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What Fears Have You Overcome as a Blogger?

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Many times when I speak to new bloggers (or Pre-Bloggers) and ask them what might be holding them back from taking their blogs to the next level (or holding them back from starting blogging) the response I get is around ‘fear’.

  • What if nobody reads?
  • What if I can’t write well?
  • What if people laugh… or worse… what if they attack me?
  • What if I say something stupid that might come back to bite me later?

The last goes on and on.

When I started blogging my own fears resembled those that I listed above pretty closely and over the decade of blogging since I’ve added quite a few more to the list at different points as I faced new challenges and obstacles.

One of the sessions I’m planning for this years ProBlogger Event is going to be on smashing through your fears as a blogger and in preparing for it I asked last week for my followers on Twitter to share some of the fears that they’d had that they’ve had to overcome.

The response was pretty amazing so I thought it might be a good discussion to have here on ProBlogger.

What fears have you overcome as a blogger?

Or – if you still have them – what fears are you currently facing as a blogger.

I’d love to hear not only the fears you’ve faced in your blogging – but also if you have a moment I’d love to hear your story of how you’ve overcome them (or attempted to).

Attend the ProBlogger Training Event Virtually

Are you looking for a little inspiration and guidance in your blogging as you head into the rest of 2013? The Problogger Training Event Virtual Pass could be just what you need.

In March this year when I announced the 2013 ProBlogger Event I did so quite nervously because we’d book a venue with 450 seats (up from 300 the previous year) in a new location.

I need not have been nervous – we sold 200 early bird seats in a matter of minutes and the remaining tickets to the Gold Coast (Australia) event sold out two months ago.

Since selling out I’ve had daily emails from people from around the world asking if there was a way that they could attend physically or get access to the training with some kind of a virtual pass.

Today I’m pleased to announce you can attend with the ProBlogger Training Event Virtual Pass. You can find out more about it here or pick up yours by clicking the button below.

What is the ProBlogger Training Event?

#PBEVENT (as it’s referred to by many) is held on the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) on 13-14 September. It is an event that is designed from the ground up to equip and inspire bloggers to build profitable blogs.

We fly in speakers from around the globe like Trey Ratcliff, Tsh Oxenreider and Amy Porterfield and add in some other great Aussie speakers like Shayne Tilley, Pip Lincolne and myself (see the full speaker list here) and then run 2 pretty intense days of training.

This year we’ve got 31 sessions planned (we run 3 streams at once during most of the days) on topics including:

  • Monetization Where to Start
  • Designing Your Blog
  • Blogging and Creativity
  • Creating Your First eBook
  • Launching a Speaking Career off Your Blog
  • How to Sell Stuff from Your Blog
  • Blogging for Beginners
  • Facebook Marketing
  • SEO for WordPress
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Building Community on Your Blog
  • How to Create Your Own Products to Sell
  • Video Creation on a Shoe String
  • DIY PR to Grow Your Blog and Brand
  • Creating a Professional Media Kit
  • Google Analytics for Bloggers
  • Growing Your Social Media Network

That’s just some of it! See the full schedule here.

What is the Virtual Pass?

Our Virtual Pass is designed to be the closest possible thing to actually being there live at this sold out event.

It gives you access to:

  • Over 30 hours of teaching about building a profitable blog. You get audio recordings of all 31 sessions of training (keynotes, workshops and Q&A lounge sessions). These recordings are yours to keep and listen to as many times as you like
  • Access to an exclusive one hour webinar after PBEVENT with the amazing Jonathan Fields
  • View all slides used in sessions at the live event (yours to keep).
  • Participate in a live and exclusive webinar with myself after the event for a post-event Q&A (and get access to the recording to listen to later)
  • A stunning, visual live social media feed, aggregating all Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ posts and more from live attendees and virtual participants in one place.

Audio files and slides will be available shortly after each session happens at the event on 13-14 September and will be yours to keep forever.

