5 Tumblr Tricks You Need to Know

During my time working on my online business, I have seen a lot of guides dealing with different types of social media. Most of them focus on Twitter or Pinterest which is great because these two social media platforms are a great asset to any online business I think – especially if you are a creative entrepreneur. But I sometimes have the feeling that Tumblr is somewhat overlooked. Maybe it’s because of the reputation that Tumblr has of being this little weird space where people post funny GIFs and one-liners. But I really think that there is something to be said about using Tumblr for your creative business and I honestly think that one shouldn’t completely dismiss this platform from the get go.

This is why I have decided to come up with 5 tipps and tricks you can use when using Tumblr as one of your social media outlets, because it’s sometimes not as clear as it could be when you’re looking directly at Tumblr and its resources posted online. So without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for working with Tumblr:

1 | Tags, Tags, Tags

One of the things that, I think, a lot of people have trouble with when using Tumblr are the tags. For a moment, think about how you use tags on any other site whether it be an ecommerce platform, your blog, or something else. All of the tags you come up with are valuable, right? You think about tags and you come up with these wonderful descriptions for your products and blog posts.

Tumblr is the same. All of your tags are important. But… You knew there was a catch, right? Tumblr doesn’t index more than the first five (5) tags you use. Yep. That’s right. All the important information that your tags convey needs to be in those first five tags otherwise you won’t show up in Tumblr search. Which brings me to my next point.

2 | Tumblr Search, or the Popularity Contest

Up until a year and a half ago, so around the end of 2013, the Tumblr search algorithm had been based on recency. You plugged in a tag you wanted to search and you would get all of the posts containing that tag (in the first five tags, of course) with the newest posts at the very top and the oldest at the bottom. At the end of 2013, then, Tumblr changed its search algorithm to relevancy – the more notes your post has, the higher up it will be in search for your tag unless the person doing the search is switching to recency.

When they made the change to their search algorithm, there was this huge outcry because people were used to searching by recency and didn’t want to lose the equal chance of being seen for everyone. However, there are also some good things about the “new” search. Before the change, you couldn’t search more than one tag at a time. Now it is possible to search at least two tags at the same time.

3 | Say My Name, Say My Name

Okay, so, when it comes to actually naming your Tumblr blog (yourname.tumblr.com), it can be a little bit of a pain in the butt. There’s a lot of inactive blogs or people are squatting on URLs. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is and you’ll have to find a way to give your blog the name you want even if the exact version of it is not available. But one thing you should definitely try to avoid are hyphens. They just make your URL not look as great and, if someone else has the version without the hyphens, you might into some troubles with tracked tags (think hashtags for Twitter that you can always follow and keep track of).

Another thing Tumblr makes possible for you is to use a custom domain name for your blog. In the settings section, you can, for example, set a sub domain of your website as the URL for your Tumblr blog. You still have to register a yourname.tumblr.com address, but you can mask it with the custom domain.

4 | Be Visual

Think of Tumblr as this mixture of Twitter and Pinterest. People on Tumblr absolutely love pretty things and your products and services and blog posts? They are pretty things. So share them on Tumblr. Use pictures and come up with great captions or you could even write a mini blog post under the picture. But I would always recommend using pictures in your blog posts on Tumblr similar to your blog posts on WordPress or Squarespace for example.

You can of course skip the images. Pure text posts can get just as many notes as a picture post. But you want to make the most of this social media platform and, for that, use images in combination with text. The most successful posts on Tumblr usually have a combination like this.

5 | Be Social

I think this last one should go without saying. Tumblr is a social media platform with a vast array of different communities that you can be a part of. Follow people whose posts you like, strike up a conversation. In that regard, Tumblr is more like Twitter in that you can have conversations with other people and even create some awesome friendships.

One Last Tipp

Tumblr is sometimes a little weird about not letting people know about the changes they are making to their platform. So try to be prepared for any and all changes really because the staff at Tumblr will only create a blog post on the day the change is actually released or you might hear about it from other people because they’re rolling it out slowly.

