Primp My Blog Challenge: Spring Cleaning for Your Blog

Spring has sprung! Have you started your spring cleaning yet? Extend it to your blog! I know I have been putting off a few organizational tasks for far too long – accept my challenge and tidy up your blog this week!

Your sidebar can be a great place to display additional information about yourself and your blog, but it can also quickly become a cluttered mess of buttons, badges, and links. Take a look at your sidebar and pare it down the the bare essentials. Do you really need that Twitter feed widget? That blogroll with your fifty favorite blogs? You may want to consider moving some of your sidebar information to external pages and simply add a link.

Improving the navigation of your blog is one of the best ways to get readers to stick around on your blog for longer. Take this opportunity to streamline your tags! You really only need 7-8 categories, and the more simplified your content is, the easier it will be for readers to discover posts they will enjoy. Once your categories are organized, make them easy to access by adding text links or buttons to your (newly cleaned) sidebar.

Click on all of the links in your navigation menus and sidebar: do they take you where they should? Just last night, I was checking on my Bloglovin’ followers and wondering why people were still subscribing to my old URL. It was because I never updated my widget when I moved to my new domain! Incorrect links can cause your readers to get lost and frustrated, and you don’t want that!

  • Clean out your blog reader: get rid of blogs you don’t read and add the ones you’ve been meaning to.
  • Check that your pins on Pinterest link back to their original sources.
  • Trim down your “following” list on Twitter.
  • And if you’re feeling really ambitious: tackle that mess on your hard drive!

Will you take on my challenge? Brag about your hard work in the comments and post a link so we can all check it out!

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How to Help in Uganda: Mtaala Foundation

With the recent media focus on the events in Uganda, you may want to know how you can help. It’s great to learn there are small hands-on groups like the Mtaala Foundation who are doing just that. “Mtaala,” pronounced mah-tah-lah, means “learning” in Swahili. This group is dedicated to building secondary schools in Uganda where none existed previously. These schools offer young people a chance at a life they may have never imagined. Some of the children were victims of Kony’s army; all have been affected by the atrocity.

Mtaala students gather in a classroom after school to study

100% of money raised by Mtaala goes directly toward making community improvements in Uganda. There are no salaries for foundation members; they are all volunteers. And you can help, too.

Mtaala has a brand new shop on Etsy featuring necklaces made by Mtaala students and women of the region. These beautiful beads are made of recycled paper, and will definitely add a bright pop of color to your summer outfits. And every single dollar goes right into helping the beautiful people of Uganda!

Masette, an Mtaala student, participates in bead making after school

How else can you support Mtaala? Learn more about their mission on the Mtaala website and like Mtaala on Facebook to receive updates about current happenings. Hopefully you can spare a few minutes or a few dollars to help!

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Weekly Journal: LA Adventure!

Whew!! Did you notice my absence for the last few days? I’ve been having a whirlwind of a weekend! Marcus and I had two of our friends from college come out to visit us so we spent the weekend zipping around to different activities all around the city, reconnecting with other friends and enjoying our time together. It was great to see everyone, but I have to say, it did feel kinda nice to finally spend some quiet time alone in the house yesterday!

On Thursday, we took a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. It was a perfect day for roller coasters, the lines were so short, and we got to ride all the best rides! I have to say though, I may be getting a bit too old for a full day of roller coasters because the next day my back, neck and shoulders were so sore!! That night we had all of our local friends over for some barbecue and fire pit action.

Friday morning we ate a giant breakfast and set out for a genuine adventure! My parents gave M and me a Groupon for a sailing lesson a few months back, so we decided to cash it in while our friends were here. We toured around Redondo Beach, learned a bit about sailing, and tried to make friends with a seal! He wasn’t very glad to see us though, he barked to let us know that our boat was too close!

Of course, we had to try our luck at a few lottery numbers; spoiler alert: we didn’t win. But the little glimmer of hope definitely made for some fun conversations at the bar that night – I’m sure some of you had fun fantasizing about your millions, too!

Saturday was cold and blustery! We grabbed breakfast at our farmers market and picked up a few ingredients to make some snacks for later. We ended up spending the rest of the day back at the house as the wind kicked up and it started to rain.

On Sunday we drove up the coast to meet with Marc’s parents for brunch. These little turtles were hanging out in a pond outside of the restaurant. They must’ve been cold because they were all piling on top of the rocks to warm themselves in the sun – you can see I’m doing the same in the photo above! You can also probably tell by my hair that the wind stuck around through the rest of the weekend. We took a walk out to the pier to see that the waves were HUGE!

I definitely forget to take advantage of what my city has to offer sometimes, so it’s great to have visitors to remind you of all there is to see!

What adventures did you have this weekend?

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Primp My Blog: What’s Up Next?

Hello primpers!! I have been enjoying the feedback on my Primp My Blog series so much – I love hearing from people that have learned from my tutorials!

Now it’s your turn to help me: What do you want to learn? Do you prefer to read more about the technical side of blogging, like adding buttons to your sidebar, or the more “philosophical” side, like etiquette guidelines? What blogging questions have been on your mind?

I have had several requests for image-editing tutorials like blog headers, buttons, and Facebook cover images. These are going to be a bit more of a challenge for me since I do my image editing in Photoshop, which I know is not a resource available to everyone, so image tutorials will need to involve me learning entirely new software, then teaching it to you. Don’t worry, it’s definitely on my short list, I just need to find a few hours to set aside!

