The Happy Guide To Finding Your People In College

Today on the blog I am going to give you some important information (which might be especially helpful if you are an introvert like me)—I am giving you your guide to finding your people in college. If I was to give any person advice on this subject it’d be to get involved and find your people ASAP. Today I am going to talk about what involvement has done for my own life and what it can do for yours too.

The Happy Guide To Finding Your People In College | College is stressful, but it can be even more stressful when you feel all alone. Click through to the blog to find out all about my guide to finding your people in college. Also click through for a chance to attend a fun webinar all about the things I wish I knew before college.

A Tale of Two Amanda’s

So, I am going to tell you a little story of two Amanda’s. Both Amanda’s were equally scared of going away to college and probably had equal amounts of panic attacks and crying fits before going to college. The pain was equally there for both of us—but one of us conquered and one of us wallowed in self-pity (but eventually overcame after nearly a semester of wallowing.)

the First amanda

So, the first Amanda we are going to talk about is freshman year Amanda. Way back in 2011, I was scared of going to college. I had never been on my own that long and that far away from my parents. This was a new sensation to me. I got a plan together though. I would try to throw myself into activities. I looked at all the Welcome Week activities to see which things seemed cool and I tried to go to all the random magicians and casino nights that my school put on for the new freshman. I tried to be open and instead of reading my kindle in my room; I read it in the lounge of my residence hall. I made it a point to get to know some of my hall mates. I got involved in residence hall government. I made it a point to get to know my classmates; especially the ones I had in multiple classes and found a way to hang out with them by studying, eating out with them, or getting our toes done together. 

In hindsight, freshman year Amanda was pretty badass. I am not sure if my current 23 year old self could be THAT fearless. Honestly, I wish I could have bottled up a little of that freshman year magic, because my 22-year-old self definitely needed it.

The second amanda

Fast forward to the first semester of graduate school—I was definitely not doing that great. The panic had set in, on top of an extremely heavy course load. I was trying to keep up with my readings in my theory class, hating my life, and having absolutely no friends. But I wasn’t really trying to make friends either. In fact, I was doing the exact opposite. I was being a complete shut-in. When I did go to campus, I was usually on the phone, and probably looked completely unapproachable. I didn’t seem to make friends at all—so I just called my sister 24/7 and we talked, unless I was in the library (I am not that rude.) 

I got so distressed, that toward the end of the semester, I just wanted to be at home for a while. I was so depressed, I didn’t want to go back. I have a note in my phone that I intend to keep for as long as possible from November 4th, a night when I was at my lowest point, where I outlined that I’d be dropping out of graduate school. I had written my resignation note. Not one to make extreme life decisions without my family, I didn’t send it that night. After a lot of tears and a talk with my family, I decided that the semester was almost over and I HAD to stop being so dramatic. I needed to finish the semester and work hard, so if I decided to drop out later, at least I would have some good grades. We all knew, though, if I didn’t drop out at that lowest point it probably wasn’t going to happen.

Turns out, it was a great idea for me to go back. After I went back to school, I felt more at ease. Everything seemed to be clicking into place. I read one of my favorite academic books ever after I came back from that break, “Racism without Racists,” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. That book coupled with some other awesome things like being offered a graduate assistant position really helped me get excited about the future of my degree. 

Have A Plan

Okay. So the difference between freshman year of college Amanda and first year of graduate school Amanda? I had a plan. I channeled all of my anxiety and bad energy my freshman year into making sure I didn’t feel bad during my freshman year. I poured over the welcome week schedule. I looked up some of the interesting clubs and activities on campus that I could potentially join. I talked with my potential classmates and participated in my classes Facebook group. I really wanted to hit the ground running, because I knew that homesickness was definitely in my blood. I knew that homesickness was in my veins. I had to make a plan of action. What would I do when I stepped foot on campus? What activities would I join? What classes would I take? 

Coming up with that plan to get involved as soon as possible with stuff that intrigued me was very important. Without that plan, I wouldn’t have made it through. I needed to add some structure to my college life. So how do you figure out a plan?

Be Open

The first piece of advice is to be open. Your school might not be your first choice (or even your 10th) you have to make lemonade out of lemons if you have to. Be open to the possibilities of what could happen while you are at college. Have structure, but be open to the universe. You never know what will end up in your lap during college. You might have a plan or think you know where something is going, but you never truly know what will happen. I was sure that I’d be dropping out of graduate school, but then I got this opportunity to apply for a graduate assistantship. I took that opportunity and it saved my sanity and my graduate school career. Don’t be so set in your ways that you don’t see interesting new ideas in front of you.

Find A Few Organizations You Are Interested In Joining

The next thing, find a few organizations you’d be interested in joining. Since this guide is particularly for introverts—find organizations that are intimate and small. Some of the best places for this are church groups (because many of them have small groups as a part of the organization where you can meet and discuss your faith with a smaller group of students); academic organizations like ones related to your major (I mean, you’ll be around all these people for your college career anyway, might as well meet them outside of class); and other smaller clubs.

I am an introvert and I did find my place in a sorority, but I understand that Greek life isn’t for everyone. I knew a few people going into recruitment and we had recruitment during my second semester so I’d already met a close friend that I went through recruitment with. If you are intrigued my Greek life, definitely don’t let being an introvert stop you, but also understand that the recruitment process might be a bit draining for you.

