The Best Free Resources For New Bloggers

The Best Free Resources For New Bloggers

So your blog is up and running, now WHAT?! That’s what I asked myself a year ago after I published my first blog post. I had so many great blog ideas but I had no idea how to make my blog posts look professional and get the views that I wanted. When I started my blog the number one priority for me was a positive ROI. I knew I needed some tools to run my blog but I also knew these tools had to be very cheap and or free! I researched, and I tested and I tried A TON of free and very cheap tools and finally found the tools that I couldn’t live without. This roundup of the best free resources for new bloggers is the top 5 tools that I absolutely can’t live without!

I recently had a phone call with a college friend of mine who was interested in starting a blog and wanted to know all the ins and outs of blogging. We chatted for an hour and a half about what tools I use, how I make an income, the time investment, ALL OF THE THINGS. I got off that call and knew exactly what my next blog post had to be. I took my notes from that phone call and immediately began this blog post.

Sharing blogging tips and resources is a passion of mine. This list of tools will help every new blogger successfully operate their blog, on the cheap!

Free Resources For New Bloggers

Graphic Editing

Professional and aesthetically pleasing graphics are a must for all blogs! Most of my blog marketing happens on Pinterest, and Pinterest users go wild over a beautiful graphic. I can write the most informative, in-depth blog post but if it does not have a beautiful graphic it will not perform well on Pinterest.

My favorite free graphic editing programs are Canva and Fotojet. These sites are so easy to use and I can make beautiful graphics in a matter of minutes. I created my media kit on Canva and it was so easy! Every time I need to update my media kit, I am able to update, download and send out all in minutes. My media kit looks so professional and it was all free to make!

Did you notice that graphic at the top of the blog post? I made that graphic on Canva in under 3 minutes! Seriously! I used one of their pre-existing templates and edited to make it fit the theme and colors of my blog and tada, I have a blog & Pinterest graphic! Canva is a must-use tool! The graphics below are all made on Canva or Fotojet, these tools are the real deal!

My entire professional career I have worked closely with graphic designers so I always had access to beautiful graphics. When it comes to my blog, I am the graphic designer. Instead of spending tons of money on Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, I just hop on over to Canva or Fotojet and prepare professional-looking blog graphics in minutes!

Scheduling Tools

There is a myriad of scheduling tools out there. Scheduling tools are platform dependent but a few examples are HootSuite, Buffer, CoSchedule, I mean the list goes on and on. I religiously use Tailwind, and I am obsessed!

Once a week, I sit down and schedule 50 Pins on Tailwind and repin 100 Tailwind tribe member pins. I have over 550K views on Pinterest using that simple technique. This might sound like a huge task but I dedicate less than 2 hours a week to Pinterest and 50% of my blog views come from the site! You can read more about how I use Pinterest and how much I love Pinterest here.

Tools for new bloggers
Pinterest Tools

So technically Tailwind is not free BUT I have a code for you to get one free month. I promise that once you take advantage of that free month you will pay the $9 a month to continue using this service, it’s that crucial to your blog!

Yoast

SEO, every new blogger’s nemesis. When it comes to SEO, you can read 25 books about search engine optimization or you can install Yoast. My blog traffic has increased by 100% by installing Yoast and optimizing all blog posts, including all old blog posts. If you are like me and host your blog on WordPress, Yoast is a free plugin.

As you can see by this screenshot, Yoast provides tips and tricks to improve your blog post to increase your search engine ranking. By the way, this screenshot is the actual Yoast SEO analysis from this blog post.

SEO for bloggers
SEO tools

Another great free SEO tool is CoSchedule. CoSchedule helps you develop a very strong headline for your blog post. CoSchedule is a great tool if you need help developing headlines that will drive traffic to your blog.

I broke down SEO for beginners here, its a must read for all new bloggers!

Grammarly

I wish I had an entire team here to help write and edit my blog but that’s not my reality! My sweet husband helps edit sometimes but he is an engineer and his English skills are well that of an engineer. My background is in B2B marketing and Grammarly has been a go-to tool of mine for ages. It is a great resource in my professional career and a wonderful help to my blog. My background is in B2B marketing so Grammarly has been a go-to tool of mine for ages.

