgoing blog email and with these new restrictions, the chances of those emails being reliability delivered is shrinking. Additionally many bloggers are now sending out their newsletter via services like Mailchimp, MadMimi or Convert Kit.  All of these platforms use your personal specified email as the ‘from’ address.  With the new DMARC regulation, those emails we most likely be rejected or blocked.

Luckily there is a pretty simple work around, and for many bloggers it won’t cost anything! If you are currently using a custom domain (meaning your blog URL doesn’t contain the chances are pretty good that you already have a custom domain email address available.

May 6, 2016

How to Verify Your Blog in Webmaster Tools (and Set Your Preferred Domain)

Don't compete with your own site in the search rankings! Here is how you can verify your blog in Webmaster Tools and set up a preferred domain for double the google juice!
Last week I explained how to generate a sitemap and submit it to search engines in order to ensure you content was all being crawled. I mentioned that my preferred method of submitting site map was through the Webmaster Tools Sitemap tool.  After that post I had a few people ask about how to establish a Webmaster tools (which is now officially called “Google Search Console”) account for a Blogspot blog.

Because it does require inserting some code into your template, and because it turns out that you should actually be setting up accounts for multiple URLs, I thought it was worth an entire post.

Apr 29, 2016

How to Generate and Submit a Site Map for a Blogspot Blog

How To Generate A Sitemap and Submit It To Google
A question I get from a lot from bloggers is “How do I know that Google sees my site?” And the short answer is: as long as you have the privacy settings set correctly (In your Blogger Dashboard under Settings >> Basic) Google can find you.Privacy
The long answer, however, is a little more complicated.

Apr 22, 2016

Get Rid of The Blogspot: How to Setup a Custom Blogger Domain on GoDaddy

Step by step tutorial on how to set up a blogger custom domain redirect on godaddy and get rid of the .blogspot in your blog URL

One of the biggest perks with using the Blogger platform for your blog is that is is 100% FREE.  You don’t have to pay to be ‘self-hosted’ like other blogging platforms.  (While I’m on it, the term ’self-hosted' is a misnomer actually.. unless you have a server in your garage, you aren’t self-hosted, you are paying for a hosting service.. you aren’t actually hosting your own content. It should be called “privately-hosted” or “third party-hosted” or something.)

In the case of Blogger blogs, our host is Google.. which is a pretty sweet deal!  Like any other hosting company (Bluehost, HostGator, FatCow, DreamHost..) Google DOES NOT own your content, the same way any other hosting company doesn’t own their client’s content.  (That is another big misconception about Blogger.) Hosts (even Google) are just ‘holding’ it for you and displaying it on your little corner of the internet, it is still YOURS and cannot be taken away from you. The biggest difference between Google-hosting an other privately-hosted blogs, is that Google holds our content for free, and without any bandwidth limitations or a big monthly bill!

5 Easy SEO Tips Everyone on Blogger Should Be Using

I could have titled this post  “SEO Optimization 101” because this is an extremely basic tutorial on optimizing your Blogger blog content.  Lucky for bloggers on Blogger/Blogspot, Google has made it super easy to manage your SEO settings within the Blogger dashboard. These five small changes will give you the most SEO bang for your buck.

If you are an advanced blogger you may already do some (if not most) of these things and you are well aware that this is only the tip of SEO iceberg.   I could (and may) write an entire series on optimizing your SEO on Blogger but we are going to start with these baby steps since they are the low hanging fruit.

In other words, if you don’t do ANYTHING else to optimize your SEO, at least you should be doing these 5 things.   

I want to assure everyone that NONE OF THESE TIPS ARE DIFFICULT.  They don't involve any type of HTML or messing with your template.  No matter how much experience you have using the Blogger platform, you can do this! 

The Top 5 Things Every Blogger Blogger Should Be Doing Improve Their SEO

No Follow Vs. Do Follow Links: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Follow vs no follow links
If you have been blogging for any length of time, especially if you have done any sort of sponsored content or affiliate marketing, you probably have heard of “No Follow Links.”   You may even have a pretty good understanding of what they are and how they work, but there are still probably a few things about follow and no follow links you may not have heard about, especially when it comes to the long term SEO impact they have on your site.

And even if you are using no follow links whenever brands and networks ask you to, and anywhere you are earning revenue, you still may not realize just how frequently you should be using no follow links when it comes to other content.  There are many many many black hat SEO companies out there who rely on site owners not realizing when and where they should be using no follow links.  They are able to sneak backlinks onto hundreds (if not thousands) of sites in order to suck up Google juice from naive bloggers the way a hungry leach sucks blood from unsuspecting hosts.