Plan Your First Week

Your first week really sets the tone for the rest of the school year in my opinion. It might seem like a small feat to get past the first week, but I promise, it’s actually pretty awesome if you can get past your first week of school. My advice, plan it out from start to finish. 

Your university will usually provide an awesome schedule for you to follow your freshman year. My university gave us a booklet featuring all sorts of helpful information and a schedule for the week. I went through the schedule, picked out my favorite activities, and made sure to schedule them into my life during that week. I went to everything and anything I could get my hands on. I went to the cheesy events with the get-to-know-you team builders. I even participated in them, even though I hate team building activities. Welcome week is the one week where you HAVE to participate in these, even though they don’t always make you excited. These activities are so helpful for getting to know a large amount of people in a short amount of time.

Set Expectations

You need to set expectations around everything. Think to yourself, what do you want from your friendships? How often do you see yourself going out on the weekends vs staying in to do homework? Where do you see yourself meeting your friends? Do you want friends who like to party or friends who like to stay in and watch Netflix? Set expectations, but don’t just forget them once you go to college. Either meet and exceed them or acknowledge them and perfect them, but don’t ignore them and let them go unfulfilled.

Say Yes More

In my opinion there are two types of things we say no to:

  1. The things we absolutely don’t want/need to do (aka, you don’t have to say yes to drinking or sex if you don’t want to.) These are the hard no’s. It’s okay to have those, that just means you have rules and expectations for your life.
  2. The things that wouldn’t kill us, but require us to get put on real pants, and get out of our comfort zone. These are the things we could do, but man, I am already in my sweat pants for the day. You can compromise a little on these no’s.

You don’t want to start the cycle of no. It’s not a good place to be. When you first get to college, you may be invited to a party, study session, or dinner by people in your hall or in your classes. You may also want to invite people to do those things with you. Open yourself up to that. Don’t start the cycle of no, because once you start saying no, it’s only a matter of time before those invitations won’t be there for you anymore. People tire easily of being rejected. If you are constantly saying no to things, eventually you won’t have anything to say no to.

You can experience things for a few times, then decide if you need to say no to those things. For example, I went to a few parties my freshman year, but not much after that. I realized that I’d much rather hang out and do double features at Cinemark then go to a fraternity party. Parties weren’t my scene. I got extreme social anxiety and I hated when random guys started dancing on me. I didn’t say no to these things at first though. I went to a couple of parties with friends and acquaintances. I quickly realized, though, that that wasn’t my scene at all.

So What Do I Do If I Can’t Find My People Right Away

I wish I could lie to you and tell you that college is rainbows and butterflies all the time. That would be a nice sentiment, and totally cool. Unfortunately, it’s just not the case. College is filled with twists and turns and slightly strange times. You are going to change a lot, and sometimes you won’t be able to find your people as soon as you’d like.

Be More Patient

The first thing is be more patient. Things will come, and it’s possible that you just haven’t found what you are looking for. Be aware of what is happening around you and wait a little bit. I promise things will be better if you are working hard at it.

Evaluate Your Openness

The next thing you need to do after you remind yourself to have patiences is to evaluate yourself. Often if you are thinking what on Earth could be happening, there is usually an easy solution. Evaluation is key to success and fixing your problems. Are you as open as you’d like to think? When I was in my first semester of graduate school, I just wondered why things weren’t as easy as they used to be. It used to be easy for me to make friends. I was doing all the things that I did during my freshman year. I was introducing myself to classmates; I was going to various places on campus. I wasn’t very open when I was going to places on campus though; and most of my classmates weren’t my age so if I wanted to connect with them I had to do it on their terms. This isn’t so easy for a person right out of college to understand, but after a while I began to think about what I could be doing differently, and there was a lot I could be doing. 

Track and evaluate your behavior day to day by checking in throughout the day on your behavior. Think about how you normally walk to class: do you have your headphones in? Think about what you normally do in the cafeteria: do you normally get your food to go so you can avoid those awkward eating by yourself moments? Think about what you do in class: Do you sit front and center and introduce yourself to your classmates or do you sit in the back by the door waiting for class to be through? Evaluating your behavior is very important so that you can see what needs to be changed in order to invite more positive people into your life.

Talk To Someone

The worst thing you can do is to keep all of these emotions bottled up. There are so many resources on campus for you. Most college campuses have group and individual counseling sessions that are easy to sign up for through student health services. Figure out where your counseling center is and go to a session or two (or how many ever your university lets you have.) It is so important to have conversations with others and get your ideas out there. Counselors deal with this sort of stuff all the time. They have seen a lot of cases and they know information about resources on campus as well as being able to ease your fears and insecurities. Counselors are basically amazing. Use them.

Understand That You Aren’t Alone

Lastly, understand that, in no way, shape, or form are you alone in your fears and feelings. Everyone has felt those feelings (sometimes theirs might just last a shorter time than your feelings.) Feelings of homesickness, being afraid; being depressed; etc, so many other students in your place feel those feelings. You don’t ever have to feel alone in your thoughts. You are not alone in your thoughts. You are amazing.

Join Me For A Webinar

Okay, y’all, I am doing my FIRST ever webinar next week on Thursday, June 2nd. That is one week from today, at 7 PM CST. I am SO excited about this webinar, and I seriously just can’t even wait to share this topic with you. I am going to be discussing the “12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College,” you are going to get to see me, hear my voice, and listen to me as I tell you these 12 things. It’s going to be totes amazing and I can’t wait for you to come along on the ride with me. I am rather nervous, but super excited about this awesome webinar. I want to make sure you are prepared for your first year of college (or just getting some reminders if you are transferring or didn’t do so hot your first semester) You can click the button below to be taken to hear more about the webinar, or if you already know you want to sign up you can check out the quick and easy sign up form below the button.

