I’ve had a lot of questions about the process my team and I go through to plan for a new year of blogging on dPS and ProBlogger, so I’ve put together a bit of an explanation of what happened at our recent planning day:
I’ve had a lot of questions about the process my team and I go through to plan for a new year of blogging on dPS and ProBlogger, so I’ve put together a bit of an explanation of what happened at our recent planning day:
Everyone’s talking about content at the moment: from those using content marketing to sell business-to-business, to pro niche bloggers, and of course, us here at problogger.net.It was also a topic that we dealt with on Monday’s #blogchat session on Twitter.
Among the topics that have come up in these discussions is one of length. Longread content is becoming more popular on social media and the web in general, and publishers are finding that while it costs to create longform content, it pays.
Yet research has shown that many social shares aren’t read before they’re shared (and as for afterwards, who knows?). And the average solo blogger probably doesn’t have time to create longform content for every post (or even every so often!).
So what’s better? Is longform content the way to go? Are the days of Seth Godin-style short, punchy posts numbered?
This post by Neil Patel analyses backlinks, shares, and conversions based on word count, and he’s found that longer content beats shorter posts in all areas.
It’s easy to glance through that post, be wowed by the graphs, and start planning your longread content strategy. But in the conclusion, Neil makes some interesting points, including this:
“Writing lengthy content won’t get you a ton of tweets and likes if you haven’t built up your social media accounts first.”—Neil Patel
While the figures are appealing, longform content shouldn’t be seen as the silver bullet to a blog’s traffic and reader retention problems.
Longer posts don’t necessarily drive greater engagement.
A Pew Internet study of young Americans’ (under-30s) reading habits from 2012 showed that “47% of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers.” But interestingly, “60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year.” Those library users were borrowing print books as well as ebooks and audio books, along with magazines, newspapers, and journals.
So not only can we safely say that readers are still reading; we can also say that they’re not reading exclusively online.
Which bring us back to Seth Godin’s blog. I don’t know about you, but I can’t really imagine him publishing a 35,000-word mega-post (like the SEOmoz post mentioned in Neil’s article) on his blog. Seth seems to keep his longform content to books. And perhaps there’s a good reason for making that differentiation.
I mentioned on #blogchat this week that I think different types of content achieve different kinds of engagement, and as bloggers, we can use that to engage with different audience segments more meaningfully. Maybe that’s Seth’s approach: if you’re an “advanced” user of his ideas and work, you buy the book. If you’re at the “beginner” level, you stick with the blog.
But I think this raises an interesting question for those considering embracing longform content because it’s popular right now.
Would the information in your longform post be better communicated:
- in a book or ebook
- as a course or email series
- through a webinar, forum, or discussion
- some other way?
The answers depend on your readers, and the message you’re trying to communicate. But as bloggers, we can’t assume that a longform post will go viral any more than any other kind of post will go viral. It may not even have a better chance of ranking well in search.
Getting it right
Writing longform content takes different skills than writing shorter content. The way I see it, longform content multiplies the challenges bloggers face writing short content—and adds some new ones, like structure, pace, keeping interest, and so on, into the mix. The kind of longform content that really does get read, as well as shared and ranked, isn’t just a matter of more words. It’s a matter of delivering more value—much more value.
If you have trouble getting traffic to your posts now, or your readers don’t seem engaged, you may need to work on your writing technique more before attempting a longform post.
In any case, a longform post you’re using as part of a content marketing strategy isn’t likely to massively grow your readership on its own. Like any kind of promotion, it’ll do best when it’s supported by already-strong reader engagement, a solid social network, excellent quality control, and so on.
Longform content isn’t just about adding words. It’s about adding value. If you don’t yet believe you have the value to justify a longform post, it might be best to stick with shorter content until you do.
I’d be interested to hear if you’re embracing the longform trend, or keeping with shorter posts for the time being. Let us know how you see this dilemma in the comments.
Recently, I asked a blogger what his goals were for 2013. He told me he wanted to double his blog’s income.When I asked how he was going to do that he stared at me blankly and said, “That’s where I may need a little help. It seems such a big goal!”
We began to brainstorm some possibilities for creating that kind of increase in profit. We came up with quite a few ideas, but the main recurring themes seemed to be around three things:
- Increase traffic to his blog.
- Increase conversions of first-time visitors into subscribers of his email list.
- Increase sales conversions (he sells ebooks).
Now, these areas will vary from blog to blog. For example, those who monetize with advertising rather than with products might replace #3 in that list with increasing the performance of AdSense ads or landing extra sponsors.
But at the time, it struck me that to double his income, he could double any single one of the above areas—although 100% increases in any of these areas is a big ask.
