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Blogging 201, Day Nine: Make Your Home a Hub

Today’s assignment: create a page or section on your blog to display links to your online presence elsewhere — and make sure other sites you use reflect your brand.

The internet is a big playground. If you’re serious about your development as an online publisher, you need to think about opportunities beyond your blog, with your blog as your digital homestead.

Think of your site as a space to develop your online presence and personal brand strategically, promote your work in a way that makes sense for you, and connect and share your other projects and work across the web: a hub for you, as well as a place to publish posts.

If this assignment doesn’t fit with your blog and mesh with your goals, use today to finish up anything pending from the first eight days, then spend some time reading and commenting on other participants’ blogs.

Today’s assignment: create a page or section on your blog to display links to your online presence elsewhere, and make sure your other presences reflect the brand you’re developing on your blog.

Why do this?

  • Because as online publishers, our work is naturally scattered across the web — you want your readers and followers to find you. Building your personal brand means expanding your reach beyond your blog while keeping it the focus.
  • Because sometimes you have material that doesn’t quite fit on your site, and you want to make this complementary work accessible.

We hear what you’re asking: “I’ve just gotten comfortable and cozy blogging on WordPress.com — now you’re telling me to publish elsewhere? And didn’t we just spend two days dealing with social networks?”

The short answer is: you don’t have to do anything. If you’re happy simply blogging, then hooray! We’re glad. But since you’re here because you care about traffic and growth, we want to take time to discuss how expanding your presence on a few more platforms might benefit you, whether you’re a professional freelancer or aspiring writer (or poet, or photographer, or…). This isn’t about tweeting or status updates, but about spreading your substantive work across the web — and pointing it back to your blog.

Take Tumblr or Medium. Do you have experimental writing or work that’s very different from what you post on your blog — that you’re not quite sure belongs there? Do you have side projects that may complement what you publish on your blog? Extra material, or quotes you’ve compiled, or different types of media that you’d like to share?

You can see how some bloggers use Tumblr as a complementary space to their blogs; or learn how to use writing networks like Medium and Hi, or a photography platform like Exposure, as places to further your work.

If so, consider creating an account on a platform like Tumblr to test material. To publish work that relates to your content on your blog, but is not appropriate for it. To flesh out your online presence and offer additional outlets for your fans and followers to find you. Bloggers in specific industries might also contribute to niche networks: from food bloggers on the Food Bloggers Network, to photographers on 500px.com, to fashion bloggers on IFB. In addition, you might be part of a blogging collective here on WordPress.com, with guest posts published elsewhere. This work, too, is worth compiling on your blog.

In each of these cases, the ultimate benefit devolves onto your blog. These platforms give you a place to test material, play with unformed ideas, and attract fans that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. In some cases, you may be able to cross-post content — take something you’ve published on your blog, and re-publish it on another network to double its exposure.

If you already do this, or join any other sites today, gather the links of your publishing outlets, the posts you’ve written elsewhere, and your profiles on networks to which you contribute. Then, create a new page on your blog to house these links. Decide how best to organize your links: if you’re just starting out, a simple list of links might suffice. If you write on a number of regular themes and topics, from travel to food to photography, create separate headings for each, with relevant links underneath. Or, if you’ve been at this for a while now — and your archive spans several years — consider creating sections by year, with each year featuring your best links.

Tip: If you don’t want to create a new page for your menu, add a Text Widget to your sidebar or footer, which offers a lot of control. In a Text Widget, you can add text, insert HTML for styling, compile links, and even add images.

Once the page is published, add it as an item to your custom menu. Place this tab next to your other essential menu items, like your About and “Best of” page. And remember: you and your work are constantly evolving. Revisit this page regularly to add your latest work, or swap out links to rotate your featured material.

Next, make sure your profiles on all these sites (and on social networks) reflect the branding you’re working so hard to develop for your blog. Use your Gravatar, logo, or header as a profile picture. Make sure your tagline and key points are worked into your descriptions. Above all, make sure all profiles include a link back to your blog. The goal here it not to dilute your blog, but to turn it into an HQ for you as your expertise and talent spreads across the web.

If you’re considering ways to spread your blogging wings, or if you’re already doing this and have tips to share, head to The Commons.

Editor’s Note: Want to let people know that you’re dedicated to better blogging? Add a little bling to your sidebar with a Blogging U. badge:

class-seal_Seal Class of April 2014

For a badge that links to 201, just select all of this code, copy it, and paste it into a text widget:

<a href="http://dailypost.wordpress.com/courses/blogging-201-branding-and-growth//"><img src="http://dailypost.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/class-seal_seal-class-of-april-2014.png" alt="Blogging U." width="300" height="241" /></a>

Feel free to adjust the size of the badge to whatever works best for your blog.

