Close
Close

Is It Time to Hit the Reset Button on Your Blog?

This guest post is by Joseph of Blog Tweaks.

Don’t worry, nearly every blogger knows the story. You’ve been writing for six months or more, but haven’t seen a significant increase in traffic. Some of your posts have have been successful, but the majority have gone unnoticed.

Quite frankly, you’re ready to quit.

But should you?

No. Don’t give up just yet.

Why you shouldn’t give up yet

Did you know that most professional bloggers weren’t successful with their first blogs? This list includes Darren Rowse, Jon Morrow, and Johnny Truant.

With so much to learn in the first year, it’s almost impossible to start a successful blog on the first try.

But you also learn a lot in that first year. You learn how to write better posts and how to craft compelling headlines. You learn how to use Facebook and Twitter for promotion, and how to work the technical side of WordPress or Blogger or whatever platform you’re using.

After a year of blogging, you’ve got a lot invested in your blog. If things are going rough 12 months, it’s not time to quit just yet.

So what should you do instead?

Hit the Reset button

Instead of giving up on your blog, you should hit the Reset button.

It’s not that your blog isn’t any good—you just didn’t know what you were doing when you started. This is the case with most bloggers.

When starting, they don’t know what they want to write about, and they don’t know how to write for an audience. Most people don’t even know how to write a simple post or headline.

It makes sense that you wouldn’t be successful with your first blog. Does a magazine owner start a successful magazine without any experience? Of course not.

Magazine owners start successful magazines after being in the industry for a decade or more. After years of experience, they’re ready to start a publication. That’s what the first year of blogging is all about—gaining industry experience.

So now that you have some experience, how do you use it to run a successful blog? And what do you do if your current blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like?

Here’s what to do—instead of giving up, hit one of the two blog Reset buttons.

Reset button #1: the Refresh button

If your blog is good enough, you may be able to get away with hitting Reset button number one—the Refresh button. This means cleaning up the clutter, giving your blog a new look, and planning for the future.

To refresh your blog, mercilessly delete any weak or unnecessary posts. After this, take a serious look at everything else on the site. If there are any tags or widgets that are creating clutter and adding no value, get rid of them. All of them.

Widgets shouldn’t just take up space. If you can’t think of what value that they add or if they take away from something important, it’s time for them to go.

Here’s an example: Do you really need a calendar widget for your blog? Do people actually use it? And even if a handful of people do, should it really sit above other important sidebar elements like your subscription widget?

The answer is no. It’s got to go. If there’s anything else like this, it needs to go as well.

The goal is to have a clean, uncluttered site that doesn’t distract from the steps that you want people to take. That means reading your posts, subscribing for future posts, clicking on ads, or anything else that is really important for you.

If there’s anything that doesn’t fit into one of these important categories, it needs to be removed. Immediately.

After cutting out the unnecessary clutter, the next step is to refresh your blog’s look. This is the time to invest in that premium theme you’ve been looking at. They’re usually around $80 and totally worth it.

If you want people to take your blog seriously, you need a professional looking site. To get one, invest in a premium theme.

This is how to hit the Refresh button. If your blog needs more help than this, it may be time for the Eject button.

Reset button #2: the Eject button

It’s possible that your blog is in worse condition than the refresh button can help with. When you started, you really didn’t know what you were doing. Your blog was totally an experiment, and you don’t even like your topic any more.

In this case, you need to hit Reset button number two—the Eject button.

If you’re really tired of your blog and you know you’re ready to start over, now is the time to do it. Hit the Eject button and get out of your blog while you still can. It’s time to start over.

The harsh reality is that you have a limited amount of time to write for your blog. Everything you write needs to be creating value for the reader and needs to contribute toward your long term goals. If you feel like your blog is headed in the wrong direction, don’t just try to wash it up a bit—get out as quickly as you can.

If you do, don’t quit—start another blog. Take some time to decide what you really want to write about, and then get to work.

Pick a topic that will get you going in the direction that you want to go. Then, start a self-hosted WordPress blog with a premium theme that will give you the flexibility and look that you need to create a professional impression that readers will take seriously.

After getting these pieces in place, it’s time to start writing again. Go ahead, make that keyboard work.

A fresh start

Don’t worry, it’s okay to start over. A fresh start in a new direction may be exactly what your blog needs. You may not realize it, but most bloggers have done it already. Most successful bloggers didn’t start out with the site that they’re currently writing. Most of them hit one of these two Reset buttons.

So what do you think? Is it time for you to hit the Reset button?

Joseph recently started Blog Tweaks which specializes in helping bloggers reset their blogs. Check out the site to see how you can get your blog tweaked.

From $0 to $1000 on a Blogspot Blog

This guest post is by Sid of GeeksMakeMoney.

It has been a year now since an eventful day when I was browsing the Internet and clicked on an advertisement that seemed an obvious scam: Get 90% off a new iPad. “Yeah, right,” I thought. But I wanted to check it out anyway since I seemed to recall seeing the same ad previously, and I wondered if it was a new type of scam I should be aware of. As it turned out, it wasn’t a scam, just misleading advertising … and thus began my blog on penny auctions, which are a class of entertainment auctions.

I found the idea exciting enough to blog about. I was just getting interested in multi-player game theory and thought that auctions are a nice field to study. The problem was, I had no experience of problogging at all. Like so many others, all I previously had was a blog for my random musings but nothing serious. I had a very elementary knowledge of SEO which I gained working as a freelance writer. I knew nothing about how to rank well in Google or how to use backlinks effectively. As a writer, the only promotional tool I did know about was article marketing.

I started this blog in May 2010, and it’s been growing for one year now. Looking back, I have learned so much and there is still so much to learn. Here is my journey in a nutshell.

Blogspot is okay!

