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How I Fast-tracked My Blog to 10k Subscribers and $15k Revenue in a Month

This guest post is by Alex Becker of Source Wave Marketing.

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Image courtesy stock.xchng user Thoursie

When I first got into blogging, gaining any sizable amount of engaged subscribers seemed like a slow, tedious task. As bloggers, I am sure you know the popular ways to get people to your site:

  • guest posting
  • participating on forums
  • SEO.

But when your blog is brand new, getting featured on a site with a ton of traffic is next to impossible. Creating a solid reputation on a forum takes time. SEO is a popular tactic but also takes a long time. To put it bluntly, if you are new to blogging, the deck is not stacked in your favor.

This is why I decided to use another method to grow my blog: product creation.

“Wait, what?!” you might be thinking. “Making products as a way to grow your blog/brand? Does that even work?”

Well, my blog is just over seven months old. It has an email list of just over 10,000 people and brings in a total of $15k+ in revenue monthly. So yes, product creation is a super-effective and underutilized method to grow your blog. But before you can put this method to use on your blog, you need to understand why it works so well.

Why blogging and making products is like pouring gasoline on a fire

Ironically, the easiest place to get traffic you can capture is not on other websites. It isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. It is the massive email lists people have in certain niches.

But I am not just talking about any big email list. Getting a monster blogger or magazine to feature you in their email list is pretty tough, and oddly enough, they do not even have the best traffic.

Blogger and news lists: the hard way

A huge blogger might have 10-30k emails. The funny thing is that many of these are worthless because these are what we call “freebie chasers.” These are people that joined an email list for free and are only interested in one thing—more free stuff. They are also commonly not committed to a niche.

Now this blogger is going to make you jump through hoop after hoop to get featured in his or her list. While you can traffic from the list, it’s going to be very hard unless you also have a big reputation (which 95% of bloggers do not).

We want to focus on one and only one type of list: the massive email lists that other product creators have. And here’s why.

Product creators’ lists: the easy way

Think about the owner of a successful Clickbank product or information products. Even small-time product creators routinely have email lists of 5-20k. Bigger names can easily have 20k-100k. That’s a lot of people, folks.

Here’s why their lists are so valuable: every single person on their lists has loaded up their PayPal accounts and paid for information in the niche they’re selling in. As they say, money talks. And when these people have put money down, they’re telling you a couple things:

  • They are very interested in the niche.
  • They participate in the niche.
  • They are comfortable spending money in the niche.

This is exactly the type of person you want coming to your site and joining your list.

The ironic thing is that product creators are far less stingy with their lists than many others. This is because they usually have their list for a much less honorable reason than most straight-up bloggers. Most product creators (not all of them) use their list to promote other products and make an affiliate income.

This means one thing to you: if you have a product that will make them money, they will throw a tidal wave of traffic your way.

This is why they are such a great resource. They have one simple button you need to press to get access to “buyer” traffic. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to push that button.

My product creation blueprint for blogging

I understand your thoughts right now: “What if I’ve never made a product before?”

Don’t panic. You don’t need to create a mega-product, nor I am not telling you to put crummy material out on the market. However, my father always told me “Keep it simple, stupid.” Sometimes something small and simple works insanely well. In fact, for this method, we want small and simple.

For example, one of the first products I made with my partner was a list of the most reliable Fiverr sellers, which we sold for five bucks. This simple product has sold over 6,000 copies, earning us over 6,000 subscribers.

So just keep in mind that you are totally capable of doing this. With that being said, let me walk you through the steps I used to create a product and blow up my blog, and then how I used my blog to create sales.

Step 1. Find an idea for a short product and make it happen

The first thing you want to do is find places online where your targeted visitor hangs out. These will usually be forums or Yahoo Answers-type sites.

The sites are so valuable because there you will see your visitor tell you exactly what they want. Look at the questions and problems that are getting the most focus. Then, make a product to solve these problems. Simple, huh?

Step 2. Make a juicy offer for product list owners and their customers

One of the best ways to get product creators interested is to offer 100% commission on your product. Remember, we’re not trying to make money: we’re trying to get them to hand over their traffic. You have to remember your motives, first and foremost.

We also want to make a product that’s cheap enough to convert very highly with their list. If you make, say, a $50 product, not very many people will buy it. However, if you produce a $5 product, the interest will, naturally, skyrocket.

Step 3. Find big list owners

This is fairly simple. Look around your niche and find information products. I guarantee you the owners of those products had a way to collect the emails of their customers. Email these product creators and pitch them on your product. (Hint: Be sure to mention the 100% affiliate commission!)

Step 4. Collect the emails

Now that you have a product creator blasting your product with traffic, it is time to collect the traffic that converts. (Remember, keep your product cheap for maximum conversions. More conversions means more emails.)

You can easily collect and manage these emails through a server such as Mail Chimp. After a person purchases your product, redirect them to an opt-in form that they must fill out to get access to the file.

Step 5. Treat your new subscribers like gold

Now that you have the emails of these people, it is time to deliver value, and really wow them with your brand.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that most of these people are used to being abused with affiliate offers whenever they get forced onto a product email list. This your chance to step up and do something different. Differentiating yourself will be what makes you so successful. Treat them with respect and earn their trust.

Constantly link them to cool things that are happening on your blog. Bombard them with value.

I did this by providing free weekly webinars, sharing my most potent internet marketing secrets for free and taking every chance I get to make personal connections with my readers. I also never asked for anything in return. Remember these words: what can I do for you?

This is the secret to turning a list of people that randomly bought your product into a community of friends and colleagues that trust you and like you enough to invest in your business.

Step 6. Use that trust in you and your brand to grow a profitable business

The funny thing about this is that most people would assume the next step is, “spam them with affiliate offers!” No way! That’s very, very bad.

The simple truth is that you will now have a community of buyers who trust and respect you. If you maintain that trust, they will invest in offers your promote and be eager to be a part of any business you create. So why push them away with spam?

A great example of someone who’s used the trust he’s developed with an audience is Pat Flynn of the blog, Smart Passive Income. By always having his readers’ best interests in mind, Pat has become not only a very rich man, but an internet marketing icon. Do not ever underestimate the power of a trusting audience.