However, smaller increases in each of them adds up—and it’s a lot more achievable. For example, a 30% increase in each of the above areas takes him well past a 100% income increase overall.
Of course even 30% increases in these areas can be daunting—but it’s a lot more achievable than 100% in any one!
As we talked this through, he became really energized and began to devise strategies for each of the three areas. In each, he came up with four or five small but important things he could do that would contribute to a 30% increase in that area.
Much of what he came up with was stuff he knew he should be doing but hadn’t gotten around to, or had put on the “one day” list. Most of it was low-hanging fruit that had potential to lead to significant rewards.
Let’s look at some examples.
He decided to:
- increase his posting rate from twice a week to three times a week
- expand his use of social media—he had been focusing soley upon Twitter and decided to start engaging more on Facebook and to experiment with Pinterest
- write and pitch two guest posts per month to other blogs in his niche
- install an SEO plugin to help him optimize his blog for search engines.
Increase conversions in subscribers
In this case, the blogger came up with a series of tests that he wanted to run. These included split-testing his subscriber forms on his blog to see if he could increase the percentage of visitors who signed up.
He also wanted to test offering a free report for subscribers.
Increase sales conversions
In this case, the blogger:
- realized that his sales pages could do with some updating and testing—some A/B testing to optimize them would almost certainly see an increase in the percentage of people buying his ebooks
- recognized that he wasn’t doing any kind of upselling when a person bought an ebook—as a result he was probably missing out on some sales from people who would buy a second or third if they had opportunity to do so
- admitted he hadn’t developed any kind of autoresponder sequence for his subscribers that offered them deals on his ebooks.
I’m pretty confident that if he did actually implement all of the above tactics, he’d see small but significant increases in profit over the year ahead—in fact there’s potential there for him to more than double his profit!
How could you double your profit in 2013?
All of us probably have items on our “one day” list. Could any of these help you move toward doubling your profit in 2013? Let us know your plans in the comments.
This post is by Shane MeLaugh of imimpact.com.
Imagine if this traffic screenshot was yours:
Of course, your traffic levels might be more or less depending on the size of your blog and how long you’ve been blogging, but the purpose of this post is to show you how to double your blog traffic—while getting paid to do it.
The above screenshot reflects traffic to my previous blog two years ago, at its infancy. Then I made a simple change and something significant happened.
Here’s exactly what happened:
- I doubled my blog traffic almost overnight and it kept growing every month.
- I was able to build a sizeable mailing list.
- I made a total of over $100,000 in a two-year period because of this simple change.
Watch this short video to see what the change was, that caused this increase in traffic:
Yes, that’s it. One product resulted in big increase in traffic and a very healthy income, all at the same time.
You’ve probably read several articles on increasing blog traffic, but you’ll rarely hear people tell you to create a product to increase your blog traffic.
Creating a product is often seen as something that’s difficult to do, so many bloggers shy away from even trying.
By creating a product however, you’ll be able to:
- grow your blog traffic
- build your expertise
- build a strong email list
- make a lot of money.
I’ll be explaining more about how to do this later in this post.
I’m Shane Melaugh from imimpact.com and the result I’m sharing above was from two years ago. Does that mean it doesn’t work anymore? Absolutely not. Product creation continues to be my main method for increasing traffic to my websites and it works better than ever. The reason I’m sharing a case study from two years ago is because:
- this was my first attempt, with no experience or leverage, so anybody can do it
- I had a relatively new blog with no email list, few connections and little traffic
- it works wonders, but it seems no one ever talks about this method.
Why creating a product is the best way to increase your blog traffic
Your blog is never too small to create a product. In fact, if I were to start again from scratch I’d create a product, even with no existing traffic at all.
1. You give people an incentive to market your business
The best way to grow your blog is by getting support from other bloggers and marketers in your field and the best way to get this support is by creating a product.
No blogger will send an email promoting that awesome blog post you wrote to a list of 10,000 subscribers no matter how great your blog post is. However, many bloggers will happily send one or several emails to their list promoting your product if it’s a good enough product and they know they’ll get affiliate commissions.
Instead of just linking to you out of goodwill, they can promote you, knowing that it helps their audience, it helps you and it also helps them earn some money.
2. You establish your blog with the right readers
What’s better to have: a blog with 1,000 monthly visitors or a blog with 10,000 monthly visitors?
You bet it’s the blog with 10,000 visitors, right?
Wrong (sometimes, at least).
It’s not just about traffic quantity, but also about traffic quality. You can have thousands of visitors who don’t engage with your content, don’t share your content, don’t leave comments—they just eat up your bandwidth. Or you can have a small group of highly engaged fans who give you feedback and spread your message through social media.
