blog tips

Sponsors Make The (Blog) World Go 'Round

When I began offering sponsorship spots in April I had no idea what a blessing it would be to me. I was a little nervous, and a little clueless. I stepped out, and began to sell ad spots, and wow it has been awesome. I have made some of the dearest friends, and have learned so much a long the way. I often receive emails asking how I knew I was ready for sponsorships...or how to start. Well here are a few tips that I was given before I started, that are spot on.


1. Have a plan. Get Organized.
This is huge! In order to be successful in offering sponsorships you have to have more than just the desire to have sponsors. Create a plan. What spots will you offer? How many will you offer of each spot? What will each spot include? How much should you charge? 

Take time to think through these questions. Base the price on the size of your blog, and start small. Less is more. Don't start off offering 20 ad spots at $15 a pop...start small, test what works best for your blog, and tweak, tweak, tweak. I think every blogger knows this hobby is a constant experiment in trial and error...so what works for Sally Sue and her blog sponsorships may not work for you. So take time to think through your plan of attack. How will you promote your sponsors? How are you going to work to help them grow?

Also, it is so important to be organized! Figure out a system to keep up with your post schedule, and stick with it. Some really great resources for blog printables can be found below!

Elle & Co. Design Printable Library (pictured in my shot below)
Elah Tree
Steel & Twine

2. Have a consistent following on all social media platforms & your blog. 
I will be the FIRST to shout from the rooftops that numbers are not the only thing that matter in blogging. I strive constantly to guard myself from becoming a slave to my Google Analytics stats or becoming consumed with the numbers...but when it comes to people paying you for a spot on your sidebar...you do have to care about your stats somewhat. And you must have a consistent following (across all social media as well as your blog). Are you receiving comments on your posts? Do you have a large following on your social media platforms? Do you have around 100+ followers on GFC or Bloglovin'? These are important questions to think through. 

If you do not have a consistent and considerable following then you won't have much to offer your sponsors...you want to be able to promote them, and help them grow. So you have to have people to promote them to in order for this to work! :)

3. Have time to dedicate to your sponsors. 
Offering sponsorships takes time. This is just the cold hard truth. So if you have the time to dedicate to highlight posts, social media shout outs, giveaways, and guest posts GO FOR IT! However, if you do not have the time, maybe think through offering sponsorships, or how you can manage your time in such a way to allow you to dedicate yourself to those who are paying you for your attention and time! You want your sponsors to feel valued, and cared for, so this takes time just like any friendship or relationship in your life! 

I hope this has been helpful for you! Offering sponsorships has been such a rewarding experience, and such a joy for me as a blogger. I am always trying to figure out how to make my sponsorships a better experience for my sponsors, and how to work hard for every single one of them! 

And now I want you to meet some of my sweet sponsors this month!
What is your favorite summer fruit? I have the hardest time picking my favorite foods for anything. I just appreciate so many flavors and textures and crave them all in equal proportions but in a varying degree of frequency. But I think the two I gravitate towards most in summer are figs and apricots, probably because we had them in our backyard when I was little in California and I would eat them right off the tree. Nothing spelled summer like eating what I had just picked.

What drives me in blogging? I struggled for a long time getting the drive to really be devoted to blogging, but this year after I was married and had settled into an incredible job, I found myself full of creativity and had to let it out, so I came back to the blog world! Then, I found this amazing sense of community I didn't know existed amongst bloggers and now, I just can't imagine not blogging and interacting with my friends there.

What's in my coffee cup? Dark roast coffee, always, milk, or sometimes French vanilla creamer if I've felt luxurious at the grocery store and splurged, a teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of nutmeg to draw out more of the warmth of the coffee.

What is your favorite summer fruit? Watermelon! Especially with a little salt!


What drives you when it comes to blogging? I want to provide useful tips and the things that I am learning with my readers. Additionally, I want to share more my story about Dystonia with the world and connect with other sufferers, due to the lack of consolidated information available. It's a movement disorder that affects a quarter of a million people in the United States.

What is in your coffee cup daily? This summer, I have been loving cinnamon coffee with hazelnut creamer, usually served cold! If I make it hot, but let it get cold, I will just add ice cubes to my mug.


What is your favorite summer fruit? My favorite fruit in summer is definitely strawberries! I put them on everything. Currently I've even been putting them on my whole grain English muffin and chocolate coconut peanut butter.  Its like having a chocolate covered strawberry every morning!!

What drives you when it comes to blogging? I love blogging, because that short time that I am typing and editing a post it puts me in my own little perfect world.  I can literally block out everything that may be going wrong around me and just be ME! I like to write about things I know and what others may find interesting.  I am just a small town girl and don't try to be anything I don't!

