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What I Learned From Liars and Journalists, and How it Made Me a Better Blogger

This guest post is by Austin Gunter, of WP Engine.

Trust Me, I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator is the title of Ryan Holiday’s new book about the tactics cutting-edge bloggers use to drive hundreds of thousands of viewers to their blogs, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Ryan, author of controversial posts like The Top 5 Performing American Apparel Ads, And How They Get PR For Free (NSFW), is the Director of Marketing at American Apparel, and is a self-proclaimed “media manipulator.” He has made a high-flying career serving irresistible blog content to places like the Huffington Post, Gawker, and Jezebel.

I waited more than a year for Trust Me, I’m Lying to hit the shelves. The book has pushed my limits as a marketer and as a person from the second it arrived in my mailbox. You must read the book. I’ve personally poured through the book late at night to wring every last bit of knowledge from its pages and make my own blogging irresistible.

From my reading, I’ve picked out a set of unexpected tactics that I want to share with the Problogger audience. In this post, we’ll go in-depth with these unexpected methods, how you can use them to make your page views spike every single day.

Way back in history…

Way back in American History, nearly 150 years ago, newspapers were run by incredibly brilliant marketers. Folks like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer learned how to sell newspapers one copy at a time using headlines and sensational stories to entice businessmen to spend their hard-earned money on a paper.

19th century newspapers like The New York Sun and The New York Journal were sold one paper at a time, their success riding on how compelling the front page was. The more engaging the content, the better the paper sold.

Sound familiar? That’s because blogs live and die by the pageview. Every page on a blog has to stand on its own, or get lost in the shuffle of the Internet. Blogging and the “Yellow Journalism” of the mid-19th century are ridiculously similar.

Selling newspapers one copy at a time, in the hustle and bustle of the already-hectic, and often inhospitable island of Manhattan, for example, is the same hustle that bloggers must have to be successful.

There’s money to be made, but how is a single blog supposed to stand out from the crowd and draw page views amidst the hustle and bustle of Twitter, Facebook, and Business-Insider’s link-bait photo galleries?

How did The New York Journal and The New York Sun sell millions of copies of their papers?

And how can you, the blogger, use old-school journalistic tactics and a bit of sensationalism to draw traffic to the valuable content of your blog? Here are some suggestions.

Yellow journalism tactics that generate pageviews

Before I lay out these incredibly powerful blogging tactics, I want to issue a warning.

While the methods we’re about to explore flat-out work, and can generate six-figure pageviews for your blog, many of them are inspired by the dark history of American journalism. Please know your limits before you go crazy injecting your writing with the the methods I share with you in this post.

Focus on the fear

Use headlines that might threaten your audience’s way of life. Fear is a powerful motivator for immediate action. Writing a headline that invokes fear makes it nearly impossible for your audience to look away. This example from The New York Journal shows an irresistible headline.

Get news faster

“Special Edition” papers that broke the news sold in incredible numbers. Social media platforms make breaking news a minute-by-minute affair. If you can publish the story immediately, you benefit from the pageviews.

  • Liveblog the conferences you attend, embedding tweets and social shares on your blog using WordPress and Storify.
  • Publish short post quickly, and follow up with a more detailed analysis when the dust settles.
  • On the move? Use the mobile WordPress app to publish photos of news unfolding in front of you.

Even if the story is you sharing your opinion, you still posted first. As The Huffington Post advertises on their homepage: “Breaking News and Opinion…”

Get exclusives

Can you publish a story that nobody else can access? The story must be relevant and valuable to your audience, so if you write about WordPress, your exclusive can’t be about Fantasy Football. But, if you have the inside scoop on WordPress 3.5, or you run an Apple Rumor blog and you know about secret bug fixes in Mountain Lion, that’s big news that literally millions of people care about.

Ask the question, “Would this exclusive affect my audience’s business or behavior?,” if you’re unclear whether the exclusive will be attention-grabbing.

Give away the story in the headline

You want the headline to contain the entire story. If you can tell the whole story in the headline, you’ll still get the click. The art is in succinctly telling the story, with details, in about 110 characters, short enough to fit into a tweet without editing.

Here’s a 19th century example from The New York Journal:

“CALL TO DUTY: 250,000 VOLUNTEERS ARE ASSIGNED TO WAR STATIONS. Preparing for the final blow at Cuba, New York Furnishes Twelve Regiments.”

Here’s a recent one from The Huffington Post this August:

“A PALL OVER PAUL. GOP PROS FUME: Romney Ceded Election With Ryan Pick.”

That’s a headline built for tweeting.

Embrace the controversy

Just like fear, outrage is a powerful motivator. The perfect recipe for controversy is to highlight the extreme position of a particular issue. Nuance won’t inspire immediate action, and unfortunately anything that takes longer than “immediately” takes too long to tweet.

Politics has always been a good way to stir the controversy. Take this headline for example:

“BOTH HOUSES, In Uproar, Threatening Revolt, WARN M’KINLEY”

The emphasis is from the headline, not my own. Notice how the upper-case words focus the reader on the controversy at hand, while the lower-case words contain the nuance that requires a bit more time to process?

Don’t be limited to the politics of presidential elections. Your online community has its own politics that you can engage. If the content gets people talking in the comments, there was a good chance it was controversial.

For example, this recent post engages the gender controversy, and generates some rather insightful and open discussions in the comments.

Use pictures!

Call it Industrial Revolution Link-Bait. The front pages of The New York Journal were full of images designed to push the limits on cultural mores, including illustrations of nearly-nude women and explosions from the wars that were happening.

Spain

Image courtesy Wikipedia

World

Image courtesy Wikipedia

By contrast, here’s a post I wrote about the bodies of the summer Olympic athletes.

Conclusion

The tactics that I’ve laid out here are inspired by Ryan Holiday’s exposé of the industry, Trust Me, I’m Lying. I’ve only scratched the surface of what he covers in the book, which is recommended reading for writers, from PR to bloggers, to community mangers, making their livings on the Internet.

