Close
Close

Why I Deleted All of My Blogs

This guest posst is by Kole McRae of Chilled Soda.

Four months ago, I had 15 blogs. I had blogs about net neutrality, writing tips, technology news, and more. They we’re all things I was passionate about and loved writing them but one day I deleted them all.

All but one.

I didn’t back them up. I didn’t think twice about it. I simply clicked Delete and never thought about them again. Each one had an audience. Some of them even brought in a little money. But none of that mattered.

That day I discovered a simple truth about myself—a truth that expands to absolutely everyone. The idea was simple, which is kind of the beauty of it.

The less you spread yourself, the better your work

Though I worked hard on those blogs, I knew that the quality of the posts wasn’t high. I tried my best but I just didn’t have the time to do the in-depth work I wanted to. At first I blamed it on my day job and other priorities, but over time I realized it was the sheer number of projects that was holding me back.

With each new project or blog I started, I spread my resources a little bit further. I had less time to devote to each one, and because of that the quality suffered.

The day I made that realization, I deleted them all and focused on a single blog. I was finally able to devote the time required to do the detailed, high-quality posts I’d always wanted to.

Because of this I was able to get that blog mentioned on Consumerist.com, Time Magazine’s website, Howstuffworks.com, and many other A-list websites. All it took was dedication to a single cause instead of many.

Take a look at your current list of projects. Are you able to devote the amount of time necessary to make each one a raging success? If not, why are you working on them?

One at a time

You’re probably looking at this article with an expression of shock. I can hear the objections now:

“You mean, you want me to kill my babies? But all my ideas!”

I’m not asking you to delete everything and never work on those ideas again. As naturally creative people, we want to create. Here is what you should do instead: work on each project, one at a time. Put all your focus on the first one, then, once that’s complete, move on to the next.

It’s up to you to decide what “complete” means.

Not only will this approach ensure that the quality of each project is incredibly high, but you’ll also get a lot more done.

In small doses

You don’t have to do it all at once, like I did. I know that deleting something you’ve worked hard on can be incredibly daunting task. It can even be depressing at first.

Instead, cut out one project at a time.

You’ll find that with the removal of each project, all the others become better in terms of quality. The more you delete, the more you’ll want to delete as you see how much better your other projects get. It’s like an endless loop of quality.

In the end it just proves the point: “Less is more.”

Have you got multiple projects running at the moment? How do you juggle them? Are you giving every single one your best?

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

Three Reasons Your Blogging Resolutions Are Doomed to Fail

This guest post is by Eugene Yiga of eugeneyiga.com.

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour.”
—Henry David Thoreau

It happens every year. We wake up on January 1, and decide that this is the year things will finally change. But a few months later, all the gyms empty out and life goes back to normal. It’s the same with our blogs. All our intentions to finally succeed are met with nothing but more of the same. What’s up with that?

In this post, I’ll cover three reasons your resolutions are doomed to fail (assuming they haven’t already) and what you can do to avoid this:

Reason 1: You don’t know what you want

The problem here is that most resolutions aren’t specific. We say we want to grow our subscriber base or make more money but never actually define what this means. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and say, “I think I want some food. And maybe something to drink. Or whatever.” So why do it when setting goals? We need to know exactly what we’re working toward. Otherwise we’ll keep wandering around aimlessly in the dark.

So what exactly do you want for your blog? Exactly how many subscribers do you want? Exactly how much income would you like to make? Sit down and put some concrete numbers to your goals. What’s also essential here is to attach a date. Not having a deadline means no urgency to get things done. Ultimately, if you don’t know where you’re going or when you want to get there, how can you possibly know you’ve arrived?

Reason 2: You don’t know why you want it

Once you know what you want, you need to figure out why you want it. This is probably the most important part and yet it’s one a lot of people skip. As Carl Jung said, “There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.”

Spend some time figuring out the motivations behind your goals. Saying you want to increase your subscribers by 20% in the next year isn’t very motivating. But discovering what achieving that will mean to you is. This is why having a mission statement for your blog is critical. For me it’s all about sharing my love for reading. That’s why everything about my new blog is focused on books. It’s also why I was particularly pleased when my first Twitter follower joined my quest to read the 100 greatest books of all time.

So close your eyes and visualize exactly what success looks and feels like. What would achieving this goal mean to you? And why does this matter so much? Getting in touch with the positive emotions of where you want to be (as well as the negative emotions of where you currently are) creates a compelling picture that will guide you day by day. Once you have a strong enough “why,” the “how” is much more achievable.

Reason 3: You don’t know how to get there

Once you know what you want and why you want it, you’re ready to get going. But most of us blindly rush out with giant leaps, installing all sorts of plug-ins, only to find ourselves exhausted and unmotivated to try again. You wouldn’t start your first day of exercise by running a marathon. Remember to take your blogging actions one small step at a time.

Schedule your life so you can do one thing every single day that takes you a little closer to your goal. Nowadays you can outsource your tasks and free up time to focus on what you do best. You can also surround yourself with the right people and a supportive environment when you subscribe to websites like Copyblogger or enrol in courses like the A-List Blogging Bootcamps.

Create healthy rewards to motivate even the slightest progress as you constantly strive to learn, adjust, and improve along the way. Most importantly, always remember why you’re working on this goal. If the reasons you created were strong enough, finding the motivation to overcome obstacles won’t be hard. Soon you’ll gather momentum; before you know it, you’ll be there.

Are your resolutions doomed?

We all have a desire for growth and development, and this must be satisfied throughout our lives. Yes, it’s scary to try for something better, but wouldn’t you rather risk failure than guarantee regret? We live in a world of tremendous opportunity. That’s why we all have the potential to be, do, and have absolutely anything. As long as we know exactly what we want, know why we want it, and know how to get there, it doesn’t have to be more complex than that.

So let’s go out and make this year a success. It’s never too late! Are your blogging resolutions in need of some tweaking? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Eugene Yiga shares his love for reading by publishing book reviews at eugeneyiga.com. He also gives away free stuff without making you join his mailing list. Follow him on Twitter for instant updates and alerts.

Why Mom Didn’t Make it as a Blogger

This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.

