Monday, March 24, 2014

15 Things I Wish I knew Before I Started My First Blog

Hosting your own blog is one of the smartest things to do whether your a freelancer or a business owner. It’s one of the newest and best ways of communicating with other people. Though the older generation is getting familiar with this too (some of them blog now too), most still prefer the coffee or tea get together and fellowship. You can use this to your advantage.

As a blogger, I want to share with you some of the things pondered upon by those who are contemplating of joining the young and the not-so-young people hosting their own blog. These can save you from future worries and stresses. You’ll discover for yourself that blogging is indeed fun and profitable. For your benefit, here's a lists of things I wish I knew before I started my first blog. I wish I knew…..
1. …the reason for hosting a blog. Do you blog to be known? Or to start or promote a business? Or to just express yourself and your feelings to the world? Or to meet new friends? Why do you blog? Knowing this is important. This will determine the overall concept, style, and purpose of your site.
2. …that a cool URL (name) is important. This gets the attention of the viewers. Your URL should be catchy, unique and original. It must also give your viewers an idea of what your blog is all about.
3. …a good website for blog hosting is important. If you choose to set up a free blog on sites like, choose a website where there is traffic (or a lot of viewers) and that makes it easy for new people to discover your blog ( for example). Remember, the more the merrier. You could also provide links to other social media networks.
4. …that house rules are necessary. Well, just the basics though. You don’t want to scare the viewers with a very long list, do you? Just give them information about things you would not allow to be expressed in your blog. This should be stated at the top, before they proceed with the whole blog.
5. …that I could be me as much as possible. There is no need to pretend to be a genius or to be somebody you are not. Enjoy being yourself. Communicate with passion and what really is in your heart. Blog hosting is technically socializing or communicating with other people, only it’s online and not face-to-face. Our parents’ advice of “be yourself” is applicable here too.
6. …that being careful with personal information is a must! Although being yourself is important, do not reveal information such as home address, contact numbers, properties, money matters, and work-related info among other things. Maintain your privacy. Remember, this can be read by the whole world. Protect yourself from possible dangers. Not everybody who is browsing your blogs has good intentions.
7. …how to be careful with legalities too. It’s not just about the freedom of expression but consideration of the rights of others too. Do not just name names or post photos (with no permission) or use the intellectual property of others. There are legal consequences of doing so. 
8. …blog hosting is not just about me. This can be read by all ages, by all races, and by people of all religions in the whole world (well, almost the whole world). Be generic. Be considerate. Be careful (Children might be reading what’s on your blog.).
Although the site is yours, it is not about you all the time. There should be no gossiping and no discussion of private family problems or something that can hurt somebody.  
9. …accuracy of information is vital. To be credible, provide the latest and reliable information. If it is just your opinion or experiences you’re sharing, then there’s no problem. But if you’re sharing world news or information, get your facts straight.
10. …it’s supposed to be fun, enjoyable, helpful, and informative not only for me but for the readers as well. Always think of your readers. Put yourself in their shoes. Are they going to like your posts? Will they enjoy it and feel good? Will they benefit from your blog?
11. …my blog can touch somebody. Yes, it can help uplift somebody too. There might be others who can relate to your posts. You can be a source of inspiration for others, for all you know.
12. …the latest trends. People always want to be updated. Bring in the freshest news as often as you can. 
13. …the bloggers’ jargon (or terminologies). Use their dictionary. Speak their language. Study. Research. Know their jokes too. 
14. …pictures can help my blog too. They can add beauty and life to posts. If it’s a friend’s or a family member’s photo, however, ask permission before you post it.
15. …that I can seek the help of a professional writer when I know I’m not good with words especially if it’s about my business. You can use your site for business. Make it look professional—not too homey and simple, that is, if you want the viewers to take your business seriously. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Find New and Exciting Blogging Topics

Writing good and interesting blog posts gets tedious at times and one day you find yourself just sitting there, wondering what to blog about. It's not that you're lazy or don't enjoy writing anymore - the problem is elsewhere.

You can't just write about anything that pops into your head, right? There has to be some research involved because what's the point of writing about something nobody cares about? Here's a process you can follow when you get stuck.

Use Social Media Websites

No, this is not going toe be more of the generic 'look for what's viral' type of advice. Yes, you could browse around and see what's trending for your industry right now, but why would you write about something that everybody else and their brother is writing about?

Be clever about it and make your own spin on the themes that you see are popular right now. If you see a post about Top 10 of the Best Whatever, you should think about writing the opposite - The Worst 10 of Whatever - it will be original, fun and engaging for your readers.

