Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tools for the Blogger

Hey hey! Thanks for the kind words and support about our latest fiasco. ;) The adjuster came out today and he was SO awesome – we’re hoping for good news. It could be up to two weeks before we can do anything though, and I’m already itching to have a working kitchen again.

It may be a long two weeks! :)

Anyhoo, I joke that I’m shocked I even have a functioning blog, let alone one that does alright for itself, cause I’m CLUELESS when it comes to computers, web stuff, html, all of it. Terms like “SEO” make me go HUH? I just don’t get it – I think I would if I took the time to learn it all, but I’m too busy DIYing and then blogging to learn all that.

Someday I will. For now, I continue to hang on by my fingernails. ;) But there are a few sites that I use constantly that are extremely helpful to me when it comes to blogging. And most of them could be helpful to anyone – blogger or reader!

The first one that I think is most important is keeping track of your statistics. Even if you don’t have advertisers or care what your numbers are, it’s a good idea to have some kind of tracker installed on your site. You just never know when you’ll want to check out your stats. It’s also fun to look back and see how you’ve grown from time to time. :)

I’ve told you before I don’t look at mine often. I’ll check maybe once a month just to update my numbers for advertising purposes. If I look much more than that, I get all weird and freaky and wonder if I should do more and feel like I can’t keep up and I hate that feeling. :)

I use two sites – the first is StatCounter:

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It’s super easy to install on your blog (in blogger I think I installed it as a html button) and it keeps track of all sorts of things:

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The thing with StatCounter is that their numbers are wayyy low compared to other programs I’ve used. Blogger now has stats readily available, and StatCounter’s numbers don’t even touch what Blogger tells me.

And the Google Analytics numbers are between those two:

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Their numbers are still way higher than StatCounter’s, but not as high as the Blogger stats. It’s highly confusing. I still haven’t heard a good explanation as to why this happens, but I think it’s common for most bloggers.

I typically use Analytics – especially for things like page views and to see where referring traffic is coming from. I post my top ten blog referrers for each month (down on the bottom left side of my blog) and I get that info from Analytics:

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I put the code for Analytics on my blog myself the first time I did it, and then when I got a redesign I had to have the designer do it – I could not for the life of me figure out how I did it! It can be tricky, so ask around if you need help.

I told you – clueless! :)

I’ve mentioned my love for Picnik before:

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Most of the photos you see on this blog are touched by The Nik somehow. And you can do SUCH fun stuff with their effects:

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I highly recommend playing around with it for a while. You’ll love it! (And most of their options are free!)

When it comes to the moola, I only accept payment from individual advertisers through PayPal:

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There is a small fee that comes out of each deposit, but it’s worth it to me. It’s so easy to use for invoicing, and they keep track of all of my transactions for tax purposes as well. (You can get a monthly statement or end of the year.)

And the great thing is, most small businesses use it anyway – so most everyone has an account. I tried accepting checks for a while and it was just a mess. This works out much better.

Of course there’s the social media STUFF. Twitter and Facebook namely. And many of you know the great Pinterest for the awesome online archiving system that it is:

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I showed you more about this amazing site here. And yes, I know. It’s annoying when everyone under the sun is talking about some site you know nothing about. Believe me, I avoided it for a while just because I felt like “everyone was doing it.”

I can be a brat like that. ;)

But it really is an awesome tool. For reals. If you love blogs, you will love it. And if you are a blogger – USE IT. Pinning will get your blog out there because you know a good “pin” will travel endlessly through time. ;) If you have a blog, I highly, highly suggest you create your account with your blog name. I can’t find half the blogs I follow because they’re all under personal names and that bums me out! I want to see what they are pinning! REAL bad. (Go to “edit profile” under your photo to change your name if you want to do so.)

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And I absolutely pin my own projects – if I post on something DIY or decor-related, Pinterest is one of the three places I link the post to right after I hit publish – along with Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, it felt odd doing it the first few times, and I don’t do it a ton (Pinterest specifies that they don’t want the site used purely as a tool for self-promotion), but I see it as another marketing tool and find it’s brings a TON of traffic to my site. It now beats out Twitter and for sending traffic to TDC.

Please don’t be afraid to promote yourself! Just be cool and don’t get all freaky about it. ;)

Speaking of linking to Twitter – I use bit.ly to shorten my links: bit.ly

You only get so much space for tweets, so this helps a ton – it knocks the link to my posts down to 10 or 12 characters.