I really hope you’ll consider giving Tumblr a try and, if you want, you can sign up for our newsletter and get information about some upcoming projects I have (a Tumblr for Beginners ecourse? Hell yes!).

People Want to Buy from You (Because You’re You!)

Just think about this for a moment: What is the main reason you buy a certain product from one particular person?

If you’re like me, a huge reason for buying a product is how personable the person I’m buying from is. I like to get to see their personality in everything they do on their website. And in the presentation of their product. And just the overall feeling of their online presence.

So what are some of the things you can do to be more personable?

1 | Put up a picture of yourself

Seriously. This one is pretty easy to be honest. I, as a customer, don’t expect to see a professional head shot. At the same time, you have to be clearly recognizable in the picture. Try to find a picture of you that you like and that only shows you and put it up. I guarantee you people will love it. They like to put faces with their purchases. It makes them feel as if they know you. And, at the end of the day, that is what you want, isn’t it? You want them to purchase your product. Give a big smile and put that picture up on your sidebar (or somewhere else where it will be prominently featured on your website).

2 | Respond to people

This is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to gaining new customers. When they have a question about one of your products, you want to answer them as quickly and as friendly as possible. But even if they just email you to have a conversation, you should show your best self (I know you’re already showing it all the time; it’s just a little reminder) because you never know where one simple conversation might lead and suddenly you have gotten to know your best customer.

3 | Tell us about yourself

This goes in the same category as number 1. Let the people get to know you. Write a killer about page (where you’ll feature a picture of you of course) and tell us about you and your business. People adore it when they feel like they are buying from a real person instead of a faceless corporation. This is why people seek you out (aside from your expertise). So make it real, make it you. Try to give this your own little spin – whether it’s the layout of the about page or the way you write it, this is the place for you to express yourself.

4 | Let your personality be part of your branding

I honestly don’t think there is anything better than seeing someone’s personality reflected in their branding. This usually happens without much thought because you want the branding of your business to reflect you and what you are selling. There is hardly any way to separate your personality from your branding. But it still has to be said because, if you try to imitate others and don’t turn your own spin on it, you won’t get far. People will be able to tell that you, as a person, do not completely stand behind your branding.

The one thing to remember at all times is, I think, to always be you. You are one of the biggest factors appealing to customers and readers so don’t hide yourself. Show the world how great you are and the world will love it. I promise.

Let me know in the comments what you think about showing your personality in your business and how you go about it!

Why I Love Working With The WordPress Customizer

When I started out creating my own WordPress themes, I did so by looking at other people’s themes. Sometimes the Codex only gets you so far, right? And I’d be amazed by the settings pages people would create for their themes so that users could customize them and make them completely their own (I still somewhat suck at the whole settings page thing). And it would be pretty straightforward, right? Another list item would appear either in the main menu of the dashboard or under Appearance which the users could click and they would be taken to the settings page of their theme.

But ever since WordPress has introduced their built-in customizer (added in WordPress 3.4), I think it has become a bit more confusing for users. Especially if you have not registered your settings page as a top-level menu item. With the customizer, there is a new menu item directly embedded in the Appearance section of your dashboard. It’s the second item from the top and it’s simply called Customize.

And this is the point where I think people might get confused. It seems to be an automatic decision to go to the customize section instead of a theme’s settings page. Knowing this, you want to make your user experience as easy and relatable as possible. Employing the theme customizer built into WordPress, then, seems to be the perfect solution.

At first glance, it might seem a bit confusing to use the Customizer API introduced by WordPress. You have the choice of either reloading the page once the user makes a change or user AJAX with the help of some JavaScript. But these are all decisions you can make once you create your theme and think about what would make the user experience better. You can also read up on the Customizer API here:

In the end, you want to make your themes as accessible as possible and whether you do that with the Customizer or with a separate settings page. But even then, some market places might even require you to use the Customizer now as it is a requirement if you want to submit your theme to the Theme Repository on WordPress.org.