We always hear stories about the people who eventually succeeded as bloggers … but what about the ones who didn’t?

What of those millions of people who heard that you could make money online, tried it, and eventually gave up? Why aren’t those stories shared and, more importantly, why don’t we discuss the reasons these people failed? Here is but one story in a sea of millions that can shine some light on the subject.

What does it mean to fail as a blogger?

For some, money is not everything in this life. They value relationships, connecting with others and sharing time together more than anything. This is exactly the mentality my mother had when she began her own blog. She wrote about life as a mother of five children, her incredible ability to cook great food with awesome wine pairings, and her love for her faith.

Her articles were well written and thought-provoking, funny sometimes, and even touching. Having read through her first few posts, I thought to myself, “Wow, my mom is really going to do this and be an awesome blogger.”

However, she failed.

Having seen myself making $10,000 a month with a video gaming blog, my mother thought that she could try her luck at it as well. After eight months and only $2.14 for her efforts, she simply gave up. To her, yes, blogging was fun, but it was too much like a job and she still had a little one to take care of at home. There just wasn’t enough free time for her to justify writing as a hobby with no income to show for it. Despite my best efforts to show her how to draw traffic to her site, she simply gave up due to the learning curve and time involved.

My mother didn’t fail because she couldn’t write, or because she didn’t have a revenue stream. She was an excellent writer and had AdSense/affiliate links on her site in good locations. She failed because she lacked connections and social interaction with her potential audience.

Where things went wrong

Here are how the conversations went with my mother, and here are the responses she had to them. If this sounds like you, stick around because I’m going to show you how to be successful with your blog traffic.

Me: You need to sell something.
Mom: But I have nothing to sell. I don’t own anything.

My mother thought that because she didn’t have a pre-written ebook that she couldn’t make money online.

First off, I didn’t have an ebook when I first started out. What I had was grit and determination to find my audience and market products to them. My mother lacked this, nor did she want to start to learn how to do it. Her fundamental argument is flawed, however, because she did have something to sell: her opinion. Mom had great ideas, great outlooks on life, she was entertaining, and often made people think with her posts. That’s what she could have sold.

Maybe that would have taken shape as an ebook on how to pair wine with food, or maybe it would be life lessons from a mother of five children. I don’t know, but she did have something only she could sell and I’m sad it never came to be.

Me: Mom, you need to read other blogs and forums, then post comments on them.
Mom: I don’t have the time and they don’t know me.

Despite my mom’s expertise in three separate niches, no one knew about it. All she needed to do was start visiting blogs and forums and comment on them, and she would have started developing a following rather quickly. She’s a smart, witty woman with a lot of talent, and it would have been obvious to everyone she interacted with that she knew her stuff.

Sadly, she equated leaving comments at these locations to knocking on doors like a salesman, or preaching in front of random people on the street corner. She didn’t see it as the networking opportunity it really was.

Me: Hey Mom, did you contact any bloggers this week?
Mom: Yes, but I haven’t checked my email in over a month.

When Mom was first starting out, she did make an effort to contact bloggers … well, at least the ones I found for her, and whose email addresses I sent to her. But she never followed up (one even wanted to do a guest post swap!).

Due to time constraints, my Mom never was able to do the essential tasks necessary to manage her PR efforts. Following up seems like a no-brainer, but when you don’t check your email more than once a month, it’s virtually impossible to have a conversation with anyone!

Mom can still succeed

This is it: the part where I show you how she (and you, if you sound like my Mom) can turn things around.

Let’s say my Mom can spend three hours per week blogging. Here’s how I would change her schedule from 100% writing to a different setup, and get her on the path towards blogging success.

1. Spend one hour emailing and responding to emails.
2. Spend one hour commenting on blogs and participating on forums.
3. Spend one hour writing posts.

Yes, she would write one-third of what she was creating before, but she would have a far greater number of interactions with people. Simply improving your own blog is not enough—you have to get out there and connect with your potential audience.

In fact, that’s all you need to do: go out there and find your audience. It seems simple, but to many it feels like added work because they spend all their time writing. Freeing up time solves half of this issue. The other half is getting over the fear of sounding like a salesman. Entering into a conversation and leaving your intelligent opinion on the matter is all you really need to do to avoid sounding like a salesman.

If you need help finding your audience, try searching Google for “[your niche] + forum” or “[your niche] + blog.” Then, after you find a few sites, try looking through their links and blog rolls for additional sites to check out. Get involved, build relationships, and most importantly, have fun! That’s what it’s all about!

Chris is a self proclaimed expert at showing bloggers how they can get traffic, build communities, make money online and be successful. You can find out more at The Traffic Blogger.

Inside the Compendium Blogging Platform

This guest post is by Jenny Dean of Business Blog Writers.

If you run a business that sells a product or a service, you need a strong online presence. If you’re considering blogging, or if you are blogging and it’s not doing what you want it to do, then you might look into a different blogging platform to help you achieve your online goals—Compendium.

Seeing that the distinction between blogs and websites has become blurred in recent years, many online visitors don’t even realize whether they have landed on a blog or a website. In fact, static websites are becoming less desirable, since a blog has a fluid ability to target specific visitors with the most up-to-date and relevant information.

Email and searches continue to dominate the online market, so you have to be equipped with the best ROI-producing tool available. Compendium’s blogging platform targets organic keywords in search engines, helps businesses acquire new customers, and serves as a hub for your social media strategy.

Compendium’s platform involves a SEO strategy approach that targets the organic side of the search engine results page (SERP), and is designed to win keyword searches.

If your business has these three qualities, then Compendium may be a great fit:

  • a business domain with some age/authority
  • an understanding of analytics and how you make money online
  • an understanding of what types of key phrases blogs are best suited to win vs. PPC or traditional SEO tactics.

As of March 2011, Compendium’s pricing ranges from $3,500 to upwards of $50,000 a year, based on the needs of the client. Their packages are scalable based on keyword selection and services, as well as any upgrades that you might request.

Why would you want a blog as a business?

  1. To increase search engine traffic
  2. To create an online community of fans of your product or service
  3. To increase awareness of your  product or service
  4. All of the above.