The great thing about selling a product and getting affiliate promotions is that it adds customers to your mailing list and to your blog readership. Happy customers are some of the most engaged and helpful readers you’ll ever have.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take 1,000 happy customers over 10,000 anonymous browsers any day of the week.
3. You build a business, not a blog
These are two very different things that are easily confused.
There’s a huge difference between building a blog of 10,000 monthly visitors in two years before creating a product and building a blog with the same 10,000 visitors in the same two years’ time while making $100,000. The difference is that the first one is a blog while the latter is a business.
4. Most bloggers won’t dare to do this
This approach is unlike guest blogging, article marketing, or SEO. It isn’t something you can easily do. To succeed, you have to commit yourself and think long term and this is why most bloggers won’t even dare to create their own products.
Releasing a product was an effective way to grow your blog two years ago, it’s effective today and it will be, for a long time to come. You’re doing something that’s “difficult” and so you have less competition.
“The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals.”
A 4-step plan to creating your own traffic-boosting product
I recently released a free comprehensive one-hour video and case study report that explains the process behind my six-figure launch, but here’s a summary of the steps I took to create my first product.
Step #1: Market and product research
Creating a successful product isn’t about thinking and creating a product based on the first idea that pops into your head; you need to research who your audience is, what kind of product they want, where they hang out, the exact terms they use, and how much they’re willing to pay.
Creating a generic product in a popular niche won’t work. It’ll be more effective to create a solution to a very specific problem rather than trying to cater to all the problems your readers experience.
In my own case, I observed during my research that a major problem my audience face is getting traffic; after further research, I observed that most of them have problems with SEO and that the most challenging problem for them when it comes to SEO was building backlinks.
There was the idea for the product I needed to create!
How to research
Researching what your audience wants can be very complicated if you’re a newbie without a strong audience, but this doesn’t always have to be a problem. Here are a few ways you can research to find out what your audience want:
- Try gathering feedback on industry related forums where you’re already active.
- Conduct a survey with your existing audience, no matter how small, or get support from fellow bloggers to send the survey to their audience.
- Offer free products, in the form of an ebook or multimedia, to gauge response and feedback to see how people will respond to a similar paid offer.
- Help people one-on-one, via Skype or email, to find out what their major challenges are; this will also reveal exact terms and key words they use and this can be very powerful marketing material.
Step #2: Create your product
Your product doesn’t have to be high-end or massive for you to get results.
You can create a product in an afternoon, then sell it for a few bucks and grow your audience at the same time. A perfect example of this approach was implemented by Becker and documented in a recent guest post here. One example he cited was creating a $5 product and selling 6,000 copies, gaining 6,000 new subscribers as a result.
While that kind of thing can work, the approach I took was to create a high-end product.
This took me a few weeks of effort and research, but it was well worth it. I focused on making the product of very high quality, and constant updates were added in its lifetime. The focus with this product was to make it so valuable that buyers would become lifetime fans.
Step #3: Create an affiliate program
Getting affiliates to promote your product will be a huge part of making it successful.
Once your product is unique and of great quality, you’ll experience success by getting affiliates to help you sell it; you’ll be able to make money and grow your network at the same time.
Luckily, it’s very easy to set up an affiliate program for your product these days. You can simply list your product on an existing affiliate platform/marketplace and everything else is taken care of.
Step #4: Market your product
Creating a product is not a substitute for marketing.
There are various ways to go about marketing your product. Here are some ideas.
1. Viral marketing
The best kind of traffic you can get is viral traffic. In this context, I’m not talking about “going viral” in terms of getting a huge windfall of traffic, but the kind of traffic that self-perpetuates.
You can’t make something go viral, but you can create systems where traffic always leads to more traffic, even if it’s on a very small scale.
For example, I offered a discount on the price of my product. But customers could only access this discount by tweeting a link to my sales page or sharing it on Facebook. This didn’t lead to a massive flood of traffic, but it kept traffic coming in and it lead to extra sales and extra exposure. I explain more about this and another “mini-viral” traffic method in my case study report.
2. Solo ads
I purchased a few solo ads, which are just paid emails to other people’s mailing lists. This helped get some initial momentum for my product launch and contributed to the total sales made, as well.
3. Affiliate traffic
This will be the most powerful aspect of your marketing. The idea is to get other bloggers and marketers with a huge list and audience to promote your product. An affiliate doesn’t need to have a product to promote your product.
There are three very important steps to benefiting from affiliate traffic and they are:
- Sell a great product.
- Ensure your product is highly specific; very few people will promote generic products since these products are everywhere and they’ll have gotten a lot of offers to promote them but no one can resist promoting a specific, “new” kind of product.
