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Is Shared or Dedicated Hosting Best for You?

This guest post is by Jesse of Professional Intern.

Blog owners have a lot of decisions to make if they want to be successful. What will my blogs focus be? What audience do I want to target? Should I use a formal tone or a more personal one?

One of the questions to which blog owners rarely give enough thought is what kind of web hosting solution they’ll use. In this article, I’ll explain the differences between shared and dedicated servers, as well the benefits that each can offer you and your blog.

Shared hosting

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Shared web hosting is the lowest cost hosting option available. With this type of hosting, your server is basically one of many server programs run on a single piece of hardware. You share physical resources with other clients whose servers also inhabit the same machine.

This spreads out the cost of hardware, bandwidth and maintenance among all of the hosts clients, but it also means that each client only gets a portion of the power and speed of the server, which can significantly degrade performance if one or more of the clients starts using more resources.

If, for instance, your site is hosted on a shared server and begins attracting significantly more visitors than normal, the performance of the other sites on the server will be degraded and, eventually, your site may be temporarily deactivated to reduce the strain on the server and its impact on other clients.

Customizing a shared server

Most shared web hosting services offer simple, one-click management options for their servers. While this makes it easy to set up a basic WordPress or Drupal blog, the options are often limited to whatever the host decides to support and, often, more extensive customization is not available.

With this specialization, however, often comes better customer support. Because the host carefully chooses the programs and options available, they’re better able to serve their users.

While shared web hosting can be a great choice for blogs that are intended to be personal and small, if you want to grow your blog, host multiple blogs or begin offering additional content, like forums, you’ll need to start considering a switch to a dedicated server.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated servers offer a wealth of benefits you can’t receive with shared servers, but they do have one major drawback: increased cost.

Even a moderately-priced dedicated hosting package can cost upwards of $99 per month. If you add on management, technical support, a firewall or upgrade to a more powerful server, the price can increase dramatically. A powerful, fully-configured, managed and serviced dedicated server will often cost over $1000 per month.

How can that kind of expense be worth it to a blog owner?

Reliability and security

The biggest advantages of dedicated hosting are increased speed, reliability, security, and control. If you’re not sharing resources with other clients, you won’t have to worry about their sites slowing down your site’s load times and degrading your site’s user experience.

Further, because the server won’t be split among multiple clients, there’s less of a chance of it experiencing a critical failure that could take your site down.

Hosting your site on its own server also results in fewer security vulnerabilities. If you share a server with someone who doesn’t practice good security measures, your site is vulnerable, too; on a dedicated server, however, your site’s security rests on your choices, not those of another user you may never meet.

With a dedicated server, you’re in control

Having a dedicated hosting plan gives you far more control than a shared plan would. After choosing your server’s operating system, you may have as much or as little control of the workings of your server as you desire. Unless you wake up every morning excited about server administration, you may want to look into either hiring someone to perform those duties for you, or look into a managed hosting plan on your server.

Many hosts will give you several levels of management options, ranging from little user intervention to full user configuration. The more control you give someone else over your dedicated server, the more you’ll end up paying, but it can definitely be in your best interest to let someone with experience in server administration handle those tasks for you.

In addition to multiple levels of control, you’ll be able to choose which features you want to include on your site. Generally speaking, the more features you want on your site, the better off you’ll be with a dedicated server.

When to switch to dedicated hosting

If you already have a shared web hosting plan, you might be wondering when it would be most beneficial to switch to a dedicated host. If you’ve noticed an increase in user complaints about slow server response times, degraded performance or an inability to access your site reliably, that’s a good indication that it’s time to start looking into alternate hosting.

Also, if you’ve been experiencing a marked increase in traffic, you might want to switch to a dedicated server to head off any capacity problems you might experience if your growth continues. As I previously mentioned, if you plan on adding more advanced features to your site, you should definitely consider a switch from shared hosting.

Who needs a dedicated server?

Basic shared web hosting is a great choice for a new or amateur blog, but if you’re planning on getting serious with your site, you’ll probably end up needing a dedicated server at some point.

Shared servers often end up slow, crowded and vulnerable, in addition to leaving you with few options for control. Dedicated servers, while the more expensive option, feature none of those drawbacks and give you as much performance as you need. You also have a wider range of options for control over your site’s server.

If you desire a faster, more reliable site or want to add many advanced features, you should seriously consider switching to a dedicated server. Your users will have a much better experience and you’ll likely end up dealing with fewer performance issues.

How’s your blog hosted? Have you transitioned from shared to dedicated hosting? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Jesse L. is a recent college graduate who blogs at http://www.professionalintern.com and enjoys all things social media and Apple-related.

What Drama Musicals Can Teach Us About Great Blog Writing

This guest post is by Achim “Chef Keem” Thiemermann of MusicalWorkshop.org.

As the US webmaster and social media manager of Europe’s most successful musical librettist and lyricist, Dr. Michael Kunze, I am intimately familiar with his unique brand of storytelling: the drama musical. To this day, Michael’s combined works (original musicals and foreign-language adaptions) have sold 33 million tickets for a whopping $1,012,000,000! He must be doing something right. Right?