How to Remove, Rewrite and Republish Old Content and Optimize SEO on Blogger

How to correctly delete, rewrite and republish old posts for SEO Opimization on blogger.  No broken links or duplicate content
With the start of the New Year, many bloggers are cleaning house.. both literally and on their blogs.  One question I get all the time when I talk about SEO is “How can I optimize old content?”

We all have those old posts that have great content, but not the best photography or that we haven’t optimized correctly.  Often they are posts that we would love to share with our current readers, but we aren’t sure the best way to do it.  We worry about what we will ‘mess up’ if we change them.

We also have posts that are just TERRIBLE and we want to remove them all together.  Posts that are either no longer relevant or are no longer trafficked.  People often ask “Can I just go back and delete old content?” and the answer is “It depends.”  (I know.. not the most straight forward answer.)

So today I’m going to show you a variety of situations that you may run into that involve either deleting, rewriting, republishing or changing the date of old content to keep your blog evergreen and to optimize SEO as well.  The specifics of this tutorial will focus on Google’s Blogger platform (since that is my favorite) but the tips apply to other platforms as well.. but you may need to adjust the method for editing/changing/dating posts.  (Tips for Wordpress users will be in RED)

Apr 21, 2016

How to Add Twitter Cards to Your Blogger Blog

How to install Twitter Cards On Blogger Blog
If you are a frequent user of Twitter, you may have noticed that some tweets containing URLs have a lot of extra information associated with them.

This is what a typical tweet looks like:

But did you know your tweet could look like this (without actually changing your tweet at all)? 
Tweet with twitter card

These expanded tweets are called “Twitter Cards” and if you are a blogger they are a great way of getting you blog post tweets a little more exposure. When you have the Twitter cards code installed on your blog, any tweets with your blog's URL will also contain this extra image, title and summary.

They are sorta like Pinterest’s “Rich Pins” but for tweets.  (If you don’t have rich pins I also have a tutorial on how to install them)

To add them it is simple copy and pasting of some HTML code.  (Even a rookie blogger should be able to do this! Don't panic because it is HTML!)

How to Turn Your Blogger Posts into Rich Pins on Pinterest

In case you didn't realize it, I do 100% of my own blog formatting and HTML programming.   That is the big reason I am still using Blogger (instead of Wordpress) and why my blog layout/template never changes.  If it ain't broke.. (since I'm the one who will have to fix it!)

The truth is that I have ZERO computer programming experience, I just spend a lot of my time pounding my head into my keyboard and using google to try to figure out how to make my blog do what I want.  I am sure there are some really weird things going on in my code but, eh,  it just has to look okay to the average reader. 

What Does It Really Cost To Run A Blog?

How much money do I spend running my blog?  Hosting, social media, legal and financial expenses answer the question "What Does It Cost To Blog?"

I am constantly asked about what types of resources I use when I blog.  My blog is a little unusual because I am self-hosted on Google and thus my blogging expenses are vastly different from many other mid-sized bloggers who are self-hosted on Wordpress. So for fun I thought I would create a quick guide to all my favorite blogging tools and how much I spend on them every month.
This post will include my ENTIRE OVERHEAD (other than supplies I use in the posts themselves) for my blog. Hopefully this will give non-bloggers (and even fellow bloggers) and idea of what it costs to run a successful blog.   And in case you are wondering, right now my blog gets between 250,000 and 300,000 page views a month.   That is about 300% more than it was a year ago, when I was averaging only 100,000.

I know for sure that investing in the resources I will talk about below is one of the reasons I have seen that growth.   It wasn’t until I started really INVESTING in my blog and treating it as a business did I earn a full time income, since now my monthly revenue is significantly more than these expenses.

I Have A Big Announcement! (And Why I Love Blogger!)

So in the interest of keeping it real, I want to tell you that originally I had planned to post about K-cups (yes.. those coffee cup things I messed around with at Halloween) today.  I wanted to hold off this announcement until later next week, when I had all the kinks worked out, but I ended up spending so much time working on this exciting rollout, I just didn't have it in me to churn out a second post.

Seriously.. my kitchen floor currently looks like this since the baby thought unloading every thing out of my purse would be fun, while the girls played wiffle ball in the house:
I can't face writing about KCups right now. I just can't.

So instead.. you all get to hear my big news a week early!

Are you ready for it?  Well if not, too bad.. here it is:

Why do I blog on Blogger?

