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The Diamond in the Rough System for Gaining Influence

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman.

Content is still king, but influential relationships are queen. And we all know that women rule the world, so maybe we should start paying more attention to these queens.

Bloggers should publish less and promote more.

If you enjoy staying awake until 4am writing each night, and frantically trying to publish according to your over-zealous schedule, then continue doing what you’re doing. My guess is that you’re not paying enough attention to the queens though, and we all know how important it is to cherish, respect, and support the women in our lives.

That said, there are a lot of queens in the world, and everybody seems to be trying to get attention from the same ones. So you send emails to industry influencers and tweet at top bloggers. One day you get a response back and feel like you’ve made it to their inner circle.

Then you hear crickets … followed by tumbleweed rolling by. (Which is odd because you don’t live in the Wild West or in a cowboy movie. But I digress.)

The Diamond in the Rough System of relationship-building

In every industry there are a select few who are in the spotlight. They receive hundreds of emails, tweets, Facebook messages and so on every day. Likely they don’t answer their own mail and there isn’t much you can offer them in terms of support.

The Diamond in the Rough System is a way to get the influencers to want to approach you. It can be applied to any large social medium but I’m going to stick to Twitter for this article.

Twitter is a sea of shameless self-promotion. Much of it goes unnoticed. The feed is so cluttered and people are more interested in pumping their own information out than absorbing that of others. Add to that the unfortunate fact that what you’re saying isn’t unique—there are probably people with bigger followings already saying it—and you’re facing an uphill battle.

The Diamond in the Rough System will teach you how to find the Queens behind the scenes and court them.

First, understand that there are a number of influential people in every industry:

  • The influencers are the ones in control of the big brands. They may or may not be smarter than you, but they have hustled to get to where they are, and built an empire and great network around themselves.
  • The large magazines are usually faceless organizations with multiple walls and levels of bureaucracy getting in the way. This makes it difficult to get in touch with anyone.
  • The bloggers are gaining more steam in some industries. In the tech industries, for example, it could be argued they control the information; in plumbing they are relatively non-existent.
  • The senior editors are the top-level editors at magazines and industry publications. These people are over-worked and usually under-paid or under-appreciated.
  • The beat reporters and supporting editors are easy to access and have a lot of influence as to what goes into major publications. They are the diamonds in the rough.

Right about now you’re thinking I’m crazy. Because, if you’re like most people attempting to gain influence, you have tried to follow the conventional path and emailed various editors desperately trying to get his or her attention—and never gotten a response.

Get creative and get unconventional

Email is conventional. People have learned to ignore it. You must evolve your practices to get noticed.

Twitter is a way to build a relationship with the queens and create a friendship. Most of these reporters have modest, if any, followings on Twitter. So while they get 100+ emails a day, they might only get two @ mentions on Twitter. Which do you think they would be more likely to respond to? 

How to find the diamonds in the rough

  • Follow the head editors and scan the lists of the people they follow. Look for accounts that say something like, “NY Times editor focusing on social media and marketing.” Follow everybody that seems to cover your niche.
  • Identify the top bloggers in your niche and follow the same steps are above.
  • Identify the top influencers in your niche and follow the same steps as above.
  • Search newspapers websites and find the editors that cover the subjects your niche pertains to. A Google search is usually all you need to find their Twitter account if they have one.
  • Every magazine lists the various editors and writers on the first couple pages. Identify the top magazines in your niche and write down the names of everybody on this page that fits your specifications. Do a Google search and try to find their Twitter account and follow them.
  • Pay attention to networks of influence. It’s not uncommon for a number of influencers to tweet back and forth with the same person that you have never heard of. That person is likely an important member behind the scenes.

The community of people at the top of your industry is close-knit. There are the influencers that you know and a supporting crew that acts behind the scenes that you don’t. These supporting crewmembers are your diamonds. Find them and make them feel important. Support them and build relationships with them.

How to court your queens

Now that you’ve found these people, respond intelligently to their tweets. If they promote a blog post or article with a link, take the time to read the entire article and respond with a piece of feedback or a question. If they say something about their personal life or hobby, send back a joke or tidbit of information.

As an aside I’ll add that you should not respond to every tweet. This comes off as needy. Respond only if you have something intelligent to say and not more than once or twice every couple of days.

Don’t ask for anything in return. Your bio on Twitter says who you are, and includes a link to your work. They will check you out. And you only publish your best work right?

You should have a headshot as your profile picture in Twitter, not your company logo. People like talking to and doing business with people, not faceless organizations.

It works

Following this system, I have been able to get featured as one of the Top 20 Smartest Fitness Trainers You Might Now Know by Livestrong, had my book featured both in Muscle & Fitness and as one of the Top 21 Health, Fitness and Nutrition Books, also by Livestrong, and recently I was contacted by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s right-hand man to write content for his site.

All of this happened because I built relationships with those that control the content behind the scenes. I never once submitted an article. Every time they reached out to me.

Write great material and only publish your best work. Then spend all of the time you saved finding the diamonds in the rough. They are the ones who will get your work to spread.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author. His second book recently reached the #1 spot on Amazon in both the marketing and web marketing categories. Aside from consulting and running http://www.theptdc.com, he is currently writing Viralnomics: How to Create Directed Viral Marketing. The sections are being published for free online as they are produced. You can get up to date at http://www.viralnomics.com.

40 Cool Things to Do With Your Posts *After* You Hit Publish

This guest post is by Steff Green of Grymm & Epic Copywriting and Illustration.

Blogging isn’t a case of “If you post it, they will come.” Your role as a blogger doesn’t end as soon as you hit Publish. In fact, that’s only the beginning.

If you’re anything like me, most posts take you between one and our hours to write, maybe even more. For all that time and energy, you’ll want each post to do a lot of work for you after it’s gone live.

You want that post to:

  • demonstrate your writing and blogging skills to potential clients
  • attract new readers to your site, and encourage them to stay
  • solve issues faced by your regular readers
  • be linked and shared on social media
  • attract commenters to keep the discussion going
  • bring your blog to the attention of advertisers, companies and other opportunities
  • make you some money!

To get anything out of your blog post, you’ve got to put in extra effort, even after you’ve hit Publish.

Here, I’ve tried to make it easy for you—I’ve come up with 40 different things you can do to help give your blog post the best chance of success after it’s gone live.