Just a few weeks ago I started thinking about the similarities between blogging and writing a musical play: in both instances we are striving to elicit emotion from our audiences, which in turn shall motivate them to take some kind of action.

Whether they are theater goers or blog visitors, it is the art of telling a good story that makes all the difference in their response to our pitch.

Michael Kunze has some intriguing insights on storytelling:

“I am a storyteller by profession, although I started out as a songwriter. When I had stories to tell that would not fit into the tiny format of a song, I became a dramatist for the musical stage. By studying the elements of successful musicals, I soon found out that they all were based on the same kind of structure.”

“And I discovered something surprising … the story is primarily told through its structure. Quite a blow for someone who believes in the power of words and sentences!”

“Over the years I’ve developed a very distinct structure for my drama musicals. So far I’ve written five original shows, and each one has become an international success. Altogether, they have reached more than 15 million people. I have no doubt that I owe this success to the fact that my musicals are better structured than most.”

Let’s take a closer look at Michael’s method of telling a good story.

The basic structure of a drama musical

  1. In the beginning we learn about the protagonist’s (hero’s) desire to achieve a certain goal.
  2. Facing powerful antagonistic forces, our hero initially descends into a “hole” with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  3. To recover from all kinds of setbacks, and to continue on the path to fulfillment, he must overcome one or more of his character flaws.
  4. As the story unfolds, the protagonist encounters a number of dramatic turns and surprising twists, which further illustrate his or her different stages of progress.
  5. After a key experience toward the end of the story, our protagonist has learned his lessons and thus become a better person. He is now ready to complete his journey.

So, what if you applied the principles of successful musical dramas to your writing?

You are the protagonist in your blog posts!

In writing as protagonists and describing your experiences with products, travel tips, online tools, recipes, personal growth issues, or whatever topic you’re blogging about—your stories must fascinate the readers through an emotional ride from a troubled beginning to a satisfactory ending.

Help your audience identify with you—the hero of your story. Ask these questions:

  • Which obstacles had originally kept you from achieving your desired end results? Was it shyness, ignorance, pride, indecisiveness, procrastination, or lack of self-esteem?
  • What did you have to do to remedy your situation? Stand up against nay-sayers (including yourself)? Put in some extra work through research and courses? Let go of old habits? Push through your “dip”?
  • What were some of the milestones signifying your continuing progress? What motivated you to keep going in the face of adversity? Which insights confirmed that you were on the right path?
  • What major personal break-through did you experience in the end? What did you learn about yourself that took you to the desired level of success?
  • Now that you have achieved your goals, how can your readers benefit from your efforts? How can you solve their problems or make their lives better and easier? What is your extraordinary gift to your audience?

Why story structure is important

Michael’s additional words of advice:

“Most of us tend to write as we talk—unstructured. But blogging is not so different from other forms of writing. To grab the reader’s interest give him a story. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

“Even better: A story with one or two surprising twists that keep the reader curious and wanting to know the ending. And, make sure that you know the ending before you start writing.”

Actually quite simple, isn’t it? Do you use storytelling structure in your blog posts?

Achim “Chef Keem” Thiemermann manages MusicalWorkshop.org, Michael Kunze’s English-language website. He is also a co-founder of the new revenue-sharing writers’ platform called Wizzley.com.

The Blog of Art

This guest post is by Tricia Lawrence of trishlawrence.com.

We’ve all heard the term “writer’s block” thrown around like it’s an actual medical or mental condition, and a few have attempted to coin “blogger’s block” even though it’s essentially the same thing.

It’s what happens when you open your laptop and as the cursor is blinking, your mind goes blank. Soon, you’re sure the cursor is mocking you and you slink away from the computer to eat some junkfood, play Nintendo, think evil thoughts about your ability to keep this blog going, and pretty soon, you’ve wasted four hours and the blog post is still not written.

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there and we’ll all be there again. I, however, like to “light people up,” especially with regard to blogging, so here are some ideas to blow that writer’s block to smithereens and to get those fingers tapping away on your keyboard.

Make art by thinking about how you feel and how you want your readers to feel

This is a hard one, because most of us have numbed out to how we feel, so how in the heck are we supposed to know how we want other people to feel?

Art is where that edge is. It’s where you take a feeling and you explore it by creating something that takes people somewhere. A painting is like a blog. But too often, I think blogging has taken on this sort of half-robotic feel.

Too many of us recycle what has already been said, harp on someone doing something innovative because it makes us feel uncomfortable, or we hide from our readers and use our blogs to do it! We throw up all these fancy plans, or narcissistic “look at me” posts, when in reality, isn’t the goal of blogging to connect with readers? Isn’t it to share how you actually feel? Do you really feel good today? Do you really feel in control? There are moments we do not. That is where the art comes in.

Tell it like it is. Make art. Build it into the blog.

Make art by stepping away from the blog and actually creating something tactile

Cook something, sew something, paint something, or weld something. We’ve numbed out by sitting behind our computers and forgetting what it means to do anything else. Step away from the computer!