- Try to get as many affiliates as possible on board; the more the merrier. You should expect a lot of affiliates not to take you up on your offer but the more people you contact the higher your chances of success. This isn’t about the numbers, though; make sure your affiliates don’t lack in quality and quantity.
In almost 2,000 words, I believe this post contains all you need to know about getting paid to double your blog traffic. But if you still have questions, let me know in the comments.
Shane Melaugh is an Irish guy from Switzerland. He owns imimpact.com, a blog about increasing the bottom line for online business owners by creating unique and compelling offers, growing web site traffic and maximising conversions.
Welcome to 2013! Are you ready for the year ahead? If you’re like me, and you’re just getting back into the swing of things (or still on break!), you might be scratching your head trying to remember all the important lessons you learned last year.So to help you out, I’ve compiled this list of our 20 most popular articles from 2012. If you’re a die-hard ProBlogger reader, you might already have read them all—but this might be a good time to refresh your memory.
If not, I hope you’ll find some gems in this list. We do try to cover a range of topics on the blog, and meet the needs of bloggers at all stages of the blogging journey. So if, once you’ve had a look through this list, there’s something you’d like to see more of in the year ahead, be sure to mention it in the comments.
Now, without further ado, here are our top 20 articles from 2012!
If you’re looking at your blog stats this morning and wondering how you can ramp them up this year, read this post before you start. It might give you the insight you need to work smarter, rather than harder, to attract quality traffic to your blog.
Definitely check out the discussion on that post, too—some really interesting learnings are to be found there.
My Blogging In Brief column was a bit of a hit last year with readers, and the next instalment comes out later this week.
In the meantime, this post from last year highlights a few interesting trends that readers were particularly interested in: how big blogs save face when they make mistakes, graphical blog headers, letting customers set the price for your next product, how promotions could be slowing your site, and the relevance (or otherwise!) of tag clouds.
We’ve all heard social media advisors tell us to target the influencers if we want to have an impact on social media. But how can you find the true influencers in your niche?
In this post, Jonathan Goodman shows you how—and his tips and experience are good for all aspects of blog promotion, not just social networking. Have a read!
In this post, I included a roundup of a series of posts on contracting out aspects of your blog. From maintenance and development to design and writing, the range of tasks you can outsource—if they’re not your strong suit, or you need to free up time to focus on other blogging jobs—is endless.
While this post is a starting point, I hope it’ll put you in a good position to blog smarter this year.
While once, exact-match domains made a big difference to a blog’s search positioning, as Rob Henry explained here, Google’s changed its algorithm so that exact-match domains now carry much less weight.
As Rob reveals, this creates great opportunities for those with quality content hosted on a normal domain (i.e. one that’s not a domain that’s an exact match with a niche keyword).
This case study by Stephan Spencer really excited our readers, and it was great to hear from the case study’s subject, Susan Lassiter-Lyons, in the comments.
The post really sets out a solid framework for starting a profit-making blog. It’s a must-read if this is something you’re working on at the moment.
A picture tells a thousand words, as this post by Mark Anderson shows.
If you’re thinking that there’s no way you can possibly communicate your message in under 1,000 words or so, have a look at this thought-provoking, actionable post. You might just rethink your approach to blog content afterward!
If you’re a WP user, you’ll find this two-part series very helpful. In it, Michael Scott steps us through a raft of new features that, bloggers being as busy as we are, we may have missed in 2012 (I know I missed a few!).
Even a quick skim of this series is sure to turn up a few handy enhancements that will make your blogging easier and more enjoyable in 2012.
In this popular post, Elena Vakhromova presents a simple, clear, effective way to write keyword-relevant, quality blog posts to raise your search rankings.
Bloggers who have been scared to tackle keyword research were very pleased to find this guide, so if your keyword research could do with an overhaul, take a look at this post.
There’s a lot of heat and light around Pinterest right now, but few know how to harness the platform as well as Jade Craven, who’s helped me develop a strong audience there for dPS.
This post exposes her top advice for creating the types of graphics people love to pin on Pinterest. If you didn’t realise that was part of the battle of getting Pnterest traction, this article is definitely for you!
Again, another handy post that provides invaluable pointers that help bloggers recognize a downturn and do something about it before it’s too late!
Ashkan’s advice here is clear and straightforward, and the suggestions offered by readers in the comments make a great addition to this post. Why not make it a monthly checklist for your blog in 2013?
We all need backups, but few of us know if we’re doing all we should to protect our online assets.
As Anders Vinther reveals, backups aren’t something that we should be leaving to our blog hosts, or our developers. This is a topic every blogger needs to be on top of, so if you’re not in that camp, check this post out now.
You’ll have noticed a prevalence of WordPress-related posts on this list. But not everyone is on, or wants to use, that platform. Here, Matt Setter steps us through four handy, functional alternatives, explaining who they’re for, and what they do.