  1. If your topic is an evergreen one, you could wait a few months, then republish your post with updated information. Getting your best content back in front of the eyes of your readers can be a great way to encourage sharing and point them toward the other great content on your site.
  2. Do you write posts filled with personal stories and the lessons you learn throughout your life? With a bit of editing, these posts could make great personal essays, which you could sell to freelance markets that accept these.
  3. You could combine pillar posts with additional content to create free, downloadable ebooks that you can promote through your site, or sell on Amazon.
  4. If you used a particular format for a post that was effective—like a 20 questions interview with an expert, or a particular set of subheadings on a review—you could turn that one-off post into the first instalment of a regular column.
  5. You could create a new page on your site called Free Resources or Start Here, and link back to some of your most popular articles.
  6. If you notice another blogger asking a question that you’ve answered on your blog, send them a link to the article.
  7. You could write Part 2 of a popular post and address another aspect of the topic.
  8. Turn ideas from your blog posts into pitches for magazine articles. Print publications won’t want articles that read like blog posts—the tone of the writing is very different—so you can often pitch an idea you’ve already written about. For example, I wrote a post on my Gothic Wedding blog on Wedding Advice for Shy Couples. I was then able to pitch the same topic to a bridal magazine. The article I wrote for them was much shorter, with a different tone, and I included quotes from real couples.
  9. Depending on the topic of your blog, you could turn old posts into short non-fiction pieces for children’s magazines. By simplifying the language and adding lots of interesting detail, you could sell 200-800 word info-snippets to help teach children about the world around them.
  10. Go back to your old posts and interlink them with newer posts on your blog, or to your Products or Service pages. A good internal link structure keeps readers on your site longer.
  11. Use your favorite blog posts as writing samples when you pitch articles to print publications. Most editors want to see a sample of your writing, and using a blog post has the added bonus of demonstrating your expertise in your niche.
  12. If you’ve created any tutorial posts, go back and check they contain sufficient photographs, diagrams, and screen captures. If not, spend some time drawing up, editing or inserting visual imagery, then announce the update to your audience.
  13. Do you write short, sharp, humorous posts? Why not contact a publisher about creating a gift book?
  14. If you’re looking for freelance blogging work, contact local companies who have non-existent or inactive blogs and ask if they’d like to hire a blogger. Use your post on a similar topic to demonstrate what you can do.
  15. If you wrote about someone’s product, service or resource, email them, or send them a tweet letting them know the post is up. Who knows, it might even lead to a brand collaboration in the future.
  16. Look for print magazines that accept “reprints”—these are articles that have been previously published, and can include blog posts. You’ll probably need to edit your post before you send it, to fit with the magazine’s format, culture, and content, but this can be a very successful way to get your brand in front of a wider audience.
  17. You can use old posts as springboards for guest post ideas—I struggle to think of ideas for guest posts, and I find looking back through my blog’s archives reveals ideas and themes I can jazz up and send off.
  18. You could create a photo essay, video, or cartoon to explore ideas from an old post, and link back to the old post when you release your creative project.
  19. You could create a press release based on a newsworthy story you wrote about one your blog, and use it to contact local and national press.
  20. You could approach the owners of a magazine or other popular site about syndicating your blog to their readers.
  21. If you want something physical to give potential clients, you could print out text or screen shots of your most popular posts and compile a print portfolio.
  22. Or, of course, you can put together an online portfolio for your web-based clients, showcasing your best work on yours—and others’—blogs.
  23. You could gather together blog content to form the basis of a workshop or seminar you could offer up to conferences in your niche.
  24. Or, if you prefer to teach online, you could use your blog content as a basis for creating a short autoresponder course or email workshop.
  25. You can embed links to your relevant posts in your Youtube videos.
  26. Send a few relevant links out to potential freelancing clients as examples of your skills.
  27. You could use your posts to pitch a newspaper column.
  28. Email your friends with a link to your post and encourage them to share it among their friends and acquaintances. As long as you don’t do this all the time, most friends are happy to share awesome things that are relevant to their interests.
  29. Advertise your post on social media. Don’t forget to track the results!
  30. Create a funky infographic that demonstrates the information used in your post, and either share it with other bloggers or use it on social media.
  31. Submit your link to sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, or Reddit.
  32. Create a Pinterest board based around the topic of your post—and make sure you link back to your blog!
  33. Create a poll based on a question from your article and place it prominently in your sidebar, with a link back to your post.
  34. Send a note out on your blog’s newsletter or mailing list, letting them know about the article. Depending on what your audience is happy reading, you could republish the whole thing to their inboxes.
  35. Start a discussion about your topic on a forum and use your article to back up your argument. But remember—you should only occasionally add links to forums and only when they add value.
  36. Add a link to your post in your email signature, so everyone you email has the chance to click through.
  37. You could create a competition to encourage comments, whereby one commenter on your post wins a prize. I do this with CDs, books and apparel on my blog sometimes and it’s always a great success.
  38. Turn your best-looking blog post into an artistic poster and stick it up all over town.
  39. Add some well-placed text ads or affiliate links to your post, and earn a little extra cash.
  40. Get a tattoo of your blog post URL!

There are plenty of ways you can extend the life of a blog post beyond the post-and-forget approach. If you put the extra work in to ensure each of your posts does as much as possible to generate new readers and new contracts, you’ll see your traffic—and your bank balance—will soon begin to reflect your efforts.

What do you do with a post after you’ve published it?

Steff Green is a creative copywriter, professional blogger and heavy metal maiden at Grymm & Epic Copywriting and Illustration (http://grymmandepic.com). Get her free ebook, Unleash the Beast: Release Your Inner Creative Monster (http://www.grymmandepic.com/blog/subscribe/).

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 2

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

Yesterday, we started our tour of new features added to WordPress in version 3.4.

Today we continue the tour with a look at helpful new features available in version 3.5.

New features added to WordPress 3.5

Released late last year, WordPress 3.5 was the second and final major WordPress release of 2012.

This was the first release to include the new default design Twenty Twelve. It comes with a cool new feature that lets you install plugins you marked as a favorite on WordPress.org directly from your dashboard. However, many bloggers were surprised that the link manager has been removed from the default version of WordPress (though most agree removing this was a good decision).

Let’s take a look at the features.

New feature: Install favorite plugins

Now you can install your favorite plugins directly from your WordPress dashboard.

If you are logged in at WordPress.org, you will see a new option to favorite a plugin. You simply need to click on the link in order to add a plugin to your favorites.

favorite-plugin-1

As you can see, a new link for favorites has been added to the WordPress plugin area.

favorite-plugin-2

After you enter your WordPress.org username, you will see a list of all the plugins you have added as favorites. You can then install your chosen plugin easily.

favorite-plugin-3

Most WordPress users tend to use the same plugins on each of their WordPress websites. In the past, most people would bookmark their favorite plugins or keep a list of useful plugins so that they didn’t forget them. Saving important plugins at WordPress.org will allow you to quickly install frequently used plugins on every website you own very easily.

