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Discover the Secrets of 9 Productive Bloggers: Blog Wise

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79% of ProBlogger readers identify ‘finding time to blog’ as one of their biggest challenges.

Last year I ran a survey among ProBlogger readers to identify what the biggest challenges that bloggers face are. A number of common themes emerged – one of the strongest can be summed up in these comments from readers:

  • I just don’t have time to blog like I know I should
  • I can barely post once a week… how do you guys do it?
  • After a day of work, kids and keeping a house running my blogging is getting neglected

‘Finding Time to blog’ was a massive emerging theme among ProBlogger readers. Other issues around productivity, effective use of time, questions about out sourcing and more were also common.

As a result I immediately sat down with my team here in Melbourne and we began to plan for a resource to help bloggers become more effective with the limited time that they have available to them.

The Creation of Blog Wise: How to Do More with Less

ProBlogger editor – Georgina Laidlaw – began a series of interviews with successful bloggers. We put together a list of 9. The criteria was that we wanted to find people who had full lives yet who also managed to create great blogs and social media presences.

The result is a fantastic new PDF eBook – Blog Wise.

Featured Bloggers in Blog Wise

We ended up with a fascinating mix of bloggers who not only had great blogs but who also managed family life, other employment, extensive travel, other businesses and more. Here’s who you’ll find contributing to this eBook:

  • Heather Armstrong: Founder of Dooce, author of numerous books, mother of 2 kids (and 2 dogs)
  • Brian Clark: Founder of CopyBlogger Media which includes CopyBlogger the blog, StudioPress Themes, Premise, Scribe and more.
  • Amy Porterfield: author, prolific on Social media, contributor to numerous blogs, speaker, Mom and much more.
  • Abby Larson: Founder of Style Me Pretty – a network of 12 sites which she manages with her husband Tait.
  • Matt Kepnes: Founder of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site – constantly on the road travelling
  • Jeff Goins: blogging at Goins Writer, writing a book, husband and…. he works a full time job
  • Gretchen Rubin: Founder of the Happiness Project blog, author of 4 books, wife and mother of 2 daughters.
  • Leo Babauta: Founder of Zen Habits and numerous other projects, author, minimalist and father of 6 kids.
  • Darren Rowse (me): owner of Digital Photography School and ProBlogger, author, social media addict and husband and dad to 3 boys.

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This 18,000+ word eBook is divided into a chapter for each blogger in which Georgina pulls out the nuggets from each interview. She has also pulled together a 10th chapter which wraps it all up.

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Bonus Productivity Problem Solver

And as an extra bonus we’e included a ‘Productivity Problem Solver’ PDF which covers 21 common productivity problems for bloggers and quotes from each of the above bloggers on how they overcome those issues. For example:

  • Can’t Get Motivated? See what Jeff Goins has to say
  • Having Trouble Focusing? Gretchen Rubin shares a tip
  • Can’t Keep Track of Post Ideas? Amy Porterfield shares her quick tip
  • Got Writers Block? Darren Rowse and Heather Armstrong share what they do
  • Got an Opportunity that you’re not sure what to do with? Abby Larson gives you some questions to ask yourself
  • Thinking of Building a Team but unsure how to Keep it Productive? Brian Clark shares some thoughts
  • Feeling Overwhelmed? Leo Babauta will get you on track with his wisdom
  • Been Putting Stuff Off? Matt Kepnes tells you how he gets things done

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I’m really excited by Blog Wise because it not only pulls together some great bloggers into the one resource – it gives you a unique insight into how they go about what they do.

Reading it will give you some great ideas to apply to your own blogging but also some inspiration and motivation through hearing the stories of these bloggers too.

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Grab Yours Today

Blog Wise and the Bonus Problem solver are PDFs and easily read on any PDF reading device including an iPad (you’ll just need to download it to your computer first for uploading to your device).

Normally priced at $19.99 for a limited time and to celebrate its launch it is $14.99 USD.

Feeling a little dry? Can’t fit all the blogging tasks in? Learn more about Blog Wise here or grab your copy directly from the button below.

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Blog Smarter: 9 Ways to Make Money from WordPress … Without Having a Blog

This guest post is by Sean Platt of outstandingSETUP.

The Internet is flooded with too many blogs. It probably doesn’t need yours.

It’s not that you don’t have anything to say—you probably do. And it’s not that you couldn’t develop an audience, or eventually monetize that audience—you probably could. It’s definitely not that you’re not smart enough. There are plenty of people less intelligent than you already killing it online.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer 2007. There are now millions of blogs. Most of them fail, and few make any money.

Advertising rates are scraping so low, they’re now digging beneath the bottom. Monetizing your traffic is ridiculously hard, which is why you want to monetize your audience instead. Yet using a blog to monetize your audience through quality content marketing, audience engagement, and relationship building is a slow burn at best.

