How to use Strava: A Guide to Basic Strava Set-Up and Strava Premium

 

Strava is the ultimate online social running platform that connects athletes from a variety of sports, most notably running and cycling. Strava is a great way to track your running training, share it with your network, and club (yep, you can join real and virtual clubs), participate in virtual races and challenges and stay connected with your running community. Strava is in app form and also accessible via the website. Strava’s popularity is taking off at present in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it offers athletes a social platform base where they can hold each other accountable, spread camaraderie from afar, and stay motivated. Back in February Strava announced that it has over 1 million new sign-ups every 30 days on this funky blog post where they shared their stats with the community. I personally started using Strava again in February because of these reasons. Many users utilize it to keep track of their training for their coaches to see, and not surprisingly, compare their efforts with other athletes doing the same activity. Competitive humans we are. 

 

How do I set up Strava?

You can sign up to strava.com using a Facebook or Google account, or simply using an email address. I decided to go through the sign-up process again to show you how simple it is to set up an account. Once you’ve selected your medium to create the account from, you’ll be guided to this pop-up:

how to use strava 1

Strava will give you the option to connect your account to Facebook if you wish. The software recognizes any of your friends on Facebook that are already using Strava. Strava will then suggest that you follow your friends on the platform to get your Strava profile and network up and running (pun intended). 

Your Strava page will end up looking a bit like this (I haven’t posted any activities as you’ll see – this is just a test account for this post).

 

how to use strava 3

 

To ‘record your first activity’, you’ll want to connect a GPS running watch to Strava. In the screenshot above, and on your dashboard, you’ll see “Connect Device” in the orange clickable box. Hit that.

 

how to use strava 4

 

The most popular running watch brands that are used with Strava appear to be Garmin and Suunto – both trusted GPS running watch and running technology companies. 

I decided to try connecting my new Strava Dashboard with Garmin, to which I was guided to a Garmin connect page pop-up that looks like this below:

how to use strava 5

 

Sign in to your Garmin account as directed, and you should see this pop-up on your device (see screenshot below):

 

how to use strava 6

 

I recommend switching on both toggles, for the full user-experience on Strava. 

Once your device is connected to Strava, auto-upload will occur between your device app (Suunto or Garmin Connect, if you use either of these watches) – I have and do use both, so these are the platforms I am personally familiar with. 

I’ll now show you my actual account dashboard, including an example of an activity upload. This will demonstrate what stats Strava Free version provides you with (premium is their paid service, as I’ll discuss further below). As an example, I’ll show you my recovery jog and strides stats from this morning which appear on Strava under “My Profile”. This is the main page that correlates all your stats : 

how to use strava 7

 

The bolded text ‘Morning Jog’ and ‘Strides’ is clickable. It will direct you to a comprehensive landing page with even more analytical breakdown. See my screenshot below: 

how to use strava 8

 

I personally enjoy how Strava allows you to interact with their graph feature below the geographical map, by switching the different toggles on and off. If you’re a map lover like myself, it’s pretty neat to see the elevation profile of the route you ran. 

 

Running with Strava Friends 

If you ran with someone else who has Strava and you’re connected on the platform, if they upload their run Strava will connect your activities and show other users that you ran together. See my screenshot below as an example: 

 

how to use strava 9

 

If Strava doesn’t automatically recognize that you ran together, you can always add them in manually. I love looking at my Strava activity upload of a team or club workout and watching all the banter and comments manifest below the activity. 

You can also use the “Strava find friends” feature to find potential connections and invite other athletes to Strava. You can find this feature when you hover over your avatar/logo in the top right-hand corner of your dashboard. The pop-up below will appear: 

 

how to use strava 10

 

What is the best way to use Strava?

 

how to use strava 11

 

Athletes have a variety of reasons for being active users of Strava. For some, it is about staying accountable for their training. For others, it might be about competing with friends, for coaches to track and monitor their athlete’s training program or plan, to discover new routes and trails, or to compete in virtual races. Virtual races are taking off right now, ignited by the recent world events. More and more clubs are posting individual segment challenges with prize incentives. For example, in Boise where I am residing currently, Boise Summit Series release trail segment challenges each week and the prizes are cool, such as a variety tub of locally brewed beer. Boise has a great brewery scene. This is awesome to see, as it builders that community culture in a time where there is a feeling of disconnect, and fosters that much-needed camaraderie and friendly competition at this time. 

