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4 Success Secrets of Infamous British Author, Jeffery Archer

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of www.Ageofmarketing.com.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying the phenomenon that is Jeffery Archer. With 27 book titles to his name and international sales passing $250 million, Archer is a phenomenon.

So what can a man as successful as Archer teach you about blogging success?

Lesson 1: Blog about what you know

We have all heard that you should blog about what you love but, according to Archer, you should blog about what you know.

“I always say to people,” said Archer in an interview, “don’t write about goblins; don’t write about wizards just because they’re in. Write what you feel at ease with. Write what you feel good with.”

He gave the example of Jane Austen, whom Archer believes wrote well because she wrote about what she knew.
“Always remember Jane Austen. [She] lived in a small village, and wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of four daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of three daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of two daughters. Then she wrote about the daughter.

“And genius—you have to turn the page not only because of her wonderful command of language but because she wrote about what she knew about.”

Lesson 2: Be persistent

Archer’s first book—Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less—was rejected by 13 publishers before being accepted. The 14th gave him a £3000 advance. Most people would not have had the persistence to keep trying after the first five or six rejections, maybe nine or ten if they were pushing it, but Archer kept pushing.

What was persistence worth to Archer? At last count, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, has sold over 27 million copies worldwide. And that is just one of his 27 plus books.

So do not lose hope if a few blogs turn down, worse yet not respond to, your guest post submissions.  Do not lose hope if your blog does not open with a bang. Your big break might only be a submission away. Imagine if Archer had given up after the 13th rejection.

Lesson 3: Be a storyteller

The next lesson is that you do not have to be a great writer to be a successful blogger—but you do have to be a great storyteller.

What is the difference?

“I tell audiences all over the world,” explains Archer, “that a writer is someone who is very well educated, who has a tremendous command of language. Patrick White is a classic example. He is unquestionably, unquestionably a great writer, won the Nobel prize and he’s brilliant.”

A storyteller, on the other hand, “begins once upon and a time, and prays.”

While his definition of a storyteller is a little vague, the point he makes is clear. You do not have to have a MA in English to tell a tantalizing story but you do have to tell a tantalizing story to be successful blogger.

Lesson 4: Understand the importance of the inner circle

A woman once asked Archer how he got through his prison sentence.

“I just want to know how did you get through those two years being confined in a cell when you had the world at your feet? How did you get through? I mean, I know if I was put in a jail cell I’d probably commit suicide, I couldn’t survive.  I just couldn’t do it.”

“I promise you,” replied Archer, “you’d be fine if your friends stood behind you. I promise you’d be fine. I was inspired by and kept going by my friends. If they’d run away from me, if they’d deserted me, you’re right – I’d have gone under, I’d have given in. But they kept me going.”

This is probably the most important lesson. In order to survive as a blogger, you need someone to believe in you. You need someone who shares your mindset, who thinks it can be done or at least will support you till you find out either way.

You look at most successful people and they have all had someone who supported them through their journey. Goethe had his brother, who sent him money nearly his whole life. Stephen King had his wife who never complained. Jeffery Archer had his friends.

But it does not have to be someone you know personally. You can find an online community, like this one, which will keep you positive and connected.

Have you applied these lessons in your own blogging career somehow? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new e-book – Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales – for FREE.

A Comprehensive Post on SEO

This guest posst is by Kole McRae of Office Buddha.

I’m a blogger now but in a former life I did SEO professionally. As a part of the industry I’ve seen first hand the insane amount of misleading information available. Even so-called “professionals” have been known to give out absolutely terrible advice.

That’s why I’m writing this article. I want to finally teach you bloggers the truth behind SEO and how to rank well in Google. Some of the following information might be obvious and some of it might seem strange, but stick with me. If you follow my advice you’ll be ranking number one in no time.

The information I’m going to give is specific to Google, but the same tips will also help you rank in Bing and all other search engines.

Meta tags

Meta tags are a part of the HTML of your page that appear in the header. There are hundreds to choose from but only two matter when it comes to HTML: the Title tag and the Description tag.

Some people talk about the Keywords meta tag but Google has made it clear that they completely ignore it. It doesn’t hurt to have a keywords tag, but don’t assume it will help you rank in Google.

The Description tag

This is what Google (sometimes) uses to describe your site in the search results. It’s shown in the screenshot below.

This does not effect your rankings, but it can be used to help entice people to click on your link in the search results. Make sure it is relevant to your site, and describes what people will find when they click your link.

As you can see in the screenshot, the term that was searched for will show up in bold in the results. You can use this to help get more clicks—but don’t abuse it.

