Whether you’ve already been blogging as a hobby or want to create your own blog so you can start writing about a subject that interests you, most people who blog don’t want to keep the information they write to themselves. Instead, they want to share it with as wide an audience as possible. And because it can take a fair amount of work to build and maintain a sizable audience, it’s normal to want to earn some money for the time you put into blogging.
Now, despite what sleazy info-products may advertise, blogging is not a solution for getting rich overnight. While it is still possible to build a successful blog, doing so requires time and consistency. That being said, if you already have a blog, there’s no reason it can’t start earning some money now. Even though it may not be a huge amount at first, seeing any money coming into your bank account can be very motivational and make you want to put even more effort into blogging.
So, if you want to earn your first dollar from blogging and then continue making more money, here are the top six options you have for monetizing your blog:
The main appeal of AdSense is that it’s very easy to add to a blog. While most people with any online experience agree that it’s not the best way to maximize the value of your blog’s traffic, if you’re interested in giving it a try or want to fill some extra space on your blog, this guide has everything you need to know about optimizing its implementation.
The two big reasons many people prefer monetizing with an affiliate program instead of AdSense is because they get better targeting and higher payouts. If you like the idea of using this option but are afraid it will be too difficult to set up, you’ll be happy to know that the BuildYourWidget.com plugin makes it a breeze to create a showcase for your site that allows you to display any affiliate products that you want to sell to your audience.
Private Ad Sales or Sponsorships
While it definitely requires more work, it’s possible to sell your own ad space instead of having it handled by AdSense or an affiliate network. It’s also worth noting that if you’re already using the Build Your Widget plugin on your site, you can easily update your product showcase based on any private sales deals you close.
Another option for filling your showcase widget is to create and sell your own digital products like ebooks. If you’re worried that it’s going to be too hard to process your own payments and handle delivery, a comprehensive solution like Gumroad is ideal for selling digital products.
Although there’s not an exact metric for determining this point, once your blog hits a certain level of traffic and influence, people will begin viewing you as an authority in your field. Because regular readers of your blog will know just how much valuable information you can provide, they may want one-on-one time with you. A great way to provide that time is to create a paid community through your blog. This will provide you with a new revenue stream, as well as allow you to engage more with the most passionate members of your audience.
Services, Speaking Engagements or Conferences
Just as with starting a paid community, once your blog gets enough traction, there’s really no limit to the ways you can monetize it. Depending on your specific niche, you may find that launching a service is a good fit for your audience. You may also decide that you want to spend more time away from your keyboard and in front of audiences who want to hear you speak. Additionally, you don’t have to limit yourself to only speaking at other events. Instead, you may ultimately decide that you want to sponsor your own conference.
With all these ideas in mind, one thing about blog monetization that’s worth remembering is you don’t have to limit yourself to just one option. In fact, most bloggers find that using multiple methods allows them to maximize what they earn from their blog. Also, don’t ever feel that you have to stick with a specific monetization option. If you feel like it’s not generating as much as it should, don’t be afraid to test out another form of monetization to see if it’s a better fit for your blog and specific audience.
Reddit has been continually rising in popularity since first emerging on the scene back in 2006. Today, it is one of the most popular social news sites of its kind, proving to be a great alternative for those who have grown tired of competitors such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Reddit often calls itself the front page of the internet to play on its growing reputation as a digital newspaper of sorts. And just like newspapers have categories and sections, this site has something similar known as subreddits, a feature that can come in handy for the savvy social marketer.
A subreddit is essentially a category or subcategory that has a community of reddit users built around a specific topic or area of interest. These categories are finely targeted and can be set to either public or private by the creator. Examples of popular subreddits, as chosen by the user community include:
- World News
These examples represent broad general interests, of course, but the subcategories on reddit go much much deeper. For instance, you can find subreddits on specific topics such as World of Warcraft, Indie Gaming, and even presidential hopeful Ron Paul. While each area of interest has its own moderator, community members are able to contribute by submitting and rating content from around the web that is related to the topic at hand. For everyday users, subreddits provide an easy way to quickly access the content that matters most. For marketers, they provide a way to generate visibility and meet business objectives.
Benefitting From Your Own subreddits
Perhaps the best thing to like about subreddits is the fact that anyone can create them. There are numerous benefits to setting up your own, starting with the community aspect. If fellow redditors share your interest, it could easily lead to a situation where users are commenting, sharing, and engaging in other ways that keep the community alive with activity. The site has millions of active users, all interested in something. What this means is that unless your area is built around an obscure topic like “overhanded Bolivian bowling techniques”, there is a great chance that you will be able to attract others who share your passion.