Many of these tactics are controversial at best, and some of them may push our boundaries as writers. My goal isn’t to write a post that makes you feel comfortable, but instead to provide insight into what it takes to generate page views for your blog. I do encourage you to know where your own limits are, and to decide how you want to define “success” for your online content.

Blogs live and die by the page view, just like Yellow Journalism, which was measured based on how many papers were sold each day. The question is: how much is one page view worth to your site?

Tell me in the comments how far you’re willing to go for a click. I’m curious to see the spectrum of spectacle. On balance, who is a successful blogger that would never use any of these tactics?

Austin Gunter is a blogger, a writer, and a massive extravert. He works and lives as the Brand Ambassador for WP Engine, managing the marketing, branding, and PR for their Managed WordPress Hosting Platform. Austin drinks yerba maté daily and is really good at twitter You should follow him, @austingunter. His own WordPress is found at austingunter.com.

The Problem with Almost All Blogs—and An Easy Solution

This guest post is by John Trayhorn of the ECHO Affiliate Blog.

This post describes a problem that affects almost all bloggers, and almost certainly affects you. Implement these changes, and you should see page views, revenues and social sharing soar.

How it begins

You start off a great blog.

To start with almost nobody reads it. Hey, it takes time to build up an audience. (If you’ve just started, don’t give up—longevity is one of the keys to a successful blog!)

As time passes, you slowly gain an audience. When you publish a new blog post, you get a surge of readers.

But:

  1. Most of those readers will never see your old blog posts.
  2. Despite your increasing popularity, many people who do visit your blog and like it will miss many of your new blog posts.
  3. The readers never see your blog organised into a logical and coherent sequence.

There’s a solution.

What’s more, it’s easy to implement, has huge benefits and doesn’t take a lot of your time.

The solution to the problem

I first found the solution when I ran an Adsense website.

I noticed that most of the revenue came from our articles about jobs. We were already using an autoresponder website to send out our newsletters. But to maximise revenue, we needed to do something more.

Email blogging, done right

You may well have heard of autoresponders, or use one yourself, but hang on in with me—there’s more to it than sending out a few emails when you write a new blog post, or have something to sell.

Instead, you send out an email about every post you have ever written.

Not at the same time, of course. If you have an old blog with a lot of posts, the process could be spread out over years! And don’t include the post in the email—the aim is to get the reader back to your blog.

Instead, explain how each blog post will create value to your reader, and then include a link with a call to action back to the post. Remember to use a fantastic headline and to test these over time, so you get more and more opens—and more and more clickthroughs.

In my case, I took all our jobs articles, organised them into a logical sequence, emailed users about them over a couple of months, and watched our Adsense revenue explode from a few few hundred dollars to a peak of just under $3000.

You can see an example of one of our autoresponder emails here:

Autoresponder example

As I found out later, this approach works even better if you have a high-value product to sell.

Benefits for you, benefits for your readers

Think of this:

  1. Everyone you sign up gets to see every great post you have ever written (if any have bombed, you should cut them out of the email sequence—if not your blog).
  2. A one-off visitor can be turned into a person who visits your blog multiple times over the years using this technique.

What’s more, an increase in regular visitors leads into other benefits, such as:

  • more social sharing
  • more links
  • more comments
  • more revenue
  • and the much greater relationship you get with long-term readers.

This approach does require a change of emphasis on your blog. If you use this technique, your primary goal should be to get readers to sign up, not just to read.

You will also need to create a clear benefit to signing up, such as a free guide, an email course or, if you are selling a product, discount codes. (An email course can be as simple as your existing blog posts organised into a more logical sequence.)

Don’t think you are being selfish, either. There are clear benefits to the reader, who gets an organized sequence of free blog posts about a topic they’re interested in.

Have you used autoresponders to get traffic to your old posts? Tell us how it worked in the comments.

You can read more tips like this on the ECHO Affiliate Blog. And, of course, make sure you sign up so you get all of our fantastic tips via auto-responder!

What to Put Above the Fold on Your Blog, And Why

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

Above the fold

The Blog Tyrant is a 26 year old Australian guy who plays video games at lunch time and sells blogsfor $20,000 a pop.

Seven Traffic Techniques for Bloggers—and Metrics to Measure Them

Over the last couple of months here at Problogger.net, we’ve taken a tour of the traffic techniques that are essential to bloggers. While not all bloggers use or focus on all techniques, the ones we’ve covered probably make up the core traffic tools used by bloggers today:

Traffic

Image courtesy stock.xchng user angel_ruiz

I’ve used all of these methods myself, and I daresay that the longer you’ve been online, the more of them you’ve tried. The thing with traffic, though, is that it’s easy to focus just on our total traffic figure, rather than considering whether the traffic we’re attracting is right for our blog, or how it affects our other metrics.

So today what I’d like to do is point out a few alternative ways to consider your traffic levels. Taking a more holistic perspective of how your traffic is reaching your blog can open our eyes to new possibilities not just for promotion, but for reader retention. Let’s see how that can work.

Search engine optimization metrics

Most of us spend a little time each week looking at the content that’s attracting the most search traffic to our sites. we might analyse that content, to try to work out what we’ve done right, or the keyphrases searched on, to see which ones we’re ranking well for. But here’s a slightly different take, that looks at the keyphrases that generated the lowest bouncerates, as a way to get to know your readers better.

  1. Open Google Analytics, and go to Traffic Sources.
  2. Select Search, then Organic.
  3. In this list, you’ll see some of your older posts, but you might also find some more recent ones that have attracted a large amount of search traffic. I think that looking at these posts can give us a good idea of the information our target audience is currently searching for—the problems they’re having right now. To find that out, click on the newest post that’s in the list.
  4. Analytics show you a page dedicated to search traffic for that post. Select Traffic Sources from the Secondary Dimension dropdown, and choose Keyword in the list that appears.
  5. You’ll see a list of all the keywords searchers used to come to your site, along with other information (visits, pages per visit, etc.) for each one.