If you’re starting a new blog, or looking to move an existing blog, in 2013, maybe you’ll also look for different functionality and flexibility than WordPress offers. If so, this post is for you!
This is one of those topics that many would think is too obvious to get so much attention—but they’d be wrong.
Robert D. Smith shows even the most experienced email writer how to improve their technique in this short, sharp post that combines psychology, etiquette, and good old common sense. Are your emails getting the responses you want? Make sure they do in 2013!
Nathan Barry’s no-holds-barred story of how he build a product, and sold it strongly, from a blog with low traffic is nothing short of inspirational. One of the great things about it is how honest he is, and how clear he makes the path to success.
This is a must-read for anyone who’s put off by the traditional make-money-blogging stories and wants to get a head-start on generating income.
This post provides a full tour of social media mistakes that, surprisingly, we’re still making today.
In it, Georgina takes us back to basics in this post, which, again, would make a good checklist for bloggers to assess their social media efforts every so often.
Last year marked my tenth anniversary of blogging, and this post encapsulates the key learnings I’ve gained about making money over that time.
As you’ll see in the comments, the post resonated strongly with a broad cross-section of our readers, and provided much-needed inspiration for many. If you want the truth about making money blogging, look no further.
Kashish hit a nerve with many readers with this post.
As you’ll know if you read post 7 above, having a legitimate email address is critical to being taken seriously online. This post—and the comments that follow—will help you set one up quickly and easily.
Charles Dearing’s list of his favorite affiliate programs is supplemented in the comments by those of our experienced users.
Any blogger looking to add or ramp up affiliate income in the coming year would do well to look at this list and the advice Charles gives.
Our most popular post this year is one of our most recent! But it seems we all want to find innovative ways to use our quality content to expand our readership and online presence.
Steff Green’s list of 40 cool things isn’t just about promotion—in it, she provides tips for finding new content ideas, researching your audience, and more. Is it another checklist you could print and use in the coming year?
What were your top posts of 2012?
These were the top posts on ProBlogger—but what about elsewhere online? Link us to your favorite post in the comments below, and don’t forget to tell us why you loved it!
Welcome to the 2013 edition of Bloggers to Watch. My work has changed a lot over the past year—I’ve been focused a lot on the Australian blogger community, and on curators—so this post is very centered on those communities. This is the last time I’ll be writing this yearly round-up. It has been a blast exploring this project over the past four years.
So! Here are the 15 people that I’ll be keeping an eye on this year.
Tina Roth Eisenberg
Tina started swissmiss in 2005 as her “personal visual archive.” It eventually grew into a popular design journal with an average of 1 million unique visitors a month. I love that she was experimenting with visual curation before such a term even existed.
Many of you will argue that Tina shouldn´t be on such a list. She has been around for years and most of her projects don´t concern the blogging industry. Well, I disagree. I believe her archives have a lot to offer beginner bloggers. She is extremely talented at curation, and combines her community-building skills with a keen sense of strategy. She shows what you can achieve with your blog, and your life, if you step outside of the echo-chamber and pursue creative projects.
I also recommend that you check out Creative Mornings.
This is the fourth year I have written this post. Every time, multiple people tell me that I should have included The Bloggess. I had read and devoured her blog, but didn´t know whether posts about taxidermied mice necessarily made someone worth watching. You guys would rather read about a hidden gem, right?
This year, after reading her book, I was able to realize why it is important that her blog gets acknowledged in this list. She helps normalize some of the icky stuff associated with mental illness. I have an anxiety disorder and, at times, it can consume my life. Jenny shows that brilliance can shine through, despite you feeling at your lowest. She shows that you can still leverage your power to amuse or help others despite feeling powerless.
We bloggers have a lot more power then we give ourselves credit for. Especially when convincing actors to post pictures of themselves holding cutlery and/or twine.
Gavin Aung Than
In early 2012, Gavin decided that he wanted to give cartooning a real chance. He quit his job, sold his house, and started “working on Zen Pencils to try to inspire myself and others.” (Source: The Viewspaper.)
Since then, he’s been able to attract the attention of many key influencers and mainstream media. I think he is really talented and that his story shows what you can achieve if you combine quality content with social media outreach.
I was at the ProBlogger Event when he told that story and I swear the room when silent. After six months, he reported that he was getting around 400,000 unique visitors a month, and had nearly 15,000 Facebook fans. I know so many people who would love those statistics. But few would sacrifice as much as Gavin has to achieve them.
Christina Butcher started Hair Romance as a side project but, in only 18 months, has turned her blog into her full-time job. She gets over 120, 000 visitors monthly and is very intuitive when it comes to trends. She has had a lot of success with the “31 days” ebook concept, tapping into the trend for her second ebook, too.
