Looking for Something?
Browsing Category

Tips & Tricks

The Confusion Lingers with WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Author:

A few months back I was at a day-long conference for realtors and dropped in on a beginning WordPress session. The focus was on starting up a blog and the questions were pretty typical. As often happens, some of the same questions cropped up. One was, what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

As the speaker began to explain it, I saw some puzzled faces. People were clearly confused, especially three beginning bloggers.

Then, about a week ago, a start-up blogger sent me an email. She was totally confused. Someone had told her that it “was better to use .org,” but didn’t tell her what that meant. Of course, she thought he was talking about .org on the end of her domain name (as opposed to .com). So she ended up buying the .org extension. When I asked her why, she said, “He told me I should be using .org instead, and that’s all he said.”

Now I will admit I have used that same line for a long time. All of us WordPress peeps do. But several months ago, I realized that it’s confusing to new bloggers, when we describe it as “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.”

So, I took it upon myself to change it. Now I explain it as:

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org a self-hosted WordPress blog

This explanation makes much more sense. WordPress.com is a platform that allows you to build your blog for free. Your site then resides on WordPress.com.

If you go for a self-hosted blog, you are taking the free software from WordPress.org (that is the only time I mention .org, as the WordPress site where you get the software) and install it on your own hosting service, such as Bluehost, Hostgator, or God forbid, GoDaddy. And, of course, you pay a small monthly fee to whichever hosting service you choose.

There are major differences, of course, in what you can do with a free WordPress.com blog and a self-hosted one. These can all be sorted out and you can decide for yourself which is best. After, that is, you understand that going the WordPress.org route does not mean that your blog will be on the WordPress.org site.

Just like all the themes, plugins and widgets there, you are simply grabbing and putting them on your own self-hosted site. I actually heard from a colleague who had discussed moving her blog to WordPress with her current webmaster. And he insisted that her site would sit on WordPress.org. Yikes!

So let’s settle this confusion once and for all, and tell it like it is. Got it?

The 7 Biggest Lies About Blogging

Author:

Lately I’m seeing a new trend in blogging. It’s not necessarily disturbing, but it’s definitely interesting.

Just when we think we are starting to figure out this whole blogging thing, people come in and change all the rules. Particularly, it seems, the tried and true ones. An epidemic of bloggers telling us we’ve been doing it all wrong.

Why is this happening?

We could believe that these “thought leaders”  have been inspired by a meditation-induced a-ha moment. And now, they suddenly realize the error of their ways.

Or, here’s another take. Maybe some of these bloggers have decided that they must be contrary, go against conventional wisdom—even be sensational—in order to be heard above all the noise. It’s how they stir up conversation and attract more readers: disagreeing for the sheer sake of being different.

 

My 7 Untruths About Blogging

Whether the bloggers are giving bad advice to shake up the status quo and get noticed, or they really believe what they are preaching, bad advice can confuse both the beginners and the more experienced. Because bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, with different goals and needs, and making blanket statements can be dangerous. So, here they are, my seven untruths about blogging.

1. Every business needs a blog.

Well, no, not necessarily. There are just too many variables to consider. A blog is just one of many marketing tools at our disposal. And making sure we are using the right tools, the ones that fit our business, is key. So if your social media coach has dropped a blog into your new plan for growing your business, and the thought of it makes you nauseous, you might want to map out the pro’s and con’s before deciding.

2. Blogging is easy.

It’s all over in our culture: the ‘quick and easy’ thing. And who wouldn’t want to try something if we are promised that it’s easy.  Some say, just create a simple blog, and start writing. It’s easy, don’t worry about it, just do it. Anyone who has started blogging knows there is a little more to it than that.

It can be mastered, with some effort. What’s wrong with saying that?  Chances are if you are reading this and you are a blogger, you know damn well that it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s well worth it in the end.

3. Write for yourself and your readers will show up.

This topic comes up in my workshops all the time. Writing about what interests us makes blogging more fun. And yes, you may be passionate about red wines or old black and white films, but in the end, who do you want to please, your readers or yourself?

Nowhere, in any other form of communication but blogging, would someone be advised to forget about their audience. Writing about the things our readers are interested in, the things they want to know, is a way to build our community. Why would we not want to do that, especially if we are marketing our business with our blog?

In the end, it’s your readers you want to please, not yourself. If you do this, they will come. And, most important of all, they will stay.

4. Long posts are the kiss of death.

This is another piece of advice floating around out there. But if you have something to say, say it.  If you google how long a post should be, you will find tons of different advice. Again, this boils down to what you are writing about, what you have to say, and whether you can keep the reader engaged. Don’t destroy what could have been an amazing post by being a compulsive word counter.

5. Consistency doesn’t matter; post whenever the mood strikes you.

I’m seeing this advice crop up more and more. We want to believe it because it takes the pressure off. We don’t have to have a schedule anymore. We can post whenever a new topic lands in our brains.

But, for the sake of Google (who gets trained to look for fresh stuff from you at certain times) and for your readers, who might actually look forward to Tuesdays because they can expect another engaging, thought-provoking post from you, you might still want to aim for a regular posting schedule.