The market is saturated, and competition is fierce. Sure, the gurus know what they are talking about, but what worked for them probably won’t work for you.

The environment has changed and the strategies that helped the A-listers climb to the peak of the pyramid once upon a yesterday won’t be a fraction as effective for you.

But that doesn’t matter. You can still make a great living with WordPress. And the best part is, you don’t even have to have a blog. There are smarter ways to do it.

1. Themes

Every blog needs a theme—no exceptions!

Sure, WordPress comes with a couple of stock themes, but they are so basic, few bloggers choose to use them, and the number of serious bloggers or entrepreneurs who use them is approximately zero.

Even in a time when everyone is counting pennies, most serious bloggers don’t question the value of a quality theme. If you have the coding knowledge and drive to create a theme, along with the willingness to support it, a single theme could provide a full-time living, like it does for Eric Hamm from Catalyst themes.

Best of all, there are already marketplaces filled with buyers, meaning you have a place to sell your wares just seconds after they’re finished. ThemeForest and MojoThemes are just two examples.

2. Child themes

If you don’t want to get cracking on your own theme with crazy amounts of code, then you could take the lighter approach while still capitalizing on the massive customer bases (buyers) for existing themes.

Genesis has over 50,000 active users. Thesis has over 40,000. Other themes such as Catalyst and Headway have fiercely loyal audiences. Many talented designers and smart entrepreneurs have leveraged these large audiences to generate impressive profits.

A child theme is easier to build than a full theme because it piggybacks on the existing layout, options, and code from a parent theme. Relatively speaking, a child theme can be built in far less time, while still providing more profit to the designer.

In the time it takes to create a single fully developed theme, designers could create a handful of child themes instead. And while the profit is larger per individual purchase for a premium theme, child themes allow you to leverage an existing community, meaning you can easily make up the difference in volume.

3. Hosting services

This isn’t for everyone in the WordPress community, and may not be for you. But if it is, reselling hosting can be extremely lucrative.

WordPress users need support. Online entrepreneurs who are serious about their success, and are using blogs as one of the most powerful tools in their box, are smart enough to know they shouldn’t waste their time lost in the back end of their blog.

Servicing this community could be your fast track to success. WPEngine, ZippyKid and Page.ly are all examples of startups that have been extremely successful in this market.

Yes, you’re reselling hosting, putting your hosting on someone else’s servers and managing the network, but that’s not what you’re really selling at all.

Hosting is the steak, but you’re selling the sizzle. The sizzle in this instance is the safety, security, and comfort your potential customer will have knowing that someone highly qualified to work within the WordPress framework is there for them when they need it most.

Again, this isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the technical knowledge to pull it off, you will be wasting your time, crash into a wall of certain frustration, and possibly irreparably damage your reputation if you leave behind scores of unhappy customers.

Yet there is a huge demand for this type of service. If you specialize—meaning aiming your services towards professionals who need hosting for their businesses (restaurants, realtors, dentists, lawyers, or any other market in need of hosting—that’s pretty much all of them!)—then reselling hosting might be one of the best ways for you to leverage WordPress for your personal profit.

4. Plugins

Most WordPress users would agree that plugins are a large part of the pixie dust behind the world’s best CMS. With a few clicks, plugins can change the behavior of your entire website.

A well-designed plugin can put money in your pocket. And the market is exploding. This makes sense, since a well-designed plugin can help your blog make money faster, which is appealing to anyone who’s using their blog to turn a dollar.

Plugins must do something specific, and do it especially well, if you expect to charge for them—especially considering there are already countless quality plugins available for free. Scribe and Gravity Forms are two excellent plugins that make their customers happy and developers rich.

Plugins can generate revenue through upfront purchases, or through donations and premium upgrades that improve upon the user experience from the base plugin. There are also plugins such as Wishlist (a plug-in that turns your WordPress blog into a membership site) that have added monthly continuity programs to their offerings.

5. Content creation services

You already know content is king or you wouldn’t be here. But what if you were the one supplying the crowns?

Populating a blog with quality content is the hardest part of growing a blog. Video, text, audio—everything adds to a blog’s growth, yet content creation is time-consuming, and one of the biggest reasons to find ways to make money from WordPress without having to run a blog.

There are countless online entrepreneurs and full-time bloggers knee-deep in their operations’ growth: they can’t afford to step away. They require content to fuel their continued growth, and you can be the provider to give it to them.

You have a specialty. Whether that’s video, copy, or voice, your specialty is what would have fueled the growth of your blog. Rather than creating that content and publishing it to your own site and waiting for it to quickly wither upon the WordPress vine, you could create the same content and sell it for top dollar to those who need it most.