You can join clubs easily on Strava – just hit the ‘Explore’ keyword on the top of the screen. See the screenshot below:

 

 

On your “My Profile” page, you’ll see the avatars/logos of all the clubs you are apart of. Like this. I am apart of a large variety of clubs including actual coaching/training clubs I have been apart of, park run groups, brand groups, running store clubs, challenge clubs/virtual run competition clubs, corporate platforms etc:

 

I personally use Strava to track my training each week. In particular, mileage, elevation climbed, (I like to try and hit a certain amount on tougher weeks, to ensure there is variety in my running – no one likes a runner that avoids hills). I also like to look at my pace in routes I have run multiple times to see signs of improvement and analyze paces of my workouts when I wish. Strava is truly handy to see all your stats in one place, and quickly. For example, your goals. You can set mileage/km goals to hit weekly too:

 

You can also average stats (generally not always accurate, don’t count a Strava PR as an actual PR) – only real physical race results are PRs or PBs. A loaded topic, for another time.

 

 

Strava Free v Strava Premium 

 

At the beginning of the sign-up process, you’ll be directed to a pop-up offering a 2 month free trial of Strava premium. See below: 

 

 

 

It is worth doing the free trial (put the date in your calendar in case you don’t want to renew) just to experience the full offering and user experience Strava offers its users. Strava has made some updates very recently to its platform, meaning that you can only compete on segments with other users (and yourself) if you have a premium. 

A segment is a snippet of a route, road, trail, track, etc of a specific distance that has been constructed and labeled on Strava. The great thing about segments is you have a record of all your past efforts on that segment. You may cover multiple segments on one single running route. See the screenshot below for an example of a segment, and a segment leaderboard: 

You can also explore Segments in your area, with Strava’s feature ‘Segment Explore’, under the Explore tab at the top of the dashboard page:

 

 

With Strava premium, you’ll also get access to more analytical resources and therefore more overall data on your dashboard. This includes HR (Heart rate data) and Power Analysis which then allows you to gain an idea of how hard you had to work to produce that particular time, or run that particular session/route at that pace, as an example. 

Strava has also made its Route Discovery and planning features now only available to premium users. Strava suggests routes for you to run or ride, which it determines based on the area you are running and cycling in, combined with the activity uploads of Strava athletes who have done the same activity in that area. See the screenshot below for an example of what the Route creation landing page looks like.

I got to this page via ‘Dashboard’ and “My Routes”:

 

 

For safety, Strava has also included a Beacon feature – if you carry your phone with you when you run or cycle, you can send out a beacon at any time to let your family members know your location and planned route. Great for those runs in unfamiliar areas and on unpredictable terrain, or for the younger and more vulnerable users. 

The Heat Map feature that comes with premium is also pretty cool. You’ll see an interactive map of all the runs and rides you have completed around the world. Nothing super special from an analytical standpoint, but pretty cool aesthetically! 

Luckily, Strava is no more than a good large latte or beer, coming in at just $5/month after your 60-day free trial is up. It is worth sacrificing 1 cup of coffee a month for some of these extra nifty features. Click the link to sign up: https://www.strava.com/subscribe/checkout?package_ids=4%2C5%2C6

Want to join Run Rally –  A Strava club connecting runners locally and internationally? Click here.

 

Being a Student-Athlete in College

student-athlete

Being A Student-Athlete in College

When you think college athlete or student-athlete, the common things that come to mind are becoming part of a college team, NCAA (national collegiate athletic association), high-quality fields of talented individuals, traveling to meets, fast cross country courses, lots of team gear, completing a degree, and moving out of home – potentially even overseas. All these things are a part of the student-athlete experience. I personally chose to come to the US and study at Boise State as a graduate/masters level collegiate athlete. I was offered a sport halfway through my undergraduate degree in Australia, after winning the 2017 U20 National Cross Country Championships. It was fair to say that this race changed my life forever. A bold statement, but sitting here at my computer now and reflecting on my first year living in Idaho, this is an extremely fair conclusion. 

It was difficult to make the decision to move my life overseas aged 21 when I felt comfortable in Australia with my coaching set-up and university team there. However, I felt like I needed to take on a new adventure. I wasn’t quite ready to go into the working world full-time (I tried this for half a year before I left), Sydney is expensive to move out of home in, and a collegiate athletic scholarship would provide me with the luxury of being ‘paid’ in a sense to do what I love, be a part of a team and make new friends, move out of home, live in a foreign country and see new places,  and experience the true long-term independence I had been craving. 

What does it mean to be a student-athlete?

student-athlete 12

If you’re a student-athlete, you are expected to balance your academics, training, and college life – and do it well. I have improved my time management skills immensely, learning to prioritize and time-block (scheduling – I personally love to use Google Calendar) so I can travel to meets stress-free and perform at my best, and have the social life that I desire as a graduate student in a new country. This was a must for me. I am the best athlete I can be when I’m happy, which means a balance of social life, study (I study a master’s of music performance in vocal studies), and training. 