Final Thoughts

I want to end today’s blog by saying the following—you are amazing. The transition to college is a tough one, and not a transition that a lot of people get to make, even in today’s age. You are so lucky to be able to attend the college you are attending. Making friends takes time. It may not seem that way because it feels like you have always had friends or that there is a place on this planet that you fit in at more. There are always going to be places in this world that you feel more at home at. There are always going to be places that make you slightly uncomfortable. The biggest thing is you need to learn to get out there a little. To make a splash, no matter how tiny the ripple effect. Make a small splash and keep splashing. Eventually you will get where you need to get.

When you feel happy, really happy, it somehow seems that you’ve always been happy and that you will always be happy. The same is often true when you feel sad, or lonely, or depressed, or broke, or sick, or scared. Something, perhaps, to remember.
— The Universe

The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Next Blog Post

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links.

So, marketing your blog is difficult. Trust me, I get it! With so many algorithm changes to all of your favorite networks, it seems like once you finally have a schedule down—it up and changes on you. Today I am going to share the marketing strategy I use for my blog. I mostly use various social media sites to market my content, so I am going to share with you that strategy.

The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Next Blog Post | Does marketing your content scare you? Do you want to know how to best utilize places like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and Instagram to market your next blog post? Click through for dozens of amazing tips on how to market your next blog post!

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Please, please, please don’t focus all your energy on just one network if you can help it. I understand, when you are first starting out it may seem so overwhelming to figure out all the networks and get all the marketing done, but I am going to walk you through each of the networks I use and how I market on them. You may choose to focus on one network over the other once I give you the details to do that in this post and that is totally okay. But, obviously, the more networks you have (if you use them correctly) the more chances you have at your work being seen.

How To Market On Facebook

So, I am not going to lie—me and Facebook have a love/hate (and mostly hate) relationship. Connecting with your audience can be so difficult on Facebook. The thing you need to understand, though, is that there are so many ways to market on Facebook so I am going to show you how to market with Facebook groups and pages.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are amazing! There are so many different types of Facebook groups out there. Some of my favorite groups right now are:

Blog & Biz BFFs

For Love & Money

Show Your Blog Love

There are many different types of Facebook groups out there. Blog & Biz BFFs and For Love & Money are both groups run by amazing bloggers and the point is more connection and helping each other out with blogging questions. They both have weekly promo threads, though, that can be great for your content. Show Your Blog Love is more of a reciprocation group. There are threads for things like blog comments, Pinterest shares, and more. I usually participate in just the blog comment and StumbleUpon threads, but sometimes I venture to other threads.

Above all else when you are using Facebook groups be sure to follow these points outlined below:

  1. Read & Follow All The Rules Of The Group: Different groups will have different rules. Most of them are similar though. They don’t want you just dropping your link on the group wall and leaving. Read the rules the group sets up, and then make sure you follow them.
  2. Be employed at your Facebook page: Even if you don’t make money, add your Facebook page to your employment list and make sure that the public can see that. This will make it super simple for people who see your content in Facebook groups to find your blog. 
  3. Be helpful: If you see someone needing help in a Facebook group, help them. This will look so great on you and you will begin to build trust within that Facebook group. Make yourself an authority by helping out others.
  4. Never miss a chance to share your work (if you have time to reciprocate): If you have time to return the favor, never miss a chance to share your work with the audiences in various Facebook groups. Make sure you have the time to reciprocate within the time allowed by the group though. Add the various threads you are a part of to your daily to-do list so you aren’t just getting free boosts to traffic without returning the favor.

Facebook Pages

Marketing on your Facebook page is a little harder than marketing on Facebook groups. Getting your page out there is crucial, but there are a lot of great resources for those who market that way.

  1. Consistency is key: The first thing about your Facebook page you need to know, is that consistency is key—not necessarily in constantly posting your own content though. You only reach a small portion of your audience each time you post, so you have to make sure that you share content consistently so you reach more of your audience.
  2. Variety is important: It’s important that your page be seen as valuable and not overly sales-y. Facebook wants their audience to have the best experience on their site. They will protect their viewers over your content, all day every day. So you need to be seen as valuable, informative, and not overly sales-y. You need to be interacted with. Don’t just share your posts constantly and leave the page alone other than that. Ask a question, share a story (without a link to your blog), share a picture from your weekend, share a meme. Keep the variety in your posts.
  3. Market your page: Facebook is one of the most closed social networks in my opinion. They make it really difficult to respond to things as your blog or participate as a page on the network. Because of this, you need to take time to market your page. You can do this by paying for things like Facebook advertisements (although don’t do this all the time) or you can do this by cross-promoting your Facebook page on other networks and in Facebook groups so you can grow your potential audience. Then as you grow your audience, you can continue to market your amazing content to them.
  4. Use Facebook Page Insights: Once your page reaches a good amount of likes you can use Page Insights and these insights are fantastic! You can see when most of your audience is online, the gender and age range makeup of your audience, find out how many clicks you get and the reach of your status updates, and more! This is great because after you see who your audience is and what they react well too, you can then see what to market to them so they interact more with you and your content. Heck yes!
  5. Don’t Be Sloppy With Your Copy: Hey readers, let me offer you some advice, no wait, I didn’t mean offer as in discount! Facebook is a strange and literally blocks certain words from doing well in their algorithm. There are SO MANY reported buzz words, and these will kill your reach faster than you can say your favorite tongue twister. The other day I wrote a super well meaning post, and it had great advice in it, but Facebook picked up on the word offer and basically decided to kill that post in its tracks unless I was willing to pay them. You need to make sure that you are very careful about how you word things on your page. Check out this super helpful article that features some of the potential buzz words Facebook has. 

