5 Blogging Hacks

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Photography by: Angie Garcia


Last week we talked time management and as promised, today we are talking blogging hacks. Now, I’m NO blogging queen, but there are a few hacks {rules if you will} that I live by. I find that these little tricks allow me to focus on content creation for you all and they make balancing my life much easier. My goal in this post is to help any blogger trying to navigate growing their site. I have so much to learn and have made a million and a half blogging mistakes, but I hope you can find something to take away from this!

1. Know Your Girl

You shouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, your content should be the cup of tea ONE girl will drive out of her way to pick up before a meeting, just because she craves it! Many say that if you are talking to everyone then you’re talking to no one and I feel that holds true in blogging. You want your readers to really feel connected to your lifestyle and that brings about loyalty. For example, I follow Holy City Chic when I want to see blue and white goodness and non-toxic beauty products. I read Design Darling when I want my preppy fix. You get the idea. If a reader is scrolling Instagram they should see a photo without your face and even without a preset and know that is your photo by the style and content of the shot. How do you do that? For starters, you must stay true to the unique things that make you, you. I’m not talking about the depths of your soul here, I mean the details that make up your lifestyle! For me, I love a majorly teased hairstyle, an abnormally routined day, keeping my home in order {gives me peace!}, trying a million beauty products, and throwing parties. When you are thinking of those lifestyle details, you are essentially thinking of a brand. Your brand should embody a person. I refer to my brand as the COF girl and I keep a running list of all the things the COF girl embodies. Of course, I want EVERY single visitor to come to my site and feel a sense of joy from finding a friend online. However, I can’t do that if I don’t remain true to my lifestyle, how can a host entertain a guest when she isn’t herself?! 😉

As you really embody your brand, always keep your girl {or guy} at the forefront of your thoughts. Fill out a piece of paper and write out these details of your reader. If she were listening to music, what would she go for? If she were getting a manicure would she go neutral or bold? Does she stay up late or go to bed early? Knowing your brand’s “it girl” will help you create detailed content, that in turn will allow more people to view your site. I’m telling you, it’s a lot easier to create a blog about running and being a vegetarian than it is to just create a running blog. Having a smaller niche allows more people to feel passionate and grow your blog so that you can help others. You aren’t isolating readers, you are allowing non-runners and meat eaters to find your blog, feel welcome and get inspired!

2. Play with Presets

“To theme or not to theme?” That is always the blogging question. A theme represents an aesthetically cohesive Instagram feed. For some bloggers that means light and bright, for others, it means dark and moody. Essentially, if you scroll through a feed and see a consistent series of colors and contrast, they’ve got a theme going on. Now lots of research shows that if you ask a reader if they want a blogger to have a theme, they say, “No.” Themes can sometimes feel a bit unrelatable to a reader and not realistic. However, research also shows bloggers with themes grow at a rapidly quicker rate than bloggers without themes. Therefore, people do feel drawn to them!

What’s my stance on it? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. Take Something Navy, for example, she is adamant against themes and filters and the girl is a powerhouse online. However, Happily Grey is known for her theme and that theme is what secures some incredible brand partnerships. I think this all goes back to knowing your girl and what your brand embodies. Are you Type B and go with the flow? I’d say a theme isn’t something you’d stress over. Are you all about blogging because of aesthetics and photography? You’ll want a theme. I follow the 80/20 rule like with eating healthy. 80% of the time I really push myself to stay creative and work on a feed. 20% of the time, I just post whatever. If I want to post a candid video of Maxi, I do and I don’t care if it matches. I also am not too strict with it, I try to think more of a story I’m telling than a color story.

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to stop shooting such bright and contrasted images. I wanted to go for something different. January through March I did a lot of desaturated imagery. March through May, I went for warm and pink. Now, I’m playing around with detail and tones. I would say mine changes a bit more seasonally. However, I always want to learn the best combination of my personal story and what you all like. I ask my photographer friends, I randomly ask readers, I ask my girlfriends! Always ask around for feedback on your theme and while you will without a doubt get differing opinions, you can take what stands out to each person and try your best to showcase those highlights.

How can you do that? I recommend presets! My girlfriend Marina McAvoy sells a fabulous one and it is the one I used at Disney. She has a mobile preset and you’ll want to make sure to check if you are ordering one for computer or mobile. Now you can easily transfer the desktop preset to your mobile version of Lightroom {Lightroom is the Adobe program you use presets with}, but Marina’s is a lot more simple if you aren’t very familiar with Lightroom. I’d watch a Youtube video or two so that you can play around with the end result. Your preset is going to give each photo in your theme a consistent color, saturation, sharpness, and contrast. Now because each photo will have a different starting point depending on lighting, you do still have to play around with it to get it to work for you, which is why I recommend some Youtube videos if you aren’t familiar. However, after that, it should work like a charm for you!

