5 Fantastic Reasons You Should Attend a Blogging Conference

This guest post is by Ceri Usmar of Enduracom.

I know what you’re thinking… Who has time for a conference? You do!

You can and should carve out the time for some professional development, and conferences are a great opportunity to combine work and play.

I headed off to the SheCon Expo new media conference in Disneyworld, Orlando, with my business partner, Susan, this past Memorial Day weekend. We went fully prepared to combine business and a break, and from our mindsets to our wardrobes, we were ready for anything!

In its second year, SheCon is still a relatively small conference (compared with, say, the fall BlogHer conference in New York), but regardless of the size of a conference, the reasons for going don’t change.

Here are my five favorite reasons you should put a conference on your blogging calendar.

1. Fun

I start with fun because my credo is, “If it’s not fun I’m not doing it.” Susan is the embodiment of fun. She had some cute, cool, crazy ideas for SheCon that really upped the ante for an enjoyable time.

We matched our nail color to the corporate blue of our “transparent” business cards, which added panache to passing them out (even guys noticed) and worked as a conversation catalyst. We had shirts made that got people talking to us about who-we-are-what-we-do, and we made movies of literally everything. It’s always fun meeting people and even funner making movies with them, and posting them to boost their brands (and ours!)

Aside from our own endeavors, conference sponsors and attendees almost always build fun events into their schedules. We made the most of sponsored events like the party meet up thrown by Wine Sisterhood (who wouldn’t go to something sponsored by a wine company?) and gifting suites with massages and makeovers (what’s not to love about that?).

Exhibitors at conferences also show up with gadgets and gimmicks to go viral: they film you, photograph you, and record you interacting with their brand, and you can post all that online. They create buzz around their booths, and run contests and sweepstakes with cool prizes in exchange for your tweets and blogs—flat-out fun in my book!

2. Free stuff

I have to put in a disclaimer here: not all conferences give great freebies, and not all conferences give any at all. Blogging conferences tend to because brands want to tap into your influence—but it should go without saying that you are not obligated to blog about everything you get (and neither should you.)

Select the items that fit your audience and brand, and keep the rest as gifts or treats. At SheCon, mom bloggers were enamored of the kid stuff: Elmo toys, Cuddleuppets (my daughter’s fave), Justin Bieber Guitar Hero. Swag bags with tech toys and toiletries caught my fancy.

Expo exhibitors threw in their promos too: “green” shopping bags, high end hair care products, food and beverages—yummo! The cool thing about free stuff is that if it’s a fit for your blog or following, it’s also fuel for fresh and effortless content.

3. Finding friends and followers

If you’re looking for a targeted affiliate, a consultant, a strategic partner, or a few like-minded bloggers, you can find them at a conference. Introverted? You might have to dig deep or even fake it till you get comfortable networking (or you could always go to the wine-sponsored event, and courteously taste their wares until you’re loosened up enough to get it done!).

Aside from connecting at the water cooler or conversing over lunch, Twitter parties and other virtual meet-ups are all the rage at conferences now, and you can fortify your following right on the spot.

4. Footsteps to follow

There’s nowhere better than a conference to learn live from the pros. Any session—even those that don’t look useful to you—has merit, so don’t judge a session by its title: nine times out of ten I can take away a tidbit that tweaks what I’m doing for the better even from an apparently dud session.

Following in the footsteps of the experts in your field gives you a leg-up so you can stand on the shoulders of the giants, short-circuit your learning curve, and streamline your path to (greater) success.

5. Financial gain

Let’s be honest, attending a blogging conference is ultimately about making money, and I have never attended a one that does not have at least one session devoted to monetizing your blog.

Be sure to make up your mind beforehand to focus on free stuff, fun, and friends that will bolster your bottom line: keeping this in mind will keep the quality and balance in your conference activities and ensure that you can build your business through the contacts you make and the information you take from the event.

Of course, there are more than five reasons to carve out a few days for a conference. I double-dare you to go on and Google blogging conferences that might be up your alley. And then go to one.

If you’ve been to a conference, share what you got out of it in the comments.

Ceri Usmar is from Enduracom and Enduracom maximizes your visibility by maintaining, updating, and optimizing your online presence. Our social media and writing pros generate content, articles, and blogs to take your social engagement to the next level.

The Naked Marketing Guide to Getting Dramatically More Traffic and Subscribers

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Let’s be real for a second.

There’s a lot of information out there about traffic. Tons of it. Entire blogs. Some good, some bad, and some just in between. And tons of posts about it, too—including right here on this blog.

So with all this information out there, let me ask you something:

Do you have all the traffic you want?

Hmmm, I thought not.

Okay, then just what the heck is going on? Why isn’t any of this working?!

Maybe your traffic problem … isn’t a traffic problem!

Considering all of the great information that’s out there about getting traffic, if you haven’t been able to use any of it to actually get some then odds are that your problem isn’t a traffic problem at all.

It’s not about how you’re using Facebook or YouTube, or your Twitter strategy, or even your SEO activities. None of it.

What you probably have is a marketing problem.

You see, all of the traffic generating tools and tips generally work if they’re used correctly within a larger marketing framework. Without having that kind of framework, there’s no way to even know if you’re using Facebook, Twitter, or anything else in the right way.

It’s really, really tempting to look at your problem as a tactic gone wrong. It would be so much easier to fix, wouldn’t it?

If you found out your Twitter headlines weren’t captivating enough, then you could fix them and the problem would disappear. Of course, that’s usually not the issue, and you’re much more likely to spend weeks, months, or longer tweaking and testing things that won’t make a bit of difference.

Take it from me—save yourself the frustration and look at the bigger picture!

The naked marketing guide to traffic that converts

One of the biggest problems with marketing is that anyone who reads a book or a blog post thinks they’ve got it. They’re suddenly an expert.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “everyone’s a writer?”, generally said with a wince and an eye role. Well it’s the same with marketing. Feel free to wince and roll your eyes.