She is awesome because she serves as a guide to those who don´t understand the world of hairstyles. She is like a translator. She makes a complicated topic incredibly easy to understand and, frankly, is one of the nicest bloggers I´ve had the pleasure of talking to.
Jennifer is another person whose blog started out as a personal project and has grown into a popular resource in her community. She is the blogger behind Beauty and Bedlam, which she describes as an authentic look at intentional living through strengthening family ties, encouraging meal time memories, food/meal planning, couponing, personal finance, home decor and frugal fashion. Late in 2012, she launched her food blog 10 Minute Dinners.
I believe that both sites have a lot of potential, and that her profile will be growing a lot in 2013.
I discovered Emily thanks to a recommendation by Pete Fazio on the 2012 list. He said:
She is a DIY blogger who started a blog a year ago for family and friends, was discovered by DIYNetwork, and is now their featured blogger. Amazing stuff.
Her blog, Merrypad, started as a personal project that evolved into a source of inspiration for those wanting to embrace a DIY lifestyle. It is another example of someone acting as a translator for a topic that could seem overwhelming. In this case, however, she is differentiating her site by targeting a gender that may not necessarily consider DIY projects.
It´s a really solid case study about how to make it easy for people to connect with your blog. Her before and after page is a really user-friendly way of taking the reader through her DIY journey without manually going through her archives.
If you want to learn more about Emily, I recommend you check out her BlogStar Interview.
Ramit Sethi is one of my favourite people to learn from. He runs the site I Will Teach You To Be Rich and has written a bestselling book of the same name. He is incredibly strategic and practical. I´ve spent hours going through his archives and consistently return for inspiration. I love how usable his site is—look at how his blog headings lead to landing pages instead of categories.
Ramit shows what you can achieve as a result of in-depth research. He doesn´t write posts with the aim to go viral. He researches the heck out of his target audience and writes posts that answer their problems.
In Spaces Between is a shiny online space for bright sparks seeking inspiration and words on living a big, beautiful life. In little over a year, In Spaces Between has become the go-to blog for juicy inspiration, confidence building, fear fighting, and mindset shifting.
I think Rachel’s blog is pretty cool. What really intrigues me, though, is her attention to detail. Look at this custom graphic that was created for her interview with Nikki Parkinson. Her free ebook,
20 Ways to Create Your Best Life Ever
I’d read anything she writes. She’s hilarious and very, very honest. She has a son who may have global developmental delay. She refers to him as a “tard” and an “alien,” which sounds harsh, but she does it in a way that works. I believe she’s taking the taboo away from these words; she’s making them powerless. She’s what I’d call a fearless writer.
I’ve fallen in love with her writing. She blogged about her sailing adventures at s/v Sereia and now writes about her land-based adventures in New Zealand at AntoniaMurphy.com. Hopefully we’ll see more writing from her in 2013.
Eden is one of the coolest bloggers that I´ve had the pleasure of reading. She is tenacious and brilliant. Best of all, her logo is based on the mural in her office. She writes at Edenland.com
I admire her because she is a person that has gone through a lot of negative stuff—especially in the past year. Despite her personal challenges, she continues to try and leverage her blog for good. This has included two overseas trips where she blogged about the food crisis in Niger and the slums of India. She also tries to challenge our perceptions—check out Ladies, It’s Time We Got Real About Being Beautiful.
Jen writes about career design at Everyday Bright. She encourages her readers to dare to shine:
…to define success on your own terms, to muster the courage to pursue your happiness, to create a life you love.
I love her blog because she sees career design as a process rather then something that can be solved with a quick fix. She follows the A-listers but doesn’t use the “trendy” techniques unless they are right for her blog. She is incredibly strategic and someone I think will be around for a long time in this community.
Tom Ewer got a lot of attention in early 2012 with his article, The 100 Blogs You Need In Your Life. He was able to leverage the momentum to grow Leaving Work Behind to the point where he was making a decent income from freelance writing and ebook sales.
Now, I´m not putting Tom on here because of his list post efforts. I try not to focus on the blogging/marketing niche anymore as it can be incredibly formulaic. I think Tom is worth watching purely because of his networking and outreach efforts. He is incredibly skilled, and I’d love to see what he could accomplish in a different niche or platform.
I discovered Alex Beadon Photography when pinning images for the Digital Photography School Pinterest account. I fell in love with the Pinterest-friendly graphics she had created to promote her post and lost myself for hours checking out her archives.
I love the attention she has put into the branding and design of her blog. Look at the images she created to promote her FAQ page. It´s a great example of how you can infuse your personality into what might otherwise be a boring subject.