How To Market On Twitter

Twitter is a network that I am growing more in love with, but marketing on Twitter can be very difficult. The biggest reason why? Twitter moves SO QUICKLY. If you post something on Twitter, it will be swallowed by a mass of other posts rather quickly. Almost too quickly. So, what do you do to stop this?

Use Hashtags

Hashtags on Twitter are a great way to market your brand. You can use the trending hashtags if you can find a way to interject your content into that hashtag, or you can just use non-trending hashtags that just work with your audience. Don’t hashtag every word, but you can get a lot of recognition through hashtagging.

Tag The Organizations & Brands Mentioned

You can use this for every network, but I think it works especially well for Twitter—tag the brands you mention within the post. As an example, last week I posted a great blog titled “Why You Should Join An Academic Organization” In the post I mentioned the two organizations that I am a part of—Alpha Kappa Delta and the American Sociological Association. I decided to share that post on Twitter a few times, and one of those times I tagged the accounts for the academic organizations mentioned in the post. When I tagged the organizations I got significantly more RTs and click throughs and a way more impressions than normal. Both organizations RT’d my blog and the American Sociological Association has 20k+ followers on Twitter, way more than my small 1.4k follower number. 

What happened to my Twitter account when I didn't tag brands vs. what happened when I did. Increased my impressions and total engagement 8x; Increased link clicks 11x,  and increased likes 3x.

What happened to my Twitter account when I didn't tag brands vs. what happened when I did. Increased my impressions and total engagement 8x; Increased link clicks 11x,  and increased likes 3x.

Twitter Chats Are Your Friends

The next way you can market on Twitter is by attending Twitter chats. I have so many favorite Twitter chats. Going to these chats allows you to connect with new people, grow your following, and usually also allows you drop a link or two throughout the chat if you have a post on your blog that is relevant to the chat. Chats can really increase your impressions and reach on Twitter and get you some great clicks to your content. Who doesn’t love that? If you are looking for chats to join check out this post that features some of my favorite chats to join (as well as some I am excited to try!)

Consistency Is Key

Lastly, it is important to be consistent, maybe to the point of annoying-ness honestly. Twitter moves so quickly so you can’t just post once on Twitter and decide to give up hope. Keep posting, keep hashtagging, keep following, and growing your audience on Twitter. After a while it becomes a little easier, but in order to see results from Twitter you can’t be a one-then-done Twitter marketer. You have to keep it consistent and keep it going. Use a scheduling software to make sure you are scheduling your content to go out multiple times at varying times on Twitter so that more people see your amazing content.

How To Market On Pinterest

Okay, so Pinterest is basically my favorite platform for sharing my work and marketing. It consistently brings me the most page views to my blog, and does consistently well. I have a blog post titled How To Use Pinterest for Bloggers which is good, but I have learned a lot since I wrote that post so I hope you find this content useful too.

Make Pinterest A Priority

Okay, so a lot of people don’t really consider the amazing things that Pinterest can do for their website, but Pinterest is amazing y’all and you need to make Pinterest a priority in your marketing. I have done so much with the help of Pinterest, and I know that I am just reaching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Pinterest can do for my brand. So, please don’t leave Pinterest out.

Pinterest is a search engine

A lot of people confuse Pinterest for a social networking site, I mean I lump it together with social networking sites all the time, but it is more of a powerful search engine than it is a social networking site. There isn’t a lot of social networking done on the site, but you can search for a whole lot of stuff. You want to make sure that Pinterest sees value in your website, and that you get higher on the Pinterest search feed. You can do this by using a bit of Pinterest Search Engine Optimization. Make sure that your pins feature the language they need to succeed. 

  1. Pick those key words and use them often. 
  2. Offer meaty descriptions of your content.
  3. Use call-to-actions to get people to interact with your content, click through to your blog, and save your pins for later.
  4. Use great vertical images so your pins take up more of the screen and get noticed.

Pin Other People’s Content

You are probably giving me a dirty look right now and saying, “Why on earth would I want to pin someone else’s content? That doesn’t make sense.” Trust me though, you want to pin other people’s content. My Pinterest feed is probably 95% other people’s content, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t get multiple notifications of people pinning MY content. I know that seems so strange, but it is true. You want to be seen as an authority in what you pin about, you cannot be afraid to pin other people’s content.

Pinning other people’s content can also create an amazing pinning relationship with them. I have a lovely person whose content I adore on Pinterest and I often repin her work on my Pinterest profile. We blog about the same things, and I want my readers to get advice from her because I love her advice and I know they will benefit from it. She also pins my work. One day she pinned an article I wrote a while back about cutting down unnecessary spending in college, and since she has pinned that pin it has received 150 repins from her account alone. That’s amazing. You never know the relationship you could be crafting with other bloggers by pinning their content and what that could mean for your blog in the grand scheme of things.

