debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!

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Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure

blogger-identity-brand-perception

Your BRAND deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Hey there everyone ~ I’ve been blogging for a little over two months now and constantly learning the hard way.  But the cool thing about being a newbie is that when you don’t know anything, you can ask the ‘dumb’ questions and get away with it.  😀

However, in my trials and tribulations, I’ve come across 2 things that I think every beginner blogger should know.  Wait there’s more – in fact these are two things that even seasoned bloggers could benefit from.

They’re BASIC, they’re bold and they all revolve around your brand.  I mean your brand is the figurehead of your blog and therefore a key recognizable identity to you as a writer.  Once people get to know and appreciate your writing style and featured content in your posts, it helps to remind your readership who you are and keeps them coming back.  This, in turn, is a stepping stone to be able to further interact with the blogging community, get inspired, write more great posts, grow your readership and retire early have a jolly good time.

#1 Who Tweets Your Stuff

The Process

I like to tweet out people’s posts that I have read or particularly like.  I don’t always comment* (see more on this subject in BONUS section below), if I have nothing to add to the conversation, but if I like the post, I try to remember to tweet it.  When you select the Tweet button below the post a nice summary is formulated that you can add to or tweet as is.  Here’s a sample of what I mean for a twitter share generated from my blog:
Tweet-format-from-WordPress

The Problem

However, in many cases (I estimate 40- 50% of bloggers) your own twitter handle is not added to the tweet.  Note above that the @DEBtDEBs was added automatically by the WordPress application software, but you have to configure it.

Note to self:  Wait a minute, Debt Debs.  You can just throw that figure of 40%-50% out there like that without any substantiation.

Right, fair enough, but I tweet out enough posts that I have a fairly good feel for it.  When the twitter id is not coming up automatically, I go to Twitter, search for the twitter name, copy it, and then paste it in the Tweet.  It’s a lot of hassle.  Sometimes, by the time I’ve done that, I forget to add my usual witty commentary at the intro.  #vain  Then I’m kinda miffed because what’s the point of just tweeting out a robotic tweet without some snarky comment added colour at the front of it – totally endorsing your post and showing that I actually read it.

The Evidence

Right, ahem.  So in fairness, in case I tend to exaggerate, while reading some blogs Monday night (Happy Belated Memorial Day to y’all BTW – you wrote some awesome tributes!), I decided to do a scientific and terrific test of the actual number of occurrences of this phenomenon.  (WoW, I’m getting all fancy wordy now that I’m a lowly application tester).

So within a one hour period from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. EDT, I read a total of 7 posts (OK, maybe I’m a slow reader) and then tweeted them all (they were wonderful!) and here are the results:

Twitter-Wordpress-Button-Test

3 out of 7 tweets had their Twitter ID – 4 did not 😦

So my 40%-50% estimate is pretty accurate or understated, because out of the 7 tweets I sent, for 4 (57%) of them I needed to look-up of your twitter ID’s and manually add to the tweet before I sent them.  Like I said, I thought I had a pretty good feel for it.

Now maybe you don’t want to know who tweets your posts out, but if you’re a new blogger like me, trying to build your traffic and brand, it’s awesome to know when someone tweets your stuff!  Usually you like to thank them, although it is not necessary if you are a high traffic blog, in my humble opinion.

Since I appreciate this and knowing that my twitter handle comes up automatically, I went to investigate why this does not occur with all blogs.  I’m on a WordPress.com hosted site, so I wasn’t sure that if I would be able to troubleshoot on my own for those who use self-hosted WordPress.org themes.  So I enlisted the help of three bloggers, whom I’ve come to know in this world of Personal Finance blogs, to help me:

@Shoeaholicnomor from shoeaholicnomore.com – ‘Shoe’ has just recently moved her blog over from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress and I was trying to help her with these logistics.

@SavvyJames from retirementsavvy.net – James and I have conversed on-line a number of times and his blog is already on a self-hosted WordPress site.

@SaverSpender from www.savespendsplurge.com – helped Shoe and me out when we had a question and James was not available.

The Solution

WordPress.com blogs

My blog is hosted by WordPress.com and uses the WordPress application software.

In order to have my Twitter handle @debtdebs show up whenever someone re-tweets one of my posts, I had to configure the following two steps:

1. Go to Dashboard > Settings > Sharing

Sharing-Settings-for-Twitter

WordPress-Twitter-Linking

2. Scroll down on that same page and fill out this section

Sharing-Settings-for-Twitter-WordPress.com
This will yield the above tweet result when someone opts to tweet your post like this:

Twitter-share-buttonOnce the new window is opened with your tweet, you can modify before you send.