This is where things get interesting. We know that these days, fewer and fewer visitors land on our sites’ homepages—most are entering our blogs through deeper pages (check your stats to see how this works on your blog). And we also know that many people who come to our sites through the search engines may not be in our target audiences.

As an example, this post attracts a lot of search traffic to ProBlogger, but since he material’s of interest to such a wide range of users, we can immediately guess that only a small portion of those readers are going to stick around. The bounce stats on that piece reflect this.

That doesn’t mean the piece doesn’t target my desired readers, though. In among the high bounce rates are some lower ones, and by looking at the language that those people used to find the post, I can get some valuable insights about how the people who stick around phrase their searches on this topic. If I take a look at a few other high-traffic posts, I can start to form a clear picture of how these users search.

For example, that post I mentioned above, on setting up an email account that uses your domain name, got the lowest bounce rate by people searching with the phrase, “how to set up personal email on gmail.” When I compare this with some of the higher-bounce rate search phrases, like “use gmail with my domain,” I can start to get a hint about the types of people that that content satisfies. When I look at the other low-bounce rate phrases that were used to find other high-search-traffic posts, that picture really starts to take shape.

I could use this information to:

  • see if I can lower bounce rates for similarly formed search phrases on other posts by including key phrases that are written more like these ones
  • review the success of this topic with my current readership as a way to work out if these searchers fit with the larger audience I’m trying to attract, and…
  • …if so, consider dropping in some more content around this topic, using the low-bounce rate key phrase, to better meet the needs of current and potential users
  • see if I can use this kind of language to target more engaged traffic with other techniques, like search or social media advertising.

If nothing else, by reviewing low-bounce rate organic search phrases that searchers use to reach my blog, I can get a feel for the kinds of keyphrases—or, more broadly, topic-specific language, that might attract people who are more likely to be satisfied by the site as a whole. I wonder how this could work on your blog?

Content marketing metrics

Most bloggers are well versed in the process of reviewing their stats after a guest post publication on another site, to see how the post performed, and get ideas about what works, and what doesn’t, and how we can make our content marketing more effective over time.

But if we look at referred traffic levels only, we may not get the full picture of how effective our content marketing effort was. What about social shares and the quality and quantity of comments? Compiling a collection of relevant metrics for each guest post into a tracking sheet that contains information on all your guest posts can help you build up an understanding over time of:

  • which types of content work where
  • how (e.g. they’re readily shared, or the host site has a massive audience that always generates a spike on your site), and
  • why (are your headlines particularly great, is it that you always choose the right format, that your information stands out from the crowd, or something else?).

Taking your subscription levels and bounce rates into account as part of that ongoing analysis can help you get a hold on the other side of the equation: how well you’re managing the traffic that your content marketing generates, and where you can improve.

Looking at pure traffic levels can really limit your understanding—and the efficacy—of your content marketing efforts.

Online advertising metrics

At their most basic, online ad metrics are something we look at to assess the impact of our campaigns. If you use advertising as a traffic generator, it’s pretty easy to assess whether it’s working: just look at your ad service interface.

Once you know what’s working for you to generate traffic through ad networks, why not look to apply that knowledge in buying ad space directly on other sites in your niche? Invest the time honing your visuals and ad CTAs to suit the ad networks, and you’ll have a head start when it comes to creating ads specifically for the readers of peer sites in your market.

Those successes might also play into other traffic generation techniques—keyword selection, for example, which can play into strategies for SEO and content generation. But perhaps you’ll also start looking at tying advertising to some of the other traffic generation tactics you use. Advertising on a site as your guest post is published there is one example. Advertising your subscription offering or downlaodable, free whitepaper is another.

Subscription metrics

It’s easy to look at a rising subscription level and think “great!” but to get a clear picture of what’s going on, I like to consider it in light of overall traffic levels—and the proportion of that traffic that’s new and returning.

A typical increase in my subscriptions is good … unless traffic increased by more than usual over the month. On the other hand, a disproportionate rise in subscriptions when traffic growth has remained normal presents other questions. In both cases, I’ll want to investigate further—to see where subscriptions are or aren’t coming from, and work out if there’s something I should tweak to try to improve the figures.

These questions work well in conjunction with some of the other traffic stats we’ve been looking at. If my review of low-bounce rate search traffic suggests certain language or key phrases could catch new visitors’ attention, I might try a different call to action on my subscription page. If they’re coming from a certain other sites—perhaps as a result of content marketing efforts or backlinks—then I might offer a relevant free download for new subscribers next month, and see if that helps boost conversions.

Ultimately, reviewing the ratio of subscriptions to new traffic often prompts us into some kind of action, and in a way that looking at conversions alone may not.

Social media metrics

Analytics’ Referrals screen gives you access to a good deal of information about all referrers—including social networks. Again, looking at these stats alone is okay for finding out which of your posts is getting a lot of clickthroughs, but there are a lot of variables that can affect click in social media, including how the information is resented by those who share it. So I prefer not to take that information on its own.

Instead, I might compare the clicks Analytics has recorded on individual links through a given social network (e.g. Twitter) with the shares I’ve tracked for that article, to get an idea of a shares-to-clicks ratio. For those that got the most clicks, I’ll also compare those stats with overall traffic to the article for the month. This is a good way to get an idea of which kinds of content perform well in social media, perhaps even over a longer time.

As an example, a post that generated a lot of clicks through Twitter in the last month was Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts, which is nearly a year old. A deeper investigation shows that the post was reshared at the start of the month, causing a traffic spike that lasted for a period of days as that initial retweet was re-shared.

So social media metrics aren’t just about what’s trending—they can also be a good indicator of posts that could provide you with strong traffic opportunities over the longer term, and perhaps provide material for use in other formats too.