Look for what are your friends asking on social sites or what problems they have. Are they complaining about not spending enough time with their kids? Write a blog post titled 5 Ways to Spend More Time with Your Children or 4 Outdoor Activities For Family Bonding.

For some extra traffic, post a response on the original comment of your friend with a link to the post you wrote.

Get Your Audience Involved

Here's the thing most bloggers forget when they're on the hunt for new content ideas. You can directly ask your audience for feedback - that's the beauty of the Web 2.0 world compared with old media where feedback is slow and sometimes nonexistent.

Go to Survey Monkey and create a survey with questions related to your general topic. Make them in way that will generate useful answers and not just a Yes or No type of response.

Use Photography as an Inspiration

A boring topic may make you procrastinate on writing that post even more. One cool trick that will help you with writing the story and ranking in the search engines is to use photos. When you're out and about and you see anything that has to do with your topic get your phone out and snap a picture. You'll start to accumulate an archive with relevant images that you can upload with your articles or create galleries to compliment your content.

This way you can visually express your point more effectively with a blog post and as a bonus - you own the rights to the picture. This is perfect for niches where you can't find images that fit the topic on the web.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How To Keep Your Blog Visitors Engaged and Coming Back For More?

Making your blog look good and easy for user interaction is all good but it's not the only aspect of creating a successful blog. Only a blogger who knows how his visitors think, and by visitors I mean readers, and gives them what they came to see on the blog is going to be successful in the long run. What is happening in reality though? Most people that start blogging don't manage to fulfill the goals they've set for their blog and that makes them give up blogging altogether. Why do you thing is that? Let's find out.

Don't look for visitors, look for readers

There's a common misconception among bloggers that the more traffic they get the higher rank they'll have in Google search results and the higher profits they'll achieve. However, when your blog depends on first time visitors every day it's only a matter of time before a day comes where all of your traffic disappears. I'm not making this up, even famous bloggers like Darren Rowse have discovered this unpleasant truth for themselves. To stop this from happening you have to diversify your traffic sources and most importantly to not depend only on Google for your traffic and profit because it can go away in a flash.

First things first. The best strategy here is to achieve long-term relationships with your blog visitors. You'll find that's easier to to if your treat them like customers - with respect and loyalty.

Step Up Your Writing Game In Order To Stand Out

We're aiming for trust here. Remember, your blog is a blog for you, but for the reader it's a brand name which they associate with certain things. Of course you want them to think of your brand as something that constantly delivers high quality. These are the readers your want to attract  - they'll even help you get the ball rolling by sharing your stuff with their friends on social media sites.

The problem is that no matter the type of traffic we're talking about if your posts give a solution to a problem the visitor was looking for, you might not see them ever again. The question is how to make them stay and come back for more?

Related content is the key here. Specifically, related content that adds more value to the content the reader has just consumed. That's some simple on-page SEO but it does make a difference and you shouldn't ignore it.


However hard it may seem in the beginning, once you accumulate the critical amount of loyal readers, don't let them down. Give them something back - giveaways are excellent way to do that. What's nice about them is that you get some social exposure for free because people tend to share giveaways a lot more.

Don't fall into the black hat trap. A recent example is Rap Genius - they used spam to promote and get higher rankings and Google was very quick to penalize them. You don't want to deal with stuff like that - it's just not worth it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why You Should Cover Just One Topic Per Post

Is one topic per post enough? 

I've already covered the part where you choose your blog topic in my previous post but another very important part of your blogging strategy now that you've created your blog is to post highly targeted content with each article you publish.
I think most of the time bloggers tend to write their posts that way - covering just one topic but there are instances I've seen where a blog post is trying to cover every single problem humanity has with just one article. The end result is a long piece that just goes on and on, driving the reader away. Don't try to include everything you know about a topic in a single post but instead focus the way you post like a laser.

As we've already established your blog has broader topic or a niche. Then, you have your categories within that niche that are smaller parts of your main topic.

Categories are very important for various reasons including but not limited to:
SEO: Google likes content that is surrounded by content with similar theme which is why blogs often have high rank in the search results. Having categories also makes it easier for the web crawlers to index all of your pages.
Readability: Not all of your visitors are going to like everything that your write and are going to follow only some parts of it. Basically the pages for your categories are going to be like smaller blogs embedded in your blog which is perfect for the reader. It allows them to consume only the content and mini niches they have an interest for.

Posts are the next level down of your blog's structure. Each category is going to have many posts in it so of course one post can't address the whole category. Think of it all as a book - it has a broad topic, chapters and then parts/sections

Here's why laser targeted posts work well

Easy to use - people on the web have shorter attention spans and don't spend long on web pages. More focused posts remedy this issue by going straight to the point and and being generally shorter.

