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The Dos and Don’ts of Weight Loss Blogging for Beginners

This guest post is by Karol K.

There’s a popular trend on the internet these days among people who have taken upon themselves to lose some weight. I’m talking about starting a weight loss blog.

The idea in itself is perfect. You get a place to document your progress, talk about the things you’re doing, get additional motivation by interacting with other people through comments (also great for getting additional tips from them), and finally, you’re making your journey public, which is sure to improve your success rate all by itself.

There are some problems, though. The weight loss blogging space is really heavy on purely promotional sites, deceptive sales messages, or even scams desired solely to earn some quick money.

All this makes it really hard to build a credible brand that stands out from the crowd.

That’s why I decided to create this quick tutorial to show you some things you can and should do ASAP, as well as other practices that are better left alone—unless you want to be mistaken for a spammer.

The light side of the force

Before I get to that, let me take a minute to list some people who do this the right way. Here’s the light side of the force (so to speak), just as an example on how weight loss blogging should be done.

  • MindBodyGreen.com: MindBodyGreen was founded by Jason Wachob, Carver Anderson, and Tim Glenister—all wellness experts and enthusiasts. Their team is one of the best in the business. From top yoga instructors to wellness gurus, and weight loss experts, there’s something for every interest and ability level on this blog.
  • NowLoss.com: A very successful blog in the weight loss niche by Andrian Bryant. NowLoss.com now helps over 1.5 million monthly visitors look good naked by losing weight, getting curves, and/or building muscle. NowLoss.com is the #2 weight loss website in the world behind commercial giant Weight Watchers.
  • WorkoutsForHome.com: In her blog, Susan invites us to join her in Operation Awesomeness and lose weight fast, right from home. She is here to teach you everything she knows about becoming awesome…
  • Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat: A blog founded by Rebecca Regnier—an Emmy-winning television journalist and author of “Your Twitter Diet,” available on Amazon. The blog’s mission is to teach you how to lose weight in a way that’s suitable for you individually (whatever weight loss steps you take, Rebecca supports you).
  • A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss: A blog where you can join Erika in her journey from 330lbs to personal trainer. Everything she shares comes from her personal experience. An great blog with lots of personal touches.

Now, let’s focus on how you can join the ranks of these quality weight loss blogs.

Do use your own name and personality

These days people don’t have that much trust reserved for websites talking about weight loss. With so many poor affiliate blogs around—blogs publishing low quality content purely to promote other products through affiliate links—you never know who’s for real and who’s in it just for the quick buck.

One of the common things such marketers do is that they never use their real names. Instead, they showcase some lame brand name, like LoseWeightTacticsBlog, or something.

The easiest thing you can do to differentiate yourself from this crowd is to prove that you’re a human being by using your real name. Then, go one step further and display some actual photos of you (either taken by you or your friends; nothing too professional-looking).

When your audience sees your face on the blog, they will know that you are a real human being who genuinely cares about the content they publish.

Don’t promise

Whenever you want to endorse something (a product or service) be careful about promising any kind of results. This is something spammers do every day. They publish loads of promises, great looking success stories, and even fake before-and-after pictures.

People are very careful now when it comes to believing any sort of promises. Whenever you say that something will bring massive results you’re immediately becoming suspect.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t endorse anything. But do it only when you are absolutely sure that the product is of great quality. You have to experience the results yourself, otherwise you won’t be believable.

Do pick the right name

This is about the name of your site.

Now, you can take one of two possible paths here:

  1. Get a custom domain at godaddy.com (or some other registrar) and your own hosting account.
  2. Register your blog at wordpress.com and get a free subdomain.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. The first one is obviously more expensive. You have to spend $10 a year for the domain, and around $6 per month for hosting.

But what you get in exchange is better credibility and a more serious look from the get-go.

The second path is quick and cheap. You can set up a new blog within minutes, but its address will end with .wordpress.com.