Backlink metrics

Their SEO potential aside, organic backlinks offer a real opportunity for the blogger who wants to give their content marketing efforts more punch. For example, looking at your referring sites for the last month can alert you to sites and sub-niches that are relevant to yours, or of growing importance. It can also show that content that’s hiding in your archives is getting attention from others—and may be worthy of more attention from you, too.

This month, I found that this very old post, RSS vs. Atom: What’s the Big Deal? had been linked to from a tutorial on making an RSS feed of your Facebook updates. Although that tute was publish more than a year ago, it’s obviously had some traffic in the last little while—and some of that has flowed through to my blog!

How can I use this information to boost traffic?

  • I could do some interlinking and updating to try to reduce bounce rates from the new traffic coming to that post, and encourage more of these new users to look at other content I have on related topics.
  • At the very least, I could include a link to my own RSS feed in the article, since these users are obviously interested in the kinds of tips that we talk about here on ProBlogger, and are comfortable with RSS.
  • I could compile a Facebook marketing guide using evergreen content from my blog and use it as an incentive to encourage these visitors to subscribe, so I can try to increase their repeat visits to the blog.
  • I could create more content on that topic, specific to that audience need, and send it to other sites in that niche as guest posts (containing more backlinks of course).
  • I could ask the post’s author if he’d like to revamp and “republish” the post on my site as a means to attract even more attention to it.
  • I could offer the site that linked to the piece a sponsorship package for that article, and others like it on my site.

These are just a few ideas‚ but the options are almost endless for each niche and topic area. While bloggers may feel that they’ve lost control over backlinks following the last Google update, backlinks are obviously still worth paying attention to as an indicator of what your audience—and those in related niches, feel is valuable about your blog. And as we know, value is the way to build strong recurring traffic over the longer term.

Networking and collaboration metrics

Of all the traffic sources we discussed, this one’s probably the most difficult to track in aggregate. While you can count traffic generated through a guest-posting collaboration or a shared effort like a cross-blog competition or carnival, it can be difficult to gauge the full traffic benefits of these efforts even in the short term—let alone over longer timeframes.

It’s true that for some of the collaborative opportunities I mentioned last week—writing book, for example, or running a highly localised event—you can do some forms of analysis. You can track the time it takes to organize and run the event, and compare that with the income and subscriptions you generate from it, and traffic levels immediately following that effort.

But I think that often, the number don’t tell the full story here. These kinds of collaborative efforts can have far-reaching effects over the longer term, and often that impact can be subtle, or difficult to attribute directly to the event you ran eight—or eighteen—months ago.

So one of the ways I “measure” the impacts of these efforts is to think about how energised I feel by doing them. If you’re engaged with your blog’s audience, you should get a good feel for their response to these events and ideas. Are they excited? Are they telling others about it? Are they asking you questions about it and engaging with the products of your collaboration wherever they can? How does their response make you feel? Are you as excited as they are? How does your collaborator feel?

Answering these questions should give you at the very least a rough idea of the long-term potential of a joint effort with your blog’s readership.

What traffic metrics are you keeping an eye on?

The world of traffic generation involves a galaxy of metrics. But in truth, with all the other things bloggers have to do, few of us pay very focused attention to the details of our metrics all the time. For most, a general overview, supplemented by a few key metrics, may be all we go on most of the time.

I’d love to hear which metrics you’re paying the most attention to at the moment, and why. Are you looking at your referrers to gauge the impact of your social media efforts, or a guest post you’ve just had published? Are you working hard on SEO, and keeping an eye on your organic (or paid!) search traffic levels? Tell us what you’re watching in the comments.

Top 10 WordPress Security Myths

This guest post is by Anders Vinther of The WordPress Security Checklist.

WordPress Security is about as sexy as cleaning your house. And as a serious blogger, you already know that securing your site properly is not a trivial task.

That makes it a fantastic topic for myth fabrication.

In this post, I’ve compiled the top ten WordPress security myths for your easy consumption, followed by a light sprinkle of facts to debunk the myths.

Here are the myths:

  1. WordPress is not secure.
  2. Nobody wants to hack my blog.
  3. My WordPress site is 100% secure.
  4. I only use themes and plugins from wordpress.org so they are secure.
  5. Updating WordPress whenever I log in is cool.
  6. Once my WordPress site is setup my job is finished.
  7. I’ll just install xyz plugin and that’ll take care of security for me.
  8. If I disable a plugin or theme, there is no risk.
  9. If my site is compromised I will quickly find out.
  10. My password is good enough.

Myth 1. WordPress is not secure

When people experience security problems with their WordPress sites, they tend to blame WordPress. However, the WordPress core is very secure. And when a security hole is found, the development team is very quick to respond.

The most frequent causes for compromised WordPress sites are in fact:

  • outdated software
  • insecure themes and plugins
  • bad passwords
  • stolen FTP credentials
  • hosting problems.

For more on this topic, see WordPress Security Vulnerabilities.

Myth 2. Nobody wants to hack my blog

Most hacking attempts are automated. There are rarely personal or political motives behind WordPress hacking—more often the motives involve financial gain.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t have anything for sale on my site. I don’t have credit card information or any other sensitive information. What could they possibly steal from my site?”

What you do have is resources.

Possible ways to exploit your site are:

  • the insertion of spam links in your content to boost SEO for other sites
  • through malware infections of your visitors computers, e.g. to steal their financial information
  • redirecting your traffic to other sites.

For more details, see Are Small Sites Targeted For Hacking?

Myth 3. My WordPress site is 100% secure

No site that’s accessible on the internet will ever be 100% secure. Security vulnerabilities will always exist.

That is why you need a backup and recovery plan. If disaster strikes, you need to have a good backup available, and a plan for how to restore your site.

For more, see:

Myth 4. I only use themes and plugins from wordpress.org so they are secure

The WordPress Team reviews themes and plugins before they are included in the wordpress.org repository. However they do not have the resources to review updates.