The way this new feature is set up, you don’t have to log in to your WordPress.org account on your blog, you only need to enter your username. This means you can see which plugins have been marked as favorites by any user on WordPress. You can share your favorites list with friends simply by telling them your username.

Also, if you know the WordPress username a website owner uses, you could enter their username into the plugin area to get a sneaky look into their favorite plugins (though there is no guarantee they are using a certain plugin on any given website).

New feature: Link manager removed

The Link Manager is no longer part of the core WordPress install.

The WordPress link manager, more commonly known as the Blogroll, was once one of the most popular features with bloggers and was used to display links on millions of blog sidebars. Thankfully, WordPress isn’t too sentimental—they know that the link manager is now only used by a small percentage of users.

The removal of the link manager follows the policy to remove non-essential items from the WordPress core to make the default version of WordPress quicker and leave additional functionality to plugins and themes.

links-new

Those who upgrade to WordPress 3.5 will no longer see the link manager in the WordPress menu if you haven’t used it before.

links-old

If you used your blogroll before you upgrade, the links manager will not be removed. It’s only removed on installations where no links were added (i.e. only the default links to WordPress-related websites were in your database). The link manager is available via an official plugin for anyone who wants to add the functionality back to their WordPress website.

New feature: New default design Twenty Twelve

The default design for WordPress has been released with this new version.

Twenty Twelve was originally planned to be part of WordPress 3.4 but was delayed. It was later released in the official WordPress theme directory in between the release of 3.4 and 3.5.

WordPress 3.5 is the first official release that includes this new theme (Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are included, too).

Some WordPress users have voiced their disappointment in Twenty Twelve’s minimal design, however most WordPress designers have been pleased with the evolutionary steps in this new official theme. The theme was clearly made with child themes in mind, and with the inclusion of child themes being introduced six months before, I imagine we are going to see a lot of varied designs being created from this base.

twenty-twelve-screenshot

As before, the design can be modified using the theme customizer. Small differences are apparent—no header image is set by default, and no sidebar is shown if no sidebar widgets are present. In addition to the sidebar widget, the static home page also comes with two widget areas (each takes up 50% of the screen width). This makes creating a corporate-style home page very straightforward.

twenty-twelve-widgets

Like Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve supports post formats. Each of the additional post formats have a different design to distinguish them from other formats.

post-formats

You’ll find that there isn’t much difference in styling between some post formats. There’s a content template for each one, so these designs can easily be changed with just a few small edits.

asides

Twenty Twelve has a responsive design, so it looks the same on any browser and any device. It has beautiful typography too which makes reading a joy. If you know a little coding, you should be able to design some interesting websites using Twenty Twelve.

New feature: New Welcome screen

WordPress have improved the Welcome screen in 3.5.

Previously, the Welcome screen had an introduction and three columns of links.

welcome-screen-old

The new Welcome screen looks much cleaner. The introductory description is gone, as is the description for each section. There are fewer links to choose from, and the link fonts have increased in size too. It’s much easier to use because of these changes.

welcome-screen

New feature: New color picker

Slight improvements have been made to the color picker.

The color picker for the built-in theme customizer has had a small visual improvement. Previously WordPress used the popular color wheel.

color-picker-old

The new color picker looks much more modern. Common colors are displayed at the bottom and there is a new Default button which lets you return to the default color for the property instantly.

color-picker

New feature: Media interface improved

The WordPress media interface has been vastly improved.

The media interface has had a much-needed overhaul. The old Upload/Insert text above your TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor has been replaced with a more prominent Add media button.

media-interface-1

Clicking on the Add media button will bring up the new media interface. The old interface used to appear in an overlay that covered approximately 40% of the page (centered). The new overlay covers around 95% of the page. The same three options are available as before: Upload Files, Media Library and Embed from URL.

The media library not only looks better, it works better too. All items are shown in the center panel, with details of any selected item being shown on the right panel. Previously, items were shown vertically using a list and you had to click a Show link in order to see more details.

You can show all items, items uploaded to the post you are modifying, images, audio, and video. You can enter search terms to filter results, too.

media-interface-2

Multiple items can now be selected at once. Not only can you modify details of uploaded items more quickly, you can now insert multiple images, audio files, and videos directly into posts. This saves you a huge amount of time. The days of bloggers inserting dozens of images into blog posts one by one are over.

media-interface-3

If you select more than one item, you will have the option of inserting them into a post together. You will also see an option to Create a new gallery. In the past, media items were always grouped together with the post or page they were uploaded from. This new system means you can group items together at any time and insert them anywhere you want.

media-interface-4

The new media interface is arguably the most important new feature for WordPress bloggers. Images, videos, and audio are so important to us. The new interface really speeds up the process of inserting these assets into your blog posts.

New feature: XML-RPC enabled by default

XML-RPC is now enabled by default.

XML-RPC needs to be enabled in WordPress so that external applications can connect to WordPress. Historically, this setting has always been disabled by default.

ios-wordpress

When XML-RPC is enabled, WordPress can be used through a host of different mobile applications and you can use third-party blog editors such as Windows Live Writer, BlogDesk and Post2Blog.

New feature: Dashboard now supports all-HiDPI

The WordPress dashboard now supports retina display,

Those who have shiny new high-resolution retina display devices will be pleased to know that the WordPress dashboard is fully compatible with HiDPI.

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Below is a list of some of the other features that were added to WordPress 3.5:

  • improved support for keyboard navigation and screen reading
  • search for comments of a particular status
  • external libraries for scripts such as TinyMCE, SimplePie, jQuery 1.8.2 and jQuery UI have all been updated. Backbone and Underscore have also been added.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.5 can be found in the WordPress codex.

WordPress for the future

Each year the WordPress platform evolves and 2012 was no different. Features such as the theme customizer, live preview, and favorite plugins install option have made using WordPress easier for both beginners and veterans.

Whilst WordPress has moved beyond its humble blogging roots somewhat, it is still the best blogging platform available. The Link Manager has been downgraded, however new features such as inserting multiple media items, Twitter embeds and continued support for micro blogging post formats such as asides, quotes, and links, have ensured that WordPress remains number one in the blogging world.

WordPress have ensured they are keeping up with user habits, too. The Admin interface supports retina display, the new default design is responsive and they continue to improve their mobile applications. In short, WordPress is a mobile-friendly platform.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the new features introduced to WordPress in 2012. Let us know what your favorite new feature is and why!

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 1

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it never stands still. The platform is constantly evolving beyond its blogging roots, with more great features being added every year.