The thing that surprises people the most about my blog is that it is a Blogspot (or Blogger.com) blog. Yes, it is against the holy grail of problogging, but there is a very simple explanation—I didn’t know better! If I had waited to gain all the technical knowledge needed to have my own hosting, I know I would never have started, which would have been an even bigger mistake.

If I had a chance to create this blog all over again, I would of course choose WordPress and have my own hosting. That being said, I was just following the very fundamentals of blogging: sharing with others what I knew and what I thought. These details didn’t matter to me then.

Using Blogger is really convenient for me as I can spend almost all of my time writing posts instead of anything else. Since my primary purpose was just to share my thoughts rather than making money from the blog, Blogger was a natural choice. However, even now, it seems it isn’t as bad as it is made out to be!

The jump from blogging to problogging

No, I didn’t start the blog with the intention of making money from it. Truth be told, I didn’t even know how to at that time. I just started the blog because I felt intrigued by the niche I was blogging about and had a thing or two to share. I wouldn’t say I was passionate about the niche like a dog-lover is about his dog-related blog. However, I was certainly interested and curious and it was always a good learning experience.

The shift from blogging to pro-blogging for me was very gradual. As I saw more and more people visit my blog, I thought it would be a good idea to start monetizing the blog. As is common with beginners, I really had an information overload and didn’t really know where to start. The simplest was Google Adsense and I started off with it. Even now, I get about $100/month from one ad unit of Google Adsense on my blog although I have moved to better ways of monetization.

If you have a blog, you don’t need to monetize it immediately. You don’t even need to get started with that intention. It is true that it is all about the traffic. Once you build an authority in this area, there are a hundred ways to make money. The first step is not about making pennies and then dollars but about building an authority and brand that people look up to and trust.

Blogging in a new niche: advantages and disadvantages

When I started a year ago, there were very few blogs on penny auctions, if at all. There was just one famous forum on this topic and no well known blogs. This has plenty of advantages and disadvantages and it was a very different learning experience than blogging in Internet marketing, affiliate marketing, or other more common areas.

The biggest advantage that I can think of is the ease of ranking. When I started, I wrote a couple of general posts and then a strategy which would help people improve their winning chances on an auction. I didn’t have any backlinks to this post at all. It so happened that it was indexed and ranked within the first page of Google then (it would never happen today!) and I could see a small but steady stream of traffic. For me, without this initial encouragement, I would never have taken to problogging.

The biggest disadvantage was there was no community of bloggers. I couldn’t comment on related blogs, which is central to most other blogging success stories. Even today, I hardly know of five bloggers in my niche. Another disadvantage is that there is no precedent so you need to do your own research and take leaps of faith quite often. You do things that you think are right, which may be absurd for this particular industry. For example, when I first started banner advertising on my blog, I had no clue how to go about it or how to price them. I only learned through a series of failures, which looking back seem like obvious mistakes.

The importance of knowing how your niche is unique

I think it is very important to realize how your niche is unique and different from other niches. This is particularly so when you are blogging in a new area because there is ample scope to do things differently and be creative. Finally, it is all about creating value to readers and advertisers.

I figured out relatively early that there are plenty of new businesses opening up and they don’t have adequate ways to advertise except with Google Adwords. I gave them a very good alternative: advertise on my blog! I have had excellent advertiser feedback for the amount and quality of traffic my blog sends to their site, which is also why I charge more than what a blog in another niche would for the same amount of traffic. I also realized that featured blog posts, especially promotional ones with coupon codes are good both for my readers and my advertisers, so that was another area I was making money off.

It is very important to know what the readers of your niche are looking for and what the advertisers are looking for. By matching their two needs, you can create a good harmony and make good money off it in a sustainable fashion.

Knowing what to promote

Reading online about affiliate marketing, I wanted to enter the niche as well. Problem was, I didn’t have many products that I could promote. I found an ebook about winning penny auctions on ClickBank that I wanted to give a try, but I never liked the idea from the beginning—I thought my blog had superior information!

With time, I found some sites that gave me a percentage of sales that I make—CPA advertising. If my visitors registered at the site and bought a product, I would be rewarded. With experience, I figured out this would be the best way for me to make money from my blog and I was right. Today, more than half of my income comes from affiliate marketing but not from promoting a product but from promoting a website. Of course I need to be extremely careful that the site I promote is indeed good for my readers.

Earnings overview

In the end, I want to share with you my breakdown of earnings. As of now, I have three primary sources of money on my blog:

  1. Google Adsense: One ad unit near the header. For May, I made about $100 from this.
  2. Direct advertising: I contact advertisers directly and tell them how they can get value from my blog. I usually combine banners with featured blog posts (mostly coupon codes). For May, I made about $350 from this.
  3. Affiliate marketing: Out of a bunch of sites, I chose the one that I found the best fit for my readers. For the money of May, I made about $750 through this route.

Did you start blogging in a new niche? Do you run a Blogger blog as well? I would love to hear comments from you!

Sid is a freelance writer and blogger. He is one of the top Penny Auction Blogger and an expert in this niche. He is sharing his tips to Make Money Online and is the blogger at Geeks Make Money. He is always happy to connect to his readers through blog comments and ready to help those are beginning their journey online.

Top 20 iPhone Apps for Bloggers

This guest post is by Daniel Scocco of Next iPhone News.

The Internet changes pretty fast, and if you want to have a popular blog, you must keep up with it. What if you get an awesome idea for a new post while at dinner? What if an important news breaks while you are at a birthday party? The bottom line is: you should be able to work on your blog all day long, even if you are not sitting in front of your computer.

How do you do that? With an iPhone! The 20 apps below will help you blog on the go, find ideas and images for your posts, track your analytics, promote your posts on social media and so on. Enjoy!