Themes and plugins are developed by programmers from all over the world. Their experience and programming skills vary greatly, and so does the quality of their work. Even the best programmers make mistakes and all software contains bugs. Just pick a random plugin, look at the change log and you will see that bugs are routinely discovered and fixed. Even the best plugins developed by the most renowned people could contain undiscovered security risks.

Is it safer to get your themes and plugins from wordpress.org? Absolutely.

Is it guaranteed that there are no security problems with themes and plugins from wordpress.org? Absolutely not.

For more information, see:

Myth 5. Updating WordPress whenever I log in is cool

You need to keep WordPress core, plugins, and themes updated at all times. Whenever a security update is released the whole world can see what the problem was. This obviously exposes any site that has not been updated. Unless you log in to your WordPress admin dashboard every day, you’ll need a plugin that will notify you when updates are available.

More information can be found in the article, Update Notifications.

Myth 6. Once my WordPress site is set up, my job is finished

Having a WordPress site is an ongoing commitment—it’s like having a dog. As a bare minimum your WordPress blog needs to be maintained when new updates come out. This is crucial even if you do not write new posts or otherwise update the content.

If you simply leave your WordPress site behind like an abandoned holiday pet, chances are that you will be helping the bad guys carry out their malicious schemes to control the world. So if you will not or cannot keep your WordPress site updated, it’s better if you take it down!

Myth 7. I’ll just install xyz plugin and that’ll take care of security for me

You do need security plugins. And you need the right mix of security plugins. However, keeping your WordPress site secure goes well beyond what you install on your site.

Other factors you need to consider include:

  • securing the computer you use to connect to your hosting account (anti-virus, malware and firewalls)
  • creating and managing strong passwords
  • using Secure FTP to access your hosting account
  • protecting sensitive WordPress files from access from the internet
  • off-site WordPress monitoring.

Myth 8. If I disable a plugin or theme, there is no risk

All files that exist in your WordPress folder are accessible from the internet unless you specifically protect them. This means even disabled themes and plugins can be exploited if they are vulnerable.

The best practice is to remove anything you do not use. Or, at a minimum, make sure you keep de-activated themes and plugins updated.

Myth 9. If my site is compromised I will quickly find out

Professional hackers are not interested in you finding out that your site has been compromised. Therefore you might not find out what has happened until quite some time after a hack has occurred—if you find out at all.

Some types of hacks that are difficult to spot include:

  • redirection of all traffic coming from a search engine (so if you enter the URL in your browser or use a bookmark, everything will look normal)
  • the inclusion of hidden text in your posts and pages.

You need some kind of off-site monitoring of your WordPress site. For more details, see:

Myth 10. My password is good enough

Unless your WordPress admin password looks something like LR!!g&6uTFL%MD8cyo, you need to change your password management strategy. And make sure you do not reuse passwords on multiple websites.

Amazingly password and 123456 are still the two most used passwords! To find out more about this issue—and how to solve it—see:

Don’t get caught out!

Getting WordPress security right is not trivial. That’s probably the reason why too many bloggers stick their heads in the sand when it comes to protecting their valuable assets.

While you do need to be pro-active and take action WordPress Security is by no means an impossible task. The same way you would add an alarm to your car and get a guard dog for your house you need to secure your website. Don’t get caught with sand in your ears, nose, and mouth when the hackers come knocking on your door. Act now!

Check out ’s free WordPress Security Checklist, which is all about protecting your WordPress assets properly and sleeping well at night.

The Secret to Crazy-Happy Blogging

This guest post is by Lisa Cash Hanson of Mompreneuer Mogul.

“Try to discover
The road to success
And you’ll seek but never find,
But blaze your own path
And the road to success
Will trail right behind.”
—Robert Brault

I’ve spent much of my life mastering the art of impersonations—basically copying a singer’s style and recreating that on stage.  It’s what I did for a living before I became an entrepreneur and a new mother to my baby girl Matilda. I would study movements, accents, costumes and then replicate, much the same as an actor would when studying for a film role. I was a Las Vegas Impersonator.

I suppose, due to the fact that I spent so many years portraying other people, I now have a deep desire to never copy anything by anyone ever again. It is from that perspective that I share this blog post with you regarding your true writing voice.

No one’s as good at being you as you!

The Internet is filled with so many amazing writers and information. However if we copy those writers we will always be a poor copy instead of a promising original. The most valuable tip I have learned in all my years of impersonating is that no one is as good at being you as you are. So why should we copy any other blogger or their style?

I want to share some quick tips that I believe will challenge you to discover your true voice and at the same time help you to stand apart from the blogging crowd. If you apply these tips I know that you will tap into something really powerful. When you write from a place that’s real, then the traffic and offers will come. Then you will discover a creative flow that you probably never knew existed.

In order to be original you have to release all fear and anxiety and dare to try something new. Here are some things that may help you on  your journey to becoming unique.

The They-may-not-like-me Syndrome

This is where the fear rises up that if we try something unusual and different a reader might not like us. Perhaps they will even stop following our blog.

Let me help relieve that fear for you. That will probably happen.

“Lisa, that is not inspiring,” you’re thinking. “I thought you were helping us?” I am. Listen. I was featured on the home page of Yahoo! not too long ago, and my blog blew up. Super-cool. Until I read all the comments. Super not cool.  It was so bad that I wrote the post, ” The Best And Worst Day Of My Blogging Life” and I have to admit I whined a little. Basically I received a lot of backlash and it wasn’t all that great.

However a lot of great things came from that experience. I discovered the value of moving past negativity and pressing through. I no longer think “What if they don’t like me?” I understand that I can’t please everyone.

Decide on purpose to move past any negativity then launch out, be brave, and try something new and daring. You may find that more new people flock to your blog then those who leave. And in the words of a very wise man Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Be brave enough to be first

Your blog is your space. Just because you may not see an idea on someone else’s blog, that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid and amazing idea.

When I wrote Darren to do this guest post I really wanted to add a vlog. It’s part of my personality and my blogging platform. I could have talked myself out of it, saying, “I never see any other guest bloggers doing a vlog. Darren must not like video.”