The Title tag

The Title tag is (sometimes) used by Google as the main text of your link within the search results, as seen in the screenshot below:

The words used here have been proven to help with rankings. Basically, the closer the keywords are to the left edge of the link, the better the result will rank for those keywords. For example, Geek Juice: Canadian Tech News won’t rank as well as Canadian Tech News by Geek Juice for the term “Canadian Tech News.”

“Sometimes”?

In both instances I said that Google sometimes uses these tags. This is because they sometimes use other sources. Google may display content from your site instead of your chosen description or title tag if Google’s algorithm believes it is more relevant. Google may also use content from DMOZ (the open directory project.)

Keywords

The tips I’ve seen online for on page SEO range from ill-conceived to downright frightening. People tout keyword densities and other strange points of data as the be-all and end-all of SEO. In reality Google hasn’t used keyword density in years. Stuffing a million keywords at the bottom of your page won’t help; some believe Google actually penalizes sites for this.

As long as you mention a chosen keyword once or twice within a blog post, you’ll be fine. The important thing is that the rest of the post is about that keyword. Google has figured out a lot of very complex ways to make sure your post is about the keyword you’ve chosen. For example if you’re talking about the keyword “Toronto Raptors” you’ll probably mention basketball and scores and various other basketball related information.

The best thing you can do when it comes to keywords is simply talk about the things you love.

Building links

Google first built its search engine on the idea of page rank: a page was probably relevant if a lot of people linked to that page. The more links to that page, the better. Early in Google’s life this approach was easily spammed, and to this day people continue to try and gain PageRank.

You’ve probably heard advice such as putting your link into blog comments and forums, and within your profile on social networking sites. The problem is that these days these links are all marked as “no follow” links. “No follow” tells Google not to use this link within its determination of the site’s ranking. So in the end, these links count for very little.

The only real way to build links is to create great content that sites want to naturally link to. The issue is that if you are a new blogger, your chances of getting a link are slim to none. There are ways to build them though…

Guest posts

Guest posts (such as this one) will almost always produce a really high-quality link to your site. Don’t guest post just anywhere, though. Google likes it when sites that are similar to yours links to you. So guest post on blogs that have similar themes.

Contests

Running a contest where you give something away is a great way to naturally product lots of links.

Viral content

If a single post or image of yours somehow gets to the first page of Reddit or Digg, you are guaranteed to get tons of links pointing to your site.

Social signals

Both Google and Bing have admitted to using social signals within search results. This is getting more and more prevalent.

However, it’s still a brand new part of SEO, and it hasn’t been thoroughly studied yet. What I can suggest, though, is that you make sure you have a Twitter and Facebook account and that you interact with your followers regularly.

Ultimately, all this advice amounts to one tip for achieving good search rank: create great, high-quality posts and interact with your readers regularly.

Are you doing this already? How’s your search rank looking?

Kole McRae started Office Buddha, a resource for those working 9-5 jobs that want to reduce stress, get more done, find more time for the things they love, and all around become happier.

How I Increased Traffic by 90,000 Hits per Month in 25 Days

This guest posy is by M.Farouk Radwan of http://www.2knowmyself.com.

The title of this article isn’t marketing hype—it relates the true story of what happened to me this month. I am not claiming that I’m an expert in increasing traffic, but I’m sure you might find a point or two in this post that might be of benefit of you.

The problem

My website was growing very fast until 2009. It stopped growing when it reached 500,000 hits per month. For two years I was concerned about the growth rate, until one day when I decided to do something about it. I visited ProBlogger and I kept reading continuously for three days (I believe Daren got a traffic spike in that time because of me!).

After reading lots of articles, I discovered that even though I was getting a lot of hits still what matters the most are the recurring visitors, because they are the ones who can help my site’s traffic grow exponentially.

A plan of action

After realizing this important fact, here’s what I did.

1. Change the purpose of the newsletter

I had a newsletter, but its only purpose was keeping in touch with people who visited my website. At this point I decided to change the purpose of the newsletter and to use it to bring people back to my website, to increase recurring traffic.

I wrote great articles with very useful content and added them to the newsletter. One is sent each week. In each article, I add many links to related posts on my website—I even add links “between the lines.” For example, if the article contained the word “depression” then I would create a link pointing to an article about depression on my website.

As a result, more than half of those who used to read the newsletter started coming back to the website (previously they used to read it in their mail without coming back!).

2. Generate more recurring traffic

If each person read three articles on my website, then I’d get three more hits. But I thought of motivating each person to read ten pages!

