Close
Close

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.

Why Honesty Matters … for Blogs and Brands

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

Will someone please tell me what “hip” means? Does it mean “popular?” Is it what the kids are doing today? Well, just who are the kids? Do you mean teenagers? Early 20s? Hipsters? No, not hipsters … we’ve heard enough from them.

The same goes for words like edgy, trendy, hot, clever—managers seem to use these words all the time, and yet when pressed for an answer can’t seem to provide any input for what they’re going on about. It’s about as helpful as saying, “Make this product a bestseller,” but answering “How?” with an, “Oh, you know…”

brand

Ccopyright James Steidl - Fotolia.com

A lot of people wanting to make a good blog ask these kinds of questions, though. “How do I make it hip? How do I make it really pop?”

Far from being a problem merely of unimaginative employees, vague guidelines do represent an obvious problem in the greater blogging world. The problem comes up from two separate directions: The first is not knowing how things work, and the second is not being willing to admit you don’t know how things work.

The first problem lies in the nature of modern branding and advertising itself. A blog is very much about creating a brand image—specifically, branding yourself and the way you have with words.

The sad, cold, utterly frightening fact of the matter is that there is no formula. There is no silver bullet, no magical way to do things that will result in viral success, online or off. This is because people are inconsistent, confusing, unusual creatures with the ability to change their minds about things. Sometimes people will respond to a well-done light show, other times they want to see an angry rant, and still other times they grow inordinately fond of a man in a towel parading through a Magic Realism sequence of events.

The second matter is a bit of necessary misdirection: there are things people can do to make branding work. There are rules for how pictures should be composed, the ratio of text to images and other sorts of guidelines that can make something work and another something not. But none of this is that fabled silver bullet that will guarantee branding success—everything that’s done in the field of branding is an attempt.

Take two examples from the same company, Apple. The first is the company’s classic, “I use a Mac” series, and the second is its “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” promotion.

The “I use a Mac” series didn’t take off quite as well as the Mac/PC series, and there’s no hard and fast reason why. Some opined that the ads were just too bland, others thought they represented a kind of snobby elitisim.

On the other hand, the fame of the Mac/PC ads is very well-established. They connected with people for some reason. Opinions, again, vary as to why—some thought it was the clever banter, others point to the fact that making the machines into people allowed viewers to connect more. Whatever the reason, the “I use a Mac” ads are forgotten, while the Mac/PC format is still being copied by such luminaries as Sprint.

Yet when examined visually, the two ads are almost indistinguishable. Both show people against white backgrounds, talking. What the heck made one work, and one not—especially given that no one can seem to agree as to the reasons why folks seemed to go for one or the other?

There are answers, but there is no one answer.

Here’s my personal take on these two ads: I think it was because Apple embraced its market more in producing the latter format. With the “I use a Mac” format, they were trying to target a new market—people who use Macs were talking to people who don’t. It’s hard to bring in new clients; most business comes from repeat customers. Further, it’s word of mouth from existing clients that tends to bring in new people rather than advertising.

So with the second set of ads, Apple targeted its own audience with arguments that were familiar to them: Macs work, PCs don’t. This made them more satisfied with their purchases and more likely to use their purchasing power, as well as trying to bring their friends and families into the fold. Again, this isn’t the definitive answer, but it is one that makes as much sense as any of the others.

So, how exactly does this translate to you? How do you make something hip and edgy and all those other fun, potentially meaningless words?

First, know your product. When you’re writing a blog, you are selling yourself and your writing. Before you do anything else, you need to know what niche you and your blog fill. Mac hit on this with the “Macs just work” argument that served the company so well. Be familiar with what you want to discuss and the way you intend to discuss it before you get started.

Second, know your market. You can have the best hair restoration product in the world, but marketing it to the Hair Metal glam rock set is probably not going to work out so well. Figure out who your audience is and what they like.

This is where the social side of blogging comes in. Take a few minutes and actually talk to people, socialize, discuss, laugh, tell jokes, be the butt of a joke. Do something to connect with people and have a discussion. Demographic research is great—but someone else can do that part. You should go talk to someone and get a feel for what their mood is.

Between these two elements, you will be able to come to a more honest vision of what they want, put out a blog that’s both entertaining and genuine, and “hip” can remain a description of a body part, rather than a meaningless adjective.

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

What Bloggers Can Learn from Porn Stars

This guest post is by Brandon Yanofsky of B-List Marketing.

Admit it: blogging is an overwhelmingly confusing endeavor. There’s so much to learn that, for a beginner, it can literally drive you crazy.

You need to know how to create a blog. How to properly design it. How to write well. How to write persuasively. How to market and promote your blog.

The list of things to know and do is infinite.

Am I stressing you out? Because I’m stressing myself out. There’s so much involved. And yet, all the expert bloggers make it look so easy. How can that be?

They’re actually using an age old technique, made famous by notable porn stars.

a user

Copyright by kylemac, licensed under Creative Commons

If you were to watch porn (which, of course, none of us ever would), you might notice that porn stars make sex look very, very easy—at least, that’s what I’ve been told!

But behind the scenes, so they say, it’s a completely different story. Apparently, life as a porn star is incredibly difficult and demanding. All day long, they’re having sex. The normal person might tire of this particular pursuit after a while, but a porn star might have to keep going for longer than eight hours—after all, that’s his or her job.

Like any actor, these movie stars might have to repeat a scene over, and over, and over again until the exact shot the director wants is captured. And yet, like any actor, the porn star doesn’t look fatigued in the finished work. They push through the exhaustion—again, that’s all part of the job.

The blogger’s job

As a blogger, you also need to learn how to push through any obstacles you face. That’s just part of your job.

There will be times when you feel like giving up—when everything seems to be going wrong. Maybe you just can’t seem to get your blog past 50 visitors a month. You may start telling yourself, “I’ll never make it. I should just give up.”

You’ll look at bloggers like Darren Rowse, and Chris Brogan, and Brian Clark, and you’ll say to yourself, “Man, they have it so easy. They write a post and it’s a viral sensation.”

But I’ve heard their stories, and they don’t have it any easier than you or I. Every night, they stay up late working on a new article, just like they did when they first started.

On the surface, it seems like success comes easily. But behind the scenes, they are toiling. Instead of spending weekends watching TV, they’re at their computers writing. Instead of going out for drinks on Friday nights, they are meeting on Skype to record a new podcast.

Even successful, big-time entrepreneurs like Richard Branson—who makes it seem like starting a multi-billion-dollar company is as easy as tying a shoe—will admit there were times when they considered completely giving up.

The path to success is paved with hardship. But the successful people push through.

Don’t give up.

I’ve had clients come to me, complaining about their lack of traffic, or telling me they can’t get anyone to join their email list. I ask them, “How many articles have you written?” Their response? “Well, I’ve been writing one a month.”

“Well, start writing one a week, or even one a day. You’ll see a drastic increase in traffic.”

“But it’s just too much work.”

That attitude right there is what separates the successful from the failures. The ones like you and I who are willing to go the extra mile, to push through obstacles and never give up—we’re the ones who will succeed. We are the ones who, in another year, the beginning bloggers will look to and say, “Man, those bloggers just have it so easy.” Remember to think like a porn star, and push through the exhaustion.

As an aexample, it took me days to write this article. I felt like giving up on it, but I pushed through. And now, I have an article published on ProBlogger. I pushed through the obstacle and achieved one more instance of success.

So can you. What obstacles are you pushing through?

If you’d like to read more by Brandon Yanofsky, check out his blog on small business marketing. You can also send him a tweet: @byanofsky.