This is up to you, but make sure to go with a good name. Whatever you do, don’t make it seem spammy. For instance, WeightLossTacticsBlog is spammy. MagicWeightLossToday is too. LosingWeightWithKaren is not. There’s no rule of thumb here. Always go with your gut feeling.

The consequences of getting this wrong can be serious. If people see your blog’s name as spamm—as a hidden marketing pitch of sorts—they won’t believe a thing you’re saying.

Do build credibility

As I said before, trust is the rarest commodity in weight loss blogging. If people don’t trust you, they won’t listen to your advice, and might even find it hard to believe your stories.

There are some ways to boost your believability rate, so to speak, and your trust:

  • Use your real name and display pictures of yourself (already discussed).
  • Try storytelling and sharing personal insights. This is where you get to describe genuine stories that are taking place in your life (related to weight loss, obviously). People love stories, and it’s the ultimate way to prove that you are real. If people can relate to what you’re saying, they will surely pay attention. Make every post you publish personal to some degree.
  • Display trust elements. “Trust elements” sound fancy, but what I mean is quite simple. Whenever other website mentions you in one way or the other, put their logo in your sidebar and label it “Websites talking about me” or something similar. The point is to prove that other sites see you as a real, credible person. If you don’t have any of those yet then don’t worry, the day will come.

Don’t talk only about good things

One of the main giveaways that we’re dealing with a weight loss marketer rather than a real person is the fact that each post only touches upon the positive side of things.

As in life, in weight loss, too, there are good and bad days. Good and bad products. Good and bad people.

You can create much additional credibility when you share a message that’s not that positive, but is still 100% real.

Only the strongest people are able to share a negative story and be confident about what they’re saying at the same time.

Don’t use too many ads

Advertising is the most intuitive way to monetize a website. Essentially, I’m not against advertising. If there is a possibility to earn a couple of bucks from your blog then I believe you should take it.

However, be careful not to make your blog overloaded with ads. Such situation will bring your credibility down very quickly. Just one block for AdSense ads (or any other provider) in the sidebar is really enough.

Do publish only real reviews

You can skip this if you’re not planning on publishing any reviews. If you are, keep reading…

The main problem with reviews online is that a big chunk of them is simply fake. Every day countless marketers publish reviews of crappy products without even having those products in their possession.

This is especially visible in the weight loss space where, as we all know, there are hundreds of products available … pills, diets, training programs, training equipment, DVDs, you name it.

That’s why if you’re going to write a review, you should remember a handful of things:

  • Always list the bad sides of the product (there surely are some).
  • Provide pictures of the product taken by you (or better yet, pictures of you using the product if that’s possible).
  • Get in depth to the core benefits the product delivers.
  • Don’t quote any of the information from the product box or the official website.
  • Give an honest final opinion.

Do publish different types of content

Most of the time, spam-bloggers publish only simple 400-word blog posts providing no actual advice. You can differentiate yourself pretty easily by looking at the topic of blogging much more broadly.

Some examples, besides the traditional blog post:

  • Your progress update. If you’re on a weight loss program yourself then you can share your weekly progress updates. I guarantee that your readers will love those.
  • “Meal of the week” or something like that. Provide a complete recipe.
  • “Task of the week.” This is where you can set a goal for the week and update your audience on how well it went. For instance, your goal could be to exercise at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Interviews. If you can have a talk with someone knowledgeable about a given weight loss-related topic, your audience will surely be glad you shared this.
  • Reviews, as discussed above.
  • Off-topic posts. This is where you get to connect with your audience more broadly, by sharing something that’s not related to weight loss, yet still relevant to you as a real person.
  • “Ask the readers.” This is where you ask a question and your readers respond through comments. Then you can round up the most interesting answers and publish them in another blog post. You have to have a big enough audience to make this work, though.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about using a blog as a way to document your weight loss story? Are you a weight loss blogger? What tips and advice can you share?