No matter what your company’s blogging goals are, Compendium’s platform is set up to make them happen.  Of course, Compendium’s approach to Third Generation blogging has to do with more qualified search traffic and lead generation online. There are millions of searches around almost every business, topic, industry, etc. every day, week, and month. If your business has a product or service, then someone is out there searching for you.

In my business, we write content for a number of blogs, but our favorite platform to write on is Compendium and here’s why.

Please note: I mentioned in my ProBlogger post, How to Brand Your Blog’s YouTube Channel that I have another website called Floppycats.com, and I purchased the Compendium platform for that site. All the photos and examples below are taken from Floppycats.com’s Compendium blog).

Strategy

  • Compendium has nearly 500 relationships with savvy marketers and business leaders all over the country. These leaders are just like you—they want to increase their ROI without a lot of effort.  So when you have a platform through Compendium, you are set up with an Account Manager who can share tips and ideas among clients, allowing you to save time and money.  It’s like having a marketing firm behind your blog that is also well-versed in SEO.
  • Compendium helps you offer a conversion point or a call-to-action (CTA) to your blog These CTAs can include requesting more information, signing up for a free demo, downloading a document, or even a “buy now” option.
  • Compendium helps to create a blog that has strong key SEO elements like informative page titles, consumer-focused keywords, recent and frequent updates, strong inbound links, and relevant content.  Their platform allows your blog to target thousands of organic keywords in a search.  It automatically organizes your blog’s keyword-rich content into lots of unique landing pages that are found in an organic search.

Monetization

  • Many of Compendium’s clients are generating 400% marketing ROI with only minutes of effort each day.
  • Compendium’s easy-to-use blogging and search engine optimization (SEO) tools help you achieve aggressive lead generation and revenue goals with less time and money than other marketing activities.
  • Compendium llows you to make a true investment in your marketing dollars. The more content you create, the deeper and richer your search results become. In other words, the blog data never goes away; rather, it gets compounded and enhanced with new content.  It’s not like PPC marketing that you pay for, where it’s up and then it’s gone forever.  What’s more, 80-90% of all clicks happen in the organic section of a results page.

Optimization

  • Compendium can be set up on any domain, even WordPress.
  • You won’t find an easier or more efficient way to target a huge search market and get the highest return on their marketing efforts.
  • Search engines look for the following when determining the rank of organic search results:
    1. titles
    2. keywords
    3. recency/frequency of content creation
    4. links
    5. volume
    6. relevance
  • Compendium partnered with two industry-leading SEO companies (Distilled and SEOmoz) to make changes to their platform to enhance organic search benefits.  You may have read a recent article about the Google Algorithm change that affected many blogs and many companies’ efforts to bring in search engine traffic.  Search engine algorithms love Compendium’s system, and Compendium clients are unscathed by such search engine modifications.

Social Networking

  • Compendium’s platform includes social media integration that allows you to push content to your company’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, all from within the platform.
  • There are upgrades available with the system that allow for your blog to be built entirely on user-generated content.  It’s one of the most incredible marketing strategies I have seen to date.  To explain it would require a whole other blog post, so here’s a link to one I wrote a few months back explaining it.

Analytics

  • Compendium’s platform allows you to log in at any time, track how the platform is driving traffic to your website, and see how your different calls to action are converting.
  • The Account Manager who is set up for your account also integrates your blog with Google Analytics, so you will benefit from Compendium’s own internal tracking system, as well as an external tracking system.

Content report

Link activity report

Link activity chart

Ease of Use

  • You do not have to be technically savvy to use Compendium.  If you can login into an email account, you can login into Compendium and create a post.
  • The Compendium gods were on our side when they delivered the Keyword Strength Meter! It’s one of my favorite things about Compendium (see image below).  The Keyword Strength Meter is a bar that appears at the top of every post as you’re composing it, and goes from red to green, helping you know when you have used the optimal number of keywords for a specific post.  In other words, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have used the proper number of keywords, or guess what the search engines will like.

    The keyword strength meter in action

  • You can schedule your posts to release on the blog on different days and times. In other words, you could write five posts on Monday and schedule them to post on every day that week without having to sign into the system again (WordPress has this capability as well).

Protection

  • Compendium is backed by SaaS security.  There’s no IT or plug-ins necessary.  Compendium is a fully hosted SaaS company, so Compendium hosts all of its clients’ blog pages.  Compendium is built on an enterprise-level structure with all the security necessary to work with even the largest corporations.
  • One of the clients that we write for mentioned to me that they chose Compendium because of the security measures involved—they knew their content would be protected on Compendium, whereas they couldn’t obtain a similar level of protection on other blogging platforms.
  • Compendium is not an open-source platform (on an open-source program anyone can develop plug-ins or add-ons to the platform). Compendium is specifically built for enterprise and the security that they require.  This includes features like SSL (for users signing in—think of a bank-like sign in), backups, redundancy, 24-hour monitoring, SLA (service level agreements), and more.  All of these features, and the architecture on which Compendium is built, are far easier to control and monitor than freeware, giving an added level of security to this platform.
  • Compendium allows for unlimited users that are all attached to an administrator.  When a user submits a post it doesn’t go directly onto the company’s blog. Rather, the admin of the blog gets an email notification letting them know there is a new post ready to go. The administrator can then go in and read, edit, or decline the post, and offer feedback to the author without leaving the system.  If your company has a PR department that would like to review the posts before they go live, then Compendium is a great option because it allows the user to input the posts and the PR department to edit and approve them as needed, without excessive back-and-forth comments with the writers.

Customization

The platform can look however you want it to—and you can have it easily match your website.  I use my Compendium blog as a way to find potential subscribers for my main site, which is on WordPress.  That may seem funky, but it has allowed more people to find me.  It also allows me to post things with which I wouldn’t want to bug subscribers to my main site, but that I still think are worthwhile to have on my site in some manner.  Below is a screen shot of the home page of my Floppycats.com website and a screen shot of my Compendium blog site.

The site on WordPress

The site on Compendium

Updates

Compendium is constantly improving the product, making enhancements every week to service the needs of clients.