1. WordPress

If you are reading this blog I am guessing you use WordPress, right? The WordPress app for iPhone gives you everything you need to make a quick post, edit previous posts, edit pages, reply to comments and the like. In other words, it lets you manage your blog even while you’re commuting on a train or taking a break from driving on a highway. Just recently, the app was updated to version 8, bringing one essential feature suited for mobile bloggers: the ability to post photos that you’ve taken using your iPhone’s camera. Perfect!

2. Evernote

Literature on being a successful blogger will always tell you to be organized with your thoughts and to keep notes for your ideas. With Evernote, which is a very popular getting-things-done application, you can do that quite efficiently with your iPhone. You’ll find it’s an awesome tool for organizing your digital life.

3. TypePad

Okay, so your blog is not on WordPress? Then it must be using TypePad. This app lets you do things that you can normally do on your blog using your computer—write new posts, post photos to your blog, and alert your friends when you’ve published a new post, You know what’s great? The TypePad app integrates with the desktop client, too.

4. PayPal

PayPal is a must-have for bloggers and online entrepreneurs. When you want to check your balance, withdraw your hard-earned money, or pay-off a contracting service, you can do so now through the PayPal iPhone app. I’ve used this app many times before, and it’s secure, fast, and reliable.

5. Instapaper

Instapaper is an useful app to keep track of interesting posts and pages you found online. I mean, being a blogger, I’m sure you do a lot of web surfing using your iPhone. Since you’re on the move, though, you won’t have time to finish reading all those articles, so using this app becomes quite handy.

6. Twitter

Find me a blogger who doesn’t have a Twitter account and I will quickly say that the person is not a true-blue blogger. If PayPal is the official financial service of bloggers, Twitter is the official microblogging service. In fact, it’s not a microblogging service anymore. It has become an official communication medium for online geeks. There are many Twitter apps for iPhone, but why bother with third-party apps if there is this official one?

7. Analytics App

Once you start using Google Analytics it’s easy to get addicted. If you already are, then you’ll certainly want to install the official Google Analytics iPhone app. This should also save you from boredom in those situations you have nothing else to do.

8. iEarn

Useful if you’re running Google AdSense on your blog, this iPhone app will let you check your earnings and statistics with all the AdSense aggregate data (including revenues for today, revenues for yesterday, last seven days, this month, and last month). The app also gives you statistics on your AdSense impressions, clicks, eCPM, and CTR.

9. Byline

A useful tool for getting the latest news from your favorite sites and blogs, which you can use as a reference for blog posts, new ideas and outbound links. What’s good about this app is that it syncs with your Google Reader account and delivers the latest and most updated news feeds to your iPhone.

10. Blogpress

If you need to manage several blogs hosted on several blogging platforms, you definitely need this app. It supports Blogger, WordPress, TypaPad, and others. It also integrates well with social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Picasa. The app lets you do most of the things that you will normally do while log-in to your blog using your computer. One thing that you will most likely appreciate from this app is that you can cross-publish a post to different blogs on different platforms.

11. CoverItLive

Sooner or later in your blogging career you’ll be prompted to live blog a certain event. If you don’t feel like bringing your laptop to said event, you can still cover it using your iPhone. Get this app and you’ll be able to launch and run live events, publish live commentary, publish photos, audio and video, email event links, and more.

12. ShoZu

This app is best described as a social media hub. That is because will let you connect with more than 50 social networking. For bloggers like us, this app also supports WordPress, Blogger and TypePad. It lets you upload photos and videos to multiple sites with one click, update status and tweets, and geotag photos.

13. Photoshop Express

We all need to edit photos and images once in a while, so Photoshop’s app for the iPhone comes in handy. It has several nifty features that we could otherwise enjoy only on our computer. This app gives you the ability to perform several photo editing functions to your images or photos—from simple cropping to filtering and applying special effects. It’s free as well.

14. Air Sharing

Let’s say you’re drafting a post while on your way home. When you finally arrive home, what’s the best and fastest way to transfer your draft to your Mac or PC to fine-tune the post some more? Well, this app of course. Air Sharing lets you mount your iPhone as a Wi-Fi device on your computer. Once mounted, you can drag and drop files from your iPhone to your computers and open them using the appropriate app.

15. Posterous

This app made it to the list because of its seamless autoposting feature that works with most blogging platforms. It’s useful to integrate different blogs, Twitter streams, and to make sure that your posts are going directly to all your online channels.

16. Tumblr

Tumblr is also known as the “other” microblogging service, which thankfully didn’t follow Twitter’s path and remained true to what it was created for. If you have a Tumblr account and you want to regularly update it with text, image, video or link posts, this app should be sitting on your iPhone’s app screen. It’s completely free.

17. WriteRoom

This app (which is the iPhone version of a popular desktop software) has one goal: to give you a distraction free writing environment. No fancy menus, options, formatting features and the like. Just plain and straight-out writing with an even more useful full-screen writing feature.

18. Photobucket

Not only is this app is useful for posting photos you’ve taken using your iPhone, but it also allows you to search for images and photos from the Photobucket website. And if you find something that you can use for a blog post, you can save the photo or image and then use it right after. It’s great for sourcing images.

19. iBlogger

The first thing you’ll notice when checking out this app from the App Store is the relatively expensive price (i.e., $10). However, this app has several nice features that make it worthy of its price. For example, it makes adding links to posts easier and it allows the integration with Google Maps and other location based services (using the iPhone’s GPS).

20. Facebook

We couldn’t leave the Facebook app for the iPhone out of the list, right? After all Facebook and blogging go hand in hand. With this app you can easily share links to your recent posts, write new updates for your followers and readers and so on.

Do you use these apps? What others can you share?

Daniel Scocco is the owner of Next iPhone News, a website that tracks the latest news, rumors and tips about the iPhone!

How to Keep Your Blog Hacker, Spammer, and Spyware-free

This guest post is by Sean Sullivan of F-Secure.

