Want to Make Money Blogging? Build An Email List

A lot of people want to start a blog and make money. If you ask people, they will tell you that the blog market is saturated, and you can’t make money. Lies.

“If you have a blog about smurfs, smurf if up.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

As funny as that sounds, it’s true. You can make money talking about anything online. There are niches and communities for everything.

For ideas on what type of communities you can create, check out the subreddits on Reddit.

Check out this list of the top 200 subreddits categorized by topic. Remember there are thousands more.

So how do you make money blogging? Simply build an email list.

If you focus on this and this alone, you will be able to make money online.

Why Email Marketing is Important…

EmailMarketing

Because people check all day long. Someone giving you their private email is like someone giving you their home address and saying “yea send me stuff. I like what you have to offer”.

Email gets viewed way more than social media. You can post stuff on your Twitter timeline or Facebook fan page, and your viewers can completely miss it. But with email they have to act on it. They will view it and choose to open it, click it, archive it, spam it, or delete it. They have to take action with it.

Other mediums have a high probably of being completely missed or overlooked.

Email Pays Off

To put it in perspective, let say that you have a blog about fresh organic, eco-friendly DIY projects. You have been active in creating content for the site, guest blogging, and outreach. You are capturing emails and have a list of 1000 people.

You send out relative information to your list, and they look forward to your emails. One day you announce that you are creating an ebook or video course on how to do some advanced DIY projects that will save your readers 100s of dollars a year in energy bills.

Let’s say 5% of your email list buys the video course at a price $49 each. You just made $2450 from your email list.

Keeping this same conversion rate, let’s say in one year you grow your list to 5,000 people. Now you introduce an expanded version of your course with interviews, a private community, etc. for $97. You sell 250 (5%) at $97 each. You just made $24,250. Imagine if your list was 10k or 50k?

Growing a list can be profitable.

Proof That It Works…

I have a course called the Import Crash Course that I created after validating it online in a couple different forums. I was able to build up a list of 1,200 interested people and sell 300 copies of the course when I launched it.

I grow the email list by giving away awesome content like recorded webinars or case studies of people who have succeeded or failed at importing. I get their emails and after providing value, I offer them the full course (which is more valuable than any free content they have received).

How to Get Email Subscribers

SubscribeStamp

There are are a couple ways to get subscribers. Most people think that just creating great content will attract people to your site. The “build it, and they will come” approach doesn’t work unless you write something super amazing or have an established brand. People like Neil Patel can just publish and get 1000s of views and hundreds of comments.

Guest Posts

I always thought this was a waste of time. Write something for someone else’s blog and let them have it? What the hell? Blasphemy!

Well, countless entrepreneurs have created 6 figure businesses doing this. If you don’t have an audience in a particular niche, write for a bigger brand who wants content and drive traffic back to your site.

It’s no secret that this guest post will drive many visitors back to my website.

Interviews

Interviews are easy and fun. Find people who are influencers or experts in your industry and request to interview them. For the Import Crash Course, I wrote about my experience importing from China. It was good buy itself. But I increased the value of my product by interviewing seven people who have been importing for a long time.

This strategy increased the perceived value of my product.

Now your guests share their interviews with their audience, and you get traffic and email subscribers.

You can use these interviews to grow your email list. Sites like Mixergy and Entrepreneur on Fire are prime examples of how you can use interviews to build up an email list and create a large revenue stream. John Lee Dumas has over 14,000 subscribers and according to his last month’s income report, generated $282,353.16.

This flow summarizes what I have talked about plus a couple other methods.

Grow Your Email List 2

Tools You can use

There are a couple tools that you can use to grow your email list.

Sumo MeThe best free option is Sumo Me. It is a suite of marketing apps design by the guys at AppSumo. They are designed to help you grow your blog traffic. List Builder, Smart Bar, Leads, Scroll Box, are all apps in the suite designed to capture your email subscribers.

Here are some great paid options.

There are many others. Your goal should implement an email capture tool on your blog in some fashion to capture emails.

Give Value

This is the most important part of the entire process. People will only give you their email address if you can give them something of value.