6. You must be on fire with passion every time you sit down to write a blog post.

Passion is highly overrated. If I waited for it, I wouldn’t get a lot of blogging done. The novelist Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Yes, we should be passionate about our topics. Because if we are not interested, how can we expect our readers to be? But the notion that we must be shaking with excitement every time we sit down to blog is a surefire way to burn out.

Let’s get real here, folks. Passion is a good thing, but showing up at the computer and writing regularly, whether we feel like it or not will take us much, much further. And sometimes being passionate can merely be writing about the things we care about.

7. Your blog does not need to be interesting and engaging.

This is another new one I saw just this week. After I got beyond the provocative title, the point was that it’s more important to be helpful than interesting. But the fact is, there are millions and millions of “helpful” blogs out there. And it is very hard to get noticed and read—unless you are also interesting.

Interesting still matters because it is how we both attract readers and keep them. It is the extra ingredient, the secret sauce, that adds a new dimension to our blogs. And we become interesting by giving our readers fresh takes on topics that have been done to death. By telling engaging stories. By letting our voice and personality shine through.

How about you?  Have you run across advice lately that went against everything you have found to be true in your blogging?

 

Seven WordPress Hacks for Bloggers

Author:

There are tons of awesome blogging platforms to consider, but WordPress is definitely one of the most popular content management systems out there – and with good reason. It’s easy to use and easy to customize, even if you’re a beginner.

But as you begin to use it more and more, you start learning little tricks. I’ve stumbled upon some fantastic time-savers that make me almost want to scream, “WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS SOONER?!?!”

So I’m going to tell you these things, and I apologize for not telling you sooner! Experiences users, hopefully you still find a gem or two in here, and please leave your own favorite hack with a comment below!

1. Expand to Fullscreen for Easier Typing

Let’s start out with a simple tip, but one I didn’t realize was an option until well into my blogging career. It can be annoying to type a post in such a small box. First and foremost, if you scroll to the bottom of the left-hand sidebar when signed into your blog and editing a post, you’ll see “collapse menu.” Click on this text to get rid of that sidebar (don’t worry – you can easily get it back). It’s instantly a little more space. But an even better option is WordPress’ Fullscreen Mode.

There are actually two fullscreen modes. If you click the button that looks like a, square with arrows pointing at the corners (see picture), you’ll get a full screen mode with limited button options for easy, quick typing. If you press Alt+Shift+G you’ll get a version with the full bar of buttons for easier formatting. Both are great, especially if you’re working with a lot of pictures or block quotes.

2. Use Windows Live Writer for Formatting

How your final post looks will depend on the WordPress theme you’re using. You can continuously preview using WordPress itself, but that can be a little tedious, especially if you’re working with pictures and trying to get things to line up just right. Instead, download a desktop client to make formatting easy. I use Windows Live Writer (Mac fans, help me out with a comparable version?), which I like because I can sync it with all the blogs I have. As long as you keep it updated, you can use the WYSIWYG editor to add posts and see what they’ll look like on your blog when published. Adding pictures and videos is super easy.

Sometimes, you have to do some major updates that will cause you blog to look crummy for a few hours. Rather than scaring users away, download and install a plugin like Maintenance Mode and your readers will get a simple message that you’re working on your blog at the moment. I like this plugin specifically because you can even choose to include a countdown clock that will tell users when you get back. No coding knowledge necessary!

There are other maintenance mode plugins out there; this is just the one I like to use on my personal blog. Of course, you can also manually point code your site to give users a maintenance message, but who has the time/knowledge/ambition to do that? This makes it super easy!

4. Use Zemanta for Easy Linking

Finding links can take time, but it makes your posts more valuable to readers. For example, in the previous tip, I linked to the plugin page so you could easily find it. Otherwise, you would have probably had to search for it, and there would be no guarantee that you’d find the plugin I was talking about. Zemanta totally takes the hassle out of linking. This plugin gives you a list of potential in-text links you can add, which updates as you type. In addition, it gives you a list of related articles based on your post, which you can update as you type. You just link on their recommendations to add links as you see fit. Super easy! You can even choose to create a profile and tell Zemanta the blogs you like most so it will draw links from those sites when possible.

5. Prevent Images from Being Too Wide

If you’re working with images, it can sometimes be annoying to remember the max width they can be to fit on your blog. I have a lot of trouble with this one since I blog on multiple sites, all using different themes. If your image is too wide, it will either cut off or overlap onto your sidebar, depending on the them you’re using. Both look pretty bad.

It’s an easy fix. I learned this one from WPHacks. You have to go into the code, but don’t be scared! It’s easy; I promise! Under “appearance” on the left-hand dashboard sidebar, you want to click on editor and find your theme’s .css file (probably the one that comes up by default. Then, just follow the instructions here to add a snippet of code. That’s it! If you can handle copy/pasting, you can do this one. Once you change the max to fit whatever your theme’s max width is, you won’t have to deal with cut off or overlapping pictures ever again.