What would you like to see on Primp My Blog? Comment here or you can always email me at kira@hernewleaf.com.

Posted in primp my blog | 12 Comments

This Week’s Blog Links

Happy Monday, everyone! I was so happy with the response to my post about Blogiquette last week – I have to be honest, I was a little worried that it would come across as complain-y, but I’m so happy that you all participated in the conversation and shared your own tips and stories!

I’ve been digging around the blog-o-sphere for more info on blogging lately for a personal project, I figured I’d share my favorites with you! I’m trying out a new method of sharing this week using a large photo collage on top, please let me know your opinions or if you have any trouble viewing!

Facebook is officially switching all business pages over to the new timeline format, and Amanda Genther has some great tips for how to use it to your advantage.

It can be hard not to feel jealous over other bloggers’ success, but Brittany at Crafterminds posted this great reminder of why you should stop comparing yourself to other bloggers.

Everyone suffers from bloggers block once in a while! Ez from Creature Comforts shares her own story and remedy for how to find inspiration again.

You don’t need to be an expert to blog about something! Elise Blaha explains why expertise is overrated.

I can’t wait to read this new series “Your City // For Creatives” over at The Academy, and Isa is searching for contributors! Contributing to other blogs is a great way to get your name out there, I am definitely considering this opportunity!

What would you like to learn about blogging? Add in the comments and I may feature your question in an upcoming Primp My Blog post!

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On: Feelings Without Guilt

I hope you’ll all bear with me while I get a little self-reflective for a minute. I know that I always appreciate when bloggers “keep it real,” so hopefully you will too.

I’ve been struggling with some feelings lately – do you know that sensation? You’re going along, living your life, then BAM: feelings. Sometimes it seems like they come out of nowhere! But here’s my struggle: sometimes I feel guilty about my feelings.

When I feel frustrated with my job, I feel guilty, because there are millions of people in this country who are unemployed.

When I feel disappointed about my responses (as of yet) to my graduate school applications, I feel guilty, because higher education is a privilege that many don’t get to enjoy.

When I feel sad that it’s been cold and gray here for two weeks now, I feel guilty, because I live in freaking Los Angeles where people all over the world dream of visiting.

But I decided something, and I invite you to all to do the same: Let’s stop feeling guilty about our feelings!

It’s okay to want the best for yourself. To desire your dream job or dream school. Or to wish for sunshine every day! Let’s put our feelings out there, without guilt, so they can be felt and so we can move on. Does that sound like a deal we can make?

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Blogiquette: Etiquette Guidelines for Bloggers

Being a beginner blogger can be scary! You’re out there, doing your thing, when you realize –oops!– you offended someone! You forgot to link to your source or reblogged an idea or accidentally promoted your blog on someone else’s. We’ve all been there, don’t stress! Here are a few “blogiquette” guidelines for you to follow.

These are obviously my personal opinions, please feel free to contribute your own blogiquette rules in the comments!

The Brainstormer” print by Nan Lawson on Etsy

Why do you blog? You have something unique to share with the world. So share it! It’s okay to share others’ ideas once in a while. In fact, it’s good to share the work of people you admire, and it can be a great way to meet other bloggers. But if you are constantly “re-blogging” instead of just blogging, your readers will catch on fast.

Sharing is one thing, but it is never okay to steal the work of others without giving the creator credit. Here are my general rules for sharing content:

Credit, credit, credit. When I talk about an idea, post, or photo I found somewhere else, I like to go a step beyond linking to the source and write a few sentences about how and where I found it. I also use the writer’s real name, as long as they use it publicly on their blog. This can make your words of appreciation go even further.

Don’t take everything. This especially applies to DIY tutorial-type posts, including recipes. If I were to use every image and word, readers would have no reason to visit the original post. Borrow one or two photos, write your own description of the post or project, and allow your readers to follow the link.

Comments make bloggers happier than cupcakes. But there is a right and a wrong way to comment! First and foremost, be genuine. If you like something, say so! But don’t go overboard.

Don’t use your comments to promote yourself. There is a box to include your URL with you comment, feel free to link to your blog or site there, but don’t link to yourself in the body of your comment.

Read first, comment second. If you have a question after you read a post, go back and read it again. Then check in the comments to see if anyone else asked. If you still don’t see the answer, ask away! But please stop back and say thank you if the blogger took the time to respond.

Respond to comments, visit readers’ blogs when possible, leave comments generously. Participate in conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

Personally, I try my hardest to respond to comments by new readers and people asking questions, as well as any especially awesome comments. If someone @ replies me on Twitter, I will always follow them back. I check out my commenters’ blogs and leave comments when I have a moment, and I comment on blogs who mention me or my blog when I spot them. I understand that many “big” bloggers can’t possibly do this for all of their readers, but for now, this loose policy works for me.

Do I even have to say this? Bloggers love to be talked about, and because of this, they have lots of ways to find out who is talking about them and what they are saying. One time I found someone had pinned a project from my blog along with the caption: “Cute idea, but this girl needs to get a job.” Now, I write about pretty benign topics, so I don’t expect much controversy and, truth be told, worse things have been said about a lot of bloggers. But there is really no reason to bash others in any way – that is not the way to become popular!

So, what do you think? What guidelines would you add to my “blogiquette” list?

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