This activity doesn’t require the same blogging brain cells that have frozen up on you, and thus, as you make something awesome, those cells will begin to thaw out and suddenly, you’ll throw down the welding torch and rush to the computer. As they say, if you run a marathon, you’re more likely to also write a book. One thing begets another. But please take care! Don’t try to write a blog post while holding the welding torch.

Make art by dreaming big

This one fires me up. I can dream up huge results from my paltry blogging. Some days I want to be on America’s Got Talent because of a blog post, I want to get a book deal from the blog, I want to meet Richard Branson.

That sounds so huge and unreachable, but then if you put those goals in print somewhere, you are focusing yourself on them. Your brain will try to figure out how to make them happen. You suddenly see Richard Branson references everywhere. America’s Got Talent automatically TiVos every time it’s on and you have time to watch it, someone shows you a book that you swear you could have written yourself and the art begins to happen.

Perhaps you’ll hire a PR consultant, or you’ll outline the roughs of a book proposal. Perhaps we’ll one day see your welding-while-juggling (or blogging!) act scaring Nick Cannon half out of his wits! That’s doable! That’s making art!

The blog of art is more about you than about the blog. And that’s where the magic happens, I promise.

Tricia Lawrence is CEO of real/brilliant, inc. and blogs about the Create Now! Revolution at http://www.trishlawrence.com.

Going Gonzo, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog

This guest post is by Enzo F. Cesario of Brandsplat.

“We were halfway to Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

It certainly wasn’t the line that Rolling Stone expected out of sports and political columnist Hunter S. Thompson. He’d been sent to Vegas to report on a motorcycle race, and instead sent back a manifesto on the hollow glories of Sin City, the assorted pleasures of half the psychoactive drugs common to the American vocabulary, the inadequacies of the journalistic lifestyle, and of course the death of the American dream. Hard up against (okay, somewhat past) his deadline, Thompson resorted to pulling out rambling entries from the pages of his notebook and mailing them in directly. It was unprofessional, it was sophomoric, it was gonzo—and it worked. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a hit.

Opinions vary on just why it worked. I believe it was because Thompson was writing uncensored. He wrote openly about topics that still horrified American sensibilities. In the same year that the phrase “war on drugs” would first be coined, he boldly declared the incompetence of the politicians and police who would be prosecuting it. He mused about the death of the ’60s-style revolutionary zeal, the illusion of a freewheeling town that Vegas maintains over an undercurrent of hard-won respectability and so much more. He wrote honestly and didn’t limit himself, even managing to comment that the original assignment, to cover the motorcycle race, confused and bored him.

Had he been writing the same stuff today, it would have made a series of fantastic blogs.

The world is full of dull, sterile writing. A blog’s strength lies in its ability to be personal, and its ability to update at any time. Get on, log in, pontificate, click submit and it’s there, ready for the reader. People read blogs for the style as much as for the content—they want to know how, as well as what, the blogger thinks. They may show up for the content, but they stay for the personality.

Personality is where Gonzo thrives. Asked about the format, Thompson said, “I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view: ‘I just covered the story. I just gave it a balanced view,’” and “you can’t be objective about Nixon.”

Well, that sounds like political blogging to me. There’s nothing wrong with being fair, but sometimes you have to be able to say, “The leading candidate reminds me of the worst qualities of my math and science teachers—boring, dry, inaccessible and rambling about subjects I couldn’t care less about while ignoring the ones I was interested in.”

So put that style into your blog. You don’t have to turn it into a gin-soaked journey through your chosen topic—in fact, there are very few writers who can actually write well while inebriated (Thompson happened to be one of them). No, what I’m talking about is writing something unedited and uncensored.

Let your inner lion out to play, the writing part of you that says, “I absolutely do not care what people think about this piece,” and go to town. Write hard—present your worst opinions, the strongest way you feel about things. Don’t set out to shock, just set out to be absolutely honest in a way that people cannot mistake for soft-pedaling or going easy on the subject.

Second, don’t edit. This may sound like sacrilege to the profession of writing, but it’s a good tip when you’re writing. Get the content down, write in a stream and let your topic go where it wants to. Try the first-person narrative that makes Gonzo such a joy. Sink yourself into the story. What do you think, feel, want out of this piece? Get that feeling, those essences down on paper.

Writing honestly can be hard. “Is it brandable? Is it too different? Will it generate traffic?” I’m not going to lie: Asking “Is it safe?” is a deep-rooted part of our way of looking at the world, and there’s nothing wrong with it. We want security, and there are the legendary tales of a weird and wacky change causing someone to shoot a good career in the foot, never to be heard from again.

But far more common is the tale you never hear, of the person who writes two entries, gets discouraged and never puts down another word. Or the countless thousands who say “I want to be a writer, but” and allow whatever comes after but to keep them from ever picking up the pen and putting form to their thoughts.

