Blogging Improvement: Leveling Up

665 - Pie Chart Art - Seamless PatternThe Internet provides powerful networking opportunities that allow bloggers to effectively target their audience. Hobbyists and professionals are long time members of the blogosphere who are skilled at networking. Small business people and big name brands are now taking advantage of  blogging software and social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin to assert their business presence online and to reach more potential customers, business partners and employees through relationship building. In the future most businesses will have both a website and a blog and the two will most likely be on the same site.

Despite the fact the majority of bloggers are hobby bloggers, most online conversations on taking your blog to the next level are focused on making money.  I pay for a No-Ads upgrade to keep all advertising off this blog and making money is not the focus of this post. So if making money from blogging and/or submitting comments to get do-follow backlinks is your thing, then the time to stop reading this article is now.

However, if you are in business and need a website, but don’t need to sell anything directly from it,  then WordPress.com may have the right plan for you. And, if you are a blogger who isn’t in business but you do want to take your blog to the next level, then WordPress.com may have the right plan for you too.

WordPress.com Plans

LuMaxArt GREYGUY002 Let’s see what the Learn WordPress.com Tutorial, a living document that’s just been updated has to say about three hosting plans for WordPress.com users, including Basic — Free; Premium — $99; and Business — $299.

Basic — Free includes a .WordPress.com address, select from over 120 free themes, basic customization (widgets, pages, custom header image and/or background; 3 GB of space for photos, Community support in the WordPress.com forums.

Premium bundle($99. per year) includes your own domain, 13 GB of storage space, select from over 120 free themes, customize the fonts and theme appearance, direct email support from our Happiness Engineers.

Business bundle ($299. per year) includes your own domain, advanced customization,  select from 120 free themes or 50+ premium themes, and switch premium themes at any time, unlimited storage space, direct email and live chat support from our Happiness Engineers.

There is no FTP access to free hosted WordPress.com blogs and we bloggers cannot install plugins or upload third party themes. There is no upgrade that provides FTP access and the ability for bloggers to upload their own plugins and third party themes. However, the Enterprise upgrade provides a dashboard a plugins tab and allows use of these additional plugins.

WordPress.com Enterprise, brings the best of WordPress.com: all of our paid upgrades, including premium themes and Custom Design, and the best of all the built-in WordPress.com VIP features such as 70+ approved plugins which include integrations with top partners such as Flipboard, Chartbeat, and Facebook, and custom JavaScript for $500 a month per site.

Note: Leveling up means making a move in your life or career for the better and that may mean doing something different. Those with WordPress.org installs do have FTP access and can install their own themes, third party themes and plugins. So in our blogging improvement scenario leveling up can mean hiring a web host and setting up your own WordPress.org install. For details on the differences read this WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison, as that may be the right plan for you.

Blog improvement

upward

Image credit www.lumaxart.com

We all want to improve our blogging skills and our blogs. For most that’s a a steady progression for others it may not be, but I don’t know any bloggers who are not making any future plans.

In 50 Ways to Take Your Blog to the Next Level, Chris Brogan shares his ideas on considering your goal, your design, your content, how you promote it, and the business aspects of your blog.

Chris focuses on what matters most saying: You might not really want to take your blog to the next level just yet. But if you’re feeling as if you want to get serious (in whatever direction that takes your efforts), you ought to give strong consideration to making your goal and target audience crystal clear.

Baby Steps and Great leaps

Your plans for blog improvement may be small such as refreshing your blog, changing themes, creating a new header and/or graphics, adding new article types and increasing traffic in step by step fashion. Or your blog improvement plans may be as large as securing a VIP Hosting account.

Reader involvement through surveys, polls and/or, brainstorming may be a starting point for making plans for the next step up. Or reader involvement may not be a factor in the planning stage for taking your blog to the next level.

The next step up for your blog may not be costly and may not include a time investment when it comes to acquiring new skills. For example, bolstering your content by publishing posts in new categories, and/or by publishing tutorials and/or tips will increase the scope of topical coverage in your blog and your audience reach.

Or the next step up for your blog may involve both a financial and time investment. For example, your plans for taking your blog to the next level may include purchasing a custom design upgrade and acquiring CSS editing skills. It may include purchasing other available upgrades and for example acquiring video making and/or podcasting skills.

Your plans for blog improvement may be a great leap forward. Taking your blog to the next level may even involve creating a new blog, and/or purchasing a Premium bundleBusiness bundle, or Enterprise upgrade and using WordPress.com software to structure a website.

solutionsBottom line: If you don’t have a clear vision of where you want your blog to be, then you won’t be able to take it to the next level. What’s key is having a plan and mind mapping your course of action to achieve your goals.