6. Blog creation services

Professional blogs are started every day, and many of the professionals starting those blogs would be happy to pay someone else to put the pieces together for them.

Some bloggers like to tinker, but others see their blog as a serious tool in a serious business and don’t want to spend the time it takes to learn WordPress inside-out. Most online entrepreneurs would rather outsource the setup, paying someone else to install the framework, upload the themes and plugins, and get the blog otherwise ready for business.

The person they pay could, and perhaps should, be you.

You can make a blog setup service especially lucrative by making it your specialty. Whenever you do the same thing over and over, you can continuously improve the quality of your work while shaving minutes from your time. And whenever you can produce higher quality work in a shorter period of time, your growth and profits will both soar.

You can also sell content creation services as suggested in the tip above. This is a perfect upsell since a buyer who just paid to have a blog created will often be happy to pay an additional fee to populate that blog with content as well.

Of course, you must be comfortable creating content, and the decision to add the service to your business must be personally scalable for you. outstandingSETUP does an remarkable job with design, installation, setup and security, but we don’t offer content creation services since it doesn’t fit the model.

Your model must always fit your goals.

7. Support services

You know all those online entrepreneurs and bloggers who are paying for blog creation or content creation services? Well, most would be perfectly happy to pay for quality support as well. And if you’re already offering creation services, continual support is an easy add-on, as long as time and strategy allow.

There are two primary monetization models for this sort of service. The first is to charge by the hour. And while hourly rates for tech support are often high, hourly service isn’t scaleable unless your outsourcing the work, which is why you may want to go with the second monetization model—charging a monthly subscription for support.

8. Build an ad network

This is the most difficult one on the list, but if it matches your personal skill set, it can be extremely lucrative, much like the reselling hosting suggestion up above.

An ad network connects publishers and advertisers, in exchange for a cut of the money changing hands. There are countless blog owners with decent traffic who would be happy to sell ad space, and countless of advertisers looking for places to place their banners. If you can effectively put the two and two together, it could equal a whole lot more than four for the time that you spend online.

Building an ad network can be an especially good idea for entrepreneurs with existing, sizable networks with both publishers and advertisers. This usually means someone who’s been online for a while and dabbled in a lot of different enterprises.

But this isn’t the type of business you want to start from the ground up. You will be most successful if it naturally fits your existing skill set. If it does, you may want to give it a try. It might just be the best way for you to make money from WordPress websites.

9. Offer website reviews

Every author needs an editor. Every website should have one, too. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees, and you never know what other people are thinking when they land on your website.

All the traffic in the world means nothing if a website isn’t optimized to convert visitors into leads, fans, or paying customers. If an online business owner doesn’t know how to organize their site for maximum conversion, you can be the one to show them (so long as that is your specialty).

MenWithPens and Derek Halpern have both done this extremely well. It’s a win-win for the provider since they are advertising their skill set and steadily increasing their authority, while helping business owners maximize the value of their visitors.

Because you are directly helping a website owner generate a higher average profit per visitor, they will be willing to pay you well for your time. The more sites you optimize, the better your reputation will be, and the more you can charge per optimized site.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are countless ways to make money with WordPress, and they’re limited only by your imagination. But the message is indisputable.

There is a lot of money to be made in the world of WordPress, but due to massive competition, and depending on your skill set, running a blog might just be the worst way to try to get your share.

Sean Platt is a content marketer and cofounder of outstandingSETUP. Get his FREE report “9 Website Building Mistakes You Should Avoid”.

Blog Smarter: Don’t Just End Up Trading Hours for Dollars

This guest post is by Sunil of extramoneyblog.com.

Many business owners leave or start their businesses thinking they can achieve more freedom only to find themselves toiling away in their businesses and thus having bought or created themselves another job. Blogging is no different for most bloggers.

Blog time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user colombweb

Many bloggers who enter the blogosphere with the intention of making money online and someday freeing themselves up from time commitments such as a 9 to 5 job often end up getting tied up to their blogs and don’t realize it until often it’s too late.

That is quite alright if your intention is simply to work online from home, but if your intention is to free yourself up so that you have more time, you must approach blogging from the lens of building a business that generates passive income for you.

See many people that want to break free from their jobs often have the illusion that they want to make more money online and that they can. What they don’t realize is that what their subconscious really wants is more freedom and flexibility. Money is secondary.

Think about it, how long can one continue to trade five days in exchange for only two (weekends)? This never made sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Why? Even if you love your job, you have to be there and show up even when you don’t feel like it some days. Why should you have to?

After an individual reaches a certain point in their career or profession, there comes a point when the incremental money gained from incremental time and effort invested is simply not worth it. At that stage, individuals start craving for time more so than money. Study after study has been conducted on this subject and the results are fairly consistent (watch out because after money, freedom and flexibility, the hunger for power is next).

