7 Posts That Will Make Your Business Better + Your Blog Bigger

Wait! Before you get to those awesome links!  

Last year my friend Rachel finished her degree, continued to be the only person I know who can pull off her hair color, and had a freak accident in a mosh pit that left her with thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills. I wanted to do my part to help out so over on Facebook, I’m running a little silent auction for four hours of my time - even copywriting! Which I don’t offer anymore!  If you’ve interested, pop over and leave a comment on the picture with your bid; auction ends February 28th at 6 pm CST.

Anyway. Here are some of the best, brightest things I’ve found online recently!

This is insaaaaanely helpful, no matter what time of year you read it. Finding inspiration and motivation to blog better this year.
New Stimuli - one of the best ways to get your creativity levels up is to expose yourself to new stuff. Buy a book, watch a movie, meet someone new, go for a walk, spend time with your family, listen to some music – get out of your normal daily rhythm and expose yourself to some new sights, sounds, tastes, touches and smells. Remember that what you put into your life has a direct baring on what comes out.

Related: if you’re feeling uninspired, think about why you follow your favorite bloggers.

This is a long read that’ll inspire you to take a lot of action when you’re finished: how to optimize your hottest posts.

Reminder: it’s totally possible to work on projects you’re excited about.  AND ACTUALLY MAKE MONEY WHILE DOING SO.  And you don’t have to get an accounting degree if you don’t want to. When everyone is making the same bet, there’s more competition. And when there’s more competition, there’s fewer winners. Those winners range from soul-sucking middle-management at T-Mobile to soul sucking stockbroker at Goldman Sachs.The money’s different, but the sad man in the uniform is the same.

Yes!  I struggle with this soooo much: when to do something important (but not urgent.)

If you have a physical product that you regularly pitch to magazine editors, you probably need this.

Almost every women I know (myself veeeeery much included) would benefit from watching this: five tips to start negotiating like a badass.

What posts have you loved as of late?  Leave ’em in the comments!

How To Use Google Webmaster Tools In A Non-Overwhelming Way


This guest post is from Olivia of Early Bird Strategy. She helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and bloggers create and grow their online presence. She digs process, content strategy, SEO, A/B testing, Oregon IPA and email marketing. You can sign up for her free resources newsletter here - don’t worry, you can sleep in.

Google judges you based on your technical issues. Even though you have awesome content - sometimes the Googlebots can’t find you (which means awesome customers and potential Internet-besties can’t either).

Thankfully, you can play by Google’s rules, using one of their free tools. After plugging in your site, you can find any errors or areas for improvement and get back to focusing on the fun stuff like cat videos and writing.

In this post, I’m going to show you three smart ways you can use Google’s free tool Google Webmaster Tools to learn about - and fix up - your blog, to ultimately improve your SEO. When you’re a blogger, it can feel like you spend all your time writing and connecting. So more “technical” things might sound like a terrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but putting in a little effort can get big results.

1. Find out how people are finding your blog and what searches you’re showing up for but people aren’t clicking on

Sure you might know what some people searched for to arrive at your site from using Google Analytics, but do you know what people are searching for when your blog comes up in a search on Google, but they DON’T click on you? Would you believe me if I told you this was something you can find out?

1-GWT-queries 1-GWT-queries

If your mind just exploded from the above image, here’s what’s happening… This part of Google Webmaster Tools takes a look at some of your top posts, tells you about how many people saw it on Google (Impressions), how many of them clicked on it (Clicks), what that click through rate was (CTR is clicks divided by impressions), and what the average position on Google was (for example #1, would be the very first result).

As you can see in the above image, even though I only wrote the post on editorial calendars a couple weeks ago, I’m already getting Google traffic from it. It’s still pretty far back (#28, which would be the 3rd page) on Google results, but it included a free download of an editorial calendar template and was something I spent a lot of time on, so I expect it to continue bringing me traffic, potential customers, and connections.

Actionable homework #1: In Google Webmaster Tools, navigate to the Search Traffic>Search Queries area, and click on the Top Pages tab. Then, sort your list from largest to smallest, by Impressions. Make a note of the three pages with the highest CTR, and the three pages with the lowest CTR. What can we learn from this? The higher your CTR the higher relevance (or perceived relevance) someone searching on Google thought you had on those search terms. What a great way to know what your first impression is on what people are finding useful!