BoardBooster

My last Pinterest hack that I am going to share with you is the amazing BoardBooster. BoardBooster is the website that I use to schedule and loop my pins. I am a night owl. If I didn’t schedule my pins, all of my pins would go out at like 2 AM when I have had a bit too much ice cream, cookies, and soda and I am feeling pinteresting. This, may be when some of my readers are on, but are they on for college and blog advice? Probably not. They are probably on Pinterest for recipes and random DIYs at that point. 

By using BoardBooster I can keep my 2 AM Pinterest parties, but instead of pinning to my public boards, I pin to these great secret boards or “source boards” as BoardBooster calls them. Then BoardBooster, following the schedule I set up, drips these pins out over a few days, instead of at 2 AM when none of my readers are really on Pinterest. I know we all want to keep our Pinterest parties, just be smart about them.

How To Market On StumbleUpon

So StumbleUpon can be a hit or miss, but when it’s a hit, boy is it a hit. Today I am going to share with you how to market on StumbleUpon so that you can get the best result, in the shortest amount of time.

Get SumoMe

SumoMe is a great tool to use if you want to market on any site, but especially StumbleUpon. It makes sharing your StumbleUpon link a million times easier. Submitting a link on StumbleUpon is not the easiest thing in the world, and SumoMe makes it as easy as clicking the StumbleUpon button then checking a few boxes. You can get SumoMe on Blogger, self-hosted Wordpress, and Squarespace for sure. I know there are probably other platforms but I have seen them on those sites or tested them on those sites myself. I currently use Squarespace and the purple and pink boxes over to the side of this post if you are on desktop or at the bottom if you are on mobile is the SumoMe social sharing bar.  I love SumoMe because you can easily customize the social sharing buttons so they match with your site or keep them normal.

StumbleUpon Senses Self-Promotion

I am not sure what it is, but I swear StumbleUpon senses overt self-promotion of your own posts. It is so crucial to mix it up on StumbleUpon. Don’t constantly share your own content, StumbleUpon will notice and not put your content in front of audiences on their website. StumbleUpon makes it easy to share other people’s content on their website. You can go through and stumble a few websites and make sure to rate them by giving them a thumbs up or down so your StumbleUpon site can curate better content and you can share other people’s content besides your own.

Likes Are Essential

Remember earlier when I talked about Show Your Blog Love and that I shared my blogs in their StumbleUpon thread? I share there because of the fact that a couple dozen initial likes really helps your blog catch attention on StumbleUpon. Last week I shared my Academic Organizations post on their StumbleUpon thread and that really helped my blog take off there. Last week I got hundreds of page views from a few posts on StumbleUpon. Pretty cool huh? 

Participating in these reciprocation threads also helps StumbleUpon see you as a person who does more than just self-promote because you are liking other people’s content. These reciprocation threads aren’t always 100% amazing for your StumbleUpon account though, so you may want two accounts if you really want to use the site because you may be liking all sorts of content that will mess up the algorithm that StumbleUpon uses to find content that you will actually like.

How To Market On Instagram

The next site that I use to market my content is Instagram. Instagram marketing can be tricky, but I am going to share with you some of the best tips I have for using Instagram to market your blogs.

Actually Track Instagram Clicks

So, Instagram is pretty hard to track. It doesn’t actually show up in your Google Analytics as a source because of the way Instagram opens your links. You can do your best to combat this by sharing your links as bit.ly links instead. Bit.ly is a free site that you can go to and condense your links. Then you can see how many people clicked on a particular link on their website. There are also other ways to track this more closely in Google Analytics (here is a post by another blogger that does a good job explaining some ways to do this) Tracking your analytics from Instagram is always going to be a bit tricky until Instagram makes some changes in how they handle links, and I am not sure they will ever do that since they are so picture driven, so tracking clicks this way is such an important thing to set up.

Get A Theme

Setting up a theme can take some time, but I feel like it’s important to understand exactly what you want your profile to look like. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate, but it is important to understand exactly what you want from your Instagram account and keep it consistent. You want your site to look put together, and like it all works. I have gone through a few theme changes, but right now I have two pictures I take with my Canon T5 or my phone followed by a quote or blog post picture I design in Canva that uses my blog colors.  I find that this works for me so I don’t have to constantly take pictures, but that I have enough pictures of my own on my Instagram.

Post For Your Readers

Never post just to post on Instagram. I know some people like to show their imperfect side on Instagram so they may share a blurry picture or something else, but be careful with this. Don’t make this a habit and blame it on wanting to be more human. Be very intentional about what you share on Instagram because while you may like various pictures on Instagram, it doesn’t mean everyone does. I have learned a long time ago that I don’t post on social media for me, I post on social media for other people. I am very honest about that. It’s important to love what we put on social media, but at the same time, I need to be aware of what my readers would like because I am not trying to market to myself. 

Use Those Hashtags

Instagram is a site were hashtags are pretty important. You need to use hashtags on your images and you need to interact with those hashtags once you use them. As a rule of thumb, once you put up a new post, try to go in and interact with hashtags you just used on your post. This way you are interacting with the people who are using similar hashtags to you and they are more likely to interact with your content too since they just posted using the hashtag. Don’t forget to use hashtags on your pictures and interact with them too.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post and I suggest using as many as you can. Use hashtags with a variety of pictures on them. Some hashtags are so overused that your picture gets buried in new pictures, so you want to make sure that you use ones that vary. I have a hashtag on Instagram right now #ThePositiveMillennial that you can use on your Instagram posts—especially if you are a positive millennial!