Tip: Look at the graphics in the sidebar that link to the categories of her blog. Could you create something like that to spice up your design?
Cheryl runs Business Chic, a fashion blog featuring photos of professionals and their workwear style in Melbourne, Australia. She is a great example of how you can create a quality local niche blog.
I´ve been watching Cheryl grow Business Chic over the past three years. It has been in the past 12 months that she has really hit her stride. She strives to go beyond a fashion/streetstyle blog. In 2012, she experimented with a year-long little black dress project. This year, she´ll be turning that project into a book and an exhibition at a popular fashion festival.
She is an extremely hard worker and attends a lot of events, despite her day job. I know that her dedication will really pay off this year and that it will be an enjoyable journey to watch. I think that she´ll be enjoying a lot of momentum in 2013.
Sarah Von Bargen
Sarah runs the lifestyle blog Yes and Yes. She couldn’t find a blog “that addressed the many, many aspects of modern life and didn’t pigeon-hole women into different camps” so she created one herself. It’s a really fun blog and one that I enjoy reading.
I’ve become captivated by her recently launched small business blog and I believe that she will make a real impact in her community.
Over to you
I’ve had a lot of fun with this blogging series and always enjoy reading about who you guys are watching. Who do you think is worth watching over the coming you? Who knows—the people you recommend just may get featured on here in the future!
This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.
One of the great things about WordPress is that it never stands still. The platform is constantly evolving beyond its blogging roots, with more great features being added every year.
WordPress used to release small updates frequently, but at the end of 2009 they changed this policy. They now aim to release three major updates every year, with small infrequent updates in between to address security issues.
Today I’d like to walk you through the new features which were introduced in 2012, in WordPress 3.4 and 3.5.
I’ll be focusing on the features that are most relevant to bloggers and explaining how they can help you.
New features in WordPress 3.4
Released in June, WordPress 3.4 was a solid release that is best remembered for introducing the new theme customizer.
It also included a lot of other great new features such as Twitter embedding, HTML in captions, and flexible header images.
New feature: Live preview
Live preview enables you to preview themes before they are activated on your blog.
Browsing and installing themes and plugins directly from the WordPress admin area is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths. It’s amazing that you can modify your blog so much without even leaving your blog’s Admin area.
In the past, clicking on the Preview link for a theme would load up an overlay which displayed the theme over the current page.
But the process of browsing WordPress designs changed in WordPress 3.4. In the past, the design was listed with Install and Preview links, and a full description.
Descriptions are now hidden by default, though you can view the description of a theme by clicking on the new Description link. This may seem like a small change, but it made browsing for designs within the Admin area much more user friendly.
Themes are now previewed on their own dedicated Preview page. The page shows the theme on the right-hand side. On the left side, the theme name, thumbnail, rating and description are shown. To save you from having to click the Back button, themes can now be installed via this new Preview area.
Once a theme has been installed on your WordPress blog, the Preview option becomes much more useful as it loads up the new theme customizer and lets you see how this design will look on your live website. This enables you to preview the theme using your menus, posts, pages and more.
Being able to see how themes will look with your existing content has greatly improved the process of installing WordPress designs via your Admin area, and changed the way bloggers choose their themes.
New feature: Theme customizer
This feature allows you to configure your theme via a user-friendly Options area.
The WordPress customizer allows users to configure many different areas of their design, such as the header, background and navigation via a dedicated Options area. Older WordPress themes do not support the customizer but can be modified appropriately with a few simple edits to the theme functions.php file.
The Customize link can be found via the Themes link in the Appearance menu of your WordPress Admin area. Clicking on the link will take you directly to the theme customizer Options area.
The options available to you in the customizer will depend on the theme itself. The default WordPress themes only had five or six different options, however over the last six months we have seen WordPress designers incorporate other options in their designs. Common options include site title and tagline, colors, background image, navigation menus, and whether posts or a static page were displayed on your home page.
One of the reasons the theme customizer was so well received within the WordPress community was because changes can be seen in real time. Whenever you change your site name or adjust some colors, these are reflected in the theme preview. The changes are, however, only applied to your website after you have clicked the Save & Publish button.
The theme customizer has made it possible for beginners to modify how their website looks without editing any templates. It’s very straightforward to use and since the release of WordPress 3.4, many designers have made sure their themes are compatible with it.
New feature: Twitter embedding
Now you can embed Twitter statuses directly into your blog posts and pages by simply entering the Twitter status URL.
Twitter is one of the most powerful tools available to bloggers. In addition to self promotion and networking, many bloggers use Twitter as a source of inspiration for their articles. The new Twitter embedding feature makes quoting Twitter statues simple and removes the need for taking screenshots or installing plugins to display a quote.