If you haven’t yet caught on, this post is not meant for someone who wants to supplement their income by blogging, or someone who wants to quit their jobs to work online full time, but rather those who are interested in building a business online that generates passive income for them, thus giving them the balance of time and money.

I am not going to go into what passive income is and whether it exists. There are about 1,943 different schools of thought on that subject. For the purposes of this post, let’s say passive income is income that is at least the same or more from what you make at your job without having you put much effort into generating it on an ongoing basis. Simple and conservative enough?

Most bloggers produce content, guest post, market their blogs, find advertising partners, then rinse and repeat the cycle. Many take up writing gigs to supplement their incomes because the blog doesn’t generate enough. Others take up freelance gigs to help other bloggers out.

What ends up happening is the constant trade of hours for dollars. There is nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want. But if you want the freedom brought by passive income, then your approach to blogging must change. Most blogs would die overnight if the authors stopped posting to them. Like I said, it’s like buying yourself (or creating) another job. Ask yourself, what would happen to your blog if you stopped blogging today?

So how can bloggers move away from trading hours for dollars so they can focus on semi or fully automating their “online business”? Here are a handful of ideas for starters. Take them as a little food for thought.

    • Focus on search engine optimization: SEO is well and alive even today. If most of your traffic comes from other websites and blogs, your RSS readers, and the community you have built, you are compelled to create content periodically to keep your blog alive. Focusing on SEO will help you spread your traffic spider web by catching more free, organic search engine traffic when web surfers are looking for information you have on your blog. Effective SEO ensures you gain the long-term benefits of the traffic your blog generates whether you update it or not.
    • Publish evergreen pillar content: Hand in hand with SEO goes the creation of evergreen “pillar” content. This refers to content that was valid yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. Moreover, this content discusses a core topic or subtopic within your niche that people would be interested in reading about regardless of when they see it.
    • Focus on list-building: How many times have you heard the “money is in the list”? Enough times. Building a list ensures you have a business model to leverage and scale long after you stop posting content to your blog. An RSS readership is similar, but not the same. An email list allows you direct, personal contact with your subscribers. Moreover, it is not predicated on the success of your blog or the existence and use of RSS technology. Email, on the other hand, will follow us to our graves.
    • Collaborate: This seems to be the hottest trend in blogging today and the direction in which most popular blogs are going.  Think Huffington Post, ProBlogger and the likes—single individuals are no longer running and managing those entities.  Many believe the future of blogging lies in collaboration, and that those who do not collaborate will die over time.  Because this is such a recent trend, the long term impact is unknown.  There are cons to collaboration as well, such as loosing the blog’s identity and main voice which were behind building the massive readership to begin with.  So far it seems to be working alright, but time will tell how collaboration shapes up.
    • Leverage experience: Your journey as an online entrepreneur will teach you several invaluable lessons which you can leverage to build a more passive type of business the second time around. You will be wiser the second time around, which will help prevent you from building an online business that turns into a job. I made that mistake in 2005; luckily I was able to sell the site for $250,000 two years later after growing it faster than I could handle at the time. Ensure that your business is “scaleable” and sustainable with relatively low effort.
    • Build multiple streams of income: As your supplemental income increases, put some of it away and invest in establishing other passive streams of income such as a dividend portfolio, rental property, certificates of deposits, annuities, etc.  The beauty of an online business such as blogging is that you can do it while maintaining a 9 to 5 job, therefore you can take all the profits from that scaleable side business and invest it to establish other streams of passive income that require little to no effort.

While trading hours for dollars working online may give you the flexibility to work remotely from home or anywhere else (after all, you have the ability to travel), it does not necessarily mean that you have the freedom and flexibility to decide how much you want to work and when, which most likely was your underlying motive to begin with.

Keeping that critical distinction in mind from the outset helps develop a business strategy that supports a fairly passive and self-sustainable model if that’s what you want. Simply saying that you work online doesn’t convey the full story at all. A data entry person works online from home. We need to understand the broader picture, address what we truly desire, and then develop a strategy that will get us closer to our desire. I hope this article helps you reflect on your true desire behind blogging.

Editor’s note: We’ll be building on the idea of scalable blogging over the coming days in a series of posts on Blogging Smarter. This series will look more closely at particular aspects of blogging where you can get more value for the time you put in.

In the meantime, let us know if you’ve thought about your motivations for blogging, and whether you’ve wound up simply trading hours for dollars on your blog.

Sunil owns over two dozen profitable niche websites, over 20 successfully selling ebooks, 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 blog, where he discusses expedited wealth creation through solid personal finance, entrepreneurship and internet marketing. You can read more about him and his work on his blog.