What can you give? Video courses, checklists, blog posts, presentations, or guides. Keep it simple.

Closing Thoughts…

Every time I ask an entrepreneur if they had to do it over, how would they start, they always say through email. Relationships for through email, the deal can close via email, and you can build a brand and audience through email.

Build your list and you will grow your business.

How are you using email marketing in your business? Let me know in the comments below.

This May Be The Most Valuable Thing You Own In 5 Years

DAMMIT!  I had done it again!

I went on an epic vacation with my family and never posted about it on my blog. Years ago I used to diligently post everything that happened to me, and you know what’s awesome about that?

 It’s like I had a digital brain to remember my whole life.

Quick question for you:  What did you do in May of 2006?? If you ask me that question, I would have no idea what happened 8 years ago.

BUT…..I have a secret weapon: My blog.

I can click the May 2006 category and instantly see that I was working on a business called FacebookProfile, I had $30,132 in the bank, and I illegally crashed the World Conference of Information Technology in Austin, TX. and got to meet Michael Dell and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Since I saw those events, my entire life in that era came flooding back to memory. Basically I reclaimed those events in my life thanks to my blog!

So if my blog is so important, then why haven’t I been diligently posting as much anymore…and then getting angry at myself about it?

It’s because of the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. Basically these platforms let you “blog” very quickly by posting stuff and getting instant feedback.  For example, one of my family friends posted this little updated to Facebook from our houseboating trip while we were still on the trip:

crew.jpg

Now everyone knows we went on this trip, liked it, commented on it, and saw a cool picture.  Basically 80% of the point came across with that ONE picture and caption that took 20 seconds to post. So when I got back home, there was little motivation for me to format pics for my blog, write about the trip, and describe all the crazy stuff that happened.

BUT HERE’S THE HUGE PROBLEM:

Several months later, I’m super bummed I barely remember anything about that trip.  I forgot about the time we had to call the coast guard, I forgot about the raging fire we built and took pictures by, I forgot about our 30 mile speed-boat drive to the Rainbow Bridge Arch.

 ALL MY MEMORIES WERE GONE!!!

Because I didn’t take an hour to document this on my blog, all I have is that single picture from a Facebook post. What happens if I start moving away from Facebook or if something new comes out that replaces it?

All my memories will be gone because that platform has changed. I’ve been on Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Prodigy, Orkut, Bebo etc etc etc……all of them go by the wayside at some point. The ONE platform that has stayed constant over the last ten years has been my personal blog.

 It is the single most valuable store of knowledge I have since it acts as a digital brain for me.

Now I’ll eventually start to forget lots of details of that boat trip……but I’ll NEVER forget the time when I *ahem* supposedly *ahem* went to Cuba for my 30th birthday. I did an awesome job at documenting the whole trip with pictures, text, described “hypothetically” getting into Cuba, and even made a video compilation that took me a few days of editing. ( http://www.nevblog.com/cuba/ )

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

In the end I’ll forever remember that Cuba experience in a much more complete way because I took some time to properly make a blog post which preserves my memory (aka my life).  http://www.nevblog.com/cuba/

So 10 years from now, which would you rather have for your memory:

A Tweet you’ll never see again??

Like this:


A single Facebook post you have to find somewhere in your photos??

Like this:

 Or a proper blog post you can share with everyone that..

  • answers questions

  • tells your experience

  • shares your photos

  • shares your videos

  • gets you SEO traffic

  • gets shares

  • gets commented on

  • gets you more email subscribers

  • preserves your memory forever

  • gets you out there and have more people know of you

  • (basically a helluva lot of good stuff):

 


So keep up that blog!  

It’ll preserve your entire life for you.  


Sincerely,

Neville Medhora

23 Things That You Can Do To Get Your Blog Post Seen Everywhere

Traffic seems to be the one thing that people obsess over the most when it comes to blogging. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest reasons people give for why they don’t start blogging. They’re afraid no one will come to their site.

People seem to constantly look for that “magic bullet” traffic technique… That one method that’s going to send them a windfall of traffic.

