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The Secret To Growing Your Blog to Its Potential

I recently had a blogger sidle up to me at a conference and ask me to share ‘the secret’ technique that would allow see their blog grow to its potential.

While the blogger was asking with tongue planted firmly in his cheek (he understood that there was no single thing that would transform his blog) I do sometimes wonder if some bloggers are looking for ‘the secret’.

The reality is that looking for a single technique to make your blog grow to its potential is as crazy as looking for a single technique to make your child grow to its potential.

Actually I like the analogy of children growing to their potential… lets go down that path for a moment.

I have 3 boys. They’re 2, 5 and 7.

They started small (of course). Here’s our 2 year old a few minutes after he was born.

IMG 2688 2

He was little (although like all Rowses had a quite large head for his age).

I look back on that photo today and can barely believe that the 2 year old that runs around our house talking up a storm is the same person that I saw born just a couple of years ago.

I look at my 7 year old and am even more amazed at who he’s become already! He has grown so much – physically, emotionally, socially and so much more.

But how did he grow to become the 7 year old he is today?

The reality is that while it seems just yesterday that he was born, his growth has been little by little thing – every day since.

He certainly has had growth spurts where he’s shot up at a faster rate over a month than other months but he’s grown gradually and as a result of consistent feeding, exercise, sleep and nurturing.

As parents we can’t identify a single thing that has resulted in him reaching the point he’s at – it’s a result of small consistent and regular actions over time.

The same is true with your blog.

There’s nothing you can do that will suddenly make your blog reach its potential.

It will grow as you regularly add content, as you regularly look after the readers you have and grow community, as you regularly participate in places off your blog to find new readers and as you regularly nurture it by keeping its design and technical side up to date and working.

You will probably go through growth spurts where you see bursts of activity that results in growth in one way or another – but its what happens between the growth spurts that is just as important.

The key to success in blogging (and in many areas of life) is small but regular and consistent actions over a long period of time.

How to Take a Blog Break Without Losing Momentum

Paradise waiting

A Guest post by Stacey Roberts from Veggie Mama.

As anyone who has ever started a blog knows, it can be hard work. The internet never sleeps, and it seems at times neither do you! In the 24-hour machine that is the blogosphere and accompanying social media, there is the potential for our blog/life balance to be so far off kilter it’s all but disappeared from view. And the best way to deal with blogger burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Working for yourself means you also have the luxury of choosing when you can shift gears. And while you might not have a colleague to step up and take over in your stead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will suddenly plunge to the depths of the internet where blogs go to die if you’re not there to constantly push it back up to the surface. The fear of being forgotten is very real, as the blogosphere is awash with ten more blogs to take your place should you quiet down. But the trick is finding the minimum amount of effort you need to spend to keep your hard-earned traffic, and ring in some help along the way.

Step One: Get organised

First thing you need to do is define how long you are going to spend away. I was having a baby, so I planned for three months and had a tentative plan for the fourth. Figure out how many posts would be the minimum to keep your readers interested, and set them into an editorial calendar. There are plenty of ways to do this – use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, use software, a downloadable template, your laptop calendar, a real calendar, or you can go old-school like I did and draw a colourful diagram with connector pens.

The next step is to fill those spots with content ideas. There are plenty of things you can write ahead and schedule – I did a mix of non-time-sensitive posts, recipes, tutorials and guest posts. Once you have an idea, then set aside a chunk of time to tackle the posts and have them ready to go. You already have inspiration because you’ve created a list of ideas ahead of time, all you need to do now is flesh them out. Or if you can’t find the time to write a bunch of posts in one go, then commit to writing two posts each time you sit down to write one. Publish one, and schedule the other for a future date. You also might like to re-post earlier content – we all have that one brilliant piece we wrote when we were first starting out, which only two people read. Bring it back out and let it get the love it deserves!

Spend some time either creating your own images for the posts, or searching for stock images. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to write a post once the title and image are sitting there, ready to go. Make a list of what you need and stockpile them, to save time searching for each one as you write your content.

Write a post explaining to your readers what to expect, and when you’ll be back. Most readers are happy to give you some breathing space and pop back when you return. You’re probably also doing them a favour – less posts in their readers mean they get a break from keeping up with the blogosphere’s breakneck pace!

Step Two: Get some help

If there’s too much to do and too little time, then call for reinforcements. Write a post asking for guest posters, outlining your contribution guidelines (it is much easier if they all come in the same format, because uploading 40 different blogging styles can be just as much work as writing the content yourself!), and setting your standards. You might like to include ideal post length, whether or not it needs an image (and be certain that the image they supply complies with copyright law!), and whether they need to write their own bio and supply a head shot. Guest posts are usually better received if you have written a small intro before they begin, and helps keep your voice on your site, which is why your readers read you in the first place. Submissions in HTML format are light-years more easy to deal with than document attachments and separate images, but not everyone is au fait with that.

Reach out to your networks and let them know you’re looking for contributions. Are you a member of blogging groups or organisations? Put the call out on your blog’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. You might like to open it up to up-and-coming bloggers looking for a big break, or you might like to only invite established writers with their own readership. Or you could simply hire professionals.

Judge what mix is best for you and your readers – keep your own content a constant, if you can. While your readers will appreciate you’re taking a break, and enjoy some fresh views, it’s your voice they want to read.

Step Three: Get away

Get right away. You’ve done all you can ahead of time. You’ve automated tweets and Facebook updates using the scheduled post’s permalink, and everything should run smoothly (you hope!) with little or no effort from you. Stepping back and clearing your head does wonders for motivation and creativity – soon you will miss your blog, and have ideas coming out your ears for future content. But until that happens, break up with your blog just a little bit. Get outside and get a life (as Darren says!), so you’ve got some depth to your writing. Don’t even open your laptop if you don’t have to. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and nobody likes forced writing. When you’ve reignited the passion for blogging, your words will flow better and you’ll create more of a connection with the reader.

