52 Reasons Why You Need to Be Blogging

Did you know, one of my favourite things to do is listen and observe. That’s probably a bit surprising to you, particularly if you follow my adventures on Instagram, because I’m quite loud and eccentric! But it’s true. I love listening to the real problems behind why more people aren’t feeling confident with promoting themselves online. Because that’s all SEO really is, in it’s broadest sense. Getting yourself “out there” so you attract more sales.

One of the key reasons why you’re not getting found is because you’re letting overthinking get in the way and you’re just not blogging enough. There are a million reasons why (time, pressure, other things take priority) but I’m not interested in why you can’t, I’m interested in why it’s a Good Idea.

So, this week I launched a challenge in my Facebook group “So Exciting Obviously: SEO for Creative Women” to find out why they think blogging is a good idea and added these reasons to my ever-growing list of 52 reasons why you need to be blogging more.

Have a read, and let me know in the comments if you think of any others!

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s great for building your brand
  3. It gets you noticed
  4. It builds trust in your readers’ minds
  5. It makes you stand out from the crowd
  6. It helps you grow in confidence
  7. It gives you content to use on social media and newsletters
  8. It ensures your latest work is always published
  9. It’s a chance to offer value to your clients
  10. It shows potential clients more in-depth information about the products you sell
  11. If the posts are engaging, gives people a reason to return to your website
  12. It’s a way of sharing helpful advice, tips
  13. It’s a source of pride in your website – you’re happier for people to look at it
  14. It’s great for getting found online by a new audience
  15. By publishing more, you improve and attract more
  16. It’s a great way to practice writing
  17. It increases your audience’s confidence in you
  18. It’s a way for you to express your creativity
  19. It brings traffic to your website
  20. It shows off your best work
  21. It establishes authority in your readers’ minds
  22. It lets you help others
  23. It’s a way of sharing examples of your work
  24. It shows experience in specific areas
  25. It updates your website with new work
  26. It lets people know that you’re still here
  27. It’s a way to communicate your values
  28. It helps you guide them
  29. It’s a way of getting to know you, so they can proceed to the next stage of decision making
  30. It’s a great way to build relationships with others you mention
  31. It gives others content to share
  32. It gives your target audience content to share
  33. You can send specific posts to people who enquire to help them with their questions
  34. It provides a good reason for sorting the cream of the crop images to update my gallery
  35. It gives you content for sharing on social media.
  36. It challenges you, and being challenged is good, it stretches you
  37. You learn how to do a new thing
  38. When you monitor traffic coming to your site, it’s motivating
  39. It allows you to share your thoughts and develop them
  40. It has a higher reach than your website alone
  41. It creates new opportunities
  42. It documents your work and life
  43. It shows you care
  44. It sets the tone for what you’re like to work with
  45. It’s a way to share your expertise and experience
  46. It helps you stay in touch with your audience
  47. It keeps your shopfront updated
  48. It can be fun to share something you’re passionate about
  49. Readers can relate to you
  50. It shows off your ideal clients so you attract more of the same
  51. It gives you a voice
  52. It reminds your clients you exist

So, what are you waiting for? Write and publish a blog post and share the link in the Facebook group! If you’re looking to get to grips with blogging and need some help, then my SEO workshop on 11th October is perfect for you.

Talk soon!

Maddy

Domains, Hosting, WordPress, oh my! a.k.a How to build your own WordPress Website part 1

Domains, hosting, WordPress – it all gets our knickers in a twist, am I right? I get emailed a lot about where to start with building your own WordPress website, I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know to set up your own website and get to grips with right here and now.

First up, did you know there are TWO versions of WordPress.

  1. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality but it’s not good for a professional site.
  2. WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all-singing-all-dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use Namecheap (although there are a gazillion others out there like 123reg, GoDaddy etc). I like Namecheap because it’s super simple and easy to use, plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others. The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk. There is a debate on whether to choose .com or .co.uk as your main domain name. I would always advocate buying both if they are both available in order to protect your brand.

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but it is a ranking factor (albeit not a major one it would seem any more) if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Now you’ve chosen a name for your house, you need to find some land, i.e. your own corner of the internet on which your website will sit: your hosting.

I recommend Siteground – I host my web design clients on Siteground and they’re brilliant with customer support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, Namecheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there.

Now that you have hosting, you need to update your domain provider and add the settings that your hosting provider give you – these are called nameservers. In a new tab, if you’re using Siteground, go to My Account, then Manage Account for the domain you’re working on and then the nameservers are on the left hand side. Go back to your domain provider in the previous tab and find “Manage DNS”. This can be a little tricky the first time you do it, which is why I’m so keen on you choosing providers that have good customer support! This will take up to 24 hours to update and then you’re ready for the next stage.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.org

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process.