It’s true that viral traffic can happen overnight. However, you never know where it’s going to come from. It takes effort on many fronts to get that traffic flowing in.

To accomplish this, be everywhere with your content, don’t use just one single traffic source and sit back and wait… Create a system that works for you and follow it to the letter every time you create a new post.

Over time, you’ll learn which strategies are effective and which ones don’t pan out. You will need to adjust, add new strategies, remove ineffective strategies, and repeat. That’s the true trick to creating website traffic.

To help you understand what I mean, I’ve decided to share the strategy that Bradley and I use to generate a ton of traffic to every single new blog post we create.

In fact, chances are, you found this exact blog post as a result of our efforts with this strategy.

This strategy evolves. We remove ineffective actions and constantly add new actions as we learn them… For the most part, here is what we do with every single blog post.

I’ve broken it up in to 3 sections. “Standard”, “Above and Beyond” and “ROI (Return on Investment) Potential Tactics”.

The “Standard” tactics are what we use for every single post, no matter what.

The “Above And Beyond” tactics are what we use when we really really want the post to go viral.

And the “ROI Potential Tactics” are what we do when we expect a return from the post. They are paid strategies because maybe we’re promoting an affiliate link or maybe the post talks about a new product we’ve created. We will use paid techniques if we see the potential for a return on investment for the payment.

So here’s our blog post promotion checklist:

Standard Post

  • Mail your list
  • Post to Facebook fan page
  • Post to personal Facebook wall
  • Post to any relevant Facebook groups
  • Share on Twitter account
  • Search Twitter for relevant hashtags and @reply them
  • Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using HootSuite
  • Share on Google+
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • If you use an image, share the image on Pinterest
  • Go to Google Alerts and look for relevant blog posts – Run alerts for the week
  • Post to a minimum of 5 blogs linking to your new post – Entire week
  • Create an image with a quote from your post, share that image on Facebook and Twitter – Ask for shares
  • Create a quick YouTube video related to your post, put link to post below video.

Above And Beyond

  • One Time – Create blogs on Tumblr, LiveJournal, Squidoo, and WordPress.com
  • Post about most recent post to Tumblr (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to LiveJournal (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to Squidoo (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to WordPress.com (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Create a post with your YouTube video on each of the sites as well
  • Find 2 relevant questions on Quora, answer the questions and link to your post
  • Find relevant questions on Reddit and answer them with a link

ROI Potential Tactics

  • Boost post on Facebook
  • Submit press release to PR Web about topic

Many of these things are self explanatory but I’ll break them down even more…

Standard Post Tactics

Mail your list: This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you know us by now, you know that we are huge proponents of list building with your blog. Once you have a list, you can mail your list whenever you create a new post and bring past readers right back to your site. We recommend GetResponse for list building.

GetResponse

Post to your fan page and personal walls: Every blog post that you make should be shared to your Facebook fan page and shared to your personal wall. The truth of the matter is, friends and family probably WILL be the first readers of your blog. That’s OK! Get them commenting and sharing to build some momentum.

Post to relevant Facebook groups: Find groups that are relevant to the niche that you blog in and, if it’s allowed, share your latest posts with those groups. If your post is relevant to a topic already being discussed in the group, share your post in the comments of that discussion.

Share on your Twitter account: Share a link to your latest blog post in a tweet or two. So many people tend to want to just focus on Facebook. However, we find that, while we get more traffic from Facebook, we get more engaged visitors from Twitter. The people that come from Twitter tend to stay on our page much longer and return to our page more often.

Search Twitter for relevant #hashtags and @reply those people: Find people asking questions on Twitter that your blog post could answer for them. When you find them, send them a reply and link to your blog post. This is SUPER effective because if other people have the same question, they may stumble across your conversation as well.

Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a tool that lets you schedule up your Tweets in advance. I always go in to Hootsuite and schedule at least 4 more tweets for that same blog post to go out at different times during the day. People aren’t on Twitter all day. This makes sure you will get more exposure to your post on Twitter as the day goes on. I also like to schedule 2 or 3 tweets for older blog posts at the same time to ensure steady traffic continues to my older, but still relevant, blog posts.