Is Your Blog Doing Okay?

Last week, I told the story of how I achieved my best month ever on DPS.

While I used that post as a case study to present some ideas that I hoped you may be able to use on your own blogs, there’s a hidden hitch with that kind of post: it can give you the impression that you should be aiming to triple your revenue each time you hone a promotion on your site.

We could take that a step or two further—a post like that could give you the expectation that you should be selling products, or even that you should be monetizing your blog. Neither of those ideas is necessarily appropriate for every blog, or every blogger.

The blogosphere is usually a friendly place, but it’s also a place where there’s a lot of comparison. The old idea of keeping up with the Joneses can be a strong, if subtle influence in a space where we’re all learning from each other’s experiences.

Is your blog doing okay?

It’s only natural for most of us to want to know how our blogs are tracking, and to do that we naturally feel the need to compare them to something. I think the best comparison is your own previous performance, as I did with my 12 Days of Christmas promotion. But early in your blogging career, when you may not have a lot of previous results to look at, you’re probably more likely to compare yourself to other bloggers.

You might compare your blog with others in the same niche (competitors and peers), or blogs in different niches that are of a similar size and age to yours. You might compare the results you got from a particular tactic with the results someone else got by using that same tactic, but in a completely different field.

All of these attempts to benchmark are common, and there’s no doubt that they can be helpful at times. But benchmarking your blog against others, or your performance against others, ignores one very important factor: you.

Are you doing okay?

As I said earlier, I tend to benchmark against my own progress, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

True “success” isn’t a matter of graphs and stats, nor is it a “point” that’s “achieved.” When we ask if our blog’s doing okay, what I think most of us are asking is if we’re performing as we should be. But this assumes that there’s one objective standard that we should meet.

Every one of us is different, each blog is unique, our reader audiences are comprised of different people, and our blogging fits into our personal lives in myriad different ways. So how could there be an objective yardstick for “success” or “progress”? The better question, I think, is more personal: are we achieving all that we’re capable of achieving—and all that we want to achieve?

Within the realm of blogging, I try to improve on my past performance. But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If the way I went about improving that performance were detrimental to some other part of my life, then it wouldn’t matter how well my 2011 12 Days of Christmas promotion went—I wouldn’t be enjoying “success” or possibly even overall “progress.”

I know, for example, that as a part-time blogger, it’s easy to look at full-time bloggers’ “progress” or “success” and try to push yourself to achieve something similar. But unless you have 48 hours in every day, that’s probably not a) possible b) practical or c) enjoyable.

When you’re wondering how your blog’s tracking, my advice is to look at how your blog’s tracking both in its own right, but also, in terms of how it’s fitting in with the other priorities and things of value in your life.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk more specifically about this, and explain a few of the ways I think my blogging’s going well—and they have nothing to do with sales or stats or marketing. In the meantime, how’s your blog tracking? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

How to Set Up an Email Account that Uses Your Domain Name

This guest post is written by Kashish Jain of gkbasic..

Most of the people who are new to web design and blogging don’t understand the capabilities that come free with their domain, so they don’t take advantage of them.

How many times have you visited a site for www.something.com and on the Contact Us page, you find that the sales or customer service personnel have email addresses like [email protected]? It certainly is not the main measure of business quality, but the average person usually thinks, “Geez, what is that, their personal email address?”

I, too, began using my personal email address for my website, but very soon I started to realize the importance and need of something more professional.

Why not use the domain email which is free with your hosting account? Using email addresses like [email protected] will look much more professional than the personal email—and the best part is, it’s free!

The bottom line is that if you have paid money to own a domain then you should, at the least, buy from a domain registrar that offers email forwarding for their accounts (we prefer Godaddy). You can also create a domain email address from the cpanel given to you by your hosting providers—they’ll also provide at least one free email address for your account.

By following the steps I’ll explain here, I created an email address that uses my domain name, and I now use it everywhere. It’s made an impact on my website and boosted my interaction with the readers. Before we get into the process, though, let me introduce you to the term “email forwarding.”

What is email forwarding?

Email forwarding is a feature that allows incoming mail to a domain email account, such as [email protected], to be redirected or forwarded to another email address, such as [email protected] Email forwarding is the easiest way to set up a new email address without having to change your email program.

Forwarded email addresses are sometimes called “aliases”. An alias, as you know, is another name that refers to a given person. In our example, John has an email address with gmail—[email protected] He has just purchased the domain name widgets.com and sets up a forwarding rule which “reads”: Whenever an email comes in to [email protected], forward that email to [email protected] In this case, the address [email protected] is an “alias” for [email protected], as all email goes to the same Gmail address.