The truth is that most people aren’t expert marketers. They might know some terms and basic concepts, like maybe the Four Ps of Marketing—but very few actually know what those concepts really mean, or how to use them in their business.

That’s where naked marketing comes into the picture—it will make you a dramatically better marketer by helping you understand why you’re going to be doing certain things, and how they all fit into the larger plan for your business.

Without, I might add, any of the jargon, cheap theory, or techno-babble that usually passes for marketing instruction.

We don’t have time to waste, so let’s get started. The first thing you need to do to start using naked marketing is to figure out who turns you on. Yep. This is going to be fun!

So, who’s your type, really?

Don’t worry—we’re not actually talking about fishing for singles! That would be another post entirely.

But in all honesty, the very first step in getting more, better traffic—traffic that converts—is to figure out the one person you should be writing for. I’m talking about that holy grail of readers: the single individual who was made for you, your business and, of course, your blog.

Spend some significant time creating a customer profile that includes everything from their age, gender, location, and income, all the way to their hopes and dreams, favorite books, and frequency of eating tofu for dinner.

If you put in the time doing this, it’s a short leap to imagine where they hang out—both online and offline.

Are they likely a Twitter user? Maybe they spend more time on Facebook? Maybe they use LinkedIn, or even MySpace. Wherever they spend their time online is going to be the best source of traffic for you.

It’s not rocket science—get to know them so you can figure out where they’ll be. And then? Be there!

How to be sexy to them

Okay, all that work you just did, finding out who your one best person is and where they’re going to be? It doesn’t matter unless you’re giving them the right message.

Getting naked is always a two-way street, and you can’t just show up at the party, strip down and demand the same. (Not at most parties, anyway.)

It’s time to bring out your A game. You know what your best traffic source is likely to be, so you’ve got to pull out all the stops and create content and messaging that will be downright irresistible to your one person. So irresistible that they stop and look.

The good news is that this isn’t even all that hard, really.

Think back to the last headline you read that got your attention. How did it do that? What grabbed your interest? I’m willing to bet that it offered you something you wanted in a place that you happened to be. So do the same, and you’ll have your audience’s attention.

But of course, attention isn’t enough. Attention has to turn into desire before their attention is grabbed by something or someone else!

How to evoke desire that prompts action

Getting attention isn’t enough, of course. You want your new reader and potential customer to do something—to engage with you a little. You want them to be interested enough to take action.

Messages (a tweet, a forum post, a status update—whatever) are sexy enough to prompt action when they speak to a problem that your ideal customer has, and promise a solution. Or when they tickle their funny bones and promise more laughs. Or offer a taste of information that they want more of.

Get the idea?

You know who you’re talking to, and you know what turns them on, too—now give them what they want!

This is very powerful, because you’ll be starting a cycle in which you promise something good in exchange for a little effort on their part. At first, it’s going to be a deliciously scintillating headline that promises a fantastic bit of information if they click on it. Once that happens, the ball is back in your court, and you make another offer in exchange for another action.

You never ask for something that is unreasonable given the strength of the current relationship, and with each step in the process you reward them past their expectations, and their commitment to you deepens further and further.

In plain English, that means that they’ll start by reading your headline, then make it back to your website, then subscribe, and then buy everything that you’re selling.

Do you look great naked?

So, are you doing this already? Are you irresistible to your target market, and are they happily consuming the content that you give them? Are you getting the traffic you want from the sources you’re using?

If you are, then congratulations!

But if you’re not, then it might be time to give your marketing a thorough review—strip it bare, see what’s working, and toss out what isn’t. You won’t believe the difference a little “nudity” will make in your marketing!

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, and the co-author (with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, and many others) of Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or as a free download). The latest and greatest thing you can get from him (for free, of course) is his Naked Marketing Manifesto, about marketing that really works!

Secure Your WordPress Blog Without Touching Any Code

This guest post is by Karol K of ThemeFuse.

Right now WordPress powers 48 of the top 100 blogs online. More than that, WordPress actually powers 19% of the web as a whole.

Essentially, this is great. Such a strong community of users and developers means that the platform is sure to evolve even further and provide us with lots of cool features that are yet to be developed.

Unfortunately, this creates some dangers as well… Whenever there’s a big number of people trying to make something happen, there’s another group of people trying to take it all down.

The cases where a blog owner loses complete access to their site are not uncommon. Actually, sometimes even whole domains get hijacked, and I honestly have no idea on how that’s done.

But we don’t have to know how hijacking a domain or stealing a blog works to be able to implement some basic security precautions. And that is exactly what this post is about—making your blog secure without playing with source code, understanding things, and stuff.

Typical WordPress security problems

WordPress as a whole (a website management platform) is very well designed. It doesn’t have any preposterous security issues that beginning programmers could exploit. The problems, however, arise when you try to tweak your installation of WordPress by adding new plugins or themes, implementing hacks, or doing anything else that interferes with WordPress.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should settle for the default installation, not use any plugins, and only blog using the default theme. What it means is that you simply need to be careful when installing new stuff on your blog, as well as when setting up your blog for the first time.

Let’s start by discussing some of the common security problems you’ll need to handle.

The basics

Excuse me for being obvious, but you really need to start with proper usernames and passwords for your user accounts. Everyone realizes the importance of this, but not as many people implement the best practices.

You must use complex passwords—letters, numbers, special characters, spaces—and usernames that are not obvious. A password of “admin,” for example, is extra-obvious.

For more information on account security, see my recent guest post here on ProBlogger, which explained user accounts and roles, and how to set them up properly.

The name of the next problem in line: shady, untested plugins. WordPress plugins have a fair amount of power over how your WordPress installation works. If a plugin contains some buggy code, it can crash your blog completely. The same goes for code that’s not secure. Finally, if one of your plugins doesn’t implement any security features, it can become the point of entry for malicious bots or direct attacks by hackers.

