3 Places Where Bloggers are Missing Calls-to-Action

Calls-to-action, or CTAs, are necessary for any business’s website. Believe it or not, “Click here!” “Buy now” and “Call for more info,” actually help persuade the reader to do just those things. A good CTA can vastly improve any business’s conversion rate.

But what does that have to do with bloggers? You aren’t trying to sell a product!

The truth is that every website, including blogs, has an objective. As a blogger, you are actually selling something – yourself! CTAs can be just as effective in starting conversations, generating engagement on social media, and gathering subscriptions as it can be for selling products.

Within Posts

Every blog post should end with some sort of CTA. It can direct the reader to another website, to a webpage within your blog, or to comment. Sometimes we think calls-to-action must be some sort of command, like “call now.” In fact, asking questions of your reader is a CTA. Something as simple as “what are your experiences with this product/situation? I’d love to hear your story!” can inspire the reader to leave a comment.

On Social Media

The most frequent CTAs you’ll see on social media are “like” “share” “comment” “+1” and more, depending on which website or app you’re using. You might see “Like our photo to enter a contest” or “Share if you like tacos!” Because these are the most common, they can also be the most annoying. You can use them, but be careful and only do so sparingly. Too many posts with those “cheap” kinds of CTAs will look spammy to your fans. If you want to start a conversation on social media, use the same question CTA that you would use above. You can even use the exact same one as the one within your post. For social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, directing the reader to your website is probably the only CTA you can use with your limited space.

On Your Website

CTAs on your website should either direct the reader to another part of your website, or get them to share your blog posts. For example, social media buttons are a CTA, even though they are images and not words. They still prompt the viewer to share your content or follow you. Include floating buttons within each post or static ones at the end of the post. Definitely have links to your accounts on your “About Me” page.

Many bloggers also choose to create badges or buttons for their most popular posts. WordPress plugins or design modifications can share your most Pinned posts, your most recent posts, word clouds, tags, related posts, blogs you read, and more on the sidebar of your blog. All of these will keep your reader where you want them.

Have you experimented with different CTAs? What works best for you?

Grow Your Blog Following with Instagram


Instagram can be an amazing tool for bloggers. It’s an easy way to create images for your blog, and you can edit your pictures to make them slightly more professional-looking. Bonus – they’re the perfect size for re-posting on any social media platform!

Instagram can also help you gain more visitors to your blog. It’s a little trickier than other social media outlets becauseInstagram will not allow you to link directly to your website. However, with the right strategy, you can gain a following on Instagram, then convert those to followers of your blog!

Your Instagram Strategy

When it comes to Instagram, it’s important to remember that your brand as a blogger is you. You are trying to sell your personality, tastes, and aesthetic vision to your audience. On almost every other social media account, part of your branding is your words. Unfortunately, your sense of humor and voice won’t shine through as much through images.

So what type of picture should you post on Instagram? Well, why do your friends share their pictures? Why do you follow those friends? The answer is that people like to connect with other people. They like to know what’s going on in your life. Even bloggers should share some of that. Pictures of you, your family, your friends, and your pet are appropriate. If you are a niche blogger, definitely share your finished products. Beauty bloggers should share daily makeup choices, fashion bloggers their outfits, chefs their kitchen, etc.

Some Tips for Happy Instagram Marketing

  • Watermark or put your blog URL on all of your images so that people know where to find more of them.
  • Utilize hashtags. On other social media platforms, too many hashtags is a huge faux pas that gets annoying quick. On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags. It would not be outlandish to use 10 on one image.
  • Connect your Instagram account to your other social media accounts. Through your Instagram settings, you can link up your accounts and post all Instagram pictures to Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Twitter. Facebook has apps that can show your Instagram feed on your business page. And don’t forget to add your Instagram account on your blog!
  • Use a picture of your face as your profile picture, not your logo. Instagram users are more likely to follow and interact with a real person than a brand they do not recognize.
  • Instagram is a social network, so be social! Always respond to comments. Browse relevant hashtags and “like” and comment on other user’s pictures.
  • You don’t always have to share pictures you’ve taken on Instagram (though don’t steal others’ pictures!). You can also share memes you’ve created or graphics you’ve made through a picture-editing program. Create a graphic image for each new blog post you’ve written and share it.
  • Beware of becoming annoying: Instagram is all about sharing snapshots of your life. Don’t post too much too often, and don’t post mundane pictures. Share pictures that represent your style, your mood, your brand, and more.