So do it. Go nuts this one time, write something ecstatic or satirical. Skip the conventions for a bit and reinvent your writing, just to keep your readers on the edge of their seats. I’ve got news for you: You’re not going to write the next American manifesto, so now that you know that, you’re free to write a really fun, snappy piece of blogging content that will get your readers talking.

And maybe you can even do it on a road trip to Barstow.

Enzo F. Cesario is an expert on blogs and social media for business and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. For the free Brandsplat Report go to Brandsplat.com or visit our blog at http://www.ibrandcasting.com.

The Blogger’s Ultimate Guide to YouTube Success

This guest post is by Hasan of MarketingTheInternet.

YouTube, the second largest search engine right after Google, in 2010 broke the record of uploading more than 24 hours of video per minute! YouTube has also shattered the millstone of over 700 billion video views.

YouTube is an excellent platform for bloggers to build a brand, connect, and provide value to millions of people at once. It can ultimately help you increase traffic to your blog while quickening the process of building loyalty and trust between you and your audience.

After knowing all the stats and the potential, why don’t bloggers use YouTube more to build our blogs and to reach out to millions of people, free? It’s because most blogger are afraid to get behind a camera and show their faces, and share their voices with such a big audience.

Overcoming the fear of rejection

Most bloggers are afraid to create videos because of the fear of rejection—the fear that people will not like your video or think its not good enough.

The nasty thing about life is that you can’t be liked by everyone. Likewise, there are people in life who bring others down just because they don’t have the guts to do something themselves.

So to find success, you have to break away from this millstone and start believing in yourself and your work. Only then will you start seeing the fruits of success. There will always be a majority of people who will find your video interesting and will benefit from and eventually spread and share your work.

But how do you create an awesome, relevant, and interesting video that people share with their social connections, friends, and family? It all starts with brainstorming ideas that provide value to your viewers and get them to spread and share.

Step 1. Brainstorm and mind-map topics

To create a successful video that people will love and benefit from, you first need to sit down and grab yourself a piece of paper and a pen to start brainstorming topics you want to create a video on in the relevant niche you’re in.

Next, decide which format style you want to record your video on. For example: if it’s a screen cast recording, PowerPoint slides presentation or you talking in front of the camera.

After figuring out what topic and which type of recording you choose to use for your first video, you need to create a mind map of all the key points you’re going to talk about in your video. To create a productive mind map, first write down your topic in the middle of the paper and show arrows pointing outwards with all the key points you’re going to talk about.

Once you’ve drawn a simple, clean mind map of your main topic with the headline and all the key points you’re going to talk about, it’s time to gather the equipment required to record your first video.

Step 2. Gather your equipment

Depending on which type of video you’re creating, whether it is a screen cast recording, PowerPoint slide presentation, or you talking in front of the camera, these are some of the basic equipment you’ll need.

A video camera

To record your video, you need a camera. Any video camera should do the job.

A web cam

If you don’t have a video camera to record with, you can use a web cam to get the job done.

A microphone that’s compatible with your computer

You need a microphone to speak into for a clear recording. Microphones help block out all the background noises in your video.

Camtasia for screen casting

For a video tutorial or PowerPoint slides presentation you need screen casting software to record your computer screen from. The best software for the job is Camtasia. This is easy-to-use software with a very friendly interface for both beginners to advanced users.

Step 3. Record your video [draft version]

After deciding on the topic and equipment you need, it’s time to record your video! When recording your video, keep these tips in mind:

Rehearse your video

It’s a good habit to rehearse the whole video before actually recording, as it will eliminate the chances of things going wrong when you actually start recording.

Focus and speak clearly

Speak clearly into the mic while recording, and don’t go too fast. Take your time and speak with confidence.

While recording any video, it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on what you’re saying. If your viewers realize that you’re loosing your focus and attention, viewers will loose interest in your video and end up leaving. So stay focused while recording.

Don’t be a perfectionist

Don’t think your video will be perfect. Nobody’s perfect and this is definitely not a “job interview”, so keep your video simple and just provide valuable content to viewers who can benefit from it.

Step 3. Edit your video [final version]

Once you’ve recorded your video, it’s time to edit it and create the final version. For Software editing I recommend:

  • Windows Users: Windows Movie Maker, which is an excellent free tool to edit and create high quality videos on windows.
  • Mac Users: iMovie, which is the best software for editing videos on your Mac. It’s easy and simple to create professional looking videos with ease in no time!

Three quick tips for video editing

  1. Create a simple Intro to capture the attention of your audience.
  2. Tweak and fix any mispronunciations and “muck ups” in your video.
  3. Create a logo of your brand on the top left or right corner of the video to get brand recognition (optional).

Step 4. Upload your video to YouTube

The final step is to upload your awesome creation to YouTube for full exposure.

First, log into your YouTube account and click on the Upload Button on the top right.

Now, click the Upload Video button to upload your video.

As the video starts uploading, fill in the form below it, describing your video with the relevant keywords.

Choose your keywords carefully—they’ll be used to rank your video in searches on YouTube. Don’t use any spammy keywords in your video, as this can violate YouTube’s terms and conditions, which could result in your video being suspended from YouTube.