The results

My partner and I have used this traffic generation method on our blog, and, in under seven months, we’ve created a thriving community in an extremely competitive niche. On top of this, any business we launch is an instant success due to the trust we have built with the subscribers we gained from product launches.

In fact, the last premium service we launched from our blog sold completely in under one hour. That is the power of combining buyer traffic from product launches with the amount of trust quality blogging can generate.

You were meant to make products

As a blogger, you are undertaking a role as an authority on information in your niche.

To me, creating products and being an authority go hand and hand. When you create a good product (remember, simple can be good), the people that buy it will naturally be interested in your blog. This is because authority figures make products and authority figures blog. Period.

By making products, not only do you get access to hoards of traffic, but you also become an authority.

This is why I encourage every ambitious blogger to break out of the “strictly blogging” mindset and spread your message through as many formats as possible. Remember, it’s important to differentiate.

Of course, creating a product is not going to be an easy 6-step process, but niether is growing a massive brand. I do promise one thing, though: If you take the ideas presented in this article and run with them, your blog will become a red-hot source of awesome faster than you ever thought possible.

Alex Becker is the co-founder of the Source Wave Marketing and owner of multiple online SEO services.

How I Tweaked my WordPress Blog to Rank Better in the Search Engines

This guest post is by Jonathan of NutraSol Natural Center.

As bloggers and website owners, improving our websites is an absolute must, and search engine optimization is important if we want to get more traffic through search engines.

I have been familiar with SEO since before I started my first blog on professional business strategies. I came across it during the research stage when I was trying to learn everything I could about creating a website. Once I was exposed, I was instantly hooked.

What interested me the most about SEO was the challenge of competing with other sites to appear on the first page of Google for my target keywords. It is almost as if SEO gives us esoteric super-powers that are only fully understood by a small community of internet marketers.

After learning enough to get me started, I created some blogs and conducted experiments that allowed me to learn a few tricks on my own.

Using WordPress features for SEO

Not long ago, I started a Spanish blog on home remedies and alternative medicine. It’s not in English—my apologies—but that’s the blog I first implemented this technique on.

When I started it, I had envisioned it as a reference site where people could go and find information on natural remedies, so I decided to have the articles on static pages rather than blog posts. 

I also decided to have the names of the ailments in the page URL. For example, for hypertension, I had the URL http://www.informenatural.com/hipertension/  on a static WordPress page. 

The logic behind this approach was to have a reference page for all the ailments I covered, and people could go there just to get this information. It was going well and traffic was growing little by little, but suddenly, a light bulb switched on in my head. 

I decided to turn my static-page reference site into an online magazine instead, and to feature articles that would encourage social activity where people would be allowed to leave comments. Effectively I wanted to move from a static informational website to a blog.

The problem was that in order for me to do this, I had to turn all the pages I had into posts.

Turning pages into posts without losing links

The site was already two years old and I had backlinks around the web that I didn’t want to lose. But I also knew that I couldn’t have the old pages and the new posts existing together because that would create duplicate content issues for my site with the search engines. Not only that, but all of the pages were in Google’s index and some were ranking in the first page of search results for some of my target keywords.

Now, you may be thinking, “Why didn’t you just give the posts the same URL as the pages?” or “Why didn’t you just use a 301 redirect?” The reason is because I was going to turn all the articles I had into posts, and I didn’t want one post to have a permalink with a specific single keyword term such as Hypertension. I also preferred to have more pages indexed by the search engines anyway.

Hypertension Page

So, I decided to take a different approach. I decided to turn the single keyword terms into categories so that I could keep the same URL structures and can keep all the inbound links my blog had acquired over the years.

I also decided to do this because the single keyword term in the URL could then be used to direct users to other articles that have to do with that term.  For example, www.informenatural.com/hipertension would no longer lead to one article on a static page; it would be the page to go to to find all the posts related to that subject.

Add Category Hypertension

Here’s how I did it

By default, WordPress category pages contain the word “category” in their URLs. For example, informenatural.com/hipertension would be converted to informenatural.com/category/hipertension. 

In order for things to go as planned, I needed to remove the word “category” from the category permalinks. I did this by using a WordPress plugin called WP No Category Base.  Doing this allowed me to maintain the URL and preserve the permalinks in the format I originally had them in.

After doing this, I copied the content from the page to the post, with my keyword terms in the titles and permalinks of the posts.  Then, I deleted the pages.

Hypertension Category Page

This allowed me to maintain my links and transform my static-page site into a blog. I conducted keyword research, found the long-tail terms that I wanted to rank for, and included them in the permalinks of my posts. 

After that, I signed into my Google Webmaster Tools account, and used the Fetch As Google tool to submit the new URLs.

Hypertension Post

Grow your traffic with WordPress

These changes have allowed my traffic to increase tremendously and I predict it will continue to grow with time.

WordPress gives us the flexibility to do many things with our blogs and it allows us to stay organized while we’re at it.  If you find that a post is not ranking well enough for a keyword, you can always do some keyword research to find a better phrase with more searches and change your URL to include that term.

Experiment with your blogs, using WordPress features to your advantage, and you can help your blog grow like never before.

Do you use WordPress features to help your search rank? Share your favorite tip with us in the comments.

Jonathan is the founder of NutraSol Natural Center and LocalRoamer.Com. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and he is currently enrolled in courses to get a degree in Nutrition. Jonathan has designed 2 blogs on natural remedies to educate his customers for his store at Informe Natural and Earth Doctor.

How to Mass Monetize Your YouTube Channel

This guest post is by Jenny Dean of Floppycats.

One of the joys of the Internet is the opportunity to become friends with a complete stranger on the other side of the world. Michael Strange and I had two things in common when we first met: we both owned Ragdoll cats, and we both had YouTube channels.

After an exchange of comments on each other’s videos, I discovered Michael knew a lot more than I did about being found on YouTube and being paid for being found.  I was making approximately $3 per month from  my YouTube channel and Michael showed me the potential to make 3500% more than that!

If you have a YouTube channel, you may not know that you can make money from your videos (if they are yours) through revenue sharing.