The main reason I like Compendium is because with any business, it is important to get referrals as well as retain clients you already have.  It has been my experience that when Business Blog Writers write on the Compendium platform, we are more likely to retain the client, because the content we provide on that platform actually works, delivering the results the client was looking for. Therefore they find the value in continuing their content creation agreement with us.

If you are interested in checking out Compendium, you can request a demo through the website. One of their fantastic sales representatives will schedule a time to show you a demo of their software.

Does your company use Compendium?  How do you like it?  What advantages have you seen from it?

Jenny Dean is a 31-year-old-business owner and entrepreneur from Kansas City. Jenny is currently working on Business Blog Writers, a company that supplies blog content specifically for company’s blogs, Floppycats.com, an informational website about Ragdoll cats and Antioxidant-fruits.com, an informational website about the antioxidant powers of fruit. Follow Business Blog Writers on Twitter or on Facebook.

Ditch the Job Mentality and Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

This guest post is by Caz Makepeace of y Travel Blog.

Having success in the blogging world is attributed in large part to your own thinking and the mindset that you bring to this new avenue of making money.

Most people arrive here wanting to break free from the rut of a nine-to-five job that they’re no longer passionate about. The hours are long, the work is never-ending, and the pay is poor. Huh! On second thoughts, it sounds very similar to the beginnings of blogging.

What many people don’t realize is that the major hindrance to success in their blogging niche has nothing to do with technique or value, but with the job mentality that they have brought along with them.

Crossing over from a job to blogging is not just a physical move—it also involves a complete change in your mindset. It is a completely different world to what you’re used to in the cubicle farm. I often see arguments break out online which immediately make me wonder whether the people involved have an entrepreneurial mindset or a job mentality.

To cross over to the entrepreneurial world, you need to adopt the following ways of thinking.

Change is evolution

Job people become stuck in the way things are done, and always have been done. They are used to rules, schedules, and procedures. When they cross over into the blogging world, they discover that the rules have changed—and often, they can’t handle it.

Entrepreneurs understand that in the business world, the rules are always changing and if you don’t evolve with them, you’re going to die.

The major arguments that always emerge within the travel blogging community arise between those from the journalistic world and those bloggers whose success has had less to do with their linguistic ability than with their ability to market and network.

Really I just want to shout, “Listen up! The rules have changed. You are not in the journalist world any more. You are in the online world. The place where degrees and awards don’t matter. Anyone can start a website and have massive success with it. Whether you like it or not, doesn’t count. This is the reality of online marketing and building your own business. You either become an entrepreneur and adapt to the new world, or you sink—fast.”

How many highly successful entrepreneurs do you know who were never great at school and didn’t get a college degree? Let’s see. There’s Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Richard Branson … They have gotten where they are because of their entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole—they become a round peg instead.

Think big

Entrepreneurs think big and focus on the ultimate vision of what they are doing. They think outside of the box to look for new and unique ways to be successful and make money. They do not follow the herd. They watch and learn, and then say, “How can I make this better? How can I do this in a different, yet bigger way?” When you think outside the box, you create things that make you move above the crowd.

Job people concentrate only on the tasks at hand, and follow what most other people are doing. They are not used to focusing on the bigger picture as it has never been their vision to worry about. Bringing that limitation over to the entrepreneurial world can stifle your creativity and restrict your ability to handle and solve the many challenges that will arise.

Quitting becomes an easier option. Entrepreneurs know that the road to eventual wealth and success can be long and difficult, and the bigger vision helps move them through that period.

One of my favorite Donald Trump quotes is, “If you are going to be thinking anyway, you might as well be thinking big.” If you think small, you receive small.

We began our travel blogging world with the intention not to make a few ad bucks here and there, but to look towards a bigger picture that can lead us to earning vast amounts of income from many different sources. This bigger picture has an impact our strategy.

We haven’t made much money from our blog yet, and we’e okay with that. We have had success with the bigger picture we have focused on: building our brand and online presence, building a strong community, and networking with the right people. That will become our springboard for future projects that will bring in bigger rewards.

Self-promotion

I know people who are afraid to hand out their business cards, or tell people who they are and what they do. When you are able to do that confidently, you have made a big jump over into the entrepreneurial mindset.

No one is going to promote you for you. No one is going to care about what you have to offer more than you.

If you want to have success in an entrepreneurial world, you have to learn to promote yourself. Think of all the big brand people you know: Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey. What are all these people good at? Self-promotion.

Entrepreneurs are willing to do whatever it takes. Hand out those business cards, shake that person’s hand, and speak confidently about what you do and how you can offer value to others. Invite people to check out your website and connect with you via your networks. Share your work and successes.

You are guaranteed to receive criticism for doing this. Concentrate on your bigger picture and understand the criticism comes from those who want to do what you do, but have not yet broken free from the job mentality.

Networking is vital

Job mentality people tend to call this a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of deal, and in some ways it is. But, in my entrepreneur mind, I never see it as being the case that if I do something for you, you have to do something for me in return.

It has more to do with building relationships and from those, interacting with those you like and trust. A natural extension of a relationship with someone you like and trust is to read their work, use their products, and recommend them to others. People do business with those they like and trust, just as they are friends with those they like and trust. There’s nothing shady about it.

Entrepreneurs immediately start building their networks of professional and business contacts. They understand the power and truth in the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Networking is not just about what others can do for you, but what you can do for others. Being an entrepreneur means helping out others and providing value when you can. It means creating a mastermind group of people you can share and bounce ideas off of. You don’t hold your cards to your chest for fear of losing out and having others rise to the top over you.

Learn from those you want to be like

In the job world, we are taught that to move up the ladder and get that much-desired promotion, we need to prove we are better than the rest. It becomes a dog-eat-dog world: the knives come out and we are prepared to stomp all over those beside us in order to get to the finish line first.

Entrepreneurs have the intention to be the best at what they do; they are competitive and like to win. But, they know they don’t have to destroy others in the process. They understand that we each have a unique perspective or value that we can offer.

They understand that the best way to get to the top is to learn from those who are where you want to be. They don’t look at the person in the mansion on the hill and feel jealous. Instead, they find out that person’s name, they give them a call, and they say, “Hey. I really like what you have achieved. I want to be like you. How can I learn what you know?