HootSuite

Share on Google+ and LinkedIn: The idea is that you pretty much want to share your blog post on any social media accounts that you are active on.

Share on Pinterest: This one may no be relevant to everyone. If you use images in your blog posts, pin the image of that post to Pinterest. This works better in some niches than it does for others. For example, this is huge in fashion and in cooking type niches but gets a little more difficult and conceptual type niches like marketing and personal development.

Google Alerts: This is somewhat of a “ninja trick” or “growth hack”… Basically, you go to Google Alerts and you create an alert or two related to the topic of your recent blog post. When you receive emails about new posts on that topic, you go to those blogs and comment on them with a link back to your post. In fact, I made a quick video about this tactic.

We keep an eye on the topic for a minimum of a week (usually much longer) and continue getting the link everywhere.

Create an image with a quote and share it: This is a trick that I learned when Pat Flynn interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk on The Smart Passive Income Podcast… Basically, you take a great quote from your latest blog post, create a little image with that quote, and then share the image on all of the social media channels that you use. A great tool to easily create these types of images is called Canva.com.

Here’s an example of an image I made for one of my blog posts:

Matt Wolfe Quote

And here’s an example I saw Pat Flynn share:

Pat Flynn Quote

 

These are super powerful because if people like and agree with your quote, they tend to share them on their social media channels as well. They establish your credibility as an expert and really get shared.

Create a YouTube video related to your topic: Once you blog post is finished, create a quick YouTube video that is relevant to your blog post. In the description of the video, link to the post. Anyone who finds your topic via a YouTube search will probably watch your video and then click over to your post to get even more detail. YouTube can be a MASSIVE source of high quality traffic.

Above and Beyond Tactics

The “Above and Beyond” strategy is something that we don’t do every time we make a new blog post. The reason being is that it is very time consuming. Instead, we might do this strategy once per month but do it for four blog posts at a time. However, if we’re doing a blog for the sole purpose of promoting affiliate products, like what I did for Easy Video Suite, we will do this for every post on that style of blog.

Here’s a video I made a while back that explains the steps of the “Above and Beyond” strategy.

The only thing that we have added to the list that’s not mentioned in the video is that we now also look for relevant questions on Quora.com and attempt to answer them, citing one of our blog posts for more info.

ROI Potential Tactics

When we talk about “ROI Potential Tactics” we are talking about posts that will generate us some income. Examples would be posts that directly promote affiliate products, posts that promote one of our products, or posts that promote one of our services. Basically, any post where we can directly calculate the money made as a result of that post we will use these tactics.

Boost Post on Facebook: Facebook gives you the option to promote your posts when you have a fan page. You pick your budget and hit the boost post button and the post will be seen by more followers.

boost post

boost post 2

Submit a Press Release: Writing and submitting press releases is a whole topic in itself and will require a whole blog post. Essentially you are writing a news article related to your post and submitting to various news agencies. The agencies that find it newsworthy will publish it on their site and in their publications. PRWeb is probably the most notable press release service.

Here’s a quick read on how to write a good press release.

And that’s about it… That’s our entire strategy for generating traffic to our blog.

I actually created a checklist in Evernote that we use every time we create a new post. We hit publish and then go down the checklist, making sure we do everything on the list to promote the blog post.

Maintain a strategy like this for every single post that you make and you will have floods of traffic to your blog much quicker than you’d think.

What did we miss? What traffic strategy would you add to the list? Which would you remove? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Choosing the Right Options and Settings for Your WordPress Blog

Do you want your blog to be indexed by search engines or you simply want to keep it as a private affair? Wanna add www to your site or rather prefer to use a non-www version? Well, the requirements and preferences of all of us vary and a self-hosted WordPress blog gives you plenty of options to fine-tune your site as per your choices. But at times, especially for a beginner, these options can be quite overwhelming and you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out the right setting for your blog. So, if you are wondering if you are choosing the right settings for your WordPress blog and how they impact your site, this guide will help you…