I had some idea of what to expect when I moved to America to study at Boise State as I had been in continual contact with the coaches, asking them numerous questions for over 9 months. I wrote a list every time I thought of a question and would cross them off as I asked them. The coaches were always willing to answer, and answer promptly. 

 

What are the benefits of being a college athlete?

student athlete 9

The support system is one of the biggest benefits. I’ll use my school, Boise State, as an example. The program here has been designed to optimize training and student-athlete health, so you can perform at your best and balance your other life commitments. We have multiple training staff that attends our training sessions, a team sports-performance psychologist, sports nutritionist, and some excellent athletic trainers and athletic training facility. We are allowed to visit the athletic training room 6 times a week if we wish and work with the athletic trainers to address niggles and injury concerns, and recover from training sessions/workouts. Often we go straight after practice, as the center is right near the athletics track. The room is decked out with foam rollers, compression boots, thera-guns, cupping, and dry needling kits, an ice bath, compression ice gear, heat packs, and a small rehab weights and equipment area. 

The Training

The training is slightly different from home, which is to be expected with any new coach and program. We keep with the standard recovery run, 2x workouts a week for the most part (including fartleks, tempo runs, track sessions, grass sessions), a mid-week longer run, a sprint session, and a weekend-long run to finish off the week. The main differences for me were the addition of pre-cross country season altitude training up in the hills and ski resort in the warmer months, the team-based focus including groups for workouts, and a very season centered workout approach (Outdoor, indoor track, and cross country). 

Student athlete 13

Team Focus

There is no denying that team camaraderie and a team-based focus is crucial to student-athlete life. One cross-country season at Boise State was enough to show me the immense importance of working as a team in what is often regarded as an individual sport, and as a result, I have friends and training partners for life, all around the world. In cross country, it is so important that the team finish as high as possible, so we need the whole team to perform at their very best, to place well in meets. To do this, we must work together in race scenarios to optimize the result at the end. It is also important to mention that I love having people to run with all the time. I can choose whether I go solo on some days, but for the most part, it is nice to know that I always have friends up for a jog. 

collegiate athlete

Finances

Yes, we do get a stipend. The university pays us a certain amount each month to cover living expenses such as groceries, rent, phone bills, potential car payments, and entertainment money. This will differ from university to university. 

Travel

Traveling and team camps are also another perk of being a collegiate athlete. In this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit states such as Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Indiana for competition, and explore heaps of Idaho. We also have a team camp once a year, which is a great way to meet new teammates, and have a weekend away in a cool part of Idaho. 

Student-Health Support and Athletic Trainers

I mentioned this earlier in the post, however, it is important to mention it as a massive benefit of being a student-athlete. We have amazing athletic trainers who help us manage niggles and injury, to get us running and healthy again. I also have worked with the sports psychologist and sports nutritionist to optimize my mental toughness and mental skills, and diet to match my energy needs. 

Student-athletes and academics: how do you balance it?

student athlete 5

A good college program will have an Athletic Department Academic Advising facility and resources. At Boise State, we have PRECO, a study area with printers, computers, and group study areas right where the athletic facilities are such as locker rooms, the weight room, and staff offices. For undergraduate students, they are expected to log a certain number of hours studying in the PRECO center – as a graduate student, this is not required, however, I took advantage of this resource to remove myself from the distractions of home. Our team academic advisor is brilliant – she handles inquiries about classes, difficulties with the competition, and class commitment and helped me keep on track with my academics over the past year.

student-athlete 1

The school expects you to get a medium range GPA each semester, to meet the academic eligibility standards so you can compete in collegiate competition. Most student-athletes in the past 2 years have recorded an average of GPA 3.0 or higher. This is definitely achievable. It is truly about time management and making sure you work productively. Some tips I utilize include:

  • Work to your chronotype (early bird or a night owl, maybe you’re a bit of both!) I am an early bird – so I like to start my day with an hour of work, and then train. Or train, then work. 
  • We are more creative when we are tired, as our brains are more easily distracted. That’s why you come up with cool ideas right before you fall asleep. Keep a journal beside your bed to jot down anything you need, so you don’t forget
  • Eat the frog first – do your least favorite piece of work first thing. This way you’ll ease into the day better, and recover better from training by facilitating a less stressful environment in the evening. 
  • Make your to-do list visible. I pin mine up on the wall at the beginning of the day and have a sticky note open on my desktop. 
  • Make sure your workspace is neat and free of distractions. Maybe put the phone in a drawer on silent for a couple of hours?
  • Download f.lux for technology screen lightning that suits the time of day you are working. 