WordPress used to release small updates frequently, but at the end of 2009 they changed this policy. They now aim to release three major updates every year, with small infrequent updates in between to address security issues.

The three major releases in 2011 were 3.1 (February 2011) and 3.2 (July 2011) and 3.3 (December 2011).

Today I’d like to walk you through the new features which were introduced in 2012, in WordPress 3.4 and 3.5.

I’ll be focusing on the features that are most relevant to bloggers and explaining how they can help you.

New features in WordPress 3.4

Released in June, WordPress 3.4 was a solid release that is best remembered for introducing the new theme customizer.

It also included a lot of other great new features such as Twitter embedding, HTML in captions, and flexible header images.

New feature: Live preview

Live preview enables you to preview themes before they are activated on your blog.

Browsing and installing themes and plugins directly from the WordPress admin area is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths. It’s amazing that you can modify your blog so much without even leaving your blog’s Admin area.

In the past, clicking on the Preview link for a theme would load up an overlay which displayed the theme over the current page.

live-preview-old

But the process of browsing WordPress designs changed in WordPress 3.4. In the past, the design was listed with Install and Preview links, and a full description.

Descriptions are now hidden by default, though you can view the description of a theme by clicking on the new Description link. This may seem like a small change, but it made browsing for designs within the Admin area much more user friendly.

live-preview-1

Themes are now previewed on their own dedicated Preview page. The page shows the theme on the right-hand side. On the left side, the theme name, thumbnail, rating and description are shown. To save you from having to click the Back button, themes can now be installed via this new Preview area.

live-preview-2

Once a theme has been installed on your WordPress blog, the Preview option becomes much more useful as it loads up the new theme customizer and lets you see how this design will look on your live website. This enables you to preview the theme using your menus, posts, pages and more.

live-preview-3

Being able to see how themes will look with your existing content has greatly improved the process of installing WordPress designs via your Admin area, and changed the way bloggers choose their themes.

New feature: Theme customizer

This feature allows you to configure your theme via a user-friendly Options area.

The WordPress customizer allows users to configure many different areas of their design, such as the header, background and navigation via a dedicated Options area. Older WordPress themes do not support the customizer but can be modified appropriately with a few simple edits to the theme functions.php file.

The Customize link can be found via the Themes link in the Appearance menu of your WordPress Admin area. Clicking on the link will take you directly to the theme customizer Options area.

theme-customizer-1

The options available to you in the customizer will depend on the theme itself. The default WordPress themes only had five or six different options, however over the last six months we have seen WordPress designers incorporate other options in their designs. Common options include site title and tagline, colors, background image, navigation menus, and whether posts or a static page were displayed on your home page.

theme-customizer-2

One of the reasons the theme customizer was so well received within the WordPress community was because changes can be seen in real time. Whenever you change your site name or adjust some colors, these are reflected in the theme preview. The changes are, however, only applied to your website after you have clicked the Save & Publish button.

theme-customizer-3

The theme customizer has made it possible for beginners to modify how their website looks without editing any templates. It’s very straightforward to use and since the release of WordPress 3.4, many designers have made sure their themes are compatible with it.

New feature: Twitter embedding

Now you can embed Twitter statuses directly into your blog posts and pages by simply entering the Twitter status URL.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools available to bloggers. In addition to self promotion and networking, many bloggers use Twitter as a source of inspiration for their articles. The new Twitter embedding feature makes quoting Twitter statues simple and removes the need for taking screenshots or installing plugins to display a quote.

For example, simply enter this within your blog post:

https://twitter.com/problogger/status/271764815607898112

The corresponding Twitter status will be displayed:

twitter-embeds

The beauty of this new feature is its simplicity. There are no shortcodes to remember or buttons to click: you simply enter the URL of the Twitter status to embed it.

New feature: HTML in captions

This feature lets you add HTML directly to your image captions.

Captions have always been a great way of describing photographs and images to your readers. Being able to add HTML to captions has improved this considerably as you can now include links to photo credits, relevant articles, and websites directly inside the caption.

html-captions

Those who are using old WordPress themes may find that the new way WordPress adds captions has broken older image captions on your website. Upgrading to a new theme is recommended, though you could fix these issues manually by searching for posts with captions through your WordPress post area and updating the code.

New feature: Improved features for international users

Improved support is now offered for international WordPress users so that many locale-specific configurations can be modified from the core WordPress files.

As a native English speaker, localization is not something I ever have to deal with, so it’s easy to forget that around 44% of all websites are written in a language other than English.

WordPress 3.4 focused heavily on making WordPress more international. Some of the most important new features introduced for non-English users include:

  • Localizing commas: Many Asian and Middle Eastern languages do not use the comma (,). This causes a lot of problems for those users, as WordPress uses the comma as a delimiter for tags, quick edits and bulk edits. From 3.4, the comma can be translated to another character for languages where a comma isn’t used.
  • Translatable spellchecker language: The TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor can now be translated into any language.
  • Specify default time zone: Previously, the default timezone for all WordPress installations was set to GMT. This can now be modified so that the timezone does not have to be adjusted during the installation process.
  • Feed language: The language of your feed can now be set using the bloginfo_rss template tag.
  • Specifying start of week: You can now easily define the day the week starts.

If you don’t blog in English, many of these new features should make it easier for you to use WordPress in your native language.

New feature: Flexible header images

Header images are now responsive.

Custom headers were added to WordPress way back in 2007 (version 2.1). Previously WordPress allowed you to set the width and height of a header image, but all header images which were uploaded had to be cropped to fit these dimensions.

Now all images will resize dynamically to match the width of your header.

With so many people viewing blogs on mobile devices, flexible headers have made it easier for designs to accommodate any resolution. Check out Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at WebmasterDepot for a complete walkthrough of this new feature.

New feature: Login shortcodes

WordPress now offers more user-friendly login URLs.

WordPress users can log in using www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php and access the Admin area via www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Since version 3.4, you can log in using the more user-friendly URL www.yoursite.com/login. The Admin area can also be viewed by entering www.yoursite.com/admin or www.yoursite.com/dashboard.

There’s no denying that this is a small addition to WordPress, but I always welcome small things like this that make daily tasks such as logging in quicker and easier.

New feature: Comment via the post editor

Comments can now be added via the Post and Page editor pages.

For years the Post editing page has shown all the comments that were left on a post or page. In addition to viewing comments, there is now an option to leave a comment directly on a post from the post editor area. This saves you from having to load up the article in order to leave a comment.

add-comment-post-screen

New feature: Improved touch support

WordPress now offers vastly improved touch support in the user interface.