For example, simply enter this within your blog post:
The corresponding Twitter status will be displayed:
The beauty of this new feature is its simplicity. There are no shortcodes to remember or buttons to click: you simply enter the URL of the Twitter status to embed it.
New feature: HTML in captions
This feature lets you add HTML directly to your image captions.
Captions have always been a great way of describing photographs and images to your readers. Being able to add HTML to captions has improved this considerably as you can now include links to photo credits, relevant articles, and websites directly inside the caption.
Those who are using old WordPress themes may find that the new way WordPress adds captions has broken older image captions on your website. Upgrading to a new theme is recommended, though you could fix these issues manually by searching for posts with captions through your WordPress post area and updating the code.
New feature: Improved features for international users
Improved support is now offered for international WordPress users so that many locale-specific configurations can be modified from the core WordPress files.
As a native English speaker, localization is not something I ever have to deal with, so it’s easy to forget that around 44% of all websites are written in a language other than English.
WordPress 3.4 focused heavily on making WordPress more international. Some of the most important new features introduced for non-English users include:
- Localizing commas: Many Asian and Middle Eastern languages do not use the comma (,). This causes a lot of problems for those users, as WordPress uses the comma as a delimiter for tags, quick edits and bulk edits. From 3.4, the comma can be translated to another character for languages where a comma isn’t used.
- Translatable spellchecker language: The TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor can now be translated into any language.
- Specify default time zone: Previously, the default timezone for all WordPress installations was set to GMT. This can now be modified so that the timezone does not have to be adjusted during the installation process.
- Feed language: The language of your feed can now be set using the bloginfo_rss template tag.
- Specifying start of week: You can now easily define the day the week starts.
If you don’t blog in English, many of these new features should make it easier for you to use WordPress in your native language.
New feature: Flexible header images
Header images are now responsive.
Custom headers were added to WordPress way back in 2007 (version 2.1). Previously WordPress allowed you to set the width and height of a header image, but all header images which were uploaded had to be cropped to fit these dimensions.
Now all images will resize dynamically to match the width of your header.
With so many people viewing blogs on mobile devices, flexible headers have made it easier for designs to accommodate any resolution. Check out Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at WebmasterDepot for a complete walkthrough of this new feature.
New feature: Login shortcodes
WordPress now offers more user-friendly login URLs.
WordPress users can log in using www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php and access the Admin area via www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Since version 3.4, you can log in using the more user-friendly URL www.yoursite.com/login. The Admin area can also be viewed by entering www.yoursite.com/admin or www.yoursite.com/dashboard.
There’s no denying that this is a small addition to WordPress, but I always welcome small things like this that make daily tasks such as logging in quicker and easier.
New feature: Comment via the post editor
Comments can now be added via the Post and Page editor pages.
For years the Post editing page has shown all the comments that were left on a post or page. In addition to viewing comments, there is now an option to leave a comment directly on a post from the post editor area. This saves you from having to load up the article in order to leave a comment.
New feature: Improved touch support
WordPress now offers vastly improved touch support in the user interface.
WordPress aimed to improve site usability on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad and Kindle Fire. Specifically, they added support for drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to more easily customize the mobile user interface simply by moving things around.
New feature: Child themes added to the theme repository
The official WordPress themes directory now accepts child themes of WordPress themes that are already listed within the directory.
Child themes will be accepted within the theme directory if they can demonstrate sufficient difference from the parent theme to warrant inclusion.
I was particularly pleased with this feature, as it allows designers to take existing designs and modify them for different users. For example, designers will now be able to take a magazine-based theme and make it more blog-orientated, or remove features from designs that are too bloated.
The theme installer supports child themes too. The great thing about this is that WordPress will automatically install a child theme’s parent theme if it isn’t already installed.
New feature: Scroll to top of Admin bar
Now, we can scroll to the top of the page by simply clicking the Admin bar.
This simple feature was missed by a lot of bloggers but it’s something that I’ve found myself using every day. Since WordPress 3.4, you can scroll to the top of the page by clicking in the empty area in the Admin bar. Simple but effective!
Other features added to WordPress 3.4
Since we’re short on space, here are some of the other great features that were added to WordPress 3.4:
- The dashboard is now ready for high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina display.
- Multi-site improvements were made, such as auto-complete for adding new users and an increase in the default upload limit from 10mb to 100mb.
- The Recent Comments widget had some small improvements.
- Custom post types can now use the Distraction-free Editing mode (also known as Zen mode).
- XML-RPC was improved to let WordPress interact with other applications more easily.
A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.4 can be found in the WordPress codex.
That’s it for WordPress 3.4! Which of these features are you using, and which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments … and don’t miss Part 2 in this series, where I explain the handy new features available in WordPress 3.5.
Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com .