Many services allow hundreds for forwarding rules or aliases to be created. Suppose John runs a small business but wants to give website visitors the confidence that they’re dealing with a solid company. He could create forwarding rules for [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and so on, and have them all forwarded to [email protected] As John adds employees he can change the forwarding rules to go to other email addresses—you can have as many aliases as you want pointing to the same destination email.

Set up an email account that uses your domain name

Here, I’m going to show you how to create a new email address, like [email protected], and integrate it with your Gmail account. This way, you can easily send and receive emails through the Gmail interface, but your customer will see the emails as coming from your domain email address.

The steps have been broken in two parts. First we’ll see how to create the domain email address. Second, we’ll integrate that domain email with your Gmail account.

1. Create the domain name email address

  1. Log into your blog hosting control panel, or cpanel.
  2. Click on Email Accounts in the Email section.
  3. Enter the details for your new account, and click Create Account, as shown here.
  4. You will see a notification that reads something like this: “Success! Account Created.” The account will be shown on the same page.
  5. Now go back to your cpanel and click on Forwarders in the Mail section. Then click Add Forwarder.
  6. Fill all the details as shown below. Then, click Add Forwarder and you’re done.

Now all the emails sent to [email protected] will be sent to your personal email address.

2. Integrate your new domain email with Gmail

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Options, then to Mail Settings, then click Accounts and Imports.
  3. Check Send Mail As, and click on Add Another Email Address You Own.
  4. In the popup that appears, fill in your details, add the new domain email address you just created, then click Next.
  5. Click on Send Verification, and a verification email will be delivered to your inbox. Simply click on the link to verify it, and you are done.
  6. Now, click on Compose Email, and see the changes you’ve made in action.

I hope these steps are clear enough for you to set up your own domain email address. However, if you feel I’ve missed something, or you’re not able to follow up, then let me know in the comments.

Kashish Jain is professional blogger from Delhi,INDIA who writes on various topics like blogging, technology updates, public administration. If you like this post, you can follow him on Google and his blog about public administration.

Is Perfectionism Stalling Your Productivity?

We’ve all been there … You sit down to write a post. You get the opening line down, but half-way through the second sentence, you go back to tweak the first. A bit further on, you decide to chop up the paragraphs you’ve done so far and rearrange them … but on second thought, is that really the better option?

In two minds, you “finish” the post, then spend a half-hour writing and rewriting the “ideal” headline.

Finally, happy(ish!) your cursor hovers over the Publish button … but you just can’t press it. You decide to give it some time, and come back tomorrow, when you know you’ll end up rewriting the whole thing from scratch using the same “process.”

Meanwhile, your blog’s getting more dated by the minute. Your regular publishing schedule has gone out the window, and you’re miles behind on your blogging goals.

Perfectionism: the ultimate time drain?

Back in the days of print, things had to be perfect before they were published. There are certainly plenty of great reasons for making sure your content is as good as it can be before you publish it. Yet die-hard perfectionism holds many a blogger back from achieving their full potential.

I’ve seen it many times online—and discussed it with plenty of bloggers, from all walks of life and areas of the blogosphere, over the years.

In How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog, Jennifer Blanchard lists perfectionism as one of the main reasons why people procrastinate.

As someone who’s started more than 20 blogs in my time—and wound up quite a few too!—it’s safe to say I’ve got a pretty good handle on perfectionism now. Here’s how I managed to overcome it.

  • Realize that the web is flexible: The web isn’t print. You can very easily add to, update, and tweak a published post later, either based on feedback from readers or on additional information that’s come your way since you wrote the post.
  • Understand that your readers know you’re human: Your readers don’t know just know it—they respect it. Bloggers like Jon Morrow and Leo Babauta work closely with their readers, and are happy to show their human sides. And their readers are all the more loyal for it.
  • Recognize the value you can get from using reader feedback to improve your posts: Reader feedback can add depth and perspective to your posts, and boost their usability for other readers. But the process of working with readers on your posts—crowdsourcing the icing for your blog post “cake”—can also boost the sense of community, collaboration, and engagement around your blog.
  • Respect the importance of your publishing schedule: Your posting schedule isn’t just about content—it’s about meeting reader needs. Showing up—publishing great content—is square one for bloggers. That’s where blogging starts. No content, no blog. So by using your publishing schedule as a guide—and sticking to it—you respect your readers and you’re ticking the first box on the checklist for achieving your blogging goals.
  • Realize that an incomplete post will probably attract more comments: By “incomplete,” I’m not suggesting that you stop writing before you get to the end of the post and publish it as-is! But the Blog Tyrant makes the very good point that a post that exhausts its topic “leaves readers with nowhere to go.” You don’t need to cover off every aspect of the post’s topic in order for that post to be “good.” A post that doesn’t exhaust the topic may receive more comments—and shares if the conversation becomes particularly interesting or illuminating.