Grab Your Virtual Pass Today

Normally a package of teaching like this would be sold for upwards of $500 but thanks to our friends at Yellow Pages our Virtual Pass is available for you to purchase right now for the price of $249.99 USD. That’s just on $8 per session (plus you get access to the two webinars).

So don’t delay – take advantage of this special price and Pick Up Your Pass here.

5 Intellectual Property Laws about the Internet Bloggers Need to Know

This is a guest contribution from  JT Ripton, a Freelance writer from Tampa.

An image depicting IP Law

Image via Flickr by auggie tolosa

Intellectual property law protects much of the content that you enjoy on the internet. Though you aren’t always required to pay to enjoy this content, that doesn’t make it free for all types of use. Since many intellectual property laws haven’t yet been adapted specifically for the Internet, here’s a rundown of the basics you can use to safely guide your decisions.

Photos and Images are Not Free for Use

Quick and simple searches like Google Images make it seem like the Internet is overflowing with free photos and images. However, copyright law protects most of these photos. If you’re looking for images you can post on your blog, you need to look for those with a Creative Commons license. You can also pay for rights to use certain images.

Creative Commons Licenses Come in Different Forms

Creative Common licenses give you access to various forms of intellectual property. There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses. Before using something that’s protected under this type of license, you must carefully look at it to decide exactly how you can use the image. Some licenses allow commercial use while others do not. Some allow you to alter an image while others stipulate that it must stay in its original form. Attribution is typically required.

Most Movies, Music, and Television are Protected

Although there are many sites where you can get access to movies, television shows, and music for free, these downloads are typically illegal. Though the sites themselves are not violating any laws, you are if you share or download copyrighted material. You can legally view some movies and shows online, but you cannot download them. Network sites often show recent episodes of popular shows and sites like Netflix and Hulu offer access to movies and shows with a paid subscription.

Plagiarism Isn’t Just for School Papers

You undoubtedly learned about the dangers of plagiarism in high school and college, but these laws’ importance doesn’t end when you’re finished writing term papers and dissertations. Whether you have a blog yourself or you write for others, you cannot reproduce another’s intellectual property and take credit for it as your own. Cite your sources, use quotation marks when needed, and try to limit your works to your own unique ideas as much as possible. Referencing another article and quoting from a book are fine. Reposting an entire article or chapter of a published piece are not.

Permission Trumps All

When in doubt about a work, simply ask for permission to use it. Just as the Internet make it easy to find works, so too does it make it easy to contact creators. Many will gladly give you the necessary permissions when requested.

The Internet is a great forum for sharing everything from thoughts and ideas to your original photos, films, and musical works. However, it’s essential that you always think about who has the rights to the content in question and act so that you do not violate them.

JT Ripton is a Freelance writer from Tampa, FL, he’s been using the internet before most people even knew what it was.  JT writes about several of his interests including, blogging, all things tech, and useful tips and idea’s for a myriad of things. He likes to write to inform and intrigue.

Blog like Hemingway: 5 Writing Tips to Improve Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Victoria Elizabeth, writer for the Ometria Blog.

Type writer - in the beginning

If Ernest Hemingway were around today, he would have made an excellent blogger. From online news sites to individual industry experts and straightforward enthusiasts, people are using blogs as a way to attract consumers to their goods, services and information. With all the blogs out there on the internet, it can be difficult to weed out the good from the bad.

Although what makes a good blog post can differ with context, you should keep in mind that bloggers and content marketers are always pressed for time. So making your blog posts as digestible as possible will ensure that you keep them interested and engaged with your writing.

Hemingway’s short, snappy prose delivers a clear message and his writing scarcely strays into flowery descriptions. Online content writers in-the-know understand why his style is worth emulating, and so should you.

Here are 5 blog writing tips that Hemingway would have definitely approved of:

1. Short Sentences are KeyScissors with letters

This tip seems obvious but if writing isn’t a regular habit for you, then it’s easy to fall into writing longer run-on sentences. Hemingway was fond of short clear sentences and thought little of elaborate language.