Usually, you want your themes to have as long a life as possible and that means keeping up with the changes WordPress is making to the core. This is one of the reasons why I would definitely recommend anyone getting  into the process of creating WordPress themes to get to know the Customizer API and leverage its power in the theme.

What do you think about the Theme Customizer that WordPress has built into its core in 3.4? Do you use it in your client projects or premade themes? Let me know in the comments!

Blog Love

It’s the first Sunday of October and this week has been absolutely crazy with trying to get back into the groove of being back at school. But I also found the time to spend a day at the beach and just get some old-school reading done. However, now it’s time to focus on the week to come. I just love planning out my work week and what I have to do when to stay on top of my game. Usually, I use my calendar and a pen. But I’d love to hear how you plan your work week? Do you use pen and paper? Or have you gone completely digital? Let me know in the comments?

And now onto something I want to start and post each week. Every Sunday I want to post some of my favorite blog posts of the week for you to peruse. So without further ado, here are this week’s blog posts that have inspired me.

I hope you guys enjoy reading these posts as much as I have over the last week and that you have a great rest of the weekend!

When I Was Confused About WordPress (+ A Freebie)

When I decided to create WordPress themes, I was amazed by the file structure that is behind a theme working on WordPress. I had only been used to creating Tumblr themes which are pretty much just an HTML file with some of the Tumblr options included. And then I looked at free WordPress themes and I was so confused. Why couldn’t you just have a single index file and include everything you would need in this one file?

Seeing the lines of code made it obvious pretty fast why themes have a lot of files in their folders. It’s a help to have this kind of file structure that WordPress has. I think not understanding the file structure of a theme is what also made me feel confused about WordPress in general. I didn’t know how the system actually worked. Add to that that a theme is so much more than just how pretty your website is. It’s adding functionality that you might not have with every theme and it’s a place to show yourself to others and the world.

Let’s go back the to all of those files in a WordPress theme. Back when I started out, I couldn’t understand what it was about having that many different files. Sometimes you couldn’t decipher a function because it was defined in another file (I’m looking at you functions.php!) and you’d wonder why the theme was working the way it was. I knew the file structure was there to help me. But I couldn’t, for the life of me figure out how things at worked at first. I was reading so many articles and blog posts about WordPress themes and how to create them. However, I never found a somewhat comprehensive starter guide that could help me.

The Codex and, now, the Developers’ Handbook have really been a help, though (I’m learning new things every day and I love it). If you decide to create your own WordPress themes, you definitely need to check out those resources because they are a fountain of knowledge. There’s only one catch. They include almost everything or not the thing you need in that moment.

This is why I have created a handy, little guide. I really think it has surpassed the cheat sheet stage. In it, I’m giving you guys an overview of the files in a WordPress theme and what their purpose is. So, check it out below. And let me know what you were confused about when you started using WordPress in the comments below!

Why I Moved Away From WordPress Frameworks

At first glance, it might seem counter-intuitive. Why would anyone move away from using a WordPress framework? I have used Genesis in the past and I will probably also use it for customer projects. But I have decided to go framework-less when coding pre-made themes. As a person, I like to have control and, while using frameworks like Genesis or Divi makes things faster, I noticed that I lack a whole lot of experience. I can learn so much from building a WordPress theme from scratch that no framework can replace the value of this experience.

WordPress frameworks are, of course, a great way to focus on the design aspect of creating WordPress themes. However, I like to know how things work behind the scenes. Why is that content exactly where it is? What can I do to include some dynamic content in this part of the site? And this only happens when you do all of the work on your own. It is only then that you learn exactly what the line of code does in the end-product.