Three tips for success

  1. Call to action: In your video always ask for people to comment, rate and subscribe your video as this will help your video to rank higher in searches on YouTube.
  2. Be active: Reply to every comment you get on the video to start conversations, as this will encourage more comments and interaction on your video resulting in a higher ranking on YouTube.
  3. Connect with others: After you have uploaded your video, connect and ask your social network, friends and family to watch, comment and share your video. Also start connecting with other YouTubers and ask them to watch your video to spread and share with their friends and subscribers on YouTube.

People love videos because it shows real people and real emotions, so start creating videos that people will benefit from, and build your online presence on YouTube by reaching out to millions of people who spread and share valuable content each day. Video is by far the best way to build your brand and increase traffic to your blog.

Share your experience with video marketing in the comments below!

This guest post is written by Hasan from MarketingTheInternet, Internet Marketing and Make Money from Websites Tips Blog. You can get started with his free Email “Make Money with Websites” Series. Stay in touch with him on twitter @Hasan_tw.

How to Build a Business By Supporting Bloggers: a Case Study

This guest post is by Jeremy Delancy of passivepanda.com.

Some people get struck by lightning, some people win the lottery, and some people make good money by blogging two hours per day in their pajamas. I’ve never met any one the above-mentioned people, but the snake oil salesmen of the Internet will try to convince you that you’ll be making millions in a few months if you buy their info products and start a blog.

The truth is, profitable blogging requires hard work. An even less accepted truth is that profitable blogging will, more and more, require a collaborative effort. In his ebook Partnering Profits, John Morrow likens the early days of making money online to the early days of computer gaming. The first computer games were so basic that one person designed and produced an entire game! Think about what is needed to create Runescape or Starcraft II. The time and effort is well beyond the capability of any one person.

A similar change is taking place in blogging. Readers now want multi-media content, social media widgets, great writing, and so on. Add in the marketing and promotion of your blog and it soon becomes more than any one individual can deliver without spending 80 hours in front of a computer. The job of managing research, affiliates, guest posts—all while learning new technologies—has already begun to overwhelm some small bloggers.

In this turmoil created by the growth and development in the blogosphere, I see opportunity. The possibility exists to create an additional income not by starting your own blog, but by helping other bloggers build a loyal readership, increase blog traffic and monetize their blogs. I’m starting to do just that and I’ll analyze the steps that I’ve taken so far.

Getting started

First, some background information: I’ve worked as a full-time speech writer for the last ten years. The job entails loads of research on all sorts of topics. Previously, I was an English Literature teacher. I began reading blogs on Personal Finance, Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Design in 2009.

Since then I’ve come across blogs that had great, well-researched content and good design. I’ve also come across many more that were quite the opposite. It’s obvious to many blog readers that some bloggers need help. The questions I wanted answered were, “Are bloggers willing to pay for assistance?” and, “Is there a market among bloggers for my particular skill set?”

The process

In retrospect, I could have begun the process of finding out who needed assistance, and what kind of assistance was needed, quite differently. One alternative would have been to subscribe to blogs on blogging (ProBlogger) and read the comments to see what were the most common challenges faced. But, that would not have been true to my nature, which is to gain first hand information through research.

Instead, I developed a questionnaire, which I emailed to bloggers who specialized in: personal finance, christian living, entrepreneurship, woodworking, and eco-friendly lifestyles, all of which are areas of personal interest. Some of the questions were informational, i.e. “How long does it take to move from new idea to blog post?” Other questions were about the bloggers’ aspirations, i.e. “Where would you like to be in terms of blogging within the next six months to two years?”

Tip: When you’re doing this kind of research do not send more than five questions unless you have developed an excellent rapport with the other person. I found that sending seven questions in an email dropped the response rate to zero.

Tip 2: For an excellent article on what to write when emailing busy people, go here.

The answers were then collated and turned into A Report on Building A Better Blog which was uploaded to Scribd.com. By using Scribd, I was able to keep track of the number of downloads and the number of positive responses I received. To get a copy of the ten page report, which details my methodology, questions and suggestions, go here.

The service offering

The process of researching and writing the report, had several very important benefits. Primarily, it gave me an insight into the some of the biggest problems faced by bloggers.

Secondly, I had made a tangible product to showcase my research and writing skills.

Finally, and most importantly, the answers allowed me to focus on providing the following services to bloggers in personal finance and entrepreneurship:

  • Guest posts—Invitations to write guest posts are common but not every blogger finds the time to do so, even when it would increase their readership. I write and the blogger who hires me, posts to the blog he/she received the invitation from.
  • Ghost writing—Surprise! Bloggers are people too! They need time to attend to their families, take vacations, etc. Due to the nature of my full-time job, I know how to replicate the vocabulary, syntax and style of others. After a few days of practice, most readers won’t be able to tell the difference between me and their beloved blogger.
  • Research—Find entrepreneurial blogs with 50, 000 RSS Feed subscribers. I’m on it. Research the benefits of credit card X, compare to credit card Y, and write a post. Not a problem. Summarize guru A’s new book and email the finer points. With pleasure.

