Hola mis amigas! .... Welcome to a new series I'm dabbling in called The Business Of Blogging. I don't speak a lot (ok at all) about how I started blogging, how I've grown my site's traffic or turned this so called 'hobby' into a fledgling business, And I felt that it's about time I shared my wealth... or knowledge... or what ever you call this gold mine I've accumulated from something I like to call 'trial and fail miserably, try try try again and wait? what is this? Success?!'

    So, let me get a few disclaimers and deets out of the way before we start in on the series. Here are my stats as of right now.... I get an average of 110,000 UNIQUE visitors a month, 180,000 total visitors, and around 300,000 page views. About 20% of that are returning visitors. And I reached those stats in less than a year.  I have spent NO MONEY ON ADVERTISING. My only costs have been to buy my unique domain and set up an email address through it.... about $20 a year. So while I make no claims at being a HUGE site, I have had a bit of success (with little to no $ spent) and I would like to share the how-tos of what I've done. So take or leave my advice, do with it as you'd like and leave me a note or two as to what you've found useful, awful, horrifying, stupendous, idiotic.... anything.

The Business of Blogging: It's (Mostly) About The Looks.

This is pretty basic, but it's a definite MUST. The appearance of a blog must be

A.Unique- It is bloggy death to me when I click into a site and I can tell that it is the basic wordpress, blogger, weebly ect ect ect setup. No logo, no interesting catch phrase or image, no (personal) photos all equal bloggy trash can.... aka I will (almost definitely) never visit again. You DO NOT have to be a graphic/web designer to modify the looks of your site. There are so many free webinars and tutorials out there on how to change the header, add images to the side bar, change the background. Love it when a site has a hand drawn image incorporated into the look. A simple sketch, scan and upload is all you need. Another aspect of unique is editing photos and adding text to them. I use photoshop elements for this and will get more into that later into the series

B. Clean- With that being said above ^^^^ about interesting logos, phrases and photos, your site has gotta be easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. As soon as I click into a site I want it to be like "Pow! I am a master baker here at Yummy Yum Yummies and I will knock your socks off with my tasty recipes and wit' Ok, you can't really convey wit up front, that comes from your unique writing voice (again coming up later in the series ;) ). But I hope you get the point.
 This gist is this 
     1. Keep the background light and plain. If you just gotta have color or pattern (as I do) stick with something stationary (does not scroll with movement up/down the page), light in saturation and simple.
     2.Limit the number of fonts you use. It is so distracting when every other button or word is a different font.
     3. Try and keep images the same size width & location, ie 600px and centered
     4. Limit text & keep text looking interesting. No one wants to be greeted with a giant block of text, single spaced, in 8pt with no oomph. When I see that I think, 'Great, Now I feel like I'm back in collage siting in ancient lit 101 and I've just been given 500 pages to read over the weekend, but there's this totally hot guy who will be at the frat party tonight, and, like, there is no way I can sit here and read this!.... isn't there a spark notes version?
     As for keeping the test interesting, or aka the oomph, sprinkle in bold, caps, italics, underlines as needed. But DON'T go Overboard with it or YOU will LOOK RIDICULOUS, cRAzy, AngRY or all of theABOVE    ;)

C. Full Of Unique Beautiful Photos- This has to do with your posts as well as your side bars. One of the best things you can do for your site is to practice practice practice your photography (and then photo editing) skills. I am guilty of being huge page scroller/scanner. I will literally click into a site, do one finger scroll down the page and if an image hasn't grabbed my attention.... ENNNNN..... bloggy death.
 You should begin to think of photos as your business cards. People are pinning & google searching photos like no other these days, and if they are good unique photos, you will attract new visitors to your site like moths to a flame, bees to honey, grandmas to babies, preteen punk boys to the girls jeans department... you get it. Good photos = mucho traffico.

EXTRA TIP OF THE DAY: Label all your photos as they pertain to the content. Don't click, upload and leave the name IMG_DSC007. No no no honey! You gotta think like the people you want visiting your site think,
ie name it: DIY Anthropologie Scarf 1. jpg
   All search engines send out 'spiders' which grab onto keywords. In the example above ^^^ DIY, Anthropologie & Scarf are all keywords, in which the 'spiders' will 'grab onto' and retrieve for someone who types 'DIY anthropologie scarf' into their search engine. My DIY post comes up first in search results and image results on google BTW ;)   And the more people click on an image the more your site will show up across the board. Traffic begets more traffic.

D. Glamor Shots Baby!- Sounds a little scary to some people, but people wanna see you. People like to put a face to who is creating/writing/photographing/baking ect ect ect. And please, if you're up to it, share a few photos of your family/home/kitchen/studio/yard. BUT and there is a HUGE BA-DONK-A-DONK ATTACHED TO THIS BUT..... You must LIMIT the photos of your pretty little smile and your babies butt cheeks. Unless you specifically and only blog about your family, I didn't visit your site to view the family photo albums. There is a definite TMPP (too much personal photos) line.  and you don't wanna cross it.

E. Create Your Own Blog Heaven- As in, make your site something YOU love to visit and YOU love to look at. This is your very own little piece of the interweb, so preen and primp it as you would your home. This has a lot to do with the first point of being unique. The more you add (side bar photos, links to your content, categories, recent posts, a 'you may also like' widget) the longer visitors will stay on your site and the more they will click around. You don't want people to visit your site via an image found on pinterest, glance at the post for 15-20 seconds and then bounce outta there. You want people to be drawn in from the get go. You want visitors to immediately understand what's the prerogative, who is creating the content and that there's more 'goodies' to be found. I find it to be such a compliment (and a success!) when my fans will drop a note saying that they had just dropped by (via a link found on blah blah blah about blah blah blah) and before they knew it they had spent a couple of hours clicking around my photos and tutorials. Because in the end, at the root of it all, the whole meaning to bloggy life.... is to share, communicate and connect. Yes, it can be a business, Yes, you can make money at it, but honey, if you are just in it for the $$$, you'll never have enough passion, drive or where with all to make it past 30 days.

 So that's concludes the fist part of The Business Of Blogging Series. There is much much more to follow and I am excited to see who/how/what I can help with my two cents.
Thanks for stopping by!