If you absolutely can’t bear the idea of totally stepping away, or you don’t need to, then pop up every now and then with a fresh post. You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to bow down when it does. Keep up your networking and being part of the community with your social media accounts – maybe Instagram your break and the new things you now have time for, to keep your followers in the loop. If you’re troubled by dips in traffic on the days you’re not posting, then invite readers into your archives by tweeting a new old link for them to read.

Nobody likes a burnt-out blogger, and you and your readers both know when stuff’s getting stale. Take a well-earned break and keep the home fires burning so it’s still warm when you get back.

Have you taken a break? I’d love to hear any tips you learned along the way.

Stacey Roberts is the blogger behind Veggie Mama, and when she’s not writing about good food and motherhood, she’s teaching media law at university. Or avoiding the laundry. She’s an Instagram ninja here, on Facebook here and tweets @veggie_mama.

7 Unique Ways to Find Content Ideas for the Most Boring Topics

This is a guest contribution from Ellis McGrath, digital marketing strategist at VITEB.

A blank sheet of paper (oops writers don’t use it a lot anymore) well in that case a blank computer screen is the most frightening thing a writer could ever possibly encounter.

Sitting in front of a computer screen, rolling up sleeves, and ready to write. But nothing happens other than going in circles.

For many of us, the most difficult part in writing is to get the ball rolling. The life of a content writer could be challenging who often stumbles upon a creative roadblock when ideas for content just don’t come. Churning out blog post ideas for clients from diverse (and boring) industries could turn out to be a daunting task. But as professional writers, we have to find out various ways to overcome the challenge of turning out empty screen to an informative and unique article almost consistently.

I am going to share with you innovative ways to overcome the problem of creating content for boring topics, so you too can always come up with blog post ideas at your own sweet will.

#1 Knock the Door of Social Media

Knock the door of social media

You have knocked Google’s door and gleaned through all search results. What next?

You follow the standard operating procedure of checking your competitor’s website/blog but still no success. Well, ever thought of social media? Social media tools are information gold mine. And what better way to get ideas from real people.

Here is how you should go about it:

Twitter

Twitter logo

The blue bird can come to the rescue of writer going through a dry spell of ideation. With 400,000+ million tweets from Twitterati each day, Twitter contains dynamic ideas for any writer out there. There is something in it for every industry.

However, you have to know where to look for information, instead of just browsing through thousands and thousands of random tweets.

But you are idea starved writer  not sure what you are looking for. In such case how do you search information?

Twitter Search

Twitter allows user to search tweets by hashtags and keywords. Of course, you will not get results like Google as results might not appear in a specific order. You can add hashtag and eliminate spaces for more targeted search of your keywords.

Twitter search results

Trending Topics

One of the best way to create engaging content is writing about topics that are trending and popular. Twitter trending topics allows you to do just that. It is a fab way to keep your content fresh.

Once you find right hashtag on your relevant industry/event you will be able to instantly connect with everyone tuned to the event and know what they are talking about. This will definitely spark new ideas.

Twitter trending topics

StumbleUpon

Just like Twitter, you can look for at StumbleUpon tags for most popular and unique topics. It is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet which recommends websites, photos as well as videos of your interest. You can also check out Stumblers following topics of particular interest by looking under the Discover tab.

YouTube

You Tube logo

But how? YouTube is not just about watching movies or funny home videos.

YouTube is second largest search engine with more than 800 million monthly unique visitors. There are loads of tutorials or videos of subject matter experts from all industries. Just watch YouTube videos related to your niche and you have tons of topics ready.

Facebook

How can we forget the mighty Facebook!

There are tons of groups covering each and every industry/specialty imaginable on Facebook, as well as several guest blogging groups where you will find some unique ideas for your content. Select topics that suitable for your audience and go ahead.

LinkedIn Groups

You can become member of relevant LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn allows you to questions fellow members. Discussion thread in LinkedIn is one of the best sources to find topics for your content. You can also get to know views of thought leaders of your industry.

#2 Play around with keyword tools

Übersuggest.com: With this free keyword tool you can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries.

Übersuggest get suggestions from web search and search verticals like shopping, news or video. This amazing keyword tool takes your base term, adds a letter and/or a digit next to it, and extracts suggestions. You would be surprised to see the long list of keywords instantly triggering ideas for content and acting as a source of inspiration.

#3  Don’t shy from asking your audience

 

Content is king. Cliched it may sound but very true.

While there is lot of buzz about unique content, let’s not forget that content has to be informative. Is there any better way of finding out what is useful to your audience other than directly asking your audience.

Trust me you will get best ideas from your audience. Go ahead and write articles on topics requested by your audience and see the results. You can also use your Facebook fan page to ask your fans on which topic they would like you to cover on your blog.

#4 Stay inspired, from anything and everything

As a writer, you need to take inspiration from nature and people you meet. You need to be a observer and start getting inspired from your environment.

I know it is not as easy as it sounds, but you need to work on it. You need to think beyond your office walls or cubicles and take the time to see the world around you. The more inspiration you take from life the better. It will reflect in your writing, trust me. This will give a new dimension towards life in general and add a different perspective to your writing.

#5 Look for answers

Start religiously browsing Q&A sites like Quora to find out what people want to know about your industry.

Don’t simply dismiss this list as ordinary or boring questions for amateurs, keep in mind, people are asking these question on public forum. It means that these topics are important to them. So why not provide answers to the questions on your own site? There is no better way to create engaging content. Still not clear how it works.

We searched the term BYOD on Quora and these are the questions people are asking:

  • Should startups go BYOD?
  • What are the key mobile security policies for your BYOD program?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing organizations in the midst of the BYOD trend?
  • What are some best practices for managing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)corporate IT ecosystem?