The big payoff to having your own subreddits is increased traffic. All that activity combined with solid content means it is highly likely that people will want to pay a visit and learn more about what you have to offer. Make sure your newly created subcategory is listed on the subreddits page, pass the word along to your connections on the site, and the possibilities are endless.
Some observers have gone as far to say that subreddits are what have enabled reddit to surpass Digg in the social bookmarking arena. This is not as farfetched as it may sound considering it is one of the platform’s most important features. Whether it is streamlining content discovery or building a community around your own, social marketers can make great strides by putting this essential element to use.
Searching for ways to increase the number of your loyal audience/subscribers and daily earnings for your blog? Well, I continuously get more and more targeted viewers for my blog and keep it at the top of search engine results using the power of YouTube marketing.
As a result, my earnings increased a lot. You may ask me: Isn’t it that YouTube marketing is already an Internet buzzword or one of the most common ways of promoting/advertising various products, services and stuffs like that? Definitely! However, there are other ways of doing things the other way to get the results you want, and this blog post is just all about that.
Dominate a Niche with Long Tail Pro
Using LTP, I was able to dominate a particular niche by. It helped me discover topics for my online YouTube marketing video. What I often do with LTP is enter multiple seed keywords, and soon enough, I find exact match domains with low competition yet profitable keywords.
I use both domain and keywords, and as a consequence, I get more and more subscribers as well as increased page rank for my marketing video. As a more specific example, using exact domain names and long tail keywords is much better than competing with the fiercest (or most competitive) keywords for YouTube videos.
This way, my YouTube video made it to the second page of search engine results within 5 days, that is, I was able to dominate a particular niche about driving traffic to my site. I simply cannot ignore the power of LTP marketing for my YouTube video marketing.
Do Things the Right Way Using Video Marketing
I am now getting more targeted traffic, higher/massive views and a larger number of subscribers with my YouTube marketing video: entitled, Drive Traffic to Your Site by Offering Irresistible Gifts. My Youtube visitors get hooked on watching the video in order to learn more about the offers.
The video is all about driving traffic or unique visitors to blogs through social media sites, guest posting, and a lot more (as you can see later as you continue reading this post). Also, it tells people how to avoid failing Internet marketing by using the step-by-step strategies for increased targeted traffics.
In addition, it mentions about the importance of blog traffic within the first 24to72 hours for visits to be counted as unique ones. As my YouTube viewers keep on watching the video, they are able to understand better what is in store for.
With the YouTube marketing video, I was able to direct my audience to my blog. When they do visit it, I get unique pageviews. They may read the rest of the article or explore more of it. Since their primary objective is to obtain a free copy of the e-book, they are required to subscribe first.
After they sign up, they would receive a message stating that they have to confirm their subscription. When they do confirm their registration, they will have to check their email again for the actual download of the eBook to take place.
This is actually what email marketing is all about, that is, getting long term customers with their email addresses added to my list of contacts where I can then forward them with weekly SEO tips – just as it was promised to them prior to their subscription.
I then visit problogger.net as a guest blogger. It is where I would post something like, ”Build Keyword Density the Right Way.”
This is where I recommend using search engine optimization techniques and adding appropriate keywords for high-quality persuasive copywriting. There I advise the use of naturally sounding keywords for everyone’s copywriting needs.
I gave illustrations such that video marketers would be able to learn the appropriate ways of shortening, lengthening and/or using keyword phrases with the product/service copy that they are describing.
I also added that writers have to write a copy first, go back with the keywords, and place them suitably in the copy itself (which definitely would prove very useful to them). As for my part, I was able to make a copy that really flows naturally and that appeal to a larger number of viewers and search engine sites.
Furthermore, in less than three weeks, I already gained more than 20,000 views. This is because I used referral social media multipliers and emailwire.com, a SEO press release distribution site that provides guaranteed results.
For instance, with the social media freetweettube.com, there is always an influx of tweets for my Youtube marketing channel while with emailwire, my press release about SEOArticleWriteService got the chance to be published and distributed to thousands of journalists, trade magazines, newsrooms, online news sites, major newswires, RSS feeds and major news search engines. With these strategies and tools that I used, you sure can get the results you want to achieve to make your site viral in no time.
My YouTube marketing, as of this writing, proves viral although it has just been uploaded three weeks ago. It has ranked well too considering that the other videos in the ranking were uploaded less than a year or about five years ago. You can also see for yourself that my video is only about 3 minutes compared to the other two: which are approximately 15 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively. My video is a proof of getting your videos viral too. You only have to follow the steps or by visiting the sites that I mentioned above.
Now that you know how to precisely attract more blog traffic via YouTube marketing, it is time to present a summary of the most important lessons in this post. First, the importance of using simultaneously free exact domain with long tail yet profitable keywords for your video for you to earn more.
