A Blog, a Book and a Business: One Author’s Journey

This guest post is by Kevin Cullis of

I don’t like writing. Or should I say, I used to not like writing. My reason? I found no reason to write other than writing a college paper or something for work; it was a requirement; I had to do it.

I was bored with my computer sales job and still had plenty of talent and motivation to do something—but nowhere to channel it.


copyright matttilda -

One day at work I had an idea: use my talents to write about my experience. Initially I had no clue where this was going to lead me, much like spontaneously taking a late night drive on a country road and only seeing as far down the road as your headlights will shine: let’s just head out into the open road of writing and see where it leads!

My book idea

To start, I just began writing, and days turned into weeks. My idea was to combine both business processes and computer solutions into one content document, not separating these into one subject or another and then into finer and finer details like other writers have done.

This writing was different from my previous efforts: I now had an outlet for my pent-up boredom and an engaging interest in my subject matter because it combined both my talents and experience selling computers to businesses.  In addition, I had daily, ready-made access to content and a list of potential readers.

Whenever I came across something relevant in my work, I wrote it down—both the problem and solution. As my writing began to take shape, I organized the information into specific and logical sequential steps for my future potential business readers. My realtor wife even became a guinea pig in my endeavor. When I heard the familiar “Honey, I need some help,” I’d go in to help her, taking notes, and writing the solutions down when I was done.

Now for my blog

One day, a business customer recommended turning my writings into a book, and wondered when it would be done so she could buy one. Until then, it was just a writing idea, but now my idea took on a larger goal: to get a book published. I was now seeing farther down that lonely country road with larger and brighter lights of my writing journey.

In 2009, I started a blog because a fellow author said that during the one to two years it would take to write a book, my writing would improve and change. Talking with other bloggers, I was told that 250-750 words was an appropriate length for a blog post—and similar to having a goal of writing 1000 words a day for a book. Writing a blog would provide another outlet for increasing my monthly goal word output, and improve my writing skills. Later, I found out that blogging allows one to test out content ideas online and provides both personal and additional perspectives for the readers of the book. Also, an author’s blog almost always points to that author’s book.

In the spring of 2010 I attended the Colorado Independent Publishing Association conference and connected with other professionals in the publishing field. There, a local editor suggested that I use an initial (raised or drop) cap in my book design. I couldn’t afford Adobe’s InDesign or to pay someone to help me. I used Apple’s iWork Pages to write my book, and I had to eat my own dog food. But I did not know how to create a drop cap in Pages.

So I spent three hours finding the answer and, rather than lose this experience because of my infrequent use of it, I posted it on my blog. Within weeks it rose to near the top of my most-viewed articles, and still remains one of my most popular blog posts.

Not only were people hungry for my information, but I have personally referred to my site using my own blog to find long forgotten answers to problems. And if I hadn’t blogged about it, I’d have to revisit the process again. Oh, and when I showed my printed proof to the editor, she didn’t believe that I used a $79 office suite to produce what I did until I showed her the file on my laptop. Then she gave me a B+ for my results.

Book, blog, and business working together

As both my book and blog posts progressed, my blogging experience awakened me to how a blog could be more useful for me. Over time I began noticing trends in my blog statistics. An affinity surfaced when I looked at monthly, quarterly, and even yearly post view counts. Using this information, coupled with my day-to-day interaction with business customers needing computers, I was able to get a much clearer vision of my content for both my book and blog.

When I first blogged, I considered it to be like shooting in the dark in terms of working out what to write about, but over time this multi-sourced feedback helped provide me with content direction. Writing my blog also helped change my book’s content to today’s third version. It’s one thing to scratch your own itch, but it’s even more motivating to get actual, statistical feedback from others who have the same itch that needs scratching.

Going forward from today with my blog, I’ll be using Google Analytics and keyword research to help determine what people are looking for, so that I can provide immediate answers to my ideal blog audience. Using this approach will help narrow down my potential content and solve a customer’s points of pain in the short term, but I have also found that it may not provide a good focus for all of my content. Here’s why. Answers people are searching for comes in two forms and everything in between: I know what I want to know (my drop cap example), and, I don’t know what I want to know (I have no clue what to look for).