Of course, we all want our posts to be factually accurate and typo-free—that’s a given. But there are also considerable advantages to letting go and seeing where a less polished post might lead…

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How is it holding your blog back? And how have you overcome it (if you’ve managed to do that!)?

How to Handle Criticism: a Practical Guide

Image by Stuart Richards

As bloggers, each of us has to deal with criticism. Blogging is a very public activity—almost all of us has the goal of gaining readers to our blogs—and the more people you reach, the more likely it is that you’ll hear criticisms.

“You’re wrong…”

“How can you say that? You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I couldn’t disagree more…”

“This is the last time I read this blog!”

These are just some of the criticisms bloggers regularly face—I’ve received versions of all of these many times over the years, and if you’ve been blogging for any length of time, they’re probably fairly familiar to you, too.

Criticism can be deeply painful. As I explained here, the difficulty in dealing with criticism caused Elizabeth Taylor to ignore everything the press said about her. The discomfort of being criticised has led more than one blogger to shut down their blog, so it’s an issue that bloggers really do need to think about.

How can we manage criticism, not get dragged down by it, and maybe even benefit from it?

Embrace criticism?!

That probably sounds a little odd, but the first thing you need to do is accept—even embrace—the fact that your blog has attracted criticism.

I know that can be difficult to do, but think of it this way: you’re a blogger, and you’re tackling the tough job of putting yourself, your work, and your opinions on the line every week.

Not everyone will agree with you all of the time, but negative feedback is a sign that you’re making people think. After all, that’s one of the most common reasons why many start blogging in the first place.

Certainly, few bloggers are ever going to gleefully greet negative emails and comments the way we do positive feedback, but the first step in using that information positively is to accept it as a natural part of blogging.

Don’t take it personally—everyone gets criticisms—from the longest-standing A-list bloggers to the newest blogger on the block. It’s not pretty, but it’s part of the job.

Consider the criticism

Some criticisms are better than others. Some negative commenters just want you to know that they feel this post’s no good, or they don’t like your logo. Others are more considerate—they’ll give you reasons for their negative feedback.

There are trolls out there—people who are just negative for the sake of it—but if you cultivate the right culture of comments on your site, you’ll likely receive more valuable criticisms than trolling. If your site is the victim of trolls, you might find this post, which explains a Buddhist monk’s philosophy of dealing with “haters”, helpful.

Be careful, too, not to discount a brief criticism that lacks detail as “just trolling.” Sometimes what appears to be a thoughtless negative comment from a troll can turn out to reflect an undercurrent that’s taken up later by more constructive commenters—and that can be extremely valuable to you and your blog.

Making use of criticism

I find it’s best, wherever possible, to take the emotion out of the criticism. So if you have more than one negative comment on a post, look first for those that are written reasonably and respectfully. These kinds of readers are advancing ideas for you to consider so you can better meet their needs. Have a read, but don’t take the feedback personally, or even on board, just yet.

Now look at the remaining criticism—the angry or otherwise emotional feedback. Think as objectively as possible about how that supports the other feedback. If you could boil down the feedback to one thing, what would it be? What was it that readers didn’t like about this post or product?

Criticism often falls into one of a few categories:

  • a difference of opinion
  • a lack of perceived value
  • a sense of frustration linked to an underlying problem the reader is struggling with.

If you can work out which of these problems is at the root of the criticism you’ve received, you can do something about it.

A difference of opinion may cause you to re-check your facts, do a little research, and respond to the criticism with evidence that supports your case—perhaps in a follow-up post.

A lack of perceived value may encourage you to tweak the way you present value through your blog. It might also prompt you to post on different topics or try different approaches to the topic in question. This may even open up your blog to a broader audience over time.

A sense of frustration among readers can give you real insight into deep audience needs, and what you can do to meet them.

Take it on board

Now’s the time to take the criticism on board—but not emotionally so much as practically.

Now you know what the real issue is, you can undoubtedly think of a few ways to try to tweak your work to try to cater to the needs your readers have flagged.

“Tweak” is usually the right word here. If you take the criticism personally, you’ll be more likely to make drastic changes that can end up undermining your blog and possibly disappointing the majority of readers who like what you do and how you do it. So act with caution—but do act.

On the other hand, if the negative feedback is overwhelming, you might do well to respond (not react!) with corresponding passion, showing your audience that you’re listening, and that their feedback is important to you.

After all, they took the time to tell you what they didn’t like, which means they do care about you and your blog. A criticism says, “I want your blog to be what I want.” It’s up to us as bloggers to decide if, and how, we want our blogs to be what those readers want.

How do you handle criticism on your blog? Share your tips with us in the comments—we could all use some help handling negative feedback.