Before I publish anything I make sure my posts are error free by running it through Grammarly. Recently, I was reading a blog from a very popular blogger (she has a half a million Instagram followers!!) and in the very first line of the blog post there was a major error. I immediately thought, man she should have ran this blog post through Grammarly. If you are writing and editing all of your blog posts, install Grammarly now, the perfect extra set of eyes!

Affiliate Programs

There are affiliate programs for all types of bloggers, most of my posts are fashion and beauty related so I joined a program that best caters to that. I am a member of RewardStyle, best known by its customer-facing app, Liketoknow.it, and I love it! The ease of use, the community, the tools they provide; all of it, I love! Below is an example of a Liketoknow.it post

Fashion Blogger
Affiliate Programs for New Bloggers

For new bloggers; ShareASale is a great affiliate program and perfect for new bloggers. Amazon Associates and ShopStyle are also great affiliate programs for new bloggers.

In my experience, Affiliate programs are the quickest and easiest ways to monetize your blog. Days after joining RewardStyle, I began to see financial results. I was shocked at the turnaround time but also VERY pleased!

What are a few must use tools for your blog? Tell me in the comments, I would love to add a few more tools to my arsenal.

Next Up: Instagram for New Bloggers

My next blog post in this blogging series is going to be about everyones favorite social media site, Instagram. I have two different ideas for that blog post, and I need your help deciding! Would you rather see the tools I use for Instagram or how I hit 20K in less than a year? Let me know!

Let’s Be Besties!

InstagramPinterest

Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog
Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog
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10 New Blogger Tips That I Wish I Knew

10 New Blogger Tips That I Wish I Knew

In honor of my 100th blog post (WHAT!?!?!) I thought it was time I shared some things that I learned from my blogging journey. There is a ton of new blogger tips that I wish I knew before I pushed publish on my first blog post, it felt like it was time I share those tips with you. If you are new to blogging, learn from my missteps.

My first few months of blogging I was so concerned with pushing out content that I didn’t focus on what made a blog successful and ultimately profitable. In 2019, I have really put my focus and energy on my blog and Instagram and I have really reaped the benefits.

In this blog post, I will discuss all the new blogger tips that helped me get to the place my blog is today as well as simple advice that I learned in my blogging journey. Let me preface this blog by saying, I have been blogging for under a year so I am in no way, shape or form a blogging expert.

Let’s Get To This List Of New Blogger Tips

Post Quality Content.

Quality content is king. Your aim with every blog post should be to answer a question or solve a problem. If a reader lands on your blog and does not feel like they received beneficial information, they probably won’t be back. You will have the most success converting blog readers into email subscribers if they feel like they left with a solution to their problem. Even if their problem is what to wear on vacation.

Okay, but how long is a quality blog post? Long form content always performs best for me. Most of my blog posts are between 500 – 1000 words, I would never EVER post a blog under 300 words. More words = more opportunity for SEO.

Remember: You own your blog!

Instagram is a must for all bloggers but at the end of the day once you place that content on Instagram, you no longer own that content. But you know what you do own? your blog. I can’t stress this enough. Instagram could just dissapear one day and all of your hard work would go with it. So while quality content on Instagram is important, your top priority should be quality blog content.

Be You!

In order for your audience to connect with your blog they need to see and hear you! Let your inner self shine through your Blog.

Use tons of pictures of yourself, tell anecdotes, write in your voice and always stay true to yourself. If your audience feels like they are connecting with the person behind the keyboard they will keep on reading.

Don’t Play the comparison game

Honestly, this tip is as much for me as it is for you! Because let me tell you I STRUGGLE with comparison. It’s so easy to see someone else’s success and forget about their months and years of hard work to get there.

One of the things I constantly tell myself is “Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. I have to remind myself of this EVERY DAMN DAY.

REMEMBER : Everyone starts by taking the first step.

Know Your Audience

If you aren’t writing with your target audience in mind, than whatcha doing?! Before you publish your first blog post ask yourself, who is this for? You will have a much easier time defining your content when you understand your audiences wants and needs.

