I Broke My Blog

I broke my blog, but you can learn from my mistakes / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

On Thursday I did the unthinkable: I broke my blog.

But Kelsey, I’m reading your blog. How can it be broken?

Because I’m a damn idiot, that’s how.

I’m not great at coding, but since starting my blog in 2014 I’ve managed the technical stuff all on my own. I started on Wix.com, then moved over to Blogger, then in January of 2016 I changed everything over to self-host on WordPress. I bought my own domain and migrated my existing blog over to my new one so all the links redirected. It’s way harder than it sounds, and I did it on my own. Not to toot my own horn but I have been pretty proud of this.

Until Thursday, that is.

It all started because I want to improve my SEO. Following the instructions of an article on Yoast, I wanted to remove the numbers from my post links to help them trend higher on Google. The article told me I could change my permalink structure and then redirect all my existing links by adding a code to my .htacess. And I believed it.

Long story short, it did not work. All my links broke. Which means 3-years worth of pins and social media shares are dead links and all lead back to my error page. I tried undoing what I did, and different plugins to help redirect my old links to new ones, etc, etc. But nothing has worked. RIP links. RIP organic blog traffic. RIP engagement. RIP my heart.

I tried everything I know to fix it, but was advised by the IT guy at work that I have officially broken my links. I apparently took the path of no return and I can’t undo it. If you’re a visual person, I was told that changing the .htaccess code officially broke the link in the chain that connects my old posts to my blog and it cannot be reconnected.

Morale of the story: Don’t mess with your .htaccess code. Consult an expert before trying to change your blog links. And don’t follow the advice of an SEO company without really looking into what could happen if it doesn’t work.

However, if you do know how to fix it, please let me know. I am open to anything at this point, including voodoo or ritual chanting. I’m also not above crying, or consulting a professional. Any and all help is welcome. And if you want to help and feel like going back through some of my old posts and pinning them to your Pinterest boards, that’d be great too.

RIP blog links. 

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10 Ways To Fight Blogger’s Block

Don't get discouraged when you have no original thoughts. Here are 10 super simple ways to right the dreaded blogger's block. // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

I’ve had blogger’s block for months, and fighting it is starting to get reallllll tiring.

The mind is a mysterious thing. Creativity is a muscle*, and it can tire just like a regular muscle. Use it too much, it gets sore, and won’t give you the results you want.  Use it too little, it will atrophy and it still won’t give you the results you want.  If you ask me, creativity is a finicky little motherf*cker.

My blog has been almost silent for months.  Words just weren’t coming to me, and it stressed me out to try to produce content that made me proud.  Eventually I just stopped, because it was making me anxious to try to worry about it.

But then today (after a conversation with my therapist, of all things) I decided to just lean into the blogger’s block. Why not write about that? How many other bloggers get blogger’s block? It’s a universal thing. Everyone can relate, so everyone will get this post. How can that possibly go wrong?

Bingo. So here is a post you definitely didn’t ask for.

10 Fool-Proof Tips To Fight Blogger’s Block

  1. Throw your computer out the window. It may not help you write a post, but at least it will give you an excuse as to why you don’t have a post. The dog ate my homework. My laptop is in a pile on the asphalt. Whatever.
  2. Write about what you ate for breakfast. Who doesn’t want to read a 500 word essay about your Cheerios? I know I’d be riveted. Extra points if there’s bacon.
  3. Interview your cat. I’m sure he/she has great ideas. When the cat is no help, interview the dog.
  4. Spin around in a circle with your laptop clutched to your chest until the words just come to you. It especially helps if you have Bloglovin’ open on the screen while you do it.
  5. Copy and paste another blogger’s post. Copy their pictures too. Make sure to remove the watermark, it’ll be fine. Nobody will notice that you blatantly ripped off someone else’s material.
  6. Look up those super helpful blog posts about needing blog post ideas. Reading about writing about your worst nightmare, or everyday make-up routine for the 40th time is definitely bound to spark some creativity. It’s like flicking a switch. Brain go ON!
  7. Cry in the shower.
  8. Organize your house. Then quit halfway though and think of a great idea to blog about as a procrastination tool while you avoid the mess you’ve made while organizing your house.  You can’t find your cat, or your child (if you have one) but who cares because now you have MOTIVATION.
  9. Listen to Lemonade and feel Beyoncé’s words move you. Becky with the good hair is bound to spark some ideas.
  10. Have a glass of wine. Or six. Totally forget about how you can’t think of a story, and just enjoy your night. Motivation is for losers anyway.