6. Install the Editorial Calendar Plugin

Recently, we added this plugin here on the BlogWorld blog and it has been a total game-changer for me! I like to stay organized and am a very visual person. The editorial calendar plugin gives me a way to see when posts are being updated, and for a multi-author blog, it allows you to understand when others are planning to publish so you can strategically plan out your content schedule. I also like that you can jot down ideas quickly using the calendar when you have a post idea, and the visual nature makes it easy to see where you’re faltering: Are you uploading too many posts about a specific topic? Are you updating enough? Is your content always bunched instead of spread out? You can also use the calendar to schedule your content easily. Love it.

7. Split Long Posts

Depending on your theme, long posts may or may not look good on your homepage. You can use the “more” tag to split the post after a few teaser paragraphs. It’s the little split button beside the link buttons on your tool bar (see picture) or you can just hit Alt+Shift+T.

By default, this will create a link that says “Continue Reading” or “Read More” or something of that sort, depending on the theme you use. Want to change the text? It’s pretty easy. It requires you to go into your code again, but don’t be scared! Under Appearance on your sidebar, click on editor and then find the index.php file (Main Index Template). Search for:

<?php the_content(‘Read more …’); ?>

If your blog by default has different text, the theme editors already changed it, so that’s what you should search for. In other words, if when you split the text and publish the post, it says on your site, “Click here for more…” you should search for:

<?php the_content(‘Click here for more…’); ?>

Search for whatever that text might be. Then, once you find that line in the code, you can change the text to read whatever you want.

It’s a great way to get more page views out of a single long post.

So there you have it, seven of my favorite WordPress hacks for bloggers. Now it’s your turn to tell us your favorite hacks and tips with a comment below!

How to Lose a Reader in Ten Seconds

Author:

I’ll admit it. I can be a completely girl-girl sometimes. I like dressing up and doing my hair. I like a good shopping trip, especially if shoes or purses are involved. And yes, I like the occasional chick flick. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of my favorites.

In the movie, the main character writes for a women’s magazine decides to write an article about everything women do wrong when trying to snag a boyfriend. Of course, hilarity ensues when she puts her theories to the test and tries to drive a new guy away (who has unbeknownst to her recently made a bet that he can make a relationship work).

Sometimes, I feel like we’re all like the women in the movie – we’re actively trying to drive readers away. Forget ten days…if you’re not careful, you will lose readers in ten seconds.

Goodbye, readers...

We’ve been talking a lot about bounce rate here at BlogWorld recently, including compiling a list of links about bounce rate. One of the points several bloggers have made is that bounce rate is more significant if readers are only staying on the site for a few seconds (as opposed to remaining on your site for several minutes, taking the time to read a post). So what are you doing wrong? Well, I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but here are a few things that will make me leave a blog in under ten seconds:

  • Being smacked across the face with a pop-up

The great pop-up debate will likely rage on for decades to come. I’m currently not using them on my site, but I do understand why some people do. Whether you use pop-ups or not isn’t the point though – it’s about how you use them, if you make that choice.

If you smack me with a pop-up two seconds after arriving on your site, I’m probably going to click the back button pretty quickly. It definitely makes me trust your content less, since it seems like you’re just trying to sell me something, so even if I do get through the pop-up, I might click the back button pretty quickly unless your content is amazing. If you’re going to use pop-ups give me some time to like your blog first. Time your pop-ups well!

  • Content that doesn’t match the promise

Your regular readers aren’t going anywhere. They already love you. But to convince new readers to stay, you have to have great content. This goes beyond simply writing valuable content. You have to right valuable content that people want.

If I’m new to your blog, I’ve probably arrived there one of two ways – through a link or through a search engine. I click a link when the title looks interesting, and I visit via a search engine when your content looks like it might match with what I want to know. If I get to your blog and the content doesn’t meet my expectations, I’m going to leave. So:

  1. Make sure your content delivers on what your headline promises. Link bait is fine, but the content has to actually be good if you want people to stay on your site. (More on that here.)
  2. Look at the search terms people are using to find your blog. Are your posts actually covering the most popular terms or are some of your posts accidentally optimized for random keywords? (A good example: I once wrote a post called The Blog Sneetches, and sometimes people arrive at that post using the search term “sneetches” – which is probably not what they want!)

When I’m looking for specific information and I don’t get it, I’m going to leave pretty quickly.

  • You regurgitate content I’ve already read.

It’s important to write posts that are helpful for beginners in your niche, but if you’re basically rewriting what’s already been said, an reader with experience in your niche is going to leave pretty quickly. Personally, I think the best way to solve this problem is make sure you have some posts specifically for newbies (and named as such, like the beginner’s guide to bloggers basics I wrote) and some posts that answer specific questions (again, clearly titled), but then also write posts that are filled with original opinions, thoughts on news stories in your industry, personal experiences, and other things that your readers can’t find at any other site. The more original you are, the better.

I think a lot of the other things that make me leave quickly are more personal preferences than anything else. For example, I don’t like to see posts written by “admin.” What about you – what will make you leave a site quickly?