And usually that successful entrepreneur replies, “Well, how about we meet up for coffee and I can go over a few things with you?”

Entrepreneurs understand the concept of abundance. They understand what it takes to get to the top and they are more than happy to take the time to help someone do the same. As with everything in life, there will always be anomalies, but I have never met an entrepreneur yet who I have not had an interaction with that’s similar to what I have just described.

Making money is a good thing

“I think it’s scammy … dirty. I don’t want to ask for it. I feel funny asking for freebies.” These are just some of the comments I hear thrown around in the blogging world when it comes to making money.

I recently stayed in a hostel in Sydney free. It wasn’t really free, because in return for that I tweeted about the hostel the whole time I was there. I wrote a really great review of the place. I also wrote a couple of other spin-off articles on my site that linked to that piece. I promoted it through my social sites.

I had at least six people say to me that they would definitely stay in this hostel when they come to Sydney. That was on the day it was published, and from those who spoke. But let’s keep it at six and say that for one night’s stay in the dorm room where it costs $40, the hostel would earn $240. It cost them $140 to give us a private room for the night. We made them money.

Entrepreneurs think like this. They believe they can offer value and know they deserve to be rewarded for it. Because of this, they are not afraid to ask for the money and they don’t believe it’s dirty when they get it. They approach all transactions from a win-win perspective and there’s nothing bad about this.

On a similar level, I hear many bloggers say they feel they are selling out on their readers by selling advertising. Really? If your readers expect you to spend countless hours every day writing valuable content that informs and entertains, without receiving any compensation for it, then you need to get new readers.

Do you think they feel the same way when they pick up a magazine, a newspaper, or turn on the TV? Why do people think that when you enter the blogging world, suddenly you should start writing and work for nothing? If you have a job mentality then you may not get past these uncomfortable feelings of “selling out.”

You are doing this for the passion—yes! But you are also doing this for the income you originally craved so you could start living your life by your desires.

Think like an entrepreneur: “There is nothing wrong with making money. Making money enables me to move forward and grow, so I can in turn provide more value.”

If this article has struck a raw nerve with you, then ask yourself, “Could this perhaps be a sign that I have not yet crossed over?” Well … have you crossed over?

Caz Makepeace has been travelling and living around the world since 1997. Along with her husband Craig they are the founders of y Travel Blog. You can visit her Facebook Fan Page or sign up for herRSS Feed.

8 Strategic Blog Home Pages that Draw Readers Deeper

This guest post is by The Blog Tyrant.

One of the hardest tasks a blogger can face is getting readers to stick around. In actual fact, its one of the most important things you’ll ever learn to do. Why? Because unless those visitors delve deeper into your site you are essentially wasting your time with all that amazing content, social media effort, and SEO work.

Bloggers often forget that we need to use things like design, layout, colors, format, and so on to help visitors delve further in to our sites.

In this post I’m going to show you eight blog home pages that make readers click deeper. Hopefully it will give you some ideas for your own.

8 Home pages that draw readers deeper

I wanted to start off by letting you know that each of these pages was chosen for a different reason. Now, I’m not saying that these are the best blog home pages in the world. What I am saying is that each one does something extremely well that encourages new visitors to become more loyal readers.

1. Mashable

Mashable is one of the world’s biggest blogs and has a massively high page views. The main reason they are able to do this is through social proofed elements of their layout. Let me explain.

Social proof is where you provide some kind of assurance that other people have used your service. Testimonials, for example, are a common form of social proof. These things reduce anxiety in the reader but also serve to encourage a group mentality whereby people want to be involved in what other people are doing. It’s just human nature.

Mashable is all about social media and you see items like the “most shared this week” and the number of Facebook “likes” featuring prominently. The “buzz” this creates gets people to go deeper in to the site—people want to read articles that hundreds of others found interesting.

2. Digital Photography School

Digital Photography School is Old Man Rowse’s biggest blog. It has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and is one of the most heavily community-based blogs you’ll ever read. The activity in the comments and the forums is really quite wonderful.

I remember when Darren first released the new DPS design; I was blown away by how efficient and enticing it was. The old site was a straight up one column blog but this is a multi-level blog that divides the areas up by different sections of interest. Want to read about photography? Just go to that section. Want to read about equipment? Go over there.

This is a fantastic way to ensure photographers find areas of interest at the home page. It gives very little room for people to get bored and move on.

3. Huffington Post

Huffington Post. The blog turned worldwide news source. Sigh. Whatever you might say about the quality of the news that comes out of the site, the layout is extremely captivating. And it’s not because it’s pretty. Here is an example of a site on which the visuals aren’t necessarily pleasing, but they are very effective.

The area of the home page above the fold is dedicated to the most shocking current story as well as a pop up bar that asks you to get involved. It also uses a series of highly placed headers to show you what news is trending at the moment. Again, this is done to capitalize on people’s need to know what other people are interested in.

Scroll further down the home page and you see more engaging items like author profile photos to build loyalty, huge comment counts on featured articles and a mix of featured articles from different topics.

4. Zen Habits

Leo from Zen Habits is one of the nicest guys in the world. A few years ago he gave me some free advertising space and helped me launch a new blog. His new design is totally minimal and fits in extremely well with the branding of the site. Lots of space.

This type of strategy works extremely well for a blog with amazing content. Why? Because it is entirely focused on that content. You read that first amazing article and you feel compelled to delve deeper.

This is a brave design that takes a lot of courage because if each and every post that appears on the homepage is not amazing, you will see a lot of people drop off.

5. Smart Passive Income

Speaking of nice guys, Pat from Smart Passive Income is one of the nicest. Recently when I was setting up my podcasts he gave me a lot of time-saving tips. And that is a big theme in Pat’s design: help.

See the top level of menu items? Each one has a sub heading that gives you more information about what to expect inside. I remember the first time I visited Pat’s site, I spent ages clicking through each menu item to browse the contents. That is something I don’t normally do. The navigation is extremely “sticky”.

Similarly, there is a little space below the menu where Pat gives little random messages or tips. This takes the “tutorial” vibe of his site even further and definitely makes the experience feel more personal and intimate.