The major benefit, that I provide bloggers? Time. By spending less time researching and writing, they have more time to work on other projects and find new ways to monetize their blogs

Finding potential clients

When the time came to begin pitching bloggers with the above-mentioned service offering, I had a good idea of their major challenges, and was able to offer solutions because of my research. To find potential clients I searched Technorati.com for personal finance blogs with high to medium authority and then focused on those that announced a soon to be released information product (indicating a very busy blogger), or those whose Compete.com numbers had tumbled sharply (indicating that the blogger had missed several posts) and e-mailed them.

Some of you reading this will think that the process is far too tedious to emulate, but there is a major benefit. By putting 80% of the work up front, your chance of rejection goes down considerably. This is because you are in your customer’s head. You will have taken the time and effort to know their goals, their pain points, their likes and dislikes, and crafted your service to meet their needs. In return they will show their appreciation by giving you their business.

How you can get started today

Finally, for those of you interested in helping bloggers, I’d suggest skipping the research and focus on the following instead:

  1. Niche down and know what topics you will specialize in.
  2. Be clear on what problems you can solve … and those you can’t.
  3. Perfect your service offering via email as it will give you a foot in the door.
  4. Constantly strive to improve your skills.

Become the support network

Helping bloggers is essentially freelance work, and the first rule of freelancing is find your niche. The blogosphere is a big place and as it grows there are more and more opportunities for you to fill in the gaps. Spend some time thinking about how you could help a blogger and you may find yourself earning more freelance income as a blog supporter than many people do as a blog owner.

Could you support a blogger? Have you considered this as an income option? I’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments.

Jeremy Delancy writes for Passive Panda. To get more tips and other proven strategies for earning more money, time, and freedom join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter on Earning More.

The Commonsense Time-saver We All Missed

This guest post is by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.

You’ve been wasting time in the blogging process, whether you know it or not. When I reveal this simple idea, it will figuratively smack you in the face with its clear benefits.

It’s not that your current method is bad. I just happened to stumble upon an intuitive time-saver that will help you. When I thought of it, I smacked myself in the face (literally this time) for not realizing sooner.

Use a dedicated bookmarks toolbar folder for new posts

All internet browsers have a bookmarks toolbar. (I hope) most of us use them, but when it comes to creating a new post, is your toolbar optimized accordingly? Probably not.

If you don’t have a bookmarks toolbar, you need to set one up immediately for a better browsing experience and to implement this advice. Do a search for “bookmarks toolbar (your browser)” for installation instructions.

1. Create a “New Post” folder

This folder will save time, keep you focused, and remind you of vital steps in the blogging process. To create a new folder, do the following (it may vary for different toolbars). I’m using Google Chrome in this example.

2. Add desired links

Once you’ve created the folder, the idea is to add link shortcuts to every destination page you always navigate to in the process of constructing a new masterpiece. You can see in the next screenshot that I have seven items in my New Post folder.

3. When creating a post, open your links with just one click!

When I right-click on the New Post folder, I can choose the Open All Bookmarks option. This opens each of my carefully selected items into tabs. Does one click instead of seven (or twenty for some people) sound good to you?

These links are the specific resources I use to when I create a post. Do not underestimate the value of this. It can save you at least a few minutes of time, and even more if you’re susceptible to mental blocks like I am. It makes it much easier to focus on your writing and the saved time/energy adds up.

Now I typically don’t have to navigate to any websites when I type up a post. I have all of my tools ready for me before I write the first line. There is even another benefit to doing this that I’ll get to later.

These are the seven tabs I currently use for my posts. I hope you find them as useful as I have. It should give you a basic idea of what to look for when adding bookmarks to your “new post” folder. Notice that they are in order of expected use. I use the keyword tool first and I share the post on Facebook last.

  1. Google Adwords’ keyword tool for SEO purposes. I can see what phrases are searched for most frequently. This is good for SEO and readers too as more popular phrases are that way for a reason.
  2. This is the direct link to the “Add New Post” option in my WordPress dashboard. This is where the magic happens. I don’t have to take the extra step of going to the admin page and then clicking on New Post—it’s just there!
  3. Google—the most powerful research tool in the world. Sorry Yahoo!
  4. Dreamstime —my favorite place for free or inexpensive photos.
  5. PunyPNG—the best (free) online photo compressor I’ve used. It can compress PNG, JPG, and GIF.
  6. My Facebook page and my fan page. I share my posts manually at both places after I publish.

Before, I would have to rethink this process for each new post. I’d be halfway through and remember SEO (distraction). I’d publish a post before adding the thumbnail (unprofessional). I’d forget to post to one of my Facebook places (lost traffic).

The other benefit of this system is when I’m finished with the keyword tool, I close the tab. After I obtain my picture from Dreamstime, I close that tab. Eventually there will just be the Edit Post tab (and the Facebook tabs to share it). This is great because it is an easy visual confirmation of what you have or have not completed.