Smart Sidebar Strategies: How to Optimize Your Blog’s ‘Boardwalk’

Author:

If you have looked at lots of blogs, you have probably noticed something. Very few of them use the full page feature. There is a good reason for this. Your blog’s sidebar is prime real estate because it catches the attention of your reader immediately.

We all love those sidebars. As bloggers, they are calling to us to fill them with good stuff.

But since most people are distracted by too many shiny objects, we must be careful with our choices. Sure, we want people to subscribe to our blog or newsletter. And yes, it’s great when they click on an ad and the affiliate bucks roll in, but in realty, we also want them to read our posts, don’t we?

Here are five things to think through when making choices about your sidebar content:

1. Treat your sidebar as high-stakes real estate.

If your blog was a Monopoly game, the sidebar would be your Boardwalk. You would screen your tenants before you rented out the Boardwalk to them, wouldn’t you? Same thing with your sidebar tenants. Why would you choose to place a quote you love at the very top of your right sidebar, the spot your readers notice immediately—your prime real estate?

Think about your blog’s purpose. If monetizing your blog is a top priority, then ads and affiliate sale graphics need a highly visible spot. Or maybe your goal is to build that email list by asking people to sign up for your newsletter, in which case your signup box should be prominent. Because lots of content is competing for this small, coveted space, the solution might be to use a theme that allows you to customize your sidebars. That means that you don’t have to put the same sidebar content on every page. Putting on your marketing hat, you can figure out the best content for each page.

For instance, that Twitter and Facebook feed might work better on the sidebar of your about page. If you have a speaking page, links to purchase your books might be a good fit there. You can even get as specific as promoting a certain service or product on the sidebar of one particular blog post if you are writing on a related topic. It’s your choice.

2. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog—and offer both delivery options.

While the experts disagree on whether RSS is dying, your subscribers are still your gold mine readers.  They are the people who like your stuff so much that they want to be notified each time you publish a new post. Make it easy for them to sign up. Make sure you ask on every page of your blog.

And don’t leave anyone out. That orange RSS icon may be recognizable to your tech-capable readers but there are still people who don’t understand what that graphic is. They are the ones who will want to sign up for email delivery. So make that sidebar graphic large and impossible to ignore. Something like “Get email delivery of Bob’s blog” works well. I stay away from the word “subscribe” because some people think they will have to pay. And if you say “free,” some readers may wonder if that is just for a short time and then it will become a paid subscription.

3. Don’t confuse your readers with blog and newsletter signups too close to each other.

Keep in mind which one is more important in terms of reader signups. And, of course, if you offer both, you will want to differentiate them. (“Get content that goes beyond my blog articles. Sign up here for the BobWP newsletter.”)

Also, consider not placing them next to each other in the sidebar because that just confuses your readers. (“Which one does he want me to sign up for?) If you offer a newsletter, consider giving people the option of downloading a sample issue. Most people will not sign up for something they’ve never seen. With your blog, they usually want to read a few posts first. Same thing with your newsletter. A new visitor usually doesn’t show up, thinking, “Wow. This person is incredible. I must sign up for their newsletter, get on their list and get emails from them forever and ever.” They want to get to know and trust you first.

4. Make your social media connection buttons prominent.

When you invite people to join you on other social platforms, you are encouraging them to get to know you on a deeper level. Whether on your sidebar or elsewhere on your site, make your social media connections buttons easy to spot.

But whatever the case, sidebar or not,  make sure you are active in those platforms. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone ask me to put them on their site because “my friend Kate has them” or “I like those shiny buttons.” There is nothing more disappointing to your reader than wanting to connect with you on Twitter, and reading your last tweet, which was 9 weeks ago, and it said,  “I just burped.”

5. Clearly display your your blog’s search tools.

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the value of functions like search, categories and tags. Are they helpful to readers? Do blog searches give random and non-specific results? Are tag clouds passé? There are no definitive answers and bloggers need to figure out what works for them.

I can just tell you that there are some reader benefits. Categories (the big picture things you blog about) and tags (the more specific topics) help your readers get an immediate, visual sense of the subjects you discuss on your blog. In the case of tag clouds—that list of words and phrases on your sidebar—your reader knows not only what you talk about, but what you blog about most (because the bigger the word or phrase, the more frequently you have blogged about it).  And if they are interested in those posts, a click will take them there.

There are no hard and fast rules for selecting your sidebar content. It all depends on what your blog is about, what its goal is, and what you most want your readers to do when they visit.

So who is occupying the Boardwalk spot on your blog?

