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10-Point Checklist for Starting a Successful Blog

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Blogging is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get on the internet. It’s also one of the most cost-effective. In short, all you need is a domain name, hosting and a quick install of WordPress and you are potentially on your way to starting a nice little hobby or side business for yourself. Still not sure if a blog is for you? Just check out the many benefits I’ve had since starting this blog back in 2007!

If you get a little lucky and put in the time and effort, you may end up creating a site that could make more money than your full-time job, and allow you to live the “laptop lifestyle”. While this dream is quite a dream for most people, finding success with blogging is definitely possible if you know what to do and look for.

Today we are going to break down a 10-step process for how to start your own blog, while also keeping the goal of making money with your site in mind. More specifically, these ten steps will be covering the foundation process and to make sure you have enough structure in place for long term success. While some of these points may seem basic, they are often overlooked and can lead to further disaster down the road when not set up correctly.

In addition to the many resources that can be found online, you can also check my latest blogging tips course on Udemy, which currently has over 10,000+ students and more than 100+ 5-star reviews. It’s definitely a great kick-start course to help you get your blog headed in the right direction within the next 30 days.

How to Start a Blog

Figure out the point of your blog.

With over a billion active sites on the internet and more than 300 million of them being blogs, it’s safe to say that anything you were thinking about blogging about is probably already being covered. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still start a blog… it simply means you should be thinking about why you are going to create one. Questions to ask yourself are, why are you creating your site, who is your target audience, how do you plan to make money with it and how will you stand out from the crowd. Knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will allow for faster success as you develop your blog.

Unique_Blog_Ideas

Create a persona

Starting a blog is easy, building a brand is not. To follow up on my previous point, with over a billion sites in the world today, you need to have a personal brand or persona for your site that helps it stand out from the crowd. Not only will associating a name and expertise with your site make it more personal, it will also grow your personal brand and reach in the process. If this is something you want to do as a real business and develop into something big, building out an established blog of your own is one of the best ways to do it.

Becoming_a_Top_Blogger

Choose a domain name.

The domain name for your site is how people are going to find you online — it’s essentially real estate on the internet. Just like you have a home address that no one else has, domain names are the same. Once they are gone, they are usually gone for good.

This is why it’s heavily recommended to always try and register and secure your personal name as a domain name (preferably .com). There are likely several other people in the world with the same name as you, and if your name as a domain is still available, go grab it as soon as possible. If you currently have a brand or business name, you should register that as a domain name as well.

Wordpress_and_Coding

Pick a hosting provider.

One of the first things you will need to do to get online, is to setup a web hosting account. For first-time site owners, this might seem quite confusing. All you really need to know is a web host stores your site data online, making it easy for people around the world to access your content. To find a hosting solution,  simply look up hosting reviews online to see what their customers say about them, then sign up for an account. Hosting usually costs less than $10 a month and some will even offer a domain name for free. When looking for a host, try to find one that also offers one-click WordPress installs.

Responsive_Blog_Design

Install a theme.

WordPress is the free software that is used to power the majority of blogs and sites on the internet today. As mentioned, most web hosts now offer the ability to install WordPress on hosting accounts for free. If you can learn how to use Microsoft Word, you should have no problems with WordPress.

One of the many perks of WordPress is not needing to touch any lines of code or programming to design your site. Instead, you can download and install WordPress themes. There are millions of themes to choose from, many of which are free. However, I personally use and recommend MyThemeShop as they have the best premium themes around.

Setting_Your_Blogging_Goals

Optimize your SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and that is how your site will rank in the search results. SEO comes down to many different factors, but site content, structure and linking are three of the most effective factors of it.

Again, WordPress makes the process of SEO on your site quite simple. Refer to this list of SEO tips for beginners to learn more about ranking your site in Google.

Blogging_Research

Write out a list of articles.

With most of your site foundation now in place, it’s time to start thinking about the content you are going to create. One important thing to remember is that longer content is more effective than short content. Many site owners and bloggers get this wrong. They think going live with a new 500+ word article every day will bring them traffic and success, but it won’t. Instead focus on creating a few 1,000+ articles per month, then spending the necessary time to promote each of them effectively.

In reference to what type of content you should be creating for your site, go back to the questions asked at the beginning of this article. Know what your audience wants, and provide it to the in the best way possible. Always put content value and user experience first.

Blog_Content_Writing

Create your first post.