It’s a notion that strikes fear deep in the heart of every blogger. No, we’re not talking about getting dooced (fired for blogging). We’re talking about waking up in the morning, loading up your blog, and finding a screen that looks something like this:

The website has been blocked

The website has been blocked

Or perhaps it wasn’t as overt—you just discovered links injected into your site footer containing the anchor text of a certain famed pharmaceutical brand.

In any case, these kinds of scenarios aren’t good news for bloggers. Those fickle web users you work hard to attract can easily be put off by a hacked site and never return. Or, just as bad, being hacked (and not fixing it) risks the search engine equity you’ve built up over years of blogging, and which is time-consuming to restore.

If your site has been hacked or spammed, you’ve likely been through the tedious and time-intensive process of combing through MySQL databases, theme files, and directories on your server. If you’re lucky, you found the problem, removed it, and got things back up quickly (without having it replicate again, which we’ve seen). Or perhaps you had a backup copy and completed a restoration process.

But even then, this situation is not ideal. If you’re anything like us, you feel it’s unacceptable for your blog to be brought down, even for a moment—and especially by hackers.

The single most important tip? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In no area other than security is that adage more important. This is simply because hackers, both the automated and the manual kind, choose the path of least resistance.

To a large extent, many are playing the numbers game to try to build black-hat links or manipulate website content for the benefit of helping illegitimate companies rank higher in search engines. To accomplish this, hackers frequently send crawlers searching around the web, to seek out the most vulnerable sites.

So how can you stay safe?

1. Keep your blogging software up to date

As we know, most bloggers here use WordPress (and definitely most professional bloggers use a self-hosted installation). Keeping it up to date is critical. Since WordPress is so popular, unfortunately that means it’s frequent prey for hackers. By keeping up with the latest updates, you’ll ensure security, and get vulnerability fixes straight from the source, as the WordPress community actively seeks to maintain security of the software.

2. Choose secure logins and passwords

Brute force attacks can easily be prevented: choose a secure login and password. By “secure login” we mean change it from the typical “admin” to be more specific. For a “secure password,” use something that is at least ten characters long, and contains at least one upper-case letter and one symbol, such as an exclamation mark. This will make it virtually impossible for either a human or computer to guess your login details.

3. Beef up security with WordPress plugins

There’s a huge number of free WordPress plugins written by Good Samaritan developers looking to keep their blogging peers safe. A few must-haves include Secure WordPress, which removes some critical meta information that a hacker could use against you from your WordPress install, Limit Login Attempts, which makes a brute-force attack basically impossible, and WP Security Scan, which provides a report about your specific configuration of WordPress and suggests corrective actions.

4. Only blog from a system that is safe, secure, and spyware-free

Computer virus

Computer virus

For those who aren’t so tech savvy: your WordPress install (or any blog install) is software and runs on an operating system, similar to how your own computer runs.

One of the easiest ways for malicious code to find its way onto your blog is through an infected system. In reality, your blogging software is only ever as safe as the system you access it from. The best way to keep your system safe is with a comprehensive Internet security and anti-virus product. Alternatively, you can check with your ISP—many of them now offer Internet security to their subscribers.

5. Automated backups: set it and forget it

You can setup backups to be made easily via a simple plugin. Alternatively, for those who run popular sites and are very serious about the safety of their posts, Automattic (the makers of WordPress) recently started to offer a premium service called VaultPress, which provides the dead-simple backup of not just databases, but all files associated with WordPress. Frequent snapshots of your install are critical and, aside from providing peace of mind, will ensure even if you ever get hacked, you don’t lose your work.

6. Stop spammers in their tracks

You can use Akismet (which analyzes comments via hundreds of tests) to quickly and effortlessly deal with spam comments, or use Bad Behavior (which references bad IP addresses via Project HoneyPot) and block them from even reaching your site in the first place.

What to do in the worst-case scenario

Even with prevention, code compromise is always possible. It happens to even the savviest bloggers. If you ever do get hacked or find webspam on your site, and aren’t sure what to do, don’t panic and start deleting files. This can make the situation much worse.

Instead, take screengrabs of the issue, and send them to someone who specializes in WordPress (or whatever your blogging software is) along with the most recently known good backups. This issue is very common, so there are many who specialize in helping fix just this situation.

Of course, these are just basic tips for prevention that everyone should take. There are more advanced tips (for example, locking down the /wp-admin/ directory with an .htaccess file) but if you can start out by implementing the tips above, you’ll already be a notch safer than most.

Has your site been hacked? Tell us what happened—and how you rectified the problem—in the comments.

Sean Sullivan is security advisor for F-Secure, a provider of award-winning anti-virus and computer security software. You can find more great security tips like this on F-Secure’s Safe and Savvy blog and stay at the cutting edge of the latest online threats via the F-Secure labs blog.

9 Ways to Better Protect Your Blog

Warren Wooden is the owner and CEO of PLR Internet Marketing.

When I think of the amount of time that I’ve invested into my blog and its resources I’m absolutely staggered by the thought of losing any part of it. So I’ve taken certain steps to protect myself, as well as my blog.

Everyone’s blog is at a different level, but regardless of which one you look at, we all have one thing in common: we’ve poured our hearts and souls into them. Here are a few things you can do in order to protect them.

Back up your website

security

Image used with persmission

You’ve heard that advice before, and if you’ve ever had a catastrophic loss of data that took your website offline for a few hours, or—worse—a few days, I’m sure you’ve remembered it.

Backing up your website is protection from server crashes or hacker attacks, but the only way they are fully effective is if you do them religiously. Determine how often you are going to back up your data, and then simply schedule some time to do it. It takes no more than the click of a mouse usually, but can save you a ton of heartache and grief down the road.