Karol K. teaches how to save on the popular Flex Belt, and discusses the basics of TRX training (learn more). He contributes articles on fitness training, working out, and losing weight in general. He also enjoys writing occasionally for WeightLossTriumph. He’s a fan of healthy living and being in shape no matter what. In his personal life, he proves that one doesn’t have to struggle to be healthy.

Top-of-mind Topics for Bloggers: Digging Deeper

Yesterday’s infographic covered a lot of topics, which I guess goes to show just how much we bloggers have on our minds!

I thought I’d follow it up with links to more information on each of the topics it covered, so that anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed can access and work through these ideas at their own pace.

While each of us might have all these topics in mind at any time, we’re naturally going to focus on those that interest us, or those we find easier, or feel less challenged by. Perhaps yesterday’s infographic and this list will prompt you to give some attention to one or two of the areas that you might usually neglect.

  1. Choosing a blog theme, topic, or niche: How to Choose a Niche for Your Blog
  2. Selecting a URL: Which Domain is Right for You?
  3. Search Engine Optimization: 25 Reasons Why Google Hates You (and don’t forget to check out our SEO article archive for more specific help).
  4. Creating blog content: How to Blog When You’re Not a Writer, also listed in our Writing Content archives.
  5. Creating and using graphics: Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog—plus look out for a post on creating and using imagery in posts on the blog tomorrow.
  6. Choosing and using a blog template: Recommended Blogging Resources, along with our articles on Blog Networks.
  7. Sharing content: 9 Practical Ways to Start Attracting an Audience to Your New Social Media Account.
  8. Blog monetization: 7-Point Checklist for Bloggers Who Want to Create a Profitable Blog.
  9. Traffic generation: The Unsexy Truth About Finding Traffic for Your Blog.
  10. About pages: How Your About Page Can Make or Break Your Blog.

Also, later this week, we’ll take a closer look at three of the areas mentioned in the infographic: the phases in a blog’s lifecycle, creating blog graphics quickly and easily, and avoiding blogging burnout.

The Most Common Word at My House: “Why?”

As a father of three boys aged five and under, there’s a word I hear a lot in my house. I’m sure other parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, child care workers, and people with kids in their lives will know what it is.

“Why?”

  • Why do I have to brush my teeth?
  • Why are there clouds in the sky?
  • Why do you have to feed the baby again?
  • Why do have to wear clothes and not my PJs to Grandpa’s birthday party?
  • Why does daddy get more chips than me?
  • Why does poo smell so bad?
  • Why do I have to go to bed now?

The questions come fast and while there are a few “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how” questions mixed in, “why” questions seem to dominate—at least at our place.

Of course why questions are a normal healthy part of a child’s life. They’re curious little beings and asking “why” is partly about making sense of the world they live in.

The other part of the “why” obsession is a little different, though. It has more to do with gathering information to help them make decisions.

Take “Why do I have to wear clothes and not PJs to Grandpa’s birthday party?” for example. Behind that question is a three-year-old trying to work out what to wear to grandpa’s birthday party, and whether to make a stand on it being PJs.

What he’s really trying to work out (in his own way) are the benefits of getting dressed as opposed to wearing PJs to the party. As his parent, if I can give him some compelling benefits of one or the other option, I’m hopefully going to convince him to make a good decision (although it doesn’t always work with three-year-olds).

As a result, after many “why” questions there is always a “because…” response.

  • Because your PJs are not clean.
  • Because we want to show Grandpa your brand new party shirt.
  • Because you’ll match daddy if you wear your clothes.
  • Because nobody else will be wearing PJs.
  • Because I’ll give you a chocolate if you wear your clothes (second-last resort—bribery!).
  • Because I said so! (last resort—only occasionally works if said in the right tone of voice).

Why isn’t just a “kids’” word

While my boys will mature in many areas of their life, they are unlikely to ever stop asking “why?” I know this because it’s still a word that I use all day every day. It’s not always spoken, but it’s definitely one that echoes in my mind all day long as I make decisions.

In fact, almost any time I come to make any kind of decision, big or small, I question “why?”