No, I Don’t Want to Sign Up for Your Mailing List (And Here’s Why)

Author:

I need more emails like I need a hole in the head. I recommend that every online content creator out there has a mailing list, but I actually sign up for very few of them personally. I think mailing lists are great, but some people could have more subscribers if they used their lists slightly differently. Here’s why I don’t sign up for your mailing list…and what you can do to change that:

1. You email me every post you write.

I think having your RSS feed available via email is a really great idea. Lots of people prefer reading posts that way. Personally, though, I use Twitter as my feed reader (find out how here) because emails get buried too quickly for me. When I sign up for a mailing list, I do so because I want emails from the blogger that I wouldn’t get otherwise – newsletters, announcements, discounts, etc. It’s okay to have an email RSS option (I recommend it), but make sure subscribers know what they’re getting when they sign up and, if possible, have two options – one for people who want special emails and one for people who want to receive your feed via email as well.

2. I can’t quickly find your sign-up box.

For many bloggers this isn’t a problem – their subscription form is located proudly on their sidebar, near the top of the page. However, occasionally, I find myself searching for a subscription box that doesn’t seem to exist – so I give up and go along my merry way. Later, I often find out the blogger does have a mailing list, but I had to go to a certain page or whatever to find out how to subscribe. The more time a person has to spend clicking around your site, the less likely it is they’ll actually sign up.

3. Your pop up punched me in the face.

I don’t mind pop up ads if they are done correctly. Three seconds after I get to your site is not correctly. At that point, I don’t know if I want to sign up or not. Give me a little time to read or watch your content first. Then, if you must, send me that pop up asking me to subscribe.

4. You offer me stuff I don’t want.

Offering free stuff is a great way to get people to sign up for your mailing list – but done incorrectly, it can also send people packing. For example, let’s say that I’m on your cat blog reading about my cat‘s weird behaviors, and I’m enjoying the content. You sign up form says, “Enter your email address to get a free ebook about litter box training.” Am I going to sign up? Nope. My cat is already litter box trained, thank god. The way you’ve promoted the sign up form just promotes the free gift, which people may or may not want, not your actual email like. Change the wording a bit to say, “Stay connected with emails from us and get a free litter box training ebook” or “Sign up to get a free litter box training ebook and more surprises straight to your inbox” and I’m much more likely to enter my email address. That way, you’re still hooking people who want the freebie, but you’re also making it clear that there are other benefits as well.

5. Your content just isn’t that compelling.

Of course, the number one reason I won’t sign up for your mailing list is that your blog’s content isn’t that great in the first place. Remember, every post you write could be the first post someone reads on your blog. Don’t be afraid to go back and delete content that isn’t up to par. We all have bad days, and not everything you do is going to be amazing, but if you write a real stinker, consider getting rid of it so people who come to your blog for the first time get the best impression possible. And of course, always work to improve your content. Don’t get complacent and think that what you’re putting out is good enough. We can all learn to be better!

Your turn – why don’t you sign up for mailing lists? Or why do you sign up on other sites?

How to Get Started Blogging for Yourself or Someone Else

Author:

The word blog was first used in 1999. When you stop and think about it, it’s still a fairly new concept. Sure, there are millions and millions of blogs in existence and it might seem like everyone you know has a blog. But believe it or not, not everyone does or even knows what one is.

Since I wrote a little about my blogging story and how I’ve turned it into a full time living, I’ve had countless people ask me through emails, social networks and in person how they can do what I do. Either they haven’t dove into the world of blogging yet and would like to, or they have one already and want to take it to the next level.

When you’ve never done something like starting a blog before, it can be extremely overwhelming. That’s why I’m getting back to the basics of blogging. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be covering everything you’ve ever wanted to know about blogging. From choosing a domain name and keyword research to coming up with post ideas and the biggest topic everyone wants to know about – monetization.

Today’s topic is for those of you starting from ground zero.

How to Get Started Blogging for Yourself

I’m going to steal Nike’s slogan for a second here and tell you to “Just Do It”. I’ve helped quite a few people with setting up their blogs. We’ve brainstormed domain name ideas together and then I took over the technical part of purchasing the domain name, installing WordPress, setting them up with a template design they like and making sure all the necessary plug-ins are installed.

After they’re good to go, I always get this question: “Now what?” and I give the same answer every time: “Start writing.”

Before you get overwhelmed with all the technical terms such as “domain name” and “installing WordPress”, let me give you some sources where you can skip that whole process and focus on the writing aspect.

Setting up a Blog Yourself

  • WordPress , Blogger or Tumblr – If you’ve never blogged before and you want to check it out, get some experience and just see what it’s like, I recommend setting up a free account on one of these blogging platforms. It’s an easy step by step process and it can get you some blogging experience under your belt.
  • Ask a Friend for Help – If you have a friend who is familiar with setting up blogs, ask for their help. They can either guide you through one of the free blogging platforms or set up your own domain name and personalized template.

Hiring Someone to Set up Your Blog

  • Pay for It – If you’re willing to invest a little bit of money, you can find someone on Fiverr.com who will set up a blog for you. My husband and I have used this service several times for jobs and have had a good experience. It’s only $5 to hire someone, plus around $10 for the purchase of a domain name.

Start Writing

Now that you have your blog set up, as I mentioned before, the best way to learn is by doing. No one knows about your blog right now. No one’s going to be reading it, so get in there and play around. Learn how to use all of the functions within your blogging platform, find your blogging voice and before you know it, you’ll be a blogging fool. (That’s what my friends call me.)