3. Always Be Open to Learning

It can be so easy to get stuck in ruts- I know I do! When you know something works, why change it? But we all know that failure to evolve is a one-way ticket to fail. As your brand and audience grow, they will want a content creator that adapts with them. My hack is to take 30 minutes a week to be open to learning. During Maxi’s naps on Monday, I watch A Drink with James. This is a video series about influencer marketing and I play it on my iPad while I answer e-mails. It helps me to be always thinking about different facets of blogging and then if he says something that sparks my interest, I make a note of it. Paul works late 2 nights a week and on those evenings, I’ll dive more into what I made note of. While I still have SO much to learn, this is an attainable goal I can hold myself accountable with.

If you are a new blogger, you may want to check out blog workshops! These have become so popular and you can always find one going on in major cities.

4. Live By Your Editorial Calendar

In order to avoid the dreaded, “What do I post today?” question, keep an editorial calendar running so you can always stay on top of shoots and writing posts. An editorial calendar is essentially going to be a planner for your blog and social media. Carly has a fabulous example you can follow!

As a new blogger, this is going to help you stay consistent and allow you to jot down all the wonderful ideas you want to share with your readers. As a seasoned blogger, this is, of course, going to allow you to attend to readers’ requests {when they ask for content you just fill it in} and keep up with sponsored posts. For me, I have a certain percentage of sponsored content I allow each year. A detailed editorial really allows you to cater your content to your audience and pursue your dream partnerships. At the beginning of each quarter, make a list of dream brands you want to work with. When you receive pitches from brands, always refer to that list and make sure it aligns with your goals. The first blogging conference I attended said you should say, “No” to 90% of sponsored content opportunities, so your 10% is your best work. I hold firm to that rule! You can find the percentage you feel comfortable with and keep that as a reminder in your editorial calendar.

Outside of sponsored content, an editorial calendar allows you to keep track of all your passions! I have a certain percentage of evergreen posts {posts like these you can always reference to}, shorter outfit posts, baby posts, home posts and beauty reviews. You can color code your editorial to make sure you’re meeting all those interests. If you start to see too much of one color then you can recognize, “Oh, let’s touch on something else now!”

5. Share Your Life

I may be in the minority, but I love a good styled shoot. In fact, styling shoots are one of my favorite parts of blogging. This post, for example, was so much fun to prepare. I got to make my favorite recipes with one of my best friends along with one of our favorite brands. However, you always want to be cognizant that readers have opinions on styled shoots as well. I always feel inspired, recharged and motivated once I see a blogger do a beautiful styled shoot. But, sometimes the trend goes a little far with fake trips and fake events and it stirs up negative opinions.

Last week, I was going down a twitter rabbit hole in an attempt to gain some more insight that readers had on blogger trends. I was on a hashtag and reading responses and one thing led to another and I saw a wonderful tweet! The person said, “Blogging used to be people sharing their lives. Now it’s people creating lives to be shared.” What a beautiful reminder to this community!

And I’ll be the first to tell you, you don’t have to sacrifice your brand or your content. Had I not invested in photography I can ASSURE you my brand would have never allowed me to do this full-time. However, I love that that tweet can serve as a reminder to the projects we take. Think, “Okay, would I normally be blogging this?” To the Thanksgiving shoot, yes! I would 100% post Thanksgiving recipes as the year prior I posted Christmas ones. Was I going to eat Thanksgiving dinner and make those recipes? 100%! So to me, the shoot seemed a perfect balance of realistic and inspirational. Always remember, there is no perfect answer, but you can find your perfect balance. My balance will be different than yours, but the important thing is we as bloggers all find that individual one that serves our brand and our girl. See hack #1. 😉

Whew! If you read this entire thing, bless you. You are one loyal friend! These are not the end all be all, in fact, we could make cases against these hacks, I’m sure! However, these are what work for me and I hope in turn they provide you with a little help. If you missed it, I have a more in-depth blogging tips post here.

I hope you enjoyed this and found a little bit of inspiration along the way. Thank you for being a COF girl! If you blog, what are some of your hacks?!