Remember, the weakest link is where the chain breaks. You only need one low-quality plugin to get into trouble.

The advice I have here is: don’t use any plugin that hasn’t been updated in a while, or hasn’t been officially tested with the newest version of WordPress. Being up to date is always the best precaution. Also, plugins that are more popular are usually more secure as well.

There’s one more big issue we have to in terms of shady code, and that’s WordPress themes. I will say this again—and I’m not sorry for it—free themes are evil.

Well okay, not all of them. There are two kinds of free themes: (1) the good ones, released by quality theme stores as a way of attracting new customers by spreading one or two great free themes, (2) the evil ones made primarily to look great, attract many users, and use the space in the footer for SEO purposes.

These SEO-focused themes often use some strange, encrypted PHP code that can’t be removed, otherwise the theme stops working. This code usually displays search-optimized links (sometimes in an invisible font).

You never, let me repeat, never want to have encrypted code on your site. Even when you get the theme for free in exchange for hosting this encrypted section, it’s not worth it.

If you’re planning to use your WordPress site as the base of your online business then buying a quality theme is a must. If you have a bigger budget, you could even hire a developer to build your theme on top of some popular theme framework.

Since we’ve now covered the basics—user accounts, plugins, and themes—let’s look into some of the things that you can do to actively make your blog more secure.

Steps to better security

First, let’s talk through some of the best practices in terms of security. Then, let me show you some cool security plugins.

Hosting security

Yes, it all starts here. The story is similar to the one about WordPress themes: if you want to have a secure environment, you simply need to invest money. Don’t use free hosting.

Make sure that your web host implements basic security features and that it has good reviews among users (search on forums; Google is likely to display only affiliate reviews, which aren’t always credible).

Secure your own machine first

This is not something that comes to mind immediately when we’re talking WordPress security, is it? But what’s the point of securing your WordPress installation on the host if you have a malicious key-logger installed on your computer that will pick up your password and send it to the attacker?

You always need to start by securing the machine you’re using to connect with your WordPress blog. There are many good antivirus apps available, so I won’t discuss this any further. Just keep in mind that this issue is equally as important as anything else described in this post.

Update, update, update

Update WordPress. Update your plugins. Update your theme. Try to install these updates immediately after the alert apepars in your Dashboard.

Here’s why. Fixes to new bugs and security holes are always a big part of every update. The minute an update gets released, all the changes are announced in the official doc that goes along with the update.

If a hacker wants to attack a site that hasn’t been updated yet, they just have to take a look at the document, do a little research and tackle the holes that the new version fixes.

For example, here’s an excerpt from the information on the newest version of WordPress:

“WordPress 3.3.2 also addresses: Limited privilege escalation where a site administrator could deactivate network-wide plugins when running a WordPress network under particular circumstances, disclosed by Jon Cave of our WordPress core security team, and Adam Backstrom.”

Essentially, such information is a guide for hackers on how to attack outdated sites. So be sure to update everything, without delay.

Back up regularly

No one likes to get hacked, but we can’t assume that it won’t ever happen. You always should have an up-to-date backup of your WordPress site, just in case something goes wrong and you have to restore your blog.

You can do backups manually, or you can sign up to a paid service or simply get a plugin to do this for you (more on this later).

Delete plugins you don’t use

There’s no point in occupying your server’s resources with stuff you don’t use. The same advice applies to themes. Leave just the theme your blog uses, and delete the rest (you can leave the default theme, just in case).

Handy plugins to improve your blog’s security

Everybody loves them some cool plugins, right?! So here’s a list of the ones I recommend you use to make your blog more secure:

  • AntiVirus: This plugin protects your blog against exploits, malware, and spam injections. It scans your theme’s files and notifies you if anything suspicious is going on.
  • Online Backup for WordPress: This app is the one I use for my backups. You can use a schedule or perform backups by hand, and have them sent to your email address or made downloadable. The plugin backs up the database as well as the file system.
  • Secure WordPress: This is where you stop scanning and start acting! This plugin performs a number of security tweaks to your blog. There’s no point in listing them here, so I invite you to check for yourself. Also, you can choose which ones you want to enable and which you don’t need.
  • BulletProof Security: The list of things this plugin does is quite impressive. It’s a really serious piece of software. Just to name a few features: protection against XSS, RFI, CRLF, CSRF, Base64, Code Injection and SQL Injection hacking attempts, one-click htaccess protection, wp-config.php protection, and loads of other tweaks. It’s really worth looking into.
  • Hide Login: This plugin has a very simple idea behind it. You can use it to hide your login page. In other words, it creates a custom login URL. It also lets you create a custom admin URL (instead of, and a custom logout URL.

Other considerations

Content security

Your content is the most valuable asset on your blog. You naturally don’t want it to get stolen by some evil content scrapers and SEO marketers who just want to launch thousands of sites with content from various RSS feeds.

Unfortunately, you can’t protect against this completely. There’s always a danger that someone can steal your content and republish it without attribution. But you can make it just a little harder, or at least let everyone know that your content is protected.

Try checking Copyscape. It’s a service that searches for copies of your content around the internet. If it finds some, you get an alert and some instructions on how to get it taken down. Copyscape offers a couple of different services, so it’s good to pay them a visit and choose one that suits you best.

The just-in-case approach

No matter what you do to protect your blog, something bad is always possible. That’s why you need to have a strategy set in place for the time when something goes wrong, and you need to act fast.

I invite you to check out two of my own: how to restore your blog after a crash, and what to do when you lose access to your blog. And I truly hope that you’ll never have to use either of these guides.

How secure is your blog?

There you have it. I think that’s it when it comes to securing your WordPress site without going into code and implementing various tweaks manually. There’s always a never-ending stream of things you can do, but if you take care of just the ones described here you’ll have a pretty secure blog, and you’ll be ready in case something bad happens.

How diligent are you when it comes to your blog’s security? And what security tweaks would you add to this list?

