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Back, Back, Back it Up! (Backup Your Blog, That Is!) Day 13 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Backup Your Blog for safe keeping!I know I left you with some pretty heavy homework yesterday in Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar, so today we’re going to focus on something a bit lighter and easier. Down to business, this one is a task without a lot of creative energy required.

Back, back, back it up! Do you have a plan in place to backup your blog? What if your hosting company disappeared tomorrow? Or what happens if their server dies, and their backups are all 6 months old, and you lose everything? What if you go to update WordPress and BOOM! your whole blog is gone? Or a hacker gets in to your site, and deletes everything?

While the likelihood of these things happening is low, they could still happen. I’ve actually been through the hosting company / server disappearing situation back in 2001, and let me tell you – it suuuuuuuuuuucks. When I ran my blog hosting company, we had people accidentally blow up their websites, and one person managed to do it just as the daily & weekly backup happened – so we had to resort to the monthly backup to restore their site. They lost 2-3 weeks worth of content. At least we recovered a lot of it, but those few weeks were never seen again. It suuuuuuuuuuucks.

Plugins to Help You Backup Your Blog

First a little lesson about your WordPress blog – it actually has two main components to it – the Theme, which is the design, the look & feel, the plugins, the widgets, your CSS, your logo, all that stuff that impacts how it looks – and the Database, which is where your posts actually live. Logging in to your hosting account and backing up the WordPress directory will only capture the theme elements, the design, the graphics. You need to back up the database too, and that is a little harder to do directly from your hosting company unless you have some geek fu experience.

Fortunately, wise geek fu people have created backup plugins for WordPress! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! (Imagine me running around like Kermit, wildly flailing my arms in the air. That is how excited I am about these plugins!)

  • Backup Buddy – this is the one you probably hear the most about out there. It is not free, and it isn’t as user-friendly as some of the other ones. That is the trade-off for the fact that it is full of great features. It will backup your entire site (the whole WordPress install, all the content, the themes, the plugins, the widgets, the database, all of it), they include storage for your backups, AND it also does a malware scan for you when backing things up. My favorite part is to do a full restoration it is just a matter of uploading your backup file and the importbuddy.php file (which is downloaded from within the plugin when doing a Migrate/Restore) to the document root of your Web server and then pointing your browser to the importbuddy.php file website address. Bam! Magic.
  • Backup Scheduler – Free, faster to configure, and full of features as well. It will back up your whole WordPress install, the database, all the good stuff that we want. The down side? There is not a built in restore tool. You would have to get your website online manually, but there are tools out there to help you do this. phpMyAdmin would help you upload your database into the Web-based interface. You can copy the remaining files/folders to the server through FTP. Plus it is free.
  • VaultPress – this one is from Automattic, the people that make WordPress. It involves a monthly fee, but if your blog is your business, this extra insurance is worth it! It also backs everything up, and it does it in real time. Write a blog post? It backs it up. Sign up for the premium service and it will check your site for malicious code as well as other features. If anything happens, they make it easy to get back online.

You really can’t go wrong with any of them, and the best thing? You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your website is safe! So back, back, back it up!

But Christine, I use Blogger! How can I back it up? Yeah, sorry about that. I have no idea. I haven’t used Blogger in 10 years or so, but I’m sure Google has tips on how to do it.

Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar! Day 12 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar for your Business & Your BlogBefore we get in to talking about the editorial calendar, there is one more very important thing we need to think about. Creating your Ideal Client Avatar! This is a great exercise for your business as a whole, not just for your blog. What can you tell me about who you are talking to with your marketing?

Years ago, I attended a workshop for wedding photographers and the speaker asked us to describe our ideal client. Most of the people he called on answered, “A bride looking for photojournalism wedding photography.” Or maybe “A couple getting married in Houston.” Really vague, general answers. My hand shot up in the air. I was giddy with excitement, ready to answer his question.

My ideal wedding photography client* is in her late 20s to mid 30s. She had chosen to have a career before getting married. She drove either a Honda or a Toyota. She carried a Coach or Kate Spade purse, but she bought her t-shirts at Target. She had no qualms spending money on luxury items – but liked to keep things simple if it was something she didn’t value much or was just a staple. She had a college degree, and often additional education. She was likely marrying an engineer or a geek. Most of the time one if not both of them were from the Midwest, not Houston. They loved good local restaurants, great wine, and dinner with friends and family was one of their favorite activities.**

The speaker was stunned. He did tours around the USA, and he said that in years he had never had someone describe their ideal client in that much detail. (Which, by the way, was exactly what he was looking for in an answer.)

Knowing with that much clarity who I wanted to speak to made writing so much easier for me. You need to be authentic in what you share and in your passions, and especially be aware of what passions your ideal client or ideal blog reader shares with you. Coming from that place allows you to be you with no apologies! Once I figured out who my ideal client was I discovered something else that was really important – I fit that description as well. (I didn’t finish college, but I’ve owned a number of successful businesses over the past 15 years, so I’m counting that.)

