The Flat Circle will hit its two-year anniversary at the end of the month. As I try to grow my blog, I search for quality sources, sites, and experts for help with content, blogging, and SEO advice.
As is the case with anything on the Internet, not all blogging ideas are productive. Finding reliable information is hard. I have been disappointed by courses that regurgitate basic or wayward advice. I have spent long nights comparing conflicting posts on content and WordPress strategies. This is complex because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a slow burn practice that can take a long time before you know the effects of a strategy.
I began making strides after I cleared out the noise and focused on the expertise of select worthy sources. Sticking to the advice of a few reliable experts is not only more rewarding, but less stressful.
This post details the sources that have turned my web traffic numbers around. I am grateful for all of their work. Each site and expert provides practical blogging and SEO advice that helps me achieve results.
Dan Swords – Social Media And Blogging Advice
Dan provides great advice on blogging that I wish I had read when I first started. The transparency of his content initially caught my eye. In a post on blogging lessons, Dan even links to his own self-proclaimed clunker posts and references the ups and downs of blogging.
After leading off with his mistakes, he cites the one lesson every blogger and freelance writer should remember: “I feel that my writing has improved a billion percent. Practice really does make perfect.”
The idea of steady progress is important to bloggers as they try to find their niche and shape their content model.
I would be remiss not to include tangible results from Dan’s social media and blogging advice. He has provided keys to building a Twitter profile and how to increase Twitter followers that have recently worked for me. Nuggets include retweeting pinned tweets and how to optimize hashtags in your profile.
Julia Dent – SEO Advice From A Philadelphia Consultant
This globetrotter and Philadelphia SEO consultant offers Pinterest Marketing, Web Content, and Brand Design help for small businesses. Julia Dent’s blog also drops sharp advice on SEO, including a post on long tail keywords.
When I asked her about SEO, Julia said:
“Focus on writing quality blog posts that will help people and engage your current audience (this goes for businesses, too!). Blog posts are going to get more people to your site (and the more site traffic you have, Google will recognize that your site has value and will rank it higher), and the more content that you write that answers people’s questions or gives them helpful information, the more likely they’re going to keep coming back and even share your content to bring more people to your site.”
Julia also doubles as a travel blogger and photographer. Her Instagram page certainly makes me envious of Julia’s passport. Her travel site is: https://throughjuliaslens.com/.
Skillshare – Blogging and SEO Videos From Rand Fishkin
Skillshare is a fantastic resource for a variety of topics. Last year I found two free Skillshare courses to learn about SEO. Both were hosted by a man who is synonymous with top SEO advice: Rand Fishkin.
SEO students may be aware of Fishkin’s work. He founded Moz and Sparktoro. In both video courses, Fishkin offers instruction on SEO and search engine fundamentals that are great for beginner bloggers. Had I watched these videos in 2017, I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort later down the line.
Rand Fishkin recently posted an updated version of Mozlow’s Hierarchy of SEO Needs on Twitter. It is an extremely useful visual guide to SEO.
YouTube And Pinterest With Dose Of Simplicity
Curated by Kali Alexander, Dose of Simplicity blogs on multiple topics that include lifestyle, fitness, and travel. Like Dan Swords, Kali does a great job of explaining her process and progress as a blogger.
These transparent posts include how much she has earned as a blogger and her traffic numbers. Her diverse content model includes posts on how she grew her following on YouTube and Pinterest. Even though the pop-culture content of The Flat Circle does not lend itself well to either medium, I consulted Kali’s site to understand both platforms as blogging tools.
This was particularly helpful when I learned about the value of Pinterest to bloggers. Dose of Simplicity offers a Pinterest course and other Pinterest advice, including how to make a “perfect pin.”
Content Strategy Ideas From CMI’s Podcast
I have not consulted CMI’s website regularly, but the now-retired podcast Content Inc. With Joe Pulizzi gave an excellent breakdown of content marketing principles.
CMI is not my go-to service for technical concepts such as internal linking and keyword strategy, but this podcast offered top-notch content advice on a macro level. I still listen to Episodes One and Five when I need to remind myself of successful content strategies.
One smart suggestion for content writing (and really all planning) comes early in the podcast. Pulizzi instructs the audience to “begin with the end in mind.” When I look back at the successes and setbacks of The Flat Circle, I can trace much of that to knowing how well I followed through on the desired result of every post.
Other key issues Pulizzi emphasizes include blogging on your own site to gain ownership of content and the importance of e-mail subscriptions.
Top SEO Course– Kate Toon
This Aussie is one of the most fun and knowledgeable SEO professionals to follow on social media. I have not participated in her full courses, but plan to in the future. Her advice is not only important for bloggers, but for small businesses looking to invest in their web content.
I have taken advantage of Kate Toon’s SEO Nibbles course. The free course is a great introduction to SEO for anyone who is grappling with beginner level SEO problems. Ms. Toon also hosts the podcast SEO Success and co-hosts the copywriting podcast Hot Copy with Belinda Weaver.
When I wrote to her about SEO advice, Ms. Toon offered these truths for bloggers:
“Bloggers really need to consider the value of features snippets and position zero. To give yourself the best chance of nabbing this spot follow these basic steps:
- Think about what questions are your customers asking about your subject area? Use questions as your blog topic – think how, what, when, why, where, which.
- Use the question as the URL – broken up with hyphens.
- Use the question as the H1.
- Answer the question succinctly at the start of your post.
- Include a relevant well named image.
- Then go on to answer the question in full.
Tools like https://answerthepublic.com/ are great for finding little keyword question gems.”
Advice From Other Bloggers With ProBlogger
Having ProBlogger as a go-to may seem obvious, but ProBlogger is a primary resource for blogging advice for a reason. Darren Rowse has developed a site that offers diverse tools for bloggers, including e-books, a blog, and a helpful podcast.
ProBlogger’s podcast often reaches out to the blogging world to bring in the experiences of different bloggers. Given that blogging can be a solitary activity that inspires internal questioning, it is comforting to know that successful bloggers go through similar experiences. It is also reassuring to know that there is no one way to grow a blog.
Not only do I read their regular e-mails, which include important discussions like the proper use of pronouns, but ProBlogger offers courses that give ground-up improvements for bloggers. ProBlogger also has a job board that offers gigs for freelance writers and bloggers.
Advice From Other Bloggers On Facebook
There is no better source for blogging advice than other bloggers. When I kick strategies around, I will vet ideas in Facebook groups. Not every blog has the same content goals, but there are basic principles that bloggers experience.
One local group is PHL Bloggers, a Philadelphia-based network that allows different types of bloggers to interact with each other. For bloggers outside the Philly area, finding similar local Facebook groups can be a helpful resource to create connections and learn together.
Another Facebook group is Blogging For New Bloggers. Administered by the same bloggers behind Blogging For New Bloggers and Tiny Love Bug, the group has grown to over 20,000 members. The large volume of participants makes the community a perfect place to find collaborators and resources for becoming a better blogger.