Do you have an Instagram account for your blog? We’d love to see it! You can follow us here.

How to Be a Good Blogging Neighbor (While Also Helping Your Own Blog)

One of my favorite parts of being a blogger is that competitiveness is relatively low. Instead of fighting for one top spot, multiple bloggers can all be at the top together. In fact, helping each other out can really help yourself along the way. So what’s the downside to being a good blogging neighbor? As far as I can tell, there isn’t one. If you’re looking for ideas to help other bloggers, check out of a few of these:

  1. Write winning comments on others’ blogs. One of a blogger’s many goals is inspiring engagement with his or her audience. When you read a blog post by another blogger, leave a helpful comment. What is a “helpful” comment? One that goes beyond “hey, great post.” Give specific feedback, ask questions, or relate to the post in some personal way. Bonus – writing comments on someone else’s blog helps your blog’s SEO and traffic.
  2. Create tutorial posts with blogging advice. Share your wisdom. Don’t worry about giving away your secrets; in blogging, the attitude you should have is not competing with other bloggers, but learning from them and helping them. Telling other bloggers how you organize your schedule, create graphics, and drive traffic will not decrease your success; it can actually increase it, because you will become a blogging authority.
  3. Follow other bloggers on social media, especially with your blogging accounts. Many bloggers believe it is common courtesy to follow back, so you will be growing your fans at the same time.
  4. Share posts from other bloggers on your social media accounts. Doing this will definitely score you brownie points with other bloggers, but it’s also good social media practice: social media experts suggest sharing 20% of your own content and 80% of outside content on your accounts. Moving beyond self-promotion will make your audience happy, your spotlighted bloggers happy, and, in turn, you happy!
  5. Host link parties, guest bloggers, and blog hops as a way of sharing your audience with other bloggers. All three of those methods help grow the traffic, SEO, and audience of other bloggers (as well as yourself). It will also expand the content on your own blog so that your readers get a little more diversity.
  6. Share content from other bloggers on your blog. You can do this through a simple backlink, or you can create a roundup blog post. This is where you gather all blog posts of a similar topic into one of your blog posts. Make sure you include a hyperlink to each blog post!
  7. Create a directory of your favorite blogs or blogs similar to yours on your sidebar. You can also share your favorite blogs by creating an account and following other blogs on BlogLovin’. Anyone who follows you on BlogLovin’ can see the blogs you follow as well.
  8. Create a blogging community. You can do this through social media groups (on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn), and you can also gather bloggers in your region to meet up in real life. You can share advice, as well as pass along information for locally-inspired posts or opportunities for local sponsorship.

Bonus: If you host your blog on WordPress, use the CommentLuv plugin. Whenever someone comments on your blog, the title of the last post they wrote on their blog will show up with their comment.

What are some ways you try to be a good blogging neighbor? You can practice here by commenting below!

10 Essential WordPress Plugins for Increasing Social Media Engagement

Gaining online traffic to your blog is simple to do with social media. But after you’ve started your social media accounts and gathered an initial following, you may feel that your engagement is stalling. With these WordPress plugins for social media, you can design a painless process of sharing online while also encouraging your audience to share, like, +1, and follow you!  