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    1. Lana you are working very hard and professional. I thought about branding too, but find it easier to put a big add in the paper or make a TV add. Just kidding. But guess I made yesterday a Printerest account and offcourse included your product as well. :) I respond to your other post tomorrow. Need a sleep now.

      1. Thank you Erwin. I actually didnt really think I was branding until the workshop. But I suppose when making headers and putting up photos, it does sort of set the stage for your content. When it came to Twitter, I added the same WP header and background image. Perhaps I should put an ad in as well ;) I now have a Pinterest account, I do not understand that site but thank so much for adding me to your board. that was awesome of you. Have a good nights rest and chat with you soon

    2. how do you find it going back and forth from twitter to WP i was worried that everyones tweets would go on my blog or that my tweets would look messy on my blog pages? Have you had any tweets appear on there yet? I am so new to this extra branch x

      1. I just have my twitter feed in a box on the side of my blog. It just shows my tweets and re-tweets, so it isn’t all the replies and back and forths and such. I find that works for me.

      2. Hello. I dont add the twitter box as a sidebar. I tried that option and it looks so messy. For now, I have a link underneath my Twitter that comes back to WP and on here, I have a link on the “I’m Lana” and “Say Hello” I will probably make a post about it so it can be included as well.

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I’d love to add the badge to my blog, but I seem unable to do it. I’ve tried to put the link in the title and in the body of the text widget, but it does not come up.
    Thank you for helping me.

    1. Hi, I did did it on my page. Go to the widgets section, and add the Image widget. You have to make sure that you uploaded the badge to your media already. Go to your media, under the badge image click Edit, after that you will see File URL on the right hand side, copy that and paste it onto the Image URL section of the image widget. Hope this helped.

    2. Hi, runnershealth. I just uploaded it. Highlight the code. I also clicked Copy from my mac’s Edit option. Go to your dashboard- Widgets. Find a spare text box. Add. Give it a title and Paste. You can position it by number order onto your sidebar. Should work!

      You’ve probably solved the situation by now. Good luck!

  2. Now, I have a couple questions for anyone who’s willing to answer :) Sorry, this may be a tad long-winded.

    1. As I plan to grow my brand, I feel like I would prefer to use my name as my brand and not the blog name that I chose long ago. I know you can change the blog name, but that’ll brake all of the previously established links elsewhere, correct? Is there a way around this?

    2. If I use my name as my photography brand, but keep my blog name as is, how might you suggest blending the two… with header images, etc?

    3. I have my social buttons on my sidebar, and have read that having the social buttons in the sidebar keeps them visible at all times (which I think is a good thing), Would you still suggest creating a separate page for these?

    Thanks for your feedback!

    1. Will be interested in others’ insights/experience with #1. (It never fail, you think you’ve found the perfect name, then a little bit down the road you realize…) Some people just put links back to the old blog. Could you use the new blog name in a Tagline with the old name?
      Voting for keeping the social buttons on the sidebar – sometime you can have them static position or moving as reader scrolls.
      (Of course you can also create pages for them with links back as suggested above in addition)

      1. Thanks for both points! I think that having the social buttons on the sidebar is appropriate for my blog. Some suggest adding links to those sites on a page as well, so I’ll see if that might work somewhere… perhaps in my “about page”.

        Really wish you could change your blog name/address without disturbing all previously established links :(

    2. These are extremely good questions! I’m also dealing with these. From the beginning I stated out blogging about how my husband and I bought our first ranch and started to learn about ranching. I named my blog DiscoveringRanchLife, which made a lot of sense. It’s always been a lot of photos on my blog, but nowadays I make my living as an Equine Photographer. I use my blog to market my Equine Photography. The name works, but I think it’s a little long. Since a lot of people know me from Discovering Ranch Life I choose to keep that name, BUT when I take pictures on big events people often reffered to me as “Maria Northcutt’s Photography”, a name I’ve never used..Right now I’m just letting it happened, because I don’t know what to do about it. I write DiscoveringRanchLife.com at the bottom of all my photos. That’s the name I choose. The name of my company. It’s not a whole lot I can do if people choose to use my personal name instead? Or? Is it neccassrily bad? I don’t know :)

      Anyways, have a great day!
      /Maria

      1. Hi Maria, thanks so much for the comment. Sounds like we’re both in a bit of the same situation, although you’re probably much more established than I am. In reality, I’m sure I could make the change without anyone knowing… or caring :)

    3. #3- Sorry that I can’t help you with #1 or #2! I agree, keep the social buttons visible on the sidebar, however, I would also have a separate page with the links, as well.