Or, you can just take a break, realize that it’s not that big of a deal, and just write what seems to flow out of you. And I’m only sort of kidding on #10. Sometimes the glass of wine really does help. Just be careful not to take it to an extreme, or you’ll end up completing #1.

Do you have blogger’s block? How have you combated it? Share your tips — real or silly– in the comments!

*Alright, scientist. No it’s not a real muscle, it’s a metaphor. Get off my back. Gosh.

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How to Use A Blog Planner + A GIVEAWAY

I use a blog planner I customized on MayDesigns.com! Let me show you how I organize my blog, and you can win a FREE customizable May Designs Notebook! // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

The past few months I’ve paid a serious amount of time to how I organize my blog, creating a blog planner, and it is paying off.

Let’s get real here: I am an unorganized person. Chaos is my system, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. Thankfully I am getting much better about this as I get older, but it is this quality that allows me to feel qualified to tell you that this is such an easy, (gorgeous), and functional way to organize your blog.

In 2015, I used printable sheets I designed myself. When I fell into a habit of how I was organizing and using an editorial calendar, I decided it was time to graduate to a real blog planner. I knew it needed something basic that I could customize to my needs, as well as something small and easy to use.

Which is how I landed on designing my own custom notebook with May Designs. In fact, I liked it so much, I ordered another one for my own personal life.

First off, these babies are beautiful. May Designs allows a totally customizable notebook, which is what I was immediately drawn to.  I knew for me to want to stick to using an planner, I needed to be thrilled by it’s appearance, not just it’s functionality.

I use a blog planner I customized on MayDesigns.com! Let me show you how I organize my blog, and you can win a FREE customizable May Designs Notebook! // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

May Designs has so many different patterns you can use to customize your notebook. Everything from florals, prints, pantone colors, marble, sorority prints, gold foil, neon, girly, and so much more.  I chose this gorgeous print that compliments my blog design with the blue and gold, and (my favorite part!) added my blog name to the front. Did I mention this was all FREE to do?

As beautiful as it is on the outside, it has the versatility inside to match. As it a canvas covered notebook that has a stitched binding, it is very easy to open and lay flat, which is awesome. I have a hard time with notebooks that aren’t spiral-bound because I hate that they can’t lay flat when they’re open, but this one gives me no problem. And it’s portable size means I can carry it easily with me without taking up a lot of space.

Depending on the print, you can pick which internal design you want for your notebook.  For my Blog Planner I chose the Weekly + Monthly Agenda, but for my personal planner, I chose one of the regular weekly planners with a space to write notes.  They also have academic agendas, several different variations of weekly and monthly agendas, prayer and gratitude journals, exercise and health journal, adult coloring book, address book, meal planner and more.

I use a blog planner I customized on MayDesigns.com! Let me show you how I organize my blog, and you can win a FREE customizable May Designs Notebook! // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

(I’m showing you January as I don’t want to give away any of my February Secrets! To see those, you’ll have to keep reading!)

On the monthly view, I use the side space to keep track of my monthly goals. On the actual calendar, I write the name of the blog post on the day it goes live, as well as keep a small list of “To-Dos” under the post so I can keep track of my progress at-a-glance. Not pictured here (but are all mapped out for February!), I also use this page to schedule things such as specific Instagram posts for content promotion, notes about sponsorships, blog chats, etc.

I use a blog planner I customized on MayDesigns.com! Let me show you how I organize my blog, and you can win a FREE customizable May Designs Notebook! // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

Using the weekly view is where I get a bit more complicated. The name of the post is on the day in which it goes live, a small “To-Do” list, as well as other blog tasks: Candidly Kelsey Weekly email put together on Thursday to be sent out Friday, I jot down other things on certain days in relation to blog admin, like picture taking, emailing, etc. If I’m on the go, I use this space to also keep notes for specific posts.

I liked this so much that I reached out to May Designs, and they offered to let me giveaway one of their notebooks for FREE to one of my readers! So now you can design and customize your own gorgeous blog planner too!

Here’s how it works: The giveaway is only open to those who live in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK, as those are the only countries May Designs is able to ship to at the moment. The giveaway ends on February 16th at 11:59pm CST. The winner will then be contacted by May Books, and you can make your own notebook! How cool is that?

Go forth, friends. Enter to win, share to tell your friends, and good luck! In the mean time, got any other organizing tips for blogging? Leave them in the comments!

Note: There are 11 different ways to enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway, but for some reason only the first three are showing up. Complete the first three to unlock more (even easier) ways to enter to win!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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FREE Blog & Social Media Stats Tracker Workbook!

FREE Blog & Social Media Stats Tracker Workbook

Guys, I like to keep notes. Keep notes, take notes, and look back at notes. If I am going to for something, I need to be able to see how far I’ve come to keep myself motivated. I need something to help me track my progress, especially when it comes to social media stats.