Believe In Yourself

Oh gosh is this important.

When I started this Blog, I told myself everyday, “I am going to make this work, no matter what”

I didn’t back down.

Yes, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Those first few months I was working crazy hours on my blog and didn’t see one penny come in. But I kept telling myself, this is going to work. A little mixture of positivity and a whole lot of hard work got me to where my blog is today.

Pay For A Good Hosting Site

Invest in a quality hosting site, it will pay off, I promise.

When I was designing my blog I wanted a hosting site that was simple to use for myself and my audience and I found the best results with WordPress. I have been very happy with my WordPress experience and absolutely recommend it.

Pay for your site, if I see a site that is something like “www.ilovecats.wordpress.com” there is no way in hell I am clicking on that. Invest in a decent host.

Be Consistent

Some weeks it feels next to impossible to publish a new blog post but its a must. If you want to seriously be a blogger, blog. Set a schedule and stick to it. Doing this will give your audience something to look forward to on a weekly basic. Also, consisently blogging really helps your SEO. By proving that you’re consistent and provide high value information, Search Engines’ Algorithms will automatically rank your posts higher.

Be Patient

Ugh. patience is the worst. Am I right?! sometimes I feel like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka chocolate factory, you know the one screaming how she wants it now!?

I mean, all I want is 100k Instagram followers and 100k email subscribers, is that too much to ask?!

Its can be frustrating to be patient in a world of instant gratification, but its a necessity in this blogging world. Success takes time. No one is an overnight success.

In my very short blogging career, I have seen so many people blog for a month, not receive the traction they hoped for and immediately give up, don’t do it. With hard work, patience and perseverance, it will all work out.

Will there be naysayers and negative noise? absolutely! but keep trekking on, it will pay off.

Pinterest Is Your New Best Friend

Last month, my blog set a record amount of views and to no surprise 43 % of those views came from Pinterest. I wrote a blog post all about how I use Pinterest you can read that here.

Tips For New Bloggers
New Blogger Tips

If you just started a blog get on Pinterest, ASAP. When I began blogging I thought that Pinterest was a dead social media site and boy was I wrong. It’s very much alive and helping blogs everywhere get tons of traffic.

Instagram is great for sponsored posts and pretty pictures but it’s not the best referrer for blog traffic. I thought once I hit 10K on Instagram my blog traffic from Instagram would skyrocket, I was wrong. Last month, only 5% of my blog views came from Instagram.

Research And Understand SEO

I have spent my career in marketing so before I began blogging I had a pretty good understanding of SEO. Having a good understanding of SEO will help you get those organic blog views that every good blog needs. I have shared my very basic, introductory SEO tips here.

SEO tips for bloggers
SEO For New Bloggers

Beyond reading my introductory to SEO tips, constantly research SEO and ways you can improve your blog traffic. Implement 1 new tip every week. Measure your results. Check your Analytics. You will be so surprised how easy SEO tricks will increase your blog views.

Now take my 10 tips and go blog you heart out.

What is your biggest fear as a new blogger? Let me know in the comments below!

Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog
Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog

The Best Summer Foundation For All Skin Types

The Best Summer Foundation For All Skin Types

Summer is coming fast, and if you live in a warm place as I do, summer is here. It is already the time of the year where my makeup isn’t staying put all day, my scalp is a sweaty mess and I am LAYERING on the sunscreen. At this point of the year, you have probably already put your winter clothes away but have you purchased your summer foundation?

When it comes to summer skin, usually less is more. There are clearly lots of time when a full coverage foundation is needed but isn’t it nice to sometimes just put on a nice CC cream?

The Best Makeup For Summer

It’s safe to say that we all have the same goal with our foundation; flawless skin, look 10 years younger and make sure it lasts all day long. I mean, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? My biggest pet peeve is when I start my day with a flawless face and by lunch, my make up is gone.

When looking for a new foundation, there are so many options it can be quite daunting. From high end to drugstore, the amount of summer foundations available is endless. Who has unlimited hours, and money to spend trying to find the best options when it comes to sweat-proof summer foundations? Good news, I have put in the leg work and have found the best summer foundations for all skin types.