You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

Your writing should be similarly straight to the point as an online audience won’t hesitate to leave your webpage with a click once they get bored or confused by your language.

2. Research the Truth

Hemingway wanted to find the truth within stories, and his research heavily drove his writing pursuits. Research is vital to writing truthfully, and this should always be your priority as a blogger.

If you want to move people with your message, then you must convince your audience of the truth in your writing. Hemingway also wasn’t a fan of adjectives, and bloggers who use words like ‘great, exciting, amazing, etc.’ tend to betray their creative insecurities. These words detract from your message instead of adding value so beware the verbose adjectival pitfall (See what I did there?)

A laptop with books - Internet research

3. Brief Clear Introductions

Not only do short clear introductions allow your readers to gauge whether they will read on, it is also the best opportunity to hook them in. No one likes to read four paragraphs if they can read four sentences instead. In marketing, time is money, and reading time is something that people are less likely to extend solely for your long elaborate blog post.

4. A Specific Beat or Topic of Specialty

You can’t write about all of your knowledge in one blog post. Your purpose should be to educate and convince people, and you should always have material left for another time. Never give away all your secrets as this will shorten the lifespan of your blog, and leave you with no material to keep writing about. The trouble is figuring out what the right balance should be. How much is too little, or too much? Evaluate your topic to see how much information should be included in one post and try to stick to a consistent word count as well.

5. Writing HabituallyNotepad and coffee - a writing habit

Writing effectively means that you form a habit of doing it everyday. This is difficult for most people, but if you train yourself it will undoubtedly become easier. Hemingway typically wrote about 500 words a day from daybreak till noon, and tried not to think about his writing until the next day.

Hemingway’s habit had a twofold benefit. First, the morning is a good time to write because your mind is fresh and the day’s distractions are limited. Second, leaving your writing aside for the afternoon allows you to digest and process what you write, while you focus on other important things. You will find your afternoon workload lighter because you already accomplished so much, and may get more ideas from subconsciously digesting what you wrote earlier.

Stick to these simple little tips and you will ensure that your writing style stays clear and concise for your readers to enjoy.

Victoria Elizabeth writes for the Ometria Blog. See her recent article on the Wild West of Big Data.

Branding your blog is difficult, or is it?

This is a guest contribution from Olivia RoseA question mark

How much time have you spent on the branding of your blog? If you haven’t branded your blog, you may not realise what you’re missing out on.

Branding a blog is extremely important but it is also a bit of a nebulous concept to those who are not professionals in the marketing industry. The first step is to understand what a brand is and how it can help you develop your blog and reach and retain your audience. You also need to understand how to properly build a brand, or when rebranding may be necessary.

So let’s start at the beginning.

What is a Brand?

A brand is the essence of a thing. Your blog’s brand contains its tone, humour, character, colour scheme, visual logos and much more. A brand needs to be a cohesive thing and the actual thrust of the brand should be something simple that encapsulates what your blog is about. Your brand will also need to be about; who you are, and what your blog means to you and your readers. Once you have answered these core questions you will be able to begin connecting with readers who identify with your blog’s brand.

Rainbow colour chart

Why Should You Brand Your Blog?

Branding offers some very simple benefits, such as the ability to merchandise. However, it also offers subtler benefits. Customers will know what to expect from you and will understand who you are and what you represent. The power behind your brand will lead you into larger overall market exposure that can help expand your readership. Virtually every successful blog out there has a very clear brand that is emphasised and developed.

How Do You Brand a Blog?

Branding a blog begins with brainstorming. You will need to ask yourself very important questions, such as what your blog is about, what your goals are and how you want readers to engage with you – emotionally. You will then want to narrow this down to a few core concepts that form the foundation of what your brand represents. From there you can develop a name, slogan and logo, and a blog colour scheme and style.

