I’ve learned heaps about Stuff these past few weeks :). But it’s a strange feeling, working in a virtual world. You can spend hours and days immersed in unraveling mysteries and tab-hopping between multiple applications, but at the point when you remember to finally stand up and walk away, you never have anything to show for it.

So the ideas swarm and the checklists multiply and all the Youtube tutorials and free courses fill my screens and time …

But at the end of the week, I don’t have a post yet to share with you all :(.

So instead I’m going to share a few of my “mini-masterpieces” from my invisible world of virtual progress.

And, quite honestly, I’ve been having a lot of fun with this. πŸ™‚ I’m still too cheap to pay any one of a hundred thousand people who are eager to share all their knowledge and save me loads of time; so instead I pay “time dollars” and crawl through the web on my own, collecting cookies, and let the advertisements come to me and flood my Facebook news feed and email inbox. And I’m beginning to believe that just maybe I can learn everything I need to know about blogging and digital marketing in bite size pieces through enough independent research …

It’s the elephant thing. How do you eat an elephant? … One bite at a time! πŸ™‚

So here’s a few elephant bites from these past couple weeks. (Apologies to all vegetarians for my insensitive anology 0_o.)

Https

This new stage started a few weeks ago when I purchased a website and moved my entire blog, one post and internal link at a time, over to the new site. I didn’t want to deal with redirects slowing my site down or worry about broken links, so I copy and pasted everything by hand (by mouse?).

Fast forward a couple weeks … Google announces a new rule that all websites have to switch to https (instead of http) to avoid being flagged as insecure and unsafe and all kinds of bad stuff that will send readers running. So now the whole blogging world has to switch over and redirect all their links because everything now has a new URL, and any old links from Pinterest (etc.) will send readers to the “unsafe” version.

In an ideal world, I could have timed that better. 0_0

But … I learned how to switch to https. πŸ™‚ (And a huge shout-out to Bluehost working with WordPress for making that a FREE and relatively painless process!!) Now I need to figure out how to do my own redirects after all … or lose traffic from all the pins I’ve created to this point … and re-create every pin with the new urls … hmmm … I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Pinterest

On the Pinterest front, I’ve managed to cross some big things off my list:

  • Clean up my account.Β I’ve applied for the business account, re-arranged my boards so they reflect my big ideas here, turned personal boards secret so they don’t distract people, deleted irrelevant boards, and re-written my profile. I might go in later and make pretty board covers, but I’m not sure that’s worth my time just yet. If you want to see my Pinterest account, you can find me atΒ https://www.pinterest.com/sandrabethany/.Β Feel free to follow! <3
  • Apply for rich pins. (If you look at Pinterest, you’ll notice some pins have a bold heading underneath — those are rich pins.) All my pins are pretty and official looking now (at least the text is anyway).
  • Design pins using Canva.com. This is definitely a work in progress, but I’ve learned a lot more little tricks about how to use Canva tools to create professional-looking Pinterest images and how to size them optimally, since long pins with certain dimensions and color schemes and font sizes and styles work best (usually).
  • Begin my free Tailwind trial. (If anyone wants a free month, let me know — I can get you and myself a free month simultaneously! πŸ™‚ — completely transparent advertising) Tailwind is the leading program (or maybe Boardbooster could claim that fame?) for helping you schedule out hundreds of pins in one sitting so that they go out drip-campaign style at optimal viewing times (based on amazing algorithm work that analyzes each person’s individual audience’s patterns). I also found some Tailwind tribes that are somehow light-years ahead of group boards … I don’t quite understand yet, but from my dashboard I can tell that just one pin on a “tribe board” gets hundreds of thousands of views … so that’s good. πŸ™‚

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • I installed the Yoast SEO plug-in for my website. This has been surprisingly helpful. It’s kind of like having your own personal English teacher analyzing your writing for every post you put out. It tells you how often you’ve used passive voice, how many times you’ve used transition words, what your readability score is, reminds you to insert your keyword into optimal places for SEO purposes, checks if you’ve used alt descriptions on images, etc. It also lets you edit the “snippet” that follows the post url in an internet search (instead of just pulling the first sentence from a post). I could into a lot more detail here, but … so many people have already written reviews and created tutorials, so I’ll leave it at that.
  • I also figured out how to get verified by Google and Pinterest so that my website could rank in their search engines. (I could also add Bing and Yahoo to that list, but I didn’t bother … maybe I’ll go back and finish that someday.) This was also easier to do than I expected :). And I’ve seen visitors coming in through search terms recently, so I know Google is finally starting to recognize me.