  1. Google Analytics – Google Analytics can give you tons of valuable data about your blog and how your audience interacts with it. One important metric is the source of your traffic; this piece of information can help you determine which of your social media platforms is the most effective, and which is the least. If most of your traffic is coming from Pinterest, you know you’re doing something good there, and you might decide to spend most of your efforts driving Pinterest traffic.
  2. Simple Share Buttons – This WordPress app does exactly what the name claims: it adds social share buttons to all of your blog posts. It even gives your audience a share count, which can often influence them to share your content. Making it easy for your readers to share your content will increase your traffic from social media, as well as your engagement on social media.
  3. Sociable – Sociable adds social media buttons to your blog posts. This plugin adds a similar feature as Simple Share Buttons, but the images are social media icons rather than share buttons. Still, the same call-to-action is there, motivating your readers to share your content on their social media accounts.
  4. WP Pinner – Need a little help managing your Pinterest account? This plugin lets you schedule pins, track your Pinterest engagement, and automate pins of your WordPress posts from your admin panel. With this plugin, you can spend less time on Pinterest with the same amount of progress.
  5. Pinterest Image Pinner – Speaking of Pinterest engagement, this plugin will raise yours by adding a simple “Pin It” button to all of your blog post images. When it comes to Pinterest, readers are more inspired by your pictures than your text. You might lose the share if you leave your Pinterest CTA to the bottom of the post. Using this plugin allows your readers to pin your image the second they see it.
  6. Shareaholic – More social media buttons! These ones “float,” meaning that they follow the reader when he or she scrolls up and down on your webpage. Having the social share buttons immediately accessible will influence readers to share on a whim. Shareaholic also makes images shareable, gives the reader recommended and related content from your blog, and has social analytics from which you can glean valuable metrics.
  7. Tweet Old Post – This plugin will automatically tweet links to some of your older blog posts, reviving them and bringing in new traffic. Bringing readers in to some of your old posts with absolutely no effort on your part – what’s not to love?
  8. WordBooker – WordBooker streamlines the process of posting on Facebook. You can post content from your blog, status updates, and more into your Facebook page, any groups, or your own wall.
  9. The Google+ Plugin – Automate your G+ posts with this WordPress plugin. It also adds a +1 button to your blog and makes the process of adding you to a circle much easier for your readers.
  10. WP Instagram Widget – Use this plugin to display your latest Instagram pictures on your blog.  Attaching Instagram to your blog will direct your readers to follow you – giving them a taste of what you post can also be an added incentive.

What WordPress plugins would you recommend for increasing your blog’s social media engagement?

Why Bloggers Need Google+

It’s no secret that Google+ lags behind Facebook in popularity. As a blogger, you know that you will have more success gaining followers on Facebook than Google+. However, many don’t know that Google+ can drastically help your SEO. It makes sense – Google runs Google+, so it gives more SEO weight to that social network than any other. So if you haven’t yet, you need to start a Google+ account.

How Can Google+ Help My SEO?

+1 – Blog posts that are +1ed on Google+ are given more SEO weight. Those posts will come up higher in the search results than those that are not. This is true without personalization of search results, but is even truer with the personalization.

Personalization – When Google users are logged into their account, the search results for their queries are personalized. Instead of getting content that Google believes is most relevant for everyone, the user receives content that Google believes is most relevant specifically for them. +1s can impact this. For example, if a fan +1s one of your blog posts, the rest of your content is deemed more relevant to them by Google. Your blog is more likely to come up higher on their personalized search results. But it doesn’t stop there – it’s also more likely to come up higher on the search results of any of that fan’s friends.

Custom URLs – Google+ is offering customized URLs to some businesses. One of the times you log into your account, Google will give you the option. Change your URL to your blog name and you should see an increase in organic traffic. Google has not officially stated that custom URLs will give your account more SEO weight, but it’s likely that will be the case in the future. Regardless, having your name in your URL should still give you a push.

Authorship Google Authorship has been in place for a few years. Connecting your Google+ account to any articles, guest posts, and blog posts you write will improve search results: your picture, a link to your Google+ account, the number of Google+ circles you are a part of, and a link to more search results written by you will show up along with your article. This makes your post more appealing to Google users, but also makes you a more credible expert to Google. The more your articles are +1ed, the more SEO weight you will have as an author.

Social Media Optimization – There’s a strong correlation between having lots of social media followers and better SEO. This is mainly because your fans will do a lot of great legwork for you: they will share your posts on their social media accounts or other places. These backlinks definitely help your SEO. Google+ is another social media outlet that you can add to your repertoire.

What are you waiting for? Start improving your SEO with a Google+ account ASAP!