You used to have to be a YouTube Partner in order to be able to monetize your videos, however, this is no longer the case.  All you need now is a YouTube account that has videos on it and an Adsense account.

If you sign into your account and go to Video Manager, more than likely you’ll see a notification letting you know that you can now monetize your videos. So if you don’t have an Adsense account set up, you will want to do that.

Then, you’ll need to follow these steps to connect the two, and monetize your videos.

Setting ad preferences

Log into YouTube, go to Video Manager, and you’ll see a dollar sign that may or may not be colored in.  For videos that are not yet monetized, the dollar sign is not colored in.  For videos that are monetized, the dollar sign is colored green.

Monetization Buttons

Those already monetized, of course, can be skipped. The ones with a dollar sign button on a white background are the ones to select and update.

As of April 2012, YouTube made mass monetizing your videos easier than before. If you go to Settings, you’ll see they’ve added a new entry in the left-hand column, near Monetization,  called Ad Defaults.  Select all the ones you want (partner accounts will have three options; non-partners just two) and click on Save.

You can apply these preferences to all new uploads, but they won’t affect movies you’ve already monetized.

Ad Defaults

Mass monetize your movies

To mass monetize your videos, select ten movies at a time and use the Action drop-down to bulk monetize them using the default preferences you have just saved. If you go through all your movies you can update the ad types in bulk like this.

If you’ve already set those preferences for a movie, then setting it again will make no difference. If a video only had some of the new preferences set, they will be updated to the full range of options when you have selected them and applied your new preferences.

To mass monetize after you have set your monetization preferences, go to Video Manager, where you’ll see your uploaded videos listed.  Select the videos that you want to monetize, as below, then go to Actions and select Monetize.

Mass Monetize

A new window will pop up to confirm your preferences. Click on the blue Monetize button, and voila!  All of those videos are monetized to your preferences!

Blue Monetize Button

You’ll also see a confirmation that the videos previously selected have been monetized.

Monetize Confirmation

If you have not monetized your videos, if you have only monetized some of them, or even if you just don’t remember, I encourage you to go into your YouTube account and check everything out.

Update your preferences and more likely than not, in a few weeks time you will see your YouTube revenues climb. Thanks to Michael’s advice, I have had fantastic results from this tip, which has even given me a little debt relief!

What are some of the monetizing tips that work for you on YouTube? Share them with us in the comments.

Jenny Dean is the Editor over at Business Blog Writers, online SEO content writers.  She also has some of her own blogs, Floppycats, Antioxidant-fruits and Guide to Couponing. Business Blog Writers offers a YouTube enhancement service.

Kickstart Your Stalled Blog Content, Part 2: Make Writing Work For You

On the weekend we looked at a little exercise for kickstarting stalled content on your blog. This approach can be useful for reviving a long-neglected blog or just for reinvigorating your blogging when you’re struggling to keep up a regular posting routine.

For all the advice you can read online about blogging productivity, the one thing no one else can do for you is actually sit down and write content (unless you hire someone to do just that—which is an option for some, but not one we’ll consider here). But for many of us, finding time to write is a challenge and even when we have a great post idea, it can be difficult to get it out onto the page or screen.

For those who joined in on the weekend—who decided to participate themselves and kickstart their stalled content—I hope you’ve had a chance to write up the post you planned back then. We scheduled time for writing and editing back on the weekend, so hopefully you’ve been able to stick to that schedule.

But life can get in the way of blogging—believe me, I know! So if you’re falling behind your plans, or you’d just like some tips for the next time you’re struggling to fit writing and editing into your day, these ideas might help.

Break it up

The first post in this series introduced the idea of breaking up the writing task: in that post we researched and planned the post (which in itself was broken up into a series of individual tasks you could tackle when you had time). We then set aside separate time for writing, and for editing and publishing.

By breaking up the writing task, you can make it more manageable. You can even break up the writing itself: spending five or ten minutes of each section of the post you’ve planned as and when you have five or ten minutes available.

While this can make it difficult to keep the thread going, if you have a solid plan and a writing tone or voice that is effortless for you, this approach can be a good solution if you’re really strapped for time,

Tasks for times

Tackle the right part of the task at the right time—or whenever you have time. If you write better in the afternoon, try to schedule your writing then. If you edit or research better in the mornings, try to schedule that task to fit.

Perhaps you regularly find you have a few minutes’ spare at some point in the day. Try using that time for research or post planning, rather than tooling around on social media or checking your web stats. You’ll be surprised how much you can get through when you make the most of what might otherwise be wasted time in your blogging day.

While it won’t always be possible, knowing the best times to do the tasks involved in producing content can help you write better posts on a more consistent basis—not to mention that it can also make each task easier.

Make a habit of it

Get into the habit of using “dead time” like commuting or waiting places in this way. The trick, though, is to make a habit of this kind of work so that it’s a natural part of your day or week.

While you probably don’t want content planning, writing, and editing to take over every minute of what is currently your spare time, you can make decent inroads into blog productivity by using a reasonable percentage of your empty time in this way.

And if it’s a habit, there’s no argument—you don’t even think about opening up Evernote to compose an irresistible opening paragraph (or unforgettable ending) on the morning bus. It simply becomes part of life.

Focus for 15

For many of us, it’s the thought that we won’t get a post finished in the time we have available that puts us off even starting.

To get around this—especially if you’re the kind of person who likes to sit down and focus when they write—consider writing in 15-minute bursts.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and dedicate yourself to writing the post for that time. Don’t do anything but write, and write as much of the post as you can in that time. Stop as soon as the 15 minutes is up (or finish the sentence or thought if you like). Do another 15 minutes the next time you have the time to spare.

Do this three or four times, and you’ll likely have your post drafted. The advantage is that the time you’ve scheduled for editing will give you a chance to clean up any inconsistencies and make sure the flow is smooth.

Do it on the go

If you can’t find more time for your blog, find ways to fit content production tasks into the time you already have.

If you can write texts or emails on your phone, you can get down the bare bones of a paragraph or two (in Evernote, for example) while you’re on the commuter train in the morning.