I’ve used similar sites in the past and had one link to a very spammy site instead of mine once, so since then this bitly site is the only one I use. Yikes. No one wants to see that. Seriously.

One great little tricky trick that I learned a couple years ago was to use Google Alerts:

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are email updates based on a topic you enter – so say you want to know every time your blog name is mentioned out in Googleland. You enter it as one of your alerts and it sends a daily email with links to each site that mentions you.

It’s just a cool little tool – and you can use it for any term you want. You could enter “painting” or “molding” and everything will come up daily for those terms. The sky is the limit! It’s a great way to see who is talking about your blog, but it’s also an easy way to find out more about any topic you are interested in.

Finally, the boring stuff – but it’s the stuff that keeps your blog and all of your tools safe and sound! Did you know you can download the content of your blog whenever you want? If you are in Blogger, go to “settings” then under “basic” click on “export blog” under blog tools.

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Remember – hit export, NOT delete. ;) When you hit download blog, it will save the content. So JUST IN CASE…you’ll have a back up. I try to do it once a month but should do it more often. And I’m not even sure what “Atom export format” is – but I know it’s saving something. I hope.

(If you didn’t believe me the first few times – clueless.)

And I also use Carbonite for my computer:

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I only use it cause Dave Ramsey told me too. ;) I’ve had it installed for a couple months and so far so good. It is GREAT peace of mind – I know all of my files (especially my photos!) are safe and sound. I used to use Photobucket for everything, but it just became too time consuming to download every photo.

And if you enter “Ramsey” when you check out, you get two months free or something like that. ;) (I think it’s Ramsey!) Whoo!

So there you go – a few of my tips for the blogger that even non-bloggers can use. I aim to please all peeps! I hope this helps some of you! Are there any I’ve missed? Any great tools on the Net that you use and love? Share with the group!

52 comments:

  1. Wow. You're smart. :) Be careful--you might convince people that you actually know what you're doing with all that techy stuff! Good suggestions, friend. I'm pretty sure I have a couple of those things installed completely wrong 'cause I never see them. Oops. :) Great post!

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  2. Super fantastic tips, as usual. I'll be checking out a few of the unfamiliar ones for sure! Thanks for taking the time to put this post together!

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  3. Thanks for all the tips, I just started a new blog and your post was very helpful! Check out my blog if you have a sec-thanks!

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  4. Lots of great info - thanks Sarah! I'll have to check out a couple of those cool services.

    I am totally like you when it comes to the computer stuff. I have NO CLUE. My hubby, who can build web sites from scratch, is very impressed I've been able to do it all myself. The hardest part was making my button. Way too computer geek for me, but I figured it out! I was soo proud of myself that day. People look at you a little strange when you're all excited, telling them how you made a button for your blog. haha I do feel a great sense of accomplishment for all that I've done on my own. Stop by anytime time and say hi.

    Have a great night. : )

    ~ Catie

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  5. Great info, Sarah...I've been blogging for a year and didn't know half of what you said (ok maybe more?). ;) Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I'm a new fan of your blog & love this post! Super helpful. I always appreciate hearing other blogger's fave sites/tools. I agree with all of these. And love the idea of joining Pinterest using your blog name {interestingly I am the last planet on the person to not yet use that site, but it's on my to~do this week}. :-) Great post!

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  7. Great tips! I hadn't thought about changing my Pinterest name from my own to my blog's name. I'm going to do that!

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  8. Thanks for taking the time to give us some tips on blogging. I'm still trying to figure out where to put the code for Google Analytics--you'd think my computer programmer hubby would help, but we just haven't sat down together to do it! I am definitely going to switch my Pinterest account to my blog name--great idea!

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  9. Thank you so much, I am trying to soak all of this information up! I now have a days work ahead of me!

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  10. Thanks for great suggestions. I've looked at Pinterest a few times, and run away and hid in a corner ... because i just don't "get" it.

    But maybe I should.

    OK, putting on my Big Girl pants, and going to check it out.
    Later.
    All the best -- Cass
    PS good luck with the kitchen! We just put laminate in our beach house kitchen --making me nervous!

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  11. I just read your previous post, about your fridge. I just had a little advice. We had HUGE problems with our GE Profile as well, and ended up getting a new one. But GE actually has a food insurance, if their fridge caused you to lose your food, they'll cover some of it. We had to estimate how much we had in there, and they sent us a check in the mail (not as much as we had lost, but a pretty good amount anyway). Just some info to pass along.
    PS - Hate GE profiles. Never again.