Search Engine Visibility

Ok, first things first. By default, your blog is set to be found and indexed by search engines. After all, that’s what most of the bloggers want: to be found and read by others. But in case you don’t want search engines to index your site (e.g. if yours is an invite only, paid membership, or any other type of blog with restricted access) then you should change the search engine visibility settings of your site. To do this:

  • Go to Settings > Reading
  • Check the checkbox for Discourage search engines from indexing this site
  • Save Changes

search-engine-visibility

Though this will put up a request before search engines to leave alone your site, you can’t completely rely on it; it depends upon to what extent the search engines honor your request.

www. in the Blog URL

Having www. in your site URL or steering away from it is just a matter of choice. There does not seem to be any particular reason attached to it other than your personal preference. But once you choose one over the other, make sure you stick to it. Here is how you can make these changes:

www-site-url

  • Go to Settings > General
  • Add or remove (as you want) www. from WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) boxes
  • Save Changes

Permalinks or the Blog Post URL

Permalinks give you the flexibility to decide how the URLs of your blogposts look. This applies to all of the existing and future blogposts on your site. The default URL is based on the post ID (which is auto generated) and is probably the shortest among all. There are various other options that enable you to choose your URL structure based upon date, archive, and post name. Apart from these, you can also design your own custom structure. You can choose these by just selecting the appropriate radio button (and of course, saving your preference).

If your blog is based on events, news or other time sensitive posts, then you may want to go for date or archive based structure. And if you want to keep it short yet fancy, then the post name structure would make a good choice. If the categories are important and you want to include them too, you can do that using the custom structure. Just to give you an idea, here is how to make a structure based on category and post name:

  • Go to Settings > Permalinks > Common Settings > Custom Structure
  • Enter this in the box: /%category%/%postname%
  • Save Changes

permalink-settings

As per this custom structure, if you have a post named WordPress Setting Tips under the category Blogging, then your post URL would look something like this: http://www.xyz.com/blogging/wordpress-setting-tips

Again, while actually writing the post, you can further edit the post name part in the URL to anything of your choice. So, you can even make it to look like this: http://www.xyz.com/blogging/wordpress-setting

Category Slugs

If you want to have control over what name should appear in the URL of a particular category archive, then this where you ought to make the changes. For example, if a category name is social media marketing and you want to display only social media in the category URL, then you can simply edit the slug for that category.

  • Go to Posts > Categories
  • Hover over the category name you want to edit and click on Quick Edit
  • Just edit the slug and click on Update Category

category-slug

Now, wasn’t that simple?

Enable or Disable Comments?

WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system in order to promote interaction between the author and their readers. But there are situations when a blogger may not like to use it on their blog; for instance, when they use WordPress to create a non-blogging site, or when they prefer to use some external blogging system (like Facebook comments), etc. In addition to just enabling or disabling comments, there are a whole lot of options to manage them on your site. You can see them all under: Settings > Discussion

discussion-settings

After you set the universal discussion settings for your blog, you can still enable/disable comments on individual posts and pages.

Display Name of the Author

This is the name that you wish your readers to see as the author of the posts on your blog. You can choose to have it same as or different from your real name, user name or nickname:

  • Go to Users > Your Profile
  • Select the appropriate option from the drop down menu in the Display name publicly as box
  • Click on Update Profile at the bottom of the page

author-display-name

If you are not getting the desired name in the dropdown menu, check whether you have left blank any of the fields under the Name section.

Media Settings

Media settings may not be that important most of the times but they can really make your life easy if you run an image based blog, or your blog requires images of a standard size. You can set thumbnail, medium and large sizes for your images here: Settings > Media

If you need thumbnail images of exactly the same dimensions that you specify, then you should check the box for this, in the Thumbnail size section.

media-settings

Apart from the image sizes, you can also choose/change the folder to store the images. Also, your media uploads would be automatically organized into month and year based folders by default. I personally prefer to disable this feature by unchecking the relevant box, so that all my images are uploaded in a single folder. This provides for easy replacement of linked images whenever required.

Menu Structure

With the introduction of Menu in WordPress, it has become very convenient to include and exclude items from your navigation. It has also facilitated building of drop down menus. Now you can include pages, categories and individual links, and that means almost anything. You can also choose to automatically add new pages in the menu as and when you publish them; all you need to do is check the box for Auto add pages.