How can you know what to say when you don’t even know who you’re talking to?

Grab a piece of paper, and lets dig in. Skip something if it really doesn’t apply. I went with “she” for the pronoun, but if your ideal client is a man? Change it. Here is what I want you to think about:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Hair color / eye color
  • Location (city, state, country)
  • Neighborhood (if in your city)
  • Education
  • Income
  • Career
  • Married or single?
  • When does she wear makeup, if she does at all?
  • How does she normally style her hair? Is it often in a ponytail?
  • What are her interests?
  • Does she have any hobbies?
  • Any causes or things she is passionate about?
  • Magazines she reads?
  • Favorite books / movies / TV / music
  • What other blogs does she read?
  • Her favorite social media platforms
  • Her favorite stores to shop at?
  • What kind of car does she drive?
  • How does she dress? Her favorite clothing item?
  • What is her favorite type of restaurant?
  • Beer or wine? Coffee or tea?
  • Mac or PC? iPhone, Android or Windows? iPad or Android tablet?
  • Does she like to travel? Where does she like to go?
  • Is her favorite Saturday night one out partying on the town? Or home with friends?
  • Where will she share your website with her friends?
  • Where does she go to ask for recommendations?
  • What is her favorite guilty pleasure?
  • What are the luxuries she can’t live without?
  • Why is she reading your website?
  • What will she want to buy from you?
  • What problem can you solve for her?

Putting it together in a Ideal Client Avatar

Do you feel like you are in their head now? Awesome! Your next step in creating your Ideal Client Avatar is to give her a name! Whatever you want. I want her to be so tangible to you that you feel like she could walk up to you on the street at any moment. You know her almost as well as your best friend.

Take all the information you’ve gathered and summarize it in to a brief. Tell me what her name is, describe her to me. Where does she live, what is she like, why is she reading your website. Keep it to just one page. If it helps you visualize her, find a photograph that matches your vision of her. (This is only for you, so you can use any photo you want.) If one of the questions does not apply to you? Leave it off. Use as much as you can and be as detailed as possible.

Now, with every post you write, you can ask yourself what you want her to know. What do you want to say to her? What would she get out of the post? What problem are you solving for her with your content?

Creating an ideal client avatar helps you know exactly who you’re talking to in your business & your blog. << Click here to Tweet! >>

The fastest way to clear writer’s block? I think of it as if I’m writing a letter to my ideal client avatar. What can I tell her that will benefit her? Once I think of it from that angle, the words just flow.

Now that we know who you’re writing for and why you’re talking to her, we can create an editorial calendar full of content that will speak to her!

If you want, I’d LOVE to hear about your ideal client avatar! Leave a comment for me and tell me all about them!

* I rarely book weddings now, only taking them on for family, friends & referrals from my past wedding clients. My ideal clients now are in their 30s-40s, and probably having a destination wedding. The rest still applies!

** I didn’t realize as I started to describe her, but as I was talking I knew I had an exact client in mind. I later told Tricia that she was my “poster child” for wedding photography.

Using Google Analytics to Build Your Blog Editorial Calendar – Day 11 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Be sure to check out and enter to win prizes in the Birthday Bash Giveaway! The special sales & contest ends on October 6, 2014.

Using Google Analytics to Build Your Blog Editorial CalendarWhen I’m sitting down to work on my Editorial Calendar for my blog, the first thing I do is look at what Google Analytics has to tell me. (Hint: this is why we talked in the last tip on the fact that you need to get Analytical by adding Google Analytics to your blog!)

Google Analytics is full of data. TONS of information. And … I have to confess I used to always get lost in there. (Ok, sometimes I still get lost in there!) Today I’ll share with you where to go to find the highest traffic pages on your website in Analytics. That is one of my favorite things to check out because it helps me lay the foundation for my Editorial Calendar! It tells me what has resonated with people, what you are reading, what you are likely sharing (if traffic is up for a post) and what you find engaging.

If it is content you enjoy as a reader, I want to write more about it. Especially if I have more to say about it, or if I can approach it from another angle without being redundant. If it is something I love to talk about but the engagement wasn’t so great, it gives me a chance to review it again, see what I might have missed, or find ways to continue to talk about it that might be more interesting or that Google might pick up on for SEO.

To find this data in Google Analytics, you want to log in to your account. From there, on the left menu bar, look for the section named “Behavior”. Random name, which is probably why I missed it for so long! Once you select Behavior, the Overview screen will show you the top 10 posts on your website. If one is titled “/” that means it is your home page. For most people, I’d expect that to be the most trafficked page on your site – unless you have a static page and a blog. Then your blog will be even higher.