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  12. Two thumbs up! I'm pleased to see that I follow a lot, if not all, of these suggestions. I don't understand why Analytics, SC, and Blogger all have different numbers. I have the same problem.

    I use PayPal for advertising too, but my husband suggested that I be sure to transfer over my balance to my savings account often. He said all it takes is one sponsor/business associate to flag you with PayPal, and they will freeze your balance until the account issue is settled. I don't want that!

    Great tips. :)

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  13. Ohmygod, I never thought to backup my blog! Aaaah! Doing it now!

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  14. Wow. . .this is a *lot* of information. Thank you for sharing! When I have some time (ha!) I am going to really take the time to go through all of this and read up on the specifics. . .all this just so you know that I know it took a lot of time to put together and I appreciate it!!!
    One quick question. . .how do you get the "You Might Also Like" thing at the bottom? I think it probably has something to do with tags but can't figure it out.
    Thanks! Have a blessed day :)

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  15. Oh my god, that was incredible helpful. Thank you!

    Cindy

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  16. Sarah! Thanks for all these tips. I use many of them but have never heard of Picnik. I am excited to use it! I also use skitch, its a great free photo progam too! Check it out. I like you, did not want to get involved with Pinterest....EVERYONE was doing it. I hate to do what EVERYONE is doing! But I have to admit...its awesome. Since I am a designer and blogger the photos captured there are beautiful and work well with my blog. OH! ANother great program is evernote. An online binder if you will. I dont use it as much now that I use pinterest but it is a great catalog.
    Its funny that you mentioned Ramsey. He is my next door neighbor! Well office neighbor. His employees come into my store all the time. Over the past five years I have probably had 100s and do you know, not one of them have had a bad thing to say. Thay ALL have loved him! And his employee incentive program is amazing....I giggle all the time and say I'm going to seel my biz and go work for him!

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  17. Thanks so much for this. I am new to the blog world and at times it can be overwhelming. Thanks for taking some of the horror out of it :-)

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  18. Thanks for this informative post! I found your suggestion of opening a Pinterest account in your blog name the most thought provoking. I had not considered the benefits. I've actually avoided Pinterest because I was highly put off that you had to have an invite (why???)...like some kind of hoity-toity elite club or something. (I'm rebellious like that.) I may need to reconsider.

    And speaking of Pinterest, the other day I read how to tell if you have been pinned. It was kind of fun to see that several people had pinned photos from my little 'ol blog. I had no idea! :)

    Here's the link:

    http://diy-diaries.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-to-
    tell-if-youve-been-pinned.html

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  19. As a fairly new blogger, I LOVE posts like this! I always like to know how my fave bloggers run their sites. I'd love to see your tips on how to connect with other bloggers, how you make buttons, etc. Keep 'em coming!

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  20. Glad to hear things are on the mend! Thanks for an informative post. I listen to Dave Ramsey's podcasts everyday and have been tossing around the idea of signing up for Carbonite, but after reading your post I'm going to take the plunge! With a new baby on the way in January, there are just too many picture we'd lose if my computer crashed! Thanks again!

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  21. Seriously thank you!! I looove your blog...I have had one for a while but im actually hoping- trying to start to make something of it now....so thanks for sharing....truly super sweet! I needed the help cuz I'm clueless! :)

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  22. LOVE this post! Shared it on FB and Twitter today. Great job, girl!

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  23. This is great information. I especially appreciate the tips about Pinterest (I just changed my profile settings to represent my blog name).

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  24. Oh these tools are awesome! Thank you! I now have my blog backed up :-)

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  25. I loved this post. Just set up my Google Analytics and Google Alerts. Thanks for the helpful tips.
    :) Samantha
    crafty texas girls

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  26. GREAT post!! As a new blogger, i'm always looking out for new tips!! Just checked out picnik and love it! Will also be using google alerts. Thanks for sharing your wisdom:)

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  27. Yes, yes, I agree--it would be so much easier if people would use their blog names on Pinterest! It's so frustrating trying to track people down on it sometimes.

    Great blogging advice all around! :)

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  28. Thanks for sharing. I think I'm going to give Pinterest a try.

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  29. just signed up for google alerts, thanks!