  • Why should I buy the Volvo over the Mazda?
  • Why should I go for a run today?
  • Why should I read a book to my boys?
  • Why should I buy this app or ebook?
  • Why should I give money to that charity?

The questions are big and small, important and insignificant—but “why?” is a question I ponder almost every time. The “because” responses can be compelling … although at times it can be as simple as “because it will make me feel good.”

Why is this relevant to bloggers?

As bloggers I think it’s good to think about this, because “why?” is also something that your readers will be asking as they read your blog. Constantly.

Every time you ask your readers to do anything, they’ll be wondering “Why?”

  • Why should I read this blog?
  • Why should I subscribe to that newsletter?
  • Why should I read this post?
  • Why should I tweet out a link to this?
  • Why should I buy that ebook?
  • Why should I bookmark this?

Readers are asking these “Why?” questions almost every time you ask them to do anything explicitly (and sometimes just as they decide if or how to use your blog).

Knowing this, you can put yourself in a good position to respond. As you look at your blog on a big-picture level—as well as when you’re doing micro tasks like writing posts—identifying the “why?” moments and then providing compelling “because” statements can be a very effective exercise.

Sometimes you might weave the “because” into your writing in a gentle way, but other times, you might explicitly give voice to the “why?” questions and then give “because” answers.

Why? in practice

Let me give you an example. One of the important points of action that we have on Digital Photography School is around the selling of our ebooks. It’s not the first action we call people to take, but for the sustainability of the site, it’s obviously important that we generate income.

So as we put an offer to readers, I’m very aware that they’ll be asking a series of “why?” questions including:

  • Why should I buy this ebook?
  • Why is the topic relevant to me?
  • Why an ebook? Why not a “real” book?
  • Why buy this ebook over buying another ebook?
  • Why should I trust this site to deliver value?

Identifying some of these main “why?” questions allows me to begin to answer them in the marketing material for our products.

I first did this exercise on dPS with our very first ebook after reading some work by Michael Daehn (and some of Michael Fortin’s work on “why”). Michael Daehn talks in a case study in which they found that explicitly using the word “because” in your marketing had real impact.

The resulting sales page for our bestselling portrait ebook includes this section:

Why Invest in The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography?

Let’s answer the question of why this is a resource for you:

  • Because it will teach you how to take portraits with that “wow” factor.
  • Because it contains our very best portrait photography tips on 25 topics—all in the one easy-to-read book.
  • Because it has inspiring illustrations to show how the teaching along side them can be implemented.
  • Because each page is packed with teaching—there’s no padding here.
  • Because you get six bonus interviews with pro photographers who make a living from taking portraits.
  • Because you get a 30-day, no questions asked, money-back guarantee.
  • Because you get it immediately—there’s no delivery fee because it is a downloadable ebook.

If you look over the marketing material surrounding our other photography ebooks you’ll see similar “because” paragraphs in a number of them.

Not only that, but most of what you see in other parts of our sales pages also emerges from answering “why?” questions. Identifying the real benefits, rather than just listing features, gives readers a reason why what you’re offering is worth acting upon.

Again, this isn’t just about selling products or services—it’s an important consideration in any action you might ask people to take, whether that be subscribing, commenting, sharing, or even just reading.

So, if you want readers to act upon your calls to action:

  1. Identify the “why?” questions your readers will be asking in different parts of your blog.
  2. Identifying the benefits of their taking an action.
  3. Provide “because” statements (whether they be explicitly stated with the word “because” or not).

You can do this exercise on a post-by-post level, on sales pages, when you’re thinking about your navigation and site-wide calls to action, services pages, advertisers’ pages—even on your social media profiles!

Why?

Because it works (and I’ll give you chocolate if you do).

When I asked my contacts how they felt about asking “Why?” in their blogging work, I got some interesting responses. Patricia Patton, who’s had trouble developing a unique selling proposition for her blog, said she felt this approach would help her “to be more objective” about herself and what she has to offer.