#6 Newsjacking

The more you let your creative juices flow and think out of the box; the more likely you are to come up with a new angel in your writing. If some interesting news is creating buzz, it’s because it has  generated interest among people. So look for a way to relate with the news and weave a story to capitalise on the popularity of the news story.

For instance, you own a blog for music lovers. It is the time for you to capitalise on the news of Apple’s iOS 7 release. But how? iTunes radio. Sounds interesting? Go ahead and try to connect.

#7 Interview industry stalwarts

Interview a particular subject matter expert and you’ll have more eyeballs rolling. We have used this tactic with much success. It is mainly due to the fact that audience likes to hear from people who know things that we don’t. So, does your industry have a star who could help you add a touch of panache to your content?

I would like to hear from you that if you find these methods effective. Now it’s your turn. Do you have any innovative ideas for spicing up content? Share with us. We would love to hear from you.

Ellis is a digital marketing strategist at VITEB. He is passionate about online marketing & web usability. He is associated with leading web & development company having experts web developers in India. Follow us on Twitter @viteb.

3 Questions to Ask When Facing Fear [And Why Wobbly Courage Is Enough]

FearA few weeks ago I asked readers of ProBlogger to tell us about the fears that they’ve faced and overcome as bloggers.

The response was fantastic with some honest sharing – thanks to those who commented – your comments not only helped me prepare for a talk I was giving on the topic at our event but also helped me to overcome a fear I was facing on that very day.

My Paralysing Fear

The day I published that post I did very little else because I almost let fear grind my activity to a halt.

We were just over 3 weeks out from our ProBlogger Training Event and I was letting fear get the better of me. While I normally am able to use Fear as a motivating factor (I wrote about that here) on this particular day I was feeling quite overwhelmed.

With the event 3 weeks away I was fearful of a number of things (some were rational and some were not) including:

  • that our international speakers might all be unable to fly in due to some unforeseen disaster that grounded flights out of the US
  • that last minute negotiations with sponsors might fall through leaving us financially in trouble
  • that a weather event would cause us to cancel our outside evening event
  • that I wouldn’t have anything useful to say in my keynotes
  • that we’d have some disaster with the venue or food or the staging or…. (this list went on quite long)

I actually had a much longer list than that – but I’m sure you get the picture!

I’ve felt all of these fears before in the lead up to other events – but on this particular day they all got a little too much for me and I paced around my office imagining the worst and letting my fears distract me from doing much at all.

3 Questions to Get You Moving When Fearful

Fear

Thankfully I didn’t let fear overwhelm me completely – not for too long anyway. After a day of it I decided I needed to find a way to get myself moving again.

To do so I asked myself 3 questions (questions that I actually spoke about in my opening keynote for PBEVENT):

  1. What is the worst thing that could happen to me?
  2. How would I recover if that happened?
  3. What is the best thing that could happen to me?

Note: these are not ‘my’ questions. I’ve heard many people speak about them (or variations of them) over the years.

By tackling each of these questions I think you put fear into perspective but also put yourself in a better position to face that fear in a better way.

What is the worst thing that could happen to me?

Question 1 is all about getting perspective. Sometimes simply by asking it you realise that the worst thing that could happen isn’t that bad at all.

How would I recover if that happened?

However sometimes the worst thing is pretty bad. This is where Question 2 is essential. It allows you to make a decision to either avoid the situation (sometimes fear is a signal that you’re about to do something stupid and you shouldn’t do it) or to come up with a contingency plan.

So in the case of our event by asking ‘how would I recover’ I suddenly realised that we needed to come up with some contingency plans. For example we decided to come up with some plans for if our international speakers were late or unable to get there. As a result we were better prepared and the fear melted away.

What is the best thing that could happen to me?

The Question 3 is all about focusing not only on the worst case scenario but also motivating yourself with the best case. The reality is that the worst case scenarios in my head on that day did not happen. While we had a few hiccups during the event the some amazing things did happen as a result of the event.

Even Wobbly Courage is Still Courage

I was going to title this post ‘how to smash fear’ or ‘how to eliminate fear’ but the reality is that I don’t think I’ve ever completely eliminated fear.

While I did get myself moving again in the example above I still felt a little fearful about the event and I’m not so sure that that is a bad thing.

Fear is a signal that something important is going to happen. It is a signal to pay attention and it can actually give you the shot of adrenaline you need to face that important situation.

The reality is that when we face important life changing things that we will almost always feel a little… or a lot… wobbly. But as a friend once said to my wife… ‘even wobbly courage is still courage’n (thanks Jessica for sharing that – it’s helped a lot of people).

Courage is courage – even if you only have a little bit of it.

11 Tips for Slaying Your Most Insidious Blogging Limiting Beliefs

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Biddulph.

“Should I write this post? I do not know. I mean, it will probably go live in 1-2 months. 1-2 months is a long time. Not worth it.”

These thoughts traveled through my mind a few minutes ago. Honestly.

Limiting beliefs cripple most bloggers. A select few embrace their limiters, listen closely, tune into their nasty little dialog and do it anyway. Which is why I am writing this post now.

Imagine yourself as a successful blogger. Or if you have seen some success imagine yourself supercharging your results. What do you hear? Listen in to the internal dialog and you might hear stuff like:

“I have no time to run a successful blog.”

“I have no friends in high places.”

“I have no talent.”

“Nobody will read my posts.”

“Nobody will promote my posts.”

The list can go on forever. I know, because I created such a list many moons ago. I felt comfortable creating and then defending my limiting beliefs because I enjoyed being comfortable. So much easier to reside in my safe, quiet, peaceful comfy zone.

I mean, if I ventured out into uncomfortable areas I might actually grow. Yikes!

I might be faced with intense criticism. I might actually make real money through blogging. I might become free. I might need to push myself more and hit deadlines and enter into prospering partnerships and write detailed posts and do research and attract ghostwriting clients and publish sponsored posts.

