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31 Unexpected Perks of Blogging You’ll Never Want to Give Up

This guest post is by Uttoran Sen of traveltamed.com.

You’ve got it! You’re officially a Have in a world of Have-nots!

What do you have? It’s probably not money, fame, or tax-write-offs disguised as corporate jets. It’s something more powerful.

You have a blog. And a darn fine one at that.

If you’ve said before that you’ll never give up blogging—surprise! You’re probably right!

Giving up a good thing is next-to-impossible. So it’s not a surprise to discover that blogging isn’t the sort of thing you just stop doing. In fact, anyone would be hard-pressed to give up blogging once they’ve discovered just how rewarding it can be.

1. You have freedom of expression. We all claim to want to be able to say our piece, but most of the time we’re just lamenting to our journals or blabbering on to a significant other who probably agrees with everything we’re saying. But with blogging, you can say what you want to say as often as you like without censure. You’ll reach an audience, too.

2. People listen to you. Good or bad, once you start blogging, people start tuning in. It’s amazing to feel like people are paying attention to you and that they consider what you have to say valid.

3. Your thoughts are more developed. People who think their thoughts have fuzzy ideas of what they believe in and why. But bloggers have to fully develop a thought and include support if you’re going to put it on a blog. This helps you formulate concrete ideas and opinions. Skip the fuzzy thoughts forever.

4. Your education continues indefinitely. In your cube-based job, you learn how to do your job and you might catch some gossip on the front page of the paper. Bloggers, on the other hand, are surrounded by news and ideas all of the time. They are constantly growing and learning—if not to keep up with the niche they enjoy, then to ensure that their blog continues to grow.

5. You learn to type more quickly. It’s a small thing, really, but the moment you realize that you type faster than all of your friends, you’ll feel that sort of pride that threatens to overwhelm you with a sheer manic force as you yell, “Ha! I am so much better at this than you!”

6. Your ego can take a beating, and keep on ticking. Putting your thoughts and ideas out there for strangers can be daunting. But as others tear your ideas apart, you get to argue back and strengthen your own viewpoint—or you can change your mind as your knowledge grows. Either way, having someone knock your ideas makes you a better, stronger person.

7. You take risks and see rewards. Being online is risky on a good day. Being a blogger and courting public exposure makes you practically a rebel when it comes to risk-taking. You’re not hiding behind an email address and fuzzy cube walls. You’re out there sharing and growing—building a community. Your risks online pay off, and that’s heady business.

8. You meet new (real) people. We’re in a global community here, but how many of our neighbors still just exist in the block where they live and work? Bloggers are out there in the global environment interacting with other real people who enjoy the same thing we do. No fake profiles and pictures—this isn’t a dating website, after all. We’re the ones who are really doing the work of globalization.

9. Creativity regenerates. It’s sad, but true—creativity is beaten out of us as children. As we grow, we lose almost all of our creativity through standardized tests, college courses and work programs. Blogging is an excellent opportunity to take back your creativity once and for all—to get serious about being original. Of course, you probably are already.

10. You think more clearly. Not only do your thoughts become stronger, the more you blog, the more clearly you begin to think the thoughts that appear in your head every day. It’s as if you mind converts itself to WordPress and you’re able to compact thoughts, provide some bullet points and provide a catchy headline for every mundane thought that passes through your head.

11. You can amuse yourself. There’s nothing more powerful than humor, and bloggers are some of the funniest people around. Perhaps it’s the global exposure or maybe it’s just the type of people who enjoy blogging, but you’ll become so good at finding humor in the world around you for others on the blog that you’ll soon realize just how much there is outside of your homepage as well.

12. Your vocabulary will improve. While blogging is really just a form of internet journaling, the amount of reading you do in your favorite areas will provide you with the newest lingo and as you start to revise your blogs, you’ll catch areas where you can improve your word choice. Often, this is just the opportunity your brain is looking for to start sucking in some new words and phrases.

13. Internet shortcuts become your highways. How long does it take you to update your blog? If you were to line up three of your closest friends and all try to find a picture to go along with an article, who would win? You would, of course! You know all the good photo spots, the best places for graphics, for themes and for videos. You’ve got the inside track.

14. You grow cocky. Being online, being read by others, and knowing that we do a good job with words and phrases turns us into the worst kind of internet animal—we’re cocky. We know what we’re doing and we’re not afraid to let others know it. And, quite honestly, this level of confidence and coolness isn’t something you’ll enjoy losing.

15. You learn how to make money. Growing up, you probably learned the same things we all did. To make money you 1) finish school. 2) Get a good job. 3) Work there as long as possible. And perhaps 4) Change jobs a few times and play some politics to earn a good raise or two along the way. If you were lucky you might get a bonus every so often. Those of us with blogs, however, have learned the ultimate truth—you can make money any time and any way you want. Just write something and throw up some ads.

16. You are your own boss. This is a biggie—it’s hard to become a humble servant to another boss when you know that at home your blog is generating some nice revenue and gathering up a few good visitors. Being your own boss, even if it’s just in the evenings, is confidence boosting and might be just the outlet you need to go back and live in your window-less office again in the morning.

17. You can monetize anything. If you can make decent money with a blog, you can make money with anything. Once you figure out the perfect combination of traffic, visitors, ads, and upsells to turn a profit on your blog, you’re on your way up.

18. The cutting edge comes to you. It only takes a few weeks of blogging to realize that being online in a meaningful way—not watching videos or just tweeting with your best college buddies—makes you a leader in the ways of trends. You know the trends before they ever arrive. You see the blog posts and the conversations between those in the know, and it amuses you when suddenly the public is wild for Snuggies, ShamWow, Pillow Pets, and Acai berries a few months later.

19. You’re brandable. Blogs are definitive and you develop a certain style over the months and years through which you add material. As your blog grows and becomes more branded by you, you become more branded yourself. It’s nice to be able to explain yourself in what amounts to a slogan (perhaps even the same slogan you have on the site right now).

20. Change is constant. Every so often you just know it’s time for your theme to change. And with that constant change and improvement online, you’re more comfortable making changes to your personal life as well. Blogs are never stagnant and neither are bloggers. Ask someone who’s retiring after 35 years in the same job if he can say the same.

21. You get freebies. It may be beta invitations or perhaps some new products to try for a review. Whatever it is, blog long enough and the freebies start coming your way. And who doesn’t love free stuff?

22. You feel productive. We know productivity is a good thing, but most of us turn off the productivity engine as we step away from our desk at five or six in the evening. Not so with dedicated bloggers. We’re productive almost every waking hour—adding to the blog, finding new features for the blog, or just reading up on other blogs to stay current.

23. The blogging network is deep. There may be millions of blogs out there, but there are only a handful of dedicated bloggers in a particular niche or area. Once you’ve been around for a while, you’ll be impressed with how knowledgeable and approachable these bloggers are. Your network is not only wide, but deep as well.

24. You can justify cool stuff. When you blog online, you need to be connected. Being connected means you need important things like new computers, tablets, iPads, and plenty of accessories for all of the goodies. Even if you don’t actually need every single gadget and gizmo you bought last year, you can put them all to use and even write the cost off if your blogging is part of a business or even remotely profitable.

25. You’re never lonely. Bloggers have friends in every time zone, and when you feel like reaching out to someone, you can—no matter where you’re located.

26. Your passion is worthy of notice. We all have passions and things we enjoy, but many people don’t have the opportunity to really dig into an area of interest and allow it to enrich life in a meaningful way. Bloggers are able to indulge in passions every day—even if just by reading and reporting on new areas of development.