Here is how I did it. First, I created a forum on the website. Then on the bottom of each article I added a link saying “If you have any questions, come and ask me about it in the forums.”

Recurring visitors who returned to the website started reading the articles, and some of them headed to the forum after finding the link at the bottom of the article. Success!

3. Attract recurring visits through Facebook

I had a Facebook fan page with few thousand fans, but I was completely ignoring it.

First I created a marketing campaign on Facebook until I added few more thousand people to the fan page. After I did that, I started to post each new article I write to the Facebook fan page, every day.

The reason I didn’t do that before was that I was afraid that people would get bored and leave the page, but what I discovered is that the number of fans was increasing, not decreasing.

As a result of the large number of Likes some posts were getting, the friends of the people who liked the posts started reading my articles too. So the traffic I used to get from Facebook increased from 3% of my blog’s total traffic to 10%.

4. Attract more newsletter subscribers

I started monitoring the traffic each page of my blog receives, and whenever I find a page that’s experiencing a traffic spike, I move the newsletter subscription form to a dominant place on that page, so that I capture as many email addresses as I can.

The reason I don’t put the newsletter form at the top of the page is that it harms the sales of the books I promote there, as it pushes those promotions downwards.

5. Have one brilliant idea

The forum I installed on my site had the option of sending private messages to users, so I thought of an idea that turned out to be brilliant.

Why not let people contact me using the private messaging system on the forum, instead of sending me a mail?

This way, the person who has a question will have to visit my forums to post the question, and again, to see the answer. While they’re there, they may easily see other forum discussions that they’re interested in contributing to. The forum is only few days old, but already I have 140 active members.

The results

Once I implemented these tactics, daily hits to my blog increased from 18,000 to 21,000—totalling more than 90,000 extra hits per month.

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • You can do better! If I didn’t face this growth problem I would have never thought about such solutions and would have never implemented them in 25 days. When we find ourselves stuck, our true potential appears. Don’t wait until you become stuck to take an action. Take it right away. You can do better than you’re doing now!
  • Darren knows what he’s talking about: read everything he writes!
  • Hits are not as important as recurring traffic. Even if your blog gets very large number of hits, the only way to grow it really fast is to build recurring traffic.

Have you tried any of these tactics yourself? How have they worked on your blog?

Written by M.Farouk Radwan who is the founder of http://www.2knowmyself.com and who is the author of many books including the book, “How I did it” where he explains how he managed to create a website from scratch that later started getting 500,000 hits per month and became his primary source of income.

Trent Hamm’s 5 Strategies for Building The Simple Dollar

This guest post is by Michael Alexis, producer of WriterViews.com.

Trent Hamm’s personal finance blog, The Simple Dollar attracts over 1.2 million page views every month. When I interviewed Trent earlier this year, he shared the top strategies he used to build his audience. This post includes five of the strategies Trent used to take his blog from zero to one million, and his best practices now that he is achieving his dreams. How does that feel? Trent describes when it first started happening: “it was a little scary, to know that I was reaching so many people,” he says, but adds that now it feels good since he has become comfortable with it.

1. Get lucky by thinking strategically

Trent

Trent

Within a month or two of launch, The Simple Dollar had a few hundred thousand views every month. Trent says, “I was very lucky to get a few popular sites to link to me early on, and I didn’t expect that.” However, when pressed, Trent admits there was strategy involved. Trent started by looking “at a few very popular blogs at the time— Lifehacker and a few others” and then “tried to think a little bit about what kind of posts would be useful to their readers.” Trent then intentionally wrote a few early posts with that in mind.

Action Points: 1) Find a popular blog in your niche, 2) Study their style, 3) Write for their audience.

2. Quit your job and commit to your dreams

Trent’s impetus for starting his blog was a major financial meltdown. Married and with a newborn, Trent realized, “I was digging a debt hole and following a career path that would get me nowhere near writing.” So, he committed to change. Trent started by sitting down for two to three hours a day to focus on writing. A few years later The Simple Dollar generated enough income that he could quit his job.

Trent remembers “it was very scary” to quit, but needed to be done because it was a “gigantic time sink.”

How can you do what Trent did? He says it will not be instant, but it isn’t impossible either – the reality is somewhere in between. First, he says, “I didn’t leave my job until I knew that the day I walked out the door my income would be enough to cover expenses.” Once that is the case, Trent says you gain time freedom, and you can work on projects of your liking. In order to reach that point, Trent says, “I devoted a lot of my free time to getting a platform ready, so that I could jump.” He spent over two years writing every day, and putting his goals before doing things like watching TV.