WordPress.org blogs – self hosted blogs

Many blogs are self-hosted as this allows them flexibility in terms of advertising options that they use on their site.  This involves hiring a server hosting company (e.g. Host Gator, Blue Host) to manage their site’s data as well as a company that licenses their domain name on an annual basis (e.g. Go Daddy).   A majority seem to use WordPress application software, utilizing either a free or paid for theme, or a specifically developed theme for their site from a WordPress developer.

To link your twitter account to your blog and set your Twitter handle like above, the steps are similar but it looks a bit different.

Step 1 – actually this step looks identical from what I can see

Twitter-Settings-WordPress.orgStep 2 – similar but the description field is slightly different.  It may depend on the template used for the blog site.

Twitter-handle-settingPrevious to making the Step 2 change for Shoeaholicnomor’s blog, this is what the Tweets looked like.  Note the addition of @jetpack at the end of the tweet:

@JetPack-in-TweetAfter the step 2 was completed, here is the result.  @jetpack is replaced by @shoeaholicnomor:

Twitter-handle-now-showing

Here is further information from the support forum question and answer for WordPress.org that shows you how to modify your script so that your twitter handle shows on your tweeted posts, if the above options are not available in your blog.

#2 Your unique Avatar showing on browser tab

The Process

Okay, call me a nerd or call me a word that rhymes with banal but drop the ‘b’, but I like to see the your little avatar showing on the tabs across the top of my browser.

Actually, it’s pretty practical to be able to quickly scan your tabs and find the one your are looking for by zoning in on the picture.  I don’t know about you, but I often have 20 – 40 tabs open (more than what will fit on my screen).  So if I’m trying to find one, it’s nice when it stands out easily by the special picture you have selected to go with your blog brand.

Here’s a picture to illustrate exactly what I mean:

Browser-tabs-showing-avatar

The Problem

Well what I discovered was that the avatar showing for Shoeaholic’s blog was the Host Gator (blog hosting provider) picture.

With @Saverspender’s help, we identified that Shoe was looking for something called a favicon in her blog settings:

Favicon

The Solution

Shoe found the spot and uploaded her .png (or .jpg) file as follows:

How-to-configure-favicon-in-WordPressViolà, we have Shoe’s pretty little shoes showing up on the tab (even if small, you still ‘get the picture’):

favicon-avatar-tabsBonus Point on Commenting

*Note:  I would be remiss in telling you that Joshua @ CNA Finance had a great post last week on commenting on other blogs.  Contrary to what I said above about only commenting where I think I add value to the thread, Josh maintains you should comment on every ‘authority’ blog in your niche.  Here’s what he has to say on this:

Step #1: Find Authorities In Your Niche – Authorities in any niche get a ton of comments. You should be leaving one on every article as well! There are also benefits to knowing who the authorities in your niche are when it comes to running a successful blog commenting campaign. One of the biggest is the fact that chances are, there are tons of other influential bloggers commenting in the same place. So, you’ll never fall short of articles to read and comment on.

So what I interpret what Josh is saying is, although it may be difficult to comment on every blog post in your niche that you read, you should make a specific point to always comment on every blog post from a Personal Finance (PF) Authority Blog. 

Now we all have our favourites and ones who we see are the authorities in PF blogging (Josh mentions a few of my personal favourite authorities in his post), but the list of authorities in PF blogging is getting pretty long as well.  So try to comment when you can, but especially on sites that you see as the authorities in your domain, whether it be Personal Finance or something else.

The most important thing when leaving a comment is that it is sincere and shows you’ve read the post, which Josh also mentions in his write-up.  I’ve had very few comments that did not seem sincere and maybe once or twice the comment looked a bit like the person might have skimmed the post only.

Josh has other good tips in his post and future planned posts on blogging topics so be sure to go read the whole thing through the link above and add his site to your feedly or bloglovin. **

** Incidentally, it looks like feedly has fixed the problem I was having with my site showing up in Android readers so I’ve amended the above linked post.

The Wrap

Now I’m not a technical expert, but as a blog reader and user, I am thankful to have figured out how to offer the above tips as a way to finesse your social networking  and blog branding strategy.  In the article, The Tweeting Dead: 5 Ways Brands Can Avoid Being Muted the importance of keeping your social networking content unique and utilizing automated social media strategies are discussed.  Doing it right and finding the right balance are key to ensuring you writing is not passed over as being overly flouted or too self-serving.

If you have other technical suggestions or aspects I have not covered above, please feel free to respond in the comments.  Of course any other best practice suggestions regarding use of Twitter, Avatars/Favicons and Comments are most welcome too.

I’d like to sincerely thank @Shoeaholicnomor, @SavvyJames and @SaverSpender for their support and information provided to trouble-shoot the ‘mystery’ settings to make the above two features function properly.

Did you know about these settings?  Are you going to make changes to your blog configuration now?

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net