27. You’re motivated. How often do you drag your feet going to your office or trying to figure out how you’re going to make it through another Monday? Start your day with a quick blog post and you’ll be off and running in no time.

28. You can build up from a blog. A blog is an easy way to get started with a new idea. Then, if you like your new idea, you can build out from your blog to develop a more comprehensive business or just continue to use the blog as a marketing home base.

29. You can flesh out a real resume. Jobs can be tricky right now, and if you happen to be an expert in a particular field, you stand a far better chance of finding a job that is well suited to you. Additionally, having a long-running blog is a sign that you’re all the things employers look for—dedicated, knowledgeable, hard-working, and passionate.

30. You have a useful following. Those who have subscribed to your blog or who are faithful readers often can be counted on for many other things. They can help you win contests. They can help you find new jobs or interview subjects. They suggest topics. Those same followers can often be convinced to try new things—especially if it’s something you’ve made and are considering selling.

31. You can scratch what itches. Everyone needs to vent from time to time, and having a blog and a bunch of willing readers is a great place to do it. What’s the fun of complaining about terrible service at your favorite store if nobody cares? Your dedicated readers will care and they might even take action on your behalf. On the other hand, if you’re just dying to get feedback for your stab at song lyrics, scratch the itch and let others check them out amongst your other posts.

Blogs and bloggers are understandably varied—some are in it for the money, some for the entertainment and others just because it feels good. But whatever the reason you’re blogging, if you’ve been doing it long enough, you’re probably in it for good. It’s just too hard to walk away from something this rewarding.

Uttoran Sen is a travel blogger who likes to travel places from around the world, and write about his journeys on his travel blog. Follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook page and stay connected.

How to Build a Traffic-siphoning Marketing Funnel

This guest post is by Herman Diaz of SEO So Easy.

Would you let Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube and other sites control your online business? Or would you like to control it yourself?

Would you want to be in a position to lose your online income suddenly because Google decides to drop your rankings, or because Facebook shuts down your fan page or YouTube shuts down your channel? Of course, you’d like to control your own business and not be at the mercy of other sites.

To run a sustainable business online you need to create a marketing funnel where you siphon traffic from sources like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube into your funnel, and create your own traffic source.

Creating a traffic-siphoning funnel

Before you start creating your traffic-siphoning marketing funnel, you need to ask yourself one question:

What is the one important thing that’s needed to make money online?

An obvious answer would be people, right? In fact it’s not just people, traffic, or visitors that make you money online. It’s the relationship and trust you build with your visitors that will make you money online.

Relationships cannot be developed with your visitors in just one or two visits to your site. Therefore it is important you capture the names and email addresses of as many visitors as you can, so you can give yourself a chance to build a relationship with them.

To get their names and email addresses, you need to have a really good lead magnet. A lead magnet is a good piece of content like a video, PDF report, or a case study that will help your potential subscriber and will entice him to give you his or her name and email address.

Once your visitor enters their details into your site, they’ll get into you funnel—and that’s where you will begin the process of building a relationship and trust with them. And then, you can recommend products to them.

The traffic-siphoning funnel process in action

Here’s a process map that shows how the traffic-siphoning funnel works.

The funnel

Firstly, your need to have three lead hunters to convert your visitors into subscribers and put them into the funnel.

Step 1: Create a blog lead hunter

Your niche blog is a lead hunter that should focus on two things. One is providing valuable and fresh content to your visitors; the other is capturing the names and email addresses of your visitors.

With fresh and valuable content rolling in regularly, your first-time visitor will make return visits to your blog, and they might even like share or tweet your content.

Make sure your blog has your best content on it. For that, you need to prepare a three-month content creation strategy; here’s what you need to do.

  1. You need to identify ten low-competition keywords with a decent search volume.
  2. You then need to write at least one 600- to 800-word articles for each of the keywords.
  3. These will be the ten pages on your blog that you will work on getting search engine traffic to, by raking on the search engines.
  4. Each of these pages will have a resource box that will send people to your lead capture page.
  5. You will then have to write a 300-word post every other day for the next 90 days and link each of these posts to the ten pages you have created.

This tactic will create a strong internal linking structure that will help with your SEO efforts.

Step 2: Create a squeeze page lead hunter

The sole purpose of this page, which I call a lead magnet, is to capture names and email addresses of visitors.

  • Make sure you have an eye-catching header.
  • Mention all the benefits of the free offer you’re giving away.
  • Make sure to tell your visitors exactly what to do to get the free offer.
  • Have the opt-in box above the fold of the page.

Step 3: Create a Facebook fan page lead hunter

The fan page will be a replication of your squeeze page, but it will be on Facebook, allowing you to collect names and email addresses of people visiting your fan page. The main idea of the fan page is to get as many people to opt-in or like the page.

Step 4: Driving traffic to the lead hunter pages

Here’s how to drive traffic from each of your lead hunters.

Blog traffic sources

These sources will send visitors to you blog and siphon subscribers to your funnel.

  1. Search engine traffic
  2. Guest blogging
  3. Twitter
  4. YouTube

You can try other traffic sources as well, but I usually start with these.

Lead magnet traffic sources

These sources will send visitors to you squeeze page and siphon subscribers to your funnel.

  1. From your blog
  2. Warrior special offers (Note: this is a paid service.)
  3. Solo ads (Also a paid service.)
  4. Youtube
  5. Twitter.

Facebook Fan page traffic sources

These sources will siphon send visitors to your fan page, and siphon subscribers to your funnel.

  1. Facebook PPC (A paid service)
  2. From your blog
  3. YouTube
  4. Twitter

Step 5: What happens in the funnel?

Now, as you get a steady flow of subscribers from your lead hunters, you need to set your autoresponder with some killer content. This content can be articles, videos, PDF reports—or you can even send subscribers back to your blog pages where you have already published good content.

Get your subscribers involved. Ask them to tweet, share, or Like the page you sent them. Also ask them to comment and ask questions, as this will help you build a good relationship with your list. They will feel like they know you not only because you send them quality emails, but because they interact with you on your blog and other places as well.

You also have to make sure you are honest with your subscribers from the beginning. Tell them that, apart from the great content, you are also going to recommend good products to them that will help them. Also be clear that you will make a commission when they purchase the recommended product using your link.

To summarize, in the first part of the funnel you need to focus on providing great content with incredible value to your subscribers. Be honest from the first email about what your intentions are. This combination of honesty and great content will build a strong relationship of trust with your subscribers.

Step 6: Promoting the right product

Relationships, trust, and honesty will go a long way in making your subscribers loyal to you. To keep up this loyalty, make sure you recommend good products to your list.

Research the product you are going to promote well—including, of course, trying it for yourself—so you can answer any question that are asked. Try getting a discount for the product you are promoting too, as this will increase conversions with your list. Also try giving subscribers a bonus, depending on the price of the product.

Make sure you treat your subscribers like friends, and recommend only products or services you think will genuinely help them. Remember, it will take you some time to develop a relationship and build trust with your list, yet it can all be lost with one bad recommendation. Be choosy with what you recommend.

If you are promoting your own product, make sure you over-deliver with that product. Go all-out to see that your product will really help them—this will only build credibility and your buyers will love you for it.

People who buy your products should get on your buyers’ list—and you have to take very good care of them! The people who have not yet bought from you can still enjoy the free content you provide.

Step 7: Back in the funnel

After you have finished promoting an affiliate offer or you own product, make sure you start the process of sending free content and start building up to the next promotion.

Conclusion

You have to have a business to make money! But you also have to remember that your business has to be built on a foundation of honesty, trust, and good relationships with your subscribers. That’s what will make you money consistently for years: a source of customers who trust you.

