How to Blog in a Small Niche: Blog Set-Up and Organization

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We should probably start with the basics before we move on in the series How to Blog in a Small Niche.  The majority of this post really can be applied to ANY blog (or website), no matter if your niche is big or small.  HOWEVER, if you are in a small niche, you have to work EVEN HARDER to get your blog to stand out online so that people will share it with others!

Before we start, can I ask you a quick favor? It will only take a second.  I promise!

I know most people reading this post are not my target audience. (I blog about being married to a chef and raising a family with a chef.) If you know someone married to or dating someone in the restaurant industry, (a chef, server, line cook, manager, bartender, etc.) will you share my blog via email with them?  I appreciate your help in getting the word out about my blog.

Now moving on . . . Let’s start off by talking about how I set up my blog/websites and how I organize all the things that go on behind the scenes of my blog.

Blog Set-up

Choose a good hosting provider.   I have 14 websites hosted with 1&1 Internet (restaurant websites, my blog, a local non-profit, our church website, a website development business, a website for my chef/husband, and our family blog to name a few.  I have been very happy with the services they provide and they have great customer service.   They have a click and build option, which will install WordPress for you easily!  This is a great feature!!  (I have also worked with GoDaddy for a client and have been happy with their customer service as well.)

Start off with WordPress.org.  Don’t mess with anything else or you’ll probably just end up switching over to it eventually, and that’s a lot of work!  It’s really amazing and pretty user friendly.

If you have multiple websites, I highly recommend Manage WP I use this site to manage all my websites.  I can update themes, plugins, track analytics, etc. for all my websites at once with just the click of a button.  It is much easier then logging into 16 different sites every time I need to update things!  I also use this to backup my sites.

Blog Design

Spend the money on a good premium theme.  When I first started developing websites using WordPress, I found the company Elegant Themes.  What drew me to them was that they offered a variety of themes to choose from for 1 low price!  Their customer service is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!  They say they don’t help with customizations, but for every little thing that I’ve asked for help on, they have responded and have helped me make little tweaks to all of my sites.  Their response time to questions is very fast and I can’t recommend them enough!

Make sure that whatever theme you choose, it resizes automatically on a mobile device.  There’s nothing worse than going to a website on your phone and having to zoom in and move around to read it.  I usually give up and move on if a site is not responsive!

Take time to make your graphics and pictures look nice.  If you scroll through my blog from the beginning, you’ll notice my graphics get a lot better.  Most of my posts don’t really have a personal photograph to go with them because of what I write about.  However, I still want to get people attention and I REALLY want them to pin the post on Pinterest.

You can pin this post now with this picture below. (For more information on how to pin a different graphic than is in your post, go to this post.  It’s so cool!!)

How to Blog - blog set-up and organization

I use a lot of stock photography and backgrounds to create pinable and sharable graphics.  (More on that in other posts in this series.)  Every time I come across a good resource for FREE images to use on my website, I pin them on the board below.  (Feel free to follow it!)

Follow Jennifer @ Emulsified Family’s board Graphic Design on Pinterest.
I also recently found out that when you do a search for a picture online from within Microsoft Word, Publisher, PowerPoint, etc., it will bring up pictures with a Creative Commons license, many of which you can use for free on your site (just make sure to check the license first.)

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Comment Redirect by Yoast – lets people know if you reply to their comment.  Why bother replying to comments if the person you are replying to never knows?

Lazy Load – only loads things on your site as needed to speed up the site.

One-Click Child Theme – creates a child theme with just the click of a button so you don’t lose any customizations you make to your theme.

Shareholic – inserts social media sharing buttons and related content for the bottom of your posts and pages.

WordPress SEO – a must have plugin for search engine optimization.  I also use this plugin to set the open graph data for Facebook so the text and picture I want are shared.  (You can use it for Twitter and Google+ too.)

WP Smush.it – reduces image sizes.

WP Super Cache – speeds up your website.

Bloom Email Opt-in – premium plugin by Elegant Themes to help you get email subscribers.  THIS IS AMAZING!!  You can customize it in so many ways!  I installed it the first day it came out and I LOVE IT!!  It works great on desktop and mobile sites!

MailChimp for WordPress – Links your MailChimp account to your website with easy to use signup forms. (More details on this over in my blog promotion post.)

Blog Organization

Microsoft OneNoteBoth my chef/husband and I use Microsoft OneNote to organize our lives.  I have a notebook for home and a notebook for my blog.

In my blogging notebook I have multiple sections (things to do, blog posts, newsletter, planner, ebook, goals, guest posting and networks.)  Then I have different pages within each section.  I even write drafts of my blog posts in OneNote and then copy/paste them over to WordPress when I’m ready.

I have the OneNote app on my phone and tablet, so if I think of something I want to do or have a blog post idea when I’m out and about, I can write it down so I won’t forget.