What else you could write about similar to those topics. For the low CTR pages, take a look at the post. Is there something in the post title or meta description that people aren’t finding your little preview snippet compelling enough to click on? (how rude!) What can you learn or change about this?

2. Use Google Authorship to have your profile show up in search results

Have you noticed sometimes when you’re searching on Google that you see a little picture of the author in the results, like this:

Did you think it was only for massive sites like Mashable and Gawker etc.? It’s not! You can show up here too. One of the most overlooked areas of Google Webmaster tools is bloggers passing up this great opportunity to have your Google+ profile linked to your content, and more often than not have your profile picture in the results! Hello higher click through rate!

One of the Google Webmaster Tools Labs features is showing you statistics for your verified author posts.


Actionable Homework #2: Get the ball rolling for Google Authorship, whether that’s first signing up for a Google+ account or verifying your email address. Here’s Google’s Guide for linking your content to your Google+ profile (2 options).

3. Fix those crawl errors

This section of Google Webmaster Tools can feel like homework. {Hey, where did everybody go?!} While it can be tedious to clean up some of the broken stuff on your site (especially if you’ve been around a while), it can also make a big difference in traffic. Think of it as spring cleaning and from a reader’s perspective how frustrating is it to click a broken link!?

With one of my clients, I found thousands of crawl errors that instead of fixing one by one, we were able to fix in one go, during my Website Audit and Action Plan, by adding an automatic redirect! This tiny change resulted in a significant increase in organic traffic that previously had just been landing on a broken page - while a few people had managed to find their way to the homepage, most had just abandoned ship.

Actionable Homework #3: Navigate to the Crawl>Crawl Errors area in Google Webmaster Tools. Click on the “Not found” tab. Clean up a few of these by click on the line item, which opens a little popup window with more info. The “not found” url at the top is the link that is broken. By clicking on the “linked from” tab you’ll find where this traffic is coming from. For example, if you’d mistyped when linking up this on another post, you could go in and correct it.

If you log in and find that you have a lot of crawl errors, try not to feel too overwhelmed. Instead, fix a few to get an idea of how it works, and then set a reminder to come back and do recurring maintenance in this area.

To wrap things up, even if people are finding you via social channels, overlooking organic search is like pulling a humble brag trick on your content. “No thanks, you don’t need to look over here, I just spent tons of time creating all this. Look away, I don’t want to be found!”. With a few small tweaks you can set yourself up to be found.

To learn how to add and validate your site in Google Webmaster Tools, here’s an in-depth post with additional advanced things you can learn.

Have you tried Google Webmaster Tools?

Stop Reading This Blog Post. Go Do Stuff.

I spend huge amounts of time either:
a) telling people how to do things (use Twitter lists! find ideal clients! roadtrip solo!)
b) learning how to do things (why are fishtail braids so haaaaaard!?)
c) reading lady magazines and throwing themed dinner parties 

I also spend a lot of time Googling how to do things.  When people ask me if I know how to do something I usually say “No. But I just figured we could Google it.”

But here’s the thing about all those how-tos and tutorials and Google searches:
That information is worth exactly nothing unless you do something with it.

It’s incredibly easy to load up your RSS feed with blogs that teach you how to do things
to assemble link round ups of helpful posts
to retweet “5 Ways To Revolutionize Your Blahblahblah” links
But at some point?  You actually need to do that stuff. 

You need to read the whole article - not just the bolded headings.
You need to spend the hour installing that complicated-but-super-useful plugin.
You need to carve out a few hours to nail down your About page.
You need make your first video - even if it’s bad.

And this blog post is just as much a note-to-self as a call-to-action.
I’m just as guilty as the next person of reading headlines, scanning chapters, and having to encounter something 45 times before it sinks in that, yes, Sarah, you do need a newsletter.

So let’s make a pact, shall we?
Let’s read less and do more.
Let’s close all those tabs and start writing.
Let’s stop skimming and start implementing.

Great things are coming for us.  We just have to make an actual effort. 

P.S. Did this get you all fired up?  Want some help actually making things happen for your business online?  I can help!

3 Clever Things To Do With Old Blog Posts

3 clever things to do with old blog posts
In internet years, I’m practically a dinosaur.  Yes and Yes has been around since 2008 and I’ve got 2,300+ posts in the archives. Crazy, right?  Now, it seems a pity and a waste to let all that writing sit there and gather dust so I’ve been brainstorming other things to do with them.  Want to try some yourself?