Herman Dias likes writing about SEO Tips, blogging, list building, traffic strategies and other Internet Marketing Topics, He also recently completed a Free Live Case Study on How to Rank on Page One of The Search Engines in 15 days for 55 keywords.

What Motivates Readers to Share?

This guest post is by Dan Zarrella of danzarrella.com.

In my research into sharing, I realized I needed to develop a framework that would serve as a model for the decision-making process that takes place before someone spreads an idea.

This framework describes the three criteria that must be met before someone will spread an idea in any format:

  1. The person must be exposed to your content. This means that the person has to be following you on Twitter, be a fan of your page on Facebook, subscribe to your email list, and so on.
  2. The person must become aware of your specific piece of content (the idea you want to spread). S/he has to read your tweet or open your email message.
  3. The person must be motivated by something (generally in the content itself) in order to want to share the idea with his or her contacts.

Every piece of content, social network, and campaign has a vastly different conversion rate at each step of this process. For you to understand the scales involved, it helps to visualize a hypothetical set of percentages. If you email 900 people, and 20% of them notice and open the message, and then 10% of those readers forward it to a friend, your email message was shared 18 times.

At each step, you can change the numbers in your favor:

  1. Increase the number of people exposed to your content. Get more email-list subscribers or Twitter followers.
  2. Create attention-grabbing content. Do lots of testing on your subject lines to increase open rates.
  3. Include powerful calls to action.

The keys to real science are data and experimentation. I’ve spent nearly five years conducting research into the why, how, and what of contagious ideas. In the three middle chapters of ZarrellasHierarchyofContagiousness (“Exposure,” “Attention,” and “Motivation”), I present some of my most important findings and describe how you can use them to optimize your ideas for maximum spread at each step of my hierarchy. This is an excerpt from the chapter “Motivation.”

The bottom level of my hierarchy of contagiousness is motivation, and it’s the trickiest to achieve. Once someone is exposed to your idea and it catches her attention, she has to be motivated by it to want to share it. This is where you can find the most superstitious advice.

People claim that they spread ideas only when those ideas are good, are funny, benefit the world, or conform to some other nebulous standard. So how do we really motivate people to share our ideas? That question is best answered in two parts: Why do people share ideas? And what kinds of ideas do they share the most?

What do people share?

Now that we’ve got an understanding of the real reasons people spread ideas, let’s talk about what kinds of ideas they share the most.

Uncomplicated language is contagious

Readability tests are designed to measure the reading grade level required to understand a specific piece of content. The higher the score, the more complex the language is. The most popular readability test is called the Flesch-Kincaid test and is built into Microsoft Word.

While studying Facebook sharing, I gathered a database of stories published in a variety of popular news sources, including geeky places, like Mashable and TechCrunch, and mainstream outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times. I measured how readable each story was and how many times it was shared on Facebook. I found an inverse correlation between the complexity of the articles and the number of times they were shared. As stories became more challenging to read, they were posted to Facebook less often.

I also explored the parts of speech in the titles of those same articles. I determined that the use of flowery, adverb- and adjective-laden language was related to lower sharing rates. As Strunk and White told us decades ago in their book, Elements of Style:

“Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place… it is nouns and verbs, not their assistants, that give good writing its toughness and color.”

The most and least retweetable words

Perhaps my favorite data set is my giant MySQL table of 100 million retweets. A while ago, I pulled out of that table a list of the most “retweetable” words and phrases. I found twenty words that occurred more often in retweets than they did in non-contagious tweets. I also pulled out the least retweetable words, or what I call “viral kryptonite.”

I’ve presented these lists at events probably a hundred times, and at nearly every event, someone will come up to me afterwards with his phone out and show me how cleverly he smooshed all the words together to make the world’s most (or least) retweetable tweet. It is invariably meaningless. The funny part is that when I tell the person to check his mentions, he often finds that he has actually gotten retweeted.

The list of the most retweetable words is topped by the word “you.” People don’t want to hear about you; they want to hear you talk about them. Tweets that tell people how they can do things and learn things do very well. The list also contains phrases like “how to” and “top 10.” These phrases indicate that the content they point to is broken up into manageable chunks rather than being huge blocks of intimidating text.

The best phrase on the list, however, is “please retweet.” You should see the unicorn folks freak out about this one. They tell me that it sounds too desperate, demanding, and downright wrong. But it works. Try it out right now. Irving Kirsch, a researcher at the University of Connecticut backed me up in a recent experiment. He gave some subjects hypnotic instructions to mail thirty postcards, once a day. And just nicely asked another group to do so. “Please mail these.” The second group complied with the request more often. Social requests are just as powerful as full-on hypnotic trances.

On the flip side of the coin are the least retweetable words. Drivel like “tired,” “bored,” “watching,” and “game.” Words that indicate people narrating particularly boring parts of their lives. Of course I’m not going to retweet those.

The most and least shareable words

To come up with similar lists for Facebook, I looked at words in articles shared on Facebook and found the words that correlated most strongly with those articles being shared more often or less often. There are some significant differences between these lists and the Twitter word lists because the Facebook audience is a much more mainstream one.

The list of most shareable words is headed by the word “Facebook.” Yep, Facebookers love talking about Facebook. The rest of the list was mostly stuff you’d hear on the nightly news. Political words and phrases like “Obama” and “health care.” Most interesting, the words “why” and “how” do very well. Online, people want to get deeper into stories than they can with the thirty-second sound bite they heard on TV.

The list of least shareable words is full of social media dork words. Stuff like “apps,” “social,” and “Twitter.” Everyone is on Facebook. Both your mom and your college roommate are, and most Facebook users aren’t into every bleeding-edge new media website like you are.

This is an excerpt from Dan Zarrella’s latest book, to read it in it’s entirety, buyZarrellasHierarchyofContagiousnessonAmazon. It’s less than $10 for the Kindle version (which will work on any computer or device).

10 Ways To Get More Email Subscribers For Your Blog

This guest post is by James Penn of AcceleratedNicheProfits.com.

I’m sure you’ve had it drummed into you by now that an email list is vitally important to your blog and your business.

Darren often discusses how vital it is to build your email list and he recently Tweeted this graphic to emphasize his point. He says:

“If there is one visual I can give as a reason to start an email newsletter—it is this.”

Once you have an engaged database of subscribers, you pretty much know every blog post you put out is going to be a hit.

You can send just one email to your list notifying them of the new blog post, and within 24 hours you’ll have had 100, 500, perhaps even over 1,000 eyeballs reading your content, clicking your ads, and buying through your affiliate links.

Plus, I’ve also found that readers who arrive at my blog from an email newsletter I’ve sent to them are also much more likely to share my content on Facebook and Twitter.

This enables my blog to grow at an exponential rate. I send an email out to my subscribers, and they share my content, which results in more people reading my blog and joining my email list, which increases the number of people who click through to my blog in the next newsletter, which means more people sharing, which means more traffic and more subscribers, and so on.

If you aren’t building an email list from your blog yet, start today.

If you are already building an email list, then try adopting some of these ten strategies to increase the number of people opting into your newsletter, and see your traffic and your profits soar.

1. Multiple opt-in forms

Try to have three or four opt-in forms in your blog template. The more you have, the greater the chance you’ll have of capturing your readers’ email addresses. I like to have one pop-up opt-in form that fades in after about 15 seconds of reading (I know these can be annoying, but they work), one form at the top of the sidebar, and an opt-in form at the end of each post.

2. Quality content

This goes without saying, and I hope it’s something you already do, but if you produce top-quality content that readers love, they’ll actively hunt out your opt-in form, join your email list and, most importantly, open your emails.