As someone who has experienced a hacker attack, I can tell you it’s not only important to keep the last few copies of your blog, but also a known clean copy in case your backups become corrupted. Often, a website owner may not find out about a virus on his site until he’s already completed several backups. If those are all he has, he’ll be no better off than if he didn’t have any at all.

The majority of hosting companies have cPanel installed for their users. If yours does, simply log in to your control panel, and scroll down to the backup icon. Once you click it, you’ll be taken to the Backup and Restore page, where you can then click on the Download or Generate a Full Backup button. This will provide you with a full backup of the website, emails, and databases, as well as any “custom” email setups you’ve configured such as forwarding. Once the backup has finished you’ll receive an email notification and can then download the backup file to your home or office computer for safe-keeping.

It’s important to note that if you ever do run into a crisis, and do not have a current backup, most hosting providers will generate a copy from their end for a nominal fee. These backups are usually only performed weekly so you could end up a week out of date with your site’s data.

Back up your resources

Backing up your website is only half the battle. Most of us have a ton of resources sitting on our hard drives in the form of ebooks, video courses, guest posts, graphics, podcasts, competition analysis data, as well as programs we use to promote ourselves, build our social networks, or track our keyword rankings, and so much more. I’d recommend creating one master folder that contains all the individual files, so that it can be easily zipped up, labeled and stored on a separate drive or CD.

If you’ve ever downloaded materials off of the Internet you know that files are compressed for both sending and storage. Two of the most popular programs are Winrar, and Winzip. With these, you can simply right-click on the file or folder you’re looking to compress for backup, and choose Add to archive. You’ll then end up with a compressed version of all your important files and programs.

Back up your list

“The money is in the list” is another phrase I’m sure you’re aware of and many internet marketers would assert that it is their most valuable asset, yet very few people bother to back it up. Having your list under a third party’s control leaves you with no recourse should the unthinkable happen, and your list end up being lost forever.

For more information, see Are you protecting your blog’s most valuable asset?

Install protective measures

Using anti-virus measures should be a no-brainer these days, but in case you’ve missed the message, there are literally hundreds of thousands of different viruses out there, and these nasty bugs can not only crash your system, they can also steal passwords, banking information, and much more. Protecting your computer system will ensure that you’re still online tomorrow to make that post, and promote your blog.

Here’s a list of antivirus solutions listed in my personal order of preference.

I’ve used each one of these at one time or another, and they each do a commendable job of keeping you and your computer protected the majority of the time. However, it is worth noting that no antivirus program will protect you from every virus 100% of the time.

Protecting your system is only half the battle. It’s important to also protect your blog from attack. There are several methods you can choose to use to keep the bad guys out. Here are just a few to look into.

  • Antivirus plugin for WordPress. This monitors your website for changes to the code, and alerts you with an email letting you know when they’re found.
  • Exploit plugins, which scan your WordPress blog for known exploits and alert you.
  • Change the default login page. Everyone knows they can usually find the admin page of a WordPress blog by simply adding /wp-admin after the domain. By changing its location, you can effectively thwart would-be hackers.
  • Make sure file permissions aren’t set to 777 if you can help it. You can change permission settings once you’ve logged in to your site via an FTP client. If you are unsure how, contact your hosting provider and they can direct you, or most likely simply switch them for you. It literally takes a second! See a more detailed set of instructions here.
  • Use brute force protection so that if the wrong password is entered in too many times the person’s IP address is locked out for a pre-set duration.
  • Keep up to date with the latest WordPress version. WordPress is great for letting you know when there is an update to any of your plugins, make sure to heed the alerts and update as soon as possible.
  • Use complex passwords, and limit access to consultants you can trust. A strong password will include upper and lower case numbers and letters as well as a special character mixed in. I’d hate to be the one trying to guess #4Rrtx37EE
  • Actively monitor your log files to see if anyone is trying to access your site. Hosting panels provide analytics and log files. By checking these from time to time, you can spot unnatural activity and take action to protect yourself!

These are just a few measures you can look into implementing on your blog, but obviously the more secure you can make it, the better.

Find a good web designer

I’m sure many of you have the skill and talent to recode your website from scratch, but there are also many like myself who are at risk of ruining everything each time they try and manipulate the code within their site. While this doesn’t stop me from constantly tweaking and enhancing my blog in order to continually improve it, it does mean that I keep a designer’s phone number on speed dial just in case.

Protect your brand

It’s a simple matter to setup a few Google Alerts to inform you whenever someone mentions your name, your company name, or the name of your blog. These alerts get conveniently delivered to your inbox where you can take a look to see what is being said about you, and can then respond almost instantly while the effect will be maximized.

If you head over to Google Alerts while you’re logged in with your Gmail ID (you will need to have a Google ID, but don’t worry, they’re free and easy to set up), you can enter the terms you’d like to be notified about, and Google will start keeping an eye out for those terms while it’s going about its daily business. Once a website is published or updated with that term, you’ll be sent a notification letting you know.

Protect your content

Unfortunately plagiarism is one of the threats we face as bloggers. Unscrupulous individuals scrape content and reuse it on their own thin sights in order to try and outrank sites such as yours. Fortunately Google does a fairly decent job of choosing the original work and ranking it accordingly. Placing a copyright notice at the bottom of your pages is the first step, but you should also actively scan for stolen articles using sites like Copyscape.com.

Find a blogging buddy

This is just someone you trust who can take care of posting for you while you are away, perhaps on holidays, or an unforeseen absence of another sort. Just as you’d have a neighbor look in on your house, it’s a good idea to have someone you can trust to look in on your blog.

Make a blogging will

Your blog is an asset, and should be treated that way. Even if it’s just a case of creating a document instructing your wife who to contact in case of the need to sell it, or perhaps a full-fledged document that details how everything works, and how to continue running things in case you yourself are unable to do so.