The first search is easy. The second one is more important, but it’s solved by awareness and education.

So my future content will take on many forms. While some of my blog posts might be the “thrill of the road hot rod” looking for an adventuresome driving experience of immediate answers, be sure that I’ll also provide “slow, steady, reliable transportation” posts to educate my blog readers to find the right answers to their many different journeys and destinations.

AJ Michalka’s song title states it right—It’s Who You Are—so I write my blog posts about my subjects because it’s who I am. And watch out for the occasional spontaneous “road trip” breakout blog post occurring before a long weekend that just might shake things up a bit.

Can you see potential in your work, interests, and life to combine blog, book, and business? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Kevin Cullis is a former US Air Force officer and considers himself an Entrepreneur, Mac
Evangelist, Business Geek, Husband, published author of a Mac business book, readaholic,
analytical, balding. He is the founder of

Optimize the Most Underutilized Page of Your Blog

This guest post is by Richard Adams of WordPress Traffic Explosion.

Whilst it’s easy to get excited about crafting your latest blog post it’s far less likely you’ll be kept awake at night thinking about your blog’s Contact page. Indeed many bloggers don’t even bother to add a Contact page to their blog at all—but this can be a big mistake. As you’re about to discover, when contact pages are done right, they can become one of the most important parts of your entire blog…

The importance of your contact page


Image copyright kpwerker, licensed under Creative Commons

A key blogging concept that sets it apart from running a standard static website is the “community” element. Blogs are built for discussion and networking and any blog worth its salt will have a group of like-minded subscribers reading and contributing on a regular basis.

In the same vein, your Contact page is just one more way to interact with your blog visitors. Here are just a few of the many types of email you might get as a result of having a contact page—just take a look at all these benefits.

Site problems

Spelling mistakes. Grammatical errors. Broken links. Strange page alignments. Despite your best efforts sooner or later a few issues are likely to creep into your blog, either because you failed to proofread your writing before publishing, or because of changes to old posts that you haven’t noticed (such as the removal of photos you’ve linked to, affiliate programs closing down, or linked websites changing their site structure).

Sure, it can be both a little frustrating and embarrassing when someone contacts you to say that something isn’t quite right on your site but would you rather resolve the issue or leave the problem to run for the foreseeable future?

Making it easy to contact you allows your visitors to report any problems they are having with your site. That enables you to not only quickly resolve these, but to really take care of your readers by responding to thank them for the heads-up, apologizing for the situation, and telling them what you’ve done to resolve their problem.

Product review requests

Anyone releasing new products—from publishers to manufacturers—likes to get feedback on new products. It not only helps them make their product the very best it can be, but can also help to make their latest release more visible to potential consumers.

A highly-visible blog written by someone who clearly knows what are talking about can be an ideal avenue for this. It’s not uncommon for the blogger to be contacted in person and offered free products to look at that closely relate to the subject of their blog.

Without a Contact page, you make it very difficult for anyone to offer these to you. You miss out on potentially interesting and unique content, and freebies too!

Affiliate program invitations

The most profitable affiliate campaign I have ever run was as a result of being approached through the Contact form on one of my blogs. The gentleman who contacted me was one of the founders of a well-known online company who had since sold it and was setting up a new venture. He’d tweaked his sales process to within an inch of its life and was looking for a few beta testers.

That one affiliate program replaced my full-time income the day I added the links to my site.

And it was all because I ran a visible blog and was easy to contact. Without my Contact form, I’d never have been invited to join this “private” affiliate program and would be literally tens of thousands of dollars worse off.

Visitor questions

Ever wonder what your blog visitors really want to read about? Ever spend hours working on a post only for it to get little or no response from your subscribers?

Actually getting out there and surrounding yourself with your readers is one of the very best ways to create a uniquely tailored blog that’s perfectly in line with the interests and expectations of your audience.

And one ideal way to understand your visitors better is quite simply to pay attention to the questions you get asked. Look for common themes that you’re asked about on a regular basis and construct blog posts that specifically target these.