WordPress aimed to improve site usability on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad and Kindle Fire. Specifically, they added support for drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to more easily customize the mobile user interface simply by moving things around.

New feature: Child themes added to the theme repository

The official WordPress themes directory now accepts child themes of WordPress themes that are already listed within the directory.

Child themes will be accepted within the theme directory if they can demonstrate sufficient difference from the parent theme to warrant inclusion.

I was particularly pleased with this feature, as it allows designers to take existing designs and modify them for different users. For example, designers will now be able to take a magazine-based theme and make it more blog-orientated, or remove features from designs that are too bloated.

child-themes

The theme installer supports child themes too. The great thing about this is that WordPress will automatically install a child theme’s parent theme if it isn’t already installed.

New feature: Scroll to top of Admin bar

Now, we can scroll to the top of the page by simply clicking the Admin bar.

This simple feature was missed by a lot of bloggers but it’s something that I’ve found myself using every day. Since WordPress 3.4, you can scroll to the top of the page by clicking in the empty area in the Admin bar. Simple but effective!

scroll-to-top

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Since we’re short on space, here are some of the other great features that were added to WordPress 3.4:

  • The dashboard is now ready for high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina display.
  • Multi-site improvements were made, such as auto-complete for adding new users and an increase in the default upload limit from 10mb to 100mb.
  • The Recent Comments widget had some small improvements.
  • Custom post types can now use the Distraction-free Editing mode (also known as Zen mode).
  • XML-RPC was improved to let WordPress interact with other applications more easily.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.4 can be found in the WordPress codex.

That’s it for WordPress 3.4! Which of these features are you using, and which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments … and don’t miss Part 2 in this series, where I explain the handy new features available in WordPress 3.5.

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com .

6 Warning Signs That Your Blog Is Deflating

This guest post is by Ashkan of fanappic.com.

Looking at your analytics and seeing that your blog traffic is going down is not a pretty sight.

For those of us who have been blogging for a while, the chances are that we all have experienced periods of downturn and are used to such stormy weather. But what if, heaven forbid, the situation is even more serious, and the downturn looks as if it is here to stay?

Nothing is more painful than seeing the demise of your labour of love; if you make your living from your blog, even worse! 

The question is, “How do I spot the end of a growth period?”

How can we spot the warning signs that the decrease of visitor numbers is the start of a long downturn, and requires drastic action?

I have owned a couple of blogs, including fanappic.com. This multi-contributor blog grew really fast last year, but then reached a peak before entering a period of deflating visitor numbers.

Thankfully, we managed to turn that around, but you can imagine the panic that I went through during that awful period!

Having analysed all the factors on my blog, I can pinpoint six key warning signs that you’ll need to pay close attention to if you want to spot the downturn early on.

Warning sign 1: Declining pages per visit

You should be able to get this figure from any analytics tool. What it reflects is the average number of pages a visitor views every time they visit your blog. Generally, if a visitor likes your blog then they want to click on other links to find out more.

If you look at this figure over the past three or six months and notice the Pages per visit figure is decreasing, then the chances are that your website appeal is also decreasing.

Warning sign 2: Declining average visit duration

This one normally goes hand in hand with the first point. If the reader doesn’t find the content they are looking for, or they’re not happy with the quality of your content, then they will spend less time on your website and abandon the page even before they reach the end of the post.

Warning sign 3: Traffic increasing without much effort

You put all that hard labour and those long hours in at the beginning and you managed to grow your blog traffic dramatically.

Now you have entered a period where it all looks too good to be true! You are not doing anything new and not promoting the blog actively, but still the traffic just keeps growing!

Well you know what they say: if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Nothing in the real world comes easily, and sooner or later either your competition or the Google algorithm is going to catch up with you. There is no room for complacency.

Warning sign 4: The majority of traffic comes from one source

I think that this one is a well-known point but it’s still worth reminding ourselves of it. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket!

If 90% of your blog traffic comes from Google, you run the risk of being hit by algorithm updates. I know from personal experience that doing something about this can be very challenging, seeing as most people find the content they’re looking for by using search engines. So, if your ranking is decreasing what can you do?

There are many other ways to get traffic, such as: social networks, links from other websites, videos, banner advertising, and more. A good article to get you thinking about these options is, How to Build a Traffic-siphoning Marketing Funnel.

Two sources that I successfully generate good traffic from are my email newsletter, and creating viral content that gets shared in social media.

Warning sign 5: You are losing passion and dedication

Is it getting harder and harder for you to dedicate time to your blog? Are you suffering from the dreaded writer’s block?

The challenge here is to maintain the level of passion and energy that you had for your blog in the beginning. If you are a creative person, then like many creative people you may love to start things but then struggle to do the same thing year after year.

I must say that I don’t have a definitive answer here, except to say that you should focus on a bigger goal: the purpose of your blog and your writing. Think about how much your readers are benefiting from your blog, and stay in close touch with your biggest fans.

At iPhoneAppCafe, we constantly get together and brainstorm ideas or think of ways to attract new writers to our blog so that the passion for the topic remains strong—and is clearly communicated through every post.

Warning sign 6: Your blog’s topic is losing freshness and urgency

If the initial traffic arrived because your blog’s topic was trending, it is possible that, with time, your topic of focus will lose its popularity.

When iPhoneAppCafe launched in 2010, the iPhone was more of a hot topic than it is now. We considered covering Android apps as well, but we decided that there was too big a risk of losing focus on our original goal if we covered that too.

Instead, we diversified the breadth of our coverage by doing more accessory reviews, video reviews, news, and insights.

Watching for the warning signs

These are the six warning signs I’ve noticed usually indicate my blog traffic will plateau or fall. What signs have you noticed? Share them with us in the comments, so we can all watch for them, and take action before it’s too late.

Ashkan (@AshkanTalk) is the founder of iPhoneAppCafe.com, a community blog dedicated to reviewing and sharing the best iPhone apps. He started the blog in 2010 and got it to 5000 visitors a day within 9 months. For his day job, Ashkan manages e-commerce projects.

URL Be Sorry! Google Cuts Back on Top-ranking Exact-match Domains

This guest post is by Rob Henry of K2L Marketing.

Regular Google users will know that one of the easiest ways to get a good ranking in its search results is for your web address to exactly match the search query.

Get it spot-on and, until recently, you’ve been almost assured of a position close to the top, and often in the number-one slot on page one of the SERPs.

But Google’s continuing mission to put right what once went wrong in their algorithms is now targeting what Matt Cutts calls “low-quality ‘exact-match’ domains”.

This adds to the work done by the Panda update, which filtered out poor-quality web pages, and Penguin, which tackled spammy pages.