While this might be a morbid thought for some, the thought of losing all the work you’ve invested after a few missed hosting bills is even more unbearable for many. Darren recently wrote a detailed post on the subject.

Getting yourself into a few healthy habits such as the ones listed above can save you time, stress, and money. The peace of mind that will likely result from these actions will more than make up for any inconveniences you incur implementing them.

What tips can you add from your own experience protecting your blog? Share them in the comments.

Warren Wooden is the owner and CEO of PLR Internet Marketing. If you’re an entrepreneur, or would perhaps like to learn how to make money online through Internet marketing, blogging, or affiliate marketing, please stop in for a visit, or to grab your free copy of his 79-page ebook.

WP Troubleshooting Tips From the Trenches

This guest post is by Dan Sheehan of DSConstructiontahoe.com.

I’m one of those types who believe when something’s working fine, it’s a good time to mess with it. After all, isn’t that how progression and innovation happen?

My construction business had been slow so I decided to build my own website during some down-time.

I learned a lot about WordPress and SEO through my toying, tweaking, and dismantling of this website, and I think my tips might help newbies and seasoned WordPressers alike!

Google Webmaster Tools

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you sign up for a free Google Webmaster Tools account.  Much of the following post is based on the information you can get from this extremely important tool.

It is never fun to go to your Google Webmaster Tools account to find that the Googlebots have been discovering pages of your site that you never knew existed, or URLs that are non-existent. Or to find that your home page isn’t being indexed because there’s a trailing slash on the end of your home URL. The worst was when I found that both the www and non-www versions of my URL were being indexed—that’s not good for SEO.

Redirection and link juice plugins

Along the journey, I’ve tried many plugins. One thing I have tried to do is use as few a plugins as possible in an attempt to make my site as fast as possible (since Larry Page is such a speed freak).

I present here are a few plugins that I have found help my site play nice with Google, and are well worth the weight they add to my WP installation.

After changing my permalink structure four or five times and my domain name twice, I had a mess that Google pointed out to me under the “crawl errors” and “html errors” sections in the Webmasters tools.

Two plugins helped clean up a lot of this mess: Redirection and Link Juice Keeper.

The Redirection plugin allows you to place a 301 redirect on any URL within the domain. To tell you the truth, in many cases I had no idea where these bad URL’s came from—I only knew that Google was telling me they were crawl errors. And the reasons as to how I got all those errors are beyond the scope of this post.  When you use a 301 redirect, any PageRank from that homeless page transfers to the page you are 301-redirecting to.

Link Juice Keeper (or LJK) is what I use to basically clean up all the bad URLs for which I can’t find a page to redirect to. LJK automatically redirects all non-existent URLs and 404 errors to your home page. So after you go through and 301-redirect URLS that can be pointed to good, specific pages, you can let LJK pick up the rest—plus any others that pop up.

However, keep in mind that any of the subsequent redirections that LJK makes might be better replaced by a redirection to a more appropriate page on your site, so it’s good periodically to check for any new errors, and properly redirect them if possible, rather than just letting them go to your home page.

By giving a home to all these “homeless pages” you are preserving any link juice that those pages have within your domain. If a page with a bad URL can be found on the ‘net, then it has value—but not if it goes to a “page cannot be found” page. Why not make use of all those pages and have them become paths to the content that you want to rank for?

Anti-spamming plugins

Another great plugin I came across is cbnet Ping Optimizer.

Did you know that every time you make an edit to a post or a page on your WordPress blog, you’re pinging a bunch of update services like Google, Technorati, and many more? This action lets them know that you have some new content and that they should send over their crawlers to take a look.

That’s great … unless you’re like me, and are constantly correcting some spelling, or tweaking your pages on a very regular basis. Maybe you’re reformatting a post, and keep updating and publishing over and over until it looks just right.

While you’re consciously improving your content, you’re also making yourself out to be a spammer in the eyes of those update services. What cbnet Ping Optimizer does is control those pings so that you only ping the update services when you create something new (a post or a page)—not when you edit an existing post or page. If you’ve made a bunch of edits that have significantly changed the page or post, then you can go ahead and manually force-ping the services.

A Firefox addon that’s been helpful to me is SEO Doctor.

SEO Doctor provides great SEO-related information about the page that’s displayed in your browser. It will let you know, for example, if you are using two H1 tags (not good), as well as many other SEO blunders.

SEO Doctor told me that an important page on my blog was not being indexed because of a canonical link issue. In the end I found that the plugin All In One SEO was the culprit. Once I unchecked the Canonical URLs option, the issue resolved. I still love AIO SEO and find it invaluable, but without SEO Doctor, I’d never have found this problem.

Site Meter: a handy watchdog

The other day, I had noticed from my Site Meter account that Google was indexing my site with both www and non-www URLs.

Site Meter, unlike many other trackers, shows Googlebot visits, which I love. I was able to see that Google actually came to my site using specific keyword search terms! Tracing these back to the SERPs, I saw that there were both forms of the URLs in the search results. After an unrelenting research, I came across a website that mentioned the same WordPress problem. The author disabled the plugin W3 Total Cache and the problem was resolved.

I cleaned up my .htaccess file and reordered the rewrite rules and that seemed to fix it, but I’m skeptical.  To be sure it does not happen again, I made the non-www URL (www is my preferred format) the link I use to check out my site from my desktop and bookmarks. So when I click the link, I look in the Address bar of the browser to be sure that the non-www URL resolves to the www version.

The last thing you want is to make Google unhappy with you. For the beginner I think it is important to monitor all these things vigilantly until the dust settles. If you do not think you need to monitor your site then you must be doing nothing to optimize it. If you are, you’ll have no feedback about the search engine, and your progress could be hindered.