For creating a drop down menu:

  • place the items of the dropdown menu right under the main item you want them under
  • one by one, drag the drop down menu items towards little right, so that they are created as submenu of the main item
  • Click on Save Menu

menu-structure

But before you can start using the menu feature, you need to create a new menu, give it a name and assign it a theme location. Be it while creating a new menu or making any changes in an existing menu, don’t forget to save the Menu, else your changes will not take effect.

Theme Settings

Apart from the WordPress settings, you also need to set your theme settings right. What and how many options you get actually depends upon the theme you use. But almost all modern themes allow you to upload a header image, change the background color or upload a background image, edit your footer, choose which side you want to have the sidebar, etc.

Here is what the theme settings for the twenty fourteen default theme would look like:

twenty-fourteen-theme-settings

Right File Permissions for Security

This one is not typically a WordPress setting but given the importance it holds, it makes up to the list.  From the point of security, it is imperative that you check the file permission settings of some important files, especially wp-config.php and .htaccess files. But remember you won’t find them in your WordPress login; they would be there inside your web hosting control panel.

htaccess-file-permission

  • Login to your web hosting control panel
  • Click on the File Manager
  • Go to the public_html directory (or further down to your blog folder if it is not installed in the root domain).
  • Look out for the wp-config.php and .htaccess files.
  • To check the file permissions you’ve currently given them, right click on the file and click on Change Permissions in the pop-up menu that appears.
  • These two files should have read only permission under all the 3 modes: user, group and world. If there are more permissions assigned (Write or Execute), reduce them to read only, so that the digits in the Permission boxes read 444
  • Click on Change Permissions to save the changes.

So, these are some of the core settings of your WordPress site and choosing them right is just a one-time process. You need not, or rather should not, keep them changing every now and then; since that’ll have a negative impact on your site. Apart from these, you should also ensure that the settings of any plugin that you install are optimized for your site.

How to Leverage Your Assets to Build Your Blog Audience

There is a special name for folks who start a blog and expect it to flourish in a matter of days. They are called disappointed people.

What’s wrong? I posted my blog to Facebook and Twitter. I used a clever hashtag and everything! I even had four ‘Like’s’! Why is no one coming to my blog?

 If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many a bloggers have been where you are and felt what you’re feeling. The question is: how do you get out of it? How do you go from having your only comments be from your proud mother to actually garnering new and interested traffic?

Have you considered SEO? 

 While the primary point of this post is not about SEO, it would be foolish to leave this point out.

Is it easy for you to find your favorite blogs on any given search engine? What you may not know is that there was a lot of time and energy put in to making that blog easily accessible.

If you are unfamiliar, SEO (search engine optimization) is the process by which someone seeks to make their website highly ranked on search engines. The higher a website is ranked, the more likely individuals will find and go to that site.

That is why SEO is important for building your blog audience. If you are wanting to have any chance of strangers finding your blog, you need to take SEO seriously.

I’m not going to go into SEO in this post. However, if you are interested, Matt Wolfe has laid out a great tutorial for SEO and steps you can take to get your blog noticed.

A bolder approach

While SEO is a very important factor in building an audience, it is not the only way. In fact, if you’re just starting out, there is probably a underutilized tool in you marketing arsenal that you need to wield: your friends and family.

A few years ago I worked for a non-profit organization called Cru. While working with Cru, I had to raise my own salary to be a part of their staff team. That meant I had to interact with individuals, churches and groups, tell them about what I was doing and ask for financial support.

This was one of the harder things I have ever done, primarily because I couldn’t be passive about it. I had to put in the effort to see results.

Posting a message on Facebook did very little, as it was easier for people to ignore my status. Sound familiar?

So what did I do? I made phone calls, set up appointments, practiced my pitch and made the ask. Through personal contact, I was able to meet my goal.

Why do I tell you this?

I tell you this because many aspiring bloggers try many  of the same tactics. They think that if they just keep posting to their Twitter and Facebook pages, their blog will explode. It’s as if we have perverted the famous Field of Dreams message to “If you post it, they will come.” And that’s not the case, not quite.