Discussion

I don’t have any leveling up plans for this blog. I’m not planning to make any big changes but I will continue to make some smaller ones. For example I have now trashed the many draft posts I had on the back burner on subjects that I no longer intend to publish on. Next I will tackle repairing broken links.

What does taking your blog to the next level mean to you?

Have you begun to formulate a plan, no matter how sketchy for taking your blog to the next level?

If and when you take your blog to the next level do your think will it be at WordPress.com?

53 thoughts on “Blogging Improvement: Leveling Up

  1. Pingback: Google Encrypting Keyword Searches, Ads Exempted | one cool site

  2. I can see WordPress has the ability to take me where I want to go. I started my blog to promote my classes but since then decided to take a “leap of faith” and concentrate on something I really want to do which is design crochet and knitting patterns. If nothing else I am having a ball and learning heaps. As I upgrade, it will be with WordPress and my next one will be “adsfree”

  3. Hi. Love your site and let me tell you, everything you say is sorely needed by ME! I am so very confused and it relates to your topic today. I’ve recently had an issue with my WP.org, sidebar goes to bottom when I’m on the homepage, it’s sudden, it doesn’t happen when I click on the post itself, but whatever. I am not savvy enough to go looking for messed up code, nor do I want to. SO, i went over to WP.com, where I guess I registered way back when but decided to go with .org. So I started all over posting things and immediately a friend who’s always “followed” my blog, got a message about my post, you know the kind that come from WP.com and I, who have always commented on her blog, got a nice WP.com message recommending I check out her blog and some others I might like. Which leads me to my question. If I decide to stick it out with WP.org since I have a domain name and current google standing with claudia@claudiacane.com, and I don’t like the way my WP.com address is claudiacanedotcom. , is there something I was missing not to be getting those nice recommendations with WP.org? The blog networking that WP.com seems to readily offer, that I never got with WP.org? I see you have WP.com here and I have to say it is WAY more user friendly, BUT I like my URL and I have it listed in quite a few places. I know it’s possible to transfer it but I can’t decide what to do. Advice? Is there a way to get all the suggestions and the user friendliness here at the top of your blog on WP.org? Is there a way switch to WP.com and keep my same google URL and look as serious as those using self hosted?

    Thank you so very much for any help you can give me. And if you happen to know anyone in the Memphis area I could pay for some one on one, please let me know. I think it’s obvious I need it! LOL

    :) Claudia

    • Hi Claudia,
      I spend more hours answering support forum question than I do blogging and I’m trying to change that up. If you do not have a WordPress.com username account then click this link http://wordpress.org/support/ then on the top right hand corner of the page register an account so you can post to those support forums and get the support you need form other WordPress.org bloggers.

      For your WordPress.com support questions will you please post to the support forums at http://en.forums.wordpress.com ? My fellow Volunteers there will gladly assist you there.

      If you need to hire help then I recommend raincoaster who can provide support online and on Skype.

      http://raincoastermedia.com/

      Best wishes with your new site.

        • raincoaster is a great choice to make. She’s been writing and social networking for long before the words “blog” and “social media” were invented.

          • Thank you. I’ll try her and maybe I should just move to WP.com. I see you use that here and I’d say your blog is taken pretty seriously:) And so weird- I’m commenting now signed into wordpress.com and the website listed down there in the box is http://claudiacane.com which is the link to my WP.org site. ????? Major confusion:/

          • I chose to move my blog back here to free hosting at WordPress.com for several reasons. The most influential one is that I missed the sense of community that exists at WordPress.com. Add into that the fact that I wasn’t enamored with plugins and widgets and continual theme tweaking. If you are considering moving to WordPress.com then you ought to read this comparison so your are aware of the limitations and restrictions.

            http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

  4. This post is staying at the top of my reading list because it is making me really think about how I want to “level up” and improve the design of my blog. I think my next move will be to create a links page and get rid of side bar clutter. But you presented other things I want to think about, particularly the no-ad upgrade. Even though I am a “hobby blogger” and will remain so, I don’t like my blog being a vehicle for ads. Then, there’s exploring different post formats, which I do not yet use. Thanks for giving me so many ideas.

    • I think creating a Links page is a solid idea and wish you well with it. As you do have great images in your blog the image post format may be worth exploring. The Gallery post format will show a thumbnail from the blog post, as well as an excerpt of what the gallery is about.

  5. Thank you. Your wisdom has helped me change my blog, hopefully for the better :D Still learning something new every day.

  6. I appreciate that WordPress blogs are free – and I’m amazed, really. My free blog is loaded with options and I’m learning more every day (Thank you, Support Heroines and Heroes!). And I think, for a novice blogger, my blog is beautiful.