Looking under Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages will also provide you with this information, along with additional data. (On the iPhone Google Analytics app it is simply Behavior >> All Pages.) You can select the date range for the data you want to view – I like to view “Month” to get an overview of what is popular.

Now that you’re armed with Analytics, and we talked at the beginning of this series about how important it is to let your readers know why they are on your blog, we are ready to talk about your Ideal Client Avatar and how to build your blog editorial calendar for them! (Hint: If you aren’t on the email list already, make sure you join it so you know when those posts are live!)

30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog is my series about all the blog changes I’m making – and I want you to join in with me on them! Be sure to post your blog link below so I can check out your blog – and I’d LOVE to hear if there is anything you would like to know more about, or any topics I should be sure to cover! The hashtag for social media is #30DAB. Please pin this to share!

Get Analytical – Add Google Analytics to Your Blog! Day 10 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Be sure to check out and enter to win prizes in the Birthday Bash Giveaway! The special sales & contest ends on October 6, 2014.

Add Google Analytics to Your Blog to help plan keywords and your editorial calendar!We’re about to dive in to keywords and creating an editorial calendar, but there is really no point in starting up any of that if you’re not taking the time to analyze what is already happening on your blog.

First things first? You need to add Google Analytics to your blog. Then you can plan your keywords & editorial calendar! << Tweet this! >>

Go on over now to Analytics and sign up for an account!

Google will then provide you with a snippet of code to add to your website pages. If you follow their instructions for setting up Analytics they mention pasting the code in to every page you want to track. You don’t have to do this though! YAY! Instead, most WordPress themes have tips on where to add the analytics code for the theme – often in the design options. This part will vary from theme to theme, so I can’t really help you here. Poke around and see what you find. This is one of the best parts of using WordPress for a website – the theme is the design framework for your content, and so you only have to enter it one time.

If your theme doesn’t have a specific place to add this, you can find a number of WordPress Plugins that will make it easy for you. My first choice would be Google Analytics by Yoast.

Now that you have Analytics in place, we can start looking at some ways to use it to help you plan things for the future on your blog!

30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog is my way of sharing the changes I’m making to my own website to help make my blog more user friendly and just all around fabulous. I’d love it if you join me! Leave a comment below so I can be sure to check out your blog too!

Clean Up Your Categories! Day 9 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Clean Up Your Categories! 30 Days to Awesomize Your BlogYou’re just happily writing your latest & greatest blog post, and you decide to add yet another category to your blog for this post. After all, you’re going to be talking about this ALL the time, right? Yes! New category it is!


Don’t do it. Resist the temptation. Don’t add more categories, at least not yet!

Why? Because otherwise you’ll end up in the quagmire I discovered when I did this step myself. It turns out that over the years, I had added approximately 70+ categories to my blog. Many of those categories had only 1 or 2 posts in them. That meant, if I wanted to create a category list to make things easy for my site’s readers to find? Oh goodness. That list was going to be a LONG one!

Clean up the categories on your blog to help make the good stuff easier for your readers to find! << Click to Tweet >>

How to Clean Up Your Categories on Your Blog

The first step is probably the most important – you want to check the permalink structure on your blog. If the Category is part of the URL for your individual blog posts? You’re going to want to change the Permalink structure and make sure that you redirect those posts so you don’t lose SEO ranking on them. (I know that possibly just sounded like a bunch of gibberish. Read what Yoast has to say on how to change your WordPress Permalink Structure and permalink structure in The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites.

In other words, if your blog post address is … well, you’re going to have to make some changes, because you really want all of those posts to go to before you go moving them around in categories and breaking all the links.

Once I had that part all set up thanks to some redirects, then I could go through and move posts around. In my WordPress dashboard, I went to Posts >> Categories. I looked for every category that has only 1-2 posts listed for it. Clicking on the Posts number on the far right showed me the exact posts assigned to that category.

For each post, I chose the “Quick Edit” option under the post title and selected the larger category that I wanted that post to be assigned. I had mapped out in advance my big main categories, the ones with subjects that I do talk about most often. Then as I assigned new categories to the posts, I knew which category I wanted them in.

Tedious? Yes. I still have far too many categories right now. I’m editing them down though still!

A Future Plan for Your Blog Categories

My new policy is that I keep a list of main, high level categories and all of my posts go within them. Ideally, this list should be under 20. If I discover that I’m writing about a particular topic more than 5-10 times, say for example a 30 day blog post series like this one, I’ll create a category for it then so it could be easy for future readers to find. Adding the category is optional, I could use tags instead within WordPress if I wanted to keep the category list short.

Have you cleaned up your categories yet? Let me know in the comments so I can be sure to visit your website!

Why yes, this blog HAS moved! I’m so glad you noticed. As I started working on the 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog series, I realized that it was time. Time to be ME, and move all of my work under my name. The site is still a work in progress – after all, I’m still making it Awesome! Don’t worry though – all of your old links will direct here so you can easily find it again!

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