But no. Instead, I simply suggested it and asked if it was possible along with my post idea. And the result? Obviously I did a guest vlog on ProBlogger, and I’m super thankful. The point is I was not afraid to ask. So be brave enough to be first. Ask and you may be shocked by what comes your way.

Forget perfectionism

Many times we allow our fear of not being perfect to stop us from creating something beautiful. But we have to be gracious enough with ourselves to allow space to make a mistake and not hinder the creative process. “Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” So said Salvador Dali.

Confessions

You may think a confession has no place on a blog filled with tips about blogging. But I will tell you it does. I have no doubt the words I speak over my own life daily are what has opened many doors for my business and my blog.

Confess things like, “I am uniquely made.” “I am filled with creative and unique ideas.” “I am daring.” “I am bold.” “I think of posts that are completely original and help tons of people.”

By the way, yes I did say to Darren as I looked at his profile, “I will guest blog for you.” See how that works? It did take a few attempts, in case you were wondering. (A side note: a non-answer may just mean “not right now,” so make sure to try again.)

Laugh at yourself

I have a weekly vlog, and every Wednesday I share tips and questions from my readers. It’s far from perfect. One time my husband was watching my video before it went live and said, “Babe, you’re weird.” He said that because I made a mistake and then just laughed at myself and kept going, almost talking to myself on camera—but out loud.

I told him, “What they see is what they get. I’m real.” And guess what? I get weekly comments about how genuine I am and that it makes my audience laugh. That is much better than having a perfect, stiff video. So always remember to laugh—even if it means you may be laughing at yourself.

Look outside blogging platforms for original ideas

I’ve shared before that it is amazing to follow blogs like Problogger, CopyBlogger, Firpole Marketing and others. But if all you do is read those blogs one after another, how can you ever truly expect to get new motivation?

Sometimes you need to stop looking at blogs for your inspiration—even if it’s just for one night. In Las Vegas we have some really killer shows. My favorites are the Cirque De Soleil shows. One night of watching them, or a great concert, or a night of playing games with friends, could fill your head with some awesome new ideas for blogging. So try to get outside of the virtual world and into the “other” world to draw on some inspiration.

Care about design

I know that you are probably shouting “Content is king! Who cares about design?” True, content is the most important aspect of your blog, however if you change something in your design, you could be surprised how that will serve you. Maybe you could start a new trend. You’ll never know unless you try.

Who are you?

Do you really know who you are? Or are you a rehashed version of someone else on the planet who’s work you’ve read over and over?

Spend some time alone with yourself. Think about what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you mad, what makes you passionate—and include all of those things on your blog. Then your voice will shine through.

Remember, Celine Dion is a powerful singer but it would be super-boring if every singer sounded like her, no matter how beautiful her voice. Be yourself. Share a great gift with the world-yourself.

When it comes to matters of money

I know there are many tips on how to make money and how much to charge, but guess what? It’s your blog, and your business, and you have the ability to run it your way.

I have created unique ad campaigns and charged for guest posts differently than most. And people pay. I’ve received more money on some projects merely because I asked for it—and then I created such a unique experience for that person that they couldn’t go anywhere else.

Let your creativity flow, and you may find new ways of making money on your blog. If you are a food blogger you could do a PDF of a recipe and invite readers to download it for 99 cents. Or if you are a photographer and you have many pictures, you could create a private membership site where people come to use your awesome photos for their blog. The possibilities are endless.

The results of being your true you

Crazy happiness

Honestly you may feel a little crazy due to your new state of happiness. It feels good to be different.

Media attention

You will soon learn that you get much more attention via social and traditional media by being unique. There will be a new spark that comes out of you, and that spark is contagious. People are drawn to others that are filled with life. It’s often referred to as charisma. So get that pumping and see what happens for you.

Increased income

Many of us love to blog but we also love when some cash comes along with our blog. Who doesn’t like to make a little extra income? You will find that the more original you are, the more financial opportunities will come your way.

When I launched my blog it didn’t look like anyone else’s. Immediately I was getting offers for paid posts, and ads. Why? Probably because it looked so unique that it attracted business’s attention. When you are your true self, money will follow. And it’s a sweet feeling to be yourself and get paid to do it at the same time.

Crazy-happy blogging

I hope that these tips give you a small glimpse into the world of originality. As I said in my video, there’s no one else on earth like you. Dare to be different you’ll see you will reap rich dividends.

Now don’t forget to test this out and share in the comments below what you’ve done to stand apart from the pack. I’m excited to see what you do.

Lisa Cash Hanson is the author of the “Get Famous The Most Amazing Mom Bloggers Resource On The Planet” and creator of the Blogs To Riches Club. Lisa was recently featured on Yahoo!, named Circle of Mom’s Top 25 Mom Tech Blog & Blogtrepreneur’s Top 40 Mompreneurs to follow on Twitter. She is the founder of Mompreneur Mogul an award winning blog where business and inspiration meet. Her weekly Newsletter is packed with tips for those who want to make money blogging and get media attention for their blogs.

10 Steps to a Sales Page That Doesn’t Suck

This guest post is by Jessica Albon of ThriveYourTribe.com,

In general, writing comes pretty easily to me. When I’m in the flow (which is relatively often), I can write about 2000 words in an hour. And yet when it comes time to write a sales page for myself, my writing flow and speed used to ground to a halt.

I’d spend hours on a single paragraph feeling frustrated that I wasn’t making any progress at all.

What was especially frustrating was that when I’d write a sales page for a client it didn’t take nearly so long—it was only when I sat down to write sales copy for myself that I couldn’t seem to get the words out.

Looking back now, I see the reason I struggled was entirely my own fault—which is a good thing because it means I could fix it. If this is something you’ve noticed with your own writing—blog posts flow but when you try to write sales copy that writing flow deserts you—you can fix it too.

In the past, when I’d write my own sales letter, I’d try to do everything at once—a little research, a little figuring out my goal as I went, a little getting to know my audience better, a little writing. I did everything all at once in a mish-mash.