Driving? Consider recording yourself dictating parts of the post, its key points, or outline, while you’re behind the wheel. Waiting in the doctor’s office or the car while your kids play sport? Take the laptop or tablet and work on your post. Even the ad breaks in your favorite t.v. show can be useful for doing short-burst topic research.

Can’t write in chunks like this? That’s fine: why not use those times for other blogging tasks so that when you do get back to your desk, your schedule is clear enough for you to devote some time to focused writing.

Keep the content flowing

If you joined us on the weekend, have you written the post you planned? Have you edited it?

Do you have any tips to add to this list? I’d love for you to share your advice with us in the comments. And don’t forget to check back on Friday, when we’ll be looking at your published post and using it to inspire your next piece of content.

8 Non-writing Apps for Writers

This guest post is by Ben Ellis of www.b3n3llis.com.

A lot of “app talk” in the world of writing revolves around the main applications used to compose your piece of writing, such as Scrivener, iA Writer, and my weapon of choice, MOApps’ Write, plus a whole load of others too.

I use a few additional apps to help me research and record things when I’m out and my notebook or laptop are at home. These assistant apps are ones you can fire up on your phone or tablet when a moment of inspiration hits you or you need to double-check something. Now you don’t need to worry about always remembering a pen and paper … just keep your battery charged.

Dictionary & Thesaurus

My poor spelling of words longer than five letters demands I use this app on a very regular basis. It’s easy to use, very well designed and the Thesaurus is great too. Although I only use it to find words that have slipped my memory—it’s no good filling your MS with a myriad of grandiloquent words you, your peers, or characters would never use in normal everyday life. This app’s free with ads and paid without.

Rhyme Source

The basic design means it’s not the most attractive app on your device, but it is one of the easiest to use. For someone who doesn’t write poetry I use this surprsingly often. It comes at a small cost.

Dropbox

Everyone should have a backup in the Cloud. This is the Big Daddy of the services available out there, but there are others. The main, fundamental point is: back up your stuff. Also, handy if you’re out and about and you want to review or add to a document of yours—you can access it and make an amendment to the live document from anywhere at anytime. Free for a basic account.

Nebulous

Now, you could use Mac’s native Notes app to record your story ideas, but that would be boring, right? So check out Nebulous. It’s especially built for writers, coders, and others to record ideas.

I only use it to note down ideas but it’s better than Notes, allowing a better filing system, plus it’s integrated with Dropbox so once you enter an idea, it automatically creates a backup in the cloud via your Dropbox account. Free and paid versions are available.

Discover

I’m glad I started writing during the Age of Wikipedia because I can’t imagine it any other way! This app gives you an intuitive way to navigate Wikipedia along with some added features such as a search history and related articles. It’s an effective and enjoyable research tool. Free but you’ll have to switch to the US store to get it (if you’re not already there).

MacFreedom and TV Guide

TV, along with the internet, is probably the worst enemy of a writer’s productivity. Vegging in front of a reality show or scrolling aimlessly through Twitter or an exe’s Facebook profile doesn’t get the next great novel of a generation written!

MacFreedom (for Mac and PC) blocks all internet activity on a laptop or desktop for a set amount of time, whilst the TV Guide app lets you see what’s on TV before you actually switch it on. MacFreedom is only $10 and the TV Guide is free. Your writing time is precious, protect it!

The National Geographic HD Atlas

Yes, you could use Google Maps or Google Earth, but for a small cost you could immerse yourself into a beautifully rendered HD atlas and let your imagination travel the seven seas!

Baby Names

Gives you ideas and inspiration for names and the meanings and origins behind them. Anyone seeing you use it may have some questions for you, especially your other half. Free.

You can probably achieve the same results with most of these apps by just using a web browser on your phone, but where’s the fun in that?! Also, if you really like an app then go ahead and pay for the full version to encourage the developer to spend time on updating and improving it for you.

Do you use any of these apps? Or others we should know about? Share them in the comments.

Ben Ellis has completed his second novel, ‘Broken Branches’ a dystopian tale of controlled procreation, and is currently looking for an agent or publisher.  You can find him online at http://www.b3n3llis.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/b3n3llis.

How Playboy Can Help Your Blog

This guest post is by Greg Narayan of http://www.dearblogger.org/.

My roommate always gets Playboy. He puts the new mag right by the silverware drawer in the kitchen, and it usually sits there wide open. We share a relatively small apartment in Manhattan’s financial district. I see the darn thing every day when I walk in the front door.

It's right thereYesterday, I decided to open it up. I mean, as I said, it’s usually open, and open to some ridiculous page. Slightly enticing. I don’t think I need to explain myself too much here, or make excuses for my decision to open the mag. I’m a guy after all. Sidenote: I don’t support Playboy or think it is a useful or productive way of spending time.

What I saw as I flipped through back to front (bad habit) was not what I had expected. The mag was filled with a series of articles that basically sold the lifestyle of an ambitious, successful man. A man who had wealth, style, worldly tastes, and yes, women on his arms. This man wasn’t one person. As my fingers flipped through the glossy pages I saw Justin Timberlake, Ray Liotta, Ryan Gosling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Guys I envy.

Now, I’ve been researching blog marketing a lot lately, and trying to relate my content directly to my specific audience. It’s worthwhile research—you can write the best article ever on ache treatment but if your reader doesn’t suffer from ache then it’s all for naught. Marketing: basic stuff I had messed up in my first two years of blogging. But this magazine was telling me something.

When I read content, I sort of focus more on how the writer is doing things, what their mindset is, than on the actual content. Here’s what I learned in my 15 minutes with Playboy.

Give em’ what they want

You’ve definitely read posts on selling to your readers, posts on getting your readers to do things, and countless others on blog marketing. You’re reading ProBlogger after all, so you’re clearly ambitious and looking to improve your blog. But I don’t think you’re totally using what you learn. Not yet, at least.

My roommate’s mag contained the following things (aside from naked pictures): delicious food pics, 4th of July party pics, stories of Brazilian models, stories of English models, naughty comic strips, and ads on the following things: watches, red wine, vodka, sports cars, sex enhancing drugs, and beer.

What a goldmine of male-enticing junk.