Second, the use of strategies and tools (such as irresistible gift offers, guest blogs, email marketing, pro-bloggers, social media networks, press releases and a lot more) for you to cash in more money.
Luckily for you, with this post, you sure can turn your viewers into loyal audience/subscribers, powerful pool of online community, or simply, target market for your blog and its updates.
It might be that you are a new startup with a limited marketing budget (and thus want to avoid the costs), or maybe you feel that yourself or an in-house employee will do a better job of capturing the right tone and feel of your company.
Whatever the motivation, there are pros and cons to both approaches. This content will discuss the advantages of both options, and then (hopefully) help you make the right decision for your company.
Writing Press Releases Yourself
After reading through this blog post, you should have a clear idea of what is required to write a press release. In short, you need:
- A good story.
- Good writing skills (specific to press releases).
There are distinct advantages of writing your own press releases, and I would fully encourage you to do so if you can consistently write well (or have an employee to write for you). If you are unwilling to invest in an employee, or unsure of how eschewing a professional PR service can help you, read through the following reasons:
A professionally written press release can cost you anywhere from $200 to $500. Considering that this is just a 1-page document, which will eventually contain information that you will provide, this seems an exorbitant price.
While press release writing services make every effort to personalize every press release, there is a distinct style for each writer and for each company as well. Personalized ‘style’ of press or media releases. A powerful example of this is Google – check Google Press for a sample of effective personalized press releases can be.
Be warned though. This is not something easy to accomplish. As press releases are terse, 1-page news items with a very big emphasis on content, it is difficult to establish a style.
Practice will help you improve, and if you feel that the identity and image of your company will be better served by writing the press release yourself rather than outsourcing it, then make sure you read many different press releases from other companies to get a feel of how to build your unique style.
Being directly involved with your industry, you are in the best position to highlight the advantages of your ‘news’ to your potential consumers and competitors.
You will be able to provide relevant, current information and your insight into your industry will also help you to pinpoint which news hook will be most successful.
Matching the expertise of a professional press release writer is a difficult task. On the other hand, in-house press release writing, especially if done by an employee, can be ‘good enough’ if due attention is paid to getting the details right.
Professional Press Release Writing
Despite the obvious advantages of writing your own press release, a professional press release service gives you specific, money-valuable benefits:
Professional press release services have the advantage of having working in this field for a lot longer than you – they have written (hopefully) dozens of press releases, and know the industry inside out.
As such, they are well placed to avoid mistakes that beginning press release writers might make and are likely to produce good, reliable press releases.
Of course, there is also a chance that the press release might not be what you are looking for – maybe the writer gets the tone wrong, or underplays certain features that you wanted to give prominence to.
The added experience will also ensure that the writer will be able to judge better whether the information you’ve given him is enough, not enough or too much. In addition, there is the value of having an ‘outside’ perspective. Outsourcing your press release to an independent PR service will:
- Allow them to present the news in a more realistic light.
- Discourage you from making a press release without having effective content.
Be careful about putting too much faith in the press release service to tell you what is right or wrong, however. The responsibility of ensuring that there is enough ‘newsworthy’ information in your press release is yours, not of the service.
A press release can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a day to write, revise and get just right. If you are part of a fast-paced company where you measure your time in hundreds of dollars, then spending that much time on a press release might seem expensive especially since you can get better results by outsourcing the press release.
Do not underestimate the time required to write a press release – for your news to be a full-blown success, every little detail has to be just right.
It’s just a 1-page document. Why does it cost so much?
I’m faced with that question every day. Considering that you will still have to provide a lot of the information to the press release service, it seems ridiculous to pay over $200 (and up to $500) for a press release. But in the end, it’s the results that justify the costs.
A professionally written press release will always have a better chance of being accepted for distribution, and the experience of a professional PR service will serve you will in making your press release successful.
Another factor working in the favor of professional press release services is their ‘package deals’ – a promise to distribute your press release at a discounted rate if you have your press release written by them.
Costs vs. Expertise
I’ve been saying this throughout the content, and I say it again:
Your press release is (almost) worthless without newsworthy information. Keep this point in your mind as you make the choice between writing the press release yourself (using the advice in thisblog post) and outsourcing it to a professional press release service. Where will that newsworthy information come from? From you.
In fact, even if you outsource the press release, the bulk of the information put in the press release will come from you, either as part of the original specifications presented, or from the questions that the writer will ask you to help him write the press release.
So what are you really paying them for?
Their experience – press release writers have considerable, battle-field knowledge of writing press releases – the kind that only comes through time. You are also paying for their language and marketing skills, as writing a press release requires a specific writing style that does not fit into traditional sales copy.
Don’t hire a sales letter writer to write your press release until you are sure they have experience in writing successful press releases.