I really like the stance Ashley is taking over at NoseGraze.com, saying that WordPress frameworks are a crutch. But saying that frameworks are a crutch does not mean that I don’t like frameworks. I love the Genesis Framework and I think it’s a great tool with great support and something you should definitely take into consideration when you want to create WordPress themes professionally. There are definitely advantages to using a WordPress framework and Brenda Barron over at CyberChimps.com gives some good reasons why you should consider a framework.

To move away from using Genesis was a very personal and thorough decision and it’s something that each WordPress theme designer or developer needs to decide for him or herself.

So what exactly is the effect of not using a framework?

There are several reasons why you should build at least one theme from scratch and not with a framework. A framework gives you a pre-packaged way of dealing with WordPress. If you do it on your own, you find out about all of those amazing ways you can utilize WordPress in your business.

#1: The structure of WordPress

The biggest thing for me is to get to know the structure of a WordPress theme better. Only when you create a theme from scratch do you realize how many different files make up a working theme. You realize how the files have to be structured to give you the best WordPress experience. You see all the connections between the files and where you could maybe add a file to make your theme more intuitive or more eye-catching.

#2: Built-in functions of WordPress

WordPress does have some amazing functions your theme creation that are already built into WordPress. You can easily create conditional statements to fire certain functions when the reader has a certain capability for example. This is the point where WordPress really becomes the CMS that you want to use for your business or even your blog.

#3: Complete Control

As I have mentioned above, I like to have control over the products that I offer. As soon as I use a framework, I’m giving up some of that control (or, at least, I think I do). This feeling of control is something that I like better about creating my own themes from scratch.

These three reasons alone pushed me to create my own themes. Again, this does not mean that I am completely opposed to using frameworks or even stop using Genesis. But I want to focus more on what I can do myself with regard to coding WordPress themes.

Use Instagram For Your Business

Images Are Key

We all know that social media is where you need to be to bring your business forward. Over the last few months, Facebook has lost a lot of its value (I think), because you cannot get your posts seen by people who have liked your page unless you pay for ads and boosts. Twitter on the other hand is great. You can immediately connect with your followers and have Twitter chats and it’s just really, really awesome in getting your business out there.

But one thing that has been shown is that readers and customers are very visual and images are more engaging than a simple line of text. You can check out reason #13 by Holly and the blog post by Buffer she is referencing to see what influence images can have on your Twitter presence. You are already creating awesome images for your products and your blog posts. So use their full potential and put them in your Twitter feed.

These findings should lead you to one conclusion. You need to use social media that relies on images more so than on text. And no, I do not mean Pinterest (though it is also a great tool!). What I mean is, use Instagram. Instagram is a great way to connect with your followers (similar to Twitter). The only thing is that you’re doing it via images. The image is the focus of each Instagram post. Grab the best product photography you have and put it on there. Add relevant (!) hashtags and comment on other people’s images that might show similar interests to yours.

[Tweet “Be visual in your social media presence.”]

What’s New At Instagram

The great thing now is that you don’t have to create special images for Instagram anymore (they used to only allow square images and you had to crop them). Now you can take your featured images and show them in all their glory on Instagram.  The new visual editor on Instagram is the biggest change (in my opinion) the app has undergone since I have been using it.

Hashtags? Are #awesome!

Use those hashtags on Instagram the same way you would use them on Twitter. Make them relevant to your product or image in general – no one likes to see images in a hashtag that has absolutely nothing to do with what is shown. (False advertising anyone?) One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there is no character limit for the comment section of Instagram posts. You could, if you wanted to, add as many hashtags as you want to your images. It is a bit annoying, though, when the section with the hashtags is longer than the image itself. Focus your hashtags and try to limit yourself to 10-12 per image.

[Tweet “Hashtags? Are #awesome!”]

You already have these amazing images. So get your butt in gear, open that Instagram account, and start posting your beautiful content. Don’t let it go to waste!

What Do You Think About Instagram?