      1. Thanks Grace,

        So, would you suggest mixing the links into my “about & contact” page? It seems like that might be the best place to incorporate them within my specific blog.

    4. You can keep your name as your brand, and your blog under that umbrella. Lots of creatives do it this way: right now I think about Chris Spooner. See his brand umbrella here: http://chrisspooner.com/my-sites/

      Scroll down to see all his identities. You can look at examples like his for the blending aspect you mentioned.

      I also think of Jennifer Weber Photography. This is her business site:
      http://www.jenniferweberphotography.com/

      But if you take a look at her blog (see the menu bar there) you’ll note that her blog’s name is different than her business name (even though the URL for the blog does not match the blog name).

      Hope this helps. I guess in general, keeping all identities plugged into one headquarters is what will eventually become the brand itself, in its multiple branches.

      1. Thank you so much! Yes, this is hugely helpful. At the very least, I think my blog name is a decent name for a blog, so I think I might be able to blend it in with my online brand… which I’m still building.

        I also think that keeping fonts and colours consistent will help with branding, and, having my name in the tagline should also be helpful.

        Thanks again :)

    5. Hey Shane, great photos, this probably sounds silly, but instead of blog by Shane, just have it Street photography by Shane Francescut, we know it’s a blog, those who don’t will know it’s your page. or Observations in photo and thought by Shane Francescut. You get my drift, not so much those words but words to capture what you do with your name. You’re an artist so your name should be included I believe. Following and love your work.

  3. Good comparison to call blog the digital homestead.
    Marketing was changed forever by the internet – and it continues to morph as new/smaller portable devices are considered a necessity.
    Pages are a great way to sort and group links/posts/information for easy access. (And readers are rapid scanners these day – faster they can locate what they are looking for the better.)
    Start pages now – the longer you put it off, the longer it takes to complete.

  4. I feel kinda at a loss here because I don’t really post elsewhere on the net. Sure I use Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, but there is a link to all of that in my sidebars, so it seems a little redundant. Should I just wait to add this Page once I have more material elsewhere on the web?

    -Amanda

    1. personally I am the same as you. I use widgets for my pinterest and instagram I have an image as I found it quite messy the instagram widget, which really negates the need for me to spend hours making a page as it’s all there. If you happy with the widgets and they relate to all the social media you have I don’t see the need if everything is kept simple to have to make a page unless you want to highlight specific things which a widget wont do? but thats my humble opinion

    2. I think this is where I’m landing with today’s assignment as well. I too don’t really post elsewhere, so don’t see the point of having a separate page where I would effectively re-post all the links to my other social media that I have in my side-bar.

      I did want to figure out how to make a Pinterest widget that showed some of my pins (I haven’t figured out how to do that yet). I was thinking, if anything I would “double” the info on where-else I am on the net at the end of my About me page if I could make it visually appealing and different from what’s already on my side bar (then I couldn’t figure it out, so I gave up).

      If I hit a point where I’ve done a few guest posts and such, I’ll certainly take the advice of doing a page like this – but at this stage, I just don’t think I’m there so I’m going to focus more on the basics of the actual blog and the basics of developing the other platforms (ie: linking more between blog and Pinterest and developing my Tumblr in a way that complements rather than just repeats what goes on on my main blog).

      1. I think what Michelle was trying to say is to create a page for other places you can be found on the web BESIDES your social media sites. For most of us, this isn’t something that applies unless you’ve written articles that appear elsewhere or have done podcasts or guest blogging, etc.

        As for putting your Pinterest info into a widget > Go to you Pinterest account > Click on your name in the top right > Click Visit Help Center. On the Help Center page, down around the middle of the page, there are listings for Most Popular Articles > click Website Widgets & Pin It Buttons. What you are looking for are either: Follow Button / Profile Widget / Board Widget. Copy the code you create into a Text Widget for your Sidebar.

      2. I think that is a great idea. I just found out you cant share with Pinterest on the sharing section which is odd, i was told the P doesnt stand for Pinterest which threw me totally LOL. I think a page would be good for Pinterest to showcase boards then as the widget I don’t think does this x

  5. Help needed please – I am stuck on a few things:

    I have been trying to link up my WP blog to my Pinterest through the share, but it just won’t do it, it keeps saying the email and or pin I am entering for Pinterest is wrong. Whereas it isn’t as I can log on independently quite easily. Does anyone else have this problem?

