How to Create & Submit Your Sitemap

How to create and submit a sitemap for your blog. A very simple SEO tip for you today.

What makes it so simple? You don’t have to create your own sitemap for Blogger. Blogger automatically creates it for you. All you have to do it submit it.

Going back to the 15 Minute SEO Checklist, a sitemap is on the list! And they say that spiders love an up-to-date one. So let’s do what we can to make sure that happens! Just follow these step by steps. Really, its pretty easy!

How to Create & Submit a Sitemap

How to find your sitemap?

Easy.

On Blogger, it is in the form of: http://YOURBLOGURL/robots.txt

So, the sitemap of our test blog at Blogger is: http://bloggingwithkidsblog.blogspot.com/robots.txt

And this is what it looks like:

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
Disallow: 

User-agent: *
Disallow: /search
Disallow: /

User-Agent: googlebot
Disallow: /search
Allow: /

 

Take that URL that you just found and go to Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t added your site here yet, please do so. (Click the “Add a Site” button and follow the prompts, read more on adding your site.)

How to add your sitemap:

  1. Navigate to: “Optimization” > “Sitemaps”
  2. Click the “Add/Test Sitemap”
  3. Enter the ending part of the URL you found above: “robots.txt”
  4. “Test Sitemap”
  5. “View Test Results”
  6. Confirm that it successfully found the Sitemap and then repeat #2 above
  7. “Submit Sitemap” this time.
  8. Done!

Now Google will find you. Congratulations on submitting your sitemap!

For more information in regards to sitemaps and Google Webmaster Tools see the following links:

Are you on a self-hosted WordPress blog?

Submitting your sitemap is even easier. Download and activate the Google XML Sitemap Plugin.

Blogger in the Hot Seat: Hands on: as we grow

Blogger In the Hot Seat: hands on : as we grow

Each month, we will put a blogger in the hot seat and ask them questions about their blog and how it is for them being a blogger. First to sit in the hot seat is Jamie of hands on : as we grow (and a blogger here at Blogging With Kids).

You can ask any additional questions you have for Jamie in the comments section and she’ll do her best at answering them as best she can.

(Also, if you’re interested in being in the blogger hot seat, let me know!)


This Month’s Blogger in the Hot Seat:

hands on : as we grow

1. Name: Jamie

2. Age: I hit the big 3-0 last time…

3. Where do you blog? On hands on : as we grow and here at Blogging With Kids. That’s it so far! Stay tuned though…

4. How long have you been blogging? I started in December of 2010, right before Christmas. It wasn’t until February that it became hands on : as we grow and I started to promote posts and such. So I guess a good year and a half.

hands on : as we grow

5. What would you say your blog is about? Hands on kids activities for hands on moms. That’s my tagline at least. I post mostly about preschool and toddler activities. Fine motor, gross motor, just fun activities and some intentional learning activities. I think I’m known for my play collections (roundups) though.

6. What is your biggest challenge blogging? Balancing time spent with the kids. As the blog has grown and it has started making a decent income, I feel obligated to spend more time on it to make that money worthwhile. Unfortunately, the kid-time takes a hit then. Which usually ends up in an unhappy household. So refreshing ourselves and getting back on track seems to be a regular occurrence around here. I try to channel the 30 days to hands on play on almost a daily basis. The need of uninterrupted time with the kids is a must!

Aside from time management, I struggle with looking at the blog as a business, it’s still just a hobby for me. I also struggle with seeing myself as a public figure or as an ‘expert’ on kid activities. I’m just a mom.

7. Did you have any blogging experience before you started? Not at all. In fact, at my previous employer, they wanted me to start a blog and do social media on Facebook for them. I just didn’t get it. How could that possibly benefit them. And what is a blog anyway? It was beyond me.

But I’ve always had an interest in technology and can usually muddle my way through things until I figure it out. That’s all I’m doing now. Muddling my way through trying things until I get something right.