Karol K. is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a writer at, where he shares various WordPress advice. Currently, he’s working on a new e-book titled “WordPress Startup Guide – little known things worth doing when creating a WordPress site.” The e-book launches soon, and now the best part … it’s free. Also, don’t forget to visit ThemeFuse to get your hands on some premium WordPress themes.

5 Surefire Ways to Never Get Noticed by Anybody

This guest post is by Steve of

I’m a quiet man. Shy in some circumstances. I like my own company and my own time.

Left unchecked, these qualities would be enough to ensure that I lived out the rest of my life as a small man in a tiresome job, never making a difference and never getting noticed by anybody.

But I can’t imagine a worse hell than that. Really, I can’t.

I know that I’ll never leave my fingerprints on the world unless I deliberately engage with it, and I’ll never put my dent in the universe unless I get out there and punch at the edges. You need to leave a trace; you need to affect the world; you need to be in the light.

Here’s how people spend their lives in the shadows without ever being noticed.

1. Don’t pay attention to what matters

The most unhappy people on the planet are those who don’t listen to and don’t pursue what matters to them most. They won’t have set out to be unhappy, they’ll simply have their lives eroded by the continual exclusion of what matters to them in preference of what they think they ought to be doing.

What matters to you is what counts.  What matters to you amounts to a hill o’ beans.  What matters to you is enough.

You always notice someone who honours, expresses and demonstrates the things that matter most to them.

2. Don’t stick your neck out

Raising your head above the parapet might just get you an arrow right in the kisser. So valuing your face, you decide to stay put, crouched behind the safety of the castle wall and safe from the vicious marauders.

Only thing is, there’s a whole world beyond those walls. A world that needs you to be a part of it and people who want to see you rise. Safety is too high a price to pay for dying a long, slow death.

You always notice someone who stands up when everyone else remains seated.

3. Don’t show any heart

Science and logic are good allies to have these days. Building a high-converting sales page, writing magnetic headlines and creating a solid business plan are all good things to do among many others, but if those things become your sole focus then you’ve already lost.

You become so focused on the cogs, levers and whirring wheels that you lose site of why you switched the contraption on in the first place. You’re so busy operating the machine that the difference it can make becomes forgotten.

You always notice someone who weaves heart, honesty and vulnerability and into their actions.

4. Don’t raise the stakes

There’s no prize for running the three meter sprint. You don’t get an award for writing a dirty limerick. There’s not much point in attempting the perilous trek across your back yard for charity.

The easy stuff is easy; any Tom, Dick, or Harriette can nail it without thinking too hard or risking much of anything. But if there’s nothing at stake for you personally then are you really in the game or just treading water and kidding yourself about the waves you’re making?

You always notice someone who’s willing to risk their world for what they believe.

5. Don’t innovate

When life gives you lemons, what do you do? Do you make lemonade, or do you complain that you really wanted to make a peach cobbler and that the large pile of lemons on your floor is just too yellow and lemony?

If lemonade isn’t your thing, make a lemon meringue pie. Make candied lemons. Make a to-scale model of the Taj Mahal out of the darn things if you want to. You don’t have to do what’s expected or what everyone else does. You can create something wild, unpredictable or unexpected from what you already have.

You always notice someone who builds something surprising from what’s right in front of them.

So. What’s your next move?

Steve is a superstar confidence coach who helps you build an extraordinary life. He also makes a fantastic ragu, and while he can’t promise you a batch he’ll promise to help you put your dent in the universe, which is probably a better deal.  Get more of him on Twitter and Facebook.

14 Proven Ways to Simplify Your Blogging and Get More Done

This guest post is by Nick Thacker of

We’ve all had that feeling of impending doom: “My readers are expecting me to post tomorrow, but I haven’t even answered my emails, check my Analytics stats, or responded to the Twitter shout-outs. There’s just no way I can get it all done…”

Or something like that.

If you’ve ever felt like the pressures of maintaining a blog—not to mention the rest of your business—are becoming too much, it could be time to simplify what you’re doing.

Here are 14 proven methods for getting more blogging done in less time. And what’s best: these methods will allow you to write better posts than you ever thought possible, while exerting less overall effort.