These are my favorite WP troubleshooting tips. What are yours? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Dan Sheehan is a snowboarder, general contractor, and jack of all trades.  His hobby with PCs has also turned into a small computer repair business on the side. Typically he works on something until it breaks and then he improves on it.

Are You Protecting Your Blog’s Most Valuable Asset?

This guest post was written by Neil Matthews of WPDude.

Are you protecting one of the most valuable assets of your blog—your email list?

The majority of us rigorously backup the content of our blog, but do we give the same thought to our email lists?

Why back up your email list?

“The money is in the list.” is a mantra we often hear in Internet marketing circles, and we hear it so often because it is so true. An email list is still the best way to communicate with your tribe and to make offers to them. Those people are on your list because they know, trust and like you, and are prepared to give you their attention.

Our attention is the most valuable thing we can give to a marketing message. Bombardment with online ads and the resultant ad-blindness means your list is incredibly valuable. You should be protecting this golden asset: the details of those people who have given you their attention.

You email list also represents a huge investment of time. Over the months and years, your list has slowly grown because of all the work your have done creating quality content on your blog and sending great newsletters.

Don’t let your list slip through your fingers! What would happen to your business if you no longer had that asset?

How you can damage your list

There are a number of ways you could kill your email list.

User error

You could accidentally delete all of your subscribers. Email software systems such as Aweber or Mailchimp are not the easiest user interfaces to navigate. You could accidentally wipe your email list.

Being banned

If you go against the terms and conditions of your email provider, there’s a chance that you could be banned from that service and lose access to your list. This is not a far-fetched as you may think: one time I sent out an email to my list which generated a 1% unsubscribe rate, and Mailchimp temporarily suspended my account. I was given the IT equivalent of a call to the headmaster’s office so I could explain my actions before my account was re-instated.

Persistent breaking of your mail service’s terms and conditions will result in your being banned from that service—and the loss of your entire list.

Non-payment

Your list is held by a third party, and can be taken from you if you fail to pay for the mail service because, for example:

  1. you have no cash
  2. you forget to make the payment—perhaps when your credit card expires.

Don’t loose your entire list because of a temporary glitch in your finances or oversight with your credit cards.

How to back up your list

All of the mail services I have used have an Export function. When you create an export, your email data is exported from that mail service as a CSV (comma separated values) list, which can then be stored away from the email provider as your secure archive.

Here are links to the major email providers’ support documents on exporting a CSV of your email subscribers:

  1. AWeber
  2. Mailchimp
  3. Infusionsoft
  4. Getresponse

Once you have your CSV file, you can re-add your subscribers should you accidentally delete your list or move it to another hosting provider if you’re banned.

How often should you back up?

The answer to that question really depends upon your list. If you are adding a substantial number of subscribers to the list per day, you’ll need to back up your list more often; personally, I do this once per month.

But if a recent marketing effort has added a large number of people to you list, do an ad-hoc backup to protect this work.

Even though your list is one of your most important blog assets, I bet many of you don’t back your list. When was the last time you backed up your list. And how did you do it?

Neil provides WordPress coaching and technical support services at WPDude.com.

15 Blogger Resources Not Previously Featured on ProBlogger

This is a guest post by the creators of the new site Bloggers’ Domain: 369 (and counting) blog tips, tools and resources.

One of the most exciting things about being a blogger is finding new ways to improve your blogging experience. Whether that’s by implementing a new plugin to give your site extra functionality, finding an untapped traffic source to boost your reader numbers, discovering a resource that will help you create more entertaining posts, or learning of a website that’ll reignite your blogging mojo.

Here, we’ve listed 15 blog tools and resources you may not have heard of (none have been featured in ProBlogger articles prior to now—we checked!). Some are new, some are hidden gems, and some are old favorites too good not to share.

1. Hello Bar

What is it? The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that sits across the top of your blog. It’s designed to deliver a single message, either a link to a post you’re trying to draw attention to or your latest tweet.
Three reasons to bookmark it

  1. The dashboard provides you with options to customize it.
  2. You can view the all-important click-through statistics at a glance.
  3. You can then use this data to work out what grabs your readers’ attention the most, and adjust it to something else if need be.

Did you know? It’s fast becoming popular with its invite-only approach to site membership, and the likes of Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Chris Brogan all having added the Hello Bar to their blogs or websites.

2. Lanyrd

What is it? A social-media conference directory.
Why is it worth bookmarking? Sometimes, the best places to learn about all things online, is offline. And getting to know your readers and fellow bloggers IRL (in real life) is a highly rewarding experience. This is where Lanyrd is useful—use it to find blog conferences by topic or location. Find out who’s going, their Twitter handle, and other conferences they plan to attend.
Bonus info: Can’t make it to the event? Lanyrd collates numerous resources covering it, including write-ups, videos, slide decks and photos. Learn what went on, even if you weren’t there.

3. HTML Ipsum

What is it? Pre-written HTML ready and waiting for you to use.
Why it’s worth knowing: If HTML doesn’t come easy to you (and that’s okay—not everyone’s an expert at it), this handy site will make adding tables, ordered lists, and more headache-free. Simply find the HTML you’re after, copy and paste it into your blog’s HTML editor, and replace the text with your own.
How refreshing! It’s as simple as that. No sign-up, invite-requesting, tweeting or liking required. Just head to the site and use it.

4. BlogDash

What is it? A tool designed for blogger outreach.
How does it work? For publicists, it claims to provide the tools required to reach bloggers who’ll care about their story. For bloggers, it lets you set up your preferences for how you like to be pitched—email? LinkedIn? Twitter? The choice is yours. BlogDash also lets you select the type of opportunities you’re open to receiving, such as products to review or events to cover.
Bonus info: More than 25,000 bloggers are currently listed.