And that may work when writing blog posts, but it’s a painful way to write a sales page. What’s more, when you write your sales page in dribs and drabs like this, it either takes a ton of editing to polish it up, or the reader will notice those starts and stops (which means they’re unlikely to make it all the way to the end). So, not only is writing this way making the writing more difficult, but the sales letter that results isn’t nearly as good as it would be if you tackled each task, one at a time.

We’ve heard a lot about how multitasking can hamper efficiency. But usually multitasking is seen as performing several very different activities at once (like watching TV, answering emails, and playing the kazoo). “Writing a sales page” on the other hand seems like just one activity.

But it’s not. “Writing a sales page” actually requires a number of distinct processes. When we separate out these distinct processes, we write more efficient, more effective copy.

The next time you have a sales page to write, try out this sequence of tasks and see if it helps make you a more efficient writer.

  1. Brainstorm: Spend ten minutes generating as many ideas as possible about the sales page, your hook, your audience, your product. Get them all down on paper.
  2. Distill: Go over your notes and determine the bones of your letter. What key thing do you want people to know after reading your sales page? Who are you talking to? How will you talk to them?
  3. Research: Learn your market inside and out. Research your competition, competitive advantage, and where your product or service fits. What’s the latest research that supports your product? What’s the evidence that your product or service is necessary?
  4. Write a project brief: Write everything out as if you were hiring a professional copywriter. Include everything about your product or service—all the nitty-gritty details—as if the person reading it knew nothing about you, your blog, your audience, or your offer.
  5. Brainstorm again: Now that you’ve done your research and written the project brief, you probably have some new ideas popping up. Get those down on paper.
  6. Winnow: When you were in school, you might have used index cards to collect notes for reports. This can be a really effective way to comb through your research, brainstorming, and brief. But even if you don’t get out the index cards, go back through everything you’ve done so far and review the essentials.
  7. Write your first draft: I highly recommend setting a timer for this step—don’t choose a crazy limit, but do choose a limit that’s a bit of a stretch. Write as quickly as you can without stopping from beginning to end of your sales page.
  8. Take a break: If possible, set your writing aside for a day or two. If you need to make more progress, going for a walk or run can help clear your head before you move to the next steps.
  9. Write a new first draft: Don’t throw out the first first draft, but do set it aside. Writing a second first draft from scratch tends to result in a smoother draft because you already know what you’re going to say. It’s usually easier to write a new draft  than to revise the original first draft. (Plus, this method often results in new insights that make for a more effective letter.)
  10. Revise, revise, revise: Finally, it’s time to polish your sales page until it’s compelling from start to finish. As you revise, add your headline and subheadings.

It sounds like a lot of steps, but except for that break in the middle, these are the steps your brain already takes when you write a sales page. It’s just that up to now you’ve been mashing them all together. By separating out each task and performing them one at a time, you’ll gain focus, the writing will be easier, and the finished letter will be much more effective.

You might even find you actually enjoy writing sales copy!

Jessica Albon is the creator of the upcoming Sales Copy Play Dates and ThriveYourTribe.com, a digital branding, design, and copywriting agency.

Sharing One Journey: New Ways to Continually Engage Your Users

This guest post is by Rob Summerfield of Newsgrape.

Kicking off and running a blog can be quite a challenge. Strong bloggers have to be adept at tweaking their SEO, covering performance-related issues, and constantly supplying a reliable stream of quality content.

Many bloggers that I encounter feel very strongly about these topics, discussing new ways of improving their blogs via technical aspects, design, and more. But they neglect a core factor in their site’s success—the dear readers.

So, in this article I’m going to explain some easy ways of developing and maintaining close user relationships. The goal? To generate a flock of quality followers that engage in and appreciate your efforts.

The warm welcome

Here at Newsgrape, a team member of mine once said something like this:

“I try to welcome new users the way I would welcome friends visiting my place for the first time—with a great big smile and some friendly words.”

What he basically meant was, it’s important to go the extra mile and not rely on automatic emails and messages to do the job.

Of course, they can come in handy—especially if you are busy providing cool, informative Twitter updates while receiving loads of new followers each day. But they’re used mostly on a descriptive level, to say, “It’s great you’re here? Why not check out the site?”

What I am talking about is a really warm welcome. Show each user who demonstrates some genuine interest in your blog—via comment, reply, retweet, or something else—that you appreciate it and that you’re not taking them for granted.

A warm welcome

Using slow channels (e.g. email)

Some channels allow you to act in a more personal way, and you should grasp this potential by coming up with unique ways of introducing yourself.

Making a first impression—on an eye-to-eye basis—can be a powerful way of expressing your mindset as a dedicated blogger. As an example, here is the little gesture my team member was talking about. It ultimately produced some great results and tons of happy faces!

Using fast channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

The more followers you tend to receive on a regular basis, the harder it can be to individualize your welcome message. With great quantities of users, you have to get even more creative to come up with something really special.

  • Celebrate certain achievements: If you are working within a fast channel that has a rapid movement of users, you can celebrate special achievements. Pick the 500th reader, Facebook fan, or Twitter follower and post a great big “thank you” to them, conveying your gratitude for this group effort.
  • Think outside the box: With our startup, we wanted to come up with a way of thanking all of our Kickstarter supporters at once. So, we filmed a thank you song incorporating their names into the lyrics and basing it on a cool guitar groove. Obviously, our little movie delivered the message quite well—soon we were receiving pledges by people excited about our platform and the possibility of being mentioned in the next “thank you song”!

