It’s been a little over a month since I talked about making some changes on my blog to increase visibility, readability, and popularity. (Incidentally, that post was one of my most popular ever.) I have changed many, many things and have learned a whole lot about blogging along the way, which I will share here. The most significant shift was changing my hosting platform from a free WordPress.com account to a not-as-free (but still reasonable) self-hosted blog. I still use WordPress (.org) as my writing platform, but I now have control over a lot more, like formatting, plugins, and publicizing via my hosting at BlueHost, which works closely with WordPress. I will say that the transfer was incredibly stressful and confusing, but after a tense afternoon (thanks to my boyfriend for keeping me calm while I was transferring over my old files– it took about 2 hours and a lot of reloading pages), everything was set up more or less the way I wanted.
I now have access to the code files for my blog, which opens up a whole realm of possibilities and sets me up to do a whole lot of learning. The first thing I coded was my new archives page, where you can search every post on this blog by title alphabetically, by month, or by using the search bar at the top. This took quite a bit of time since I had no clue what I was doing, but it’s there now! I also added a page for recipes by category and picture, called the Post Index. This is good for visual readers and is kind of like a Pinterest page for my old posts. I also chose a new theme, which I have far more control over (but I have a lot to learn before doing that!).
I also used code to change the slug for my posts from the date and name to just the name- I even figured out how to reroute old links to the newly titled pages so that the links still work (don’t ask how… I don’t remember)! I was pretty proud of that. I’ve also been tagging my photos with a simple, easy to identify title and my URL which both makes the photos searchable and will create a Pinterest caption that describes the post and reminds people of my domain name (foodsciencenerd.com, in case you forgot) as they browse pins. I can also specify keywords for my posts, which will increase their ranking on search engines.
WordPress.org (rather than .com) also has a lot more possibilities for plugins, which increase the functionality of my blog without involving lots of code. The most exciting one for me was the addition of a recipe plugin for formatting recipes at the end of each post, which makes it searchable by Googlebots and such, but also helps you all recreate my recipes at home. There are plenty of options, but I went with ZipList, which has lots of flexibility, is user-friendly, and offers the “Print” functions for readers to save and print a plain-text copy of my recipes. Obviously, this is going to take a lot of time to reformat each recipe by hand, but I’m working on it! Check out old posts for this update- I’ll notify you as they are updated via Twitter, Facebook, and possibly Instagram if I can get that to work. Since I am now formally writing recipes, I had to come up with a consistent format for abbreviations and measurements. Check out this infographic I made for the format I decided on, as well as helpful tips and conversions that will make understanding recipes easier.
I had to transfer over my old stats and followers by hand, which caused some other problems. All of a sudden, my emails were coming from “firstname.lastname@example.org”, which goes straight to people’s spam. Apparently, this is just a hazard of switching from wordpress.com to .org, so I left the built-in email altogether and switched to MailChimp, which is free for now (I have way fewer than 2000 email subscribers, so I’m able to use it for free.) I could set it up to automatically send emails to my subscribers, which I was able to import from my existing subscribers, and I could even format the email to look however I wanted. Now I also have the opportunity to send out newsletters so I can bother you even when there isn’t a new post. I enabled the “subscribe by email” function in my sidebar (towards the top of this post), so add your email to the list to stay in the loop and tell your friends to do the same!
I will continue to automatically post new blogs to social media, (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), but I also got a Hootsuite account. Again, this is free while I am still a small blog. I can schedule posts ahead of time on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which will be immensely helpful as I go through my archives and update the recipes so you aren’t bombarded with all the updates at once. I’ll also use it to schedule multiple social media posts for each new blog post that goes live so I can catch a wider audience with each post. I’ve joined a few blogger groups and started interacting with more writers with similar interests, which has been very fun. I’ve already gained quite a few social media followers- it’s so exciting to see these changes begin to work!
Since this is already one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, I’ll share my photography saga in another post- it’s a doozy. Stay tuned!