After you start your Google+ account, link to it in your FreeGuestPost profile and author biography. Connecting your FreeGuestPost account and your Google Authorship account will help to make you a more credible source for Google, improving the SEO of any website that publishes your articles. Including it will make it easier for publishers to find out more about you as an author. More publishers will request your work if they know that you are a real person, a qualified writer, and you have SEO weight with Google Authorship.


Enge, Eric. “Google+ & SEO: How Google+ Impacts Search Results.” (18 Nov. 2013).

Bogar, Colin. “Google Plus rolls out custom URLs: a win for boosting organic search results?” (18 Nov. 2013).

Stadd, Allison. “The Relationship Between SEO And Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC].” (18 Nov. 2013).

8 Tips to Help Bloggers Get Started on Pinterest recently reported that the social media website Pinterest brought more traffic to publishers than Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Google+ combined. In fact, the only social network to beat Pinterest’s success rate is Facebook.

This holds true for bloggers, some of whom report that Pinterest is often one of their biggest sources of reader traffic. Pinterest recently made it even easier for publishers to promote their writing by adding a new function for articles that are pinned: pinned articles have a different format than other types of pins, and provide information about the article otherwise hidden from the viewer.


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So if you’re a blogger and you aren’t yet on Pinterest, you need to start ASAP! Try a few of these methods to optimize your Pinterest experience:

  1. A Pinterest update made this year created separate accounts for businesses and individuals. Bloggers can be counted as a business. After creating your business account, make sure your website is verified. Pinners with a verified website tend to do better.
  2. The images you use will make or break you on Pinterest! Seriously, this may be one of the most important Pinterest tips you will ever find. Make sure your images are clear and beautiful. Use your best photography skills and original pictures. To make your pin even more popular, use a photo editing site to add words and a watermark.
  3. Pinterest is a social network, so make sure to be social! Comment, share, like, pin, and follow other users!
  4. Create or join a group board. This will bring your pins to a broader audience.
  5. Make it easy for readers to share your post on Pinterest by adding a Pin it! button on photos in every blog post.
  6. Connect your Pinterest account to other social media websites. Share your Pinterest account on Facebook through tabs.
  7. Share the URL to your pins on other social media outlets.
  8. When you pin something from your blog, make sure to fill out the caption box. Include the URL to your post to optimize your SEO. Put a call-to-action in your caption as well – these will increase the engagement on your pin by 80%.

Expand Your Blog Reach with Twitter

Twitter can be a great social media platform for helping bloggers expand their reach. With the use of hashtags, huge audiences from your industry or niche can be found easily. You can also grow your blog following by having your current readers share your posts through Twitter, or retweet your tweets. Here are a few instructions to help any blogger get started on Twitter.

Your Twitter profile

Before you start tweeting to broadcast your messages, take a look at your profile. Do you have a profile picture? Twitter profiles without a picture look shady and untrustworthy. So do profiles without full bios. Unfortunately, your bio has to be short, so only include the most pertinent information. Twitter allows you to put a website in your Twitter profile, so stick the URL to your blog there.

Having a cover photo and background picture makes your profile look so much more professional than the default ones provided by Twitter. You can copy a common marketing strategy many businesses use and create a background image with your blog URL, social media contact information, or a CTA.

What should you tweet?

Before you send out your first tweet, sit down and think about your goals. This should partly tie into a social media strategy you’ve already made for your blog (or are in the process of making). Each social media platform is different, so while your tone or style for Twitter might already be set out in your strategy, think about what you can accomplish with Twitter. Are you mainly trying to show your readers a social side? Are you working on gaining more traffic? Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in your niche? Or are you networking? It’s important to pick one of those objectives and diligently stick to it in your tweeting ventures.

Once you pick your objective, it should be easier to develop a content strategy for your tweets. Many bloggers find success in sharing the title of their individual blog posts – which means you’ll have to keep Twitter in mind when you create your titles. You can also share excerpts from the text of your post, especially if it’s a pithy quote or juicy tidbit. Asking your followers questions that you would genuinely want an answer to is also a good strategy.