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23 Comments

  1. Can’t agree more with you on sharing your life. I read blogs because they delve into the personal thoughts and personal life of a blogger. If I just wanted glossy pictures of outfits, I’d look in a magazine! Blogs should have a personal connection, but most bloggers, unfortunately, seem to lack it nowadays 🙁

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
    • Caroline wrote:

      YES about the glossy pics of outfits!!! I like the personal thoughts too! 🙂

      Published 14 Jul 18Reply
  2. Allie wrote:

    Thank you for all the great tips! Those presets sound great, I’ll have to check them out! xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  3. Loved this post, Katey. Super helpful! Feeling a connection to the blogger behind the site is definitely what keeps me going back to certain blogs every day, yours included!

    I’ve found that it’s more difficult to let my life bleed into my personal finance blog content (fashion & lifestyle blogs definitely lend themselves more to revealing the person behind it all), but I’m always looking for creative ways to do that. I think that’s what makes a blog sustainable, and I’m always so impressed with how you’ve approached it!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  4. Katherine wrote:

    I love that quote! Thank you for sharing tips that are practical and come from a wealth of experience.

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  5. Laura Leigh wrote:

    Absolutely loved this post Katey! And couldn’t agree with you more on everything you touched on!

    xo Laura Leigh
    http://www.louellareese.com

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  6. Maya taylor wrote:

    I loved this! I’ve been back and forth about creating a blog for the longest time!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  7. Kimm wrote:

    Love that quote about blogging. I would much rather see someone’s life shares than them putting out a made up life that’s almost unattainable to the average girl

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  8. Oh my gosh, you are so sweet to include me! Right back at you — I come here because I love the way you write for your readers and I love the insight into life as a (highly organized, super stylish) new mama! Sending you all the happy vibes from CT! xoxo

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  9. Danielle wrote:

    Great post Katey!! Super tactical tips I can’t waitnto implement as a newbie blogger! I love A Drink with James too 🙂
    Thank you!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  10. Melissa wrote:

    I love this! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  11. LOVE this post Katey! Especially about your thoughts on an Instagram theme. I am always so torn in what direction I want my color theme to go. Glad to know you like to switch it up like I do!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  12. Thank you I do love your blog and instagram posts and your little girl is so sweet.
    I have been so rubbish with my blog. I had the idea about a year ago but have done nothing with it all all but I
    want to set it up again soon. Just have not manage to get around to it yet with two small kids i feel i am always running on dry shampoo and coffee.

    I find it really hard to find time to grab a photo when out and embraced at times too ask. I do love your posts on staying organized and have taken a few ideas from them to add to my busy life. I just need to put it all into action now. I will definitely take one thing from this post to add to my little blog soon that it should be more about my life and not just the perfect photo. Xx

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  13. Kelsey wrote:

    LOVE THIS! I stop by here for my daily dose of fabulous mom-hood and just woman-hood. Your posts are always beautiful, but helpful, and you can tell they are written by ‘Katey the interesting human’, not ‘Katey the girl trying to post just to post’. Love your voice, keep up the great work!

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  14. Nicollette wrote:

    This post is amazing! So many bloggers share the same few tips, but I love how personal you are with these. Thank you for always being so open and honest with us!

    PinkTuskBlog.com

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  15. Kelsey wrote:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I have been on the blogging journey for just a few months now and really appreciate all of the tips and tricks. I’ve found that creating content ahead of time has been the best thing for life balance. Having a photo and caption ready to go for multiple days ahead of time has changed the game for me. Love your advice about catering to the COF Girl. I’ll definitely work on something similar to make sure my content is niched down! Thanks again! 🙂

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  16. Love this so much Katey! I totally agree! Digging in and really finding your secret sauce is everything!

    xx,

    Lacey// The Glitter Gospel
    theglittergospelblog.com

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  17. Sabrina wrote:

    Great post, Katey. Thank you for your willingness to share and for keeping it real. I throughly enjoy reading your blog and seeing that sweet baby girl. ;0

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  18. Sabrina wrote:

    Great post, Katey. Thank you for your willingness to share and for keeping it real. I throughly enjoy reading your blog and seeing pictures of that sweet baby girl. ;0

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  19. Ashley wrote:

    Love these tips! As a new blogger, I found this post very useful. I have been stressing so much over my instagram feed because sometimes I want a bright and colorful feed, sometimes I want more pink tones, etc. So happy to read your thoughts on it and seeing that you like to switch things up as well.

    xoxo
    https://sweetandsimplysouthern.blogspot.com/

    Published 12 Jun 18Reply
  20. Emily wrote:

    This is great! Thank you for sharing. 💗

    Published 13 Jun 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Thank you so much, Emily! xo, Katey

      Published 13 Jun 18Reply