And Andrij Harasewych shared some thoughts from the perspective of a customer, saying, “there really needs to be some sort of truly unique content to get me motivated enough to buy an ebook.” All too often, he said, the “Why?” question is not even answered intrinsically by the product itself, let alone in the marketing copy.

Do you ask yourself “Why?” as you work to improve different aspects of your blog? Do you think this technique could be helpful? I’d love to get your insight in the comments.

Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog

This guest post is by Naveen Jayawardena of sleepWRITER.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the drawbacks?

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

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

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

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

How to Create Another Day a Week Just for Blogging

This guest post is by Udi Tirosh of DIYPhotography.

When you start blogging it seems that there is never enough time—especially if you aren’t blogging full time, and you’re doing it from home. You get phone calls that need to be picked up; the service guy for the dishwasher shows up; you must read that important mail. It is not uncommon for an entire day to go by only to find out you didn’t complete any of the tasks you set for yourself.

The magic flask…

What if I told you there was a magic flask you can drink from which will freeze time for you? Every surrounding noise will stop: no calls, no incoming urgent mails, no dishes to wash or laundry to do. It will be just you and the computer. Everyone else will be frozen in time, allowing you to do your work. If you need something from someone, you just call their name and they will wake up for the exact amount of time you need them for an answer. I will grant you one flask a week.

Imagine: a whole day just for you and your work each wee. How would you use it? Would you outline your next blog series? Finally finish that long post that’s waiting in the queue? Brainstorm a subject for your next month of posts? How would you make this time useful?

Finding the extra day

Of course there is no such thing as a magic flask, but getting a day a week for your important work is actually not that hard.

All you have to do is spot the time of day when you are most prolific and productive. For some it is the afternoon, for some it is early morning. For me, it is the period after lunch.

Now decide that you are going to dedicate this time to blogging—think of it as a one-hour meeting with yourself. Actually, don’t just decide it, put it into your calendar. With a reminder. For every day of the week.

This will gain you six hours of uninterrupted work. During that time, don’t answer phones (disconnect or turn them off, if you need to), don’t surf the web (use blocking software if your willpower isn’t strong enough), and dedicate yourself to the blog.

Since this is your best time of day and since you will be uninterrupted, your potential for using this hour for something productive is high.

But it takes commitment. It means that you must use the time for work. And it means that you cannot set this appointment aside. You must stick with it every day. After a while, you’re likely to find that you need to expand that meeting. Go ahead and do that. And after a longer while, you may find that you don’t need this meeting at all.

Now, this is up to you. I’m offering the flask only for the next ten minutes. Use those ten minutes to schedule your daily appointment.

Udi Tirosh runs DIYPhotography, a place for photography lovers, and makes awesome photography products.

How to Avoid Legal Trouble, Income Tax Fines, and Penalties as a Blogger

This guest post is by Sunil of Extra Money Blog.

Making money online is no different than making money from any other type of business in that you have to abide by the same laws and regulations as any other business or citizen.

Many internet entrepreneurs fail to consider this and are later faced with severe fines and penalties from relevant governing authorities. Others face even more severe repercussions.

How do I know? I’ve had to help many get out from their terrible situations! See, I have a slight advantage. Not only am I a successful internet entrepreneur today, but I was also a CPA and financial consultant in my past life.

Tax time

Copyright Christopher Meder - Fotolia.com

Although I have no data to prove it, my theory is that many young entrepreneurs enter the online business space without fully understanding its nature and the laws and regulations one must adhere to in any for-profit activity.

The lack of awareness and knowledge is what leads most people to unforeseen unfortunate circumstances with the legal authorities.

Below are a handful of legalities to consider as you embark and progress in your journey of making money online. These are some of the most financially impactful in terms of fines, penalties, liability exposure, and money left on the table, yet they’re ones that are most commonly overlooked by bloggers and internet marketers.

Note that this post focuses on regulatory obligations under United States law.

Note: None of this should be construed as legal or tax advice. Consult your personal and paid accountants and attorneys before implementing any part of this discussion.