However, if you are willing to learn and apply the knowledge from this content (or have an employee as a suitable candidate), in-house press releases can be just as successful as those from a PR service. The key is to do two things repeatedly:
- Ensure that you are fully prepared.
- Differentiate between traditional sales copy and press release writing and make the effort to write ‘in a reporting, unbiased style’.
Choosing the Right Service
While this content goes a long way towards helping you write your own press releases, the primary aim is to guide you into preparing the best press release for your company, each and every time.
And sometimes, a company does not have the time, or the technical skills, to dedicate resources towards in-house press release writing.
In such cases, outsourcing your press release requirements becomes necessary. This section, although concise, will help you in picking the right service for your company.
Hiring a PR service
If you are looking to hire a professional press release service, make sure that you complete the following checklist.
- Does the service have a portfolio or a client’s list? Make sure that you can see visible results, and don’t be afraid to ask for proof.
- Compare costs and services between different PR companies to make sure you get the best deal.
- Understand the fine print. Some PR firms may not allow for more than 1 revision, and some also don’t allow for free consultations – which essentially means that if the PR firm decides that your ‘story’ is not newsworthy, you would have ended up paying for nothing.
- Don’t automatically jump for combined packages (press release writing and distribution). Make sure the investment is worth it, and that you see a list of the media contacts (at least their names, if not their contact information) that your press release will be distributed to.
- Themed distributions are very different in impact to generic distributions, so don’t fall into the trap of paying less and actually getting something that is worth nothing to your company.
- If you like the company’s portfolio, try to negotiate a discounted package in return for bringing all your press release business to them. PR firms would normally not refuse long-term business relationships, and the promise of continued business can possibly lower your long-term costs as well.
Hiring a freelance writer
Of course, if the cost is a really serious issue, and you cannot have the press release written in-house (for various reasons) then you may be better served by outsourcing to a freelance writer.
There are several online freelance websites from where you can hire good writers – Elance and RentACoder are the most popular, and most effective.
With freelance writers, there is the advantage of saving on money – a good press release can be written for $100 or less. On the other hand, there is a risk of not getting what you really want.
I’ll not go into the details of how to ensure that you don’t get your money’s worth as there are many ”freelance hiring”guides on the Internet (some good, some bad, and some bad copies of good guides).
Just make sure that you follow the same pattern as you would when hiring a PR service – check their portfolio, and do your best to provide them with complete information.
RentACoder has many safeguards that prevent buyers (like you) from projects that go bad, so trust the system and follow their advice.
However, one bad apple does not make everyone else incompetent. Freelance websites are full of hard-working individuals wanting to earn good money – make sure that you find someone who is capable of doing the job, and then enjoy the benefits of a well-written press release for a fraction of the price.
What is your opinion on DIY vs Professional writers?
Every color is associated with a specific quality or emotion. They have the power to impact shopping habits of consumers. They can make readers happy or sad. They can fill visitors with excitement or depress them. Bad or unmatched colors can also drive users away. Today, bloggers are more concerned about creating top quality content and using social media to increase shareability. That’s fine. But you can never ignore the value of colors when it comes to building a blog your target audience will love coming back to over and over again.
Before we delve deep into how colors can make a difference to your blog, let’s have a look at different specific qualities of different colors (according to the North American mainstream culture).
Major corporations spend thousand of dollars to identify colors that work best with their target audiences. Whether it’s about developing a product or packaging it attractively, colors have a vital role to play. It’s because different colors have different meanings for people of different cultures and backgrounds.
Significance of Blog Color Scheme
If you understand the meaning of different colors and know how they can affect visitors’ behavior, you’ll be able to choose the right colors for your blog. Use of appropriate colors in designing can increase the time spent on your blog by readers. It can also compel readers to return again.
According to a study, 52% of visitors didn’t come back to a blog only because they didn’t like its color and design. That means any mistake in choosing the colors for your blog can make a huge difference. Whether you want to build a brand, gain the trust of your blog readers, enhance readability on your site or make visitors feel at home, you should pay careful attention to choosing the most suited color scheme for your blog.
Choose appropriate colors for each of these blog sections –
The Content Body
Colors can increase blog readership by around 40%. They also ease the process of learning and comprehension. The color of images you add to your blog posts also plays an important role in holding readers’ attention.
The size of the blogosphere continues to swell. If you don’t choose the right color scheme, it might be tough to stand out in the crowd.
Think of Your Readers (the Target Audience)
Colors for a blog should be chosen according to the specific requirements of its target audience. To achieve success, you should first try to gather as much information about your readers or the target audiences as possible. Elements like cultural differences, class differences, gender differences and geographical locations are important considerations for selecting colors that your target audience would be comfortable with.
