The start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity for a bit of reevaluation. How’s your blogging year been? What have you achieved? Are you moving in the right direction? Do you even know what direction you’re going in?
Blogging can be such a solitary pursuit, it’s all too common to neglect having these conversations, BUT taking some time out to figure out what you’d like to achieve next and fine-tuning your working processes will get 2018 off to a super-positive start.
Here are our Top 10 Tips to get you into good habits for the blogging year ahead:
1. Which posts have done well?
Regularly check your highest performing posts and optimise them to make sure they’re linking to other relevant content on your site to keep people on your blog.
Whether it’s more recipes on a similar theme or posts that you really want to showcase, make sure you’re linking to them in a bright and bold way. Creating a linkable graphic is a great way of doing this. I use Canva to make my own graphics because it’s free and simple to use.
It’s always interesting to see which posts particularly strike a chord with your followers, and it’s not always what you expect. You get a real sense of what it is you’re creating that your readers are responding to which helps to inform you when you’re planning fresh content.
2. Use a decent recipe plug-in
It makes your recipes so much easier to follow and gets you into a good recipe-writing discipline. Spend a little time each week transferring old recipes into the recipe plug-in so your posts are consistent.
Don’t try and do them all at once – it’s too overwhelming especially if you’ve got hundreds of recipes on your blog. Click here to find out more about recipe plug-ins
3. Organise your image archives
Food Bloggers have SO many images, you absolutely need to keep them organised or you’ll be drowning in them and your computer will grind to a halt! Put 2017’s to one side – archive them somewhere secure and start a new filing system for 2018. I keep a file for each month so I can easily go back and locate images if and when I need them.
It’s great having your own image library, as you never know when you might need a generic Sunday Roast image or a picture of a birthday cake for a sponsored post you’re writing that doesn’t actually require a recipe. I know there are loads of great free stock images you can use these days, but I always try and use an original image of my own first to try and keep my blog visually authentic.
Make this year the year you’re going to track your expenses like a ninja. Keeping track of your payments and expenses will make those tax returns a little easier to manage when the deadline comes hurtling towards you. Set time aside every month to document your receipts as that gets super tedious if you let them pile up.
I’m not very sophisticated when it comes to anything to do with numbers, so I keep the most basic of spreadsheets to track my finances. I have one set up for payments and another for expenses. However, there are some great tools out there to help you and my new year’s resolution is to start using Quick Books which has a great package for the self-employed. From being able to snap pictures of your receipts to setting up recurring expenses it looks really nifty.
[Jo just popping in to say that we use Xero which is full-featured bookkeeping software. There’s a bit of a learning curve with it but it is great for keeping on top of your finances and our accountant loves that everything is so organised. I’ve also heard great things about FreeAgent which is very freelancer friendly.]
5. Content calendar/planner
Stay on top of foodie days, blogging link parties, seasonal events as well as your client commitments. It’s all too easy to just lurch from month to month and fly by the seat of your pants, but with just a little discipline and a nice new desk planner you can get yourself organised with no bother at all.
I’m going to treat myself to one of these Monthly Times Desk Planners from Fox & Star so I can see each month at a glance so things don’t just creep up on me when I’m in the thick of a really busy or stressful time.
6. Invest in yourself
Do you want to learn a new skill or maybe sharpen up on something you feel less confident about? Don’t just think about it, get yourself booked on a course! From food styling and photography to writing and recipe editing, there’s a course to suit everyone’s abilities and budgets and often you can do them in the comfort of your own home.
Investing in your professional skills can give you a real confidence boost, and when you’re self-employed you really need to make sure you’re keeping on top of your game so you can compete in this crowded digital marketplace.
We listed a few courses in our Food Bloggers gift guide.
7. Equipment update
If you’ve got just had a payment through from a client, strongly consider investing it in some new kit. Maybe a new lens for your camera, or finally pull your finger out and get that video equipment you’ve been promising yourself you would.
Freshen up your food styling with some new props and a background board, it’s amazing what a difference it will make to your photography. It’s also great if you fancy experimenting with some new looks for your images, rather than sticking with the safe set-ups you’ve been putting together. I know I’m certainly guilty of that!
We listed a number of ideas in our Food Bloggers gift guide.
8. Dreams & goals
Where do you want to go, what do you want to achieve, who do you want to work with? Visualise and make it happen – no one else is going to do it for you! I’m a really strong believer in making things happen for myself and have been all my life.
Want to go on more foodie trips abroad? Want to write a cookbook? Want to start writing about food history? Make your own personal mission for 2018 and do everything you can to make it happen. Seriously, you can do it.
Part of making your dreams happen is finding strength from those around you and harnessing their skills to work together. Seek out your friends, fellow bloggers, people with a different skill-set – you never know what you could create together.
If like me you spend a lot of time working alone, there’s something genuinely exciting about coming together with fellow creatives and brainstorming a new idea. The challenge then is to go forward and make it happen!
10. Be authentic
Finally, it’s useful to remember who you are, and why you’re blogging. Don’t be led by what brands want you to do all of the time, and try and balance your content so your readers get a real sense of your voice. Think of your blog as a magazine with an interesting mix of recipe posts, sponsored posts, and chatty posts just because your readers love to hear from YOU!
The Callia Web team wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope we’ve inspired you to make 2018 a positive and fruitful blogging year!