Frustrated by Blogger’s Block? Try this Exercise!

Feeling frustrated today about a lack of ideas to write about on your blog? If so, you’re not alone. Here’s another technique that I use to overcome it.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post here on ProBlogger that gave a tip for fighting blogger’s block. It asked you to identify a problem that you had three years ago and to write a post that solved that problem for your readers.

Another variation on that technique for overcoming blogger’s block is to write a post that taps into a “feeling” that your readers might typically have.

There are probably thousands of bloggers in your niche writing content to solve the problems of your readers, but I bet that in most niches, most of them don’t look after the feelings of their readers.

Acknowledge and work with those feelings, and you’ll be blogging with empathy—not only solving problems, but making emotional connections with your readers. You’ll also be connecting with different personality types than if you just write a dry how-to type post.

Which feelings should you concentrate on? While negative feelings might be the obvious choice I think there’s a case for writing about the whole gamut of feelings:

  • Feeling lost? Here’s a way forward.
  • Feeling paralyzed? Here’s how to get moving.
  • Feeling excited? Here’s how to capture that excitement and use it for good.
  • Feeling lonely? Here’s a place to connect with others.
  • Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s how to navigate that.
  • Feeling fearful? Here’s how to overcome your fear.

You’ll notice in the above examples I’ve taken each of the feelings and then written a how-to response, but there are other ways to tap into the feelings of your readers, too.

One great way to do it is to tell a story.

  • Feeling Lost? Here’s a time I felt that, and here’s what happened.

Another way to tap into feelings is to start a discussion.

  • What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with your work.

So sit down today and think about what kinds of feelings and emotions your readers might have.

You might get some hints in the comments section of your blog. You may also want to think about your own feelings and emotions (past and present) as they pertain to your topic.

Once you’ve identified a feeling, write a post that starts with that feeling. Acknowledge it up front, then write something that helps your readers to move forward from that place.

I’d love to see links below to the posts you write after doing this exercise! Please do share them.

The Gong Fu of Blogging

This guest post is by Michael de Waal-Montgomery of The Monty Mike Times.

The word Kung Fu comes from the Chinese word “Gong Fu,” which means “hard work.” Anyone who’s studied Kung Fu knows this name is well deserved. It’s tough going, no matter how good you get.

Blogging is also “gong fu” sometimes. On a good day, the writing can seem to flow effortlessly, perhaps feeling something more akin to Tai Chi, or “Tai Ji Quan” in the original Chinese.

On a bad day, blogging is exhausting. The thought alone of sitting down and staring at a blank page, a blinking cursor in a field of white snow, can be utterly depressing.

If you’re writing for pleasure, this is the last place you want to be. Why spend your own free time doing something you’re not enjoying? It’s a question worth asking.

Inspiration

The other question worth asking is why does blogging feel like such hard work today? The answer is usually because you’re uninspired. You feel you have nothing worth blogging about. You feel like you have nothing interesting to say.

What you deem uninteresting and what the world deems uninteresting are often not the same thing. For starters, you spend every day with yourself, locked up in your own head.

Because we are too close to our own situations, to our own lives and the events that unfold within them each day, it’s easy to make a judgement call that we are just boring people.

That’s not true.

No one else is living your life. No one else is seeing the world in quite the same way you are. No one else is thinking the same thoughts and no one else is taking away the same lessons from each experience.

If you are feeling that writing that blog post is a bit Gong Fu today, look for inspiration. If you think you have to climb a mountain to find it, you’re wrong. Inspiration can be found everywhere, in everything.

Look in your thoughts, and at your experiences. Consider the things that make you who you are, the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve met. The lessons you’ve learned living this life.

It is said that a man is what he thinks about all day. If you think about cars, blog about cars; if you spent the whole day feeling uninspired, blog about something that will inspire others instead.

Often looking for a topic to blog about is as easy as facing up to the very one you’re running away from. The one that you think will bore readers to death.

Limitation

There is very little new and original content in the world today. What’s new and original is the way you look at something old and tired. The angle you take, the spin you put on it. The piece of your character that you bring into it.

The possibilities are endless.

There are only 26 letters in the alphabet. There are only four limbs in the body. Yet bloggers go on blogging and Kung Fu teachers go on teaching Kung Fu. So what’s the secret?

They know how to stay inspired, how to stay hungry. They know how to look at the ordinary and find the extraordinary. If you can’t learn to do this too, your blogging will always remain Gong Fu.

Time to buy some new spectacles, perhaps. Or take off your old ones. The whole world is right in front of you, like an oyster.

So start writing that latest blog post already!

Michael de Waal-Montgomery is a full-time journalism student and aspiring writer who enjoys blogging in his free time. You can read his rants over at The Monty Mike Times.