While you’re learning Twitter, explore hashtags that are relevant to your industry or niche. Many of them will be similar to Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram hashtags. Follow accounts that are similar to yours or interesting to you or your readers. Retweet tweets from others as well as posting your own original messages. Once you’ve learned the hashtags that you need, include them in some of your tweets, but limit it to 2-3 hashtags per tweet.

The more you use Twitter and follow accounts that are similar to yours, the more comfortable you will be with your tweeting. You’ll learn the best strategies either through example or through trial and error.

Quick tip: Use a URL shortening service if you are sharing links in your tweets. The long URLs will take up too much of your 140 characters. Websites like Bitly offer the service for free.

How often should you tweet?

Twitter is kind of like Pinterest when it comes to posting frequency. You should post multiple times a day, but it is possible to get carried away and annoy your followers. However, that would take many, many annoying tweets to get that far. Tweeting daily is the best policy, but every couple of days is adequate.

Twitter, your blog, and other social media platforms

You can use embedded posts, apps, and plugins to connect your Twitter account to your blog and other social media platforms. Use a Twitter social media button on your “About Me” page and on blog posts. You can embed a tweet to encourage users to follow you or respond to you via Twitter.

Twitter can also be connected to your Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine accounts. Use an app to show your latest tweets on your Facebook page.

Measuring your Twitter success

Just as Facebook and Pinterest have an in-house analytics program, so does Twitter. Use to access statistics on your tweets and followers. This program mainly exists to keep track of paid campaigns on Twitter, but is accessible for free. Analytics will tell you how many people clicked your link to go to your website, as well as favorites, retweets, and replies. This can help you see not only how much of your traffic comes through Twitter, but also which tweets attract the most clicks or shares.

Use Twitter analytics in conjunction with Google analytics. Twitter analytics can tell you which of your tweets were the most effective, but Google analytics can tell you if your website lived up to its Twitter promises. If traffic that comes through Twitter has a high bounce rate or doesn’t stay very long, you can use that information to work on user interface techniques.

For more information on how to use Pinterest as a blogger, check out our blog post “8 Tips to Help Bloggers Get Started on Pinterest.”

Creative Ways to Improve Your Content

If you were to ask yourself whether or not your favorite blog frequently has boring or dull content, the answer would probably be a resounding “no.” Instead, your favorite blogs are your favorites because they consistently put forth interesting and memorable content.

It may seem frustrating to be told to put forth more interesting content but not have a clear concept of how to do this. To help you improve your blog’s content – and thereby improve its readership – here are some creative ways to improve your content.


Look at What’s Trending

We aren’t saying that you should steal titles and write an article that fits. In fact, this usually looks like a cheap ploy to get views, and that’s typically exactly what it is. Instead, look at trending topics on Yahoo! or Google. Without looking at what any other bloggers have chosen to write about within these topics, instead take the trending topic and create a completely and original article about it. This ensures that you are not only hitting a popular keyword and topic, but adding something completely unique and original to the overall conversation.

Relationships with Other Bloggers Matter

You might already understand that relationships with other bloggers are essential for trading links and the like, but you might not understand how relationships with other bloggers can be useful for creating creative content. One of the best ways to create unique content is to request that your blogger friends do a guest post for your blog. This is a brilliant way to add something unique – something that will be out of the ordinary for your regular readers. Naturally, it is customary to write a guest post for your friend’s blog in exchange for theirs.

Create Something Worth Sharing

Next time you’re on Facebook or Twitter, really look at the articles that your friends are sharing. The most popular articles – as in, the ones that get shared the most – are the lists and the posts that contain image macros. Don’t think that putting up a few blogs like this will turn you into a cliché. Find a unique way to make the concept of creating these lists unique. For example, if you run a website about gourmet cooking, toss up a post on the top ten non-gourmet foods that even the most snobby foodies love, accompanied by some funny pictures of kittens in a kitchen. You’ll find that people are eager to share these types of posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Take a cue from professional writers and comedians and always have a notepad with you to scribble down ideas for posts when you’re on the go. Your most inspired ideas will rarely come to you when you’re sitting down to write a new article or blog post. The most important thing to remember, besides being original, is to be consistent. Every single post you put on your blog won’t be legendary, but if you keep at it, more and more will start to be.