Need some hashtag inspiration? Check out this post by The Blog Market.

Final thoughts

Thank you so much for reading this lengthy post. I hope the content featured here was helpful for you as you think about how to best market your content on social media. Here are some final thoughts on marketing to your readers and viewers:

Don't be afraid to learn from others

The biggest thing I have learned over the years is don't be afraid to learn from others. Do you need to learn how to better use Instagram? Take a course! Do you need to learn more about Pinterest? Read a book about it. Need more help on conquering a platform like Periscope? Check out an informative in-depth post. If someone has found an excellent resource or way to make something work, don't reinvent the wheel. My latest favorite way to learn from other's is with Helene Sula's Blog Boss Babe. It's a membership site that will be updated monthly with all sorts of fun blogging related content where you can learn from all sorts of amazing blogging babes just like you. Pretty cool, huh?

SEO It Up

One of my favorite resources for SEO is another Arkansas blogger, Kimberly Herrington. She posts a ton of great content all about SEO and even has a quick SEO for Beginners course that features some great content in it. There are a lot of great SEO tips and bloggers out there. Creating better SEO on places like Google and Pinterest will get your items seen more, and can honestly be a lot easier to depend on than things like Facebook.

Stay updated on current changes

You need to stay updated on current changes to algorithms so that you can get ahead of the curve. Make sure you follow along with the blogs of various social media networks and that you keep up with the bloggers who excel at those networks too. These bloggers can offer great insight as to the new algorithm updates and what that means for their blog and yours.

Get those emails

The biggest thing I can tell you is to get those emails. If you can convert someone from just a viewer to an email subscriber, you can do so much more with them. You can interact with them, market to them, and get to know them in a more intimate environment. Convert as many people as you can by having multiple subscription opt-ins on your website and making it super simple to sign up for your newsletter.

How To Be A LinkedIn Rockstar

In today’s economy, it is important to have a professional online presence, especially an amazing LinkedIn profile. Companies are using LinkedIn to hire professionals as well as using LinkedIn to get a feel for potential candidates. You want to make sure that the vibe your LinkedIn profile is giving off is hirable and not fireable. On today’s post I am giving you some of the basics to becoming a LinkedIn rockstar and making sure your profile is up to par with your personality.

How To Be A LinkedIn Rockstar | Do you want to rock LinkedIn? Check out this amazing post featuring the advice you need to know to rock every aspect of your LinkedIn profile from the profile photo to the recommendations section (and more.)

First Impressions: Amazing Profile Photos

The first thing that anyone will often see about you on your LinkedIn profile is your picture, of course. Your picture needs to speak volumes because that is what will get someone interested in clicking on your name while looking at multiple profiles in the search area, or making sure that they don’t click immediately off of your profile if they clicked a direct link. 

You want your picture to be:

Well Lit

Lighting can make or break any picture. You want to make sure that the picture is well lit, but obviously not overly so. Make sure you take the picture outside on a simple background like a wall or some place where the lighting is really good and even indoors.

Professional

Not in the sense that it’s taken professionally (although a professionally done headshot wouldn’t hurt if you can afford it.) You want to make sure that the headshot shows you off in a professional way. With professional clothes, your hair done, etc. You want this to be a good picture. Dress for the job you want. If you want a professional desk job at an accounting firm, you probably don’t want to wear jeans and a t-shirt in your LinkedIn profile picture.

Doesn’t Look Like A Selfie

Okay, now, it may have to be a selfie. Sometimes that’s the best way you can make sure that your picture looks good. I have taken some bomb.com selfies in my day so I know they can look hella good. You want to make sure, though, that your picture doesn’t look like a selfie if you can help it. For example, don’t have an obviously extended selfie arm in the shot. In today’s age there are so many easy ways to take a selfie without actually taking a selfie. Get a tripod for your cell phone and put a self-timer on (or get a selfie remote for your phone.) This way you can control the shot without that dreaded selfie extended arm ever being in the photo.

Show A Little Personality

No, don’t lick your tongue out at the camera or showcase your amazing duck lips skills, but you can still showcase your personality in your photo. Your outfit and your smile can both speak volumes about you as a person so be sure to showcase that. If you are a bright sparkly person, be sure to have a pop of color in your outfit. If you smile all the time, smile in your profile photo. Showcase your favorite colors, dress/accessory style, and more in your profile photo. When you choose the outfit for this photo know that it makes a statement. Every word you write or picture you showcase on your profile makes an important statement about you.

Summaries That Sell

Okay, so now, we are moving on into the summary. How can you write a summary that sells you? Your summary is the second thing that someone will see about you on your profile, besides the simple things like your name and where you are currently employed. 

Keep It Fresh

You write SO MUCH on your LinkedIn profile so you want to make sure that the content in your summary is actually fresh content—or at least written in a fresh way. It is okay to summarize some of the key points of your profile in case someone skims the rest of your profile, but summarize, don’t just copy and paste the information. Share something new that they can’t just see looking at your header or browsing other sections of your profile.

Inject Your Personality

This is another perfect place to inject your personality with the words that you choose in your summary. Use this space to really sell yourself and don’t be afraid to brag a little here. This LinkedIn profile is important because it’s their first glimpse at you. They don’t know you personally, so it’s your job to make them want to know you better through your profile. Don’t ever be afraid to brag on places like this, because they need to know your worth so they keep reading!