Advertising inquiries

A friend of mine with a small travel blog recently got contacted by an online advertising company which offered her a monthly advertising deal that, by itself, is equivalent to around 50% of the salary from her job. And all she has to do is paste a few adverts into her blog—a job that will take a few hours at most.

A 50% pay rise just for being easy to contact? Yes, contact pages really can bring in some amazing opportunities.

Media inquiries

The media constantly needs “experts”—for interviewing, fact-checking, raising awareness, consultancy and so on—and a visible and easily-contactable blogger makes a perfect target for these media professionals.

All these benefits from having a contact page on your blog that’s easy to find and encourages feedback? Hopefully you’re starting to see why you need to overhaul your Contact page! But what should you do to make the most of all these opportunities?

Contact page best practices

Make it easy to find

The first step with publishing a Contact page is to make it easy to find. Ensure that anyone who wants to contact you can quickly and easily find your Contact page.

A great service for helping you understand how easy your website is to use is UserTesting, where real visitors who have never been to your website are set assignments (such as “Find my Contact page”). They carry out these challenges on video while describing their thoughts so you can exactly how real-life visitors view your site, and how easy it is to navigate.

Encourage feedback

A well-designed Contact page doesn’t just provide information on how to get in touch with you—it actively encourages anyone reading your page to drop you a line. Let it be known that you love to hear from your readers, that you’re a real person and that you genuinely value their feedback.

Set realistic expectations

What should your visitors expect when they contact you? Try to improve the whole experience for your readers by giving advice on how long it normally takes you to respond to different types of queries, what type of contact you encourage (and what you simply don’t have the time to respond to), and so on.

Even consider giving tips on how you like to be contacted. For example do you prefer email, phone, Twitter, or Facebook? Do you prefer detailed messages, or short, to-the-point contacts? Are there any essential elements that your visitors need to ensure they include in their message to you?

List your social media profiles

Too many contact pages simply provide an email address on which you can be contacted. However, if you’re a blogger you’re probably involved in social media in a variety of ways, so your Contact page is another great place to list these profiles, thus offering more opportunities for interaction and growing your social network.

Add a Contact form

There are two problems with simply providing an email address on your Contact page. The first is that there is a risk your email address will be harvested by spammers who will then bombard you with junk email. The other is quite simply that you make it more difficult for people to contact you—and as a result you will reduce the number of messages you receive.

While it seems like a tiny thing having a Contact form that readers can fill in and send straight from your Contact page will make life significantly easier for your visitors and so encourage them to contact you.

Does your blog have a contact page? Has it helped you connect with your readers, the media, and others? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Find out how Richard Adams generates over 232,000 free visitors to his blogs per year at WordPress Traffic Explosion or visit his lifestyle design blog for tips on building an online business around your passions.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Blogging in College

This guest post is by Rob Paone of BROcrastinator.

In March of 2010, during my sophomore year at Elon University, I started a blog called the Jersey Jets Fan as a way to exercise my passion for professional football. What originally started as a hobby evolved into much more than that, as I constantly looked to further promote my blog and slowly began to monetize the site.

In January 2011, I launched my second blog, in hopes of capturing a large piece of the male college demographic. While, I’ve had varying degrees of success and made a few dollars along the way, I’ve learned a lot about the blogosphere. Balancing the work load of college as well as maintaining a full-time blog is a difficult thing to do and it certainly has its benefits and pit-falls. Here they are, according to yours truly.


Real business experience

College is a time in which you’re supposed to learn everything you need to adequately survive in the real world. As a marketing student, I’ve learned my fair share of terms, equations and statistics in college, but only blogging has given me the real world experience that will help me to become successful in the business world.

In the past year and a half blogging, I’ve joined various affiliate networks, spoken with a ton of potential advertisers, hired/fired/kept bloggers, worked with different partner sites and created business opportunities for myself on the way. I’ve never made a lot of money, but it’s been enough to offset the costs of up-keep on my blogs and even to splurge on a few items like new golf clubs.

Resume booster

Whether you’re applying for an internship in the summer, grad school or a full-time job, include your blog in your resume. When I was applying for an internship in sports marketing, my experience as a blogger with the Jersey Jets Fan was one of the key factors that generated employer interest.