  1. Write things down: Not just blog posts, either. Keep a journal close at hand, and try to just write down your thoughts as they come to you. I’ve been trying this at work and at home—I have a Moleskine notebook that I keep nearby, and I’ll write down ideas, thoughts, and action items throughout my day. The result? I’m able to think clearly and concisely when it’s time to write a 2,000-word blog post, or send a newsletter to my subscribers. Writing things down (physically, on paper) keeps you from having to remember everything, too. If it’s on paper, it doesn’t need to be in your head.
  2. Set a schedule: Keep a strict schedule if you can, using whatever tools help you stay on task and focused. Don’t let minor distractions keep you from working, and if at all possible, write it down. Writing down your schedule helps, again, to keep it out of your head so you don’t have to spend energy memorizing it. It also lets you visually see your time—allowing you to know where you are throughout your day and week. Make sure to give yourself personal time first, and stick to it. Schedule your own downtime, and don’t spend it checking email, talking on the phone, or browsing through your competitors’ blogs. Use it to hang out with friends or family, or just stop and think for 15-20 minutes. It’s liberating.
  3. Use systems: Blogging, done well, is a business. There are routine—sometimes mundane—tasks, and there are those that invigorate us and make us want to spend all our energy on them. At every point, try to create and leverage systems in your blogging. I wrote this post a long time ago, but it’s still relevant to systemizing our blogging processes.
  4. “Front-load” your time: “Front-load” your time in the week, and every day. Plan the larger, more thought-intensive or labor-intensive tasks for earlier in the week, and first thing in the morning. Tackle the harder stuff first, and as the week moves toward the weekend, you’ll feel much more productive, energized, and motivated knowing that you’ve already taken care of the big stuff.
  5. Keep a “headline bucket:” I have an Evernote notebook called Blog Post Ideas that’s simply an ongoing, unorganized list of possible blog post topics. Since I have Evernote on my phone, I can add a blog post idea to it anywhere I am, no matter what. Keeping a “bucket” of ideas prevents you from needing to scramble for ideas when you’re ready to write. Plus, I often find that the best ideas somehow “drift” to the top of my bucket—meaning I can work on them in my head for awhile before I need them. When it’s time to write, the words are already there—it’s just a matter of writing them down fast enough!
  6. Switch your blog with your newsletter: If you have a newsletter that has different content than your blog (and I believe you should, or what’s the point?), consider using an old newsletter article on your blog, and a blog post lost in the archives for your newsletter. Don’t just republish as-is, though—make the newsletter article seem more “bloggy” (or in whatever style your blog is written), and vice versa. This tactic is one I use regularly—it helps me keep my messaging focused and on-target, and it certainly helps strengthen my readership on both fronts.
  7. Steal an idea: Good artists borrow, but the best artists steal. Obviously you can’t blatantly rip-off someone else’s hard work. Don’t steal word-for-word, but take a popular idea you like, read everything you can about it, and then write a post about it, in your own words. Even though it might seem like you’re ripping someone off, there’s a good chance that you’ve subconsciously put your own stylistic spin on it. When I’m pressed for time, I’ll visit some of my favorite sites to see what headlines and topics are working well, and write my own ideas on the subject.
  8. Leverage your readership: I talk a lot about leverage on my own site and over at, and there’s a reason: the best creators out there don’t do every last thing themselves—they ask for help. Even though they’re the ones creating the content, art, or business, they will eventually need help vetting emails, maintaining their website, or keeping the books. Most of us already have a powerful tool at our disposal: our readers. Ask them for help. Maybe you can invite a young kid to help you go through your emails every other day, forwarding the “to respond” ones to you, and following through with the rest (if Darren had asked me to do this five years ago when I was getting started, I would have jumped at the opportunity!). Be careful to not insult them, though—don’t send the message that you expect something more from them—after all, they did sign up for your list, right?
  9. Ask for guest posts: Part of leveraging your readership can be asking for guest posting submissions. One of the things I hear a lot of bloggers ranting about is the lack of quality and depth of guest posts, and therefore they won’t consider “opening their blog to submissions.” This doesn’t make sense to me. Instead, ask for submissions and give clear guidelines as to what you expect from them. Then, if the submissions are terrible, just say “no thanks.” Worst-case scenario? You don’t have any publishable posts from guests. Best case? You have a bunch of posts you can use when you’re feeling behind or burnt-out.
  10. Reuse an old post: Don’t just recycle old content in lieu of writing new stuff—take an old post, make it relevant to today’s world if need be, and then add a few new ideas to it. Spend the time on it that you might spend writing a brand new post, and make it seem bigger and better than it was before. Give it a new headline, or write an updated intro or conclusion. Then, work in a great call to action that promotes a new product line or asks readers for input, and add a few new pictures to it.
  11. “Talk” your posts: This is a strategy I’ve been trying more often, as I’m currently writing my second fiction thriller novel. Dragon Naturally Speaking software has a cool app that lets you speak your words into the computer. Jon Morrow of does this, and he’s an awesome writer. Admittedly, it takes a little while to get set up and dictating properly, but once I got it into working order, I was able to write a few posts per night in one sitting. If this isn’t “leveraging our time and energy,” I don’t know what is!
  12. Make a random connection to find an idea: There are plenty of great posts on writing great headlines, and even more on finding ideas, but I wanted to include this little gem of wisdom that Danny Iny pointed out to me a while back: Take two unrelated things, and make them work together. For example, “What The Swamp Monster Can Teach You About Blogging” or “Why Juicyfruit Gum Is Like Car Maintenance.” I just made those up, and already I’m fighting my creative brain’s desire to come up with reasons why a random monster would be a great blogger. See how awesome that is?
  13. Forget about blogging: One of the things I noticed when I started to blog regularly was that I was thinking of everything in terms of, “ooh, what a great blog post idea!” At the movies? Why not post about how the protagonist would make a great headline-writer with all of those quirky one-liners? It can get overwhelming thinking like this, and it’s healthy and helpful to take a moment and forget about your blog. Try to meditate, or rest, or just “hang out,” and let the blog post ideas come to you, not the other way around.
  14. Take a break: Lastly, I wanted to mention the one thing that we all need to do, at least somewhat regularly: take a break. You don’t have to quit, or give up, or even take a vacation, but take a short break from your blog. It’s your job, right? Think of it this way: you’ll eventually need a break from anything that’s worth doing, at least to get your mind refocused and ready for the next steps. Plan this “break” into your week or month (or year, if you have to wait that long) and then make it worthwhile.

Blogging is an enticing business model—it can lead to increased income, freedom, and happiness, but it can also lead to burnout and epic failure. Make sure you’re going about it in a smart way by putting some of these tactics in place.

You don’t have to live a minimalistic lifestyle, or employ hundreds of drone-like workers to create great systems and get the most out of leverage. Just practice some tactics that will allow you to “simplify” your blogging efforts a bit more. Try these 14 I’ve written about, and leave a comment with some more ideas!

Nick Thacker is a writer, author, and blogger who helps people build profitable blogs and write better. He blogs at and has recently finished a book on blogging for profit.

A Technophobe’s No-tears Guide to Podcasting

This guest post is by Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing.

You’ve probably heard that adding multimedia to your blog is a great way to grow your audience. But if you’re like me, and technology makes you assume the fetal position and cry like an overtired baby, you may have put off the idea.

The good news is that after pulling out half of my hair grappling with a half-dozen different podcasting platforms and audio-editing programs, I discovered there is a simple way to create, embed, and play audio on your WordPress blog. So I’d like to save all of you the agony and share how I now do my podcasts.