 

Can NCAA Athletes have jobs?

collegiate-athlete 8

If you are an American citizen, you can have a job anywhere in the city or on campus, and work the number of hours that suit you and fit in with your training load, academics, and social life. You just have to submit a form to the student-athlete compliance office to let them know you have a job and the details. There are rules set by the NCAA that you must meet to ensure you retain student-athlete eligibility. For example:

 

  • You can’t use your name, image or likeness to make money at current. However, there is debate and talk of change around this rule in the near future
  • You must be paid the going rate for the job you are doing
  • You must be hired under the intention that you are the right fit for the job, and not simply because you are a student-athlete.

 

If you are coming to the US from another country, the rules are slightly different. My F1 student visa allows me to work up to 15 hours at an on-campus job. It is more limiting in options than for a US Citizen, in this sense. The jobs are well-advertised and not too tricky to apply for. We use a platform called ‘Handshake’ and have careers advising center which was helpful for me when looking for an on-campus position last semester.

Any student-athlete can apply for internships if they are approved or organized by the athletics department. I know plenty of athletes that take advantage of this opportunity during the long summer break.

Fun facts about college athletes:

student-athlete 15

  • When we travel, especially for track meets, in our free time we can often explore the city we are staying in. For example, when we traveled to Seattle we could explore some of the city in the evening if we wished
  • When recruits come to visit, often we will throw team events and dinners to introduce them to the team, the team culture, and show them around Boise. It’s super fun to be a tourist in your own city for a little bit. I’ve eaten at some nice places and met some lovely potential teammates by being involved in the recruiting process. I personally made an official visit to BSU before deciding to commit to the program. 
  • You can choose whether you live on or off-campus. I live off-campus and like this option, as I can separate school life from personal life more effectively 
  • We do get awesome new shoes often from our team sponsor Nike. We are very lucky to receive this support. It’s like Christmas every time we get a gear drop! 

 

College Student-athlete

  • Yes, we do have a social life. Boise has a great down-town. I love to go dancing when it fits in with competition and training, it has great Italian, Mexican, Japanese (yes, including poke bars), Vietnamese, Thai food, and there’s even Himalayan which I recently discovered. It has a nice bar scene, including cocktail bars, distilleries, and wine tasting cellars. I’m over 21 now, so it is silly to deny that this isn’t a small part of my student life here. I’m an avid post-long-run beer fan. Shout out to Boise Brewing Company. 

How to Start A Running Blog

start a running blog 1

The Set-up basics: Laying down the foundations

The Essential Questions 

It is important to establish a clear purpose/s and goal/s for your website or blog. This will guide your focus when creating the platform and content, and allow for smoother decision making as you follow the construction process. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • What are your short and long term goals with this website?
  • Why are you establishing this platform of communication to the world? 

I recommend writing these down in a notebook that you dedicate to jotting down anything to do with your blog, small business website (whatever your purpose!). These can be anything from ideas for your next blog post, random late-night to-do thoughts, or miscellaneous stream of consciousness writing. Whatever, get creative. 

 

Trello.com

This nifty ‘to-do list’ style website will help you keep track of what you need to do, what you’re working on, and what you’ve finished: https://trello.com/. The great thing about it is you can add multiple users who can also adjust the list, and see what you’re doing. Everyone’s on the same page!

 

Establish a domain 

This is your URL to your website. In other words, your web address (like a home address). It is easy to get confused and assume this is your ‘website’. The website is the product that is created once a ‘host’ server is established (the house). URLs were created to get around the issue of IP addresses, which is an identification number that computers use to communicate with each other. These numbers are difficult to remember, so personalized URL creation was established to make this much easier. 

Before you purchase a domain, you need to make sure to check if the name is available. The links inserted below will lead you to the domain purchase sites where you can also search URL name availability. Choosing a ‘.com’ URL is best in most cases, as it is easy to remember and the most widely used URL style.

start a running blog 2I also recommend choosing HTTPS secured links, as these sites are more trusted by Google, and therefore rank better.

 

If you’re running a business from this site, clients are more likely to feel safer purchasing off an HTTPS secure site. See the links below are, ‘https’ before the ‘www.’ This is what I am referring to:

I highly recommend WordPress. Statistics show that it “powers over 30% of the entire internet”, (for an interesting read see: Venturebeat.com). WordPress is great because of its variety of options, versatility, and user-friendliness. 