6. Tumblr

The guys at Tumblr are extremely good at design. In my article on the 12 Best About Us Pages I confessed that I thought theirs was the best one of the lot. And while the blog homepage isn’t right up to that standard, it is still worth a look.

The reason I included Tumblr in this list is because they use simple graphical elements to draw the eye down. Each post is very simple and usually only includes a picture or a bit of text. And each alternating post has a different background. Mixed with the fact that the emphasis is on showing which staff member wrote each post and you have an extremely addictive blog home page.

7. Fail Blog

Fail Blog, in case you have been living under a rock, is part of the LOL Cat empire. These guys build sites with funny pictures of cats and dogs and people getting hurt and make a small (read: large) fortune out of it.

Again, the homepage design is not beautiful, but it is extremely addictive. You can navigate through all their sites from the top as well as getting in on the action by voting for the best fails. They also have a little “random fail” generator, which is the kind of gimmick people on this site love to use to waste more of their day.

One of the cleverest ideas here is the fact that every can have a go at re-captioning the fails. This builds on the community in a massive way by getting everyone interacting with each fail multiple times. People write new captions and then come back to see what other people are saying about it.

8. The Onion

The Onion is quite literally one of the funniest websites on the Internet. And aside from hilarious content, great titles, and a home page that lets you see a plethora of content all at once, one thing they do really well is have an interactive and changing header that gives you access to new information.

Normally blogs just have a static header but this one moves and changes based on what’s going on at the blog. Sure, they still have the same logo and colors to keep the branding recognizable but they also use the variation to get people involved in new areas. Very clever.

Lessons to apply to your own blog

So what are the take-aways from these eight blogs home pages? What are some concrete things you can apply to your own blog today to increase the amount of pages people view?

  • Focus on social proof.
    Make sure your homepage always has elements that relate to social proof. Use testimonials, popular articles, high comment counts, and social media followers to show that your blog is busy. This is something that you should never underestimate.
  • Know your audience.
    It is really important to know who is coming to your home page and why. Are they coming for this topic or that topic? Do they want to read articles or listen to podcasts? Make sure your navigation allows them to find what they want instantly.
  • Let your story show.
    Make sure you use photos or text to tell your story. Let people become loyal to you and your message. Tumblr does this with staff profiles, Pat does this by showing himself with his baby, etc. You want to make sure people feel like you are different from everyone else they’ve seen today.

As I mentioned in the post about the best about us pages, it is a really good idea to occasionally take a look at what the big guys in the industry are doing. Quite often they are doing it for a reason. The most important thing, however, is to make sure you don’t leave it as an idea but apply it to your own blog right away.

What draws you in?

I’d like to open up the floor now and find out what parts of a website’s home page draw you in deeper? Is it something to do with the layout, the content, the colors—or something totally different? Please leave a comment and let me know.

The Blog Tyrant hasn’t revealed his name yet but we know that he is a 25-year-old guy from Australia who works from home and has sold several blogs for around the $20,000 mark. Now he’s teaching you how to dominate your blog. Subscribe by email to get his free eBook on capturing 120% more email subscribers overnight or follow him on Facebook.

How a Tiny Blog Landed Guy Kawasaki (and Copyblogger!)

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

On March 8, 2011, Guy Kawasaki released Enchantment, his latest book.

There was media attention befitting his star status. There were reviews on periodicals like Forbes, and major blogs like Startup Nation and Brazen Careerist.

Oh, and an exclusive interview on Firepole Marketing.

What? You haven’t heard of Firepole Marketing?! Well, that’s no surprise, because unlike Forbes, Startup Nation, or Brazen Careerist, whose subscriber count numbers in the hundreds of thousands, Firepole Marketing’s subscribers number in just the hundreds—no thousands.

So how did a little fish like Firepole Marketing land a giant ocean liner like Guy Kawasaki? It all started with Jon…

Jon Morrow, that is. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.

Step 1: Being nice

Back in 2008, I was running a flailing start-up. We ran out of money just as the financial markets crashed, and there was very little capital to be found.

I’ve been a fan of Copyblogger for a long time, and have bought almost every product they’ve released. At the time, I was a member of Partnering Profits, and I received an email from Jon Morrow. He was looking for case studies to help (basically, he offered free consulting) as part of the program. I had nothing to lose, so I reached out.

We exchanged emails, and this was his eventual conclusion: “My advice: stop trying to raise money until you’re already making money. If you can’t do that, then shut down your company and do something where you have a higher chance of success.”

Ouch.

(This is just one line extracted from a fairly long email. Jon gave me plenty of great advice, and has been very helpful to me over the years, as you’ll see. I’m not complaining in any way, shape, or form. But sometimes, the truth hurts!)

Now, I could have sulked, or been angry, but what good would that have done? I thanked him, and kept on trucking (though eventually I did have to pull the plug on that business).

Step 2: Seizing the opportunity

Fast-forward to the end of 2010: I had co-founded Firepole Marketing, and I was in the middle of Jon’s latest training program, about guest blogging.

One day, a lesson arrives in my inbox in which Jon explains that the easiest kind of guest post to get onto a popular blog is a list post, because it just takes so much work to write them, and they tend to be very highly rated because they’re so bookmark-able.

I had just finished developing a curriculum of business books to create an alternative business education program for a client of mine.

So I seized the opportunity. I replied to Jon’s email, telling him about the booklist, and asking him if I could write it as a guest post for Copyblogger. He said that he couldn’t make promises, but that I could write a draft and send it to him.

Well, I spent hours upon hours working on that post, to make it as good as it possibly could be. And it worked! 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read was published on Copyblogger, and as of this writing, has accumulated 199 comments, 869 tweets, and 189 Facebook shares. (Yay!)

Step 3: A nice Guy

One of the 38 books that I discussed in the post was The Art of the Start. A few days after the post went out, I received an email from Guy Kawasaki thanking me for including his book on the list. He also explained that he had a new book coming out called Enchantment, and asked if I’d like him to send me a review copy.

Sounds great, right? A free book! (Seriously, I was flattered!)

Step 4: Seizing the opportunity … again!