1. SEO-ify it, pretty-ify it, and re-promote it

When I started blogging, I’m not sure that SEO was even A Thing and if it was, I surely didn’t know about it.  While my content was good, my titles were too quirky and mysterious to inspire much click through and all my photos were saved as “008138ejplorb.jpg.”  This was also the age when people used any old photo they found - regardless of copyright and I wasn’t any different.

Here’s what you should do to make your old posts more awesome
* Find the best ones. Hint: they’re probably tutorials or how-tos
* Find a good, legal image for them. I like Flickr Creative Commons (sorted by ‘most interesting’) or Unsplash for beautiful, legal images
* Rename the photo as something SEO-friendly -  “woman-using-computer” not “9109282joli.jpg.”
* Put the title of the post on top of the image. This will make it more Pinterest and Twitter feed friendly.  I use Picmonkey for all my photo editing needs.
* Add spaces, bolding, or headings to make your post more readable.
* If you named your post something ‘clever’ the first time around (like song lyrics), rename it something obvious and Googleable
* Schedule out a few tweets to re-promote your newly awesome old blog post

2. Offer it as a guest post

Do you have internet friends? Of course you do.  Do they ever go on vacation or need a break? Dur. When that happens, offer up the best of your archives to fill that time while they’re off drinking margaritas on the beach.
Or you can rework the best of your archives and offer them as guest posts to any of the websites that syndicate content. Thought Catalog! Mind Body Green! Daily Love! Etc.

3. Put it in a different format

Some people like to read blog posts.  Other people want to listen to podcasts as they drive or watch Youtube videos during lunch. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t repurpose your old content in new forms.

I can take all of my most popular travel blog posts and turn each of them into a video.  I can turn old posts from this small business blog into infographics.  I turned my Real Life Style Icon interviews into a newsletter opt-in ebook that netted 1,000+ new subscribers.  Please feel free to copy all of these ideas and use them yourself!

What are you doing with the posts in your archive?  Share your best tips in the comments!

P.S. Does all this advice ring true?  But maybe you need a little bit of extra help with your blog or a loving push in the right direction?  I can help!  For less than you’d think!

photo by ray from la // cc

8 Ridiculously Helpful Links For Bloggers + Creatives + Business Owners

It’s the end of the month!  Let’s look at some of the helpful, smart things other people wrote on the internet!

Oh my, but this is timely.  10 ways to switch your brain to writing mode when working from home.
Walk around the block
If you work at home, it can be tempting to work from the couch in your pajamas. And while that’s definitely one of the perks of the business, it doesn’t really help your productivity. Get dressed, walk around the block and pretend you’re walking to “work”. Grab a cup of coffee on the way into your office, sit down and start your day.

A lot of people ask me how to get their start freelance writing.  I’ve been getting paid to write since I was 20 and from now on, I’ll just be pointing everyone who asks about it here.

Alex Franzen strikes again!  Her favorite (free) tools for writing, creativity, self-expression, and what not.

If you, like me, are still using Blogger for your blogging platform, it’s still possible to SEO your posts without all those fancy plug ins. Here are 7 SEO tricks for Blogger.

What’s the difference between doing what you WANT and doing what you SHOULD?
Can you just not do it? I personally believe you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you’re in a bad relationship (with a client, a toxic friend, a significant other, a business partner) can you simply break up? If you have a day job you hate can you quit or just not go in today? If your answer is “No. I can’t just not do it…” ask yourself “why” a few times and soon you’ll get to why you choose to take on this duty or responsibility.

Remember how Allison told you that you can totally forgo the fancy DSLR and use iphone photos on your site?  Kara has an iphone-specific photography e-course!

Yes!  2014 Reboot: Blog Overhaul.  Tons of great ideas about how to fall back in love and get re-excited about your blog this year.

So interesting!  The Notecard System: the key for remembering, organizing, and using everything you read.

What awesome things did you read this month?  Leave links in the comments. 

photo by sailor coruscant // cc

7 Ways To Work Around The Fact That Facebook Sucks Now


If you have a Facebook page for your blog or business you probably discovered a completely infuriating change in early December.  Instead of showing your updates to all (or most) of the people who have actively chosen to follow you, Mr. Zuckerberg and Co. now show your updates to about 10% of your followers.  And if you’d like everyone to see your stuff? Well, you’ll just have to pay up.  I did the math and I’d have to pay about $2,000 a month if I wanted my 3,700+ followers to see my posts!