Internal Email

I accidentally figured this one out while I was in a live chat with Bluehost in an attempt to resolve an https-related question. In order to receive verification from them, I had to use my email account that is attached to my website … that was waaaay down on my list of things to figure out, but it turned out to be another simple few steps. So now I have my webmail account sandra@realworldlearners.com set up and functional — feel free to send me a message :).

Pictures

I haven’t taken any photography-specific courses yet, because I know that’s a whole world in itself and I don’t want to lose too much focus … but I have picked up on several tips from various videos I’ve watched. Based on these little tips and tricks, I’ve been working on taking resource-in-action photos in natural lighting with clear backdrops (or people have suggested buying brown paper or nice wrapping paper and spreading that out on the table for a backdrop) — then cropping and shrinking them (using tinypng) to a size that doesn’t slow down loading times — then adding alt tags with keywords to optimize your post’s ability to be found in searches. I don’t have any photos for this post though :(, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for future posts to judge my fledglings attempts at photography. πŸ™‚

I also found places to download free pictures for commercial use that don’t require attribution. Pexels, Unsplash, Pixabay, and a short series of settings in a Google image search have topped the list.

Networking

I discovered how to make good use of the search bar in Facebook! After a few brief searches for things like bloggers, homeschool, TPT, and Pinterest, I found several really helpful, wonderfully specific groups of people in the same boat as I am who constantly ask and answer questions about things they face in those niches. These forums have been immensely helpful as I navigate my way through murky waters.

Affiliate Marketing

I did it. I signed up for an Amazon Affiliate account.

I had serious reservations about doing this. I didn’t want to change my tone to a cold, business-y sales pitch type feel and i was worried that affiliate links would make readers question my motives. But somebody said something last week that made a lot of sense to me and changed my perspective on this.

I had just written up a list post of math storybooks that we have at home and read with our kids. I wanted to include links so people could see the book description, so I copy and pasted an Amazon link and a screenshot of the book cover for every book that I mentioned. After I hit publish, I suddenly wondered whether I had broken any copyright rules by using the Amazon preview images. I spent the next several hours researching copyright laws and asking questions on Facebook blogging groups, trying to make sure I didn’t cross any lines on this as a new blogger.

In one string of conversations, somebody said that they just include Amazon affiliate links for everything they want to recommend, if they were planning to include a link anyways. That made a lot of sense. I wanted to give readers a chance to see the math books that we’ve been reading and enjoying here, so I might as well use my affiliate link instead of a regular link — that way I’m definitely not breaking any violation with copyright since I’m using images provided by Amazon, and if readers click on the links and purchase something, I might end up with a small percentage of the cost — and it doesn’t add anything to the price of the product for the readers, since Amazon prices just are what they are. The only conscience-question left is — do I want to feed the machine that monopolizes the market and puts small businesses (such as myself, ironically) out of business?? … argh … definite gray area there …

MORE POSTS … and ideas … and products

I’ve also drafted up and taken pictures for several more posts, so I hope to slowly switch gears here from digital marketing and blogging techniques to re-focusing on creating high-quality content and products that will help you to help your children enjoy math. That’s my big idea here. There’s just a lot of hurdles and hoops on my way there. πŸ˜‰ I also am getting a better idea of how I want my website to look and function — a future step will be to upgrade to a paid theme and make this whole mess look pretty.


More Math Resources for Teachers, Tutors, and Parents

So if you haven’t yet seen what I’m actually trying to focus on (I’m not intending to make my digital marketing learning curve the main focus here!), you can check out my store to see my library of learning resources focused on math for Pre-K through Geometry:Β https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Sandra-Balisky.Β Β 

Or check out the Freebies tab to download some interactive journal pages for your kids to use today :).

I’d always love to hear from you — what kind of content or products would you like to see here? Do you want to hear more “behind-the-scenes” stories, or just get to the good stuff? Let me know in the comments below!