Blog Content

I have 6 categories that I use to categorize my posts.  As I think of ideas, I just jot them down in OneNote under the category which it relates to and then when I sit down to write, I have a list to choose from. Some people set up a time to brainstorm ideas, but so far, I have just compiled a list as I think of them and that has worked well for me.

I try to set aside time each week day to write.  It’s easy to get distracted by other things (like social media), so I try and write while our youngest takes a rest each day.

Follow Jennifer @ Emulsified Family’s board Blog content ideas on Pinterest.

 

Blog Performance

Website speed is important.  If your site takes too long to load, someone might leave before they have a chance to read your content.  I’ve used the tips on this page and had good luck with speeding up my site.  (I still wish it were a bit faster, but I’ll keep working on it!) I track my website traffic on Google Analytics.  Sarah over on The Blogging Bunch has a nice post on the basics of Google Analytics. I use this page to test my website speed every now and then to see how it’s doing.

Follow Jennifer @ Emulsified Family’s board Blog performance on Pinterest.

Time Management

I learned very quickly that I loved blogging and connecting with others.  I also learned how easy it is for it to take over your life.  I’ve had to really manage my time well so I make sure not to neglect my home and family!  Here’s a link to my daily routine that has helped!

User Testing

Once your blog is set up and going, check out Peek User Testing.  All you do is insert your blog URL and sometime in the next 24 hours, a complete stranger goes to your site and you get a video of them exploring your site for the first time.  They have a set list of questions and things to look for.  You can do this for both yoru desktop and mobile site.  It’s very informative!!

Here are some other great resources I think you’ll find helpful:

  1. The first is The Knowtbook by Amy Lynn Andrews.  From day one, she has been my #1 go to resource on all things blogging.  She is a wealth of information.  She has a great website and Useletter, but her new Knowtbook goes above and beyond that.  It’s her working notebook that you can have access to.  I LOVE that she is constantly updating it for me (well, for anyone that buys it.)   It’s her notebook that she uses for all of her notes and she’s sharing it with us!!  Best idea ever!  You can find out more details over on her website.  I highly recommend this Knowtbook if you are a blogger!  It’s money well spent.
  2. The Blogging Bunch – Sarah has been so helpful to me this year as I have been fine tuning my blog.  She has some great ideas and resources on her website and a wonderful Facebook group where you can ask questions of other bloggers!
  3. Brilliant Business Moms – A great resource if you are looking to make your blog a business.  They have some AMAZING podcasts that I have found super helpful and also have a great Facebook group.
  4. Blog Chikca Blog – Jill is my go-to gal for all things Pinterest.  More about her and my love of Pinterest in this post.
  5. How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul – What a great book this is (and I’m not a reader.  So for me to recommend a book it has to be REALLY good.)  I learned a ton from it as I began to promote my blog!

Other posts in this series:

How to Blog in a small niche

How to Blog - blog set-up and organization

How to Blog - Blog Promotion

How to Blog in a small niche - pinterest

how to not let facebook consume your life as a blogger

As you’ve been setting up your website or blog, what things have you found difficult?  Let me know in the comments below.

From one chef wife (or blogger) to another,

Jennifer

 

 

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Blog Design Ideas   Blog Content ideas   Blog Performance   Blog Promotion   Graphic Design

5 Comments

  1. Crystal Green

    This is a great post filled with valuable blogging information and tools to help fellow bloggers. Thanks for sharing it with us. You shared things on here that I hadn’t heard of yet. It’s always fun to see how other bloggers are doing things to make their blog a success.
    Crystal Green recently posted…Learning and Growing Our Blogs TogetherMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks Crystal. Glad you found it helpful. I always enjoy seeing what other bloggers are doing as well (especially ones that are not too big yet).

      Reply
  2. The Screenwriter's Wife

    You know, though you’ve recently written several blog posts about having a “niche” audience, I think you can reach a much larger audience than you realize just by widening your target audience a tiny bit. If you’re wanting to specifically address what it’s like to raise a family when your spouse works crazy long and unsteady hours, then I think you should focus on that. This way your target audience could reach women with spouses in all kinds of other occupations too! Of course you can keep talking about the life of a chef’s wife and culinary type things…but this way you can also relate broader implications that can apply to other women too.

    For example, my husband works in the entertainment business. Which can also be an incredibly unsteady and long-hours business to be in. My blog is called The Screenwriter’s Wife and while I do blog about Hollywood-type stuff, I also blog about family stuff too and how to survive when you don’t have the same stability that other families might have. Though I’d love to connect to other moms/wives/girlfriends with partners in the film business, it’s not my only audience and I’m not limited to only those topics.
    The Screenwriter’s Wife recently posted…Garage Sale Scores 3/7/15My Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I read your comment yesterday. Not sure I want to go that direction now, but will definitely keep that in the back of my mind. 🙂 I know I’ve had people comment that they could relate, even though they were married to someone in a different profession (police officer, truck driver, pilot, etc.)

      Reply

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