People belonging to the working class prefer colors like blue, red and green while those with high educational backgrounds like obscurer colors. Likewise, most of the women prefer red and orange colors. People from different geographical locations also respond differently to different colors.
Don’t Forget Your Brand
Colors have the potential to increase brand recognition by as much as 80%. That’s why the color scheme selection must always be done in the light of the brand value that you desire to create. If you have a blog attached to your website, you should never ignore the known brand colors.
Does your blog use the right colors? Please feel free to talk back in comments.
A resource page gives your blog readers one more reason to come back. But do you know what a resource page is? A resource page is actually a blog post that contains links to several other posts around a specific topic. Creating resource pages has become a habit with professional bloggers. First, they try to write posts on every useful aspect of an issue (or problem). Once they have written several blog posts addressing a similar topic, they go on to create a resource page that their readers can return to over and over again.
A resource page brings several benefits to bloggers –
It increases time spent for a single visitor.
It compels readers to visit a blog again and again.
It establishes a blogger’s expertise on a specific topic.
It works as an excellent link-bait.
Whether you want to get lots of organic backlinks or earn the trust of your blog readers (so you can convert them quickly), creating multiple resource pages on your blog is just the perfect way to go.
Think of ‘Resource Pages’ as Your ‘Biggest Hits’
Readers love to bookmark and share resource pages. Though you may have a lot of other top quality articles on your blog, packaging multiple top quality articles into a single post can prove to be the biggest hit. Such blog posts have the capability of going viral within a short span of time, attracting lots of traffic and generating lots of unsolicited (natural) backlinks for your blog.
How to Create a ‘Resource Page’
The best part about writing resource pages is that it doesn’t take as much time as writing a full blog post does. If you have multiple best posts around a similar topic, you can have a resource page up and running on your blog within minutes.
Here are the basic steps that you need to follow –
Browse all the categories on your blog
Pick those categories that have a lot of top quality posts
Select the best posts under those categories
Create the resource page(s)
Give the resource page a keyword-optimized heading
Write a brief but compelling introduction for the same
Add the titles of all selected posts to the resource page
Link the titles to their corresponding pages
Publish the resource page
It’s really important to package your resource page well. Make sure you optimize the resource page for the keywords you want it to rank for. Also you should remember to arrange all the posts in proper order, so that the resource pages looks like a useful guide or tutorial.
5 Good Examples
Since examples can quickly give you an idea on what a good resource page should look like, I gathered five of them you can have a look at.
How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners (Problogger.net)
How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Copyblogger.com)
Growing a Blog (About.com)
How to Build an Email List 101 (TrafficGenerationCafe.com)
Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO (SearchEngineLand.com)
So, are you going to create resource pages on your blog now? Please let me know in the comments section below.
I’ve written several articles on the benefits of blog commenting. And I couldn’t resist writing one more. Recently, a lot of debate has been going on as to whether it’s worthwhile to allow commenting on one’s blog.
There are some who think of comments as mere ‘bullshit’. There are others who support commenting as a ‘form of democracy’. Let’s have a look at what MG Siegler (a columnist for TechCrunch) has to say.
“Here’s the thing: while some try to paint comments as a form of democracy, that’s bullshit. 99.9% of comments are bile. I’ve heard the counter arguments about how you need to curate and manage your comments — okay, I’m doing that by not allowing any.”
From the readers’ point of view, commenting provides them with a great feeling of participation. It also creates a sense of belonging, around which the entire concept of blogosphere revolves. On the other hand, listening to people’s views via comments motivates the blogger to work even harder so as to deliver what the former are actually looking for. That’s exactly the reason blog comments are seen as a ‘form of democracy’.
Still, many people would call blog commenting to be nothing more than a waste of time. Let them have their own opinions. Supporters, however, don’t see comments as something worthless or vile. Though, at times, commenting tends to get noisy, you will certainly miss out on a rich experience by turning off comments or not allowing people to share those ‘little tendrils of thought’.
I think permitting readers to comment on your blog is as much democratic as it is for you to freely share your own views by publishing posts.
If Commenting is a ‘Form of Democracy’, It can be Misused
It’s obvious. ‘Power to People’ can be misused. But that’s what rules and policies are made for. Instead of shutting out people from commenting, a serious blogger should find ways to optimize the discourse so that it adds value to the conversation (which is the soul of a blog) that strikes up after a post is published.
It’s simply unacceptable or immoral to deny democratic freedom to others while you’re enjoying it yourself. If you’ve got the freedom to express your opinions publicly by publishing blog posts, you have no right to prevent others from sharing what they think about a particular topic. Not giving people the right to comment is like ‘ruling as a dictator’.