I’ve definitely noticed a correlation between quality of content and opt-in conversions on my two most popular blogs.

3. Freebies vs. updates

I’ve also found that offering a free product in exchange for an email address converts much better than simply encouraging readers to subscribe for updates.

On my health blog, my “Subscribe For Updates” opt-in form at the top of the sidebar converts at just 1.5%. On my internet marketing blog my opt-in form, which offers a free report and blog updates, converts at 6%.

4. Gentle persuasion

At the end of each blog post, encourage your reader to join your email list to receive a free report and blog updates. At this point, they may be thinking of leaving your blog and may never return again, but this gentle nudge towards your opt-in form will help turn them into subscribers and long-term readers and “sharers” of your content.

5. Make the most of popular posts

Sometimes, and often for reasons unknown, some blog posts take off. They might get an unusual number of Tweets and Likes, or Google might just decide to stick it on the first page for a highly searched keyphrase.

It doesn’t matter why that post is getting so much traffic, but it is important to capture as much of it as possible and turn those visitors into subscribers. You could do this by putting a welcome message to new readers at the top and encouraging them to opt-in for a special free report and to receive future updates.

One of my blog’s most popular posts, 50 Ways To Add More Subscribers To Your Email List, does just this and it gets me a number of subscribers every day.

6. Premium content

Occasionally, perhaps every month or so, create a special report, video, or audio file for your blog readers. Post a teaser of it as a regular blog post, but require readers to submit their email addresses to read/watch/listen to the rest of it.

As soon as they submit their email addresses, take them to a confirmation page (if you are using double opt-in) and instruct them that to access the full post they simply have to click the confirmation link.

They get to read the full post which is, hopefully, of incredible quality—and you get a new subscriber. Win-win!

Worried about annoying existing subscribers? Don’t be. Put a snippet of text above the opt-in form saying something like:

“Already subscribed? Simply enter the email address you are subscribed with and you will instantly be taken to the full post. You won’t be opted-in again.”

If you use Aweber (and I’m sure other email service providers have this feature), you can set an Already Subscribed Page when you create your opt-in form.

If you set the Already Subscribed Page to the full post, then existing subscribers won’t be taken to the confirmation page—they’ll go direct to the full post. It will essentially be more like them logging in rather than opting in.

7. Hold a competition

Holding competitions is one way to encourage more readers to subscribe. If you hold a competition, state that entrants should subscribe in order to be notified of the winner(s). A huge percentage of these entrants will do so. What’s the point of entering a competition if you aren’t going to be able to find out if you win?

If you can run a really successful competition that gets hundreds (even thousands) of entrants, you can easily recruit a huge number of new subscribers.

8. Auto opt-in blog commenters

One way some bloggers get more subscribers is to have everyone who leaves a comment auto-opted in. I believe there are a few plug-ins that can do this. It’s not a strategy I’ve tried, since I’m not sure those who comment would appreciate being automatically added to my email list.

Does anyone do this? Does it work? Have you had any (or many) complaints?

9. Create special reports on popular topics

On my health and beauty blog I noticed I was publishing a lot of posts with natural recipes for beautiful hair. I decided to compile the ten best recipes into a special report. I created a simple squeeze page that offered the report for free and requested an email address.

I went back through each blog post that discussed hair recipes and put a little snippet of text that suggested that if they wanted to find out my ten best natural hair care recipes then they could download my special report. I then linked to the squeeze page.

That squeeze page only gets about ten or 15 visitors per day, but the opt-in form is converting at over 60%, so it’s getting me an extra six to ten subscribers per day. Not bad for an hour’s work!

10. Get more traffic

If you implement the above nine methods, then you’ll be converting a significant proportion of your readers into subscribers.

Therefore, the only other way to increase the number of subscribers we get is to increase traffic.

That’s beyond the realms of this blog post, but it’s a topic that has been covered in great depth on Problogger and many other blogs. Take a look through the “Blog Promotion” category for help with increasing traffic.

Having your own engaged email list is one of the most important assets you can own as we approach 2012 and beyond. Make sure you are building one!

James Penn shares his internet marketing experiments, tips and secrets at AcceleratedNicheProfits.com. Take a read of one of his favorite posts: Daily Action Plan To Build Your List Fast

How I Took the Toughest Blog Niche, and Owned It

This guest post is by Dominick DalSanto of Baghouse.

Imagine you are called into your boss’s office and presented with the following assignment: head a new marketing initiative for your entire company.

You are to do so using a medium and associated technologies that you have absolutely no experience with, and the plan you are going to follow is one that a great many other companies have tried/are trying to do, only to see failure. You are to do all of this without any training or instruction of any kind.

A tough industry

Image copyright Cowboy in the Jungle

Needless to say, you might a be a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the task assigned to you. I know I sure was when this very thing happened to me a few years ago. I found myself tasked with running a new online marketing strategy for our company, with little experience, and hardly a clue on how I was going to do it. Quite a daunting task for the new guy at the company.

Our company, Baghouse.com, which sells industrial dust collection systems (a type of air pollution control technology), had decided that we needed to exploit of the overall lack of internet presence in our industry, and use that to our advantage by initiating a new online marketing strategy. This new strategy included a redesigned website with a focus on useful, practical content that would increase our company’s reputation as a industry leader, and bring in new customers.

My job was to figure out how we were going to do it, how to do it for a reasonable price, and then put it into action. Some of the challenges that lay before me included:

  • a lack of experience in both blogging and web marketing
  • my competition was fierce and included a Fortune Global 100 corporation with nearly endless resources
  • a very small potential audience/target demographic (industry professionals who deal with air pollution control equipment, and specifically dust collection equipment).

Where was I even to begin?

I found advice, but it wasn’t quite what I needed

As with most people in my generation, I figured that I would be able to learn all I needed about blogging by reading about it online. I did manage to find a number of great sites, such as Problogger and Copyblogger, among others. I also managed to run across Darren’s book about blogging, which also was an immense help.

Over the next few months, I read more articles about blogging than I can even number. Most of them had excellent tips for starting, maintaining, and promoting blogs for success. While some of these articles were very helpful (such as ones about SEO, design, software, etc.) I began to realize that a lot of this advice was not quite as applicable to my blog as it was to others with a more mainstream niche target.

For just one example, many articles talk about the importance of using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote your articles, and to engage your readers. Here’s a cold hard fact: middle-aged industrial engineers (a large part of my target audience) looking for ways to decrease static pressure drop across their pulse-jet dust collector at the advanced manufacturing plant where they work are not the types that sit around and go looking for articles on Facebook while they are at work.

I quickly realized that while there was a wealth of valuable information on these sites, I needed to adapt it to my unique market, and combine it with more traditional industrial marketing methods to have any success.

Fast-forward to the present day, we rank #1 for five of the best keywords in our industry, and have increased overall traffic, traffic quality (more focused), and conversions (contacting us for a quote). Here’s what I did to take my blog from its beginnings to where it is today.

1. Learn your topic well enough to teach others

One problem I encountered was that to be a successful blogger, you need to know your topic well enough that your writing offers something valuable to your readers. Your articles can inform, they can teach, they can warn, they can do a lot of things, but you as the author need to know your niche well enough to identify what stories will fill these roles for your readers.

Despite working in the industry from a young age (it’s the family business), I, as the simple high school graduate, now needed to know enough about dust collection technology to write something with appealing value to guys with engineering degrees from MIT.