 

Popular domain establishment sites + cost breakdown:
  • Namecheap 
    • Around $8.88 a year for a ‘.com’ link. This is a very simple, cheap option and seems to work well. Unlike Wix, discussed below, it is just for the purpose of establishing a domain. 

 

  • Wix
    • Wix is slightly different, as it allows you to purchase a domain, web hosting and website building software all in the same package. You can choose this option which consolidates the number of websites and platforms you use to help create your own website. However, I have found that using a specific website link ‘Namecheap’ to purchase a domain, a separate hosting server like ‘host-gator’ and a specific website builder like ‘WordPress’ just as effective. If not more! 
    • Wix has multiple different plans, which it advertises as ‘per month cost’. Select the one that best suits your needs (referring back to the purpose of the site in section 1 of this post). From a personal standpoint, I’d recommend the ‘Unlimited’ plan, as it has lots of options. The simple ‘Connect Domain’ plan is very limited and can be frustrating in this sense. 

 

  • Godaddy – https://www.godaddy.com/domains/domain-name-search?isc=gofd2001aj
    • Similar to Namecheap, you can purchase domains quite cheaply on Godaddy. I tested out a domain I’m interested in which ends in ‘.com’. It offered me $0.99 for the first year, and around $17.99-19.99 every year after that. However, if you buy multiple years in one package, it is often more economical. 

 

You’ll need a hosting server 

Websites need to be stored on a server, as we mentioned above. This is essentially ‘the house’ to your address (URL). A web hosting service provides the user with the services required for the website to be viewed on the internet. For example, when you search for a website in a browser, the browser connects you to the server and the web page is then delivered to you through the browser. So, a browser is just a gateway between the server and your web page. 

I like to use Hostgator. It is cheap, links with WordPress (a great site builder) and has awesome customer service. 

  • Host Gator – www.hostgator.com  
    • Host gator has 3 plans, as shown in the link above. I recommend a Hatchling Plan if you are just starting out, and only planning on establishing 1 domain. This is $2.75/month. However, if you plan on owning multiple domains in the future, the Baby or Business plan would suit your needs better. 
Install self-hosted WordPress via QuickInstall
  1. Log in to your cPanel on www.hostgator.com (the server hosting site discussed above)
  2. Hit the menu page labeled Software, and then click ‘QuickInstall’
  3. Under ‘Website Essentials’, hit ‘One-Click Installs’
  4. Then select the WordPress icon on the next page. 
  5. Select which domain you’d like to have WordPress installed in to. 
  6. Complete the form that will appear
  7. Congratulations, you just need to check your emails for your WordPress login credentials and a link to your WordPress admin page, and you can begin building from there!

For a more comprehensive explanation, visit this website: 

https://www.hostgator.com/help/article/how-to-install-wordpress

Designing your website

 

It’s highly recommend that you use WordPress. Statistics show that it “powers over 30% of the entire internet”, (for an interesting read see: https://venturebeat.com/2018/03/05/wordpress-now-powers-30-of-websites/). WordPress is great because of its variety of options, versatility, and user-friendliness. 

start a running blog 3

 

Getting started with WordPress 

To begin, pick a minimalist theme/suited to the aims of your website. Why minimalist? It draws attention to what is important in your website, which is the content. 

    • Under the ‘appearance’ menu hit ‘themes’
    • Selecting one of these themes establishes how your website will look to the audience. Different themes allow for different customization options and enhance certain features. For blogs, we generally recommend something that is simple: it draws the readers attention to your post, not clogged up side content. 
  • Pick a font, generally speaking, one with the word ‘Sans’ in it works best
    • You could use ‘Open Sans’ font 
    • To choose from a variety of fonts, visit https://fonts.google.com/. Here you can download fonts in a zip file, and use them in wordpress when writing content. 
  • Set up your pages → under ‘pages’ menu in WordPress
    • Homepage (seen by the audience)
    • Content/posts page (seen)
    • Contact (seen)
    • Find us online (hidden, this is purely for link building) 
    • Brand Guidelines
      • (hidden, this is where you record the details of your site building you might forget, such as your chosen font, color palette codes, etc)

start a running blog 5

Widgets 
  • (WordPress admin → Appearance → Widgets)
  • Widgets are small blocks that have particular functions that you can add to your website. It affects the design and aesthetic layout of your site.
  • Some of the key widgets I have chosen to use are:
    • Archives (monthly archive of site’s posts)
    • Navigation Menu (to display different pages on your site)
    • Recent Comments (displaying comments on your posts)
    • Recent Posts (most recent posts)

 