How Do You Design a Brand?

Branding is so much more than a colour scheme, but the colours you use are important so it’s worth spending some time on this issue. After all, it’s much harder to change things once your blog is up and running! You may wish to study colour theory and choose colours that are best associated with your core principles.

WordPress themes are an excellent way for you to develop your brand quite quickly. A WordPress theme allows you to create an entire design and scheme almost immediately, and then you can base all of your additional branding and media off your chosen theme. Many WordPress themes are extremely customisable, which means that you can change the colours and add a logo of your choosing. It’s worth working on new themes or theme modifications when the majority of your readership is not active, because it is always possible to crash your blog.

Wordpress screen print

How Can You Develop a Tone of Voice?

Equally important to the physical aspects of a blog is the actual content of the blog. You will need to determine the tone of voice of your blog early on and be consistent. As noted in a previous post about branding, if your tone isn’t well-suited to your brand and consistent, you will dilute your brand. If you’re aiming at professional journalism you should stick with a very professional and dry tone, whereas if you are aiming for a funny entertainment website you will want to remain light-hearted and entertaining.

A consistent tone of voice is very important in letting readers know what they should expect from your blog.

Can You Avoid Branding?

An important point to remember is that a lack of brand development does not mean that your blog does not have a brand. A blog will still have a brand because it is, in large part, a conceptual thing that exists in a reader’s mind. However, a blogger that doesn’t actively develop their brand has absolutely no control over what the reader associates the blog with.

Creating a brand allows a blogger to take control over the image of their blog, and not creating a brand essentially relinquishes this control.

Is it Worth Branding Your Blog?

If you are in the blog industry for success and readership then there is really no choice but to brand your blog. You may not even realise that your blog already has a brand of sorts but it simply isn’t a concise or directed one. You may be able to take your existing blog brand and develop it further. Using an existing brand to create a new brand is a simple and easy conversion process that can build new readers without losing old readers.

What Do You Do After the Brand?

It is worth mentioning the most important part of having a brand: sticking with it.

Even an imperfect brand will gain momentum over the months or even years that it is in use, but changing your brand over and over will simply confuse your readership and dilute the impact of any further brand developments. It’s very important for you to find your brand and then stick with it for as long as is possible.

Have you branded your blog? Is it something you’re considering?

Olivia Rose’s hobbies are cycling, playing tennis and blogging. Her favourite thing to blog about is business- especially branding! She suggests a Print Management business such as Hague Print if you are thinking about branding or rebranding your business. 

How To Stop Your WordPress Blog Getting Penalized For Duplicate Content

This is a guest contribution by Felipe Kurpiel, an internet marketer

I came across this topic by accident. One day I was monitoring my analytics data I noticed a big drop on my traffic stats and I didn’t understand why.

Actually, I had a hint because I was starting to interlink my posts. That gave me a clue that the problem was internal which I thought was a good thing. But that is not enough because then I had to analyze what Google is focusing on now.

If you have been involved with SEO at all you know that duplicate content is a bad thing. But how can you identify the duplicate content on your site?

Ok, let’s get started with that.

Identifying Internal Duplicate Content!

That is a little advanced because we are about the crawl our website the way Google does. That is the best way to analyze the source of any problems.

To do that I like to use a Free Tool called Screaming Frog SEO Spider. If you never used this tool it can be a little complicated but don’t let that scares you.

You just have to follow some steps. Actually you can analyze a lot of factors using this tool but for our example, we are just considering duplicate content.

First Step: Add your URL website into the software and let it run.

It can take a while depending on how big your website is, but after that we are ready to filter what we are looking for.

Screaming Frog tabs

Second: Go to the Page Titles tab and then filter by Duplicate

If you are lucky you will not have any result showing when you choose this filter. But unfortunately that was not my case and I saw dozens of results which were the proof that my website had internal duplicate content.