User maintenance: keep the love coming

Equally as important as your unique welcome message is the effort you put into keeping your users happy and interested in what’s happening on your blog. Here are some ideas on how to achieve exactly that:

  • Go marketing on this one: Keep an excel file where you list important power-users and others who are active on your blog. Write a sentence to every person, trying to pin down their interests and where they came from before they landed on your blog. Remember: interest creates interest!
  • Live the connected web: When you’re contacting users and engaging in conversation, encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter and befriend you on Facebook. Put them onto a special email list so you can manage them and send out messages that are as well-targeted as possible. Broaden your circle of acquaintances to people who share your passion for writing and online publication. Also, use social monitoring tools like TweetDeck, to see if somebody mentions your blog or retweets your posts. If so, add them to your smart Excel list and show some love for their social spreading!
  • Be omnipresent: Check out which users on your site have blogs of their own. If they do, subscribe to their RSS feeds via GoogleReader. Then: comment, comment, comment. Why not ask publicly on your blog which of your users currently run their own blog? This way, you can connect over blogging tips and information, while creating a list of blogs that you can regularly visit and comment or guest post on.

The goodbye

It will happen that certain users decide to jump away from your blog. Here are three ways to make the best of this situation:

1. Input is learning, is better blogging, is more happy users

Even though it might be tough to read, ask for input about why your user decided to un-subscribe from your newsletter or stop visiting your site.

You can write a personal message—or maybe even use an email template—to ask what that user’s experiences on the site were, what they feel other blogs are doing better, what worked for them, and what didn’t.

2. Don’t be passive: act!

Even with professional blogs, important users or numerous readers may decide at some point to distance themselves from the site by making comments on social media, in blog posts, and so on.

Of course it would be easy to just sit back and concentrate on more important stuff like writing, but again, why not use this as an opportunity to show some face and a strong presence within your niche?

A while ago, the popular blogging platform WPBeginner publicly announced its break from the Livefyre Commenting System in the feature article 6 reasons why we switched away from Livefyre.

An extensive discussion started in the post’s comments, with users asking follow-up questions and sharing their insights on the subject.

As a consequence, a Livefyre employee got into the discussion and posted a statement which conveyed compassion, appreciation for the input, and strong optimism that their product was going to come around to meet users’ needs.

Livefyre comment

3. Accept it—but be awesome about it

I think Groupon is the best example of how to resubscribe people who are thinking of unsubscribing, or at least how to say a classy “goodbye”. Check it out here.

Punish Derrick

Sometimes the best way to get people back into your boat—or at least to leave a good impression—is to invest some energy in a quality farewell. If you’re all needy about trying to convince them to resubscribe, your chances of changing their mind are close to zero. So think of something cool.

Share your journey

This article intended to show you some ways of building and maintaining a strong user base, while being creative about coming up with some unique, interesting ideas.

I’ve realized that if I go the extra mile at an early stage of my blog, I end up saving a lot of time and energy promoting my material afterwards. So, try cultivating your readership by finding new, out-of-the-box measures that create a personal, intimate user experience. The reactions you’ll receive will definitely be worth it the effort!

Rob Summerfield is copywriter and community manager at the social text platform Newsgrape. Having worked with different agencies and at Cannes International Festival of Creativity, Rob is an award-winning writer focused on creative solutions for blogging and online content management.

How to Write Like Your Teacher Told You Not To

This guest post is by Karol K of 100WPthemes.com.

These days, everyone’s a blogger. I’m a blogger, you’re a blogger, most people who end up commenting on this post will be bloggers too. And literally every one of us has the main goal of providing the elusive “quality content”.

However, the main problem is that virtually everything around us—social media, other commitments, you name it—tries to prevent us from doing so.

And despite the fact that there’s a massive number of tips online on how to write properly, the advice isn’t structured. There are just various bits of information here and there, so it’s difficult to keep everything in mind once you begin working on a new piece.

That’s why I want to share this following idea with you. The idea of writing exactly not like your teacher told you to.

This should be easy to grasp as we all went to school, and we all kind of remember what “good writing” is—according to our teachers.

Just a word of explanation before we begin. I’m from Poland. The school system is different here, but I’m pretty sure that the general rules of writing taught by teachers are pretty similar worldwide. Feel free to correct me, though!

The trick for us as bloggers, however, is to take this advice and flip it completely by doing exactly the opposite thing.

Don’t use long blocks of text

Chances are that your teacher told you to use long paragraphs so you can explain your points in great detail. Long blocks of text are easy to grasp on a piece of paper, but not on a computer screen.

Use a maximum of four to six lines of text per paragraph.

Don’t use complex language

In real life, using complex language doesn’t make you smart, it makes you a smart alec.

Simple words are better for getting your point across quickly.

Don’t wait to deliver your main point

The whole trick of online writing is to deliver your point early on. People simply don’t have time to read 600 words of your article to get to the point. That might work in school, but it doesn’t online.

Deliver your point in your second paragraph (unless you’re creating a list post).

Don’t introduce too many ideas

A blog post should be simple in nature. Remember that people are reading it on their computers, and reading from a screen is not the most comfortable thing to do.

One idea per post is enough. If you try to introduce more, the thing will end up being too confusing and difficult to grasp.

Don’t summarize anything

If you feel like you need to summarize your post then you’ve made it too complicated (see the previous point).

A post should be easy to grasp on its own—no summary required.

Do use readable subheadings

Subheadings were virtually nonexistent at school. At least, I don’t remember using a subheading in any of my school work.

However, using subheadings is the main trick bloggers have up their sleeves. The point of subheadings is to make a post understandable even if someone reads just the subheadings alone.

Try reading only the subheadings in this post. Does it still make sense?

Do write using “you”

Using “you” to refer to the reader directly is among the biggest sins you can make when you’re writing at school. I don’t know why … that’s just how it works.

On the internet, however, not using “you” is the biggest sin you can make. Your writing is your way of speaking to people. And how would you speak to anyone without referring to them directly?

As an example, there are 34 instances of “you” in this post.

It’s not all bad…

Really, I’m not all that pessimistic. Feel free to let me know which elements of school education you believe are extremely useful for bloggers—we’d love to hear them.

Karol K. is a freelance writer, and a blogger at 100WPthemes.com. Feel free to come by if you’re searching for some information on choosing a WordPress theme.