Plugins

Plugins are how we add extra features to a website. They enhance the user experience of the website. Some of these will run in the background, whilst others are interactive and customizable. This is a good order to install the basic plugins to begin with, for ease of use:

  • Classic editor → enables the WordPress classic editor, old-style edit post screen. Supports older plugins
  • Really Simple SSL → SSL(Secure Sockets Layer), ensures the security of your website
  • Yoast SEO → an SEO solution for WordPress. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and works effectively with the Google algorithms.This runs in the background and enhances your site. Some of the features include:
    • Keyword and synonym optimization
    • Readability analysis → reading-ease score 
    • Image optimization → helps you rank images 
  • Insert headers and footers → to insert code or text into the header and footer of your website pages, for softwares to track and gather data, such as Google Analytics
  • Popup Maker → create popups, easily edit their theme, design, size. You name it!

 

Gravity Forms Plugin

Sadly the Gravity forms software does have a cost to install and utilize as a feature, but it is well worth it, and a small investment for long term gain. This feature costs $59 and can be added directly to WordPress via the plugin installation. – https://www.gravityforms.com. It allows you to:

  • Easily create web forms and manage form entries within the WordPress admin. This is important if you want to establish a Newsletter or Contact Us page, which is highly recommended for any website type. 
  • Install the Gravity Forms Plugin, hit activate, and enter the support license key you received upon downloading the software via the Gravity Forms website. 

 

Your Analytical Toolbox (how we gather data to enhance your website)

 

This section will teach you how to set up the essential software you need to gather data and analytics, optimize your experience as a website owner, and better the audience’s experience of your platform. This covers what you should begin with, and what you should set up soon after you’ve got the hang of things. 

 

start a running blog 14

Keywords Everywhere chrome extension

https://keywordseverywhere.com/

When I mention ‘Keywords’, this is what I am referring to. Keywordseverywhere is a browser add-on (or extension) that has a free or premium version. The premium version after a few months of establishing and getting the hang of your website is optimal. For now, install the free version. Here you will be able to see the related keywords to your google searches, and what other people are searching related to those keywords. 

The premium version is fantastic, as you can see “monthly search volume, cost per click and competition data for keywords on multiple websites like Google Analytics, Google Search Console etc.”

It’s a good idea to target your blog posts and content around keywords which are not overly used and could rank well on Google with some smart post writing, promotion on various social media and link building methods.

 

Set-up Google Search Console  

The Google Search Console (GSC) will be one of your foundational go-to tools for reports on analytics regarding the performance of your organic-search traffic in google. GSC assists in establishing that your site exists with Google. It makes your site searchable and builds trust with Google. 

It also provides you with valuable analytics for your website. For example, the number of times your site links have been clicked via a google search engine result (known as an impression, which will discuss a bit later). It also reports on:

 

  • Post-click data regarding engagement with the content in your site such as:
    • E-commerce conversion rates
    • Performance of an individual blog post (via the posts unique link)
    • Bounce rate (the number of people who visit a website and navigate away after only viewing a single page)

 

Steps:

  1. Install Search Console: https://search.google.com/
  2. Add your website and verify it with Search Console. To do this, select the ‘property dropdown in Search Console’. Next, hit ‘+ Add Property’ on the dropdown. Add the property under the specific category. 
  3. You’ll be asked to verify the domain or URL’s added to the Console. You can verify it immediately or do this later. 
  4. Once you verify, it is important to enable GSC data sharing → click ‘Admin’ and then ‘property in which you want to enable Search Console data sharing’.
  5. Hit ‘Property’, then ‘Property Settings’. Scroll down to Search Console Settings, and you should see the URL/s that you have added. This confirms that your website has been verified in GSC and you now have permission to make changes.  
  6. Select the ‘Reporting view’ for the URL you want to see the GSC data.

Note: GSC keeps data for at least 16 months.

Set-up Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to collect simple data about your website. 

Steps:

  1. Install Google Analytics and create an account: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/
  2. Set up a property (your website) in your Analytics account. To do this, hit ‘Admin’, then hit the ‘Account’ column. Select the account to which you want to add the website/URL. 
  3. In the ‘Property’ column, click ‘+Create Property’ → hit ‘Web’, and enter a name for the property 
  4. Enter the website URL, and make sure to select the protocol (this should be ‘https’ which we looked at earlier in the post). Also, enter the simple domain name eg. www.website.com
  5. Select your industry category, and reporting time zone.
  6. Hit ‘Create’, and accept the terms of service. Then hit ‘Finish’.

 

Next, we have to ‘Add a new view’ for the property (your website). 