What is in your coffee cup daily? I can't survive without coffee in the morning- or anytime of day for that matter.  I MUST have flavored coffee or flavored creamer though.  Coconut flavor is my favorite and I actually prefer iced coffee over hot, even when here in PA it's 20 degrees!!

What is your favorite summer fruit? My favorite summer fruit is definitely watermelon! Watermelon just screams summer and 4th of July to me.  I think this love started at my grandparents house.  I have so many memories of my sweet grandparents cutting up a huge watermelon for us in the Summer.  

What drives you in blogging? This is something that I have actually been giving a lot of thought to recently.  My blog started solely as a way to keep friends and family updated on our journey with my husband's Minor League Baseball career.  It wasn't until the beginning of this year that I realized I wanted a bigger purpose for my little blog.  I wanted to use my blog as a way to connect with other bloggers and encourage other Minor League wives.  God really put on my heart that my blog should be used to share how He is working through our baseball journey, and not how my husband is performing on the baseball field.  So my drive to blog comes from my desire to encourage others and build community through blogging.  

What is in your coffee cup daily? What is in my coffee cup has just changed! I am a huge coffee lover.  I was on a huge latte kick the past few months, but the last few weeks I have completely switched to iced coffee with a little bit of milk.  If I'm treating myself I add a little bit of chocolate and  oh my goodness is it good! And now I'm having to refrain from driving to pick one up.. 


Want to join my sponsorship team for August or September? Hurry on over and grab a spot! I would love to meet you and help you begin growing your blog! Use code BLOGFRIENDS for 15% off all spots this week!

Also, don't forget! TOMORROW is the 2nd Community Brew and we hope to see you there! The topic is marriage, but check out the prompt page, there is something for every season of life! :)


HTML Basics for Bloggers (Guest Post)

Good Morning Ladies! I am so happy to share this post with you all and have one of my favorite bloggers give us all some really great tips for using HTML when blogging. Jana of Life Could Be Dream is one of my all time favorite ladies in the blogsphere. She helped me figure out how to start my sponsorship program, advertises her sponsors like a pro, and gives the best blog advice around! So sit back and enjoy this treat of gleaning some wisdom from this lovely lady! :)

Hello beauties! I'm Jana. When I'm not chasing my crazy toddler around the house I blog over at Life Could Be a Dream and I'm also the designer behind Jana Tolman Design. I opened my design business last May and I have been creating custom blog designs and pre made blog templates ever since.

As far as graphics and web design goes, I'm completely self taught. I've learned a lot since I started designing blogs and I've come to have an incredible appreciation for the aesthetics of blog design and good blog maintenance. I think it's imperative that bloggers know a little bit of basic HTML so they can give their blogs a little TLC DIY style. :)



Lesson 1: Centering

Centering sidebar gadgets

In order to create clean lines on your sidebar, it really helps to center. There is an incredibly simple HTML trick to center content: <center></center>. To use it, simply place the content of your HTML between the <center></center> tags. For example, if I wanted to center an image on my sidebar I would use: 

<center><img src="IMAGE URL HERE"></center>

Center your page list and header

template available in my Etsy shop

To center your page list and header, you will need to go to the template designer, click "Advanced" and click "Add CSS". In the CSS field, copy and paste the following to center your pagelist:

.PageList{
text-align: center !important;
}

.PageList li{
display: inline !important;
float: none; !important;
}

The following to center your header if it's an image:

#header-inner img {
margin-left: auto;
margin-right: auto;
}

Or the following if your header is text only:

#header-inner{

text-align: center;
}


Lesson 2: Links and Images

Say you wanted to add text to your sidebar, but you want it to click through to a link. Easy peasy. This is the code you would use:

<a href="LINK HERE>TITLE OF LINK</a>

But what if you wanted to have an image that is clickable to a link?

<a href="LINK HERE"><img src="IMAGE URL"></a>

Lesson 3: Adjusting Margins

This is probably one of my favorite tricks for cleaning up a blog design. If you have sidebar gadgets that are too close together, or for some reason one of your gadgets just isn't centering, this is the trick for you. It might seem a little complicated, but I'll walk you through it. 

First, you need to find the Widget ID of the gadget you are trying to move. You can do this by opening the gadget by clicking "edit" from your blog's layout page, or by clicking on the tool icon next to the gadget from your blog's homepage. 

From there, expand the gadget window. Look at the very end of the url to find the Widget ID. 


Second, we apply the CSS using the Widget ID. Go to the Template Designer, click "Advanced", then click "Add CSS".