Wow! That sounds like a lot of work. I convinced myself that being comfortable made more sense than growing so naturally I obeyed my limiting beliefs.

As you can imagine, obeying your limiting beliefs ruins your blog. No need to expound on why.

Imagine yourself being free. Imagine 10,000 or 30,000 or more eager readers/rabid fans devouring each of your blog posts. Imagine yourself traveling the world. Truth be told I have nowhere near that many subscribers but hey, I am traveling the world.

I have spent the past 2 and a half years living in places like Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Peru and Costa Rica. I have visited Japan, Taiwan, China and El Salvador. I mean, a guy who struggled to make a dime – literally – 4 years ago learned how to live the internet lifestyle so he could chill in Bali and Phuket?

Are you kidding me? An ex-fired-security guard turned world traveler? How did I do it? How did I go from jobless in New Jersey to swashbuckling globe-trotter? I faced, embraced and released my blogging limiting beliefs. I faced ‘em and did it anyway.

On to the tips!

1: Meditate

A woman meditating

Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

It seems like 50% of my practical blogging tips focused on meditating but honest to goodness, spending at least 20 minutes daily sitting in quiet accelerates your blogging growth like no other practice.

Most struggling bloggers walk around in a haze. The crowd has no clue why they fail. This makes perfect sense because until you become aware of your limiting beliefs you cannot solve these low energy, success-killing ideas.

Meditating helps you hear the chatter. Like this morning, as I sit here in Kathmandu, Nepal, I wanted to go back to bed. Big league jet lag after spending 23 hours traveling from New York JFK to Kathmandu. I heard the negative chatter shared above, and said, the heck with it; I am writing the guest post and submitting to Problogger anyway.

Meditate for 20 minutes daily. Sit in a quiet spot. Observe. You will be stunned by what comes up. You will feel liberated after listening in to what is REALLY happening in your mind.

2: Submit Guest Posts

Submitting guest posts introduces you to 2 people; supportive types who spur you on to create, and conquer your blocks, and unhappy trolls who criticise you needlessly, helping you to embrace resistance.

The supportive types inspire you. The trolls teach you how to process feedback from a lesser developed, unhappy mind. In both cases be grateful for the experience because you can grow quickly by guest posting frequently.

3: Connect with Inspirational Figures

They can be inspirational bloggers like Darren Rowse or inspiring folks from any walk of life. If these people could crush their limiting beliefs you better believe you can do it too.

If you are deeply depressed, or if you have 4 cents in your pocket, or if you were assailed by your family for making high energy, freeing, courageous choices, I feel you, because I experienced these nightmares too.

If I can experience these nightmares and come out on top you can too. Connect with inspirational figures.

4: Do the Uncomfortable

I admit it; I felt that quick and easy posts were the only way to generate revenue. After creating 50 – yes FIFTY – video posts between my 2 blogs daily for about 3 weeks I came to a revelation; short posts will net you little revenue.

I felt uncomfortable writing longer, detailed, in-depth resources like this post. Sure I saw success writing such posts in the past but I did not experience the rousing results I so craved. So I bailed, and shot myself in the foot in a major way.

I hated sitting down to write a 2000 or 2500 word resource. I felt all of my fears, worries and anxieties up close and personal. I was wasting my time, I was losing money, and nobody is going to see this post anyway, blah, blah, blah. I hated feeling these feelings but new that slaying your limiting beliefs means being uncomfortable, to blast through these blocks.

Do the uncomfortable. Become comfortable with these acts. Prove to yourself that your limiting beliefs die a quick death if you will simply do what you feel uncomfortable doing.

5: Do Crazy Stuff Outside of Blogging

Speaking of ‘Crazy Ideas’

3 years ago I had never flown on a plane. My first trip? From New York to Denpasar, Bali. 23 hours on 3 separate planes. It was crazy for me, kinda scary, a massive challenge, but doing crazy stuff builds a faith in yourself you simply cannot replicate through other others.

Click through to my blog after reading this post. Or now. See me petting a 400 pound tiger in Thailand? His name is Ron. Real gentleman. But I was freaking terrified to step inside the cage. I shook. I said “no” but after seeing my fiancée Kelli walk into the cage with no fear and the Thai guys laughing at me I pushed myself through my terror and sat inside the cage.

This was perhaps the most empowering experience of my life. I felt scared, of course, but I also felt free from the intense fear that I could never step into a cage and actually pet one of the top apex predators on earth.

This faith naturally leaked over into my blogging exploits. I crushed blogging limiting beliefs my proving to myself that my fears were under my control.

6: Meet Fans Daily

Some folks will fall in love with what you do. Some people will promote each post and comment on each post and become one of your blogging brand ambassadors.

Meet more people each day by promoting posts other than your own and commenting on other blogs.

Fans will support you through difficult times. Good friends push you to kill your limiting beliefs. Brand ambassadors will expand your presence, build your blog and help you prosper but of course you need to meet these folks by aggressively networking.

Meet people. Daily. Push yourself to meet at least 10 to 20 new bloggers through commenting on a daily basis to kill your limiting beliefs because many of your new blogging fans will help you succeed and dissolve any limiting ideas that you might

hold.

7: Meet Harsh Critics

Image by Stuart Richards

On the flip side of the coin are harsh critics. I remember the first person who blew me out of the water on the ghostwriting front. This person pulled no punches.

I became enraged but responded in a polite manner. The anger festered. I was really, really pissed, which meant I saw some truth in her words.

After thinking through the criticism/feedback I uncovered one of my limiting beliefs; I could only charge for my services if everybody liked my work. After receiving this stinging feedback I went into a shell, stopped aggressively promoting my ghostwriting services and turned down work. But deeper analysis of the criticism confirmed that I simply needed to accept that when you charge for your services you might not impress everybody.