    I also have a facebook account for Eclectic, I just wanted a page but it appears you can’t have a page without a personal account. What I am finding is that WP is posting ot my page, which would be fine, but people seem to be following me on my personal page, not my actual page if that makes sense. Is there anyway for WP to post to both, or to set up ones FB page to automatically repost to ones personal page too? Otherwise I have to keep logging on and reposting to each which is time wasted I could be writing LOL, thanks in advance for any help!

    1. On the Share Settings, the “P” icon isn’t for Pinterest so that is probably why you are getting the login error message. The only way I know to connect your Pinterest account to your blog is in a sidebar widget. Go to you Pinterest account > Click on your name in the top right > Click Visit Help Center. On the Help Center page, down around the middle of the page, there are listings for Most Popular Articles > click Website Widgets & Pin It Buttons. What you are looking for are either: Follow Button / Profile Widget / Board Widget. Copy the code you create into a Text Widget for your Sidebar.

      On FB, yes, you must have a personal account before you can create a page. The thing about Pages though is that FB changed their policy and unless someone Likes AND clicks Notifications, your Page posts won’t show up in their feed. So you could have 200 Likes to your page and no one sees it because they haven’t signed up to receive them under Notifications.

      So you may want to consider just letting your WP posts go to your personal account and leave it at that. The way to have your WP posts show up on your Page [rather than your personal account] is on the Share Settings. Click > Add New and in the pop-up window, change from Publicize to your FB Wall [your personal account] to Publicize to your FB Page.

      As a side note: Thanks for your comment on my quilting blog… I’ve been a bad, bad blogger and am woefully behind responding to comments on my blogs. Hopefully this will redeem me. =)

      1. HAH OMG I feel so stupid ive been pulling my hair out over that for hours…lolol…I really thought it was p for Pinterest, in that case its worth making a page for it, as the widget only really shows the button doesnt it? Thank you soooo much for letting me know I could have been at that for hours…

        Thank you also for letting me know about FB that really makes sense about no one seeing me unless they sign up to have my page post to them. So are you saying that I can set my WP to post to both my page and personal account that are both eclectic? If so that solves my problem.

        I did think of having my posts go to my ‘proper’ personal account ie in my personal name where my buddies are but I thought really people might get sick of it and find it annoying after a while like self promoting to mates so have resisted this so far.

        Re pinterest the widget onlly shows the button doesnt it, not actual boards and pics? So in this case it might be best for me possibly to make up a page for Pinterest?

        and dont worry about falling behind with your blog and commenting this one mooooore than makes up for it LOL…you have given me the best most informative reply so far :)

      2. How do you think I know about the “P” thingy on Share Settings? BTDT. I think the Path people [Path is a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices.] needs to change their icon unless they are trying to capitalize on the Pinterest similarity?

        To answer your questions: You can only set automatic posting to either your Wall or your Page–one or the other–not both as far as I can see. I currently have my quilting posts go to my Page, but then share the link on my Wall also to get people to go to my page since I have lots of quilting buddies on FB. Eventually I hope to have more people signed up for notifications on my page so I don’t have to also share on my wall.

        There are a few Pinterest widgets. One shows the Pin Button [which you don't need if you use set it up in the Share Settings to show up on your individual posts.] One is a widget that links to your main profile and shows a number of your recent pins. I have this as a sidebar widget on my quilting blog [crookedpathdesigns.com] because most of my Pinterest boards are about quilts. One links to a specific Pin which I never use. One links to a board and shows a specific number of pins. I have this in the sidebar of my family history blog [myfamilyhistoryfile.com]. You can also create just a button that links to your profile or a board [an example is also on my family history blog]. You can create the widgets different sizes and to show different numbers of recent pins. Go and play with the widget maker. =)

  6. I have all my Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook information under my “contact” page. May need to rethink that.

    I did sign up for Pinterest yesterday, now have to figure “what next” with that service LOL

    1. I signed up for Pinterest yesterday as well. I have a lot of visual content, some of which has been pinned on Pinterest for a while (I see the referrals come in). I just have to spend the time building and organizing all that stuff onto a new space.

    1. I think you’ve got a good example of what they are suggesting for this lesson. Can’t suggest anything to make it better.

      I noticed you have the widget buttons on the left side of your blog under FOLLOW ME: as follows: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WordPress Follow.

      How do you get these buttons and how do you insert them? Using a text/html widget? I have tried but it’s not working.