I needed to learn everything I could about the industry, but you can’t just go to Barns and Noble and buy a book on dust collection. I needed to find other ways to educate myself. This lead me to asking people at our company with decades of experience, finding other professionals on LinkedIn and asking them specific questions, and devouring whatever reading material I could get my hands on from websites, to trade publications, etc. In such a specialized niche as mine, tracking down this kind of information often proved exceedingly difficult.

In the end, my education did not happen overnight, but little by little I learned more and more and right away I started to use my still growing knowledge to write. Initially my writings were a little simpler, and harder to do, but I always worked hard to use what knowledge I had to prepare interesting, informative, and useful content for my readers.

Two years on, I still have a lot yet to learn, but I have gone from writing simple news stories to being featured in major industry trade magazines/blogs, and large environmental advocacy sites among others.

2. Do what you can for SEO, and recognize that pros can do the rest better

One of the most valuable of the many things I took to learning about when I started was search engine optimization (SEO). In many ways the potential SEO benefits to our main site were the driving force for establishing a blog in the first place. I learned quickly, however, that simply adding a blog to your site, and filling it with a few articles is not all it takes to shoot straight to #1 on Google.

As with the technical aspect of my niche, I made sure to subscribe to several of the best SEO sites out there, as well Website Magazine to learn all I could about SEO. After a while I became pretty knowledgeable about SEO and our site saw a marked improvement.

However, it is very important to avoid becoming overconfident in your own newly-acquired abilities. In time I began to realize that there was a limit to what I could accomplish with SEO, while still devoting sufficient time to content research and authoring, webmaster duties, as well as other marketing endeavors.

So we made the decision to hire an outside SEO firm to help us. After doing extensive research (well over 20 quotes) we settled on a smaller company out of Idaho that impressed us with their knowledge and vision for our site. We managed to negotiate an innovative agreement with them that would see us pay a reduced rate upfront, and then pay a higher total price only if we obtained a set number of goals (in our case, a first-page listing on Google for each of our five target keywords).

This allowed us to make the initial investment even with our tight budget. If we then should we see success from the campaign, we would be able to afford the higher rate. (I find it utterly laughable that SEO companies claim that they cannot offer any sort of promise that you will rank well after they take your money. What other business in the world could get away with such a brush off of responsibility for their work like that?)

The results that have come from this partnership are astonishing. With their skilled staff, they were able to correct several technical errors on our site that I had endeavored in vain to fix on my own (still working on learning web programming). Additionally, since they were taking care of the mundane SEO tasks (technical tweaks, press releases, etc.), I was able to focus my attention on higher value SEO initiatives (guest posts, high quality link exchanges, recommendations from other sites, etc.) which required more effort, more time, and an actual expert knowledge of the industry.

All of this has lead to us in less than five months improving three out of five of our target keyword rankings from an average of 60 to between #1 and #3 on Google.

3. Find creative ways to network

With such a tight focus, and a niche that in general has almost no internet presence, finding networking opportunities was by far the most difficult part of developing our site. To say it required extensive research to find other sites in our niche online is the understatement of the year. Besides other competitors, the number of directories that include our industry is limited to around five. After you get a listing there, there is really not much else out there for us to go for.

LinkedIn proved itself deserving of the accolades it frequently receives, by filling in the gaps in business marketing like it has. By creating a custom profile for myself, and for Baghouse.com, we were able to introduce ourselves to others in our industry. Along with that, LinkedIn groups provided us with not just one, but a number of different forums to post our articles, find help with technical questions, and introduce ourselves as industry problem solvers to potential customers.

In fact, the most visitors we ever received was when I posted a link to an article on five ways to increase dust collector efficiency to one of the LinkedIn groups, and then asked for everyone to share their thoughts on it, and let me know what if any additional items I could cover in the next article in the series. It resulted in a traffic increase of over 200%, and brought me to the attention of several major players in the industry, which then lead to several offers to write for several important trade magazines.

4. Guest post like your life depends on it, and expand your topic’s reach

Of all the SEO/web marketing tactics out there, few provide as many benefits as guest posting. Guest posting simultaneously provides means for direct marketing relationship building, and immense SEO value.

Yet I had an extremely difficult time locating sites with a similar focus to mine that allow guest posts.

My initial efforts to post on the few larger, directly related industry sites (industry trade magazines, pollution control equipment directories, etc.) ended in failure because no one would take me seriously as I did not have an established record of content that was up to their standards, and more simply because I was a nobody. So this again forced me to adapt my methods.

I started looking for ways to broaden my articles’ reach, and make new connections between what we do at baghouse.com and the rest of the world. I then began seeking out a wider range of sites that I could then guest post on.

I began to write articles that focused on the environmental aspects of our work, how our equipment is playing a part in protection the environment (environmental advocacy sites), how it protects workers from health hazards at work (workplace safety and workers’ rights sites), and how the recent legislative developments (stronger governmental pollution regulations) would soon require upgraded dust collection equipment (political blogs, environmental and corporate law sites).

Keys to success in industrial blogging

It was not easy, it did not happen overnight, and the battle to be and stay #1 will be ongoing. Nevertheless, I believe that we owe our success to these four points:

  1. Study your topic enough to be able to inform, educate, and motivate your readers: You can do this by reading trade magazines, subscribing to blogs and sites, and asking others in your field and learning from them.
  2. Learn all you can about SEO, but find a pro to help, allowing you to use your time pursuing the most valuable things: You can do this by: Reading, and studying about SEO online, and in print. Find an SEO firm that fits your company size and scope, and that can provide their services at a reasonable price with reasonable expectations.
  3. Find creative ways to network with other industry professionals and potential customers: you can do this by digging deep to find directories, news outlets, and other sites that deal with your niche. Utilize LinkedIn to the full, by creating complete profiles for both personnel and the company, and by joining Groups that fit your niche.
  4. Use guest posting to increase your prestige, improve SEO, and attract new visitors: You can do this by identifying all blogs and content publishing websites in your niche, and broadening your scope of your content as much as possible to take advantage of “nearby” niches and their blogs.

Whether blogging about industrial dust collection systems or other less common niches, you will find success if you are willing to be adaptable, insightful and creative enough to take methods that have guided countless others to blogging success, and use them to find success yourself.

Dominick is a dust collection systems expert and author, having published numerous articles, whitepapers, and news pieces covering the benefits of baghouse filter technology in controlling industrial air pollution. California born, Chicago raised, in his spare time, he writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs from his current home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

872 Subscribers in 24 Hours?!

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Could you get 872 new subscribers in just 24 hours?

Have 1,587 subscribers by the third day?

And 3,381 within three weeks?

I didn’t think I could do it either, but I did, and in this post, I’ll show you how you can do it too.

Those first 24 hours happened on November 29th…

November 29 was launch day

November 29 was the day that my new book Engagement from Scratch! officially launched to the public, in a massive, frenetic frenzy of launch promotion activities:

  • I had built relationships with all the major players that I could find…
  • Studied the successes (and failures) of the book launches of big name authors like Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, Jonathan Fields, and Seth Godin
  • Built a mini-site and two video trailers to promote the book…
  • Wrote 28 guest posts about anything and everything relating to the book (including one right here on Problogger called Why I Wrote the Kind of Book That I Hate)…
  • Ran a “nominate your engagement superstar” contest on the blog, that attracted dozens of nominations for the position (Adrienne Smith was the winner)…
  • Spent over $2,000 on postage to mail out hundreds of review copies of the book…
  • And then, to top it all off, I wrote the ultimate book marketing guide documenting everything that I had done for anyone who was interested.

The results were impressive; 872 people downloaded the book in the first 24 hours, 1,587 had downloaded it by the third day, and the book keeps getting downloaded (on days with zero special promotion, I’m averaging 30-50 new subscribers).