Now let’s get down to the best summer foundations

IT Cosmetics CC Cream – I could start and stop this list right here. The holy grail of summer foundation. Not only is it lightweight, high SPF but it also comes in both a matte and illuminating version.

Estee Lauder Doublewear Foundation – Did you think I would make a list about foundation and not included my absolute favorite? no way! This is the best option if you have an important event and want a full coverage foundation. It is 24 hour sweatproof and has some serious staying power. If you are looking for a dupe of this, you can find my list here.

Tarte Rainforest Of the Sea Foundation – This full coverage formula is very hydrating and has a light sunscreen to keep you protected all day long. In addition to that, it is also a super buildable foundation.

Kat Von D Lock It Foundation – This product will last ALL DAY LONG. This product is waterproof so a little sweat won’t affect your full face of makeup. This is a super matte formula so it is best for those of you with skin on the oilier side.

Urban Decay Naked Skin – This is the foundation that I wore to my wedding reception two summers ago. It is such a nice demi-matte foundation that can last through anything, even a little rain on your wedding day.

Milk Sunshine Skin Tint – I am always drawn to Milk products because of their super cute packaging and ease of use. This product has SPF 30, super hydrating and a super easy application. It’s perfect for casual summer days. This formula works best on skin on the drier side.

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Cream – This list wouldn’t be complete without one BB cream.  This comes in 20 shades, SPF 20, has buildable coverage, natural looking finish and leaves you with the most flawless complexion. Everyone needs this BB cream in their summer makeup bag!

So who else is ready to put their best face forward this summer? If you are blessed with super dry skin (like myself), make sure to read my best foundations for dry skin post.  Do you have a summer foundation that you love? Leave it in the comments!

Blogging Basics: SEO For New Bloggers

Blogging Basics: SEO For New Bloggers

I recently asked on Instagram stories what blogging specific post my audience wanted to see, to my delight the response to my poll was SEO for New Bloggers. So here I am today sharing all of my SEO tips and tricks for beginners. Don’t get me wrong I am absolutely new to the blogging world so this post is just me sharing what I have learned along the way/ what hours of reading & research have taught me.

As a new blogger, I am sure you hear about SEO all the time but what is SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the practice of increasing the amount of traffic to your site by improving organic search results.

The goal of implementing an SEO strategy on your site is to improve your ranking on search engines. The search engines I get most of my blog views from are google and bing, this past month, over 50% of my blog views came directly from Google.

If you google, Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation Dupe, my blog post is the second result that comes up. While this might seem like a very specific thing to search, I get 1000 blog views to this post from Google a month! I’ve only been blogging a few months so 1000 views to a blog post a month from Google is a complete success to me!

SEO Success

SEO for New Bloggers: Increase your Blog Views

When first implementing an SEO strategy one of the most important aspects is Keywords. Keywords are at the core of SEO. A keyword is a word or phrase in your web content that makes it possible for people to find your site via search engines. The goal of SEO is to rank in the top search engine results pages for your chosen keywords.

Keywords For SEO

Finding Successful Keywords

Your SEO strategy should start with identifying successful keywords. These should be words and phrases related to your blog post topic that people are regularly searching for.

Lets’ go through my strategy when it comes to keywords. I start by writing down the most generic topic for the blog post I am working on. Say it is March and I am working on a blog post about dresses, the keywords I would start with would be “Spring Fashion”. That would be the overarching keywords then I would break it down to more specific phrases that further describe my blog post such as Spring Dresses, Spring Fashion For Women, Spring Fashion For Work, Spring Outfits, etc.

Now that I have my list of generic keywords all written down, I am going to take this list and start plugging it in to search engines as well as Pinterest. I am going to write down the top results from that search on my keyword sheet. This tactic should leave you with roughly 25 – 30 keywords and phrases. Later in this post, I am going to refer to this as my list of researched keywords and phrases.

Using keywords

Now that you have the keywords, there are some general guidelines on where to place the keywords. The most important places to place keywords are in the subject, the first paragraph, the several headings throughout your blog post, the ALT – Text ( I’ll talk more about this in a bit) and the closing paragraph.