If you’re using a free blogging platform, you will eventually want to move your posts over to your own domain name. This shows companies (who you may work with in the future) and your readers that you are a professional and that blogging isn’t something you do just for fun, in your spare time. It shows this is a business and that’s important when it comes to making money blogging.

How to Get Started Blogging for Someone Else

Another question I get quite often is “How can I get hired to blog for someone?” I started blogging for a blog network in 2006. I had some experience with both blogging and website development, which helped me get hired. Blog networks aren’t what they used to be (stay tuned for a Where Are They Now? series covering this very topic) and it’s not easy to get hired to blog for a company. Here’s why.

You need experience. This is why it’s so important to “Just Do It” as I said above. If a company is going to hire you to blog for them, they want to see your past experience in the field. They’ll ask for writing samples, published articles and you need to have some to show them to even be considered for the job. I’ve been told before, when a blogging job has been posted, some people have received hundreds of submissions. You also have to realize you are going up against people who have years of blogging experience, degrees in journalism and a nice looking resume.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but I’m also not going to paint a picture of a rainbow and a pot of blogging gold at the bottom of it. The business of blogging is not something you can start making a living from right away, so please don’t quit your day job.

Now, after harping on the fact that you need blogging experience to get a blogging job, I do need to cushion the statement with the fact experience isn’t always 100% needed. For example, let’s say someone needs a writer for a very specific topic such as knitting. If you’ve never written a blog post in your life, but know how to knit and can teach others to knit, you have a leg up on the competition (obviously). If you can provide a well written writing sample and show your knowledge in the topic, you have a good chance of being hired.

Here are a few places to look for paid blogging and writing positions:

  • Problogger Job Board – I have personally used this site to get hired for freelance work in the past. As you can see, jobs are posted every week. People are searching for someone who will write about every subject you can imagine, from cats and gardening to marketing and using Photoshop.
  • Demand Studios – This company offers writing assignments for experienced, professional writers. They pay per article, around $15 to $25, depending on the length and topic.
  • About.com – In order to write for About.com, you have to go through quite the process. First, you have to apply and get accepted and then go through a two-part online orientation and evaluation program. During the program, you are going up against several others applying for the same topic. Just realize you will have to put in quite a bit of work and in the end, you can be told no.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs – Our very own Deb Ng started this site and sold it to Splashpress Media. When you visit, you’ll see a variety of available blogging and writing gigs, as well as writing tips and business help.

What’s Better: Blogging for Yourself or Someone Else?

This is another question I’ve received and it all depends on one thing: you. Some people are wired to work for themselves and some people are wired to work for someone else. There’s some of us who do both! I write for BlogWorld, SocialMoms and I own several of my own blogs. One thing is for certain, I never get bored.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about blogging for yourself or someone else. Do you have tips for the blogging newbie? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

5 Ways to Know if Your Content Is Resonating with Your Audience

Author:

Every few months or so, I like to take a step back and analyze the content on my blog. I want to make sure I’m providing tips, news, entertainment and information that resonates well with my audience. There are both technical and non-technical ways to measure this. Some may seem obvious to you, but you haven’t taken the time to put the tip into practice, and some of these ways might be brand new to you.

Here are five ways to know if your content is resonating well with your audience.

Conduct a Poll

I really enjoy conducting polls both on my blog and on Facebook using their polls feature. I’ve found out some interesting things about what my readers are looking for that I may not be providing for them, things that they absolutely love, or even about content they don’t really care for.

Polls are super easy and quick to put together. I suggest offering no more than five answers to your question. For example, ask the simple question “Why do you enjoy visiting…?” and put the title of your blog there. I’ve done this before and provided answers such as reviews, giveaways, personal videos or deals. Not only do I ask them to participate in the poll, but I also ask if they would leave a comment explaining why they chose the answer they did. I have had great results this way and it has helped me narrow down my content.

For WordPress, I like using the WP-Polls plug-in. On Facebook, simply click on “Ask a Question” for your personal page or “Question” for your business page.

Email Your List of Subscribers

You do have subscribers right? If you answered no to that question because you haven’t added that feature to your blog, stop what you’re doing right now and visit my post “Six Things You Can Focus On Today to Increase Your Blogging Results”. I preach creating a list…yesterday.

This is also something I have personally done. Simply ask your subscribers what they like about your blog content and what they would like to see more of. Offering up a little incentive such as a free download of one of your eBooks or an Amazon gift card usually increases the number of people that will answer. Hey, we all like free stuff, right?

Check Your Social Networks

This might be a no-brainer, but if something you wrote really spoke to your audience and they absolutely loved it, don’t you think they’ll not only share it but say something about it? Don’t just check the number of Tweets and Likes you are receiving, check to see what they’re saying about your content. I would trade five tweets where no one said a thing about my article, for one where someone tweeted it but also said, “This is a must read” or “This is exactly the answer I was looking for.” This speaks loudly to your readers and potential readers.