The first post on your site is quite important and not one that should be taken lightly. Way too many bloggers will leave their first post as “Hello Word”, and not leave much content on it. Instead, delete this post and create a detailed 1,000+ word article that will provide value and act as a resource to your article. Even if only a handful of people are coming to your site when it’s soft-launched, you still want them to see something great. This first post should provide text, images, videos and shareable content such as infographics — all with the common goal of providing value and acting as the launchpad article for your site.

Blogging_Schedule

Create an editorial calendar.

If you are already having problems coming up with ideas for content for your site, you may be in trouble. However, remember how it was mentioned earlier that you don’t need to come out with a lot of content… but instead, just long form and great content. This will always be the case with online content.

For bloggers that have what seems like an endless amount of content ideas, setting up or writing out an editorial calendar is a great option. This will allow you to write out what content you want to go live with, and when. This will also help you come up with better ideas and a streaming flow of content so it comes out in the correct order. Along with content creation, make sure to also set up social promotions within your calendar as well.

Outreach_and_Promotion

Outreach and Promotion.

The last step in the foundation process is to make sure you focus on your outreach and promotion. It’s been mentioned several times now, but so many site owners and bloggers keep neglecting it. The success of your site will come down to the content you create and the promotion you put behind it. There is simply way too much content out there already, you need gain new backlinks and site mentions to stand above the crowd.

This can best be accomplished through organic SEO (going after long tail keywords), creating shareable content (like infographics) and contributing to other sites within your niche (through guest blogging).

Start Your Blog Today and Make Money Tomorrow

Yes, starting a blog is extremely cost-effective and easy, but actually making something out of it and earning a few dollars will take some work. Don’t look at the most successful bloggers in the world today and expect to see the same results overnight — or even within your first few months! This is a very competitive space and it takes a lot of time to compete and see growth.

Follow each of the ten steps listed above to build a solid foundation for your blog, which will allow it to continue to grow for many years to come.

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Blogging

Blog Post Ideas: How to Turn Your Ideas into Engaging Blog Posts?

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Blogging and creating content on the internet is all about ideas and getting creative with what you have to offer. However, what most bloggers and content marketers don’t realize is that you aren’t supposed to come up with new and innovative ideas for content or making money online, but instead, new and innovative ways to portray that message.

This is something I often cover in detail in many of my articles and online courses. The concept of making money online and getting the attention is no different than any other business in the world today. At the end of the day, people are using the internet for three different reasons.

  1. To find information
  2. To be entertained
  3. To buy something

Instead of trying to come up with that completely new and original million dollar idea, just spend the necessary time and focus on a legitimate business model and demand from your audience, while also catering to their needs in the process. Once you have all of this in place, you can then start refocusing your efforts on how to create better and more creative content based on these needs.

To help with this process, today we are going to share some valuable insights that will help you turn your idea in a series of blog posts, while also highlighting a few examples of what’s currently working for other bloggers, brands, and content creators.

How to Know Your Idea is Suitable for a Series?

Being a writer, you have no shortage of ideas. But when it comes to establishing your own niche, there are various things you should consider before penning down your series. This includes everything from your basic knowledge on a specific topic, how far out you would like to schedule your content, and also the monetization and optimization of your content. It would also be a huge benefit if you understand SEO and know how to look up the necessary keywords to see how much of a demand there currently is for your proposed topic.

Below you will find some of the important points that suggest your idea has the potential of a great blog series.

– Different People with the Same Issue: For instance, a physician who blogs about obesity and its health hazards can create a series of articles consisting of several diet and workout tips or plans to help people lose weight. These posts can encourage readers to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

– Come up with a List: If you write for your living, then you have a sense for how to delve deep into your ideas and develop them for an audience.

– Overflow: When you start writing, you a flow but soon you find the post turns out to be something that is focused on more than one topic, like a collection of relative ideas.

– Your Audience Wants More: This is a clear giveaway! You have received several queries related to your posts, and your readers want you to explore a specific topic, expanding your grasp and library.

– A Theory: If you want to teach your readers about something deep and complex by exploring a theory or idea, then creating a series of blog posts will be a great idea.

Hubspot also pointed out “According to our own analysis at HubSpot, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.“. This is something every blogger and content creator should focus on before and after completing their articles. Not only will the overall content length of your article be important, but so will the headline and words you choose for your article title as well.

Creating Your Own Series

It’s not enough to simply create content for your site, you also need to make sure it stands out from the crowd and has it’s own style as well. The more time and effort you put into your site content and the user experience, the better ROI and longterm growth you will likely see. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at a few valuable tips that will help you establish a well high engaging series of blog posts that will win you a loyal audience.