Sure, you might need to improve your writing skills. Or perhaps a miserable, unclear person wants to unload their unhappiness on you. In either case you can learn what you truly believe about yourself and why you might hold yourself back by dealing with harsh critics.

8: Travel

Traveling is one of my favorite ways to address my blogging limiting beliefs. I am displaced immediately from my comfort zone the moment I leave the US.

Example; here in Nepal – after 23 hours spent flying and some major league jet lag agitation – I went online for the first time. Slow internet. I knew this because I have many blogging buddies in Nepal. So I was prepared but still annoyed.

Then after I connected for a few hours I realized each of my comments was blacklisted. Again, major annoyance. Limiting beliefs arose:

“How the heck am I going to blog here? How can I network? I am doomed! I need to work from my apartment to blog effectively.” Yadda yadda yadda.

Then, it took me about 10 minutes to log into my back office. 10 minutes. I was pissed. More limiters popping up. After some VPN magic I could post comments, network and whatever problems occurred with my blog, well they cleared up nicely.

Why? I traveled. I allowed my blogging limiting beliefs to pop up by moving to a foreign land.

Travel. Get out of your hometown and if you really want to succeed through blogging get out of your homeland. Introduce yourself to a different way of thinking and some hairy situations which force you to embrace your limiting beliefs head on.

9: Open up a Source of Income Outside of Blogging

I was so wildly desperate to make money blogging – so I could eat – that I became totally blind to my limiting beliefs for many years. I pushed myself harder and harder and harder and scared away success.

This was because I had no cushion. Blogging was my main means of making money and since I was not making money I desperately did things which hurt my blog. I was completely unaware of one of my chief limiting beliefs; to make money

blogging you need to do more, quickly, than the other guy.

So I posted frequently, and posted more, and more, and more, and patted myself on the back, until I saw my meagre pay checks, fell into depression, got angry at the world and moved into even more self-destructive behaviour.

The cycle continued until I opened up multiple streams of income. I wrote for SEO clients. I opened up a Google Adsense account. I offered my ghostwriting services.

I wrote paid guest posts. I accepted sponsored posts. I became an affiliate marketer. I made money, and most of it was outside of blogging as I earned nice sized pay checks through writing for an SEO company. Once the cash flowed in I relaxed on the blogging front.

I saw the error in my ways. I saw my “I have to do more than the other guy or gal” limiting belief up close and personal.

What a relief! I could actually work less, more intelligently and see more blogging success by thinking through my campaign. It all started when I freed myself from the worry of putting food on my table or a roof over my head.

10: Release Your Short-Sighted Approach

Much of my blogging failure was rooted in taking a short-sighted approach. I checked my ad earnings daily. If I saw $25 I was pretty happy. If I saw .06 I would flip out. On most days my ad revenue came a heckuva lot closer to 6 cents than 25

dollars.

I also checked my page views and subscriber stats daily. Each day was a failure or success. Of course this “everything hinges on the day’s metrics” limiting belief continued until I release the silly approach. Once I relaxed I saw the error in my ways.

I killed the limiting idea by trying something different. I decided to check my metrics infrequently. I moved my attention toward creating value and making connections. I wrote more guest posts and engaged in more joint collaborations. I joined multiple blogging tribes.

I stopped obsessing over daily fluctuations by developing a long term vision for my blog and my life. Do the same. See your blog as a resource. See yourself as a wildly successful blogger, now, by visualising these dreams.

Adopting a long term vision helps you identify any habits which do not support the vision, otherwise known as “limiting beliefs.”

11: Persist

4 years after being fired from my job as a security officer in Port Newark I am sitting on my deck in Kathmandu, Nepal. Watching the hustle and bustle of a developing city I feel floored. I learned what was stopping me – that being “me” – by persisting through tough times.

If you will just keep at it you will expose your limiting beliefs. You can see why you are preventing your success through your dominant beliefs by working daily. It is not easy. Many times I wondered whether blogging was worth it, or if I would ever live my dreams, but by pushing past these uncomfortable points I observed my limiters. I saw what needed to change if I was to succeed.

Keep going. Through persisting alone you will learn all you need to know about your faulty, error-prone beliefs and by releasing these ideas you can become wildly successful.

How do you expose your limiting beliefs?

How do you slay your faulty beliefs?

What tips can you add to this list?

Ryan Biddulph helps you live the happy internet lifestyle by sharing money making tips through his blog. He pets tigers and travels the world in his spare time. You can visit his blog here.

How to Protect Your WordPress Site Before the Hackers Lock You Out!

This is a guest contribution from Caleb Lane, WordPress security expert.

Fool proof lock and chain

I am sure you already have on your to do list that you need to respond to emails, return phone calls, show up for meetings, write more content, and a whole lot more.

But, what if I told you that the effects of being hacked could cause all of your work to be destroyed and you would have to start over?  I bet your to do list would change a little bit if all of the work you have done on your website was gone forever.

That is why WordPress security is very important and you need to add it to the top of your to do list.

For those who use WordPress there are some things that you can do to make sure your site is as secure as possible. Here are 11 things that you should do to help ensure your site is as safe and secure as possible:

1. Create Strong Passwords

This is one of the easiest things to do to ensure your website is secure. Many people make excuses due to it taking too much time, but should be taken very seriously. Each of your sites should have a different password.

  • Every password should be at least 15 characters long, and it’s best if your password does not contain a real word.
  • You should use capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as a question mark.
  • Your password is your first form of protection against hackers, so make sure you come up with a strong one.

Once you have secure passwords for all of your sites, you should never just write them down.

The only two places your passwords should be are in your head or within a password manager with a strong master password.

If you are going to use a password manager, LastPass or KeePass should do the job for you. LastPass offers a free version and a premium version for $12 a year, while KeePass is open-source and completely free. If you decide to use KeePass, make sure you keep a backup of the password database file in case the file becomes corrupted or your hard drive fails.