A lot of people say they are interested in a subject or have experience in something, but not many people have the dedication to maintain and run an effective blog. If you do, don’t be ashamed, write about it in your resume and it might help you earn that job you’ve been striving for.

Self-esteem booster

Never in a million years when I started blogging did I ever believe my articles would be featured on Sports Illustrated or talked about on the New York Times website. It truly gives you a sense of accomplishment when you work hard and someone notices by featuring your work.

As a blogger who only gets around 400 views a day, sometimes I get discouraged when reading the “quick and easy” success stories of other bloggers who reach a million views overnight. Even though I’ve never had a viral post or even broken 1,000 views in a day, it makes you feel good when someone acknowledges your work.


Lack of time

While I originally started a blog because I had spare time in college, I soon realized the amount of spare time I had wasn’t enough to take my blogs to where I wanted them to go. There were points in time in which I was too spread out, writing for too many blogs, concentrating on too many social media sites, talking in too many forums. You only have so many hours in a day, and I’ve learned that you must spend them wisely on what works well for you.

At one point, I was writing for a prestigious New York Jets blog in addition to my own. While I was at first honored by the opportunity and experience, I didn’t have enough time to put full effort into both. Something had to give and as much as it pained me, the prestigious blog wasn’t as important to me as my college grades or my own blog.

Lack of capital

Like many of you, one of the reasons I began to blog was because of the chance to make money. I was never hoping for much, just enough for some spending cash on the weekends. However, there have been times when I started to believe the saying, “You have to spend money to make money”. Well, like I just told you, I am cash strapped college kid with a few spare dollars here and there but nothing significant. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to launch a good looking website with about $100 while others out there are spending thousands.

I’m aware that my blogs aren’t the prettiest thing your eye has ever seen, but I’ve done my best with the money and technological skills I’ve had. While some older bloggers may have the spare cash to drop $10,000 on a beautiful looking website, college bloggers might have to quit at a $50 premium theme. I’m not saying you need money to build a good looking and successful blog, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Overcoming the difficulties

When blogging in college, or on any time constraint, it’s important to make sure you know your priorities. While I place school work over blogging, when I’m not studying, I use that time to advance my blog. I actually spend a lot less time doing school work then I did before blogging because I know I have additional work to attend to when I’m done. The most difficult times can occur during mid-terms and final exams when the stress of multiple classes all come crashing down at once. Sometimes, you just have to put your blogging goals on the backburner for a week, even if your visits and page views have to suffer.

In regards to the lack of money many bloggers have, I’ve learned to make the best with what you have. I originally started with a free WordPress theme and then moved on to a Thesis theme with a premium skin as my blogs advanced. By re-investing almost all of the money my sites have earned, I’ve been able to improve the design and even spend a little money on advertising. While I sometimes wish I had thousands of dollars to spend on my blogs, the reality is I don’t. However, with some smart money management and a little creativity, you can stretch your dollar and take it a long way.

There you have it, those are some of my main advantages and disadvantages to the college blogger. I hope I’ve shed some light on the topic, especially to you college students out there who are looking to potentially start a blog. It’s a tough thing to do, but it is certainly well worth it. I’ve found in blogging that you only get out as much as you put in, but if you put forth a ton of effort, you can find huge rewards.

Rob is an up-coming college senior, blogger and wanna-be entrepreneur. He is currently working on his second blog, BROcrastinator, and working toward his dream of blogging full-time after graduation.

4 Success Secrets of Infamous British Author, Jeffery Archer

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of

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

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

Lesson 1: Blog about what you know

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

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

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

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

Lesson 2: Be persistent

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

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

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

Lesson 3: Be a storyteller

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

What is the difference?

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

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

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

Lesson 4: Understand the importance of the inner circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Comprehensive Post on SEO

This guest posst is by Kole McRae of Office Buddha.

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

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

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

Meta tags

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

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

The Description tag

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

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

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

The Title tag

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

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


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


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

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

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

Building links

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

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

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

Guest posts

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


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

Viral content

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

Social signals

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

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

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

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

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

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

This guest posy is by M.Farouk Radwan of

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 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

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



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.


copyright laurent hamels -

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.