Not Allowing People to Comment is Highly ‘Unsocial’
How can you afford to be unsocial when the entire world is fast turning into a global village? Video chats are creating global classrooms. A new era of interactive advertising is about to begin. Searches are getting social. Regardless of their size, businesses are focusing more on the ‘listening’ part of the customer acquisition process. A blog is one of the best social media tools that you can use. You can never imagine to use a social media tool without being social yourself, can you?
Do you support or detest blog comments? Let us know by casting your vote in the tweet poll below and commenting.
Last week, I got all teary and vulnerable as I spilled the beans on how I miserably failed with my first blog.
Admitting defeat is the first step in the “12-Steps to Getting Over a Blogging Failure” program. Step 12 is to learn from your mistakes and start all over.
Last week we talked about failing to pick the right niche, do your keyword research, and pick the right domain.
Now let’s move on to the final three reasons I committed my first blog suicide.
4. I Failed to Make My Blog Look Professional
Yes, blog design does matter, especially when your readers have a sea of other blogs to choose from.
Most of your first-time visitors will spend but a few seconds on your blog, deciding whether they should read on or move on.
The last thing you want your blog design to do is to scream out “I am an amateur!” in the face of your audience.
When I say “professional design“, I don’t mean to make it sound like you need to spend an arm and a leg hiring a professional designer, which could run you about $1,500 to $2,000.
No, you don’t need to spend MUCH money on your blog design, but you do need to spend SOME.
Here’s what I recommend you do to take your blog design from lame to polished:
- Stop using free themes. You don’t want to look like any other blog out there, plus you don’t want to ruin any chances of getting search engine traffic because of poor coding.
- Get a premium theme. They usually cost under $100, are SEO-ready (some better than others), and are fully customizable, even if you want to do it yourself. I personally use Thesis theme on my blog for those specific reasons.
- Customize the theme. You’ll have 3 choices here: A. do it yourself – once you have a good theme to work with, it’s not that difficult to make it look custom; B. buy a semi-custom skin – theme skin customizes your out-of-the-box theme and allows you to add personal touches to it; C. Hire someone to do it for you – with premium themes like Thesis, there’s no shortage of freelancers that will be over-joyed to help you.
5. I Failed to Find my Voice
Now that you have a professional and inviting blog design and get your readers to actually scroll down to see more of what you have to offer, you REALLY have to show them what you are made of.
What’s your hook?
How are you different from thousands of other blogs out there?
With my first blog, I tried to write what I THOUGHT my readers wanted to read. I sounded sweet and fluffy and made myself nauseous and ready to throw a white flag pretty quickly.
I made a much better choice when I started Traffic Generation Cafe: I decided to use the voice I ALREADY had.
Be myself – what a novel idea!
Turned out that was exactly what made my blog successful: no fluff, no rose-colored glasses, just plain-looking bulleted posts that contained nothing but actionable advice.
If your blog is voiceless, then you need to find an angle that sets you apart from the rest of the herd NOW.
Here are some possible ideas:
1. If you have a great personality already, look no further; just be yourself.
3. Create a multi-author blog and share different views on a controversial subject.
4. Have a reader-driven blog, where readers ask questions and you answer them in blog posts. In the beginning, you might have to browse other blogs to find questions you could answer or come up with your own.
5. Create a video-log, communicating with your visitors via videos exclusively. Many readers learn much better from video, but for those who don’t, plus for SEO purposes, I’d publish video transcripts to go with each video.
6. Failing to Choose the Right Blogging Platform
This wasn’t one of my mistakes, but I think it’s important to mention it here since I see so many bloggers take the wrong turn on this one.
It doesn’t take a brainiac to do a quick research on Google and learn that a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is the way to go.
Sure free blogging platforms like Blogger.com, WordPress.com are much easier to set up and don’t cost you a penny.
HOWEVER, consider this:
1. MONEY: free platforms are definitely not huge fans of you trying to make an income off their sites, which means no AdSense, no paid ads, no affiliate links.
If they catch you do anything against their TOS, they’ll shut your blog down in a jiffy without any warning.
2. FUNCTIONALITY: most of the cool internet marketing tools like plugins, themes, and support are for self-hosted blogs only. Without having access to such tools to enhance your blog, you are giving your competitors everything they need to take over your niche.
My grandmother was right when she said “Learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Did you do it? Of course, not.
But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made. It’s up to you.
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Since this is my first guest post for Gerald’s blog (thanks for having me here, Gerald, by the way – I am honored!), I somehow find it appropriate to start this post with bragging about myself.
I run a very successful blog that primarily focuses on increasing your website traffic by all (mostly free) means possible: TrafficGenerationCafe.com.