8. What do you enjoy most about blogging? It sounds so vain when I put it in words! I really do enjoy the gratification that I get from seeing a post go viral, seeing comments that tell me how much they adore the activity and my blog. I do really enjoy now that I am getting a somewhat decent income from it and I’m still able to stay home with the boys. Oh, I absolutely love collaborating and seeing group efforts to make a difference too! I can’t forget that!

9. What is at the top of your blogging to do list at the moment? I’m toying with the idea of another redesign… Otherwise its just to get ahead again and not do everything last minute.

10. Why do you blog? I started the blog as a way to hold myself accountable for doing activities with the boys (It was my 2011 New Years Resolution to do so). It’s still that for sure, but added onto that as well. It’s now a space for me, something that I can call mine, and I feel that I am contributing to our family income now, at least a little.

50 Activities Just For Your Toddler

11. What is your most popular post? 50 Activities Just for Your Toddler. By far.

12. What is your favourite post? They’re not my usual posts, they’re my favorite because I actually had to think about how I wanted to write it and poured my heart into them. One being 10 Ways to Become a Hands on Mom and the other is about George and a part of The Golden Gleam’s We Get It Series, We Get It: Night Terrors. The comments that I received from that post has astounded me and is inspiring me to want to write more like this, but it literally drains me to write in this way.

To entice my readers to stick around a little on hands on : as we grow, I put together a list of my favorite posts that I suggest for them to browse through when they sign up for my weekly newsletter, as well as at the top of each post when I welcome them, I ask them to take a peek at them to get a feel for hands on : as we grow.

13. What do you wish you could tell yourself to do back when you started blogging? Wait until Pinterest started to start. Ha! Just kidding. Work on keywords from the beginning. Start on WordPress and set up my formatting so it could all be changed via css instead of in each post. Have a better system for my photos at the beginning, I lost a bunch due to moving them on my hard drive and that connection with Picasa Web Albums.

14. What has most surprised you about blogging? That I care about it. That I’ve stuck with it. I tend to hop from thing to thing a lot. I am always surprised at the audacity of readers though. How blunt they can be about pointing out imperfections of an activity, or with writing. That would be never be said in person, but online, anything goes.

15. Where do you spend the majority of your blogging time? I laugh at the phrase “blogging time” because my husband constantly asks me “Are you Blogging?” just because I’m sitting at the computer. It might all be related to my blog in some way or another, but I’m not directly writing a post. I may be checking out Pinterest, just because, but I suppose it has to do with the blog in some way. So, what I consider the majority of time spent on blogging (directly) would be creating the content for the blog. Doing activities with the kids, thinking of new activities to do, etc.

As far as how I spend my actual blogging time at the computer and where I like to focus my blogging efforts would be greatly on Pinterest and Facebook. Twitter, not so much for me (most everything is automated for me over there). And Google+ I’m trying my hardest at learning and getting the hang of, it’s finally coming along that I’m starting to enjoy it over there just a tad.

16. When did you first monetize your blog? I sold my first sponsored ad (for my sidebar) in June of 2011 (actually technically the end of May), so I had been blogging for 6 months. I did do one giveaway/review in May before that in return for the product (no actual monetary compensation).

17. What’s your biggest money-maker for your blog? Currently, the ads that run on my site bring in the most money for hands on : as we grow. I run ads from BlogHer and Adsense both. Sponsored posts are next in line.

18. I want to be a Maytag Mom, how did you become an ambassador? I applied for it and was very lucky to be picked! Very lucky. I’ve been signed up with MomCentral for quite some time and choose to apply for sponsored posts here and there for them when its a good fit for my readers. When the Maytag Ambassadorship email came my way, I didn’t hesitate for a second and applied! (And then waited and waited and waited some more to hear back.)

19. How did you start to make connections with brands? At the beginning, I literally ‘cold-called’ brands. I trolled through other blogs to see who sponsored them or their posts and found brands I liked and thought would be a good fit for hands on : as we grow and emailed them asking them to partner with me. I did this a lot. Hearing very few responses, and a lot of no’s when I did hear back. But I did get a few yeses too. Eventually, I started to connect with third parties that hooked me up with the brands, such as MomCentral, SocialSpark, Blueprint Social, and so on. And now I apply for opportunities to work with brands when they come my way. It takes a lot of the hassle of going and finding the ‘work’, but it also takes out the personal connection with the brand.