You’ll be asked to note down your username and password provided by Siteground for your WordPress install. Make a note of these details and so you’ll be able to access your new website backend via yourwebsite/wp-admin

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out. I’m a recent convert to Divi by Elegant Themes and now design all client sites on this platform, as they’re a drag and drop builder making it easy to build in blocks and they have great customer support.

When you’re researching themes, be sure that the theme:

  • Is fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, actually look for the word ‘responsive’)
  • Has great reviews
  • Is updated regularly
  • Has a good support system
  • Has a clean design (you can add more in if you want to, but it can be harder to take away depending on the theme)
  • Has a flexible layout
  • Has great documentation (because, like Ikea, you may not read the instructions until you’ve tried it once or twice on your own but it’s really great to have them in any case because unlike Ikea they should be useful to you!)

My advice to you is, don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the theme/template looks, but actually further down the line, when you book a Healthcheck with me then I may suggest you change the layout of the pages to convert your readers to customers better, and I want the best for you and what you do for your website.

Once you’ve bought the theme…

You can download your selected theme, it will be a zip file and you need to install the theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Next is to choose the pages you need on your website to support your clients to trust you and choose to book you – coming up next week!

For now, let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Maddy xo

P.S. Full disclosure – this post contains affiliate links so I get a little bit of moulah if you make a purchase. I do not, however, endorse products I do not use and trust completely.

Guest Blogging : What Is It And Why You Want To Do It

Is your business’s blog languishing in the corner, lost and forgotten, starting to gather dust? If so, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. You may be surprised how common it is!

I think if people knew the benefits that a good blog can bring to their business, there might be a lot more sparkly high-functioning blogs out there!

Blogs are important for attracting potential customers to your site. They can give visitors useful, enjoyable content on a regular basis. Blogs also provide a chance to use links that show Google and other search engines that your website is high-quality and meaningful. But have you considered that your blog could also be an awesome networking opportunity?

One such kind of networking is guest blogging.

Simply put, guest blogging is where two or more bloggers within the same or similar industry write blog posts for each other. This allows them to create useful links between their businesses and increase traffic to each other’s sites.

Have you considered guest blogging? Why not talk with some local businesses or other industry suppliers (only ones you’d want to be associated with!) and suggest guest blogging on each other’s websites?

Here are our five reasons why you should start guest blogging :

  1. It’s a fantastic way to increase your site’s organic search views and lead potential customers to your site..
  2. Strength in numbers is a real thing! Forming friendships (and partnerships) with other businesses in your niche will strengthen brand awareness and grow your following.
  3. Guest blogging generates interest and discussion in new ways for your business, and for your industry.
  4. It allows you to share your valuable knowledge with a wider audience of potential customers.
  5. Guest blogging creates valuable backlinks to your website which helps to increase your search rankings.

So what are you waiting for? Start guest blogging! Find out HOW in our super helpful (free) PDF guide How to Become a Guest Blogging Superstar.

How long should a blog post be: The inside scoop on how to blog

The first thing you should know is: There is no one size fits all answer to writing blog posts. Soz about that. But this is why you’ll find such different answers all over the web.

In my talks I give the advice that you should have at least 500 words as this provides enough content to be nice and juicy, usually supports the need of the reader (what query they have, and is it answered) and is pleasing enough for the reader to stick around and spend time on the page. Because 300 words is a bit short and doesn’t really provide anything more than the basics but search engines LOVE long content like 1500+ words BUT do your readers really want to read that much about whatever you’re writing about?

What I’d like to ask you to consider is – what is the goal of your blog post? Because I guarantee they won’t be the same each time.

Sometimes, they’ll be to push the sales of a particular product or service.
Sometimes it will be to increase the awareness of what you do.
Sometimes it will be to maximise on the PR around an event you were involved in (styled shoot, real wedding, pop up shop, party, etc etc)

How often should I blog?

You need to be blogging regularly. If you get a flurry of inspiration don’t be tempted to publish all at the same time, instead use the scheduling tool on your website . Whether it’s once/twice/three times a week or month, just do it regularly. Use the scheduler on your website platform to select a date and time to publish and use Facebook scheduler / Buffer to share your posts.

What should I blog about?

  • Sit yourself down and brainstorm the topics your clients ask about.
  • You should think about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.
  • Look in your inbox, what are the most common questions? What questions are you always asked by your clients? What are you asked by fellow professionals and peers? Write about those topics first. (Like I wrote this one!)
  • Address a specific question and you’ll get the readers in.
  • Read wedding blogs designed for your audience. Check out Top 100 Wedding Blogs for inspiration.
  • Share other people’s blog content. Do not copy and paste their posts, but instead write a couple of paragraphs about the topic, then link to the blog post and email them with a compliment about how much you enjoyed their work.
  • Write about what projects you’re working on right now.
  • Always feature your real weddings if you’re a wedding pro.
  • Keep a Google Doc / Word doc of article ideas on your phone so you’re never stuck for an idea.