According to a Cutts’ tweet on September 28th, 0.6% of English-US queries will be noticeably affected.

This might not sound like many searches in the grand scheme of things. However, the latest comScore figures show that Google sites were responsible for 11.3 billion individual search queries in the US alone in August 2012, meaning that 0.6% of queries amounts to almost 68 million searches per month.

What they said

Cutts’ full announcement of this update on Twitter read as follows:

Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality ‘exact-match’ domains in search results…

New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.

The immediate response was positive, with one Twitter user simply replying with “Yippeeee!,” and another joking “I suspect that won’t be a ‘minor’ weather report to the vast majority of affiliate marketers.”

Moving on from EMDs

So just what does this mean for online marketing and SEO? Well, it goes considerably further than simply meaning that EMDs won’t be so prevalent in the search results, because it opens up that top spot to other websites that are able to compete using the remaining “acceptable” methods of SEO not yet targeted for penalisation by Google.

There are as many webmasters out there who are frustrated by always ranking second to an EMD as there are site owners who will be negatively affected by this change. So it’s the perfect opportunity for us to re-optimize any of our pages that could use a bit of attention.

Poor quality content is already a no-no, as are paid links or those created by spamming blog comments and discussion forums. Now EMDs are out too. So renew your focus on legitimate PPC platforms and the remaining on-page SEO opportunities.

Where to focus for better position

Good-quality content will always be favoured by Google, and they’ve never stopped saying that well-placed on-page keywords are a good thing, as long as they don’t damage the overall quality and grammar of the page they’re placed on.

Look to your best-performing pages for inspiration, and you can’t go wrong: you’re likely to find a strong structure with keywords and phrases repeated a couple of times in appropriate places on the page, possibly helped further by your choice of anchor text for hyperlinks on the page, text used in image captions, and so on.

With these Google-approved locations for keywords, you can make sure your pages are viewed in the best possible light by the search robots, even if they’re hosted on an EMD. Hopefully, you’ll be able to snag yourself that top spot in the search results once the dust settles.

This blog was written by Rob Henry, marketing specialist at K2L. K2L Marketing is a full service marketing agency offering a unique approach to your marketing needs.

Looking to 2013: A Commitment to Blogging Smarter … With a Little Help

Feeling a little run down? At this time of year, many of us are. It’s been a big 12 months, and I think most bloggers are looking forward to some down time over the coming weeks.

If you’re like me, you might be thinking of using this time not just to recharge the batteries, but to give a little thought to the year ahead, and how you want to handle it. Perhaps you’ll make some blogging resolutions for the new year, in addition to those resolutions you might be making in other areas of your life.

Blogging resolution: work smarter … with a little help

If there’s one resolution I could encourage any blogger to make for 2013, it’s to work smarter.

There’s always more to do on a blog—the work never ends!—and as many readers mentioned on our recent post about social media mistakes, time is a critical issue. Working longer hours can’t be the solution.

For me, one of the keys to working smarter has been delegation. I’ve got help with blogging, which has given me more time to focus on the things that really need my attention.

Looking back, I’m sorry I didn’t delegate more earlier in my blogging career.

You don’t have to be on a five- or six-figure income to make the most of someone else’s expertise, and give your blog a boost. Nor does it have to be a long-term arrangement.

Over the last few months, we’ve published a few guides to outsourcing different functions on your site. If you haven’t seen them already, have a look. They might just give you some food for thought over the holiday period.

Working with WordPress contractors

How to choose the right WordPress contractor for your blog, by John Bonello.

If you’re on WordPress, and your blog’s not performing at the level you’d like, it might be time to call in the pros. A good WordPress expert will be able to implement new designs, apply plugins and patches, take care of your backups, and more.

For those who aren’t technical, getting a WordPress contractor to do piecemeal work—or look after your blog on a continuing basis—could be a good way to go.

This post is also worth reading if you have a blog on another platform, as it’ll help you assess any blog platform developer you’re considering working with.

Working with other techies

How to work with technical contractors, by Neil Matthews.

Whatever your blog needs, it seems there’s a developer for every occasion! In this post, you’ll learn what’s needed to find a good developer to implement all kinds of changes on your blog, including things like:

  • adding forums, communities, gamification, social integration, and so on
  • customised backend features that give your blog a competitive advantage or point of difference
  • online store and shopping cart integration
  • specialized tracking or research
  • migration of blogs, mailing lists, etc.
  • security and privacy-related work to protect your blog’s and your customers’ details.

Most of us need help with these kinds of tasks—especially if we’re going to apply them to to our blogs with some degree of depth and reliability. A pro developer may well be the answer.

Working with designers

How to work with designers to design your blog, by Rob Cubbon.

Plenty of blogs use off-the-shelf themes, but those that stand out usually entail some kind of customization, or perhaps have their own unique design.

Of course, you don’t need to be undertaking a complete redesign of your blog to be able to use the expertise of a quality designer. They can also help you with:

  • campaign- or launch-related communications
  • designing the visuals for products, like the cover of an ebook, or an eye-catching branded intro for your video series
  • designing newsletters, ads and other communications like infographics that you’re hoping will go viral
  • illustrating your posts, and more.

…and the rest

Over the last year, we’ve published a few other posts in this area, which I’ve listed here:

Making it pay

Outsourcing aspects of your blogging—even as one-off projects—can be expensive. While the resources above should help you avoid being ripped off, many bloggers will be asking how they can justify the expense in the first place?

I think the answer to that question is to adopt the mindset that the work you outsource will need to pay for itself somehow.

That might mean you set a conversion goal for the new online store you’re having developed. Or it might mean that you spend the time you’re not having to dedicate to redesigning your site on creating and launching a new product, or boosting conversions through your email subscriber list. Whatever you outsource, plan to recoup the costs through the time that’s freed up. Make either the work itself, or the extra time you have, pay for the outsourcing fees.

Put a monetary goal on your work, and a timeframe by which you want to have recouped the cost. This is a great way to make sure you’re not just throwing money at your blog—instead, you’ll be investing it, and you’ll be able to track your return on that investment over time.

How does that sound for a new year’s blogging resolution? And what others do you have in mind? Let us know in the comments.

WordPress Backups: Don’t Make These 9 Mistakes on Your Blog

This guest post is by of The WordPress Security Checklist.

Do you have insurance on your car? And on your house? Of course you do.

Do you have insurance on your WordPress site?

What? Insurance?!

A good backup plan is your insurance policy on your WordPress site!

You might be a serious blogger who is already aware of the value represented by your WordPress site. The time and money you have invested in building it. The income stream it provides. The audience you have attracted. The traffic you get.