2. Keep Your Site Updated

When it comes to WordPress, many people do not want to take the time to make sure they have all of the current updates.

Remember WordPress is not releasing these updates just so they can get media attention. The updates are released to fix bugs, patch security holes, and to introduce new features.

Will any solution always remain a step ahead of the hackers? No, but when there are security holes that are known and there are patches available, you need to implement them on your site. There are no excuses for not keeping up with the updates.

You should also make sure to keep your plug-ins and themes up-to-date.  Also, if you have a VPS or dedicated server, keep all of the things associated with the server up-to-date as well.

Now you may be thinking, how do I do this with all my websites?  Thankfully Infinite WP and Manage WP allow you to manage and update all of your sites from within one dashboard.

3. Changing the WordPress Login Username 

Change the username that is provided as the default admin user when you first set up your account.

Since most brute force attacks on your website are automated, they most likely will either use “admin”, “administrator”, “manager”, or your domain name to try to hack into your account, so use a random username instead. Of course the username should be backed by a strong user password using the guidelines that were covered earlier.

4. Guarding Against Brute Force Attacks

Many people do not realise that most sites have at least a few hundred unauthorised login attempts each day.

In addition to the possibility of successfully hacking into your blog, these attacks can also put a strain on your server resources. To guard against these brute force attacks, make sure you have taken the steps listed above. You can install a plug-in such as Limit Login Attempts that will lock out the hacker after a certain number of failed login attempts.

5. Malware Monitoring

You need to have a solution in place that will constantly monitor your site for malware.

A perfect free solution for this is WordFence which will scan your WordPress core, plug-ins, and themes for changes against the files in the WordPress repository. If there are changes to the files it will send you an email notification if you provide an email address within the plug-in options page.

Another malware monitoring solution that includes server side scanning as well as a variety of other features is Sucuri. Although it costs some money, it is well worth it for the additional features it provides.

6. Fix Malware Issues

In addition to your efforts to prevent malware from infecting your blog, it is always a good idea to find a way to clean up any malware issues that are detected. One of the costs that many blog and website owners tend to overlook is the cost of downtime that is associated with security problems and the time it takes to clean up those issues.

A good solution that will remove malware in the event that you are hacked is Sucuri. If you have been hacked already, you can sign up for their service and they will remove the malware even if you were hacked before signing up.

7. Choosing a Hosting Provider 

A substantial security risk comes from having your blog on a server that is shared. Consider the risks of your single blog and then multiply it by the number of blogs and websites on the same server.

If you choose shared hosting, it is likely that you are going to be lumped in with hundreds of other sites. The reason shared hosting is a big risk is because if another website on the same server as you gets hacked, your website can possibly be hacked as well.

While your own VPS or dedicated server may not be the right choice for you due to the knowledge to manage it and the cost, managed WordPress hosting may be a good alternative. They offer hosting that is more expensive, but well worth it considering the risks that comes with generic shared hosting.

With managed WordPress hosting you get better security, a faster site, better support, and full backups done automatically for you. The 3 managed WordPress hosts that stand out are WP Engine, Pagely, and Synthesis.  All of them are slightly different and have different benefits, so look into each one and pick the one that fits you best.

8. Clean Up Your Site

As well as protecting your blog you need to make sure you keep your blog tidy. Get rid of any old plugins and themes that you are not using anymore.

This also includes separating websites that are in production and still being developed by having them on separate servers.  Often times you will be working on a new website, but then forget about it for a few months. This causes the website to become out of date and vulnerable to being hacked. For this reason, it is always a good idea to separate websites on different servers that you are still working on from live websites in production.

9. Control Sensitive Information 

When you are cleaning up your blog files make sure that you are not leaving any important information available for the world to access. Check your phpinfo.php and i.php files. These are like roadmaps to your set up and a hacker will be able to use this information to break in.

Another area of caution: don’t store backups of your site directly on your website’s server.  This is just inviting potential hackers to download the backups and hack into your website without any work!

Disabling directory browsing is a good idea to prevent a hacker from browsing your blog site’s folders and files for information that could lead to them finding a way to exploit you.

You can disable directory browsing by adding (without the quotes), “Options –Indexes,” to your .htaccess file.

The last thing you have to be careful with is using the file manager within CPanel and having it save temporary copies of important files such as wp-config.php. That is why it is always better to use secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) with a program such as FileZilla.

Bonus Tip: Never store your passwords within FileZilla because they are not encrypted. If you were ever to get malware on that computer, it is very common for malware to search for passwords stored within FileZilla and use them for malicious intent.

10. Backup Your Site 

It is always a good idea to backup your blog site in case your site gets hacked or even if you made the wrong change to a file and want to restore a prior version.

The two best solutions for backing up your site are BackupBuddy and VaultPress. If you are using another backup solution already that is fine just make sure it isn’t overwriting the previous backup and that you have backups going at least a few weeks back. It’s also very important to test the backup to make sure it works even if you don’t need it.

11. Be Vigilant 

This is fairly simple to explain. You need to stay on top of everything that is going on in the WordPress security world.

Remember, preventing issues in the first place is better than detecting and fixing them later. While a managed WordPress host will have your back, it is also important that you have your own back as well.

Take the steps that are listed above to help make your WordPress site as secure as possible and keep an eye on stories about website security as well. Never think that the security issues are only affecting other sites… they can just as easily affect yours.

Caleb Lane is the WordPress security expert for Lockdown 2013, where you can learn how to secure your WordPress website.  He spends his time consulting with companies about their website security and keeping his clients updated about the latest changes and news in website security.

Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog

NewImageLast week I spent time with a young blogger who was completely stalled with her blog (for the purpose of this post I’ll call her Sally).

Sally’s blogging had started with a bang and had put together 3 great months of content and had started to build a readership but then it suddenly all came to a halt.