  1. Sign in, hit ‘Admin’ and then select the page titled ‘account and property to which you want to add the view’.
  2. Under the ‘View’ column, click the menu, then hit ‘+Create View’
  3. Hit ‘Website view’ for the online copy of analytics, or ‘Mobile app’ for a mobile analytics view. They are slightly different from an analytical standpoint. 
  4. Enter a Name for the data, select your time zone.
  5. Hit ‘Create View’. 

 

Note: if your analytics account is going to be linked to a Google Ads account, data from Google Ads will be automatically imported to any ‘New View’ you create in Analytics. 

Learn and become familiar with the meanings of the data segments in Google Analytics. Visit: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3123951 

 

Find your Google Analytics ID to add a tracking code to your website
  1. Sign in to your Analytics account
  2. Hit Admin, then select your desired account from ‘Account’ column 
  3. Select a ‘Property’ (your website) from the ‘Property’ column
  4. Under Property, click tracking info → tracking code. The ‘Tracking ID’ will be displayed at the top of the page. 

Now that you have your ID, you’ll want to add it to your site. I recommend installing the ‘Headers and Footers’ Plugin to your site, so you can copy and paste this information onto your pages. See the screenshot below from https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008080

start a running blog 6

Tip: Be sure to install the Google Analytics App, so you can gather data from your device! Global Site Tags allow for on-demand data tracking via google analytics for each page of your website. 

 

The Google Marketing Platform 

It’ll be useful to make an account on the Google Marketing platform to manage your Google Ads accounts and to install these other software products for your website. Similarly, you’ll have to paste a bit of code like the one above into the header or footer of your website pages you wish to have the software chosen active on. 

I recommend installing:

  • Google Optimize → this allows you to create the best possible version of your website, in an everchanging online environment and the outside world. For example, you can create variants of your webpage and content (or experiments) and test them against other variables to see how they would perform before your release the content. 
  • Google Tag Manager → Free tag management. This allows you to manage and utilize marketing tags (code snippets) on your website. From there, you can track multiple features of your website such as conversions and analytics. 
  • Data studio (data reporting)→ to generate data reports of analytics to make smarter business decisions

https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/

 

Writing your first blog post

 

 

Keyword Targeted Post Writing
  • Use it as a means to write about what you actually want to write about
    • Answer the question, and segue into the similar topic….
  • Remember, posts with more writing content generally do better overall! At least 1000 words is key. 

 

Always begin with a photo that is relatable to the audience and post

 

start a running blog 7

 

  • Humans love visual content, our brains respond to it easily. Draw your audience in with a lovely, high-quality photo before your first paragraph of text begins.
    • Of course, this should relate to the content discussed, and if possible, include a human body part in it. Why? Our brains are hardwired to respond to visuals first, it is our first true connection to the outside world when we are born. As a baby, we’d seek out faces we recognize, and associate them with comfort (subconsciously). Further, visual input sparks emotion. Emotion is key to igniting a response from the potential audience. 
    • Label the image description and title the keyword of your post. For example, if you are writing about ‘5K Meal Plan’, the first image would be called ‘5K meal plan 1’, and so on. 
    • Trickle images throughout the post. I’d say around 2 for a post around 1000 words. 

Getting your website out there

 

start a running blog 15

 

We like to take a multi-faceted approach, which means to expose the content of the website to many different marketing platforms. Think visual content sites like Pinterest, interactive blog platforms such as Tumblr, popular forums platforms like Quora, and the usual suspects Instagram and Facebook. Here, we engage with users who are interested in the content you are writing about, or products you are selling. The multi-faceted approach establishes the foundations to achieve the best possible number of impressions for your content (the number of people who are exposed to your content, whether they choose to engage with it or not). Likely, some of these users will engage with your post (your ‘Reach’). This is your audience, from whom we gather data to further refine the marketing and exposure process.

Sound complicated? It’ll get easier as we go. Trust me! 

Link Building 

Link building involves answering questions regarding your topic and specifically, the keyword/s of your post on popular forums (like Quora). For example, I searched for people asking questions surrounding ‘Best 5K running shoes’ on Google. I answered questions in a popular running forum called ‘Let’s Run’, ensuring I added my link to the bottom of the post, directing the readers to my website. With Quora, it is the exact same process. I highly recommend reading these great in-depth articles surrounding Quora Back-Links and Types of Backlinks to build your knowledge in this area. It is a really effective way to build the popularity of your website and, eventually, make the front page of Google search results. 