The Blog & Social Media Stats Workbook

I’ve gotten slightly more savvy with Excel since starting work in October, so I decided to use that knowledge to put together a little spreadsheet for myself so I could watch my blog growth.

Once a week I write down the stats that are important to me: all-time page views, all-time sessions, and social media follower accounts. If they grow, I know I’m doing something right. If they don’t, I need to take a look at what I’m doing and reevaluate.

I’ve been using this workbook for about 2 months and loooove it. In addition to tables to chart my progress, it has graphs that automatically update showing my growth.  It’s one thing to see the numbers, but it’s much nicer to also see a visual representation of my engagement.  What is even easier is that it’s fully functional, so the graph auto-adjusts whenever I put new numbers in. Who new Excel could be so much fun?

I also like it so much that I thought I’d give it away! I know, I’m such a nice person!

So how can you get it?

Sign up for Candidly Kelsey Weekly, my Friday newsletter, and you’ll get access to workbook to download. It comes with some instructions to get you familiarized with how to use it, and also how to change the colors/fonts to make it match your taste. Because the only thing better than functionality is CUTE-NESS.

So go ahead and sign up, and start tracking your blog stats!

Bonus: If you sign up before 12am on Thursday night/Friday morning, you’ll get an extra special sneak peek into next week’s blog posts, featuring a picture that made me laugh for a solid 10 minutes. I’m not even kidding. Trust me, you NEED to see this picture.


HURRY & Sign up for Candidly Kelsey Weekly to receive a FREE Blog & Social Media Tracker Workbook!

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How I Edit My Blog Pictures

Also known as “Kelsey’s Rachet Media School”

Welcome. My name is Kelsey, and I am your Professor.  Sit back, relax, and sip your coffee while I show you how to my favorite picture editing apps and how to use them to edit your pictures like a total pro. Or something.

How To Edit Blog Pictures Online For Free | Candidly Kelsey

1. I take pictures with my trusty iPhone 5s.  The camera is only so-so, and my photography skills are even less than. So make sure you have plenty of natural light, and also make sure to take at least 15,000 pictures at different angles.  At least one of them has to be in focus, right?

2. Then import picture into the editing apps I keep on my phone.  Depending on the picture I will do the following:

ALWAYS: Edit it in my favorite picture editing app called Afterlight. Here I will crop slightly, rotate it, adjust the brightness, exposure, shadow, highlight, or temperature, depending on what is needed. I always boost the contrast to make the colors pop.

THEN, if the picture has a lot of white space, I will then import the newly edited image into another picture editing app called Snapseed. Using the “Selective” tool you can adjust the brightness in individual areas by swiping left or right across the screen. Just click and place the little circle on the area you want to edit. You can also adjust the size area that you are editing by pinching the screen and zooming in or out. This can help make white backgrounds brighter, and be super useful if your lighting is uneven or heavily shadowed.

How to Edit Blog Pictures For Free | Candidly Kelsey

3. Then, I email the picture to myself from my phone so I can import it to my computer.

4. After downloading the image onto my computer, I then open the image on PicMonkey.com.

Here is where I do final resizing and cropping to fit my blog format, tweak brightness, exposure, highlights, and contrast a bit more as needed.

If it is a relatively simple image, like shown below, I add the writing using the text option.  I always make sure I am using the same fonts, and same colors that go with my blog theme.  When finished, I save the image to my computer and then I’m done!

How To Edit Blog Pictures Online For Free | Candidly Kelsey

5.  However, if it’s a more complicated image, like a chart, or something I want a more detailed design on it, I will then open the image in Canva.com.

Canva has a ton of free options to create more complicated designs on images.  For example, I used the tools on Canva to help create blank blank blank, as shown below.

What’s especially great about Canva is that it has a ton of templates already created for free.  If you ever get stuck and need an idea, it’s really easy to grab one of their pre-made images and adjust it to your brand.

Once I create an image that I am happy with, I name it and download it as a PNG file.  And voila, you have an image for your blog post.

How To Edit Blog Pictures Online For Free | Candidly Kelsey

See, now wasn’t that easy? Only 3-5 different picture editing apps, and two different electronic devices, and you got yourself a snappy image.  Only a little complicated, but all totally free online photo editing  — which is my favorite part.

Anyone else use these apps, or would be interested in a tutorial on any of them? Let me know! I not only use them for my blog, but also to create the marketing material for my day-job, so it really can be used to make great images if you take your time.  It would really pay off to become comfortable with these websites and all they can do.

Happy editing!

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