7 Harsh Realities of Blogging

Every industry has its ups and downs, and blogging is no exception. While you are able to do what you love and maintain a creative spirit, you also have to put in tons of hard work in an industry that is difficult to break into. So before you start your blog, make sure you’re aware of all of the harsh realities.

  1. You’re not going to make it in this industry without Pinterest. For many successful bloggers, Pinterest is their main source of traffic. In the past few years, Pinterest has completely revolutionized the way bloggers blog. Now there is a huge emphasis on images that are appealing, or “pinnable.” Not only do you need great, original pictures and videos, but you need lots of them to break up the text in your post. It helps that the rest of the content marketing industry has also gone the way of images, adding to the Pinterest momentum. But unfortunately, there’s no getting around it: bloggers must be active on Pinterest.
  2. You don’t actually have to be a good writer to blog. You’d think this one would be counter-intuitive, right? Your job is to write blog posts – don’t you need writing skills? Go check out some of the most popular bloggers out there. See a viral post passed around by your Facebook friends recently? Chances are that blog post isn’t Shakespeare. It’s probably more like Stephenie Meyers. But in a way, this is good news: it isn’t a blogger’s writing prowess that makes them popular, but their ability to connect with their audience.
  3. You don’t actually have to say something new to be a blogger. Similar to #2, the content of the blog doesn’t have to be a wild, original creation. When a current event happens, how many personal bloggers jump on the chance to share their opinion? How many niches are flooded with thousands of bloggers? Answer: all of them. But again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; what makes us want to read blogs is how we can relate to them. Parents love hearing stories from other parents, crafters love learning from other crafters, and so on.
  4. 80% of blogging is grunt work, the other 20% is doing what you love. Unless you love buying a domain name, figuring out a host, building a website, designing your blog, formatting your posts, optimizing your posts for SEO, and then promoting the heck out of each post on social media. Most of your time as a blogger will not be dedicated to creating and writing. If you’re totally adverse to the technical side of blogging, maybe you need to find a great partner to work with. Or focus on your finished product, rather than the frustrating, boring part of blogging.
  5. Haters gonna hate. No matter what you say on your blog, someone is going to disagree with you. Before you dive into blogging, you need to be able to handle criticism. As you continue to grow your blog, work on developing a thick skin. The more popular your blog becomes, the more it will attract haters. Here’s the secret about haters, though: they could very well be right. As human beings, we make mistakes all of the time. You may have good intentions when you write a post, but end up accidentally offending someone anyway. And that’s okay. It’s okay to make mistakes on your blog, as long as you own up to your mistakes and, occasionally, apologize for them. Then, move on, learning to grow from the experience.
  6. The industry is super over-saturated. WordPress reports that there are over 74 million WordPress sites with 33.7 million posts being published each month. Entering the blogging world is the same as an aspiring actor or singer trying to break into their respective industries: it is extremely hard to get noticed. Fortunately, there’s a lot of audience to go around. More than 2 billion people use the Internet worldwide, and bloggers can share visitors. And this is one of the best parts of the blogging industry: bloggers do not have to be each other’s competition, and they can, in fact, help each other. Bloggers use guest posting, link parties, blog hops, and other features to give each other a boost in numbers. So don’t let the sheer number of blogs in existence get you down, because there is still plenty of potential for growth.
  7. Blogging isn’t easy. Something about blogging gives many the false idea that blogging is easy. Sure, many people do it from home, and you do spend most of your time behind a computer screen. However, the successful bloggers are working 12-14 hour days to make their due. Personal bloggers, in a way, never turn off: their entire online presence is part of their branding strategy. Not only does blogging require all the hard technical work, but you also must build relationships with other bloggers and advertisers. And this demands a lot of time.

As with any career choice, you have to weigh the pros and cons. If blogging can help grow your passion, then stick with it. And good luck!

What are some of the harsh realities you’ve learned about the blogging industry?

Sources: (29 Jan. 2014).

“More Than 2 Billion People Use the Internet, Here’s What They’re Up To (INFOGRAPHIC).” (29 Jan. 2014).