One of the most commonly asked questions I receive in my inbox is “Do you have any tips for growing my blog?”. I thought I would create a page to answer some of these questions! I am by no means an expert, and most of what I’ve learned is through a lot of trial and error. In fact, I started blogging about graphic design and parties seven years ago, and somehow became a full-time home & decor blogger instead!
The following page contains affiliate links, but I am only recommending products I actually use and find to be the best in their category. I’ve purchased many more products beyond this that weren’t helpful, so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!
My Blogging Story in a Nutshell
I began my company Enchanting Details in 2010 as a wedding & event planning company. By the end of 2011 I figured out that people were more into a DIY approach (Pinterest was in it’s early days) and instead began designing and selling printables and blogging occasionally. In 2012 we purchased our home, a 1980s fixer-upper, and I started a category on the Enchanting Details blog called “Everyday Enchanting” to chronicle our renovations. It quickly became by far the most popular part of the blog, so I purchased a separate domain name and transitioned my home-related posts here! In early 2016 I rebranded to just my name- Nina Hendrick, and it’s the best move I’ve ever made (but that’s a story for another day!).
Hosting, Domain Name, & Platform
I’ve made many many many mistakes along the way, but the one thing I did do right was to start out on WordPress.org. When you purchase a domain name and hosting, most will have easy installs for you these days. My websites run on the Genesis Framework from StudioPress.com. I chose Genesis because it has a great support network in the format of tutorials, forums, and direct tech support. I also love that it uses child themes, which means that if you make changes to the theme they will be saved after an update.
My Child Themes
I will admit, I change child themes quite often (I actually have a bit of an addiction). However, I always purchase from Restored 316 Designs. The themes are feminine, lovely, and save me so much time by having coveted features straight out-of-the-box. There are detailed setup instructions, but Lauren (the owner) also moderates a support Facebook group for those who have purchased. It’s so convenient that you can get a quick answer from her, her staff, or the community if you are stuck on something at a strange hour!
Email & Newsletter
I made the switch to ConvertKit last fall, and I truly couldn’t be more pleased. It took a little while to understand the interface, but once I began testing it out, I was off and rolling! My email list engagement is up 64% from what it was at Mailchimp. Convertkit has so many options for handling opt-ins, segmenting, and autoresponders- and I’ve only just started to use it to it’s full capacity. I feel like it is truly the next piece of solving the puzzle of bringing my blog to the next level! It is one of the more expensive email options, but I’m confident that it will more than pay for itself with continued use.
I have had by far my best success when I stick to a plan, and to organize my plans I use my printable version of The Everyday Planner™! I created this version specifically for bloggers, and it includes 20+ blogging specific worksheets and an Editorial Email Series that includes inspiration for using each page of the planner.
I also use CoSchedule, which is essentially an editorial calendar plugin that integrates with your WordPress posts and drafts. You can also set reminders for tasks. I use this strictly as a digital editorial calendar, but you can also schedule social media from it’s dashboard. I find that this works really well for new posts (it’s the only scheduler I know of that includes Google +), but I have a different system for recirculating older posts, which I will detail next.
I use Instapage to create my landing pages. They have beautiful pre-made themes that can be tweaked easily, or you can create your own completely from scratch! I love that it integrates with WordPress and Convertkit.
Social Media Scheduling
I use Edgar to schedule my old content and the content of others for Facebook and Twitter posts. It is very user-friendly and intuitive. My favorite feature is that you can build up a library of content (for example, old blog posts), and it will automatically recirculate them at the best posting times for maximum exposure. Anything that runs on autopilot, but brings more traffic to my blog, is a bonus!
For Pinterest scheduling I’ve tried many things- I’m currently using a combination of BoardBooster and Tailwind. Although there’s some overlap in features, each app has something unique that I can’t give up. In BoardBooster that feature is looping. It takes an old and under-performing pin, repins it to the top of the board, and deletes the old pin. I find that this is a great way to recirculate old content. Tailwind is really great for adding new content to Pinterest. When you find something you want to pin, you click their own version of a pin-it button, which appears in your browser toolbar. From there Tailwind builds up a queue of new content, which it then trickles out at the pre-determined ideal posting times.
For Instagram I user Later (formerly Latergramme). I can upload photos to their calendar from my computer (which is my preference, and the reason I’ve always struggled with my Instagram– I hate using my phone!), and schedule out at least one photo a day. The app sends me a notification on my phone at the scheduled posting time, and after a quick copy and paste- I’m all set! Although Instagram isn’t necessarily a traffic-driving app, it seems to be one of the metrics that brands really measure you by, so it’s important to have a strong and engaged following. It’s something I’m working on for sure!
I am a huge fan of ShootFlyShoot online photography courses! I first signed up four years ago, but often find myself going back to watch the videos again for a refresher. I have realized a few times by re-watching that I was doing something incorrectly with a setting, and this helped me to improve in my photography.
I shoot with a Nikon D7000 (it was a great beginner camera, although now I’m saving up for an upgrade soon) and I use two lenses- a great little 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens and a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G Nikkor Zoom Lens.
I design some of my own design elements from scratch, but I also have been known to purchase from Creative Market in the past. They have a little bit of everything design-related that you can imagine!
My friend Abby Lawson is an expert in all things blogging! She and her husband now make a six-figure income through her blog and ebook sales. She created this thorough guide to starting a blog and mastering the basics- If I had to recommend one single resource for getting started, this is what I would pick! You can learn more about Building a Framework here.