Action Points: 1) Build your platform, 2) Earn enough to cover expenses, 3) Take the leap.

3. Set the rules

Some bloggers use a “start here” widget to welcome new readers to their blog. With The Simple Dollar, Trent gives an overview of content with his 14 Money Rules. “These,” says Trent, “are an essential set of things that people visiting the site can read and get the basics of.” Trent thinks hard about his rules, and says, “they’ve evolved over time.” Even though some of these rules had been highlighted in earlier posts, Trent says, “I kind of sat down and solidified the things I had written about over the years.”

You need to believe in your rules, and it is okay to rank them. Trent’s favorite is rule #6—Stop Trying to Impress Other People, which developed after he realized that his after work “social events” weren’t really important to him, and were a major expense as well. By making sure your rules reflect your values, you give people an honest introduction to your writing.

Action Points: 1. Think about what matters to you, 2. Write about it, 3. Solidify your rules in a list.

4. Be your own ethical filter

Trent believes “when I read other peoples sites, it’s a relationship of trust; I’m letting their advice come in the door of my life.” So, if that writer is advertising something Trent doesn’t feel right about, he doesn’t trust that person as much anymore. When writing for The Simple Dollar, Trent will “look at decisions” by viewing them “from the perspective of the reader.” That means Trent doesn’t sell information to his readers, and isn’t serving up posts that are paid for by someone else. “Basically,” says Trent, “if it’s something I don’t want to see from someone I read, I’m not going to do it to my readers.”

By applying a strict ethical filter you will build a stronger relationship with your readers, and keep them coming back. “People may not agree with everything I say,” says Trent, “but at least they know I’m coming from a genuine background.”

Action Points: 1. Consider your writing from a reader’s perspective, 2. Be true to yourself, 3. Build trust with your readers.

5. Collect ideas

Trent’s blogging started off by chronicling tips from the changes he was making in his financial life. Trent remembers that these were just “two, three, four paragraphs” and that he would “write several a day, jotting those out in 15 minutes, then boom—they were ready to go.” Now, Trent posts twice a day with longer, more thoughtful posts, and he attributes this, in part, to his philosophy background.

Throughout his journey, Trent has kept track of his thoughts in an Idea Book. He says that by doing this, once you have all your ideas in once place, you can go ahead and start acting on them.

Action Points: 1. Generate ideas, 2. Track them in your own version of an Idea Book, 3. Use them.

Those are just five of the many strategies Trent used to launch his writing career. Do you use any of these strategies in your writing?

Michael Alexis is the co-founder and producer of WriterViews, a daily video series where accomplished writers share their tips, strategies and stories. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @writerviews.

Writing is Easy; Editing is Hard

This guest post is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

People regularly say to me, “I can’t write.” Sure you can. The process of writing – getting words down on the page – is mindlessly simple. Transcribe everything you say and/or think and eventually you’ll have something down on the screen in front of you.

Which is precisely the problem.

Any blogger who wants to can bang out a 1000-word post a day. Just write whatever’s on your mind, without filter or organization, and press “publish”. Unfortunately, that’s how far too many bloggers do it.

effects of bad blogging

Greg's computer, after loading one too many uninspired blogs

Taking care while crafting your words is what distinguishes a blogger from a mere muser. Unless you’ve got an extremely captivating story to tell—about how you climbed all Seven Summits or fed starving Sudanese in Darfur—merely sharing your day-to-day experiences with the rest of us isn’t blogging. It’s narcissism.

There are too many homogenous bloggers living lives similar to yours and expressing like opinions for your blog to be noteworthy. Oh, you’re a mother who’s juggling child-rearing with holding a job? Congratulations. No one in the history of the universe ever had to sit in an office all day and come home to her kids before you did. Tell us more about how exhausted you are every evening, and what hilariously precocious thing your 4-year-old said that put a smile on your face and made it all worthwhile.

Yes, you want to find commonalities with your readers, but saying nothing bold or different is no way to build an ardent, devoted audience.

You’ve got to focus your ideas. It means bringing something unique, whatever that might be. (The harder you have to look for it, the less reason you have to blog.) On the mechanical level, it means not relying on phrases that come to mind easily. If they do come to mind easily, they’re likely either clichés (horrible) or plagiarism (worse). And if you’re a native English speaker, but can’t bother to use proper grammar and spelling, why should I spend my time deciphering your ramblings?