An Introduction

You need to an introduction to your series. This can be a dedicated blog post or a paragraph. Make sure you convey your message with it. This is something ConvertKit does extremely well. Not only are they one of the top email marketing and delivery platforms on the internet today, they also know how to create valuable content for their audience. In the example below, you can see how to create a killer introduction for one of their content marketing series. By starting out your article strong, with the necessary text, call to actions, and resources, you can immediately impact the user engagement factor from the start.

Review Your Work

Proofread your post, and search for natural breaking points. Look for areas where you stopped talking about one point and started talking about another. If you aren’t interested in proofreading yourself or would like to hire someone with a better English history, this can easily be done through freelance sites like Fiverr or FreelanceMyWay.

The Format

You need to come up with a format for each post. Try a formal layout but be quick and stay to your point. In case you are going to a traditional format, then compose your introduction and conclusion.

Make it Easy to Digest

Keep things simple, and write short paragraphs. Divide your content between sub-headings to help the reader navigate. Make your content digestible for the audience. To see an example of how to effectively do this in a ‘review style’ article, be sure to check out how the content is laid out on Frank’s review site and start implementing these same methods to improve your own engagement rate.

Be Independent

Write as people read every piece as a standalone post. Consider they won’t read related posts or may read them in a different way than you intended. So make sure every point makes sense on its own.

Interlink Your Content

Help people navigate through your content by putting links to your previous posts. You can also list them at the bottom of newer posts. Let your audience know what ideas you have already discussed.

How to Create the Best Content Possible, from Your Best Ideas

As you can see, there are plenty of factors to consider when creating content for your site or training series. The most important thing to remember is that your title is going to get the most attention, and article length is going to play a big role in the SEO process. At the same time, quality is always going to be important.

Once you’ve laid out all of your content and made sure you have some great titles with call to actions and trigger keywords, it’s then time to make sure your content is format in the best way possible. Separate your text with visuals, resources, reference links and anything else that might be of value to your audience.

Last but not least, ALWAYS put in the necessary time and research to effectively promote your content. There are more than a billion active sites online today — which means you are going to need to promote the heck out of your content in order to compete.

Follow all of these steps and you should have no problem finding success with your latest blog post ideas and content series.

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Blogging

7 Writing and Marketing Skills to Improve Your Guest Blogging Efforts

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If you are a guest blogger or if you have guest bloggers create posts for your sites, you will want to read this post. It’s important to know how to improve the quality of your posts and maximize the impact you have on your target audience. This is true even if you are posting on other sites.

When you write a guest post for another site, the site or blog owner trusts you to represent their blog in a positive way that will improve their traffic and ROI. Remember guest blogging helps you, too because it serves as a backlink to your site. So you should treat the content that you write for others’ sites just as you would your content for your site.

How can you improve the quality of your blog posts and guest blogging efforts?

Check out these seven tips for writers and marketers that will help you to take your guest blogging to the next level.

1. SEO Content Writing

SEO content writing involves the skillful use of keywords as well as using backlinks and other techniques to increase targeted traffic. SEO is to search engines as excellent quality is to reader engagement. In other words, search engine optimization is the basic sauce you need as a writer or marketer to get your message in front of the people who will be interested in what you have to say.

In addition to having a solid understanding of SEO and writing content that ranks in Google, it should also be a required skill to have a solid foundation of social media as well. As effective and valuable as SEO and organic search traffic is, social media is still one of the most active areas of traffic today. With this in mind, impress your clients and sites that you contribute content to by staying up to date on the latest social media trends, while also growing out your own profiles and social followings in the process. And of course, always be sure to share your guest posts as often on social media and be sure to tag the site you are promoting as well.

2. High-Quality Content

Google still states that producing high-quality content is the most important factor in rankings within their search engine. You do need to include some SEO for natural results. But focusing on your content guarantees that you will rank and that people will stay on your page longer. The goal of effective online marketing and guest blogging is to increase the traffic of the site you are writing for, as well as to keep people on the blog once they get there.

Writing exciting and engaging content includes some various factors including connecting with the audience on a personal level, addressing their problem and offering solutions, and creating value for the reader. This is all a part of creating high-quality content. With practice, you can learn to hit on all of these critical aspects in your guest posts so you will get the results you need.