Below is my five-step guide to bare-bones podcasting for the newbie, using mostly free tools.

Step 1: Pick the right podcasting platform

Here’s the key benefit you’re looking for in a podcasting platform: the platform will let you export audio files as mp3s. You won’t believe how many of even the most expensive, premium platforms will not (yes, I am looking at you, GoToWebinar).

The intent of most recording platforms is to chain you to their own, proprietary recording format or to trap you in some awkward format that’s hard to edit or play. They want you to leave your recordings on their site and put links to their site on your own site—so they can build their Google rankings (and often, so they can charge you extra for storing them).

If you export these weirdo-format files, you end up with a mess of various files my husband has likened to a scrambled egg that you then strive to turn back into a whole, unbroken egg that will play on your blog. Ever tried to unscramble an egg? Yeah. It’s a nightmare.

Also, you don’t want to trust your precious recordings to another site on the cloud somewhere that could close up shop or lose your media. You want to control your own podcasts. Every one of your recordings is a valuable asset to your blog that can be offered as a freebie for subscribers, for sale as a standalone product, or as a bonus bundled with another paid product.

After many false starts, I now use Instant Teleseminar, which creates an mp3 by default. It has a 21-day free trial so you can play around on it if you’re shopping for a podcasting platform. (I’m sure there are other platforms that export mp3s too—this is just the one I happened to find. If you’re using something different, let us know about it in the comments.)

Step 2: Make a clean recording

The big mistake I used to make was hitting the Record button early, before I started the broadcast, because I was worried I’d forget to do it. Or, on the back end, letting the recording run long. Now, you’ve got a rough recording you have to edit.

For editing, I found Camtasia easiest to work with, but it doesn’t readily export mp3s, only mp4s. This means you have to use a bit more sophisticated means to display your podcast. (If you have to edit, free Audacity will export mp3s, but only after an amazingly complex process to add a plugin that enables that.)

The quickest and simplest route to a finished podcast is to avoid all editing—a trick Chris Brogan taught me when I
did a Skype recording with him a while back. Here’s how.

Make sure all guests are muted. When you’re getting ready to start your event, warn any copresenters that you need a moment of silence while you start the recording. Take a deep breath, press Record, and then say, “Hello and welcome everyone…” or whatever your greeting is. Now you’ve got a clean opening.

Repeat the process at the end. Get your finger poised on the Stop Recording button as you wind down your show. “Thanks for joining us, Ed,” you say, and after he says, “Thanks for having me,” you hit that button. Now you have a clean recording that’s ready to pop right into a blog post.

If your platform offers a choice of “hold” music guests can listen to before your event starts, you’ve even got a little instant intro music you can record. Press record while your “hold” music is on, let that music play for ten seconds, then take it off and start talking. Now you sound totally pro.

Final advantage of Instant Teleseminar: the system always makes a scratch recording automatically, whether you ever hit the Record button or not. So you don’t have to worry—if you forget, you’ll just have to edit the recording, but you’ll never end up without one. This is a good feature to look for, too.

Step 3: Export your mp3

Now that you’ve made a clean recording, it’s time to get your mp3 onto your dashboard where you can use it. Simply click on the mp3 link provided in your recording platform and save the link with a descriptive mp3 file name on your desktop. It’ll usually take less than a minute. Now, you’re ready to load the file and get it to play on your blog.

Step 4: Upload your mp3

Next, you have to get your mp3 from the dashboard of your computer onto your blog. Often, the file will be too large to upload through your WordPress “Media” tab, like you use for photos.

You’ll need to do a workaround and use File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to load it up directly, circumventing the normal WordPress file-size limits. For this, you can go on your host’s dashboard, but I find that complicated.

Instead, I use free Cyberduck, which is super-simple. Find the directory file you want to stash your media in, drag and drop, and you’re done.

Step 5: Make it playable with the WordPress Audio Player plugin

This free, handy little plugin is so simple—why, even I could use it. Go to your WordPress blog’s Plugins tab, search, and download. Now, all you have to do to make a neat little player appear on your site is enter a teeny bit of code like this on the HTML view of your post:

And presto! When you switch to visual, you get this handy little player graphic:

The closed player

When you click the Play button, the player unfolds and looks like this:

The open player

Slick, eh? For extra credit, you can style it up with the colors of your blog theme as I’ve done, by altering the Settings for Audio Player in your plugin dashboard.

That’s all there is to it! If you have other simple approaches to getting up your podcast, share them in the comments below.

Carol Tice creates podcasts for members of her community Freelance Writers Den, and also sometimes shares them with subscribers to her Make a Living Writing blog.

Use Email to Post to Your Blog

This guest post is by Anurag Bansal of Techacker.

Owners of blogs don’t get the flexibility to post by email through a WordPress service. It’s very surprising to see that such a popular platform doesn’t offer a native way of creating blog post by sending an email—especially since owners can update their blogs using native WordPress functionality.

If you have a blog on Tumblr or Posterous (which was recently acquired by Twitter), you know how convenient it is to update your blog using email. It naturally increases the frequency with which you update your blog.

Today I’m going to introduce you to an easy way to post by email to your blog using a service I am a big fan of—ifttt.

ifttt stands for If This, Then That. This service, which was introduced recently on ProBlogger, makes it really easy to do many online tasks, some of which are mentioned below.