Have consideration for your reader. Assume he’ll take it personally if you waste even a millisecond of his time. God knows I take it personally when I’m reading an unfamiliar blog. Trim the excess foliage from your writing, and cauterize the cuts so that nothing useless or repetitive ever grows there again. The form of what you say is at least as important as the content, because no reader’s going to be exposed to your groundbreaking ideas if she has to trudge through a verbal peat bog to find them. Job #1 should always be to present something clean, sharp and interesting.

And do you know what magical thing will happen when you take the time and effort to craft something original, incisive and provocative for your audience?

People will hate you.

Yes. Hate. They want to be comforted, not challenged. They’ll be expecting the simplistic three-chord riffs of traditional blues-based rock ‘n roll that they’ve heard 1000 times before, and here you are giving them the shocking wild feedback and distortion of Jimi Hendrix. Readers are conditioned to understand the traditional way of interpreting the universe: if you dare to go full Einstein, telling them crazy stories about how matter and energy are two forms of the same thing and that space-time can stretch and warp, I guarantee the enemies you make will outnumber the friends.

My own blog illustrates the point. I started my blog with a mission that I thought any rational person would approve of. I wanted to show people how to take whatever money they’re starting with, however modest, and foster its growth by performing certain basic, straightforward activities and avoiding others. And I wanted my readers to comprehend the complex financial jargon that affects their everyday lives, by explaining it to them in an understandable way. When my partner and I began the blog, we thought we’d have millions of people patting us on the back, nodding knowingly and thanking us for telling it like it is.

Boy, were we wrong. Every strong opinion we espouse is met with various commenters telling us we’re mean, insensitive, or unrealistic. A couple of our blogging colleagues—people who run sites more popular than ours—banned us outright for challenging their positions. We were polite in our outspokenness, yet they still wanted us silenced.

But regardless of what anyone wants to hear, the fact is that you shouldn’t blame VISA because your credit card payments are high. You owe zero loyalty to your employer. If you buy a house with an adjustable-rate mortgage, you are playing with gasoline and a lit match.

Virtually none of the blogs similar to ours take the same positions. Instead, most offer the same easily digestible advice that’s resulted in a society of overextended consumers.

What keeps us going is that the readers who do like our blog, love it. They bookmark it, they subscribe to the RSS feed, and most importantly, they actually read it. Our readers know that three times a week, they can come to us for a long, detailed, carefully researched post. And that that post will challenge assumptions, inspire action, and use undeniable premises to reach conclusions that aren’t obvious. Our readers also know that every post will be written in an uncompromising and hopefully interesting style. After all, that’s what I look for when searching for a blog to read.

As I write this, my blog’s Alexa rank seems to have plateaued around 122,000. I still want that rank to improve, but I don’t obsess on it like I once did. Quality and quantity don’t always overlap. Given the choice between having x devoted and demanding readers, and having x+y readers who are just looking for reassurance and nice stories, I’ll take the former every time. If you want your ideas to resonate, you should too.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

The Yummy Goodness of Laughter on Your Blog

This guest post is by Angela Severance of Wonder Divas.

As a blogger, connecting with your readers can sometimes be a challenge. If you’re new to blogging or you haven’t quite “found your groove” you may even be struggling. You want to make an impact on your readership, but the “how” of it kind of escapes you.

humor

copyright laurent hamels - Fotolia.com

The answer often lies in giving your readers a good laugh or even just coaxing a smile from them. Once you’ve managed to do that, you’ve also managed to connect with them on some level, engage their interest, and hopefully make them excited for more.

So here are a few tips on injecting a bit of humor into your blog and giving your readers (and yourself!) a few tickles to the proverbial funny bone.

Duh! Find the funny

It may sound oversimplified, but injecting humor into your blog means finding the funny events happening in your life around you and finding a way to tie them into what you’re trying to say in your blog post.

Maybe you use a funny story to illustrate a point or a funny example to showcase “what not to do”. Maybe you just share something funny you heard on the news or tell that witty joke your co-worker told you at lunch yesterday. Look to the experiences happening in your own life, whether they are positive or negative and try to find the humor in them. Then share those humorous (and human) moments with your readers!

Choose your words—literally

When you polish up your vocab skills and use different words that may mean the same thing but carry different connotations, you increase your ability to write not only effectively but with humor if you so choose.

Often something that might not be construed as comical at first glance becomes comical if you use the right language to express it. A thesaurus is a great tool to help you in the “wording” department, by the way.

The upside is that, as you increase your vocabulary, you increase your ability to communicate and find your true “voice”. Or even “voices” if you desire! And sometimes using colorful adjectives can throw a reader just enough off-guard to incite laughter!