Legal incorporation

A business online is a business nonetheless. And any business can be sued for anything.  At the very least, it’s a good idea to ensure your personal assets are protected and “separated” from your business assets.

One way to do this by incorporating your business under a formal legalized structured such as a limited liability company (LLC).

Contractor pay compliance

In the United States, you are required to timely complete and file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1099 for each contractor hired if you paid them at least $600.

This is how the government tracks who is earning money from freelance labor. This is also how the government tracks whether expenses claimed as deductions are being claimed as income elsewhere. For example, when you claim a $600 business deduction, that is $600 less the government can tax you with. But they will expect someone else to claim the $600 so they can collect their fair share of tax revenue.

Quarterly Tax Installments

When you’re self-employed, the Government expects you to remit your anticipated self-employment taxes on a quarterly basis so that it can operate within its budget.

Rather than paying a lump sum tax amount at the end of the year, you are expected to pay taxes in four installments (one each quarter). The idea is to pay all your tax liability by the time year-end comes around.

It is always a good idea to overpay and then claim a refund rather than underpaying and having to pay fines and penalties. You don’t want to mess with rude Uncle Sam.

Business losses

If your online business generates a loss and you happen to have a full-time job and therefore get a W2 form at the end of the year, you may be able to deduct your losses from your wage income to reduce your overall tax burden.

For example, if you made $40,000 working in a job and lost $2,000 in your online business due to expenses such as paying someone to design a website, domain, hosting, email newsletters, etc., you can deduct the $2,000 from the $40,000, netting you a total of $38,000 in taxable income. This essentially reduces your effective tax rate.

Now you won’t get into trouble if you don’t do this, but it is to your benefit to claim your business losses as a deduction against your wage income. The IRS will not remind you of this, so be sure to capitalize on what you deserve.

NOL carry-forward

If you don’t have a full-time job, and your online company is all you’ve got, providing you have it incorporated appropriately, you can carry over losses from one year to another, future year, to offset your earnings.

This is called a net operating loss deduction in more technical terms. There are certain rules around how much you can deduct, when and how long you can carry over a balance in the future. Speak to your accountant for more information.

When must you consider these income tax legalities?

These legalities collectively can sound overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had to consider them before. That said, these are not prerequisites by any means to start blogging or an internet-based business.

You can wait until your online ventures become profitable before considering the legalities involved. It makes sense. Why go through all that planning, work and possible hassle for nothing? After all, a very small minority of online businesses make money and survive in the long term.

That said, it can’t hurt to meet with a tax professional and get familiarized with the law and your obligations when you decide you want to monetize your online ventures. In fact, I highly recommend that approach. At the very least, spend some time reading about the law and your responsibilities to avoid any surprises in the long term.

Subsequent to all that, it is important to stay organized and keep track of all income and expenditures from your online endeavors. Many bloggers scramble at the last minute to obtain this information when their ventures turn profitable and they have to pay taxes on those profits.

Staying prepared and organized ensures that you can comply with tax laws if and when you have to cross that line (when you become profitable).

And while the above considerations are the most impactful and commonly overlooked, the tax law is broader and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore there may be nuances unique to each blogger’s home base or jurisdiction.  For these reasons collectively, it may be best for a professional blogger or internet marketer to consult with a tax accountant who is familiar with this industry when your online endeavors start turning profit.

Conclusion

Although these points specifically apply to the United States legal system, the general premise underlying this discussion is broad. In other words, every jurisdiction has its set of legalities, and it is important to understand what you are expected to comply with as an individual earning income in that jurisdiction.

Knowledge is power, so make sure you are equipped with the right information before you start any worthwhile endeavor, whether online or off, and avoid potential legal liabilities that may come your way.

You can prepare yourself by initially learning about tax laws and your responsibilities, and subsequently consulting with a tax professional when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam.

Did you think about these things before you dove into blogging for profit? What did or do you do to prepare yourself for tax compliance?

Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time“, a FREE report you can download instantly from his Extra Money Blog, where he discusses how to create multiple streams of passive and residual income, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, blogging and personal finance. In 2007, he sold his ecommerce website for $250,000 to a top Ebay Power Seller and since then has sold several niche sites for five figures each. You can read more about him and his work on his blog

The Expert Fallacy

This guest post is by Dan Meyers of Your Life, Their Life.

In general, most of our goals as bloggers center around becoming authorities on subjects—the kinds of authorities that others look to for advice.  What’s the title that usually comes with this position?  An “expert.”

There are some clear advantages to the title “expert” that are worthy of our efforts.  We can gain notoriety and traffic as we leverage our expertise to thoroughly educate everyone.  In fact, most people make a career out of their expertise, whether it’s in their normal daily job or in the blog world.

How can you become an expert?

Not an expert

Not an expert

  1. Read books.
  2. Interview people who’ve already done it.
  3. Just do it.

Most successful bloggers have used the formula above, along with some other steps, to get to where they are today.  “I don’t know how to do it” is never an acceptable answer for someone who is smart and ambitious enough to learn howto do it.

Steps 1 and 2 will allow you to gain knowledge on a subject, but you really must take step three and just do it.  It’s amazing how people start to view you differently when you have a blog on a subject.  The instant credibility isn’t always deserved, but it’s a great way to kick-start your business.

We can all become experts on a subject if we learn enough about it.  However, there are some clear dangers in becoming an expert—mostly dangers to yourself.  Expertise can bring with it an element of “all-knowingness” that begins to turn people off.  When you think you know it all, you often refuse to open your mind to outside ideas.

After all, even Einstein became so stuck in his ways that he wasn’t able to grasp the theory of quantum mechanics.  He held fast to the theory of relativity that he created, and couldn’t see beyond it.  Einstein wasn’t the only one stuck in his ways.  In his book, Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, Stephen Gatto explains, “Invention is the providence of youthful insight.”

After we get stuck in our ways, it’s hard for our minds to continue to develop new ideas and adapt to new circumstances.  As the saying goes, to the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

How do you know if your expertise is harming you?

  1. You think you have all of the answers.
  2. You don’t research or listen to anyone else.
  3. The only person who can stand hanging out with you is your dog.

What’s the ultimate solution to this catch-22?  You should strive to be seen as an expert to outsiders, but at the same time you must fight the urge to believe you’re an all-knowing expert.  This is easier said than done, because the more knowledgeable we become on a subject, the less we listen to other opinions or ideas.

How can we resist the urge to claim our expertise on a subject?

  1. Don’t let compliments go to your head.
  2. Realize you will never know it all.
  3. Focus on always learning and improving.

The keys to fighting the issues that come with expertise are continual education and an open mind.  It also helps to realize what people say about experts!

Stephen Gatto explains his view on expertise when he says, “(expertise) is a lie because the changing dynamics of time and situation and locality render expertise irrelevant and obsolete shortly after it is anointed.”  It’s pretty scary to think as soon as you become an expert, you become irrelevant!

Roseanne Barr said, “Experts say you should never hit your children in anger.  When is a good time?  When you’re feeling festive?”  I bet this is the first time Roseanne was quoted on ProBlogger.

Finally, Shunryu Suzuki said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s mind there are few.”

Don’t let expertise limit you and your abilities.  I worked at a large consulting firm for seven years, which taught me how to continually change my area of expertise and adapt with the changing times, as explained in the post, “You are a now a Consultant.

Do you consider yourself an expert on your subject?  How do you prevent your expertise from crippling you?

Dan Meyers started Your Life, Their Life to help you take control of your life.  Read how he paid off $50,000 of debt in two years and how his strategies can help you.

Why Nobody Cares About Your Blog

A Guest Post by David Risley

Except yours, of course. ;) However, there are a lot of bloggers who feel this way.

You write. You write some more. You don’t feel as if you’re getting the traction that you want. What’s going on?