I had always thought of Playboy as a joker’s mag, something put together in a sleazy way to appeal to people I viewed as mainly lazy and ugly. But this magazine was crafted by geniuses, who knew me and at least part of the subset of things I find interesting. Sorry if this is a “duh” for you—it wasn’t for me.

How this can help your blog

Can you see where I’m going? Okay good. Open up your blog, or click on one of the 12 tabs it’s already open on. I want you to be brutal and judgemental.

What features on your blog do you readers really want? Want is it that keeps them coming back? Maybe it’s your posts (should be) or a cool picture series, or videos. Whatever it is, double it. Find a way to make it twice as prominent.

Ways to blow up content:

  • Mention it a few times in other posts.
  • Reference it in your sidebar.
  • Talk about the actual action of you making that content. This builds up your authority on the topic.

Now strip down the nonsense on your blog. A pretty Facebook and Twitter section you think looks just peachy? Get that out of here! It’s not what people want. How about that ad section in your header? Do your users like looking at that? Get rid of it! Maybe a search bar you spent hours coding into your header? If it’s not helping your readers or actively keeping them coming back, toss it, bud.

This is a routine I go through once a month, and I’m amazed at how much stuff I can delete to make my good content, and my best features, more prominent. Sure, you have to delete. Pressing that Delete button is satisfying, though.

The images make a big difference

Playboy show images, and collages, that just work. They depict things you thought you knew about in new ways. You know when you open up a Playboy that you’re going to see some stunning images, that’s a given. And you do. It’s simple enough, really, but that’s easy reinforcement. Can you imagine how many subscribers Playboy would lose if it just cut images by say 50%?

They understand their users’ expectations and meet them. Then they take it the next step, by intriguing you. By showing you what lies out there and what you could be. How do they do this? Through bios of people like Brad Pitt. Through photos of Hugh Heffner when he was younger making lavish quotes and ridiculous money. They are selling a lifestyle, and you want it.

Seriously, the longer the Playboy mag stays open, the more sucked in you become. You start believing you could have that lifestyle, and thinking about parts of your life, maybe your fitness for example, that you need to improve on. When I finally closed the mag, I had to rip it away from myself as if there was magnetism at work.

How this can help you blog

I do not mean start posting pictures of girls in your blog posts. Brosome, BroBible, and all those other obnoxious sites that once had cool content already sold out and did this. They’ll get some quick traffic but never really go as far as they could have.

What I do mean is you have to start selecting blog post images that intrigue your readers. Use Photodropper and pick out beautiful pics to illustrate your point. You’d be amazing how much stunning images help retain your readers and slash bounce rates. People are lazy and like looking at pictures (you already know this).

Then, use some easy reinforcement techniques. Think up three things your readers probably want before they find your blog, and present those three things in interesting, but easy-to-find ways. You want a user to read through your blog and nod their head, mouthing “yes” and “come on!” Not “wtf?”

Compound previous success

Playboy constantly talks about itself and brags. “Check out the pics from our 4th of July bash.” “See the coolest features from the past 50 years of Playboy.” “Get a chance to ride the Playboy limousine when you subscribe.” It’s ridiculously self-indulgent and I wouldn’t expect a blog to do that.

Or would I?

After seeing just a couple pictures showing how awesome Playboy‘s 4th of July party was, just a little part of me wants to be Playboy. I want to attend that thing too, and I deserve it. This is that topic of lifestyle selling again. Playboy is dangling things in front of readers’ faces—things that they likely will never, ever touch. But the service Playboy is offering is to make those things seem tangible—making that limousine seem within reach.

That’s why you shell out $6.99 for an individual mag and even risk some dirty looks in the checkout line.

How this can help your blog

You’ve definitely had successes as a blogger and you’ve definitely had failures. But, are you talking about your success? Are you writing about it, or at least mentioning it so that your readers know about it? You should start doing so if you’re not.

A hidden aspect of blogging you’ll realize after doing it for a while is that it’s equally important to write about your prowess as it is to provide quality information. If you don’t write about yourself, how are readers supposed to know you’re a reliable source of info?

I don’t mean brag openly, people will smell that a mile away and you can really only pull that off if you’re someone like Tucker Max. I do mean highlight your acheivements. Do it like Glen Allsop does on his About me page.

If you don’t exactly know how to write about yourself in a way that readers will enjoy, here are a few tips:

  • Do it at the start of your post.
  • Be funny with it, and a bit self-deprecating.
  • Admit a mistake, then follow it up with a success story.

You need to write about yourself more. Don’t expect readers, or fans, or even the people you actually see on a daily basis, to understand or know about your blogging successes. They don’t. Tell them.

It’s okay to be naughty

Playboy does things we know aren’t allowed. That’s obviously what gets people. But the way they do it is so darn bold. There’s such a sense of entitlement around Hugh Heffner and Playboy, as if they’re enjoying freedoms that belong to them and are being taken away from us.

Whatever naughty and ridiculous things Playboy does, they do it like a boss. It’s like when my roommate steals my cheddar cheese then leaves the bag wide open, dead center of the fridge. He’s getting his filling and showing me too.

Now, Playboy is an example of excessiveness. That lifestyle can’t exactly be replicated. We simply don’t have the resources. We also have jobs we have to go to, and normal responsibilities. Life isn’t one huge party.

But again, we can imagine.

How this can help your blog

Think of ten things you would not think of doing on your blog. Write them down. Good. Now eliminate the five most dangerous things on there. I want you to think about doing the five things left on your list.

Here’s what my list contains:

  • Posting an inflated subscriber count to entice subscribers.
  • Writing a quote someone famous said about my blog to look more popular.
  • Exaggerating my blog’s income in a post.
  • Telling readers they’ll get a life-changing ebook for subscribing.
  • Saying I have post coming up on ProBlogger!

These things won’t kill readers, will they? I’m not going to do them, because they’re naughty. Or am I? You’d be amazed how many far, far along bloggers have done these things in efforts to get more subscribers. And they’ve done them successfully. It’s sorta like dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. You’re just taking any edge you can because you want to succeed.