Search engine friendly: When your web page has just one topic it's easier for search engines to understand what it's about which in turn makes it easier for that page to get ranked.

Relevant ads: It's a lot easier for ad networks like AdSense to serve targeted ads if they know what the page is all about.

More focused posting doesn't mean only doing short posts. Indeed some people like longer posts and the thing is a focused post can be long too. I've written very tightly focused posts that were also some of the longest posts I've ever written. It all depends on the topic and context.

Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Start a Blog or Website

How to Start a Blog or Website: A Step-by-Step Instruction Guide

You've been toying with the idea of creating a blog but you probably don't know how exactly to start, right? Guess what - most bloggers started out just like you. I've created several successful blogs in the last years and but when I started I had no idea what I was doing. I barely knew any HTML let alone CSS and building a beautiful website sounded quite intimidating.

The good news is that it's actually easier than you might think. I've learned quite a few things along the way and now you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself from wasting time and testing your nerves. Here's how I started my first blog, with all the necessary steps:

Tips from a blogger before you start

Getting the basics straight

1. Choose a niche that you're interested in. It doesn't have to be very specific but it must be something you love doing. Hiking? Cycling? Photography? Write about it if you love doing it.

2. Think about who your audience is. Who is going to read all the posts you're writing? Adjust your writing according to your niche and readers whether it's about parenting, archery or something else.

3. Add something unique and valuable to your content so your readers feel you've enriched their lives somehow. You have to give them something that keeps them coming back.

4. Be different than everybody else. Chances are there are hundreds of other blogs with the same topic as yours, so why should people come and read your content? It must be interesting and sharable but don't act like somebody you're not. Be yourself and let your personality come through everything your post.

Getting Started


1. The very first thing you should do is get yourself a good web hosting package and a domain name for your blog. Most web hosts offer some sort of automation so you could install WordPress easily. It's possible to find monthly packages for about $5 or less, so go get yourself one of these. Some companies even offer a free domain for new signups which is perfect for a blogger just starting out. Make a WordPress install and take advantage of the tech support if you get stuck somewhere.

Choosing a theme

2. Choose a theme for your blog that makes it look how you imagine a nice blog should look like. When you lack coding skills (as I did when starting out) a good theme gives you a good framework for designing and makes it a lot more easier. The nice themes out there cost money unfortunately, but they're not overly expensive and you get a lifetime license. Every WordPress theme has two parts: a fremework and a Child Theme which contains all the eye candy.

- The framework. There are quite a few WordPress themes out there but I personally recommend you to pick up Genesis. It's flexible and is a good foundation for the first half of your blog theme.

- Choosing a child theme. That's just a weird way of saying you have to choose the design for your blog or website. Good design is important so my recommendation is to get a theme from BYLT. They have nice, clean themes that are reasonably priced.

Setting up your blog

3. Set it all up. Now that you have a hosting package, domain name and a nice theme it's time to spend some time to make your blog design exactly how you want it. Don't worry, you probably won't be satisfied with the result off the bat, so tinkering and testing is inevitable. Now is also a good time to set up a Feedburner account (it's free) in order for people to be able to subscribe to your blog via email. It sounds a little old school, but it's simple and works and people still use it. You should also set up a Google Analytics account in order to track how your blog is doing.

Plugin installation

4. Installing plugins. There's really nothing special you'll need so sticking with "Google Analytics for WordPress" and some social sharing plugin is going to be just fine for you.

Content creation

5. Creating content. Now you can start filling your site with content. Start by adding the basic pages like About Us, Contact, Home, Archives, etc. Designing your logo is as simple as finding appropriate free images online adding some text and arranging it in an attractive way. Add a picture of yourself somewhere in the top half of your page so it's easier for people to identify with you and your experiences. Last but not least, start writing and posting new blog entries regularly, like once or twice a week.

3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Start Blogging

There are thousands of blog posts out there that give you reason to start blogging. It's just an opinion but here are some points why you shouldn't start a blog.

1. Making money. Starting a blog just so you can make money isn't a good idea. If you're looking for a way to leave your day job and make a full time income online by blogging, just stop. It's not how it works. Did Madonna start her music carrier just to make something on the side? Of course not. She did it because she loved it and was passionate about music. The fame and wealth came much later.

2. Fame. Don't think about getting famous on the internet. Your site is just one of millions of others and you have to be lucky to get a big fan base. It's possible and lots of people have done it but don't do it just so you can be "internet famous".

3. Getting traffic. Don't worry about attracting thousands of hits per day just yet. Nobody says you can't be the next Chris Brogan but if you don't have any other reasons to start blogging you'll hate it because it will start feeling just like a job. Where's the passion in that? If you're going to write, do it because you're passionate about it.