I arranged to catch up for coffee to see what had happened and see if there was a way to get her moving again and she told me a story that I’m sure many readers will find familiar.

Paralysed by Comparisons

The reason Sally started blogging was that she had been a reader of another reasonably well known blogger. She had been so inspired by this established blogger that she simply had to start her own blog – which she did.

The problem that brought Sally’s blog to a grinding halt started a few weeks after her blog began when Sally began to compare her fledgling blog with her hero’s blog.

It started innocently enough with her noticing that this others blogger’s design just seemed to flow much better than Sally’s. However in the coming days and weeks Sally started to compare other things too.

Her hero seemed to blog with more confidence, she got more comments, she had a larger Twitter following, she was more active on Pinterest, she was getting some great brands advertise on her blog, she was invited to cool events…

Once Sally started comparing she couldn’t stop. She told me that she would sit down to work on her blog and end up on her hero’s blog and social media accounts – for hours on end – comparing what they were doing.

On one hand Sally knew it wasn’t a fair comparison – she had only been blogging by this stage for a couple of months and her hero had been blogging for over 4 years… but logic was clouded out by jealousy and Sally found her blogging beginning to stall.

She started second guessing herself. She would work for days on blog posts – hoping to perfect them to the standard of her hero only to get to the point of publishing them and trashing them instead for fear of them not being up to scratch.

Days would go by between posts and then weeks. Sally’s blog began to stall… and then it died completely.

The Comparison Trap

Sally isn’t the only blogger to fall into the trap of comparing oneself with others – in fact I’ve heard this story (or variations of it) numerous times. If I’m honest, it’s something that at times I’ve struggled with too.

I remember in the early days of my own blogging comparing my style of writing with other bloggers that I admired who wrote in a much more academic, heavy style of writing. I tried to emulate this over and over again and never felt I hit the benchmark that they set.

The temptation was to give up – but luckily I found my more informal and conversational voice through experimentation and persistance.

Comparing Is Never Fair

As I chatted with Sally last week a theme emerged in our conversation – the comparisons were simply not fair.

Sally knew this on some levels but needed to hear it again.

Her hero had been blogging for years. Sally had been blogging for months.

Not only that – Sally was comparing herself to tiny snapshots of this other blogger.

She could see her hero’s Twitter follower numbers, how many comments she was getting, how many times she Pinned on Pinterest and the instagram photos of this blogger at glamorous events – but she didn’t really have the full picture of this other blogger.

She didn’t know how many hours that blogger worked, she didn’t know whether that other blogger had people working for her, she didn’t know if that other blogger was actually happy with her blog or life and she certainly didn’t see the instagrams of that other bloggers boring, dull or hard moments of life.

I’m not saying the other blogger is hiding anything or doing anything wrong – just that the comparisons Sally was making were of everything Sally knew about herself (and her insecurities) with tiny edited snapshots of the life and work another person.

Run You Own Race

Sally is a remarkable person. I’d love to tell you her real name and story because she’s overcome some amazing things in her life, has some unique perspectives to share and has an inspirational story to tell.

My encouragement to Sally (and to us all) is run her own race. Yes she’s running beside others that at times seem to be running faster or with more flare… but nobody else around her has her unique personality, set of experiences or skills.

Nobody else can blog like Sally – so the sooner she gets comfy in her own skin the better.

6 Essential Twitter Tools to Find and Connect With Influencers

This is a guest contribution from Adam Connell, blogger at Bloggingwizard.com.

In the following post you’re going to discover a wide range of powerful and useful tools that will help you find and connect with the influencers on Twitter.

There have been a lot of great posts here on ProBlogger, a few of the best ones can be found here, here and here.

I’m going to be taking a different look at what is possible on Twitter.

This isn’t going to be just another list of tools that you can use to manage your Twitter profile – we are going to be talking about how to identify and connect with influencers in within your niche.

Before I dive in, I want to give you some background information on why you need to find and connect with influencers within your niche.

Influence Marketing

Influence marketing is all about identifying who has influence within your industry or niche and market directly to them.

Think about it like this, there are influencers within most niches or industries on the web and they have an existing audience so the ultimate aim of using these tools is that you will be able to tap into that audience and use it to market your blog.

You can use other platforms to find and connect with influencers, but ultimately Twitter influencer marketing is much more straight forward and there are enough tools on the market to help you.

Please note that there are an enormous number of tools available that can be used for influencer research and an even larger number of tools for Twitter in general – this is not an exhaustive list by any means.

Twitter Influencer Research Tools

1. Simply Measured

Simply Measured influencer tool

Simply Measured is a social analytics tool that will give you access to an incredible range of reporting and data collection tools.

At first glance, their subscriber toolset is quite expensive, but they do have an impressive range of free reports that you can have access too. They’re not just limited to Twitter either. Some of them include LinkedIn, Facebook, Vine, Google Analytics and more.

There is even a report that gives you a detailed combination of analytics that incorporates both Twitter and Klout data.

Simply Measured’s reporting tools will allow you to identify exactly who has the most influence among your network of followers.

This will tell you who you need to connect with and build relationships with.

2. Twtrland

Twitterland influencer tool Twtrland is an incredible social intelligence research tool that works with Twitter and Instagram. It excels at allowing you to easily find influencers and find market insights.

There is a free option and premium option ($19.99 per month), even the free account is still incredible powerful but you just won’t be able to export reports and lists.

There are a few other restrictions but one of the reasons why I like this is that you can still actually use the free account, most free accounts are restricted to the point where it is pointless even using (and then you subscribe of course).

You will get some interesting data about your Twitter account, but what you’re looking for here is to look at the follower’s analysis.

There is an immediate breakdown of the demographics of your Twitter followers – top followers, countries, cities and skills of your followers but the real fun stuff happens when you click ‘browse all’.