Or maybe you are a hobby blogger, and over time you have, little by little, built significant value on your site, be that emotional or monetary value.

Your web presence is like your real life presence. You buy your first house, move in, and get your first home and contents insurance based on the value of your possessions at the time. And ten years later you are still only insured for that initial value.

As with your real house, your WordPress site could disappear in an instant.

It does not matter if the reason is criminal intent, a natural catastrophe, or an accident. If you do not have good insurance, you have to start again from scratch.

So just how good is your WordPress insurance?

Here I’ve compiled a list of the most common WordPress backup mistakes, and added a few tips on how to avoid them.

In no particular order, these are the mistakes:

  • not making a backup at all
  • not making a complete backup
  • relying on manual backups
  • not getting the backup frequency right
  • relying on your hosting company’s backup
  • only storing your backup on your hosting account
  • not storing your backups securely
  • not testing your backup
  • not storing your backups long enough.

Not making a backup at all

Yes, it’s sad, but it happens more often than you would think! Some people don’t take out insurance either. Don’t be one of them.

Tip: Do make backups!

Not making a complete backup

Some WordPress plugins only back up your WordPress database. WordPress consists of a database and a number of files. Unless you have a good backup of everything you probably don’t have anything!

A backup of your database will take you some of the way to a working site, but without images, plugins and themes (some of which might have been customized), you are a long way away from a fully functional site. And if you only have a backup of your files you have lost all your settings, posts and comments.

Tip: Make sure you back everything up!

Relying on manual backups

When the topic of WordPress backups comes up on discussion forums, there is almost always someone who swears by manual backups.

Why is that a problem?

Computers are excellent at performing routine tasks at scheduled intervals. Human beings, not so much. We tend to forget. And go on holidays. Before we know it it’s been six months since we last made a backup. All of a sudden we desperately need that backup. That’s when grown men start crying.

Tip: Let the computers do what they do best: automate your backups!

Not getting the backup frequency right

If your WordPress site changes daily, a monthly backup schedule could cost you up to a months work.

If your site changes monthly and you make daily backups storing only 30 backup archives you could be left without a usable backup archive. This could happen if you discover that you were infected with malware three months ago, for instance.

Different parts of your WordPress site change at different frequencies.

If you have a large site, you might want to split up your backup based on the update frequency:

  • Themes and plugins rarely change.
  • Backups of the uploads directory can be split by year, or even by month if necessary. Under normal circumstances, only the directory for the current month changes.
  • The database might change daily if you get many comments or release new posts.
    • Tip: Understand your site and adopt a backup schedule that fits!

      Relying on your hosting company’s backup

      Many hosting companies back up their customer’s accounts on their behalf.

      While this is a very good service, you need to ask yourself some questions about it:

      • What will you do if your hosting company cannot give you your backup archives?
      • If they go bankrupt and everything is shut down from one day to another.
      • If they are hacked and all their data disappears (see 4800 Aussie Sites Evaporate After Hack).
      • If they can only go back one month and you need to go further back.
      • If the backup you need did not complete successfully for whatever reason.
      • What do they back up?
      • How often do they back up?
      • For how long to do they keep the backup files?
      • Can they restore single files or tables in the database selectively?
      • Have you tested that they can restore your data?

      While relying on your hosting provider to back up your data can be a very convenient solution to an unwanted technical challenge, it is most likely not the right solution for you.

      You need control.

      Consider that it is quite simple to implement a good backup strategy of your own. If you use the right WordPress plugin, you can customize your backup jobs to match the needs of your WordPress site. And your backup archives can be stored in an offsite location that’s completely under your control.

      Best of all the solution does not have to cost you a thing if you know how to do it right.

      Fortunately the strategy is laid out in my article WordPress Backup – The Plugin and The Plan, which has easy-to-follow instructions.

      Tip: While your hosting company’s backups can be a good complement to your own, don’t let them be the only backups you have!

      Only storing your backup on your hosting account

      Your hosting provider might offer you daily backups of your account. And most WordPress backup plugins allow you to store backups on your hosting account.

      But your hosting account might be compromised and all data erased, or the server might crash, losing all your data. You get the picture.

      That is why we recommend that you have at least two separate backup locations: your hosting account could be one, but make sure at least one of them is off site. Even if you lose one backup location, you’ll still have your backup archives.

      If you’re paranoid, you can also store a backup on a USB drive in your bank vault. You need to ask yourself: how much is your business (web site) worth?

      Tip: Make sure you have complete control over at least one copy of your backup archive and store it outside of your hosting account.

      Not storing your backups securely

      Your backups contain sensitive data. For example, your database userid and password, and the names of your administrative users are stored in your backup archives. If your backup falls into the wrong hands, this makes it too easy for malicious parties to break into your site.

      Some backup plugins allow you to email a backup to yourself. Email is inherently insecure. You have no control over the path an email follows on the way to your inbox, for example. And it gets even worse if you create a webmail account with an easy to remember (and to guess) password.

      Imagine what happens if a hacker takes over control of your webmail account: you have not only left the doors to your WordPress site wide open, but also lost your offsite backup! Ouch!

      It is much safer to upload your backup archives via Secure FTP to an offsite location, or store them on a Dropbox, Amazon S3, or Google Drive account which only you have access to.

      Tip: Make sure you store your backups in a safe location.

      For more information on this topic see the post Are WordPress Backups On Dropbox Safe?

      Not testing your backup

      An essential part of backing up your WordPress site is to test that the backup can be restored. This is a step that many people miss. But it is a crucial step.

      Testing that you can restore your backup serves two purposes:

      1. It ensures that your backup software has created a useful backup archive.
      2. It forces you to learn and practice the procedure for restoring your WordPress site.

      Would you rather discover that the restore process is broken or the backup archive is unusable while you are testing, or while you are trying to restore your live site after a breakdown?

      Ideally you need to test your backup every time the backup software is updated. But at a minimum you should do this once per year. At the same time, you can review your backup plan to determine if you need to change the frequency of your backups.

      Tip: Make sure you can successfully restore your WordPress site from your backup!

      For more information, see How To Test Your WordPress Backup and Have You Tested Your Backup Solution Lately?

      Not storing your backups long enough

      One of the great reasons why you need a good backup is to make your blog easier to recover if someone breaks into your site.

      Cyber criminals who compromise WordPress sites for financial gain (stealing traffic, boosting their own SEO rankings, posting ads etc.) do not want you to find out that your site has been compromised.

      This means it could be months before you realize that you have been hacked.

      If you do daily backups and only store them for 30 days, you could easily be out of luck when it comes to restoring your site.