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  30. wow, great post, for not knowing things you seem to have it down.. I use statcounter and was wondering about those numbers, I might have to go look around at those others now!
    Thanks

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  31. Great tips, you smart little cookie! I need to get a back up system, and I had no idea about the blogger save thingie!

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  32. Thanks for the great tips! Most of it was foreign to me, but I am determined to spend some time studying it all out!

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  33. I read through this whole post with a fine tooth comb! I feel like I still stumble through this whole blogging thing. Seriously, how am I supposed to be creative, blog and know all about html?! Thanks for the tips. I just switched my personal name on pinterest to my blog name (Holy Craft). :)

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  34. Thanks for the great tips! This rates even higher than your awesome magnesium post (which I have been using faithfully since then & seeing a big difference in my sleep!!!)

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  35. Did you say Dave Ramsey? I think I might die! A friend just tipped me off to your blog and I was already becoming totally addicted :) And now you are mentioning Dave Ramsey....I'm a huge fan!

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  36. Thanks for the great info! I started a blog this summer but slammed on the breaks after a few posts - it's all so intimidating! There are some awesome women (like yourself) that seem so "real" in blogland that I want to be a part! Thanks for the tips that will help make it easier to figure out! Oh, and by the way, you know a lot more than you give yourself credit for!!!

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  37. Sarah,
    You should check out my company's website (www.compete.com)...we run stats and analysis on thousands of websites and we have a free tool right on the home page. I don't know how it will compare to Google Analytics or StatCounter.com but its worth a try! Love your blog!

    Sarah Cox

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  38. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I have just started my blog and am trying to make it a success! This really helps! Trying to sort through google searches gets confusing (and I have tons of grad school work I should be doing ;) ) so thanks for the info! Lots more work to do! 8)

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  39. Thank you for this insightful post. I'm a new blogger (3 months) and found this very helpful. Love your site, and I have put it on my blogroll. Stop by sometime! http://www.refresheddesigns.com. Thanks!

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  40. wow. . thanks for the generous amount of info!! I feel like I just got a gift. So everywhere I read it says if you want to make $ from your blog, have a business and want to get your blog out there, up the SEO. then use wordpress. . .but you do not?? I do not want to either. . I am scared to switch. . any words of wisdom on that subject?? Thanks so much!!

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  41. That's funny, I totally avoid things because everyone's into them, my husband was bugging me for like a year to get on facebook before I finally did and I haven't yet checked out Pinterest (even though I know I would probably love it) for the same reason! So it's nice to know I'm not the only one that stubborn. :)

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  42. Thanks for the awesome links Thrifty Decor Chick! I simply love your site more and more each day!! Today I need help! I am in tears as I just received a surprise package with my grandmother's Depression Era Bubble Glass set of five glasses and a pitcher...only two of the glasses made it! Oh sadness. This is the only thing I have of hers! Do you have any ideas for a cool way to use the broken pieces?? The glass is so thin that I am not sure a mosaic would work. I figure if anyone can salvage it TDC can!!! Thanks!

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  43. There was just too much good stuff here! Thanks! I use a lot of it, but I will def have to check out some new stuff! : )

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  44. Fantastic info! I read all of your posts and just started a blog myself. I'm going to go through every single recommendation and try them out. I'm a web designer by trade and I still find the whole "SEO/Analytics" stuff confusing. I guess that's another division entirely.

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  45. Is there anyway to know how many subscribers you have? Forgive me if this has been addressed already!

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  46. Thank you so much for sharing this info! As a new blogger, this is VERY HELPFUL... There is so much I don't know... It's overwhelming!!! After reading this post, I have A LOT of work to do!

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  47. Like many of the others who commented I am new to blogging. It has taken me almost a year to find my bloggers "voice" after starting the blog while on a medical leave from work. I love decorating mantles and tables for parties, holidays, etc. I am currently putting together a Halloween mantle copied from Pottery barn but much, much cheaper. Thanks for all the tips, they were great.

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  48. Thank you for all of your suggestions! Very helpful for this newbie.

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  49. Thank you, thank you! These are great ideas and helps.

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  50. Thanks for the advice! I have been reading your bog for a couple of years and I've recently started up my own blog. Your blog is my inspiration! I have one question: how can I get that tabs on top of the blog?

    If you have a chance, please stop on by :)

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  51. Thanks for all these helpful bloggy tools! appreciate it! :)
    - l @ summitstreetjoy.com

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  52. Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I am also new to blogging and need to soak up all the advice I can get!

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I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!