Warning: only do this if you want to increase your speed, productivity, accuracy, and even your creativity by freeing up your mind. There is no downside and you can do it in less than a minute! Bonus: Apply this concept to other areas such as analyzing data on various websites. Any other ideas? Share them in the comments.

This post was manufactured in a house that contains peanuts by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence—where critical thinking is considered appropriate. If you know anyone who isn’t getting free Deep Existence updates, could you tell them about my puffer fish story? It might change their mind.

Why Your Blog Isn’t Making Money

This guest post is by Moon Hussain of Experiments In Passive Income.

This post comes from the bottom of my heart.  After coming in like a cowgirl blogging newbie and failing with making money online with my blog, I have figured out what lead to my blog bringing in $0.00 most months.  To think I came into the blogging world with a typical “make money online” blog and with the mindset that I’d blow everyone away with loads of affiliate income rolling in was foolish.

Pay close attention, because what I’m about to reveal here has the power to make you a full-time income.  The stuff we both have been dreaming about.  Make notes. I want you to walk away with a plan.

If you don’t think that’s such a bad thing, that’s probably because you are a new blogger, probably less than six months into blogging.  Let me tell you: after a year of providing good content and not making money, you will come to a stop.

Churning out quality content two to three times a week takes a lot of time.  After plugging away for over a year, I can tell you providing quality content is not enough!

It’s only one part of the equation.

If what you are reading right now is bringing you down or you think it’s “too much work”, then stop wasting your money on hosting fees and kill your blog now.  If you want to make money with your blog, it’s about to get good.

What phrase starts with “Busin” and ends with “lan”?

I hope you said business plan, I really do.  Instead of lecturing you on how bad you have been by not having a business plan, I’m going to show you with a real, live case study:  my own blog.

What was my business plan a year ago?

In the last year, I never had a business plan for my blog.  Not a written one, anyway.  Here was my thought process over the last year: “I’ll build niche sites, blog about my experiences, I’ll make money from these sites, people love to learn how to make money so they’ll absolutely, feverishly flock to my site!”

Forget an internet entrepreneur … I’d be an internet rockstar!

In my mind, this was the ideal plan that was supposed to take place:

Seem familiar?  Yeah?  In all honesty, you should be scared.

That was my business plan.  Officially one and a half years into blogging, I am in the process of formulating a much more concrete business plan.  And now I cry looking at my old “business plan”.

How to get specific with your business plan

Blogging about a topic, however passionate you are about the subject, does not make a business.  It is a platform that can help spread your expertise.  You can use it to connect with your ideal customers.  Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How can I take my blog from “just a blog” to a blog that generates me business?
  • What do I know about my blog’s main topic? How can I showcase my expertise about this topic?
  • Why are people reading my blog? (Is it entertainment, education, a particular solution they are looking for)?
  • How can I take the answer from question #3 and answer it with my expertise (question #2)? (Result: a product or service you can serve your audience).

Before you jump the gun, before you can do much with any of the above, you need to figure out the missing pieces.

Let’s backtrack a bit and work through the process…

What are your missing pieces?

For me, it happens to be my email list.  I have a super-tiny email list.  My goal is to increase the number of people on my email list and to help them resolve something that I have experience with.

Sure, they say it’s not the amount of people on your email list but the type of people on your list (whether they convert or not) that matters. I agree. But no one can say that having a good number of quality people on your email list is a bad thing.

These people are the ones who want what you may have to offer.  Your work, your services, your expertise, your products!  I know this isn’t a new revelation but stick with me.  Trust me when I say this, I’m ahead of 90% of you…

In case you are one of those stubborn bloggers, read the next few lines carefully.

Name three big bloggers you know.  I pick Darren as one.  How about the other two big bloggers you have picked. Do they have an e-mail list?  You bet your inexperienced butt they do! An email list is how Darren launches super profitable ebooks and courses and leverages his traffic.

If you haven’t picked up on the importance of having your own email list, the rest of this post is useless.

We have backtracked one step. But we have more work to do.  If all of this seems overwhelming, grab a piece of paper and pencil.  I guarantee you will have a comprehensive plan before you leave this page!

How do we build our missing pieces?

The so-called “blogosphere” has evolved and people (smart ones, that is!) are no longer willing to give up their email addresses just because you asked.  No sir!  The only way you’re about to get those email addresses is if you have something people want.

For example, if by the end of this post I have helped you by constructing a cohesive business plan for your blog, you’ll want to read more of my content. Because I helped you. Because you liked what I had to say. Because you want more.

And if you haven’t noticed, it’s not just one guest post I’ll be publishing to build my email list.  You should be seeing me around.  In other words, after you create a free report, you need to find big hubs where your ideal customers are hanging out!

Create a list of five big sites and blogs where your readers are.  Expose yourself (*ahem* with your unique posts) multiple times.

I’m doing the exact same thing right now.  I am exposing my content to new readers who don’t know me.  If you have “kind of seen me around”, then the more I expose my work, the more chances I’ll have of getting your attention.

It’s how all of the big bloggers roll; you just weren’t paying attention or think that your blog will surely take off after one of your posts “go viral”.  Hah!