I've been blogging since 2005 on the Blogger platform. Over time, as my blog grew to multi-million pageviews and earned tens of thousands of dollars, I heard over and over "Why haven't you moved to Wordpress?" and "You will never be a 'big' blogger or be taken seriously if you stay on Blogger."  But based on my own success, I wasn't convinced.  So I did my own research and stopped listening to rumors.  And this is what I realized:  Blogger blogs can be customized and optimized for increased search traffic, revenue generation and viewability. They are a completely viable blogging option.


If you host with Blogger, you don't own your own content:  FALSE

Here is a great post about that myth.. but don't take his word for it.  Read the Google Terms of Service yourself.  Your blog is YOURS. 

You can't drive as much traffic as you can with Wordpress:  FALSE

SEO optimization works exactly the same way with Blogspot-hosted blogs as it does with self-hosted blogs on the Wordpress platform. Google has actually installed easily customizable ways to optimize SEO without expensive plug-ins or extensive knowledge of html.  It is also common knowledge that G+ engagement is weighted heavily in google search rankings and helps build SEO.  But did you know that when a Blogger blog is linked with a G+ profile, blog views also count as G+ profile views?  Additionally, if host your photos though Google, your image SEO is amplified via your Google+ galleries by amplifying a G+ profile's weight in the search rankings. Only Blogspot-hosted blogs have this benefit.  All those Blogger linked G+ pages with millions of page views have a CLEAR advantage in Google search results.  There has always been a (supposed) 'myth' that Google ranks their own blogger blogs higher in search results, and this bias in pageviews on your G+ profile page views may explain exactly why that myth is actually true.  Google may actually PREFER Blogspot blogs because of Google+. 

Blogger blogs aren't customizable:  FALSE

I'm actually not even sure why this is a myth.  Sure, there are many blogs that keep the standard blogger template, but that is also true with other blogging platforms.  There are a lot of Blogger blogs you wouldn't recognize as a standard Blogspot blog.  Customization is all about how much work you are willing to put into your template.  Blogger offers numerous 'outside of the box' templates, and all for FREE!  It isnt' about how much money you spend. 

You can't make money if you are on Blogger:  FALSE

Once again, this myth is pretty random but easily dispelled.  Many large blogs still use the Blogger platform and they make plenty of money!  For example, PostSecret (a blogger hosted blog) has had more than 700 million visitors since it first hit the web, all without leaving Blogger.  

The biggest problem with blogger has always been lack of support for anyone who isn't very tech savvy.  Most bloggers on Blogger either begin with programming skills or they have to be self taught. I am the latter, and I remember how frustrating it was to learn things on Blogger that should have been straight forward.  That is why I am offering blog support specifically for the Blogger platform.  It can be a great platform (maybe even superior to Wordpress) once you know how to use it.    And for that.. I am here to help!

Apr 19, 2016

Time Management for Bloggers: Managing Family and your Blog

If I had a penny for every time someone has asked me “How do you do it?”  well.. I would have a lot of pennies.  People, especially other moms of young kids, always want to know where I find time to run a blog, remodel my house, and decorate for every holiday.

And the truth is that it has taken me a lot of trial and error to find the right balance.. and it is still a work-in-progress. As the kids grow up and their needs change, so does the way I deal with balancing home improvement, craft projects, my blog and my family.  But over the five+ years I’ve written this blog, I have learned a lot of tricks for finding where the balance lies, what works and what doesn’t (at least for me) and by now I’m acutely aware of the pitfalls to watch out for.

If you have children at home and just can’t figure out how to get any crafting, decorating or DIY projects done I want to share some advice with you.  Since you don’t need to put off DIY projects until your kids are “older.”  You may not be as efficient as someone without little ones under foot, but you still *CAN* accomplish a lot, with these strategies.

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Balancing Family and Blogging

Home depot kids projects


1. DO set boundaries:  
Consider your project a ‘job’ and set a work schedule. It is so easy to get distracted by things around the house, but you need to remind yourself that laundry or the dishes can wait.  If you are determined to paint your bathroom, don't get distracted by a pair of shoes that need to be put away on your way to the garage.  Picking up those shoes, and making a extra trip to the closet will most likely lead to another chore.. and another and another..  The shoes will be there when the paint is drying.  Focus on what you are doing.  Set a time frame and say “From 1-4 I am painting my bathroom.”  Don’t take a break to check Facebook, stop to grab a coffee or stick a load of dishes in the dishwasher.   If you are setting aside 3 hours for a project, take that time to DO THE PROJECT.
Your kids will find ways to entertain themselves (even if they aren’t always pretty.. like emptying 500 tissues from the box one-by-one) but they won’t be irreconcilably damaged because you asked them to find something to do on their own for two hours.
Baby emptying tissues
On the other hand, setting boundaries doesn’t mean that you completely ignore your kids and let them wreck havoc. You still need to keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe. I use a Levana video monitor to watch not only my 18 month old, but also my 5 and 9 year olds.
Levana baby monitorBeing able to look up and immediately see what they are doing, takes a load off my mind and makes it easier to focus on whatever project I’m working on.  Without a monitor I would have to constantly go check on them or worry about what may be happening somewhere I cannot see. Knowing your kids are fine, makes it a lot easy to tell them to “go back and play while Mommy finishes painting!”