20. Do you have a question for Jamie? Ask her in the comments!

7 Ways to Get Your Blog Seen

Alright. So you’re doing everything right. You’re writing awesome content. You’ve got your social media sites set up (at least the main ones like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest).

You’re working on SEO and getting your keywords down.

But the numbers for pageviews just aren’t coming in. The followers aren’t happening. What can you do to get some blog growth?

First of all, it takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. Slow and steady growth is probably best actually, when it happens this way you get followers that stick around and want to hang on to your every word.

Secondly, don’t look at numbers on a day to day basis, step back and look at it from month to month. Are the numbers growing steadily in an overall manner? Don’t be discouraged by a few bad days here and there.

However, there are a few other things you can do to get your blog out there for people to see!

Ways to Promote your Blog

7 Ways to Get Your Blog Seen

  1. Pinterest. I’m just restating this one because its a big one. Collaborate with other bloggers to build a bigger and better Pinterest board for your followers! Work in numbers! When you join others’ Pinterest boards, you’re sharing your pins with their following. Don’t go all collaborate though, you need to keep yourself as yourself too. Don’t put all your eggs into just Pinterest though.
  2. Comment on other blogs. This is the best way to build one on one relationships with other bloggers. Why would you want to do that, bloggers aren’t your readers or followers, they’re actually competition? A big secret to blogging. Bloggers love to share other bloggers’ ideas with their readers! Build a relationship with others and soon you’ll be sharing each others’ posts left and right. Getting your posts in front of their readers. Yay!
  3. Reply to your comments. Same concept as commenting on other blogs. It builds relationships. But this one brings in your own readers. It makes you a human to your followers and makes them want to come back for more conversation with the next post.
  4. Guest posts. This one is the hardest and most time consuming to me. But, can benefit you the most too. Guest posting on a blog that’s bigger than your own is good for a couple of reasons. One, it gets your name, your idea, and links to your blog in front of all their readers, first hand. Secondly, it also helps with SEO to have your links associated with a blog that’s bigger than yours! And an even bigger bonus maybe, it gets you in good with that blogger (a relationship has formed), they’ll have respect for you and your content and more likely want to promote you down the road.
  5. Submissions sites. Submission sites are sites such as The Crafty Crow, or UCreate with Kids that tend to feature other bloggers’ posts on a regular basis, and a lot of times as a single post to really let you shine. There’s usually a submission form, or an email contact, on their site to submit one of your posts that is fitting for their site.  You then just wait, hope and pray that they like it enough to feature it. And when they do, shout it to the world and share it with your readers, and then check your stats because you’re sure to see some good pageviews coming in.
  6. Collaborate with others! Once again. I feel like I’m pounding this into you. Building relationships with other bloggers is an amazing avenue to gain followers, promoting each other, and so on. So, work together to bring your readers something even more brilliant than you could do on your own. Believe me, after doing The Heart Project and raising over $2300 for The American Heart Association, I know it pays to work together in numbers. We’ve created ‘Events‘ here on Blogging With Kids to make collaborating with each other easier. You can see all the happenings in one place and get a group started to work on your projects!
  7. Link up to the happenin’ parties! That’s linky parties! Find parties in your niche, like It’s Playtime!, Tuesday Tots, Learning Laboratory, and so on. Usually these are weekly parties to share a post that is fitting (read the rules of the specific party) and browse others to get new ideas and, once again, find other bloggers and start building relationships with them! Once again, browse the Events here on Blogging With Kids. Members of the Learning Zone Community have added their linky parties so we make sure we don’t miss any!

There’s always other ways to share your blog posts to gain new readers, such as StumbleUpon. Every once in awhile you might get a nice spike in traffic from them. Also, giveaways are a way to get new followers (but not necessarily readers), but they’re not the best quality of follower, and you really have to know where to promote your giveaways to make it a successful one!