So, am I telling you that to get tons of subscribers you need to write a book and have a huge, fancy launch?

No, not necessarily.

You see, the truth is that it wasn’t really the launch itself that made it all happen…

It’s about doing it fully baked (and then some!)

The real lesson that I learned from the book, from my co-authors, and from the launch, is that it really doesn’t matter what your particular tactics are; whether it’s a book, or a launch, or a contest, or a round-up of expert opinions, or a video series, or whatever – what makes all the difference is whether you’re doing it all half-baked, or fully, beautifully baked to perfection.

Here’s what I mean—these are some examples of half-baked ways of doing things:

  • Releasing a book: Outlining and writing it over the course of a month, getting a cover designed, turning it into an ebook, putting it on your site, maybe making it available on Kindle, emailing your list about it, and maybe writing a handful of guest posts.
  • Doing a round-up post: Sending an email to a few dozen industry experts asking them for their number one tip on your subject area, pulling it all together into a post, and publishing it.
  • Running a contest: Writing a post with a question, and asking people to leave a comment answering it, with the best comment winning a prize.
  • Writing guest posts: Committing to write one guest post per week, and really writing two or three posts per month (about 30 posts per year).
  • Doing a survey: Outlining a survey, plugging it into SurveyMonkey, writing a blog post about it, emailing your list about it, sharing it on social media, and then writing a post about the results.
  • Creating a video series: Making a list of things that your audience would be interested in, turning on a flip camera and recording yourself answering the questions.

Do these descriptions sound like viable strategies to you? Well, they aren’t—not even close. Here’s the fully baked way of getting it done:

  • Releasing a book: Research exactly what angle will most interest your audience, then do the work to create the best possible book that you can (reaching out to 30 industry experts and soliciting chapters from them if necessary). Get the cover designed, do the typesetting, get the book edited, and have it produced in paperback, PDF, and for the Kindle. Do an elaborate book launch with a minisite, two trailers, a contest, and dozens of guest posts.
  • Doing a round-up post: Spend hours coming up with three questions that your audience would just love to have an answer to, and will really get the contributors thinking. Then reach out to the experts with personalized emails explaining why you picked them for the project, and why their answers will help your readers. Assembling the answers into a series of posts, releasing them with as much promotion as you can manage, and sending personalized thank you emails to all of the contributors when the posts go live.
  • Running a contest: Choose a premise for the contest that will be valuable to contestants and to your audience, and come up with prizes that will be attractive and appealing. Put out and publicize a call for contestants, and then correspond with contestants over the course of a month and a half to get the best entries you can ready for show-time. Then display the entrants to your audience over the course of a month, and let them vote on the winners.
  • Writing guest posts: Committing to write an average of five guest posts per month, sticking to it, and ramping up to as many as 20 or 30 posts per month when you’ve got something big to promote, or that you want to spread the word about (writing more than 80 posts in a year).
  • Doing a survey: Come up with a series of questions to which data-driven answers would be valuable to your audience, and then crafting a detailed survey to gather that information. Then find over a dozen partners to help you spread the word about the survey, collect the data over the course of a week, do the statistical analysis to extract the results (or hire someone to do it for you), and create a report sharing those results with everyone who participated.
  • Creating a video series: Spend a month mapping out a detailed curriculum for your video series, and then scripting each of the videos. Carefully record and edit the videos, add music and effects, and create worksheets and resources to go with each and every one. Then show them to people to get feedback, and make them better before releasing them to your audience.

Do you see the difference? It’s the difference between doing just the bare-boned necessities of the strategy, and going all out, above and beyond to make it as much of a success as it possibly can be.

Half-baked implementations rarely work (believe me, I’ve tried), but fully baked implementations often do. Which begs the question…

Why is there so much half-baked stuff out there?

Near as I can figure, there are four big reasons why there’s such a huge amount of half-baked garbage circling around the interwebs and blogosphere, and those four reasons are laziness, lack of passion, bad advice, and fear…

The first reason is laziness

This is the guy (or gal) who’s bought the “internet lifestyle” routine hook, line, and sinker. They want to make tons of money without doing any work, and cycle through one short-cut scheme after another that doesn’t create value for anybody (except, they hope, for themselves).

This is the only reason for half-baked implementation that I have no respect for, and I wish the people who fit into this category would get out of the game, because they give the rest of us a bad name.

The good news is that there aren’t a lot of people like this, though—most of the people who might seem to be lazy are actually suffering from either lack of passion, or bad advice…

Then there’s lack of passion

This is much more common than actual laziness, because a lot of people confuse passion for their outcome with passion for the path that will bring them there.

In other words, they’re passionate about the lifestyle that their online business will create, but they aren’t passionate about the actual business—it’s just a means to an end, and they’re following it because they’ve been sold on the idea that it’s incredibly easy (which it isn’t). Unfortunately, if you aren’t passionate about the work that you’re actually doing, then you aren’t going to go all-out to make it all spectacular.

The solution to this is to find something that you really are passionate, and make your work all about that—because if it isn’t, you won’t be motivated enough to do the work that needs to be done.

There’s just plain bad advice

Yes, let’s face it, the internet is full of bad advice, and the particular piece of bad advice that I’m talking about here is the “don’t worry about making it good, just get something out there” idea that is flung around in action-oriented productivity circles.

The logic driving this advice is that doing something is better than doing nothing, but the truth is that if you’re doing something mediocre, it isn’t all that much better than doing nothing at all.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that you should do nothing—I’m saying that you should brace yourself, take the plunge, and do something truly awesome. At this point, there’s usually one reason why people still don’t do it, and that reason is fear…

And then there’s fear

There are all manners of fear that keep us in the world of half-bakedness (to coin a new word):

  • The fear of failure (“What if I blow it?”)
  • The fear of success (“If this actually works, will I be able to handle it?”)
  • The fear of being judged (“Who am I to take on something like that?”)
  • The fear of being accountable and overwhelmed (“What if I tell everyone that I’ll do this, and then blow it?”)

These are all legitimate, serious fears that keep people from achieving greatness (or even taking the chance that they might achieve it) every single day.

A lot of people aren’t going to like my solution to this particular problem, but here it is:

Suck it up, and do it anyway.

Yes, we all feel fear. A week before my book launched, I was terrified, thinking “What if it bombs? The book is about building engagement—I’ll have zero credibility left!”

Well, that’s just tough—without taking risks, nothing of significance is ever achieved. And taking risks means that every so often, life is going to kick you in the teeth. When that happens, we nurse our wounds, pick ourselves off the ground, dust ourselves off, and try again.

So are you afraid? Probably.

Was I afraid? Definitely.

But I sucked it up, and so can you.

What about time? Isn’t that a reason, too?

The other excuse that people sometimes hide behind is time.

You’re working a full-time job, and doing your business on the side. You have a spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, and friends who complain that they don’t see you anymore.

In light of all that, is it fair to say that half-baked may be the most you have time to do?

Sorry, but no.

In the last year, I released a book, ran two contests, wrote 80+ guest posts, did a survey campaign, and created several video series… in addition to running my business, and planning a wedding.

Do you have to do all that to be successful? No, you don’t.

But can you pick JUST ONE campaign and throw yourself into it?

Yes, you can.

What will you throw yourself into?

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration—in other words, the ideas are easy, but then it’s the work that separates the successes from the wannabes.

It’s throwing myself into the work that got those 80+ guest posts written.

It’s throwing myself into the work that grew Firepole Marketing into a recognized brand in just a year.

And it’s throwing myself into the work that got me 872 subscribers in 24 hours.