This is something we are seeing across many freelance writing platforms that not only specialize in creating content for websites, blogs, and brands but also in specialized writing services as well. Once such example is in the assignment writing service industry, where students, professionals, and business experts are looking to outsource their time and expertise from others who can simply put their thoughts and work into written publications. No matter the reasoning behind the content — whether for business or guest blogging efforts, the ‘high quality’ component is a must.

3. Creating Value

Creating value for your posts is perhaps the most important part of blogging. This is because you need to create the kind of content that will make people want to return for more once they read your content. To do this, try to create a personal connection to readers. Study previous posts of the blog on which you are writing and learn what their audience wants. You can do this by viewing comments that were left by readers on former posts or ask the blog owner to tell you more about their audience.

When looking at yourself as a freelance writer or even as simply a guest blogger, you need to be looking at the big picture. The act of creating quality content, value, and getting exposure on big media sites is actually an exclusive service and expertise in itself. At the same time, it’s actually become one of the best ways to turn a side hustle into a real business. If you understand the value and demand of an audience, while still providing a service, there is no reason you couldn’t flip that skill and dedication into a full-service content marketing and brand business.

Knowing the audience, you are writing for is important because you need to know who you are writing for. You are not just writing for the site or blog owner; you are writing for their audience. Recognizing this fact and understanding who you are talking to will go a long way toward improving your posts on other people’s sites.

4. Solve a problem.

The “problem/solution” method in advertising is still as effective as it always has been. Even though the methods and technologies have changed, the technique of showing how your post can help people solve a problem is very effective in creating high-quality posts, whether it is for your site or someone else’s site.

To utilize this technique, only describe a problem that reader might be having such as finding the right car dealership, and then present a list of tips that may help them to locate the best dealer for their needs. This method does not require using sales-based language. In fact, this is discouraged because people come to the blog to learn information rather than to be presented with a sales pitch.

5. Entertain and Inform: Create Shareable Content

If you can develop a skill to entertain your readers, you will be on the right path to providing high-quality, valuable content to your audience, whether you are writing for your blog or someone else’s. Some of the factors in creating compelling copy include the following:

  • Discussing trending or popular topics
  • Creating humorous posts
  • Using emotive techniques that appeal to emotions
  • Posing a question for readers to comment on

All of these techniques will help you to make your posts more entertaining. Informational text can be entertaining at the same time by merely including exciting facts that correlate to the information that you are presenting in the post. People mainly read a blog post to get the information they want about a specific topic. They probably already go to the blog regularly to read the latest post on the site you are posting on. So, when you are presenting a guest post, all you have to do is to continue the high-quality informational posts that the site owner already provides while making it entertaining by citing side references or through creative wording or other techniques.

In addition to this, you should be good at posting and maintaining social media posts and reactions. If you can master this skill, along with strong writing skills, you may be able to offer bloggers more for their money than just excellent writing.

6. Define yourself as a “go-to” source for certain kinds of information.

Another way to look at this is by thinking of yourself as an influencer. If you are an expert on a particular topic, you can create a name for yourself while also adding value and credibility to the site on which you are writing. Influencers can make a big impact on their industries by presenting helpful information for others in their industries. Big names like Neil Patel, Seth Godin, and many others all started by creating their content. But they also often serve as a guest poster on other sites to share their knowledge and skills with other audiences.

7. Creating Writing Portfolios

This tip may seem simple, but it is a good one if you want to guest blog regularly. Most online publishers (including site owners), want to see what you can do with your posts. They are primarily looking for aspects of your blogging that will help them promote their brand or purpose. You may not know who looks at your portfolios every time, but it’s a good idea to have a variety of posts that you have done that blog owners can look through.

By presenting your work in this fashion, you may be able to capture the attention of potential bloggers who are looking for a certain style or writing. You could also post a short resume or cover letter that explains what you can do for bloggers that will help promote their brand.

Guest Blogging Still Works… Just Make Sure to Use These Tips!

This is not a comprehensive list of skills that you need to be the perfect guest blogger, but they should help you to get started when going after blogs to write for. Remember to check to see what their policies are regarding pay vs. shareability. Many blog owners don’t have the budget to pay other bloggers. They may, instead, share your link with their readers in exchange for the post or other perks.

The main thing is to read, read, and re-read the blog you want to write for. Once you have an idea of their audience’s likes, dislikes, and pain points, you’ll be able to provide consistent or intermittent content that will resonate with their target audience. This means they may ask you to do it again, which will be beneficial to your sites, as well.

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11 Expert Tips on How to Successfully Grow and Scale Your Business

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Business growth is always exciting. Seeing your revenue, client base, workforce and market share expand is proof that your hard work and tireless efforts are paying off. Best of all, this is something that you can control, as long as you are putting in the necessary time, work, and effort.