Do you notice anything that’s repeated throughout the list? Build relationships. This is the fun part of blogging, and also a crucial part of getting your blog out there more. Be social, interact, ask questions, join forces. Become friends!

So let us in on your secrets. What do you do to gain new readers, followers, or just to get your name out there one more time?

How do you get your blog seen?

How to Make Your Own Printables for Free

This Blogging Tip is brought to you by Erin of Royal Baloo and Logi Bear Too! She’s wonderful at making printables and sharing them on her blog, and she’s sharing how to she does it all here on Blogging With Kids! Erin also recently shared some photography composition tips too!

I love making and offering free printables to my readers.  I get a lot of questions about how to make them and thought I’d offer a quick tutorial to anyone who is interested.  I use all free programs and mostly free clipart.  Free is my favorite word 🙂

What to use to make Printables:

I use gimp to alter any clipart I need or to make general changes like rotating or resizing.  Gimp is basically the free version of Adobe Photoshop but with a bit of a learning curve.

I use OpenOffice to put everything together and export to PDF.  More specifically, I use OpenOffice Write and OpenOffice Draw. (OpenOffice is a free office software to download, very similar to Microsoft Office.)

A few places for free clipart:

As far as free clipart comes, I pretty much only use those sites.  If I can’t find what I want there, I go to etsy.com.

For paid clipart, the only 3 sites I go to are:

How to Make Printables:

Now that the basics are out of the way, I’m going to include some techniques I use in OpenOffice.

I do most of my work in OpenOffice Write.  And I use tables on almost every page.  It just helps me to line up everything easier.  Here is how I’ve lined up a prewriting practice page:
How to make a printable

On this page I don’t want the tables to show up.  Making them invisible is very easy luckily!  Right-click in the table, select Table Properties and under the tab ‘borders’ select none.

How to make a printable

Now, I’m going to add a picture to the first cell on the left and the cell on the top right.  I want these pictures to be facing each other so I have to flip one horizontally.  This is one of the few changes I can make to images in OpenOffice Write.  After inserting the picture simply right click on it, select Picture… and under the ‘picture’ tab click the box next to horizontally.
How to make a printable

I’ve got both pictures how I want them and I want a line in between.  This particular sheet is for toddlers so I like to do a thick line.  There is a line tool in the lower left hand corner.  Click on it and you can adjust the line thickness at the top.

How to make a printable

You can see my settings in the picture above.  I change the color to light gray and adjust the thickness until I find what I want.  Then you just draw your line wherever you want it!

After you’ve finished all your pages you are ready to export!  Simple click on File –> Export to pdf.
How to make a printable

I strongly suggest setting a permission password so your PDF cannot be tampered with.  This is also a requirement of some clip art artists.
When you select export to PDF you will get a popup.  Click the security tab and set the permission password.
How to make a printable

The next step to sharing your printable is uploading it to the internet.  If you have your own host I recommend uploading it to your FTP directory.  This varies based on host so if you don’t know how to do it you’ll have to contact your host.

If you do not have your own host there are a few sites that will host files for you for free.  The only one I have used is 4shared.com.  I’ve had a good history with them and I feel that their website is very easy to navigate.

Update your printable and you are ready to share!

September Blog Hop: Autumn is on its way

Autumn Blog HopAt Blogging With Kids, we would like to invite you to join us in co-hosting an Autumn Blog Hop. We loved doing the August Blog Carnival and reading all of your great School Days posts. Going out on the 19th of September (just before Autumn Starts), you can join us in co-hosting by posting about an autumn activity and hosting the linky with us.

We have set up a group for the co-hosts in our community and invite you to register if you are not already a member. Join the group to find the code, list of co-hosts and also if this is your first blog hop then to get support on how you go about it.

Want to join the Blog Hop?

Request to Join the Autumn Blog Hop Group

It’s a great way to connect with other blogs and also to find new readers (Helpful tip! Co-hosting linky parties like this can give you an SEO boost, because of backlinks to your site!).

Fall is here!

We look forward to you joining us on our first blog hop!