Make a plan for 2018

Next you need to organise what you want to share in your blog posts and rotate:

  • Tutorial posts or “How to” posts. (They build trust for the reader and they’re great for SEO)
  • Resource lists (list local services and be thorough with your information, contact the businesses and let them know you’ve linked to them, they might link back! Call the posts things like “Top Ten Wedding Venues in London”
  • Checklists (yes, they’re prolific, but oh boy are they wildly popular, don’t dismiss them as they’re also potentially viral on social media including Pinterest). Make sure the lists are informative to your reader and in line with your business values.
  • Infographics – this relates to being helpful to your couples. They’re also hugely popular on Pinterest. Use a free tool like
  • PiktoChart to convey some useful information. Search on Pinterest and see what’s already out there.
  • Guest posts on your blog – featuring guest posts from other professionals in your field is a great way to share audiences, and to associate yourself in a particular area so that readers know more about you. Reach out to other pros and ask them if they’d like to write for your blog. Writing a few short questions for them if they say yes will help inspire them to be specific.
  • Guest post on other blogs – Publishing on other people’s blogs earns you a new audience, boosts your traffic as the link on the new site will earn you a great backlink to your site.
  • Interviews – interview pros you admire in your field, perhaps get their take on the current trends in your area, interview yourself so potential clients can see what you’re all about! They want to get to know you before they trust you to book your services.
  • Sponsored posts – if you choose the right blog for you and your audience, then purchasing a sponsored blog post can give you great visibility that generates good quality leads.

Is there a particular way I should format a blog post?

Whilst there is no set way, there is a format that I would recommend

Consider your title:

Write your title with your keyword phrase, then a detail about the topic then couple’s name
E.g. London Wedding Photography – The Ritz Wedding – Harry and Sally
OR if it’s a tutorial post keep it simple:
E.g. How to learn origami in 5 easy steps
If you want to be more creative with your blog posts then use the keyword phrase first, then the funny title afterwards. It’ll help your ranking by using the keyword phrase whilst also appealing to your target audience.

Introduce that proves you identify and understand the problem you’re about to solve for the reader (they don’t know about the range of your photography skills, they don’t know how to put together a particular theme, they don’t know about the skills you have to offer, the list goes on)

Share your expertise by understanding the problem. Show off great examples that demonstrate your expertise (the best images from that wedding, or great photography for a DIY tutorial)

Conclude with a purpose and call to action (what do you want them to do next?)

So, there you have it, the inside scoop on how to blog and how long a blog post should be. BUT there is so much more you can do to create clever content that ranks on search engines AND gets you found by your target client, so we’ve created this FREE downloadable PDF for you to read through and put into action….‘cos we’re feeling generous – it’s Christmas after all!

With warm & Christmassy hugs
Maddy & Team Shine xo

How to Install a Cookie Notice on your website (Not the eating kind, sadly)

So, now you’ve got Google Analytics all nicely set up on your website tracking the movements of your site users. The important next step that many people don’t realise, is that you need to have a Cookie Notice set up on your site to notify users that you are collecting data from them. This is a requirement by law, but have no fear as this is very very easy to set up and we’ll show you how, step by step.

We’ve all seen the mildly irritating popup notices on major websites where we’re told that we’re being tracked and we may click OK and move on. Actually, many of us may not understand what’s actually happening.

(Not this kind of cookie, sadly)

Cookies help websites remember who you are and store important information about you, an example being when you sign into your Gmail account and it says ‘Welcome Back…Maddy’.  Cookies are really important for marketing to people as it’s how we know more about the customer.

There are two types of cookies:

  1. First party cookie – the cookie data is only accessible by the domain name that’s throwing the cookie. These are “good” cookies.
  2. Third party cookies are a bit scary as you’re sharing your information with all your connecting websites (Google Analytics only relies on 1st party cookies).

For WordPress Users:

  • In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins and search for Cookie Notice by dFactory. Cookie Notice is a great plugin as it allows you to customise your cookie notice to fit the style and layout of your WordPress website.
  • Download and Activate this plugin.
  • Go to Settings > update the Message box with We or I according to whether you’re single person or team business, and you can even customise the OK button (like our client Parrot & Pineapple did) to suit your branding!
  • Scroll down until you see Position and select Top or Bottom, depending on whether you want the notice to appear at the top or bottom of the site.
  • Select Colors > Text – choose the hex code to match your branding and the same for Bar colour.
    Click Save Changes.