Sure enough, a few weeks before the publication date, I received a follow-up email saying that I should receive the book within a couple of days, with links to material that might be useful in writing a review (biographical and background information, pictures of the book, etc.).

He also wrote that “if you’d like record a podcast or interview me, please let me know.”

Hell, yes!

Guy and I corresponded (I had to chase a little—not surprising, given how busy he is), and we finally nailed down a time to do the interview. The only time he could do it was 9pm Pacific time (I’m on the east coast, so it was midnight over here). Well, that was fine by me!

I spent about fifteen hours preparing for that interview. I read the book from cover to cover, and took notes along the way. Then I thought about what might be valuable to showcase about the book that most interviewers wouldn’t ask about.

In the best-case scenario, my goal was to make the interview so good that Guy would want to tell everyone he knew to listen to it—but at the very least, I wanted to be absolutely sure that I didn’t blow it with Guy, or make him feel like he wasted his time. The work paid off, and turned out to be a pretty good interview.

Step 5: More nice!

Now, did Guy mean to offer for me to interview him on my tiny blog? I may never know for sure, but my hunch is that I got the same email that went out to all of the reviewers on his list, most of whom are from way bigger media outlets.

But he made the offer, and he’s a good enough guy to have honored it and made the time for me to do the interview (time that he doesn’t have; on top of running his business and being a husband and father, he was doing five or six interviews per day—all with sites way bigger than mine). Thanks, Guy!

It doesn’t end there, though. Now it was my turn to be nice.

I posted the interview on Firepole Marketing, but also created a video to promote the book on YouTube, wrote reviews on Amazon and other bookseller websites, and basically did everything I could think of to get the word out (mostly because it’s my turn to be nice, but also because it’s a great book!).

9 Lessons for bloggers

So what’s the message here for other bloggers and online entrepreneurs? Here are nine lessons that I can think of:

  1. Be appreciative of any help or advice that anyone is kind enough to offer you—even if it isn’t what you want to hear, even if you don’t agree with it, and even if you aren’t planning on following it. They took the time to think about you and your problem—thank them for that. In other words, be nice.
  2. Keep on trucking. Don’t give up—even if you’re tired and frustrated, keep on working at your goals, because eventually you’ll get there. Especially if you…
  3. Cultivate relationships. Being gracious and appreciative is part of it, but go further—take advantage of any opportunity that you can to be nice to people. Like mentioning their books on other people’s blogs (or mentioning their blogs on yours!).
  4. When people teach you something, show them that you’ve been paying attention. A big part of why I got that post on Copyblogger is because I took Jon’s course on Guestblogging, and then did exactly what he taught me to do!
  5. Embrace the nobodies. This isn’t my lesson, it’s straight out of Guy’s new book, Enchantment. He didn’t have to make the time for that interview, but he did, and I’ve publicized his book in every way that I could think of. The lesson for you? Don’t just focus on getting a break from megablogs like ProBlogger or celebrities like Guy Kawasaki. Work with the little guys (like Firepole Marketing, iMarketingHacked, One Spoon At A Time, Jon Alford’s blog, and others). You might be surprised where they’ll take you.
  6. Be in the right place at the right time. Does this sound like frustrating advice? Well, being in the right place at the right time is part luck, but it’s also part getting out there and working hard. If you’re in enough places at enough times, then some of them are bound to be the right ones.
  7. Seize opportunities. If you’re out there being nice and cultivating relationships in enough places at enough times, then sooner or later an opportunity will appear. Make sure to grab it! Leonardo da Vinci once wrote that “when fortune approaches, seize her firmly by the forelock—because I swear, she’s bald in the back!” In other words, you’ll probably only get one chance to grab that opportunity, so don’t miss it!
  8. Do the work. Once you get that opportunity, you’ve got to work hard to make it happen, and to make the most of it. If I hadn’t chased after Guy to make the interview happen, and done all that prep work to make it as good an interview as I could, then the opportunity would have fizzled into nothing.
  9. Say thank you, and be nice some more. Once that opportunity has been seized and made the most of, be appreciative, and keep on being nice. Keep on cultivating those relationships.

In short, success is part being in the right place at the right time, part putting yourself in the right place at the right time, ten parts hard work, and part Guy Kawasaki being nice to you!

I think we learn best from stories, and I’d love to learn from your experiences. So, every person who leaves a comment with their story will be entered into a draw to win a free subscription to Firepole Marketing (worth $900)!

Do you have a serendipitous story of being in the right place at the right time, and then working to make it happen? Please share it as a comment…

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. For free marketing tips and ideas, head over to his blog, and sign up for their FREE 7-Day “Business Fireproofing” Video Course.

Little Blog? Big Benefit! The Hidden Potential of Smaller Sites

This guest post is by David Edwards of A Sitting Duck.

In my last post, I talked about building an audience on YouTube with techniques that you could implement by making friends that work in the same field as you.

Not so long ago, I remember YouTube being a place just for comical, viral videos. Today, it remains a hub of viral videos—but it’s also becoming a strong forum for businesses. It seems that these days, the standard practice for a new business website is to plug in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube somehow.

We all know there are other places online, but I imagine that most ProBlogger readers are working for themselves—you’re probably pushed for time, and don’t have many free hours to spend on other websites. So perhaps you only focus on these main sites.

Candy Slots

“Other websites” are still important

If you have a website or blog, and you’re looking to inject more life into it, I’m here to tell you that it’s probably worth reaching out to smaller websites, and offering your videos (or other media and content) for them to embed in their pages. I’ve found this technique really helpful.

Many people over look starter websites, because they assume that a site that has 100 readers has nothing to offer them or their blog.

But look at it this way: if each of those 100 readers has 130 Facebook friends (which is, statistically, the average), that equates to more than 10,000 potential views for your video if all the site’s readers hit the Facebook Like button!

Okay, so it’s unlikely that all the site’s readers, and all their friends, will Like your video, but these figures reveal the potential that exists in the smaller sites within your niche. It’s often much easier to get your work published on these smaller sites, too—and that exposure can give you an introduction into the circle of larger players in your niche.