So if you were looking for overnight success, as in 24 hours’ worth of work that would get you a giant number of subscribers, traction, and money, then I’m sorry to disappoint.

But if you’re looking for the real secret to true success in business, life, and everything else, that you’re willing to put the time and energy into applying for real over the course of the coming year, then there you have it.

So what are you going to throw yourself into this year? What project will you take on, plan, work at, and build into something truly spectacular, and truly awesome? How are you going to change the world?

Find and answer to that question, and then get started.

Good luck, and godspeed. I’ll see you at the finish line.

Leave a comment and answer this question: what will you throw yourself into?

Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a. the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works at Firepole Marketing. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on building engaged audiences from scratch (available on Amazon, or as a free download).

Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog

This guest post is by Naveen Jayawardena of sleepWRITER.

When I decided to start a blog on sleep habits, I wanted to try something different. As any aspiring blogger, I was trying to stand out from the crowd. And I did it by creating my own graphics.

Now I run my blog exclusively with “home-made” graphics. My readers love it and I enjoy making graphics as much as writing posts.

The alam bully, who features on Naveen's SleepWriter.com website

I am not a professional graphic designer. So I can assure you that most people can learn how to make graphics with a little practise.

I am a self-taught amateur graphic artist. And I started out from scratch. And I will tell you how to do it yourself.

I use “home-made” graphics for each and every one of my blog posts. If you are wondering whether this is worth all the trouble, then consider these benefits you can get from using graphics:

  1. Graphics blend in with the blog design more easily than photos. I have limited my blog design to few colors and could not have achieved this without the use of graphics.
  2. It’s much cheaper than buying photos or graphics.
  3. It introduces your own, unique voice to the your posts via graphics.
  4. You can come up with the right picture for the posts every time.
  5. You can explain difficult concepts with infographics.
  6. Making graphics is fun. Drawing a few sketches after writing a post can help you relax and think creatively.

How do you start?

If you’re an absolute beginner, I suggest you start simply. Don’t worry about your graphics not being lifelike. The idea is to create your own style, with which others can identify your graphics.

You can draw something on paper and scan it, or take a picture of it from a digital camera. This is a very basic method of using graphics. You can draw cartoons and add lists in your own handwriting.

At some point you need to learn to use graphics software. I use Adobe Illustrator, but there are plenty of other software packages that can do a good job. I suggest you stick to one and learn it well.

You can learn from books, web tutorials, video tutorials and by attending classes. There is a range of brands under each category, and most of them cover the basics. I used video tutorials but I feel that having someone to show you the ropes can help you learn faster. Take time to learn the basic functions, and remember that learning keyboard short-cuts can save you a lot of time in future.

Once you have the basic skills in place, you can explore on your own. But if you are serious about graphics, then there are plenty of online tutorials that teach you, step-by-step, how to create advanced graphics. I use online tutorials to sharpen my skills and also to learn new “tricks.”

To create good graphics, you need to be a good observer. Look at the graphics on stock graphic collections and libraries. What techniques are they using? Can you replicate them? Look at the graphics and cartoons that appear on newspapers and websites and learn.

Once you are confident in making graphics, then you can adopt your own style and technique. When I write a post, I also think of the graphics which can go with it. If I don’t get a good idea for a graphic, I finish my writing and visit again with a fresh perspective for a graphic idea.

What are the drawbacks?

It would be unfair if I told you only the good side of creating your own graphics. I have encountered few disadvantages of using graphics for my blog:

  1. Detailed graphics take time. This can affect your posting routine. But with practice, you can create them faster. You can recycle old graphics to save time.
  2. It takes time to learn to make graphics. It took me few years to master the art of graphics and I still learn. It is not a quick fix.
  3. It may not suit all types of blogs. But it is worth a try.

Graphics can be a nice addition to your blog. I hope I inspired at least a few of you to bring your inner artist to your blogs! Please do share your own experiences using graphics on your blogs.

Naveen Jayawardena is a doctor by profession and blogs during his free time. You can find plenty of graphics and sleep tips at sleepWRITER.

Why Most Bloggers will Fail, No Matter How Hard They Try

This guest post is by John Smith of WeightLossTriumph.

If you visit your favorite blogging tips and marketing tips blog today, you will come across a lot of tips, ranging from tips on writing well to tips on building an audience.

The reality is that a lot of new blogs spring up every day, and the majority of these blogs are bound to fail right from the beginning. It’s not because there is something wrong with their approach, but because they fail to neglect something really important: their wellbeing.

Do you know that blogging is not only a physical challenge? It is also a mental challenge.

There are a lot of things we bloggers go through every day that no amount of practice will help make easier, but by focusing on being okay in every aspect of our lives (mental, emotional, physical, etc.) we’ll find those challenges easier to deal with.

In this article I’ll be touching some subjects bloggers hardly discuss online, and I’ll be giving tips to help you deal with them.

Dealing with criticism

Do you know that one of the major dangers of being a blogger is being exposed to criticism? If you’re still a new blogger you might not have noticed it yet, but in over two years of blogging, I have seen several clear examples of blogging criticisms. In fact, I have seen bloggers been sent death threats, and I have seen several bloggers quit because of that. Why? Because they chose to give value to the world through their blogging.

If you think blogging is a bed of roses, or if you think everybody will be your friend, then you need to think twice. There are hateful people online hiding under the cloak of anonymity. There are also people who are ready to vent their anger on you as a result of some personal problem they’re facing. The best way to deal with this is to be prepared, and to get ready for the worst at any time.

Blogging has a great emotional connection to it, and a lot of bloggers these days are starting to pay the price of being celebrities. You need to realize that there are people that will come and vent their hate against you for no reason whatsoever, and you should be ready for them.

I’m not trying to say you should fight back. Instead, I’m telling you not to take it personally. You need to realize that their reason for criticizing you isn’t because you’re the problem. You should also know that not all criticisms are bad. Naturally, there are healthy and unhealthy criticisms, and it is your duty to be able to differentiate the healthy criticisms from the unhealthy ones, and to improve where necessary.

Dealing with failure

Another problem you have to deal with as a blogger is failure. It can get really tough when you plan to achieve something in six months and can’t achieve it in one year—especially when you see another blogger getting better results with what looks like little to no effort in the same time span.

The first tip I have for you is to try to avoid jealousy. You need to realize that failure is part of the game, and that we all have our own challenges and our ways of dealing with them. Don’t be jealous of another blogger’s success. Jealousy is always unhealthy. Instead, take a look at what that blogger is doing, what approach he or she is taking, and start viewing the person as healthy competition.

It’s also very important not to allow your fear of failure prevent you from trying. You need to realize that failure is part of this game, and that not everything is bound to work. If you’re afraid of failing, you will have a hard time succeeding. Your first step is to eliminate every fear of failure within you, so that you can easily try new things no matter what the outcome might be.

Eating well

Do you know that the food you eat can have a great impact on several aspects of your life, including how you think and solve problems, and how you react to emotional challenges?

Have you ever woken up and found it difficult to work hard or get motivated for the day, even though you had a normal sleep the previous night? While sleeping and resting regularly is great, it is very important for you to realize that the food you eat will to a great extent influence your physical activities.

Most things we do as bloggers require us to think and plan effectively, and we also have to deal with the results emotionally—whether good or bad—which is exactly why it is important for us to eat good food to help ourselves be more effective. In other words, eating junk foods makes you dull and emotionally weak, and as a result you will only create poor work that brings bad results. The results will also deal you a massive blow since you’ll likely be emotionally weak.

If you’re emotionally strong, you can easily turn even the worst of problems into a lasting solution, so being careful with what you eat should always be a priority as a blogger.