Write For Your Audience

This goes for any section that you are writing on your LinkedIn profile—write for your audience. Unless you are writing for a 1st Grader, leave the spelling errors and text talk at home. You want to be professional here so that means spell checking your work and spelling out every word you type. Since this isn’t Twitter and there aren’t really character limits, it’s okay to go above and beyond to make sure that what you write is stated exactly how it should be.

Descriptive, Results Driven LinkedIn Sections

There are many sections of your LinkedIn profile that essentially serve as a resumé. These sections are the experience, honors & awards, volunteer, organizations, and education sections of your website. In this section I am going to share how to make these sections descriptive and results driven.

Power Words

One of my favorite resources is this post from MyDomaine called “200 Power Verbs To Use On Your Resumé” I love this post because it features hundreds of verbs that really add flavor to your resume and can also do the same for your LinkedIn profile. These words can be extremely useful if you want to make a LinkedIn page that stands out, and doesn’t use the same old verbiage that some profiles tend to use.

Include Numbers

If you built your blog’s network by over 1,000 followers in a year, why would you ever say that you just built your blog’s network? Numbers and timeframes really help build the case for why you make a great candidate. You want to be results driven? Share your results. What did you do and how long did it take you to do it? Share those amazing stories with potential employers because they want to see if you can truly put your money where your mouth is.

Niche Your Involvement

This is not 100% required, especially if you are not actively looking for a job, but once you start, you may want to niche your involvement in experience, awards, or any other category you can. Padding is good when you are shipping boxes, but sometimes you need to get to the nitty gritty. What exactly do you offer the employer looking at your profile who wants to hire you for a tech start up? If you can make your other involvements work for what you want to get hired for, include them, otherwise scrap them for now. You can always download a current view of your LinkedIn profile by saving your profile as a PDF so you can re-arrange it after you have gotten a job.

How to save your profile as a PDF. Go to your profile, click the arrow beside "View Profile As" and click "Save to PDF."

How to save your profile as a PDF. Go to your profile, click the arrow beside "View Profile As" and click "Save to PDF."

Powerful Recommendations

You have the power to ask for recommendations from the people you have worked with on various jobs in the past. It’s important that these recommendations are powerful so that when a potential boss looks at them they are blown away by how much work you have done in your job or career.

Customize Your Recommendation Requests

Do you want your recommender to focus on some aspect of your work with them? Ask them to do so! Your recommender probably wants to offer you the best recommendation possible, so guide them a little and let them know the kind of information you are looking for.

Only Request Those Who Know You Personally

The best way to create powerful recommendations is to request them from powerful people, people who know you powerfully well that is. If they know you personally, can speak to your amazing skills, know about all the work you do with your education or career, they will be the best recommenders. You want to make sure that your recommendations speak volumes. These are the people in your life that can speak to your greatness so make sure you are showcasing the right recommendations.

Contact Information

What is your profile without adequate contact information? There are many ways to contact someone inside LinkedIn, but you always want to make sure you provide extra contact information just in case!

Professional Email Addresses

The biggest thing I have to say about contact information is be professional. Getting a professional Gmail email is so easy. If you are still in college or graduate school, using your education email is such an easy thing to do. If you are out of school though (or your school doesn’t provide an email address) hurry over to Gmail and get a simple firstname.lastname@gmail.com email address. It is so easy to register for one so that you can avoid sending professional emails to beaverfever@yahoo.com. Please don’t.

Professional Voicemail Messages

While we are on the topic of professionalism, for the love of everything, set up a professional voicemail! When I was in college, for 1.5 years I was basically a telemarketer for the admissions department at my school. I would contact potential students to let them know about the events we had going on or missing application material. It was an interesting job to say the least. I can’t tell you how many high school seniors had the worst voice mail messages. Funny voice mail messages are fun amongst friends, but there comes a time when you need to keep it simple and go for a simple voicemail message. 

My go-to message? “Hi, you’ve reached {insert your name here} I am sorry I can’t get to the phone right now; but if you would leave your name, number, and a brief message I will return your call as soon as possible.” Short, simple, and sweet. Maybe also a little boring, but when you have potential employers calling your number, boring can sometimes be the way to go. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t inject your personality and voice into it, I mean it’s literally your voice, but keeping it simple is always better than doing too much.

Skills & Endorsements

The skills and endorsements section of your website is a great place to showcase what you know, and a quick way for your connections to show support for what you are great at. Here are my recommendations for the skills section.

Start small

You can be skilled in any number of amazing things, but my biggest suggestion is to start small. Think of the things you are most skilled in and go from there. My advice? Get together a list of 5-10 skills and really sell those skills over any other skills you may have. As you get more endorsements for those skills, branch out to other skills. Make sure you get a few good endorsements for your first skills before you do that though. 

Pick skills that matter

What skills are people in your field actually looking for. It’s no good to have a bunch of endorsements for skills if no one is searching for those skills. So what if you have 500+ endorsements for sitting on a couch if no one is hiring people with that skill? You could be the most amazing couch sitter, and I am certain that won’t get you very far in your career.

Highlight those skills in other places

LinkedIn is a search engine, above all else. You want to be sure to use those skills as keywords and inject them into other places on your profile, especially those sections like the summary and experience sections.

Start giving endorsements

Do you want to get some endorsements? Start giving some endorsements. Giving your colleagues endorsements is one of the easiest ways to start collecting them. Keeping a small list of skills at first is important so that you can make sure you concentrate your endorsements in areas you really want to show expertise in. So be sure to keep it simple so that your profile really stands out on the skills that you have chosen.