To adjust the margins of the gadget you want to move, use the following CSS:

#WIDGET ID{
margin-top: 0px;
margin-right: 0px;
margin-bottom: 0px;
margin-left: 0px;
}


Simply adjust the pixel value until the widget is moved where you want it be. Positive numbers will move the gadget farther from the specified margin and negative numbers will move it closer. 

I hope this has helped you a little bit! For more blogging tips, feel free to stop by my blog and say hello. Thanks for having me! :)







Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!


5 "big picture" questions to regain BLOG FOCUS

Blog Questions for focus

 Many of you may have read my post from kinda late last night, it is so timely for me to follow up that post with this, because now more than ever am I certain that answering these questions led me to write the post I did yesterday about my story. It is because of that focus that I am certain that was a post more in line with my vision and aspirations for this blog than anything else I have written so far. Thank you so everyone who commented back to me in some form or fashion, you all brought me to tears on my knees before the Lord. He is so mighty. Praise Him!

On a slightly different note...am I the only one that gets totally overwhelmed with the blog world sometimes? Surely not. I am often so weighed down by the never-ending need for new content, and networking that I totally lose sight of why I am even a blogger to start with. 

So today I have stepped back, evaluated my little blog in light of these questions, and feel a million times lighter. I think every blogger should stop to ask themselves these 5 questions on a very regular basis, even if you have been blogging for years. This is so refreshing, and helps narrow your focus, which in turns boosts your motivation. 

QUESTION # 1: WHAT IS YOUR BLOG ABOUT? 

My blog is about my marriage/faith, DIY projects and crafts, recipes, and handmade items. Narrow down what you are writing about, do not take the approach that your blog is about "a little bit of everything". You can still have a lifestyle blog and have focus on a few specific things. Narrowing your focus helps you as a writer to pour your energy into creating quality content for what you are most passionate about. Writing about everything under the sun will eventually wear you out. So pick somethings that make you giddy, what fires you up...write about those things. 

QUESTION # 2: WHAT IS YOUR BLOG NOT ABOUT?

This question is just as important as the first question. Define what topics you will not write about and do not deviate from that list, even in the times you are desperate for content. Do not write simply to have a blog post that day, write because you have something you want to share, contribute, or inspire someone with. 

QUESTION # 3: WHY DO YOU BLOG? 

I think this should be asked monthly, or at least yearly. Remind yourself why you started this journey. For me blogging started as a way to document my engagement and wedding planning for friends and family. However the reason I blog now has changed into something entirely different. (And that is okay). I now blog to be breath of fresh air to my readers. I want to challenge young women in all stages of life to be Godly women chasing after the Lord, making beautiful homes, and blessing others with their creative gifts. I blog so that I can inspire and motivate my readers as well as myself to be the woman the Lord has called me to be in Proverbs 31, a woman who works to provide for her family, uses her creativity to bless others and make money, manages her home well, and loves her husband like Christ loves. So dig deep...why are you doing this? If you cannot formulate this answer, step away until you can. Everything you write comes out of this answer so it is important that you can always take yourself back to why you are doing what you are doing. 

QUESTION # 4: WHAT DREAMS OR GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR BLOG?

You will never achieve what you are not striving for. Set goals, and work towards those goals. Make hard goals and easy goals. Some of my goals are to reach 200 followers, find a Godly community of other bloggers, write a guest post for a blog much larger than mine, begin to have blog sponsors, and to attend a blog conference sometime in the future. Some of these may take awhile, and that is okay, blogging is learning to be patient and persevering. Dream big and set goals so that you have a direction.

QUESTION # 5: HOW WILL YOU ORGANIZE YOUR BLOG?

This includes so much from how will your actual design look, to how often you choose to post. Set defined boundaries for yourself. Create a space in which you can go to blog, set times that you will be on your computer, and times you will be away. Schedule time for writing posts, and plan ahead on giveaways, guest posts, and replying to comments. If you do not organize yourself and set boundaries you will find yourself wanting to pull your hair out, call it quits on blogging, or the opposite, you will be totally consumed by this virtual world. So get it together and create a plan. 

I hope these questions help you to renew your mind the way they did for me. It was so so great for me to spend time thinking through my answers. I feel so focused on what I am setting out to do with my blog and pray that this will get you to that same place of focus and motivation. 

How do you organize yourself for blogging? What works for you?


Keep Calm and Blog On

As usual I am linking up this morning (with a cup of coffee shh don't tell) with KhalaSamanthaJenni, and Renee as well as Keep Calm and Blog On Join us with your beverage of choice!

Also, stay tuned for a super fun guest post tomorrow!! Cannot wait to share!

xoxo,

Rachel 

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