One last thing about keywords, do not overstuff your content. Search engines are VERY smart and overusing keywords throughout your post does not work. Use your keywords naturally because a blog post overstuffed with keywords can get penalized.

Now that keywords are out of the way, lets talk about all the other basic guidelines that will increase your search engine ranking.

Write An Actual Blog Post!

Here’s my rant of the day – one of my biggest pet peeves is when I see someone has a new blog post and then I click to read their post and the post is a few words and a few pictures! If you have a committed Instagram following that clicks on everything you post then maybe a short post is okay but if you are looking to diversify your audience and increase your SEO, then that is absolutely NOT OKAY! Your blog post must be at least 300 words! At least! To increase your SEO you need more text, in the way of SEO, more text better SEO.

In addition to the length of the post, regularly posting new content is very important. If you want to take your blog seriously than you should be consistently writing new blog posts. Search engines love websites that add fresh content. To increase traffic to your blog, you should be writing at least one blog post a week.

Research Trending Topics

If the subject matter of your blog post is not regularly being searched for, then the chances of the blog post being seen on search engines is slim. I rely heavily on social sites (Pinterest & Instagram) to keep a pulse on which topics are trending and what topics will attract my intended audience.

Add SEO Plugins

There are tons of SEO resources out there, use them! I use WordPress as my hosting site and have installed Yoast to help with all things SEO. Yoast is a great resource that provides tons of recommendations that help increase my search engine ranking.

Provide ALT – Text For All Of Your Images

ALT text is a readable description of the images on your blog. When it comes to ALT-text, what I like to do is take a keyword from my researched list and use that as the ALT- text. Like I’ve stated before, I use WordPress for my blog and they make it very easy to change the ALT -text on my images.

Beyond ALT- Text, make sure that all file names are also SEO friendly. Change your generic file names (such as IMG22545.jpg) to a keyword from your researched list or a short text describing what it is. If your keyword is a phrase, use hyphens to separate the words (hyphens are read as spaces on search engines).

This is the very simple, basic elementary introduction to SEO. Take these tips and implement them into your next blog post and let me know the results, I would love to see/ hear your results!

I am working on a bit more advanced level SEO post and can’t wait to share that because I have a lot to say about long tail keywords and audience behavior.

Blogging and techniques that increase my blog views is something I am very passionate about so if you are ever looking for someone to chat all things blogging, I would love to be your girl.

Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog

The Best Lipsticks For Spring

The Best Lipsticks For Spring

One of the best instant refreshers for warmer spring weather is a new lipstick, right? With Living Coral selected as Pantone’s Color Of The Year, it’s a great time to take to invest in some of the prettiest coral (and pink) lip colors for spring. These fun spring lipsticks will definitely convince you that the temperatures outside are warmer than they actually are.

Are you ready to update your makeup bag with beautiful coral lipstick? These are my spring favorites…

Spring Lipstick 2019
  1. Nars Lipstick – Orgasm
  2. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick – Lovers Coral
  3. L’Oreal Colour Rich Matte Lip Color – Matte Caron
  4. MAC Lipstick – Pure Zen
  5. Dior Lip Glow To The Max – Bright Pearly Coral
  6. Tarte Quench Lip Rescue – Coral
  7. L’Oreal Colour Riche Shine – Luminous Coral
  8. Maybelline Color Inti-Matte Nudes – Naked Coral
  9. Milani Color Statement Lipstick – Matte Innocence
  10. Morphe Liquid Lipstick – Virgin
  11. Buxom Matte Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick – White Russian
  12. NYX Professional Makeup Soft Matte Lip Cream – Tokyo

If I am honest, Coral lipstick is definitely out of my comfort zone when it comes to lipstick. I am trying to add more color to my wardrobe and that definitely includes lipstick as well. Traditionally, I am a nude lip girl through and through. Recently, I have shared my everyday lip combo on Instagram but if you are interested in the perfect year-round nude lip, I have linked it below.

Nude Lipstick Set

What is your favorite lipstick? Do you change up your lipsticks for the seasons?

Happy (almost) Spring!

Hat On The Map | Fashion & Lifestyle Blog