My blog is just over a year old, yet it has achieved a lot of recognition in the internet marketing niche. If you haven’t heard about it, you must be new; let’s quickly fix it by you visiting Traffic Generation Cafe as soon as you finish reading this post.
Now that I opened this post with a good amount of blowing my own trumpet, let me tell you something that not too many people know: TGC wasn’t the first blog I started.
As a matter of fact, my first blog miserably failed. Just goes to show that the path to success is paved with failures, right?
Well, the good thing that came out of all of this is the fact that I learned from my mistakes, avoided them when I created my present blog, which turned out to be a success, and now feel qualified to tell you what I did wrong in the first place, so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes.
1. I Failed to Pick a Niche
I see it over and over again in the blogosphere – people who blog about everything under the sun.
Even they don’t know what their blog is about. Where does that leave their readers? Or better yet, Google?
Yes, Google needs to be told what your blog is about in order for it to start ranking you for your chosen keywords. Left alone, it’ll just guess what your niche is and start ranking you for some strange keywords that will never result in targeted SEO traffic.
And your readers? They need a reason to come back to your blog and the best way to do it is to provide them with information that is beneficial to their businesses. However, it’s a bit hard to do when you don’t have a niche.
Here’s another good one: “I am in the internet marketing niche.”
In my book, that falls under “everything under the sun.”
Take, for instance, Gerald’s blog.
Why do I love to come here? Because I can count on finding consistently great information on SEO link building here.
Why do my readers return to my blog again and again? Because they know that they can find everything they need to increase their blog traffic at Traffic Generation Cafe.
My first blog had no niche.
NO NICHE = POOR CONTENT = NO READERSHIP
That was the first reason why my original blog was on its way to blogging suicide the minute I started it.
2. I Failed to Do Keyword Research
This one goes hand in hand with failing to pick a niche.
Just because we THINK something might make a good niche, doesn’t mean that there will be any demand for it.
Did you know that:
- 90% of keywords will never bring you much traffic?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% will never make you any money?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% are way too competitive to consider for your niche?
I hear this a lot from bloggers giving advice on picking a niche: go with your passion. “You have to love what you do.”
This is not EHarmony; LIKING what you do and making a good income from it is good enough for me.
Picking the right niche starts with a thorough keyword research, period.
And picking the right keywords starts with exploring what your potential target market might be interested in, NOT where your passion lies.
As you can imagine, this topic goes way beyond the scope of the post, but I’ll tell you this: both Gerald and I can’t take a step without Market Samurai as our primary keyword research tool.
Picking up a copy of Market Samurai was the first thing I did when I realized that my first blog was on its last leg.
That’s what helped me to pick “traffic generation” as my niche and turned out to be one of the most profitable decisions I’ve made.
3. I Failed to Pick a Great Domain Name
I know this one will rise some eyebrows, so let me start with an example.
Let’s say you are searching for information on how to increase blog traffic.
You do a Google search and the top two results for it are as follows:
Which one would you believe provides the information you are looking for? Which one would you choose over the other?
See my point?
Sure it’s nice to have YourName.com as your domain name: it’s flattering, boosts our egos, and… well, that’s about it.
Does it make you money though?
Unless you are a household name, I strongly suggest that you let your domain name reflect the essence of your niche, your main theme.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying you shouldn’t own YourName.com. Quite the contrary, I definitely think you should purchase it.
Just don’t use it as your primary domain, that’s all.
More tips on how to pick a great domain name:
- Make it as short as possible.
- Don’t use words that are easy to misspell.
- Buy a .com domain.
- Use your main keywords in it if you can.
- Make it easy to remember – great for direct traffic.
- Stay away from hyphens and numbers.
Fun and catchy is always a plus; although this guy might’ve overdone it by a cinch – www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com. Did I mention not to use hyphens?
What to do if you already have a domain name, but don’t think it’s working for your blog?
Yes, it’s a pain in the neck.
But if you look at the long-term benefits, they usually far outweigh any short-term hassle this move might cause.
I did it when I killed my first blog.
Instead of creating a brand new blog from scratch, I created Traffic Generation Cafe using my first blog as a foundation. Since it already had some traffic and content, it only made sense.
My friend Jane Sheeba recently did it as well and wrote this great tutorial on how to do it step by step.
No, I am not short-changing you – just trying to give your attention span a break.
We’ll talk about the other three reasons I committed blogging suicide next week, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, let me leave you with this: if any of this struck a chord with you, don’t just ignore it.
Don’t just say “It’s too late to change it now.”
It’s never too late. Especially if your business is struggling. One of these changes just might be the push it needs.
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PS I am excited to announce that I am starting a new giveaway for CommentLuv Premium plus a free 30-minute consultation with me. Entering is easy. Just check out my CommentLuv Premium Giveaway post for more details.