Use the Power of Facebook Insights

This goes hand in hand with my previous tip, but it digs a little deeper. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of Facebook Insights, because we would be here all day long. You can read the Facebook Insights Guide which they call a “Product Guide for Facebook Page Owners” and get some in-depth information.

If you’re familiar with the new Facebook Insights roll-out, then you know on the left hand sidebar under “Likes” it says “People Talking About This”. This number is a great way to measure if your content is resonating with your audience because it speaks to engagement. This lets you know in a one week period how many people liked your page, posted to your page and mentioned, liked, shared or commented on a post of yours.

Just because a page has thousands of Likes, does not mean there is a good dose of interactions with the readers (engagement).

Facebook Insights is not only a great tool to measure the health of your Facebook page, but your blog content as well.

A Healthy Dose of Comments

It makes me sad when I visit a blog where they have the comments closed. (Does that make it a real blog then? Wait, that’s another discussion.) But when I visit a blog where there is a nice conversation flowing in the comments section, it makes me want to join in.

This tip may seem obvious to most of you, but I think all of us – whether we are brand new to this crazy world of blogging or if we’ve been doing it for ten years – need to take a step back and analyze the interaction. Are we interacting with our readers? Are they finding our content valuable enough to take a few minutes to leave a comment?

You can also get fantastic post ideas from comments your readers have left. Look for questions they asked or statements saying they wish you would write more of a certain type of article. If they are practically begging for more, then by all means, give them more!

How can you tell if your content is resonating well with your audience? Share some of your tips in the comment section below. Also feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you would like to see more of here on the BlogWorld blog. Are we resonating with you?

Six Things You Can Focus On Today to Increase Your Blogging Results

Author:

Last week I shared a little of my blogging story with you, by giving you a look into how I make money by blogging and selling blogs. As I mentioned, I’ve been at this since 2006. I’ve been through the ups and downs of both blogging for a company, as well as blogging for myself.

I have people ask me just about every week, “How can I do what you do?” My first answer for them is to get ready to work their butt off. If that statement doesn’t scare them off, then I know they’re ready to hear the rest of what I have to say – the nuts and bolts of what goes into becoming a successful blogger.

(Side note: Not all successful blogging stories are identical. What I am about to share with you has worked for me, but it’s not in any way the only road to success.)

I won’t get into choosing a topic for your blog, setting up your blog, or choosing a design. Let’s just assume you already have those pieces in place and are ready to hit the ground running with your topic.

1. Email, Email, Email

For several of the topics I write about, my contacts are the bread and butter of my business. They help me build my content with the emails they send with topic ideas, the products they want me to review or the person they would like me to interview. I have one incredibly large and amazing list of contacts, both PR firms and direct with business owners. How did I build this list? I pounded the keyboard.

The first thing I recommend you do as a new blogger is set up Google alerts with keywords related to your topic. I also suggest you search Google news for press releases related to your topic. Both of these will help keep you on top of the news, as well as build up your contact list. At the bottom of every press release is (usually) a name, email and/or phone number of the main contact person.

For months, I emailed people every single day introducing myself, telling them a little about my blog and letting them know I would love to work with them and be added to their press list. It took only a few months to build a solid list of people. My inbox was flooded with post ideas, product review submissions and interview requests. I still email companies and PR firms, but very rarely. I’m now at the stage of turning people away, and you can be there as well if you follow this approach.

2. Post Quality Content Every Day

I definitely will have some people disagree with me on this one and that’s okay. Like I said, this is what worked for me in the beginning. I truly believe that staying committed to having fresh content available every day was a key piece that got me where I am today.

If you don’t have the time to devote to your blog every day, then set aside one chunk of time a week where you write 5 to 7 articles to drip throughout the course of your week. The scheduled post feature is your friend. Use it!

Your readership and numbers will grow because they’ll keep coming back for more every day and your business contacts will grow because they’ll know you’re the type of blogger they want to work with.

3. Build Your Email List Yesterday

When I have a new blogger ask me, “When should I start building my email list?”, I always say “Yesterday”. Meaning, you need to be collecting those emails from your readers on day one. I wish I could say I followed this piece of advice, but I didn’t. I honestly thought people would prefer to receive information about my site from little blurbs on Facebook or Twitter. That is not the case!

Did you know you have readers who are not on either of those sites? (Gasp!) And, did you know there are people who are on Facebook and/or Twitter but they don’t check it every day? (Gasp again!) But guess what? They do check email every day and you’ll reach a lot more people through email, instead of hoping they see it on your Facebook page. So go build that email list…yesterday!

4. Don’t Be a Blog Hermit

One definition of a hermit is “any person living in seclusion; recluse”. In order to have a successful blog, you need to step away from your own blog for a minute and go make friends. Don’t be a hermit! Find blogs within your topic and start commenting on them. And I’m not talking about leaving a “Nice post!” comment or some lengthy one which makes you sound extremely intelligent. Just join the conversation like you would at a get together with your friends. Socialize. Interact. Reach out.