2. DO deliver what you promise but be realistic:
This is an addendum to #1.  When you set boundaries, you have to follow though on what you are actually promising. If you tell your kids you need an hour to work on something, don’t spend three hours working on it.  When you say “I need 20 minutes to paint this” your kids are hearing “I’ll be able to play with you in 20 minutes.”  They are expecting you to ‘clock out’ of DIY duty and back into mommy mode.  Make sure whenever you set aside time for a project, you take into account the prep and cleanup and the possibility of it taking longer than you think it should.  Your family doesn’t really care that you had trouble getting your mitered corners to line up and so it is taking longer than you predicted.  They only see that you said you would be an hour ago, and you are now taking away from time you promised to spend with them.

If you want your family to respect the boundaries of “work time” you need to respect the time you have dedicated to them.  When you promise to take the kids to the park after you finish fixing the toilet, don’t backtrack and tell them that you’re too tired and you’ll have to skip it. Every time you break a promise, they will be that much less willing to cooperate with you next time.  There have been many times when I’ve regretted telling my kids at the start of a project  “when mommy is done we’ll go get ice cream” since by the time it is finished I”m dirty, tired and just want to sit down or take a shower.  But I still suck it up and take them to the ice cream shop, sawdust and all. I gave them my word and they delivered on their end of the deal. Boundaries only work if both sides agree to live with them. If you find yourself over promising, then make sure in the future you are setting realistic expectations (of yourself and your kids). Since once you lose the trust of your kids, it is hard to earn it back.
Taking care of baby
What is realistic? Well, it really depends on you and your family.  If you have a typical daily routine, you want to keep it in tact if you can.  Don’t say “I’m going to paint the bathroom from 10-2” when you know that the kids eat lunch at 11:30.  Otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure and resentment.  If you have small children, do projects that require the most attention during nap times or when you have help (my older kids are great with the baby so I do a lot of work when they are there to help watch him).  Don’t start working on a drywall project with hot mud that needs to be applied in less than 30 minutes, right before nap time. Since when the baby starts melting down, you are going to have step away from the project, and now you have a big mess on your hands.
 I try to do projects that require my undivided attention when my husband is home (nights and weekends) or while the baby is sleeping.  When I’m alone with the baby, I focus on small projects that can be completed quickly, or I work on the computer.  Since those are typically not time-critical.  And an outing to the home improvement store can actually be an adventure when you’re 2!

3. DO Keep an eye on them:
Because I don’t have help during the day, (I have the baby with me 24/7 and the older kids are with me when they aren’t in school) I use a second pair of eyes.  Even if I am engrossed in a project, I need to be ‘watching’ the little ones the whole time, even when I’m not in the room.  Your kids health and safety should NEVER come at the expense of something you are working on.  

4.  Involve the kids and reward them for being team players:
Some projects are easy and safe enough to involve your kids in. Nothing makes your kids feel more special then asking them to be involved in a project with you. I personally love teaching my girls how to work with their hands, and the sense of empowerment it gives them.  Often when I am working on crafts or holiday decor I let my kids put in their two cents.  Children are remarkably creative, and I have been surprised at what great ideas my kids have come up with.  On the flip side, if you kids are NOT interested in a project, don’t force them. The goal is to make them feel good about themselves.. not drag them kicking and screaming into the garage to paint a birdhouse. Child setting up vignette
If a DIY project is not suitable for kids you can still reward them for the part they ARE contributing.  Make sure to point out how much you appreciate the fact they played nicely when they do, and if your promised them a reward, make sure you deliver.  If your kids can see a payoff for letting you get your work done, they are more likely to to want to do it again.  There is a fine line between bribery and earned rewards.  I don’t mind pushing that boundary.
Baby with cake

5. Take time to get away from it all
One of the biggest side effects you get from all this DIY-family balancing act is burnout.  It can me mentally and physically draining to always try to keep all those balls in the air.  And so I think it is essential that you set aside time that is just for you.  Take time to take care of yourself and do something you love.  If a project is frustrating and overwhelming, step back, treat yourself to some “me” time and reset.
Coffee and computer
I personally set aside every Sunday morning, and I head to Starbucks, get a coffee and a spend a few hours in peace and quiet.  It really does set up my outlook for the whole week.  Things always look brighter after some coffee and a little time to yourself.