5. TinyLetter

What is it? A very simple newsletter tool you can use for free.
Why is it worth bookmarking? If you’ve ever wanted to charge your readers for a newsletter subscription, but lacked the technical set-up know-how, TinyLetter is as simple as they come. Simply create your account, decide what you’ll charge per month (or of you’ll charge at all), and embed the sign-up form on your blog. Easy.
Other options? The Letterly.net concept is similar, however readers must pay to subscribe.

6. Timely

What is it? A Twitter tool that tells you the best time to tweet for maximum impact.
How does it work? By looking over your last 199 Twitter messages, Timely analyzes the best times to schedule your tweets for the highest engagement. Including a link to your blog? Well then of course the more people who see it, the more traffic you’re likely to get from it.
Also note: Timely is free, but the pro account features also include letting you post to Facebook.

7. TinEye

What is it? A reverse image search tool.
Why would you use that? Scenario 1. To help discover if one of your images has been used on the web. Scenario 2. To try and find the origin of an image you may have discovered that you were hoping to use on your blog.
How does it work? With image identification technology. Either upload the image you’re reverse searching for, or enter its URL. Either way, you’ll be shown results whether they’re the same, and have been cropped, or even Photoshopped.

8. Wylio

What is it? A shortcut for finding, resizing and using Flickr Creative Commons images.
How do you use it? Simply search for the image you’re after, select from one of the many options, and choose how you’d like it sized and positioned. Copy and paste the HTML into your post article and you’re done.
Bonus info: The image is embedded on your blog, complete with Flickr credits.

9. Stella

How is it described? As a developer’s tool for monitoring and debugging websites and applications.
Why is it worth bookmarking? For a free, quick check-up to find out how fast your blog is. Enter its URL and click “Run checkup”.
What happens next? You’ll get a result indicating how your site compares to the average speed of others checked that day, as well as an idea of how fast your site is considered in plain English. For example: “Not so fast.”

10. Vokle

What is it? A broadcasting tool allowing you to host your own video talk show right from your blog.
What can you do with it? You can take “live” calls from your readers who can participate via web cam or chat. Worried about who might appear on your video? Set up a friend as a “screener” to preview them behind the scenes.
Features worth noting: You can cut to close-ups of the host or caller, making your production look extremely professional.

11. NameChk

What is it? A tool to check for available usernames.
Why would you use it? Along with setting up a new blog, comes setting up its related online profiles (Twitter, Facebook, and more). Consistency is key for your “brand” so try to register the same usernames or vanity URLs if you can.
Bonus info: NameChk will search across 160 of the most-popular sites. A similar tool is KnowEm.

12. My Blog Guest

What is it? A directory for bloggers looking for, and offering, guest posts.
Why is it worth bookmarking? Sometimes you’re short on time to write a post—especially if you’ve got a vacation coming up and you’re trying to schedule content in advance. Guest posts can help you save that time. My Blog Guest acts as the man in the middle, helping you find guest posts to publish, or blogs that will publish your writing.
Stating the obvious: Guest-posting is a great way to get new traffic to your site.

13. Color Scheme Designer

What is it? A simple tool that creates color combinations with the click of a mouse.
Why would you use it? Using an easily customized theme is one thing, lacking an eye for color is another! The Color Scheme Designer will help you quickly choose a color palette of up to four colors and you can feel confident they’ll work in harmony on your blog—even if you’re not Leonardo Da Vinci.
Clever feature: If you’re the type who just can’t make decisions, click “random” and see what you’re offered.

14. My eCover Maker

What is it? A 3D ebook cover-maker.
Why is it worth bookmarking? It offers free ecover making options, meaning you can have a professional-looking book cover to download in minutes—no sign-up required.
Worth noting: You’re not limited to ecovers. This online tool also lets you create 3D images of software boxes, iPads, and iPods (though sign-in is required for these features).

15. MeasureIt

What is it? A Firefox Addon that measures an area of your screen in pixels.
Why is it worth using? If you’ve ever tried to create buttons or graphics, or insert images of a particular size into your blog, getting the size exactly right can sometimes be tricky. MeasureIt is like a ruler for your screen, taking the guess work away.
Bonus info: MeasureIt is just one of many useful Firefox Addons to help with the design aspects of your blog. Others include Firebug and ColorZilla.

What’s your must-use blogging tool or resource?

Bloggers’ Domain is the home to all things blogging. It’s an extensive list of click-worthy resources (such as those listed here), for bloggers of all platforms, levels of experience and budgets. All items are categorized and arranged in alphabetical order, making them easy to find. The site also offers a 2011 Blog Conference and Event Calendar.

Jetpack: Bring WordPress.com Functionality to Your WordPress.org Blog

jet-pack.pngIn the last week, Automattic (the team behind WordPress) released a nice little WordPress plugin bundle called Jetpack, which gives your self-hosted WordPress.org blog some of the functionality that was previously only available in the hosted WordPress.com-type blogs.

This won’t appeal to all bloggers—especially not those who have been at it for a while and who have researched and installed a wide range of plugins to customize their blogs—but for some it’ll be a great addition to their WP.org blog.

Jetpack aims to give “feature parity” to both types of WordPress blogs, and includes the following features:

  • WordPress.com Stats – a metrics tool
  • Twitter Widget – display latest updates from Twitter
  • Gravatar Hovercards – show pop-up business cards of users’ Gravatar profiles
  • WP.me Shortlinks – a permalink shortening tool
  • Sharedaddy – a sharing tool (shares to Twitter, Facebook etc.)
  • LaTeX – mark up your posts with LaTeX markup language
  • After the Deadline – adds spell, style, and grammar checking to WP
  • Shortcode Embeds – embeds videos easily

Again, many of you will probably have other plugins that do some of this, but for those looking for an easy install to cover all of these plugins, Jetpackcould be a good option. It also looks like other plugins will be added soon.

Further reading: Read the Jetpack launch post.