There is plenty to be said about issues like proper market selection, search engine optimization and other tactical things, but let’s go deeper. In fact, let’s go deeper than most bloggers really think about when it comes to their blogging.

Are You Talking At Or Talking To Your Readers?

If I walked into a crowded mall, went into the food court, stood there in the middle of it and just started talking, what do you think would happen?

Most people wouldn’t see me. Then, a few would and they would probably think I was crazy. At the end of the day, I’ll just be that crazy guy they saw at the mall.

Now, imagine if 90% of the people in the food court did that. They just got up and started talking into space. It would be one big din of noise. Now, all of those people want to feel as if they are famous, so they start competing and trying to out-talk the other people. The volume increases, but few are being listened to. The ones who are listened to are the ones at least saying something useful.

And that is the blogosphere.

Most new bloggers go out there and start talking, then hope somebody notices and listens. Chances are, it won’t happen that way.

What is True Communication?

I’m married and that leads to some minor adventure from time to time. ;) One of them is being accused of not listening to her. She will tell me something I need to do and I have literally no memory of her saying it. Well, that was because I was doing something when she said it. When she told me what I needed to do, she spoke AT me and not TO me.

In other words, she just threw out the words with no intention of them really GETTING to me. It put the responsibility on me to be paying close attention first. She was right, I wasn’t listening. She was just talking at me.

Now, I love my wife to death, but she was doing what a lot of bloggers do.

What is TRUE communication?

Well, it isn’t communication unless the idea being said fully ARRIVES on the other end and is understood. To complete this process, an acknowledgement of some kind would need to take place to show that the information was indeed received and understood.

Underlying all of this is, of course, the importance of saying something that people want and doing it in a likable way. When you combine being likable, speaking within a reality that your audience will click with, along with actual communication where your thought actually gets to your reader, that’s when people will most definitely care about your blog.

Then you have readers, fans and more traffic that you’ll know what to do with. If you want to make money with your blog, that becomes really easy.

Applying This To Blogging

Blogging is a communications platform. Personal human relations still apply. If you just talk to yourself on your blog and hope people listen, it won’t work very well. That’s not communication.

In other words, talk TO your audience. Your job is to have something worth saying, then communicate that in a fashion which works for THEM. Do it in a reality which works for them. Make sure the idea arrives in their head by getting them to talk back to you. Without some acknowledgement from the audience, you don’t have true communication taking place. The cycle will be incomplete.

Your job with your blog is to create a relationship with your audience. You want them to know, like and trust you. That is done by forming true understanding between yourself and each of your readers. You want them to see you as an authority in your market, but also a trusted friend. The key to do that will be what I said above.

Blogging isn’t all about yourself. It isn’t about just blurting words into WordPress and hoping people listen. It is about talking TO them and having them talk back.

If you are new to blogging and hardly have any audience yet, the same principles apply. You want to have these interactions with other people. So, you go out onto social media and you do exactly the same thing. In other words, go where the people are and strike up a conversation. Then, with some form of understanding formed, you direct them to your blog.

Build a tribe of people who know, like and trust you… who you routinely talk to (in both directions), then you’ve made it. The rest of your goals as a blogger become a piece of cake.

So, in a spirit of communication, let me know what you think. Post a comment. Let’s talk!

By David Risley, a 6-figure professional blogger who got his start as a tech blogger. His blog David Risley dot com is a pull-no-punches account of the business of pro blogging and what it takes to earn a living as a blogger.

More Blog Tips from Blog World Expo – Part 3

Here’s the final part in a series of tips that I’ve been showing over the last couple of months from Blog World Expo where a number of bloggers share some quick blog tips.

This video features Lee LeFever (Common Craft), Josh, Matt and Nate (UniqueBlogDesigns), Tim Flight (Shopzilla) and Rick Calvert (BlogWorldExpo).

The Video was shot on a Flip Mino.

See this video at full size at Revver, Blip.tv, Viddler and YouTube.

Get more Blog tips from our Blog Tips for Beginners series.