      I recommend that you use a mix of different backup types:

      • a daily backup that you store for two weeks
      • a weekly backup that you store for three months
      • a monthly backup that you store for two years.

      This allows you to go up to two years back in time if needed.

      Of course, you can adjust the retention period of each type of backup to suit your needs.

      With the right choice of backup software this can all be run on auto-pilot with automatic purging of old backup archives to manage your space requirements.

      Tip: Make sure your backup strategy allows you go to far enough back in time!

      Don’t get caught out!

      As the old saying goes, “Real men don’t make backups, but they cry a lot”.

      With these tips, you can avoid the common pitfalls and sleep well at night knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll be able to recover your blog.

      It doesn’t have to cost you anything to have a good backup plan, but it could cost you the world if you don’t!

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

Your Brand Experience Can Make or Break Your Blog: Here’s How to Fix It

This post is by Nadia Chaudhry of NadiaChaudhry.com.

“Stop! Don’t move!”

The videographer held the camera right in front of the groom’s family. She held them there, in the middle of their progression to the stage, for a sold three minutes. My jaw dropped, eyes squinting, bewildered. And so commenced the world’s most awkwardly recorded night…

If I ever had a videographer like that for my wedding, I think I might have attacked her for taking the “special” out of my special day. It was definitely a potential bridezilla moment.

Your brand’s experience is everything

The experience you bring to the table is the most important thing about your blogging business. The power of the experience determines whether you’ll be praised or moaned about.

So, what exactly is a blogging business experience? It’s the unique personality and vibe of your blog. It includes the feelings, desires, and passions your blog invokes in the observer or reader. It’s the personality of your blog. It’s what makes it human. It’s what makes it relatable. It’s also what makes it unforgettable.

When someone says, “I just want to work with her because I really want that experience,” what comes to your head? That’s what you should focus your blog’s experience on.

Everything you say or do is a reflection of your blogging business. As a photographer, you should let your clients enjoy the special occasion they’ve hired you for. They should forget that you’re even there. But of course, you need to remind them of the pictures they need to post for. Make sure you strike a good balance. Give them space, but delicately guide them in for the shoots they’ll adore when you show ’em off.

Let’s examine two imaginary cases. In case one, we have Melody Pond, the photographer known as sensational snap-snatcher because she captures one-in-a-million moments. She’s fun, flamboyant, and she lets laughter rule her work and life!

Then, there’s Beatrice Louis. She can take some great pictures like Melody, but she doesn’t have the same exuberant personality as her. In fact, Beatrice is dull city, doesn’t talk too much, doesn’t get your humor, and all she does is hover and snap photos.

Who would you choose as a photographer? Obviously, the one who makes you feel like you’ve been best friends all your life.

If the experience around your blogging business is shabby, you’re shabby! It’s really as simple as that. People care about the type of people they work with. People aren’t just looking for good results. They’re also looking for a good experience. Does your blog give that to them?

Your experience should be obvious and infectious

As any type of blogger, the experience you offer should be so blatantly obvious it’s practically smacking people on their noggin. It should be seen and felt everywhere on your site and in the way you work. Its presence should be in your blog title, tag line, footer, about page, your blog posts, and even the page titles themselves.

This also includes behind-the-scenes and in-person business/blog interactions. The experience you bring should be obvious in the way you behave with your clients, when you correspond with individual people about it, and even in the emails you write.

Most importantly, the experience should be infectious and felt in the hearts of your community. They should fall in love with you, and as we all know, true love forms through great experiences and great moments.

Create a persona to help build your brands experience

It’s hard to present that perfect experience. You want it to be fun, engaging, and have a lasting effect. The best way to do this is by creating a persona—literally creating a character. I got this juicy idea from Erika Lyremark of The Daily Whip and Ashley Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project, and it’s shared by countless others.

1. Build your character

If your blog was a person, what type of person would they be? Take a piece of paper and pen and answer these questions:

  • What is your persona’s name?
  • How do they look?
  • What are they wearing?
  • What makes him or her so powerful?
  • What is her personality like?
  • Is she flamboyant or reserved?
  • Is she wild or heroic?
  • What does she do for fun?
  • Is she outgoing?
  • How do other people feel around her?

Give your persona the ability to inspire those emotions!

2. Write a bio for your character

Now, pretend you are describing your persona to someone. Write their name down (even turn it into a clever name like I did in my example below) and write a detailed description of her.

Keep this description close to you. Read it whenever you need to be recharged.

3. Become your newly created persona

Once that character is created, embody that character through your blog.

Play pretend and be him or her. Put her on like a pair of perfect jeans and strut. Be her, and mold her into yourself. Do what she would do. React as she would react. Say what she would say. Write blog posts she would write. Show her off in every part of your blogging business.

And bam! You have a bold, unique experience to offer your community.

Beyoncé does this with Sasha Fierce. Lady Gaga does this, well with Lady Gaga.

Do I do this with NadiaChaudhry.com?

Yes, I absolutely use this technique for my blog. I actually use a couple of personas to help me with different parts of my blogging business. The experience I bring with my business is one of spunk, and it emphasizes embracing the weird aspects of ourselves, with a tang of epic adventure.

Blog personas in action

Here’s a specific example of one of the personas I use, to help you to develop yours:

Wild and whimsical Wafa
Wafa is one with nature and the wild. She is lets laughter reign and is a sweetheart to everyone who knows her. She likes to wear long maxi dresses and wooden beaded necklaces, but she’s not too shy to bust out sequins, either. She likes to have a good time and makes sure everyone with her is having a good time too. She is definitely a soul sister. She finds happiness where others cannot, and always stays positive. She turns life into one spontaneous ball of fun and adventure! Her nickname is Waffles!

Whenever I want to write something that’s really fun and whimsical, I read this description (repeatedly if necessary) and let it infect me. When I do this, I feel like I am adding her to myself and she becomes a part of me. Try checking out NadiaChaudhry.com and see if you pick up her vibe.

If you want to be remembered, then you need to be, act, and do things worth remembering with the help of your persona. Take a look at yourself and blog. Are you a version of that loud, obnoxious videographer?

What emotions do you want your clients to feel when they hear about you or work with you? What’s your brand experience? Does this match with what you’re currently showing? If not, it’s time to create your new persona.

Nadia Chaudhry is a clever and mischievous freelance writer and entrepreneur dedicated to female solopreneurs. She holds secret powers to amping up a business’ personality through storytelling. She also re- kindles love between people and their long-forgotten or hidden dreams turning them into an inspiring and bold business. Click here to subscribe. Oh and she loves a game of dare or DARE, check it out.