I know there are many bloggers who will agree with the fact that you’ll make friends within the blogging community who will become your friends for life. You’ll start bunking together at events, helping each other’s blogs succeed and maybe even go into business together. If you stay in your own little blogging bubble, you’ll regret it in the end. I promise.

5. Treat Your Blog as a Business

Yes, I know. You’re thinking, “Thank you for the obvious cliché advice, Julie Bonner”. But me telling you to treat your blog as a business is THE most important piece of advice I could give you. You hear successful bloggers say, “If you treat this as a hobby, it will pay you as a hobby. If you treat this as a business, it will pay you as a business” for a reason. The reason is it’s true. I don’t care if you’re a mom blogger, a dad blogger or someone blogging about under water basket weaving – this is a piece of advice for everyone.

Type A Founder Kelby Carr conducted a session at BlogWorld LA 2011 where she talked about this very subject. The session was titled “Parent Bloggers Mean Business”. She gave some very valuable tips and advice on being taken seriously as a blogger. In order to be successful in the blogosphere, it’s important to be respected by both your blogging peers as well as companies. Kelby said to have confidence, don’t obsess over your competition, and behave like a professional. I couldn’t agree more.

6. Hold on Tight. It’s Going to be a Fun and Bumpy Ride

Last but not least, realize blogging is a journey just like anything else in life. You’ll have your days someone leaves a really rude comment on your blog, or makes fun of your video, or insults you in some way. It will happen, especially the more successful you get. Shake it off, call it what it is – someone being terribly stupid, jealous and immature – and realize tomorrow is a new day. (This is where those great blogging friends you’ve made can help save the day with an encouraging word.)

Keep creating good content, keep reaching out to the blogging community and keep being professional. I can tell you first hand – blogging is one heck of a fun ride. So hold on.

How I Successfully Make Money Building and Selling Blogs

Author:

I’ve been creating content online since 2006. I started out building a camping website with my husband, which we would work on in the evenings after the kids went to bed. We came up with the topic through keyword research and looking at the stats. It was purely about the stats, because let me tell you, I hate camping. A true vacation to me includes a hotel room, a pool and maid service.

Needless to say, we weren’t successful and we ended up losing money. But I had been bitten by the online bug and knew this was where I belonged.

Start with a Topic You Know and Love

Fast forward a few months, when we decided to create another website. It was on a topic I could sink my teeth into, write hundreds of articles off the top of my head and just enjoy. My husband did the keyword research and I wrote the articles. We started making money within a few months and I knew we had something legitimate on our hands.

After working on the site for about 8 months and increasing the income to just under $1,000 a month on average, we decided to sell. I was bored. I felt like I really had nothing left to give to the site and I was ready to move on to something else. We listed the site on a popular online website marketplace and within a few days sold the site for a high four-figure sum.

Show Me the Money

This site had around 25 pages of content, so let’s do the math here: sold for $7,500, which was making $900 a month and we created around 3 pages per month. The first three months we made just about nothing. Then it went from $200, to $400 to $600 and stayed at $900 up until we sold. Let’s figure we made around $11,000 total from both the sale and the combined monthly income. That means we were paid around $440 per page we wrote. Not bad. The buyer was purchasing a website which was ranking really well for highly searched keywords in the search engines, plus a steady income we had built. It was a win-win.

I think this site sold for what it did for several reasons:

  • I was writing about something I was passionate about and had first-hand knowledge of and experience with
  • We did the research up front to make sure we had a reasonable shot at making the site quite profitable if we did the work required
  • We wrote the content with our readers in mind first of all, but using words that the search engines would like and would reward us for

And Then Blogging Entered My Life…

After building websites, I discovered the world of blogging. I have not looked back since. Not only have I built and run several successful blogs, but I have also sold several. Some I built with the intention of selling, while others I decided to sell after simply losing the desire to continue pouring myself into it. Chalk it up to a short attention span.

Let’s play with the numbers for a minute, shall we?

I sold one blog for $4,000 after building it for 6 months. How did I come up with the idea for the blog? I focused on both keyword research and knowledge about the topic. Do you see a pattern here?

The blog was making just over $500 a month and I was working on it for about an hour a day. It’s not an extreme amount of money by any means, but $500 a month can make or break the bank for some people.

The Moral of the Story

What’s the moral of the story here? There are several actually.

Each post you write has value. Whether you are writing the posts on your blog for your readers, for the search engines, or to appeal to a potential future buyer, each post you write has value. So treat it that way.

It is possible to make a decent income with your blogging efforts. I have people ask me all the time “Can I really make money from this?” Yes. But, it takes knowledge about your topic, passion and a willingness to consistently do the work required.

You don’t have to be an A-lister to make money. I am by no means an A-list blogger. Most people in the online world don’t even know I exist. I kind of like it that way. But I can tell you this; I make a full-time income from my blogs and am thankful every day for this opportunity that I have been given.

Do you have any secrets to your blogging success? Have you bought or sold a blog? Share a little of your blogging story in the comment section below.

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

Recent Comments

Categories

Archives