Third Step: It’s time to analyze what is generating the problem

You can do this on Screaming Frog or you can export the file to Microsoft Excel (or similar) in order to deeply analyze what you have to do to solve the issue.

In my case, the duplicate content was being generated by comments. Weird, isn’t?

That is what I thought and I also noticed that the pages with comments were being flagged by Google because they disappeared from search results.

When that happens, you have no turning back but fix the source of the problem.

Understanding Comments

Every comment on my website was generating a variable named “?replytocom”.

You don’t need to understand exactly what this variable does but put it simple; it is like each comment you have on your posts has the ability to create a copy of this particular post in your site. It can be considered as a pagination problem. And that is terrible because when Google crawl your website it can see that your site has the same content being repeated over and over again.

Do you think you are going to rank with that blog post? Not a change!

How to solve this problem

More important than to identify this issue is to create a clear solution to get rid of this pagination issue.

In order to deal with this variable there are two solutions. The first is really simple but not so effective and the second can be seen as complicated but it’s really the ultimate solution.

But let’s cover the easy solution first.

I run my blog on WordPress and one of the few essential plugins I use for SEO is WP SEO by Yoast. If you are using this plugin you just have to go to the plugin dashboard and then click on Permalinks. Once you do that just check the box to “Remove ?replytocom variables”.

Permalink Settings

This is really simple but sometimes you won’t get the results you are expecting, however, if you are having this kind of problem with comments you MUST check this option.

Second Option

After that you can run your website URL using Screaming Frog to see if the problem was solved. Unfortunately this can take a while but if after one day or two you are still noticing problems for duplicated content you have to try the second option.

Now we just have to access Google Webmaster Tools and select our website.

Then under Configuration we must go to URL Parameters.

We will see a list of parameters being crawled by Google in addition, here we have the chance to tell Google what to do when a parameter in particular is affecting our website. That is really cool.

For this replytocom problem I just have to click Edit and use the following settings.

Parameter replytocom

Click Save and you solved the problem!

Now if you tried the first option using the plugin, then you used Webmaster Tools to tell Google what to do with this parameter and after a few days you still see duplicate content, there is one more thing you can try!

Now I am talking about Robots.txt!

Don’t worry if you don’t have this file on your website, because you just have to create a txt file and upload it on the root of your domain. Nothing that complicated!

Once you have created this file you just have to add a command line in the file.

If your Robots.txt is blank, just add these commands there:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Disallow: /wp-includes/

Disallow: *?replytocom

If you already had this file, just add the final line: “Disallow: *?replytocom”

It will for sure take care of everything!

Final Thoughts and Monitoring

The best way to avoid this or similar problems is monitoring your data. So here are my three tips to keep your website Google friendly.

  • When working On-Page be careful with the settings you are using on Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. Don’t forget to review Titles & Metas tab and check the “no index, follow” option for every little thing that can be considered as duplicate content.

An example is the “Other” tab where you MUST check this “no index” option so your Author Archives will not be seen as duplicate content when Google crawls your site. Remember, you have to make your website good for users and for search engines.

  • At least twice a week, analyze your traffic on Google Analytics. Go to Traffic Sources tab then Search Engine Optimization and keep an eye on Impressions.

You should also use an additional tool to track your keywords rankings so you can see if your search engine positions remain intact or if some of them are facing some drops. When that happens you will know it’s time to take some action.

  • Every two weeks, use Screaming Frog to crawl your website. This can be really important to check if the changes you made on-site already had the impact you were expecting.

When it comes to duplicate content the most important tabs to monitor on Screaming Frog are Page Title and Meta Description. However, in order to have a website that can be considered Google friendly it’s vital to analyze the Response Codes as well and eliminate every Client Error (4xx) and Server Error (5xx) you identify when crawling it.

Felipe Kurpiel is an internet marketer passionate about SEO and affiliate marketing. On his blog there are great insights about how to rank your website, link building strategies and YouTube marketing. 