While you might think you will make a lot more money and get fast results by “saving time” by eating junk foods, you’ll often discover you find it difficult to focus and concentrate because you aren’t in the right frame of mind to do quality work.

Improve your diet, and you’ll be amazed at how much your blogging will improve.

Exercising regularly

Do you know that regular exercise has a lot of benefits, including helping you gain energy and making you more emotionally stable?

I have observed carefully what I can do on a day when I exercise compared to a day when I don’t. I’ve noticed I can get two times more work done if I spend around two hours a day exercising compared to when I don’t.

Are you in a bad mood after waking up in the morning? Do you want to get some serious work done in any given day? Spend at least one hour exercising every day, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

To be honest with you, exercising isn’t that easy if you haven’t done it before, so start with ten minutes a day, and then scale it up till you can do one hour a day. Trust me: you will want to do more of it when you see the benefits.

I think, as bloggers, we have a lot more to worry about than our content and marketing ourselves, and we also have to be taking regular measures to ensure we’re physically and mentally active. The above are a few tips that can help you! I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

John is an expert weight loss blogger who teaches people how to lose weight on WeightLossTriumph. He also gives the best nutrisystem coupon code and medifast discount code on his blog.

Blogging With Kids: 9 Tips and Tricks to Keep You Sane

This guest post is by Marya Zainab of Writing Happiness.

Are you a blogger? Are you also a Mum with school age kids? Or a stay-at-home Dad?

If you’re like me, you might find it really difficult to manage your time—and your life—to get some writing done. You are talented, you are persistent. If only you could be really productive, so you can get some work done.

And you can be! All it takes is smart use of your time. This is what I recommend. Feel free to take what gels and discard the rest.

It’s okay to lie to people who don’t “get it”

Have you ever tried to tell your son’s school teacher that the reason why you can’t volunteer at the latest fun raiser is because you have to blog?

Apart from the blank stare that you’d most likely get, you would then have to explain yourself, become defensive and go away feeling very guilty, or carry a list of stuff that you ended up saying yes to.

Try telling the teacher you have other commitments that you simply can’t get out of.

One of your not-so-close friends is having a casual get together? Tell her you have some work-related stuff to do.

If the world is going to pretend that I, as a blogger, don’t have kids, I am going to pretend I have imaginary work-related commitments.

Think of the whole process as trying to save yourself the guilt trip and spare others trying to understand what blogging is. Tell people who do understand, by all means; they probably will get it anyway.

Appliances are your best friends

I don’t have a dishwasher in my house. For one, I don’t have the space for it, but the real reason is that I really don’t mind doing the dishes. This is almost a mind-cleansing activity for me.

The fact that I don’t have to use my brain to wash the dishes keeps my hands occupied while I have the time to clear my head and sort through things. I often get my best ideas when I am doing the dishes, and often go away (happily at that) to jot ideas.

But you might hate it! And that’s even more the reason to get a trusted dishwasher, if you haven’t already. While you’re in the process, get yourself a dryer, a weekly cleaning service (if you can afford it), kids’ car pools etc. Do your grocery shopping online. Let kids become a part of the solution—assign them some basic chores.

Outsource as many things that don’t require you personally to get done. This can save you valuable time.
My most favorite—TV, of course! Although use it with caution, and use sparingly. A close second is take-away one week night so I don’t have to worry about cooking for that night.

Get some help from Dad

Nothing beats a hands-on Dad. Get his help with various chores and kids activities.

Get him to cook one night of the week. Ask him to take the kids for their weekend sports. Ask him to do the night-time-bath-and-story-book thing once a week. Is he naturally more chatty, more outgoing than you are? Swap roles of being a “school mum.”

Is he stronger than you? Of course he is—remind him of this when he is grumbling about mopping the floors!

Be flexible

The only way a mum can survive as a blogger is to be as flexible as possible. You will miss out on a lot if you don’t.

There will always be things related to your kids and your household that you would have to do first. You won’t be able to write if your four-year-old is screaming for Spaghetti Bolognese right now. You won’t be able to write if your kid is at home sick—or your partner is home sick behaving like one.

Making an occasional batch of cupcakes with your kids will earn you serious brownie points and will go a long way in creating a harmonious relationship. Hopefully, they will then take a long time to eat those cupcakes as you sit down to write.

Just relax and look at a problematic situation differently. And be flexible.

Live one life

If your blog permits it, bring your children in the picture. Let them sprinkle their magic on your blog.
Then turn around the do the same for them—let your kids see you work. Show them you are as proud of your blog as you are of them. They may not understand it if they are little, but they will get used to see you do other things beside cook and clean.

Just the other day, my four-year-old told his older brother, “stop blogging me!” That lead to great laughter all around. He might not know what blogging is—he probably thinks it a synonym for “blocking”—but at least he is aware of the lingo. Many adults still aren’t.

Put on your oxygen mask first

How many times have you heard that happy parents make for a happy household?

Well, that is in fact the truth. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others. Do the things that really make you happy. This doesn’t make you selfish. Think of it as an investment. When you invest in yourself, your family reaps the rewards.

If blogging inspires you, by all means do it. Remember that you would have to prioritize some time for yourself, otherwise you will never be able to get it done.

Every time I complete my blogging goals for the day, I feel on top of the world. I am a happier mum, I am a joy to be around, and my kids love me even more.

You don’t have to be a poster parent

Resist to be a contestant for the race of being the Best Mum in the world. There are plenty of things you can do without:

  • You don’t have to bring adorable, homemade snacks to your kids’ school. Realize that you can buy cookies from the supermarket and nobody will really care.
  • You don’t have to have your house in tip-top condition. Well in case nobody ever told you, kids are messy: they make a mess everywhere they go! Must you clean after them all day long? Avoid doing activities that lead to even more messes, especially when you are running short on time.
  • Ironing your family’s PJ’s? Hello!

A blogging parent and pedestal parent are not mutually exclusive. Stop comparing yourself with others. Aim for “good enough.”

Focus

It’s about the quality than quantity. Be present. Be truly present in the moment, whatever you are doing. Whether it be playing with your kids, or writing that next blog post that goes viral. If you are distracted and spread yourself too thin, you will end up totally exhausting yourself.

  • Plan your day well ahead of the schedule. If there’s one thing every blogger mum or dad needs, it is to manage their time. You have to become extremely organized and self-disciplined—and you need an organizer.
  • Create more detailed to-do lists.
  • Plan weekly menus.
  • Organize your outfits for the week if you work outside the house.
  • For a clutter-free house, give something away when you buy something new. It’s a great lesson to pass on to your children as well.

Take this advice, and you’ll have more meaningful time to spend with your family, and even some left over for yourself. Best of all, you won’t feel so guilty about the time spent blogging.

Find a great blogging partner

While it sounds fantastic to have some real-life friends who are mums and bloggers on top of it, it’s very unlikely you will magically discover them.

I am very lucky to have a best friend who actually encouraged me to take up blogging in the first place. She is the most wonderful person to talk about my blogging “habit,” as even my husband struggles be understanding sometimes.

Find yourself other blogger mums online, take your time time to get to know them and then befriend one or two as real friends—not just the networking sort of friend. You will sleep better knowing you have one person who “gets it!”

Blogger mums and dads, what tips and tricks can you add to this list? Share them with us in the comments.

Marya is a communicator of ideas – writing for bloggers, writers and content creators. Catch more of her posts at Writing Happiness. Grab her FREE 29 page ebook How to Write Blog Content that Works – Get Noticed Online (and elsewhere!). Follow her @WritingH, she is very friendly.