So I’ve spent the last month experimenting with different ways to reach my readers since Facebook is now pretty much out of the question.   Here are seven things that I’ve tried - with some success.


1. Really commit to Twitter - and use the photo option
Twitter is much more egalitarian that Facebook and (fingers crossed) has not yet pulled any shifty algorithm changes, ala Facebook. You can connect directly with people,  friending the editor of that publication you like, rather than just liking the publication’s Facebook page.

Also!  Twitter has a relatively new option that allows you to add photos directly to your Twitter stream rather than linking to photos hosted elsewhere.  It makes a huuuuge difference in your traffic, especially if the thing you’re promoting is visually appealing.  If you want to be a level 10 tryhard, you can design images specifically for Twitter.   Here’s a super helpful post about how to optimize your images for Twitter Streams.  (P.S. Are we friends on Twitter?  We should be.)

2. Promote business-y stuff on LinkedIn
I know, I know.  You’re all “Uggggghhhhh. Who even uses LinkedIn?”  There are people there!  I swear!  A friend of mine got headhunted for a super cool editor job off of LinkedIn, so someone, somewhere is using it and reading it.  If you write about/consult about/work with business-y stuff, post your blog posts on your LinkedIn updates.  Can’t hurt, might help!

3. Share select stuff on your personal Facebook page
I usually limit my personal Facebook page to posting vacation photos and inviting people to stuff, but very occasionally, when I write something that I think other people might find useful, I’ll post it on the Yes and Yes Facebook page, and then ‘share’ it as Sarah Von Bargen.  Shares feed into the Facebook algorithm and show Facebook that your post is ‘worthwhile’ and then it’s more likely to be seen by others.

Use this method carefully.  Your ‘real’ Facebook friends will pretty quickly get annoyed if you’re constantly promoting your business when they’re just trying to chat with your about who’s bringing what to that baby shower.

4. Create an amazing newsletter opt in
You already know that you need an email newsletter, right?   It allows you to reach right into people’s inboxes and connect there, without the hubbub and distraction of the internet. Newsletters help you keep in touch with prospective clients, share important updates about your business, and build trust with your readers and followers.  AND Mark Zuckerberg can’t mess with your subscriber list!

One of the best ways to get newsletter subscribers is to create an irresistible opt-in - a free ebook that they get for signing up, a set of private videos, or access to tools and platforms that will help them.  When you sign up for my small business newsletter, you get my ebook 7 Tricks For A Polished + Impressive + Productive Online Life.  People who sign up for Yes and Yes’s newsletter get three (3!) ebooks: How To Charm Anyone. All The Time. Ever, Be Your Own Style Icon, and 29 Ways To Enjoy Winter.


5. Tell your Facebook people what’s going on
Use that ‘boost post’ option to tell everyone who follows you on Facebook about what’s going on. Let them know other ways they call follow/befriend you (newsletter, RSS feed, other social media platforms) and give them instructions on how to subscribe to your Facebook posts, if they really want to see your updates.  They can do that by hovering over the ‘liked’ button and choosing ‘get notifications’ from the drop down menu.

6. Dive into to a different social media platform
My personal policy for social media (and what I tell my clients) is “choose two, do them well.”  It’s better (and less overwhelming) to do two things well, rather than five things poorly.  If you’re not using them already, you could try out Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Vimeo or Vine.  I’m still sussing things out, but I might dip my toe back into Pinterest.  Or Youtube.

7. Occasionally suck it up and pay to promote
If you’ve spent years developing a following on Facebook, it’s a pity to let all that hard work go to waste and there will definitely be times (like launches) when you want to access everyone you can.  In those moments, just spent $20 so all of your followers (and maybe a few other people) will see your posts.  Track your incoming traffic to see if it was worth it and then lather, rinse, and repeat.

Have the Facebook changes affected you?  How are you working around them?

P.S. Want more super helpful advice like this?  Check out my Clever Sessions!  People love ’em - one client said “Honestly, I learned as much, if not more, in Sarah’s 90 minute Clever Session than I did in a two day blogging workshop that I paid $700 for. ”

photo (without text on top) by Ricky Lai