How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job & Launched My Dream

This is a guest contribution from Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

It took me six years to become a professional blogger. And four and a half of those years were spent waiting.

For years, I read blogs, bought books, and watched videos about ordinary, everyday people making the colossal shift from day job to living their dream. I seethed with envy and bitterness as I saw friends skyrocket to success, living out their passions.

What were they doing that I wasn’t?

All the while, I waited. Waited for someone to pick me. Waited for permission. Waited to be good enough to start.

And guess what? Permission never came. Until one day, when everything changed…

The Conversation That Turned Me into a Writer

A few years ago, a friend asked me an important question:

“What’s your dream?”

“Don’t have one,” I said.

“Sure you do. Everyone has a dream.”

“Ah, I dunno… I’m living it, I guess.”

“Really? Hrmph.” And then a long pause — “Because, well, I would’ve thought your dream was to be a writer.”

As soon as I heard those words, something in me stirred. Something that had been there all along.

“Well, uh, yeah…” I gulped, “I guess I’d like to be a writer… some day. But that’ll never happen.”

I sounded so sure, so certain that at 28 years old, I knew where the rest of my life was headed. Shaking his head, my friend smiled.

“Jeff… You don’t have to want to be a writer…”

And then he said nine words that changed me life:

“You are a writer; you just need to write.”

Turns out that was all I needed. It’s really all any of us need: to believe we already are what we want to be.

So that’s what I did. I started calling myself a writer. And I started practicing.

Practice Makes Better

After that conversation, I started blogging, guest posting (despite my fear of rejection), and sharing my work with the world. At first, nobody noticed or cared, and that was just fine with me. Because I was finally doing what I was born to do: writing.

It was good to blog in relative obscurity, good to practice without the whole world watching. This is a foreign concept in our world today. Everyone wants to be awesome now, but the road that leads to mastery is rarely a densely-populated one.

At the same time, I had a daily routine. I was, as Seth Godin says, practicing in public. Putting myself on the line. Forcing myself to be creative. Every day by 7:00 a.m., I had to post something. Seven days a week, 365 days a year. And this expectation I placed on myself was just what I needed. It made me better, helped me find my voice.

That one year of intense writing taught me more than the previous six years of writing when I felt like it. The lesson I learned was this: frequency, not quantity, is what counts in getting to excellence. Some days, I wrote for 30 minutes, while others I wrote for two hours. But the amount of time didn’t matter.

What mattered was that I showed up.

And that’s what turned a hobby into a discipline — and eventually a profession.

“This is the… secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight.” —Steven Pressfield

How I Built an Audience of 100,000 Readers in 18 Months

Initially, nobody knew me. So I interviewed influential people and A-list bloggers, people I wanted to learn from and associate with. And after awhile, I became friends with these folks, some of which invited me to write on their blogs.

Still, there were no overnight successes. It took me six months to get a mere 75 email subscribers. But something amazing happened around that six-month mark: The week I released a free, 900-word eBook for writers, I had over 1000 signups in seven days.

There was power, I learned, in giving more than taking, being generous instead of greedy.

Eight months in, I had amassed an audience of a few thousand followers (through guest posting and my free eBook), and a book publisher asked me to write a book. Within 18 months, those 1000 emails had turned in 20,000, and I was regularly receiving over 100,000 unique visitors to my blog each month.

I wasn’t making much money yet, but I believed that if I helped people, there would be a way to make a living.

From Side Project to Full-time Income

That next year, my wife and I were expecting our first child, and we weren’t sure how we were going to afford it. She wanted to stay home and raise our son, and on my salary it just wasn’t possible.

Someone told me that once you had over 10,000 subscribers, you had a six-figure business. So I decided to give that idea a try, throwing together an eBook in a few days. I sent an email to my subscribers, telling them I was offering the eBook at an early discounted rate. With that first eBook, I made about $1500 in a weekend. At the time, that was about half a month’s salary for me, an entire paycheck. In two days.