      Thanks very much

  7. I have had this page in my top menu for the last few years: http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/my-words-elsewhere/

    But oops, I need update it. With the Sight Theme, there’s also a separate menu at the top, which lays it. I would not have it if I switch to another theme –which is ok.

    Is there anything else I could do better? ie. Maybe use the Project feature?? But not sure how I could make that understandable to a casual reader.

    1. I would say set your Photo to “none” so that it forces the text down below. Then add in a description of what you’ve written by each link. Give us a teaser to entice us to click it.

    2. You can change your photo alignment when you edit the post. You can click on the picture. and then change how you want the picture to align and interact with text. It’s currently set to “left” which means the picture is on the left side of the post and the text wraps to the right. “Right” will do the opposite, photo right text on the left. “None” will leave it where it’s at but force the text down below the image. You can also select where you want the image when you’re writing the post (same selection options).

  8. I’ve been doing this for a while, I linked up my Tumblr account with WordPress so everything I post here gets published there too. It does bring some extra traffic, but since I’m very much about personal blogging I’m not too worried about creating a brand!

  9. I used RebelMouse for awhile as a way of unifying all my other social media activities on one page in my blog. I’m wondering if this would serve the same purpose as Michelle is mentioning here.
    I would have to update it since I haven’t in quite a while, some of my social connections are old… What do you guys think?
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/FireBonnet/art/

  10. Am loving all these assignments! Having great fun learning new things all the time! Already ahead of the game on this one as had signed up to twitter and pinterest a couple of days ago and attached them in widgets on my primary sidebar. Also set up a page with pinterest boards embedded. And i had already set up a facebook page and a youtube channel to link any of my videos on to the blog.:-)Hopefully not going to be too much work to keep on top of!

  11. I already had a section of links to my other profiles on one of the pages in my About section, so I revised it a bit and retitled it so that it better explained what the page contained. Most of my profiles share design elements with my blog because I value consistency.

  12. I have not fully participated in this challenge but have followed it very closely. Most of the challenges I’ve been working on for the past month. I just discovered something that may be of benefit to someone. I found out that my blog title is a registered trademark. I am going to register mine as well but I wonder how many of us use words that we weren’t able to check before we use them. I’m usually quite good at conducting due diligence but oops! on this one. I may have to change my title but in the meantime will attempt to register it as there are multiple registrations on it. Any and all opinion welcome. Thanks.

    P.S. I’m not married to my title so willing to change before I go much further. I have only been blogging for 4 months.

  13. I cannot link the new FB page to my About page. FBs keep wanting me to link via my personal account which I prefer not to do. Any suggestions?

  14. After much ado a few days ago, I added my Twitter feed to my blog and I just added a menu item that links my Pinterest page to the blog as well. Amazingly, the tag lines for all were already similar.

    1. i saw your twitter it looks good :-) I shall have to work out how to link back from Pinterst to my blog, yours looks fab theres hardly a need for the side widget when you have that, amazing, well done xx

  15. I found a Bloggers Network, that would work perfect for me but waiting for approval. I really did not want to create a new page. I have already add widgets and added the Blogging U. badge to the one I have the postaday on. I added pin interest yesterday. It is perfect for my blog.

  16. I’m currently writing articles for a technology and geek culture website, so I link my works to my About page. Not too sure whether I should include my social networking accounts since I already have them on the right side bar of my blog.

  17. I like what everyone is doing here. As a result, I updated my sidebars to include my other social media accounts, post from my second website and more. Today I plan to start and integrate a Tumblr account. Something I learned recently is that the Publicize function does not work any longer with Google+. That is to say, we cannot automatically post to Google+ anymore. I was told that this is a limitation Google imposed and learned about it after I realized a few of my posts did not show up there…. I wish WordPress would remove that from Publicize to avoid confusion. For now, I am manually copying and pasting my posts into my Google+ feeds….Happy day and happy blogging, all.

  18. I have finally managed to insert a link to my Instagram account and have set up a new Facebook page for my blog as per yesterday’s instructions. Facebook.com/worldaccordingtodebbie
    I also have a twitter account but hardly any followers @wonderwomandebz
    It’s all there on my blog so now I have to work out how to keep them all going and get more followers. This is the big question!! I presume I’m not the only one in this predicament.

  19. I’ve been doing much of this for a while. For instance, I started writing a newsletter for exchange teachers we are supporting in our province. So I created a page to house all those newsletters. It does create some traffic to my blog. I have to deepen my work in this aspect and will look into creating pages for the different eras I have spanned in the 4 yrs of blogging. Good ideas here all around!