While you may be eager to move your startup onward and upward, you shouldn’t forget about the potential negative impacts of scaling up. Expanding too quickly can mean biting off more than you can chew, and it’s easy for a business to collapse on itself if it cannot handle rapid growth.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you scale up if you want to avoid toppling your business, according to 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council.

1. Do What You’re Best at and Outsource the Rest

As you scale your business, your highest priority is to identify what you do best in the company and then find someone who is even better than you to do that task. This will free up your time to focus on growing your company and not just working for it. For example, my strength is ranking websites so I hired someone I trust to implement my system and it’s saving me 80 hours per month.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

2. Invest in Talent Management Early

Too many startups hire for the present when they should be hiring people with the skills for 18 months into the future. Design roles for capable people to grow into. While a jack-of-all-trades talent seems valuable at the earliest stages, hiring experienced functional leaders is important during a startup’s growth phase. Lastly, turnover is inevitable so be prepared for this necessary reality.

Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

3. Implement Top-Notch Project Management Systems

As you scale and hire people, there will be more to manage and more minutiae will be created to account for the increase in projects and personnel. Having a project management system that can account for tracking projects at the macro level, as well as the minutiae of each project, is essential as you grow. Find a project management solution that is flexible, customizable and scalable.

Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding

4. Make Sure Your Technology Can Grow With You

Make sure that your technology has the capability to scale with your business. For example, many e-commerce businesses find themselves needing to migrate from their current platform to a more robust solution in order to handle higher user and order volume. This is a complex process that can stunt a company’s current growth rate. To avoid this, select a platform built for scalability.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

5. Constantly Monitor Cash Flow

As you grow your business, you will be acquiring new obligations and spending more money. Make sure to constantly monitor your cash flow and P&L. New expenses are not directly proportional to the contracts you are getting. Contracts have different arrangements and payment schedules. I have seen a lot of companies grow really fast and end up failing for this reason.

Felipe Cornejo, Devsu LLC

6. Invest in Continuous Education

When I first launched AFS, we were a small company with an idea. As we expanded to a national player, we maintained the way we did things as a small company, and we didn’t adapt well. Once we instituted a continuous training and education program, we built teams that could adapt to growth and I found myself better equipped for the new challenges we faced as a larger organization.

Rahim Charania, American Fueling Systems

7. Build Your Internal Processes to Handle Scaling

Scaling a business is not necessarily about getting more sales or hiring more employees. If your internal processes aren’t built to handle more business, then you could be wasting money overstaffing due to repetitive tasks that can bottleneck the workflow — an error that could cost you in potential sales and revenue.

Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

8. Have An Exit Strategy

When times are good, it can be deliriously satisfying to expand your business exponentially. However, it’s important to have a plan for when the money stops flowing in. Markets are unpredictable and can turn sour at any time. A bit of foresight and careful planning can ensure that your business survives a recession.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

9. Improve Your Customer Service

Too many complaints can bring your business to a crashing halt. You can’t stop every complaint, but you can reduce them greatly by beefing up your customer service. Train staff to resolve complaints. Stay engaged on your social media pages where customers love to take out their frustrations. Reply and make them feel like they are a priority. Just replying can make a huge difference to customers.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

10. Prioritize Employee Career Development

To sustain high growth, a company needs to retain and attract the right people. One necessary tactic to employee retention and attraction is designing career growth within a company. Employees need to see themselves progressing as fast as your company — and there needs to be buy-in from both employer and employee on what that career development looks like so you can both grow together.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors Website Development

11. Take a Slow and Steady Approach to Growth

It can be easy to get caught up in growing quickly, but I’ve seen a ton of businesses do that and then have to downsize immediately. It puts people out and isn’t a great way to build a solid reputation for your company. It’s important to take a step back, move slowly and really think about the next steps you’re taking to grow your business so you don’t get ahead of yourself.

John Hall, Influence & Co.

Grow Your Business, By Growing Your Personal Brand

Of the many different ways to grow your online business and brand, don’t forget about the importance of growing your personal brand in the process. This is especially true if you are the face of the brand. Through the power of social media, it’s extremely easy and effective to not only reach new audiences but to also rank higher in Google for personal names and brand names in the process. Be sure to try out this method, along with each of the recommended tips above for growing your brand or online business in 2018.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, I recommend you also take a look at our previous ones on expert SEO tips and best tips for making money online.

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