I couldn’t believe it. The next few months, I played around with affiliate products and started making a couple hundred bucks a month doing that. The side income was nice, but I knew I had to do another launch.

My second eBook, which was just a rewritten version of the first one, made $16,000 in six weeks. After that, I knew there was something to this whole “make money blogging” thing. Buried in my blog was a business; I just had to find it. Later that year, I released an online course, starting at a low price and gradually raising it with each new class. Every time I launched it, I got more students than the last.

By the end of my second year of blogging, my wife was able to stay home to raise our son, and I was preparing to quit my job. When we did our taxes, we were amazed to see we had not only replaced our income, but tripled it.

What It Takes

Although I’d read all the success stories and heard all the tips, I didn’t realize how much work it would be to build a popular blog.

In my first year of blogging, I wrote over 300 posts for my blog plus 100 guest posts for other websites. To do this, I had to get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. and often stay up well past midnight. I quit most of my other hobbies and focused all my free time on writing.

It wasn’t easy, but I was committed to the dream. Having spent so many years in frustration, unwilling to do the work, I was ready to invest the time — even if it took years — to get the results I wanted.

People often ask me what one thing I did with that made all the difference with my blog. And of course, I can’t think of one. Because it’s a process, a whole hodge-podge of things I did that made it work.

No single strategy can help you to get to your dream. No solitary experience or choice will lead to your big break. Well, except for maybe one:

Don’t give up.

Don’t quit. Keep going. Never stop. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t let go of the dream. You can do this. You will do this — if only you don’t stop.

That’s what’s missing with most blogs and with most writers. Every great story about some legendary entrepreneur I’ve ever read was rife with failure until one hinge moment when it all changed.

What made the difference? Why did Steve Jobs succeeded while thousands others in Silicon Valley didn’t? Why did J.K. Rowling become a worldwide phenomenon while many of her peers never will? And what can ordinary folks like you and me do to live extraordinary lives?

Don’t give up.

If I had to boil it down to three steps, I would say here’s what you need to do:

  1. Own what you are (i.e. writer, blogger, entrepreneur, etc.).
  2. Commit to the process. Do uncomfortable things, make friends with influential people, and keep practicing until people notice.
  3. Keep going. When it’s hard and scary and nobody things you’re any good, don’t give up. Persevere. In the end, we will be telling stories about you, but only if you don’t quit.

So what do you say? Isn’t it time you started really pursuing your dream?

You bet it is.

Jeff Goins is a writer who lives in Nashville. You can follow him on Twitter @JeffGoins and check out his new book, The In-Between.

Have You Ever Had a Blogging Mentor or Coach?

I’m regularly asked if I have a blogging mentor or coach – or if I’d consider being one for someone else.

I’ve never had a formal coach or mentor myself although there have been plenty of people who have given me advice along the way. I have not offered any kind of coaching service for many years  as I found I could be more helpful to more people by writing content here on ProBlogger than working 1 on 1 with people.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting discussion for us all!

Whistle coaches use

Have you had a Blogging Mentor or Coach?

If so – I’d love it if you could spare a moment or two to answer any or all of the following questions:

  1. How did you find them?
  2. Was it a paid experience or a free one?
  3. Was it an ongoing or short term experience?
  4. Was it to help you with a specific issue or more general in nature?
  5. What were the main benefits of the experience?

Over the years, I’ve come across quite a few bloggers who have had coaches and mentors and their experiences have been mixed.

Some of the best examples I’ve seen have been ‘peer’ mentoring experiences, where a group of bloggers band together – often around an email list or a private Facebook group – to share and learn from one another.

Also, I know of a number of bloggers who have used mentors/coaches to help them with specific problems/challenges and it’s been to great effect. For example, one blogger I know hired a coach to help them walk through creating and launching their first eBook and another who hired someone to help them design an editorial calendar.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one!