So now that I have set you on the road for a successful balance between DIYing and your family, what are some of the traps you want to avoid that will derail all your hard work.


1. DON'T Be a perfectionist:
Seriously people. Life is just too short to worry about every.single.detail.  Especially on projects where I let my kids help, there are always going to be tiny flaws in things, and that is okay.  I’d still rather get something done with a slight imperfection, than not get it done at all.
Girl with silhouette suppliesI have ‘eyeballed’ hanging photos more times that you could count because I didn’t have the time (or desire) to run out the garage and find a tape measure and level.  And you know what?  It the big scheme of things, eyeballing is usually good enough.  I didn’t measure a single thing for my gallery walls and I live with any slight imperfections.  If it bugs you, you can always fix it down the line, but in reality.. you will probably end up letting it go and living with it.  Since the fact you have installed a gallery wall at all, outweighs the cons of a slightly crooked frame.

2. DON'T Feel Guilty:
This is a big one. When I’m in the middle of a project typically the dishes don’t get done, the laundry piles up and my house can get to be a disaster.  I choose to let things slide for the sake of my DIY projects, but I have stopped feeling bad about it.   Eventually the dishes get washed, and the laundry put away.  Maybe it isn’t as quick as it would have been if I wasn’t DIYing and blogging, but I don’t really care.  I am one of those people who never makes their bed, it isn’t a priority to me.  Something has to give.  What that is ultimately comes down to you.. YOU decide what to push off until another day, but whatever it is don’t feel guilty about it.
Baby with mantel
Maybe your kitchen remodel means that your kids watch a movie one afternoon instead of going to the library.  Or maybe it means that you take a few hours out of every weeknight to install crown molding in your living room, so you have to buy cupcakes for the school bake sale.  Don’t feel guilty about it, or let someone else make you feel guilty.  That other mom at the PTA fundraiser who looking down her nose at your pre-packaged cupcakes, will be the same person oohing an ahhing at your crown molding and saying  “I don’t know do you do it!” Mark my words.  

3. DON’T Forget what your priorities really are
This may seem contradictory to the rest of this list, but it is all about moderation.  Sometimes you need to know when enough is enough.  I do believe that taking time for yourself to do things you love and to model empowering behavior for you kids is important. But you need to listen closely to your family and know when to take a break from DIY.   It is easy to get wrapped up in a project (especially long drawn up renovations where you just want to get it done) but always try to remember WHY you are doing it. You are making your home a better place for your family.  Pay close attention to the mood of your family.Kids
Your kids will only be little for so long, so take time to enjoy them.  Spend some time playing Chutes and Ladders and hanging out at the playground.  Since one day they won’t be underfoot, and then you can DIY your heart out, but you’ll miss them.  That doesn’t mean your world needs to revolve around them 24/7, but they also need to know they are THE most important thing in your life.  No matter what.  Be careful to never lose sight of that.

4. DON’T be afraid to ask for help
I don’t currently have a house cleaner or nanny or any paid help, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get help in other ways.  My husband is really supportive of my projects and is great about not saying anything when dinner is frozen pizza or I tell him to get take out yet again.  He doesn’t roll his eyes when I tell him he’ll have to dig out his blue shirt form the bottom of the clean laundry basket or when he steps in the door and I immediately run out for something at the Home Improvement store.  If you feel like you are overwhelmed, you should ask for help.   If that means getting someone to help clean your house, of bringing in a mother’s helper or just asking your husband to put the kids to bed one night so you can get a jump start on something you want to do.. just ask.  Nobody (not even me) is Superwoman.
Super hero kids
5. DON'T compare yourself to anyone else
Comparison is the thief of joy.  The DIY world is a small one.  It always feels like nothing is new.  You are working on a project you love, and the next day you see in on Pinterest done bigger and better.  That can take all the wind out of your sails.  You finally put up the Chevron curtains you always loved and then log into Facebook to read Better Homes and Gardens has told you that chevron is “the one design mistake everyone is making.”

Don’t sweat it.  You shouldn’t be working on DIY projects just to keep up with the Joneses.  You should be doing it because you love doing it.  It brings you joy and makes you happy.  There is something satisfying about working on a project with your own two hands.  Standing back and saying “I made that!”  Even if it means you are doing it differently than everyone else.
There is nothing wrong with marching to the beat of a different drum.
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Home depot kids projects