What I’m discussing with you took me a year to figure out.  Ignorance isn’t bliss, apparently.  Here I have my sexy, newly defined business plan:

You can bet my plan is even more specific than this.  It may seem exhausting but this is precisely what you need.  In fact, I have goals written down for how many people will join my list in June, July, and August, and how much money I expect to earn in each one of these months.  I’m also in the process of designing my survey and constructing my consultation reports.

Before you leave, answer the following questions and construct at least a rough diagram of your business plan:

  • Do you have an email list?
  • Do you necessarily need to grow your email list? If so, how exactly will you do that?  How many guest posts?  Start writing down guest post ideas.
  • What kind of service or product do you want to offer?  What would you be excited to provide people with?
  • Survey your growing email list.
  • Can you come up with a service, membership site, or ebook that you have experience with?

Write down your answers.  Get super specific.  No one else can do this for you.  If you don’t do this, your blog is dead.

After you write down your answers, you need to create and stick with a plan.  Remember, if you want to earn an income from your blog, you need to treat it like a business and must have some sort of business plan.

Reality check!

Would you rather create your own detailed business plan for your blog … or leave it to lady luck to make your content go viral?  (By the way, in case you didn’t know, viral traffic like Stumbleupon doesn’t convert and sucks.  Sure, it’ll make you feel cool for a day or two but that’s about it!)

I would love to hear your business plans in the comments section. Bring it!

Check out Moon Hussain’s blog, Experiments In Passive Income, where she discusses details about how to build your own income generating niche sites and blogs.  Download her free ebook, To the Moon & Back, in which she details all that she learned about niche sites over the course of a year.

Ignore the A-list Bloggers

This guest post is by Buck Inspire.

Okay, you must be thinking, I have a death wish for incurring the wrath of Darren Rowse and other A-list blogs like ProBlogger. But I believe I need to get the message out to all newbie bloggers. I struggled mightily myself when I first started. I almost quit blogging altogether.

If you want your blog to succeed, ignore A-list blogs at all costs!

Why ignore the A-list?

Income

Some A-list blogs do it more than others (show off how much money their blog brings in), but the result is the same. You will lose your focus and start obsessing over money. I guarantee it. I understand it’s all about the money and they need to show their expertise and success through their income statements. But don’t get entranced by the dollars. You will dilute your passion for writing and your own blog.

Metrics

Although their income is the measurement that stands out, don’t get sucked into their other metrics as well. Hundreds of thousands of fans, followers, and subscribers shows that the A-lister knows how to grow a community. But nothing makes you feel more inadequate than when you take a look at your ten followers, fans, and subscribers. Add to that their out of this world PageRank, mozRank, Alexa, monthly page views and visitors, and you’ll be feeling more inadequate than a teenage boy coming out from a cold swim. Compare at your own risk!

Advertising

What’s wrong with looking at their ads and banners? Nothing, but as you get more interested you will naturally find out what they charge for ad space. This ties with income and metrics and will fuel your inadequacy. You can’t even give your ad space away for a dollar while A-list bloggers easily command 500 times that amount.

Ignore if you dare!

Okay, you found me out. Of course you shouldn’t ignore A-list bloggers!

They all have been there and done that. They have many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and tons of great advice to help your blog succeed. However, if you obsess with their income, metrics, and advertising, you will get derailed and you can kiss your blog goodbye.

Content really is king

We’ve heard this mantra a million times before, but do you really know why? I came up with a few catchy corollaries, but they were too bland and generic. Luckily, I found Eric of Photography Bay and his guest post The Long Tail of Blogging: Why Content Is King. He presents a fascinating look at the Long Tail theory, how it pertains to your blog, backs it up with clear examples and graphs. After discovering why content really is king, I even learned a little about photography, too.

Community is queen

In my opinion, second behind content is community. After penning award-winning posts, what good is it if you don’t have readers to interact with you? Rather than bore you with my drivel, check out Darren’s 8 Tips For Building Community On Your Blog. I particularly enjoyed tips on accepting reader content, assigning reader jobs, and giving reader homework and plan to incorporate them into my own blog.

Develop your voice

There is only one of you and this fact makes your blog special. I thought I found my voice, but after reading Georgina’s 5 Ways to Build Your Blog’s Voice, I can improve this area as well. I was so focused on my content, I believed my voice was naturally flowing from my post. I neglected picturing my audience and watching my mood when I posted and unknowingly weakened my voice. Don’t let this happen to you.

Are you ignoring the A-list?

It does take time to gain blog success as this is not a get rich quick scheme. If this is what you are looking for, you’ve chosen the wrong path. But if you work hard and stick to your guns, before you know it, your income, metrics, and advertising will grow as well. Rather than envy A-List Blogs and their super-duper stats, heed their advice and apply it to your blog. Don’t forget to thank me when you join the ranks of the A-list bloggers!

Buck Inspire is living a fulfilled life within his means while delving into personal finance sprinkled with dining, entertainment, pop culture, technology, and travel. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed or following him on Twitter.