There is nothing wrong with craving success. Do you think the first nude pictures Playboy posted were A-okay with everyone? Absolutely not: they got more criticism than George Bush. But doing things in a slightly more bossy, authoritative way, and claiming whats yours, are a few ways to replicate a bit of Playboy‘s success.

That’s all, mates and, err, females mates. I hope I’ve inspired you, and have sucked some positivity out of what really is a crummy magazine. Sorry, Playboy.

Greg Narayan is the founder of DearBlogger.org . He just finished an eBook on the importance of reducing Bounce Rate which you can check out. He resides in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Google Penalizes Copyright Infringers: Are You At Risk?

This guest post is by Shahzad Saeed of TechAndProject.com.

Recently Google announced on its official blog that it will start penalizing sites that are accused of copyright infringement.

The announcement may reduce the content theft around the web, since now it is clear that if a site continuously violates copyright laws, it will lose search rankings and possibly even be removed from Google’s index. On the other hand, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to copy, modify, and share any information from the web. But the problem is that the vast majority of people do not care about copyright. This may now result in legal actions and loss of Google traffic.

How can you avoid Google penalties related to copyright? Here are a few tips.

A quick disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not intend to constitute legal advice. It is only the results of my own research.

Reusing content? Get the author’s permission every time

I’ve found many of my articles published on other websites without my permission. Some people assume that there is no copyright infringement if they steal the content, but credit the author’s website. This is incorrect.

Some others assume that the worst thing can happen as a result of copyright infringement is that they will receive take down notice from the author, and then, if they remove the copyrighted material, they will be out of trouble.

Let me talk about my experience. I published an article titled Top 10 deadliest air crashes in the last 10 years on my own blog. At the time, Google brought a nice amount of traffic to that post. But recently, when I Googled the keywords related to that post, I’ve found that it’s no longer listed even in the first ten result. Instead, a ripped post was there. It was republished in an article gallery where users are paid for the content! I’ve found the same article reproduced without my permission on other blogs as well.

Sometimes, it is nice to see that your work has been used by many people around the web, even if they are not crediting you. I don’t care if someone gets paid a small fee for my article; what I worry about is suffering a Google penalty if someone steals my content.

If you plan to copy more than a few words or phrases from someone’s post, ask the original author for permission to republish it. If you copy copyrighted material without getting permission from the author, and crediting the author, your actions will infringe their copyright. If you cannot get the author’s permission, restate the ideas in your own words.

Determine if permission is needed

In some cases, using work without permission is allowed. For criticizing, commenting, and news reporting, short quotations are considered fair use. You can also use material that’s available in the public domain.

Finally, you are allowed to use a brand name on your site under nominative fair use laws. In this case, your usage of the name would not be considered trademark infringement because the use is unlikely to confuse consumers, as you’re merely using it to identify the brand without suggesting affiliation or sponsorship with the brand owner.

An example is Windows7sins.org—a site where free-software enthusiasts criticize the use of proprietary software especially Microsoft Windows.

It is really important to identify what works come under public domain and which don’t. Public domain materials include federal government documents and materials produced before 1923. If material was produced between 1923 and 1978 without a copyright notice it is also considered to be in the public domain.

For a blogger this does not matter much, unless they’re copying material from printed sources, because the web didn’t take off until the late ’90s.

On the flip-side of all this legislation, if you want others to have free use of your work, you can explicitly make it clear that you do not assert any copyright ownership. You can learn more about the public domain here.

Use materials licensed under Creative Commons

As you might know, Creative Commons (cc) enables you to license your own writing, photos, videos, or anything you’ve created for reuse by others, and it’s free. The CC license tells people that your content is available for mixing, copying, and modifying with their own content and creations. It automatically grants third parties permission to use your work.

Creative Commons is not a license that allows the reuse of any work, but it is less restrictive than standard copyright. In order to identify what you can do and can’t do with Creative Commons-licensed material, you should check what type of license the material is available under. Here are the different types of Creative Commons licenses.

  • Attributions: authors specify that the work can be copied if a credit is given to the author like linking to the original article.
  • Derivation: authors specify if the work can be altered or only verbatim copies of the work are allowed to be reused and shared.
  • Commercial or non- commercial licenses: authors specify if the work is allowed to be used for any purpose, or only for non-commercial purposes.
  • Share-alike: authors specify that if the work is reproduced, then the derived work has to use same license (or they may specify that it doesn’t).

Using Creative Commons-licensed content is a good choice, but attributing it properly can be difficult and a bit confusing.

The first rule of thumb of using licensed content is to attribute the creator properly.  Open Attribute is a simple tool I suggest for anyone to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC-licensed work.

Most bloggers and webmasters use Flickr to find images for their own blogs. Not every picture on Flickr is free to use, though. Some of the Flickr images are “All rights reserved”, so you can’t just copy and use them unless you have got permission explicitly from the owner.

For finding a Creative Commons-licensed images, you can use Google Advanced Image Search. If you are a Flickr fan when it comes to using images for your blog, use the advanced search and limit your results to Flickr or any other specific domain that you are interested in.

WordPress users can use the Flickr pick a picture plugin to find suitable pictures from Flickr.com. Another useful plugin is Free Stock Photos Foter, where users can find free—and freely available—stock photos.

Another important thing to keep in mind is not to hotlink the images that you use. Many people are lazy, and when they upload the picture they just bulk upload it—they might not have given name, title, and tag to each and every picture on their site. If you then hotlink those pictures and do some basic image optimization techniques on your blog, chances are high that you will outrank the source picture—not good if you want to stay on good terms with the image’s owner. So the best practice is to host the image yourself instead of hotlinking it.

Add licensing information on your site

You can see, most of the mainstream websites have some kind of copyright messages on the site. Displaying a copyright message is not necessarily needed to claim your rights over your blog and its content—as soon as you publish an article on your blog, it is automatically copyrighted.

However, a copyright notice can be useful if you need to defend your rights to your blog in court. The following is the common format for displaying copyright.

© [Full Name] and [Blog Name], [Current Year or Year Range]

[Source]

No matter what size a blog is, no blog is secure from content theft. Some bloggers license their blog under creative commons license by arguing the issues of content theft and difficulty in discouraging copying under the (DMCA) Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Some bloggers, like Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net, encourage readers to copy their content to their own blogs any way they need—even without attribution.