It’s easy to get hung up on the words you write. As a top blogger, you’d be foolish to not at least consider them. After all, words, sentences and paragraphs are your bread and butter.
But once you’ve worked out what to say and the tone in which to say it, do you take the time to consider the format?
Because if the layout of your copy isn’t readable, nobody’s going to stick around to see what you’ve written. And that renders all your well-chosen words redundant.
So read on and learn the secrets that are going to ensure your target audience is going to read all the way to the end.
The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts
Master the Art of the Paragraph
We all remember when we’re obliged to start a new paragraph. When you change topic, change time or change place. That’s what your teacher told you at school, so you just keep ploughing on with the same rambling paragraph until you’ve exhausted the topic, run out of time, or moved to sunny Tijuana.
You credulous buffoon. Why on earth did you think your teacher was right?
Here’s the one time you need to change paragraph. Doesn’t matter if time, topic and place are still the same, there’s one point when you need to hit that return key.
When dramatic effect demands it.
A quick, single sentence paragraph is visual shorthand for “this bit is important”. So make use of them when you’re sharing something groundbreaking. And watch as your reader starts to scroll down looking for the next one.
Or for something just as arresting…
Hit ‘em With a Hail of Bullet (Points)
What have great bloggers and successful gangsters got in common? Other than a penchant for whisky cocktails and jaunty hats?
That’s right – they both know how to fire bullet points with deadly accuracy.
Why are bullet points so effective?
- Visually arresting – a bullet point hits you like, well, a bullet between the eyes. You can’t ignore it. You stop and read.
- Clear and concise – it’s impossible to ramble on a bullet point. You’re throwing out pure, distilled information
- Breaks up blocks – people won’t read a wall of text. Liberally scatter your bullets, and your layout remains fresh and interesting.
Stop Skimmers by Sprinkling in Subheadings
Skim readers love subheadings. It’s pretty much all they’ll stop for.
And you want a skim reader to stop, because if they don’t, they’re scrolling all the way to the bottom, off the page and out of your life.
So unleash a few content speedbumps to slow them down. Enticing and enlightening subheadings help your readers to find the content they find most useful or interesting – so they’ll make a bee-line straight for it.
And then they’ll read it.
And if they’ve slowed down long enough to read a whole subsection, they’ve slowed down long enough to write a comment, hammer out a tweet, or buy your eBook.
Not bad for a bit of bolded text.
The Internet Can’t Say No to a Funny Picture
By now, the reader’s concentration is beginning to flag. All the typographical tricks are keeping them on the page, but you need to cut them some slack.
So throw in an illustration or two.
Preferably one that backs up your points – and don’t forget to add an amusing caption, just to re-enforce your message. Because long after they’ve forgotten the exact wording of your advice, they’ll remember that the funny monkey told them just how to keep people reading.
Beef Up Arguments With Block Quotes
By now, you’re coming around to my way of thinking. You’re plotting sublime subheaders, and coming up with cunning captions.
But something’s nagging at the back of your mind. Wouldn’t this post be truly, completely irresistible if you could just see a second opinion?
Block quotes are a great way of providing a second opinion. As they’re generally from another authority on your subject of choice, they carry weight.
And because they’re visually interesting, they fulfill the same role as bullets points and subheaders – they force the reader to slow down and pay attention!
Mr603 – Outspoken Member of the Twitterati
Yeah. That’ll just about cover it.
Think About Your Font
I can say with some certainty that you’re probably not going to have a clue. Which is frankly ridiculous if you want to create a truly irresistible post.
The art of font creation is a huge subject that I don’t have space to get into here. But prove the power of the font to yourself. Copy this post into a word processor.
Now set the font to Comic Sans or Vivaldi.
I think that proves my point. Don’t you?
Follow the six secret steps, and you’ll have framed your content in an absolutely irresistible way. But don’t rest on your laurels yet, dear blogger.
Because you’ve still got a final chance to throw it all away. By irritating your readers and driving them from your site, never to return.
Irritating blog quirks could fill a whole post to themselves, but there are two content killers that you’ll need to avoid at all costs:
- Pop Ups: I know you want your reader to sign up to your mailing list. But please don’t hurl a pop-up at them after they’ve just started to read. It’ll break their concentration and raise their hackles. Just don’t take the risk.
- Pagination: We’ve all got mouse wheels. So don’t split your post into seven chapters across seven pages. Because a blog reader will scroll for miles and miles to read your content. Just don’t expect them to click.
So there you have it. The seven secret steps to making your blog’s content truly irresistible. You don’t need to use all seven techniques in everything you post, but keep all of these techniques in your locker, and you’ll find your audience to be far more responsive.
And who can blame them? You’re totally irresistible.