    I’ve connected with a small number of (yet beautifully talented) bloggers so the no-ads option isn’t yet a necessity for me. I suppose I had better log out and see if there are ads on my blog – how would I know, though? I hope readers simply ignore them if they’re there.

    Leveling up, though, is something I may want to consider as my blog readership grows (high hopes). I fancy being a free-lance writer someday. I enjoy writing and blogging, but the marketing and technical aspects continues to puzzle me. Thank you for sharing your expertise, Time Thief. I appreciate you.

    • I think your blog is beautiful too. It’s fresh and clean, you have a good eye for placement and an organized site. That’s not to mention your thoughtful content. Thank you for what you share in your blog and thank you also for being a follower of my blogs.

  7. if i do decide, to have my own domain on wordpress, would i need to update,my current blog,or the new one?Iwould like to use my current blog,but with my domain adding a couple of features, upgrading imagins spaces,,and a news reader,would this be possible?

  8. Taking my blog to the next level means reviewing and updating the blog site. For example, updating the About page, deleting earlier posts that were made in the “what the heck am I doing” new blogger mind set. I hope to add the No-Ad feature one day…thanks, again.

  9. Thanks for your tips. I was getting disheartened with the lack of progress I was making even ranking for my blog title – but reading your articles has made me realise that actually my number one priority is increasing the frequency and number of my posts. Thanks again!

  10. Hi, Timethief. I have a widget that isn’t doing what I’m telling it to. On the right-hand column, I have the books in my online library. All the site’s pages are shown. I told the widget which ones to hide. It didn’t hide them. Can you help?

  11. Great article. I didn’t know about the enterprise plugins. And I see there’s a ‘creative market’ link on the .org page – yet more themes to explore. Is that good or bad ?

    ;-)

    For me, taking a blog to the next level is a daunting task. People start out and write successfully, and then slow down and stop. I see it a lot and I am sure you do too.

    For example, if one is starting a new commercial venture, then it’s necessary to keep adding new content in order to maintain a positive profile with search engines – sad but true.

    Adding new content means writing on a subject that is relevant to what one is doing, but which is also what people want to read.

    It is a daunting task to use one’s imagination to choose the kind of subject matter that allows one to maintain the pleasure in writing, and which also has a wide audience.

    • I’m in the middle if this slowing down phase and I definitely do not want to stop! But the effort is huge at the moment to get on the computer and write. Strangely enough I have most of the content edited and ready, on my laptop. I only have to write a short paragraph and it seems like a mission.

  12. I would love to pin some of your posts on my Pinterest better Better Blogging and Writing Board. Think you will ever start adding images besides the banner? That would make turning you into a pin-up easier.

  13. Important to build and maintain readers /audience. Interaction is pretty important – and time consuming so a strategy has to be developed how to manage that efficiently and effectively…but that also hinges on what your blogging concepts and goals are.

    • That’s so true. Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging and that’s why having draft posts on the back burner is a good strategy. But the same can’t be said of discussion. It’s lively timely exchange that’s best of all.

  14. Leveling up for me means using my blog more interactively with my business. It’s helped me gain more awareness of what I do and established my presence in the business world. Now it’s time I use it to more proactively attract business owners whose problems I can solve, providing them with value and exceptional customer service in the process. I’m putting some final touches on a revised marketing plan, and my blog plays a significant role in it.

    • Hi Kerwyn,
      My compliments on your Home page. It’s very well executed. Perhaps it’s a little too wordy but words are need to convey both information and a personal touch.

      • Wordy, eh? I’m SO guilty of that! I want to redo the homepage anyway, so I’ll take a look and see if a “less is more” approach will help – or, if I keep the same number of words, use them to get more across. Thanks for the feedback! :-)

        • As I am visually challenged and have a lot of trouble with sustained focus I seek brevity. I’m not your target audience so do keep that in mind and thanks for not being overly sensitive to what I post.

  15. I am fairly a new blogger but I must say I am very very happy with wordpress.com support and everything that you offer. I have followed the valuable tips in your support section and I have always found quick solutions to the queries that I have had. Thank you so much for making my blogging experience so enjoyable and informative. I will definitely choose wordpress for my step forward to the next level. I have no reason not to do this. Thanks once again for everything.

    • Hello there,
      It’s so good to know how positive your experience has been when it comes to locating what you need in the support section. I try to present my own blog content in an accessible fashion for readers too. Thanks for your thanks and best wishes for happy blogging.

  16. Hi – some great food for thought here. One thing I have always thought would improve the navigation on my blog is to do what you have on your About link. When the mouse hovers over, it shows some additional menus. Would you know of a place which explains how to do this. I have played with what I thought was the functionality to do this, but never been successful in implementing them. What’s the name of this function. Many thanks again for another very useful post.

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