 

Types of Backlinks: Backlink Matrix and Backlink Portfolio

https://codyschneider.com/types-of-backlinks/

 

How to Build Quora Backlinks That Get Indexed

https://codyschneider.com/quora-backlinks/

A quick tip with Quora, be careful of posting your link too many times, as Quora admin may remove your posts. Just answer a few specific questions targeted to your keyword in focus. 

 

Pinterest

To begin, create an account on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.

Canva → https://www.canva.com/.

      • This is where you create your pins for Pinterest. 
      • Keep it simple and neat, with a key image (the one you used on your post). 
      • For example, I used a simple theme, and selected my color from my color scheme on Coolors.co. See below

Coolors.co

Color palette selection platform → establishes your websites color scheme. Record the codes (for example, #F303BA) somewhere same, such as your Brand Guidelines page you have/will create (WordPress admin → pages) 

Here’s my example:

 

start a running blog 8

 

  • Head Back to Pinterest. 
    • Hit your user icon and the ‘+’ to ‘Create Pin’. Add the pin image you created on Canva. In the description add the keywords associated with your post.
    • Remember to include your URL link to your post. 
    • Congratulations, you’ve created your first blog post associated pin. 

 

start a running blog 9

Tumblr 

Tumblr is a cross between a social networking site and a blog. Creating a Tumblr account will be purely for the purpose of increasing exposure of your website on the internet to a greater audience. You can copy the individual links of your posts to your ‘Find me online’ page on WordPress, and then index them (see Link Building). 

To begin, create an account on https://www.tumblr.com/. Just like we did on WordPress, select a theme, a font, and post your content from WordPress on Tumblr as well. We should treat it like a system. What goes up on WordPress as a content post, should also be made into a pin on Pinterest, a Text AND link post on Tumblr, and so on. Always remember to utilize the keywords of your post, and link back to your site. On your dashboard you’ll have these options available to create targeted posts:

start a running blog 10

 

Facebook ads/Instagram ads 

Running facebook ads is an essential part of advertising a business or product. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Facebook users in the U.S log into Facebook on a daily basis. From this statistic we can conclude that there is large market exposure potential on this platform. The great thing about Facebook ads is it is extremely easy to ‘target’ the users you want to market to, and it runs your ads on Instagram as well. 

 

The targeting features facebook offers are: 

  • Audience targeting, with customizable features 
  • Location
  • Gender

start a running blog 11

 

  • Interests → keywords can be used here! 
  • People with connections to your app, page or event
  • Language
  • Behaviours → people who have visited your website or interacted with your content

 

You also need to select your budget and duration of the promotion. 

Next, you’ll be guided to design the look of your ad, with the features shown in the screenshot below available to you.

start a running blog 11

 

Facebook ad budget

It’s a great idea to create a budget spreadsheet on google sheets to manage your costs for 12 months. Pick a budget that you can sustain for 12 months, and work with this.

Here is a template for $150 a month to get your started. This is quite a low budget if you are wanting to monetize the blog or small business website in any form. However, we have to start somewhere! This template is customizable to your needs. 

Facebook Ads Spreadsheet

Your Newsletter – Connecting with your audience

 

Mailchimp

www.mailchimp.com

Mailchimp allows you to create newsletters, ads, landing pages, and CRM tools. 

  • You can create your first Newsletter on Mailchimp about your blog post, and target subscribers who register via a popup form they receive when they visit your website.
  • Below will show you how to create a popup and link subscribers from your WordPress site to Mailchimp. 

 

Zapier → Connecting Gravity Forms, WordPress and Mailchimp 

Create an account on www.zapier.com, the workflow management website now, to make your life easier later. 

Once you’ve made an account, create your first Zap. 

  1. Choose Gravity forms under ‘App’
  2. The ‘trigger event’ should be ‘New Form Submission’

 

start a running blog 12

3. Next, in section 2. Select Mailchimp, and under ‘Choose Action Event’, select ‘Add/Update subscriber’. See below:

start a running blog 13

 

4. Congratulations! You’ve created your first Zap, and now your newsletter subscriber form submissions from your website will be directly linked to Mailchimp. 

5. Head over to WordPress and add a new Plugin. It is called the Gravity Forms Zapier add-on → for the smooth integration of Gravity forms and Zapier, so your newsletter list subscribers are automatically sent to your configured zaps!

6. Under the forms tab in your WordPress Admin menu, hit forms, and select the ‘Newsletter’ form you have created.

7. Under Settings on the ‘Newsletter’ form editing page, you’ll see a new column labeled ‘Zapier’. This confirms the connection is established.

Let me know if you start the process of creating your own website! I’d love to hear about it. Still got questions? Comment below or you can visit the ‘Contact’ page above.