How to post by email to a blog

  1. Create an ifttt account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Activate and authorize the blog you want to post by email to. To do this, click on WordPress logo under Channels on ifttt. Then add the appropriate details to authorize your WordPress blog to use with ifttt. Once activated, you will see a similar screen to the one shown below.Authorize your account
  3. Activate the email channel connection to the email account from which you’d like to send posts. All you need is to click on Email icon and enter your email address. ifttt will immediately send a PIN to this email address. Copy that PIN from the email into the box on ifttt. Once your account’s confirmed, you’ll have successfully activated the email channel.Activate email channel
  4. Use this recipe to create a task. While creating the task, you can edit the details shown in the screenshot below to suit your needs.Create task
  5. Once the task is activated, all you have to do is send an email from the email account you confirmed in Step 3 to [email protected] with the specified # tag in the subject line. In ifttt terms, that tag says, “if email is received from the account specified earlier, then post it to the WordPress blog set up earlier.”
  6. ifttt will create a post on your blog, using the email details as follows:
    1. The subject of the email becomes the title of the blog post.
    2. The body of the email becomes the content of the blog post.
    3. Tags for the post are specified in the recipe. You can change these in the task details on ifttt.
    4. Categories for the post are also specified by you in the ifttt recipe.

There are many other recipes I use to update my blog, including:

  1. Post photos simultaneously on Instagram and a WordPress blog.
  2. Cross-post from a Tumblr blog to WordPress blog.

I have been able to successfully post many updates to my blog using this process. It’s easy, painless and quick. All it takes to update your blog is an email!

Stop postponing that great blog post idea just because you didn’t have the right tools at the time. Now, there’s no need to install any plugins—just use email.

How do you update your WordPress blog now? Do you think email updates would make it easier for you to update your blog? If you’re already using emil updates on another platform, is it helpful? Let us know in the comments.

Anurag Bansal is a technology enthusiasts and internet addict. He reviews various internet services, Android and iPhone apps and provide tips on many technology related topics on his blog at Techacker. Anurag also releases a FREE Monthly Magazine – THM – on his blog. You may follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Lessons Steve Jobs Could Teach You About Creating a Popular Blog

This guest post is by Greg Digneo of Sales Leads in 30 Days.

“What can I learn from the business life of Steve Jobs that will help me grow my blog?”

We’ve all asked ourselves the question. Because the public nature of blogging goes against his strict privacy policy, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But it’s one that I couldn’t get out of my head.

There has to be something to learn from a guy who revolutionized multiple industries and created two iconic companies. Look beyond his temperamental management style and the black turtlenecks, and analyze the way he built companies and gave presentations.  You will find several principles that you can apply to your own business.

Below are five lessons that Steve Jobs could teach us about creating popular a blog.

“Make a dent in the universe”—Steve Jobs

In Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs, Pepsi CEO John Scully recounts Jobs’s pitch to come work for Apple.

Scully remarks: “Steve’s head dropped as he stared at his feet. After a weighty, uncomfortable pause, he issued a challenge that would haunt me for days. ‘Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?’”

Apple products aren’t created to make money in an industry. They are created to redefine the way the industry does business. The Apple II gave birth to the PC industry. The iPod and iTunes combination remade the music industry. And the iPhone redefined the way a phone is made.

Likewise, the most popular blogs in the world create a “dent” in their niche.

Ask yourself this: if someone were to read every article you’ve written, how would their life improve one year from now?

Once you answer that question, you will create a higher sense of purpose, and stand out from the countless blogs in your niche.

For instance, one of my favorite blogs is Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation. There are millions of entrepreneurship, marketing, and career blogs on the web, but Pam packages her expertise to create the higher purpose of “helping frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own businesses.”

So, go ahead and be bold. Find your blog’s purpose. And put a dent in the universe.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—Leonardo DaVinci

Apple products are famous for being simple and intuitive to use. As Steve Job’s said in Walter Isaacson’s book: “The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”

The iPhone has only one button on its face. The iPod has only a scroll wheel. You don’t need an instruction manual to operate either of these devices.

When Derek Halpern launched his blog Social Triggers, he took this advice to heart.  When you visit his blog, there are only two things you can do:

  1. Read his content.
  2. Enter your email address and sign up for his newsletter.

And the results speak for themselves. In a little over one year, Derek has taken Social Triggers from brand new to over 12,000 subscribers.

Yet so many blogs do just the opposite. They have navigation bars with too many options. The design of the blog is often cluttered, leaving the reader feeling lost and overwhelmed.

Do you want the reader to download your ebook? Connect with you on social media? Subscribe to your RSS? Make your blog more intuitive and pick the one thing you want your readers to do.

Be “amazingly zippy”

As Carmine Gallo says in his book Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: “Jobs is one of the few business leaders who could confidently call a product ‘amazingly zippy.’”

He used these types of words to communicate complex products and features to the masses. For instance, when describing the buttons on the screen of the iMac, he said they “look so good you’ll want to lick them.” (Fortune magazine 4 January 2000). He could have described them as having the perfect dimensions, the perfect color, and the perfect gloss, but he knew that his primary audience wouldn’t care.

As bloggers, we often communicate highly complex ideas, and our job is to speak in a language that our audiences can understand. It can be easy to get caught in the echo chamber and forget that most readers who visit your blog have very little knowledge of your niche.

Here’s a simple way to ensure that you create content the majority of your readers will understand. After every post you write, ask yourself this: “Will my mom get it?” If your mom can’t understand it, then there is a good chance that you will alienate large segments of your audience.

“Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life”—Steve Jobs

So began Jobs’s famous Stanford Commencement address.

Steve Jobs was a masterful story teller. Every keynote he gave was a triumph of good over evil. The audience had a problem and Apple was going to save the day.

Before he introduced the iPhone, Jobs explained why current smartphone products were so bad, and how Apple would come to the rescue. For instance, the keys were permanently fixed into the plastic case of the phone. But that wouldn’t happen to the iPhone. The iPhone’s keys were built directly into the software, allowing each application to have the perfect user interface.

By telling stories, Jobs allowed his audience to become a part of the presentation. Bloggers can use this same tactic.

You can use case studies and customers to show how they have succeeded by using your products and implementing your ideas. And there is a simple formula you can use to create an engaging case study:

  • First, you describe in vivid detail your customer’s life before buying the product.
  • Then you explain exactly how your customer implemented your product or idea.
  • Finally, you show how much better your customer’s life is after you’ve saved the day.