4 Tools for Creating a Bulletproof Idea Capture System

This is a guest contribution by Charles Cuninghame is a freelance content writer.

Have you ever experienced the terrible frustration of remembering you’ve had a great idea for a blog post or e-book you’re writing, but not being able to remember exactly what the actual thought or idea was? ‘

Don’t you hate that!

Every blogger knows that ideas are the lifeblood of a successful blog. But ideas rarely come all in one magnificent burst of inspiration.

They’re usually drip fed by your unconscious, one here, one there. And often at the most inopportune times: in the middle of a conversation, riding public transport, walking your dog, and, frequently, when you’re taking a shower.

So if you’re going to trap all those flashes of genius and store them for later use, you need to create a simple idea capture system.

Swiss Army Knife of blog tools

Here are four of the most useful idea capture tools I’ve used, from low-fi pen and paper to cutting edge apps:

3 X 5 inch index cards

Cheap, convenient and effective, the “hipster PDA” is the simplest but possibly the most useful idea capture tool. To make one you just clip a bunch of 3 X 5 inch index cards together with a bulldog clip.

Whenever you have a great idea, jot it down on a card.

Restrict yourself to one idea or topic per card. That way it’s much easier to file your ideas, notes, and to-dos in the right spot when you’re back at your desk.

It’s also a good practice to create multiple hipster PDAs and put them in different places e.g. in your backpack or purse, your jacket pocket, your car, and one on the hall table next to where you leave your keys, so you can pick it up when you leave the house.

This way you’re more likely to always have an index card at hand when inspiration strikes.

Voice recorder

Nowadays almost every mobile phone has a voice recording feature. Which means most of us have an idea capture tool close at hand every waking minute.

The beauty of “talking” your ideas instead of writing them down is you can capture a lot of material very quickly. You can also use a voice recorder in situations where you can’t write e.g. while you’re driving your car or going for a walk. It’s also easy to record a brainstorming session with multiple people – even over the phone.

If you record a lot of ideas (or hate typing!) it may be economical to get your recordings transcribed. This is one of the easiest ways to go from idea to rough draft.

Postie WordPress Plugin

The beauty of the Postie plugin is that it allows you to capture all your ideas in the same place as you’re going to use them: your blog.

Once you set it up, Postie allows you post to your blog via email. Given how easy it is to compose and send email from your mobile devices these days, posting to your blog via email is often easier than logging in your dashboard.

When you use Posite to capture random ideas and links to research material you find on the web, and draft outlines and posts, you build a repository of raw material for your blog. When you next log in to WordPress, you can cut ‘n’ paste your snippets and polish up your rough drafts into finished posts.

Just make sure you set Postie’s “post status” setting to “draft” so you don’t inadvertently publish your brainstorming.

Evernote

Evernote is the Swiss Army Knife of idea capture tools. It allows you to write notes, snap photos or record audio and store it all in one place. You can even forward emails and save PDFs (e-books for example) into Evernote.

Because it’s a cross-platform app, all your notes are synced and accessible across all your touch points: your computer, smart phone, tablet and on the web.

The Web Clipper browser extension allows you to clip snippets of text, images or even whole web pages as you browse the web. These clips are permanent snapshots of the page that preserve navigation, text, images and links. You can then write you own notes right into the clips.

Evernote’s excellent search function means you’re always able to find your notes and ideas when you need them. With its OCR technology you can even search text contained in images.

You can also organise your related notes and clips into notebooks.

The “best” idea capture system

Ultimately the best idea capture system is the one you use.

So don’t get too hung up on finding the “perfect” tool – just start with something simple. Because the most important thing is to always have something handy to record your ideas when they arrive.

If there are any idea capture tools that you’ve found particularly useful, please tell us about them in the comments.

Charles Cuninghame is a freelance content writer and the author of the Website Content Cheat-Sheet. His favourite idea capture tool is the hipster PDA.