Don’t be bossy

It’s not your job to tell your readers something is hilarious. It’s your job to tell the story, describe the situation or express the character, and allow them to come to their own conclusion that something is hilarious.

You can do this by using words to paint a picture for your reader. Pull them into your world, immerse them in your words, and allow them to discover the funny all on their own.

Dress it a little differently

Sometimes what you’re saying might not be smashingly unique. That’s fine, but you can still make it witty by finding a way to say it a little differently than the next average Joe. You can also use things like metaphors, similes, silly clichés, and irony to inject humor as well.

Just remember that when you’re using metaphors, similes or silly clichés to choose ones people can relate to on some level, that engages their senses and creates a “picture” in their minds. Don’t use some obscure cliché that almost no one has ever heard before or you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. People find the most humor in things they can relate to, not things they’ve never heard of!

Get up and flow

Finally, remember that to write with humor, whether it’s a blog post, a novel, or a letter to your friend, requires a certain amount of cahones. (It’s okay if you’ve only got the proverbial kind, ladies.) No subject is taboo and when you start writing you shouldn’t censor yourself too much.

Sure you can go back later and edit if need be, or if you don’t want to be quite so “balls-y” you can censor a bit after you have something written … but don’t let it be your first impulse. Write what you think and feel, let it flow freely and worry about who you may or may not offend later.

And remember that you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to write funny material and make your readers laugh. Often you just have to be you and be willing to let your guard down a bit. Now get out there and tickle some funny bones people!

“What if you tell a joke in the forest, and nobody laughs? Was it a joke?” – Steven Wright

Angela Severance is a Certified Holistic Life Coach, image consultant, writer, and Chief Happiness Officer at Wonder Divas. She enjoys dance parties with her daughters, baking cupcakes, roller skating, traveling, learning, inspiring, and laughing. Subscribe to her blog, and join her on Facebook.

Stop Looking for Your Blog’s Voice

This guest post is by Matthew Setter of Malt Blue.

Recently I read a post by Jeff Goins on ProBlogger, called Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice, which talked about having a distinct voice for your blog. Something that is uniquely you, original, and distinct.

That post resonated loudly with me, because for some time I’ve been working to achieve that on my blog. I’ve been forever reviewing the tag line, writing style, and writing frequency in a continuous attempt to get the right voice and sound for it.

Then I read another post, How to Prevent Blah Blah Blogging, about overcoming writers’ block. That resonated with me as well because of my feelings of being yet another blog in the tech sector; that I’m just another voice in an over-crowded space.

For some time I’ve been trying to find where I fit in, and what I bring that’s original and fresh—something I’m sure you have felt more than once as well. Nobody wants to be a “me too” kind of blog. That’s not interesting to anyone! Wouldn’t you agree?

Your greatest asset right by your side

During the reading of these posts I remembered reading a great book, Acres of Diamonds, by Russell Conwell. In it, the author related a series of short stories about a series of people, all in a similar predicament.

They all sought success, whether that was money, fame, or wealth. Yet each made the all-too-common mistake of looking everywhere for what they sought, except at the source of that thing. They all went out and expended energy, money, and time, only to find that the reward they sought was right in front of their faces. How shocking is that?

As I read both these blogs and book, it struck me that there’s a simple way of writing in a voice that’s completely all your own. And each of us can start right now, without delay.

Remember the child inside

Consider this scenario: as we grow up we learn so much, whether in school, from our parents or guardians, on the job, and with friends and partners. We take that learning and we apply it day by day as we grow as people. Now a lot of the time, it works just fine; but occasionally we make mistakes—sometimes embarrassing or painful ones.

Maybe we ask out a girl we’d admired for months, to the school formal, only to be unceremoniously turned down. Maybe we did something at a job, which for all the best of intentions seemed right, but was a poor decision to make.

Sometimes we take these experiences on as battle scars that we wear with pride … but sometimes we wish they’d never happened. I’m not sure about you, but there have been times over the years where I’ve wanted to be able to talk to that younger self of mine, first-hand, to give him the wisdom I have now, to give him clues about how to do things better, and in so doing, to speed up time. Maybe you’ve felt the same?

Would I listen to me?

Well, what if you could talk to your younger self? What if you could share some of your life’s accomplishments, share some of your wisdom and experience? What would you say? What would you tell them? How would you talk with them? In what voice or style would you communicate with them for maximum affect?

I’m sure it would be different from how you write now.

If you’re struggling to find your voice, your sound, or your approach, then I encourage your to forget everyone else! Forget trying to picture your ideal audience and trying to anticipate what they want to hear or not hear. Make your audience one person—your younger self. Write as though you could talk to them, guide them, and teach them.