If you own a blog licensed under Creative Commons, it’s a good idea to use WordPress plugin called Creative Commons Configurator. This adds your CC license near the footer of your posts, and in the head of your blog. This will be visible only to robots, but ensures your approach to copyright is clear to all—including Google, which means you should avoid their penalties when others reuse your content.

My advice? License images and videos under CC, but not the text of your blog if you don’t want your blog get penalized by Google. But what about you? Do you protect your copyright, or license your content for others to use? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Shahzad Saeed blogs on TechAndProject.com where he talks about Technology for students. If you want to learn web designing either to become a freelancer or to be an employee feel free to read his article series on web coding.

Curb Your Blogging Frustration in 8 Steps

This guest post is by Marc Ensign of MarcEnsign.com and NotAnotherSEOBlog.com.

That last blog post was really good. It was supposed to be the one. The post that launched you into blogging stardom. Right into the spotlight. Making you an overnight success.

That post was supposed to change everything.

But it didn’t. Instead, it received the usual handful of tweets, smattering of likes and a gaggle of comments. Barely enough traffic needed for a respectable flash mob. And a majority of the traffic you did get either came from you or from people that share your bloodline.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Frustrating enough to make you question what you are doing. Or if you are any good. Frustrating enough to make you wonder if blogging is even worth it. Or if anybody even cares about what you have to say.

Frustrating enough to make you want to give up. Stop writing. Quit.

Now, before you fold your arms and stomp off into the sunset never to blog again, there is something you should know. This is normal. Every blogger that has had an ounce of success has been here. At this very same fork in the road. Staring down the same choice of whether or not to give up. Lucky for us, they chose to keep going.

And you should too.

So, before you throw in the towel, let’s talk about how to curb some of that frustration a bit so you can get back to striving for blogging fame and fortune.

Step 1: Stop whining

You are not working in a coal mine. You are not living in a third world country. And you have not been sentenced to life in prison for a crime you did not commit. You are writing. Put it in perspective. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and making things out to be worse than they really are.

I get it. You have something to say. A message to share with the world. And nobody is listening. Or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But whining about it is not going to make it any better. In fact, it’s only going to make it worse. Stop getting caught up in creating a meaning behind the numbers. Dig deep and rediscover the reason that you started your blog in the first place. Find your purpose.

Step 2: Find your purpose

There was a time early on when you woke up in a cold sweat. You had an idea. A way to help others. Sure, you thought you might also be able to make some money at it along the way, but it wasn’t originally about that. There was a greater purpose behind it. Something you were passionate about. Something so strong that you were willing to put the work in early on even though you didn’t have a single visitor or make a single penny.

And now it sounds like you have lost sight of it. Not on purpose. It just took a backseat as you started to value other stuff more like the number of visitors or how many people are sharing your posts. You need to rediscover your purpose. It’s easy to do. To start, just change your focus.

Step 3: Change your focus

If you are frustrated over your blog’s performance, take a look at where you are focusing your attention. Chances are that it is on the numbers—how many hits, Tweets, Likes and Pins. When you are too focused on the numbers you tend to make bad decisions. You begin to focus on what you can gain from the relationship versus what you can give. It affects the quality of your writing. It affects what you write about. It affects how often you write. It affects the tone you take in your writing. And your audience will notice.

If you have to focus on numbers, start focusing on different numbers. Numbers that you have more control over. How often you publish. How many words you are writing each day. How many other blogs you are reading and commenting on. It doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to the number of visitors you are getting, just stop checking your stats so often.

Step 4: Stop checking your stats so often

We’re all guilty of it. You publish a post, Tweet it, count to ten and then log into Google Analytics to see how many people have read it so far. Stop it. Seriously. You are going to drive yourself mad. Keeping the window open all of the time so you can hit refresh after every Tweet is going to get you more and more frustrated.

Try checking your stats only once a week. Maybe once at the end of each day if you are really neurotic about it. Staring at your stats ten times a day isn’t going to make it better. If your writing is good and your message is powerful, the visitors will come. You just need to have faith.

Step 5: Have faith

If you don’t believe that you have something of value to share. Something the world needs to hear. Than we as your readers aren’t going to either. It comes across in your writing and how you share your posts. Do you do enough or do you go above and beyond? Do you care about your subject matter or are you passionate about it?

You need to feel strongly about what you are doing and where you are going and have faith that you will get there. Having faith will help you get through the times when no one is reading. When you are up at 2am working on a new post. When you know it can be better. With a little bit of faith, you can accomplish just about anything. As long as you set realistic goals.

Step 6: Set realistic goals

Frustration often comes from having unrealistic goals. Goals that are too far out of reach for you to get excited about. Goals like having 100,000 subscribers by the end of your first month. Or making $1,000,000 in advertising without any traffic. Your goals need to be attainable. Just a hair out of reach. Enough to make you stretch but not too far that it seems unreasonable to keep going when it gets tough.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to squash your dreams. I am just suggesting that you not set yourself up for failure. I once met a guy who whose goal was to be the first trillionaire in the world. He’s going to fail. It’s too far out of reach. He is not going to surpass the valuation of Apple from his Moms basement with no ideas and no prospects. Set goals that are reasonable. Win a few along the way. Get excited about them. And stay committed.

Step 7: Stay committed

You have come this far. You have developed a blog. You have been posting regularly. You have a bunch of readers. You have a purpose and reasonable goals. See it through. Stay committed to it. Don’t lose sight of your dream. Make sure that you write your absolute best stuff every time. Post consistently on the same day(s) every week. Wake up every morning at the same time and write for an hour or two. Create a religion out of it.

If you are asking your readers to commit to you by reading your blog each day than you need to commit to them and yourself. Being committed means giving your best. Not missing a post. Even when you don’t know what to say. Even when it gets tough. And when it does get tough (which it will), look to others for inspiration.

Step 8: Look to others for inspiration

You aren’t the only one that has been here. Struggling to find an audience. Wishing a post would catch on. Disappointed by the numbers. Every blogger goes through this and the best ones are the ones that make it out alive. Stronger than how they went in. Read their stories. Find solace in their struggles. You are not alone.