Twitter Land influencer tool

Next, tick the ‘power user’ option under Typecast, select your metrics, skills and other demographics – this will show you an incredible list of all of the people that you need to reach out to and connect with.

3. InkyBee

Inky Bee influencer tool

InkyBee is positioned as a blogger outreach tool but it also excels at finding market influencers.

Whether you’re doing blogger outreach or influencer research, the process is the same.

Add a ‘list’ and name it as the market you’re searching for influencers in then add a discovery job by inputting 3 different terms that you would imagine influencers to talk about in a single blog post.

InkyBee will go out and find blogs from all over the web that fit your search terms and pull in some really useful data that is outlined in the image above.

You can order them by different metrics and then export to PDF or Excel documents too.

The way I usually use InkyBee is to find influencers but also gather data of other influencers that I have discovered using different tools because you can manually add lists of blogs.

5. Commun.it

Commun.it influencer tool

Commun.it is a great tool that can separate out your followers and people you follow into a number of different categories while giving you the tools you need to help build and maintain valuable relationships.

The influencer research is essentially done for you because one of the categories just so happens to be influencers; along with supporters and engaged members.

You can use this to follow and continue to connect with these users and continue to build powerful relationships.

One of the difficulties that people sometimes have is what to do next, who do you respond to? Who do you follow? Who do you engage with?

Commun.it actually lists these all out in a straight forward dashboard so you don’t need to leave the page and go into another Twitter management tool.

5. Followerwonk

Followwonk influencer tool

Followerwonk is bundled in with Moz Pro so it does mean that is a paid tool starting at $99 per month but it also means access to some really helpful tools that go beyond Twitter and even social media.

You can do a bunch of different things like compare users, track who is following you, analyse and sort followers but where this really helps with influencer research is the search function.

Just search for a phrase that is particular to your market and you’ll get a huge list of Twitter users that you can export to Excel and then filter by social authority and the number of followers they have (along with a bunch of other helpful data).

6. Twellow

Twellow influencer tool Twellow is essentially a database of Twitter users arranged by a variety of categories and then by the number of followers a user has.

You can then dive deeper and view a user’s profile which pulls in social profiles along with their website.

There is a search function too so you can find users that talk about the exact topic that you’re looking for.

This platform does revolve mostly around the number of followers a user has, the metrics aren’t much more complex than that but it’s still a huge database that makes users easy to find in various niches.

The important thing to remember is that just because someone has a lot of followers, doesn’t mean they get a lot of engagement; this is why I like to search Twellow for users with websites and add them to InkyBee to get some more comprehensive data.

Summary

You may have noticed that I haven’t listed Klout or Kred as one of the Twitter influencer research tools, and I have my reasons for that.

I have found that these tools are better at monitoring my own influence within particular verticals, rather than finding other influencers. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but as bloggers we only have a finite amount of time to spend on certain tasks so we need to focus on using the right tools for the job at hand.

There are a lot more tools that you could use for this too, but the idea of this post is to make things easier for you, and I haven’t found every tool on the market yet.

So I’ll put the question to you – which influencer tools are you using right now?

I’d love to hear more in the comments below, whether you use them for Twitter or any other social platform.

Adam Connell is the operations manager at UK Linkology. He can be found blogging over at Bloggingwizard.com, where he talks about marketing, social media, SEO and a few other topics. Follow him on Twitter @adamjayc.

Is Blogging Still Relevant in a World of Social Media? [6 Reasons Why I Think It Is]

“How relevant is blogging for today in a world of so many types of social media?”

I must hear this question – or a variation of it – at least once a week. So I thought I’d open it up for some discussion to the wider ProBlogger community.

What do you think?

My feeling is that blogging is a very relevant option for developing a web presence but as the question states – there are other legitimate options too.

Each option has their own pros and cons and depending upon your goals and your resources (including how much time you have) you may choose to do all of the options available or just choose some.

Why I Think Blogging is Relevant

A few of the main arguments why I keep blogging as opposed to just using social media include:

  1. if self host your blog and use a blogging platform like WordPress.org you retain full control over your blog and what it looks like, how you monetize it and what kind of content you can put on it
  2. a blog allows you a lot of freedom in terms of length of posts (as opposed to Twitter/Facebook which limit length) and the design of your posts (i.e. inserting images, sub heading, bolding etc (G+ does give you some of this control) etc
  3. As long as you maintain it and pay for your hosting your blog can stay up forever and is not there as long as the social network may operate or be a relevant medium for people
  4. For me a blog is a place that I archive and showcase my best longer form and meaty stuff – social is an important place for researching what I write, sharing it and building community with my readers
  5. Much of what is shared and discussed on social media is links to longer form content – I want to be a creator of that
  6. In my experience it is easier to monetize and make sustainable a business based upon a blog over a social media account

Note: there will always be exceptions to the above. For instance G+ does give you some formatting options, I do know some people who monetize social media well etc – but in general I think the above stands up well.

Note 2: I’m certainly not arguing blogging is the only way or that you need to choose between blogging and social media. I use both but if I had to choose just one (which none of us have to) I’d choose blogging.

Why Others Think Blogging is Relevant

When I asked on my Twitter account yesterday for why my followers blog when they could use social media I got some great responses along these lines like:

I call it “share the message own the destination” – from Gavin Heaton

because sometimes thoughts should be developed beyond 140 characters or less – from James Woods

most of the value I get reading anything online still comes from longer format – from Reuben

I blog because it gives my voice and content a home. #SM platforms can delete anything I say if they so choose. – from Jessica Cue

Because the content is owned by me, not subject to the fine print of the legal text of a socmed service.Scott Fitzgerald

I SM to support my blog, I like the fact my blog space is my own to be me in. SM has it’s own rules depending on platform. – by Jessie Reid

Add Your Thoughts

The above thoughts (both mine and others) are just scratching the surface of this topic – I’d love to get your perspective on the relevancy of blogging for today in comments below!