As you’re writing that way, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I take this on board?
  • Would I listen to me?
  • Have I communicated worthwhile knowledge/experience/wisdom with true passion and conviction?
  • Would I learn and grow from what I’ve just written?
  • Would I be left confused or wondering by the post?

Through taking on this approach, I’m confident you’ll see the following changes in your writing:

  • You’ll take more care with what you put out.
  • You’ll pay more attention.
  • You’ll write with more genuine passion and conviction.

Finding your voice

I’m confident that in taking this approach, your enthusiasm cannot help but show in every facet of your work—not only your writing, but your promotional activities as well. I believe that you will develop a tone that resonates with a much richer and more vibrant note. Through that, you will attract an audience to you for the new-found quality and depth of your material and conviction.

So if you’re stuck, desperately trying to find your voice, trying to find your audience, stop! The only person that matters is all too ready to listen and they’re right here. No go, write, teach and inspire them!

Matthew Setter is a passionate writer, passionate Australian and software developer. He’s also the founder of Malt Blue, dedicated to educating PHP professionals. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook anytime.

Blogging at Home? Fight Lethargy With a Solid Morning Routine

This guest post is by Chris Martucci of WhatBlag.com.

For those of you who work from home, lethargy can be your greatest adversary. It’s not always easy to get your head in the game when you’re sitting on your couch in your tighty-whities eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. But don’t be so quick to blame the Fruity Pebbles—Fruity Pebbles are delicious. The problem is something psychologists call Languid Attire Syndrome.

work from home

Copyright Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.com

All right, I made that up. Jokes aside, the truth is that I can’t find any good research on the positive effects of wearing business attire (please let me know in the comments if you can hunt down some relevant studies). What I can give you is my own personal experience.

Get a routine

I recently graduated from college where I studied, among other things, pre-law. I currently spend most of my time writing for my blog and preparing for my Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). As you may have guessed, and you would be correct, I do all of this from the comfort of my home.

Sometimes, a little too comfortably.

I found that it was difficult to roll out of bed, flip on the tube, and hammer out some advanced linear logic games. So here’s my new and improved morning routine:

  1. Get up around 9am, grab my Macbook and scan RSS feeds. Send intriguing articles to Instapaper for later reading.
  2. Brew my morning coffee. Start making breakfast.
  3. Hit the gym for at least one hour
  4. Shower around noon and get dressed—that means button-up shirt, tucked in to jeans, sleeves rolled up, optional tie (half-Windsor).
  5. Sit at my enormous desk, and turn on some classical music: it’s business time.

Now of course, you must find a morning routine that works for you. What’s important is that you develop a routine and make it a habit. The same way that hitting the pillow signals to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep, making a habit of getting dressed in the morning, even when you’ve got no where to go, signals to your brain that it’s time to get serious.

I heard a story of a man who would get up every morning, put on a suit and tie, leave the house, get in his car, drive around the block, and come back home to “work.” When his day’s work was completed, he would pack up his things, get back in his car, drive around the block once again, and return “home.” Perhaps this is an extreme example of breaking up the day between work and play, however, it is not entirely absurd. Assuming that this man actually exists, he has found a routine that works well for his needs.

So try this. Get out a pad and paper and dash off a morning routine for yourself. Specify times for each task and stick to them as best you can.

Don’t overburden yourself—start small, otherwise you may never make a habit of such a daunting schedule. My routine consists merely of waking up, eating breakfast, going to the gym, and taking a shower. Easy stuff, but it makes all the difference. Oh, and it’s marvelously rewarding by the end of the day when I get to loosen my tie, unbutton my collar, kick back, and relax.

Fruity Pebbles, here I come.

Chris Martucci is the creator of WhatBlag.com, a weblog dedicated to the liberal arts, technology, and organization. He currently lives in Saint Augustine, Florida, where he recently graduated from college.

How I Quit My Job for Blogging

This guest post is by Joshu Thomas of NapIncome.com.

Blogging is no more a mere hobby; it has become a full-time profession for many bloggers, including myself. Today I will share my journey as a blogger and how it helps me to earn a full-time income blissfully working from anywhere I like.

How it started

I had been working on diverse flavors of the Internet right from my college days. I used to earn a part-time income as a student by designing websites, and later I joined a multinational company as Information security engineer.
Corporate Work life is demanding and it never gave me any space to continue with my regular design and development hobby vocation. I was earning a decent income from my day job, but I failed to enjoy the work due to towering work pressure and deadlines.