Why You Should Buy That Premium Theme

So you want a new look for your blog or website powered by WordPress? Then you have set yourself a big task. There are so many themes for WordPress out there. This is because of the open-source nature of WordPress. Anyone can work with  the code because it is freely accessible to anyone. And the good thing is, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the final product you create – you can give away your theme, for example, for free on your own website or you submit it to the WordPress theme repository where it will be accessible to all WordPress.org and WordPress.com users.

Most of the themes in the repository are really great because they have passed the Theme Review and are only then included for the bigger audience of WordPress. Free themes offered on people’s own websites are, of course, not bound by these requirements. This is why you maybe just have to download a theme and compare it with the requirements set forth in the Theme Review. There is a multitude of reasons why some people might not offer their themes on the theme repository.

The one big problem, I think, with free themes is that anyone and everyone can access and use them. Most of the time, you will not stand out with your website because there are hundreds of other people using the same exact theme that you’re using. That is the downside of using something that is free. When you’re just starting out, this might, of course, be a viable option for you and your blog or website.

However, if you really want to start growing your blog or website, it might be a good idea to get a premium theme instead. You pay a one-time fee and you have a theme that is still not just your own, but it is less likely that you’re finding hundreds or even thousands of other websites using the same theme. It’s all about sticking out of the crowd and, with most premium themes, you already do.

You want your readers to remember your blog or website. Good design will help you with that. A premium theme is the little sister of the custom design. Your blogging or creative business might not bring in the money yet that you can spend on a complete custom website (which can go into the thousands), but a premium theme is bring you in the right direction.

[Tweet “A premium theme is the little sister of the custom design.”]

Another perk of buying a premium theme is that you usually get offered support and updates for any themes you might purchase. This is something that is not a given with free themes (remember those notes in the theme repository: “This theme has not been updated in 2 years.”?) but something that you definitely want.

You might also establish a great relationship with the author of your premium theme which might lead to a custom website designed by this author just for you some time down the line. Shouldn’t that be reason enough to buy a premium theme? You can get a feel for the overall skill of the web designer/developer and figure out if you’d be a good fit for a larger project.

So, stop thinking about it and invest in your business. Buy that premium theme!

That Humanities Degree Is Not A Waste

Repeat after me: It is not a waste.

I might be a bit biased, considering I, myself, have a humanities background. I am actually currently going to school to get my PhD in Literature.

But I want you guys to know one thing. No matter how many people will tell you that your degree is absolutely useless and you should rather study something in a STEM subject or business, go to school for what you love. It will make your experience with higher education so much better and fulfilling to yourself. And this is what college or university is really about. To find yourself. To try out new things. To find something that will make you happy.

[Tweet “Find something that will make you happy.”]

But there is still that nagging feeling when you decide on a humanities major. What am I going to do with this degree? Will I find a job in my field of study? These are questions that you need to ask yourself. If you find that that is not the most important thing for you, go ahead and choose that Russian Lit degree. If you think that the lack of job security will be a major problem for you, you need to think about it again. Talk to your parents, but also to your friends and school counselors. (Parents tend to be biased.)

So Why Is It Not A Waste?

You will wonder why a humanities degree is not a waste when there is a very obvious lack of job security in those fields (and you don’t want to become a high school teacher). The reason is that you learn a lot in those subjects that is useful in a wide variety of fields. Some of these things that you learn are:

  • you see the big picture with all the little connections
  • you’re a better writer in most cases
  • you get to see society through different artefacts (books, music, etc.)

Just these three things make you and your degree incredibly valuable. With the rise of content marketing, it is important that you’re able to express yourself clearly and efficiently.

[Tweet “You need to be able to express yourself clearly and efficiently.”]

Don’t Let Anyone Else Dictate The Value Of Your Degree

One thing to always keep in mind is that your degree will always be as valuable as you want it to be. No one else is able to take away your experiences and your knowledge. So, if you want to get that humanities degree, go for it!