In my first year of launching my video series, I managed to have it featured on ten small animation websites. Each of these sites sent viewers to the videos, and they shared the videos with their friends. This gained us traction both with viewers, and with the entertainment-video niche’s bigger players. Eventually, I hit the jackpot by getting the video featured on Weebl’s Stuff, which is probably the biggest Flash animation site in the UK.

As another example, on Twitter, we’ve started a Follow Friday team of illustrators: around ten to 15 of us tweet each other out to our followers every so often. This group isn’t just good for gaining followers—it’s also helping to build a small community that will gain the trust of, and hook people in from, the larger community.

Finding the right sites

I’ve found some great illustration bloggers through search.twitter, by searching for illustration and animation. You could do the same using keywords from your niche—it can be a really quick way to find relevant people operating in your field.

As you’re probably aware, searching for your keywords on Google will bring back the most powerful results, including directories or large blogs. But, at first, you may not have much of a chance of getting your blog on their radars.

1,000 views a day

Currently, we receive between 500 and 1000 views every day on our animation series, without blogging or paying for traffic. Although I do post every Friday on my website, and I’ve managed to keep this up for 40 Fridays in a row!

If you’re looking for a magic bullet to keep the momentum from your initial exposure going, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you are confident that you own a video that’s worth watching, you should push it to at least ten smaller bloggers in your first year, then reach out to a couple of large websites and see what happens!

David Edwards is the founder of A Sitting Duck, and currently is the SEO Director at Webfactore Ltd. You can follow him on Twitter at @asittingduck and on YouTube.

Improve Domain Authority for a Better Blog Ranking

This guest post is by R Kumar of dkspeaks.com.

One of the major sources of traffic for any blog today is organic traffic. While SEO is one of the major factors influencing organic search engine results, there is another aspect to this whole story which is often ignored. All of the efforts go into building links, and in doing that, we ignore this critical aspect.

If you are wondering what this aspect is, it’s domain trust and authority. In order for you newer content to be ranked well on Google, it is important that you build both domain trust and domain authority. Otherwise, your already established home page will get a few rankings, but your new content will seldom see good rankings.

For people who do not know what domain trust and authority is, let me explain these concepts.

Domain authority

Explained in simple terms, domain authority is about how many quality pages link to your domain, and how they link to you.

Improving domain authority can involve more than one task. You will not have to change the way you optimize your blog or, follow a different approach all together. Instead, all you have to do is change your process a bit.

Link juice

Like every other person working on building links, I used to comment, write articles, and exchange links with a link to my home page on the anchor text. Things didn’t move until I read an article on building diverse links to the same domain.

I changed my focus and started building links with relevant anchor texts to other pages in the blog. In doing so, I was building a lot of links to my domain name—not just to a single page. Results were good. My domain started to feature for a lot of high-search keywords on almost all the search engines.

When I mention linking and links here, it is not the number of links to a particular page on your blog that I’m talking about. Instead, it’s the number of links to your domain. So, how many links your domain gets as a whole is of extreme importance. At the same time, it’s also important that the links be from other domains and pages that have fewer outbound links from them.

Deep linking

When I built links to the inner pages on my blog, I didn’t realize initially that there was something else that I was doing at the same time.

I was telling the search engines that even the inner pages on my blog had valuable content, and that it should be ranked, too. Gradually I found that my inner pages were getting ranked on search engines. What this also did was ensure that my newest post was ranked much sooner that it was before I started this exercise.

It is not just important to build links. It is important to build deep links. The normal tendency when you build links is to build links to a particular page on your blog; usually it is the home page. We do everything including working on our anchor text, but we forget the fact that in order for us to build trust in the eyes of a search engine, we should have links pointing deep into the blog’s individual pages. Building trust into each of these pages will help build authority around your domain.

Diverse linking

Commenting on do-follow blogs is said to be a good way to obtain links. So people pick a handful of such blogs and keep commenting on them. I, too, did the same. But did this help? Absolutely not! I was creating links from the same domain again and again. Search engines were not impressed, because there was no diversity among those links.

I decided that I should deviate from the norm and do something different. I started building links from all kinds of domains—.org, .info, .edu, .net, .co.in, and so on. The domains were diverse and I did not restrict myself to the handful of do-follow blogs. It took a lot of hard work, but the results were slowly becoming evident. My blog moved up the search engine ranks much faster than I expected.

While the number of links to your domain is important, the kinds of domains that you’re getting these links from is also very important. The more diverse the domains, the better those links are for your domain authority. Hence it is important that you work on striking a balance between the number of links and the diversity of the domains that you are getting the links from.

Domain trust

It is important that the search engines trust that your domain provides value to visitors. It is only then that they will be interested in showing your latest content in their search results. But how is it that you will build this trust?

In order to build this trust, you need to ensure that you do not get involved in any kind of unethical practices. Unethical link building can prove disastrous to your blog.

Linking is one the biggest factors that influence how trustworthy your domain is seen to be.

The frequency of acquiring links, and the quality of the domains that are linking to you are, also equally important. If your new blog acquires a thousand links in just two or three days, it will not be difficult for Google to understand that there is something fishy going on. You can even be banned for spamming. At the same time, if the links you are getting are all from domains that are involved in spamming, the chances are that your domain will also be considered spammy.

You’ll likely receive emails that come from people claiming to be SEO experts for companies, requesting link exchanges. They would be ready to give you links from domains that they say have good PageRank. But It is important that you verify and check the quality of the domain and the PageRank before you accept the request—there are a lot of websites that can help you detect blogs and websites with fake PageRank. The fake page rank detection tool at http://www.build-reciprocal-links.com/fake-rank-checker/ is one I use.

While the kinds of domains that you’re getting links from is important, it is also important to ensure that you do not link to any of these spammy domains. Since you have full control of your site and what shows up on it, linking to a spammy domain can be even worse than getting links from them.

If you can work on building domain trust and thus improve your domain authority, you will be able to get your latest content to appear on search engine results. What experiences have you had with these concepts as you’ve built links for your blog? Share them with us in the comments.

R Kumar is a blogger and Affiliate marketer. You can read more about Internet Entrepreneurship at his blog and subscribe to the RSS feeds to remain updated, or download his Internet marketing package.