I had a website that I registered early in the year of 2002 and used to receive web designing gigs from it. I don’t exactly remember when, but I transformed the website into a blog mainly to save the tutorials and code snippets as it could serve as a reference on the web for me to access from anywhere. This is how my blog was born.

The power of a web log

It began to become a routine that I stored all my new learning from the few web-based projects that I used to do on to the blog as a reference. Gradually I started observing that there were others who were interested in what I was writing as well.

Over time, I was overwhelmed by the response I was receiving from what I built for my personal use. This is when I thought, “Why not transform the blog into a webmaster community?”

I increased the frequency of updating quality unique tutorials and tips that I learned the hard way. Within a period of six months of an organized blogging approach, my traffic ranks were soaring. This was the power of the SEO-friendly advantage the WordPress system.

Taking it seriously

Within nine or ten months of blogging, I had already begun researching and learning a lot on the WordPress system, SEO, and internet marketing for improving my blog, and simultaneously shared that information on my blog as well.

The response I was receiving from my blog visitors, their comments, and traffic was the biggest source of enthusiasm and encouragement. I have developed many websites for myself and my clients, but never received this much consistent traffic ever! I had to take this seriously—and I did.

The flow of dollars

Now it was already a year and a half when I seriously started learning and implementing monetization of my blog traffic. I was under an impression that Google Adsense was the only method to monetize my blog content and traffic.

By that time, I was earning five or six dollars a day from the blog traffic, and that looked good for me. Approximately US$200 of additional income was great for me at that time. Gradually I started to explore and read more about monetization strategies, and I found affiliate marketing!

An earnings increase

Even though it is true that passion for blogging is the primary requirement for successful blogging, your earning from a blog will be a substantial fuel to your blogging journey.

Soon, along with my regular blogging efforts, I started to promote and review the best products on the Web. It is very critical that you only recommend what you have tried and tested: an honest review will certainly get your more fans and followers.

Gradually, I started to discover the power of affiliate marketing. And eventually, a single sale was fetching me more money I used to earn from half a month’s AdSense income. So gradually I started to write more quality articles and was doing in-post product recommendations.

Balancing job and blogging

It was already more than a year through my serious blogging effort. I used to return from my office each day and write one article for my blog. I’d also dedicate one hour to SEO and SMO tasks. On the weekends, I used to work four or five hours a day on content and keyword research.

By now, both my blog’s income and traffic were steadily growing, and when I started to earn around 70% of my regular job’s income, I started to think about blogging full-time.

The big decision

I was really enjoying the fact that my blog was becoming popular—the strongest proof of that was the fact that lots of people started involving themselves in discussions on my blog, and posting comments. I hate spam comments, so it was a pleasure to answer real people—and this was another form of encouragement.

After almost one and a half years of dedicated blogging, I was now earning more income than my day job and I started seriously thinking of making the leap to full-time blogging. At that point of time in India, US$1000 was my salary from my day job, and it used to be a pretty good income. But I was earning around US$1500 from blogging, and that played on my mind.

I didn’t want to make a foolish decision in hurry, so I thought I’d continue the same way and observe my income for three months. If it was consistent, I’d quit my job.

The next three months was a bit like a case study, and my blog came out victorious. I was consistently earning more than US$2000 for all the three months. So I took the decision and gave up my job to become a pro blogger.

Should you quit?

My story might inspire you, but I personally don’t want to encourage you to quit your hard-earned job unless you test yourself to earn at least double your day-job income. Becoming a pro blogger is a big decision and you might not want to be proved wrong.

The first month working full-time as a pro blogger was very exciting. I had all the freedom to do all that I wanted to, go anywhere, and—the best part—blog from any location.

I made sure that my work hours, earnings, plans, and strategies were accountable. I noted down every activity and progressed in a very systematic manner without losing sight of my goals.

The earnings steadily increased, and the first month after I quit my job, I analyzed my performance. Here are few findings:

  • I almost worked the double amount of hours on my blog than I did before.
  • My earnings from writing, blogging, and reviews touched US$3000 per month.
  • I was enjoying traveling and spending time with my family.
  • I had loads of plans for the next month.

If you don’t have a blog, or you have a low-traffic blog, don’t even think of quitting your job. It’s a huge risk. Be practical and put in lot of hard work on your blog to craft unique content that provides high value to your users.

Evaluate, measure your success, and prove yourself. When you are sure you’re ready to jump, make the big decision to become a full-time blogger … and you might just enjoy your work like never before!

Joshu Thomas is a full-time blogger writing on how to make money online blogging and runs a successful webmaster community.