Stay hungry, stay foolish

In the 1960’s Jobs read the Whole Earth Catalog, which he described as the Google in paperback.  He said “It was idealistic and full of tools that you could use.”

On the back cover of the final issue from the mid 1970s, were the words “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” Jobs’ Stanford Commencement speech concluded with him urging the graduates to do the same.

Part of being a blogger is to have an insatiable curiosity. You scour the web and books for new theories, new ideas, and new innovations that pertain to your niche. Then you take these new concepts and apply them to what we already know.

And you know what? Sometimes it gets messy. Your mistakes are made in public for the entire world to see.

Those of us in the trenches know that we’re going to ruffle feathers. We know that there are times we’re going to be wrong. Often, we need to take one step back before we can move two steps forward. To build a popular blog, you must constantly indulge your curiosity and keep pushing forward.

And one more thing…

Finally, I want to recall one of the stories from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs.

Steve Jobs had an argument with one of his engineers about the boot up time for the Macintosh operating system. To quickly resolve the argument, he asked the engineer, “If it could save a person’s life, would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?” The engineer responded that he probably could, and wound up reducing the boot time of the operating system by 28 seconds.

Now I turn the question to you: “If it could save a person’s life, would you find a way to implement these lessons and improve your blog?” I’m serious.

Your marketing blog can save a business and a livelihood. Your personal finance blog can save a family from going under. Your fitness blog can save a life (literally).

So what are you waiting for? Get started. Right now.

Greg Digneo teaches businesses how to get more traffic and increase online sales in 30 days.  Click here to download his free ebook How to Generate 100 Sales Leads in 30 Days.

How to SEO Your Blog Post Series

This guest post is by Keith Bishop of Online Digital Junkie.

Google’s Panda Update, as well as the recent post from Darren about hosting a guest post series, has prompted me to take a deeper look into the implementation and search benefits associated with putting series on my own sites.

What I found tells me that publishing a series can be a good move if it’s done correctly. So let’s look at when a series is a good idea, as well as some of the issues that need to be avoided for the optimal search performance of the series you publish.

When to use a series

A series is best used when you have a lot of material and media that would slow your page load time if you published it all in one article. Long load times can have a negative effect on your search ranking, as well as causing users to hit the Back button before your post ever finishes loading.

You can check page download speeds on sites like Pingdom. My personal goals are to have all of my main landing pages load with 1.5 seconds, and the rest no longer than two seconds.

Another great time to use series is if you find a group of posts on your site that have similar content with overlapping keywords. This scenario causes your own pages to compete with each other and suffer in search rank. Under these circumstances it would be beneficial to rework your content into a series and allow it to build upon itself. The result of this, as I will explain later, will harness all of the combined SEO benefits and push your series up in the SERP.

The last, and probably most applicable, reason to publish series is when you have a lengthy subject that you are covering over an extended period of time. I certainly don’t want to read a 10,000 word article on the same subject—or have it delivered to my email. Everyone needs a little variety.

The negative aspects of series

Series have their downsides, as far as usability and search rank go. The worst part is the increased load time that the user experiences while navigating to each article, instead of having it load all at once on a single page. Most of the time, this is a good trade-off—the only exception being a long text article which will likely load quickly as a single post, and won’t benefit from being split into parts.

Another issue arises when the middle or last part of the series ranks better in the search results than the first part, and that becomes the landing page for search users. This is sort of like showing a guest your home by walking them through the garage first, and it’s something you want to avoid. The solution? Optimizing your series navigation.

How to link your series for greatest SEO and usability

Proper linking is accomplished by using the [link] element in the [head] section of the post page. This hints to Google that the page is part of a series, and also indicates the position of the document within the series.

To accomplish page ordering, we use the [rel=”prev” and rel=”next”] attributes that in the [link] pagination. This will ensure that the first part of your series will almost always be the one to show up in the search results. Note, though, that Google says “almost always” when it discusses this, so there must be occasions where the search engine likes an article deeper in the series for some reason.

Pagination is easy in WordPress, and there are probably some short codes for the other content management systems that will make it easy to implement in those as well.

Let’s imagine that you want to publish all the material in a series at once. All you need to do in WP is to put the entire series of articles into one post, then add [<!–nextpage–>] wherever you want to break the content up into separate pages or parts. You can then modify the look of your pagination links with CSS.

If you want to drip-feed your series to users over an extended period of time—perhaps in weekly installments—use a head injection plugin that will allow you to add the [] information to the series manually as you publish each article.

A good WordPress plugin that takes care of this is HiFi (Head injection / Foot injection).

Hand-coded blogs will need to have this information added manually into the head section. Here is an example of what the code looks like.


<title>Your Page Title</title>

<link rel=”prev” href=””>

<link rel=”next” href=””>


Naturally, the first page in the series will not have a [prev]  attribute and the last page will not have a [next] attribute. This is how the search bots know where the series starts and ends. Clickable navigation links will also need to be coded at the end of each article in the series.

The most beneficial reason to use the [prev/next] attributes is that the search engines will count the series as one article and funnel all the SEO benefits from the series through to the page that’s shown in the search results.

This means that all of the likes, G+, tweets, and links back from the entire series will count together, instead of competing with one another. I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited.

What not to do

You may still find information about this online, but what you do not want to do is link your series using the [rel=”canonical”] attribute on your links.

This method will prevent the wrong post (e.g. a later part in a series) from ranking higher than the one you wanted (the first part in the series), but it also tells the search engine that this is duplicate content and it shouldn’t be indexed. The canonical attribute was used in the past under a slightly different set of circumstances, and is no longer applicable to series.

Too bad there isn’t some way to certify our content so that we could get the SEO benefits from our content when it gets scraped or syndicated. That would be awesome, but it is likely a dream for another day…

Keith currently writes for Beauty & Bandaids and is currently obsessed with his new outdoor adventure watch. Watch obsession to new blog is OCD at its finest.