For Squarespace Users:

  • In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click Code Injection.
  • Add the following code to the Header Code Injection box:

<script type=”text/javascript”> Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”; </script>

  • To replace the sample text in the banner, use this snippet and replace the message:

<script type=”text/javascript”>

Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”

Static.EU_COOKIE_TEXT = “We use cookies to help us improve, promote, and protect our services. By continuing to use the site, you agree to our cookie policy”

Static.EU_COOKIE_BUTTON_LABEL = ‘Continue’

</script>

The default styling on Squarespace isn’t too pretty, and so if you want to get a custom styling for your cookie notice get in touch and we’d be happy to help you with a quote.

So, you’ve now had your eyes opened to the magic that is Google Analytics, you’ve created an account and installed your tracking code to your website. You’ve also installed a Cookie Notice to your site. Amazing!

UPDATED 2018: Since GDPR regulations came into play in May 2018, you’ll need to link to your Cookie Policy in your Cookie Notice. There’s a box to add a link to this in the Cookie Notice plugin. You need to consult a lawyer regarding the wording, as it may be part of your privacy policy for your site.

All this talk of cookies has made us hungry. Grab a cookie and stick the kettle on.

If you’re thinking “I really don’t want to do this myself, I want you to do it plz” then pop me an email and let’s get it sorted for you.

Maddy & Team Shine xo

How to set up Google Analytics (and why the hell you’d want to)

You’ve got a website and you may even be blogging. You want people to see it and you want to know who, when and how people are seeing it. This is useful to you so you can be more strategic with your content.

Obviously, you want to increase the traffic and therefore bookings through your site with the aim of creating income from these site users, but this can seem like a scary task when you have little to no information about who is on your site and what content they are viewing.

What is this ‘Google Analytics’ thing people keep on talking about? And why is it useful to me and my business?

Google Analytics is a free tool available from Google that allows website owners to track the website traffic on their sites and glean some useful information about your site visitors. It collects data on 75% of all websites in the world – that’s crazy. There is a lot of information available to you when you log in to Google Analytics. It can easily become overwhelming but you’ll find that there are large sections of Google Analytics that you don’t actually need to pay *such* close attention to and we’re here to help you.

This is where Google Analytics becomes your new best friend forever, because as a site owner it allows you to answer these five important questions about your audience:

  • Who visits your site?
  • What are people doing on your site? What content are they viewing?
  • When do people visit?
  • How do people find you?
  • How do your viewers interact with content on your site?

It’s not surprising there’s a whole lot of fear out there about Google Analytics, because logging in can feel like a minefield, however have no fear because Google Analytics doesn’t need to be scary. I’m going to break it down for you into some easy to digest, bite-sized chunks!

How to setup Google Analytics for your website

  • Firstly, you want to sign up here for a Google Analytics account. You’ll want to sign in with an existing Google account, or if you’ve put this off until now, set yourself up a free account!
  • Once you’ve signed in you’ll come to a setup screen.
    • For Website Name – you can simply use your URL
    • For Website URL – just type in your website address!
    • For Industry – we’ve found most of these options don’t apply to the clients we work with – if you’re having trouble picking one, we recommend “Online Communities”.
    • For Pick your Time Zone – This is super important so make sure you check your specific time zone.
    • For Account Name – feel free to use your company name. You can have/monitor multiple websites in one Analytics Account, so make sure this name will be appropriate if you plan on adding multiple websites.
    • Data Sharing Settings – completely optional. Select and deselect as you feel comfortable.
    • Click the ‘Get Tracking ID’ button and install on your website.
    • Under ‘Tracking Info’ then ‘Tracking Code’ you’ll find a page which says ‘Website Tracking’ and then has a piece of code below. Copy and Paste this code.

WordPress users: Head into your WordPress account Dashboard and under the Plugin section, search for the ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ Plugin. You’ll want to download and activate this plugin. (Although do check your theme settings as there may be an area under Appearance > Theme > Theme Options where you can add your Google Analytics code. If you’re not sure, check with your theme support)

Squarespace users: In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click External Services. In the Google Analytics Account Number box, enter your tracking ID, and then click Save. It may take up to 24 hours for site statistics to populate in Google Analytics.

Upon activation, you’ll need to visit the Settings > Insert Headers and Footers page. This is where you’ll paste the Google Analytics code that you copied into the headers section.

You’re done – congratulations! Stick the kettle on. Eat a celebratory biscuit or three. Nom, nom. Speaking of cookies, now that you’re stalking your website visitors, you need to install a Cookie Notice.

Now you’re ready to analyse the shiz out of who’s coming to your website and how often so you can monitor just how well your website content is doing. Want to know more about this? Listen to the webinar I recorded all about Google Analytics right here.