Chris Brogan wrote a post not too long ago about how it took him eight years to get his first 100 subscribers. If you were to ask him, I’m sure he felt like giving up a bunch of times throughout those years, but he didn’t. And that seemed to have worked out pretty good for him. It’s inspiring. And there are plenty of stories out there just like his. Make sure that yours is one of them some day.

Still frustrated?

After all that, if you are still frustrated, there is only one thing left to do about it. No, not quit. Write. Write about how frustrated you are. Maybe it’s a post. Maybe a private journal entry. Maybe a comment below on this post. Whatever it is. Leverage your ability to write about it. Get it out of your system. You will feel better and then you can get back to doing what you do best.

Marc Ensign is not a Guru, Jedi, Rock Star or a Ninja. He’s just a guy that knows an awful lot about a bunch of stuff and likes to write about it on his blogs MarcEnsign.com and NotAnotherSEOBlog.com. His stuff is good. It’s different. It’ll make you think (in a good way). You should check it out. You never know, you might learn something. If not, it’s a great way to kill a couple of minutes.

Kickstart Your Stalled Blog Content, Part 1: Six Steps to a Fresh Post

Just starting a blog? Longing to revive an old, forgotten blog? Or just feeling guilty because you’ve let your blog languish without a post for a little too long?

Typing a post

Image courtesy stock.xchng user tikideputy

If your blog’s fallen behind your ideal post frequency, you’re in luck. Today, I’m going to give you a six-step plan for kickstarting stalled blog content. The work we’ll do today takes just 40 minutes in total, but you can split it up in to five- and ten-minute blocks if that’s all you can fit in.

Then, over the coming week, I’ll check back in with you periodically to see how you’re going—and provide some more tips for staying on track along the way. Are you ready to kickstart your content? Let’s go!

1. Take stock: readers, niche and blog: 10 minutes

First up, let’s take stock of what’s going on on your blog, in your niche, and with your readers. A good way to do this is to start by looking at the leading sites in your niche—not just blogs, but all sites and other media (press, for example) that your target audience might use.

Look closely at:

  • current news, events and trends
  • what readers are linking and sharing
  • what readers are worried or concerned by
  • where your niche seems to be headed in the short- to medium-term.

Do this now, and in ten or fifteen minutes’ time, you should have a pretty clear picture of what’s happening in your niche—an essential step if you’re reviving a blog you’ve left to languish for a while.

Next, visit your own blog. What topics have you covered most recently (even if that was a while ago)? Where does your blog sit relative to the competition, and to readers’ interests?

Hopefully, this review will give you a clear idea of some gaps in niche coverage that you can fill on your blog. It might also spark your ideas or opinions on topics that are important to your niche and audience right now. We’re off to a good start!

2. Think of three questions readers are asking: 5 minutes

After step 1, you’ll probably be fairly clear about the kinds of things readers are trying to learn or get information on.

Take a minute to write down three questions they’re asking. You might like to write them as if they’re questions you’re tying into Google or some other search tool, or you might just narrow down to fairly specific topics.

These questions don’t have to be actual questions you’re seeing readers ask in blog comments. They might be suggested through the interactions your audience is having on social media, or questions other leaders in your niche seem to be asking, and which are getting some attention from readers.

What you’re really looking for here are audience needs that aren’t being fully met by the content that’s available in your niche right now.

3. Write answers to those questions: 5 minutes

You’ve got a list of three questions; now answer each one in a sentence or two.

In those answers, make sure you’re 100% clear on the meaning of what you’ve written (it’s all too easy to jot down a one-sentence answer and find out later that it was full of holes!), and that you know why you answered the way you did.

Being able to rationalise your points of view will be essential when it comes to writing your next post!

4. Choose one Q&A to expand on: 10 minutes

Hopefully, you’ll find at least one of the questions you’ve identified really interesting. Pick that one, and note down a bit more about it.

You might get into the reader question in a bit more detail, or jot down the logical components of your answer—perhaps just in bullet points or using keywords.

The object here is just to get clear about the nature of the question, and the key elements of your answer. You might also have a think about some of the content you’ve seen on the topic online (if you have seen any) and identify what’s missing from that content. Should you cover those points in your post? Where would they fit?

You might notice now that you’ve got a brief outline for a post. You have a topic, a question for the post, and an answer split into a number of elements. Not bad for a half-hour’s work!

5. Write down what’s different about this advice: 5 minutes

You might be tempted to skip this step. Don’t.

Here’s where you clarify for yourself what your post will provide that no other content on the topic does.

This isn’t just an informational question—though of course knowing what advice or detail your post will offer uniquely is important. But let’s not overlook what you bring to the equation as well.

Perhaps your post will hinge on your own personal experience of the topic, and will provide unique insight from that experience.

Perhaps the approach will be different—maybe all the coverage so far has come from one side of the industry, or of a debate. Perhaps you’re going to provide another perspective from a completely different viewpoint.

Or maybe you’ll use a different format from the rest—one that makes the issues more approachable and digestible, and helps readers understand the topic more easily.

6. Schedule writing time, editing time, and a publication date: 5 minutes

This is the last step for today! You’ve just created a plan for a unique piece of content that responds directly, and uniquely to readers’ needs.

All you need now is the time to write it.

Check your schedule and set aside three blocks of time:

  1. 40 minutes for writing
  2. 30 minutes for editing, on a different day
  3. a publication date.

Commit to these dates and times—make them non-negotiable. Tell us when they fall in the comments, if you like. What I’d love is if you could fit them into the next week, because I’m planning to check back in with you on Tuesday and Friday to see how you’re going.

On those days I’ll be providing tips to help you keep your content kickstart on track, so it’ll be great if you can work along with us. If not, that’s fine—I’d still love to hear when you’re planning your writing, editing and publication in the comments.

Don’t forget to check back on Tuesday, when I’ll reveal some of the tricks I use to blog when I have no time in my schedule. Hopefully, they’ll put you in good stead for keeping the content rolling on your blog long after you’ve kickstarted it back into action. See you then!