The Importance of Groups On LinkedIn

LinkedIn has thousands of groups that cover a wide array of topics. LinkedIn groups can be so fun to join in, and can really create some awesome connections with people you don’t even know. These groups are where you can further find influencers in your niche and people you want to follow and become professional friends with. Here is my advice for LinkedIn groups:

find 1-3 groups related to your field(s)

There are so many groups that you could potentially join on LinkedIn, but my advice is to stick to 1-3 groups at first. It is so easy to become inundated with LinkedIn Groups and honestly not that invested in them. Find 1-3 groups that you will love to look at, and make sure they are active groups. Get accepted in those groups and you are well on your way.

Make it your goal to interact in them

Obviously, once you are in those groups, you need to make it a point to connect with the people in those groups. Make a thread sharing a great article you think they’d find interesting, ask for help, and help others with their projects and surveys if you can. Get out and about in these groups. In my opinion, staying consistently involved in LinkedIn groups is way harder than say a group on Facebook, so that means you really need to put it on your schedule and make sure you check out the LinkedIn groups at least every week to interact and answer any questions that you can.

Keeping Up With Your Professional Contacts

Obviously, LinkedIn is great at one thing, keeping up with your professional contacts. In this section you will learn more about growing your network on LinkedIn and keeping up with your network once you start growing it.

Make It A Goal To Share Your LinkedIn Profile

Sharing your LinkedIn profile is important. Just like other networks, you need to share your LinkedIn profile to grow your network. Post about your LinkedIn on social media networks—especially ones filled with family and friends like Facebook so that you can grow your network and fill it with classmates and friends who could be your future colleagues. 

Also, share it anywhere you have a large following of professionals in your niche. A lot of people follow a lot of professionals like that on their Twitter profile so be sure to share there as well (with Twitter it’s really easy to be swept away so add a picture so your post stands out, and know that you may need to share multiple times to get any real traction there.)

If you have someone particular in mind, just reach out to them. If you want to connect with Person A, send them a request. It can be super simple to just direct message them and say, “Hey, I love your work. I’d really love to connect with you on LinkedIn if you have an account. My LinkedIn account is…” Obviously, you want to make sure that you spend sometime to customize this request.

Customize Your LinkedIn Request If Possible

Now, let’s get to the actual request on the website. It’s not always mandatory, but especially if you are requesting a 2nd or 3rd degree connection that you don’t know personally—customize the request. Why do you want to connect with this person? What can they bring to your LinkedIn network? Did they attend your school but at a different time than you? Did you major in the same thing so you want to connect with them as a colleague? Did you see them at a conference and want to connect professionally? Understand exactly why you want to connect with them and put that into words so you can connect with the,

Constantly Find New Connections

New people are constantly joining LinkedIn and you never know when you may find a new connection. There is a section of LinkedIn called “People You May Know” and I suggest checking that section out once every week or so to see if you see any new and interesting people there. You never know what sort of connections are out there and it’s important to grow your LinkedIn network, because the more you grow your network the larger your potential network is. You want to grow your network so that your 2nd and 3rd degree connections grow larger and larger. Some people really like to restrict who can see their LinkedIn profiles so sharing more connections means you can see more LinkedIn users.

Interact With Your Connections Once You Have Them

There are so many ways to interact with your connections once you have them:

  • Send them a message thanking them for connecting with you.
  • Send them other messages, like a post you think they’d like to read or a job listing you ran across that would be perfect for them if you know they are looking for new work.
  • Like or comment on a status update they have posted.
  • Send them a few endorsements.
  • Congratulate them on a new job if they have one.
  • Write them a stellar recommendation if you know about their work ethic.

Interacting with your connections once you have them is so important. Consistently connect with someone and you can really showcase a lot about yourself. The next time they see a job that they think you’d be interested in they may be more likely to send it your way.

Share Information On Your LinkedIn Profile

Why would someone follow you on LinkedIn if all you ever use it for is to share when you get a new job? Make it a point, at least weekly, to use it as a professional social network. So, why did I put an emphasis on professional? This is LinkedIn after all, so when you share awesome content on the site, you want to make sure that it is 100% professional. Have you read a cool new post that you think people in you follow would love to read? Share it! This is not the place for fun cat videos, although even professionals love a good fun cat video. Be aware that what you share speaks to your professionalism so be sure that you keep what you share 100% professional.

Final thoughts

I hope that you have found this post amazingly helpful. I always love to share my expertise with you all if possible and I hope you learned some amazing LinkedIn strategies on this post. Check out some other great resources:

  • LinkedIn's Tailoring Your LinkedIn Profile To Your Goals Tip Sheet. This PDF is filled with amazing tips for people who are new to LinkedIn or just playing around with their LinkedIn profile to make it better.
  • My LinkedIn profile, it is a work in progress, as always, but I'd love to connect with my readers there.
  • J.T. O'Donnell's LinkedIn profile. J.T. is seriously one of my favorite LinkedIn Influencers. She gives such amazing advice for all you people wanting to learn more about getting a job and all things career.
  • Career Contessa. This is basically one of my favorite career blogs right now. I adore this site.
  • Levo. This is my other favorite career blog. If you have seen something on the internet about careers, there is a great chance it came from Levo, they have an amazing presence in the career information space.

What are you going to do today to make your LinkedIn profile stand out above the rest?