Consider this: your friends and family are a lot more supportive than you think. They just need you to ask them for support. And with the right kind of support, you can get promotions and referrals that will significantly grow your readership.

What does this look like for an aspiring blogger?

 1.    Be prepared- As you get ready to market yourself to the people you know and love, make sure things are on the up and up with you and your blog. Some of the things that you should have prepared are:

  •  A clean layout- Does your blog look professional? Professional does not mean sterile or uptight, but fitting to your core audience. There are far too many websites that look like they were made by the Taliban on a busy day. A good looking site will give you credibility.
  •  Interesting content- Don’t make your friends and family be embarrassed to promote crappy writing. If you are in a place where you want to see your blog grow, make sure that your writing is solid. If it isn’t, not only will your group of friends and family be less inclined to share your blog, but those people that are referred to your site will probably not come back.
  •  A subscribe option- Whether it is a landing page, sidebar widget or separate page, you need a subscription option. Subscriptions are great because they will keep your readers informed as to when you have a new post, do affiliate marketing or things of the like. Like I mentioned above, if you can contact a person directly, you will have a higher chance of getting them to come to your blog.

2.Work Up Your Pitch

 In a lot of ways, your first pitch to your family and friends is the most important. It will set the tone for other favors you may ask for in the future. That is why it is important that your message is clear, concise and has all the information that they will need.

Here is an example of a message I sent to some people in my circle:

…I hope you’re all doing well. I need to preface, this is not spam, it’s really Dominic 🙂 I am writing you because I recently started my own freelance writing/blogging business. I started a website called cheerupgreg.com and have published many posts that I am excited about. I would be greatly appreciative if you could take some time right now and look at my website and some of the articles. I am trying to gain more recognition and add credibility to my blog, so if you could subscribe to it (there will be a button on the right) that would really help me gain some momentum! Additionally, if there are articles that you like, would you please leave a comment and/or share it on your social media pages? Thanks so much in advance!

 My message was as short as it could be, while at the same time touching on why I was writing them, what I was asking them, why their support would be helpful and thanking/trusting them to help.

 Make sure to use your own words and make it unique to you!

3. Send the message

 It may sound obvious, but the first two steps are useless without step three. You actually need to build up the courage and send the message.

There are a few different ways that you can send this message, but a quick tip is this: the more personal, the better.

If you sit down with a friend and ask them for their support, they have nowhere to go. They have to give you a yes or a no. And they will probably give you a yes. But if you send a group email, they will be more inclined to ignore it, delete it or put it off (and eventually forget about it). Speaking to  the latter option, most friends and family have good intentions about getting back to you, but simply forget.

A word of caution: a “blanket status update” on Facebook is going to be the quickest way to get your request ignored. Not only will it be easily ignored, Facebook will only show it to a few people.

If sitting down with friends and family is less of an option, I would recommend an individually sent text message or email. Start by adding the persons name (Hey Steve! How’s it been going?…, etc) and pasting in your subsequent message. This will make your communication feel more personal, and thus less likely to be ignored.

Using what you’ve got

 You might be having some mixed emotions right now. Perhaps this feel like cheating. Perhaps you want your subscribers to follow you without having to ask them. Perhaps you want subscribers other than your friends and family.

Asking your friends and family for this kind of support is not a failure,nor is it some metaphorical “move back in with the parents”.

What you are doing is asking your close circle of relationships to help you take your blog to the next level. You are asking them to promote you to their family and friends, who will hopefully share you content with others in their circle.

Don’t let your family and friends stay an unused tool in your arsenal. Ask them for support and see your blog flourish! If you have taken these steps, how has marketing to your close relationships benefited your blog? Or do you have a difference in opinion? Please leave a comment and share your experience!

Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Self-hosted WordPress Blog

Over the last decade or so, blogging has emerged as a promising career option and many bloggers have adopted it as a full time profession making a decent living out of it. Business entities big and small alike are integrating blogs into their website for better engagement and conversion. From blogging for hobby on a free platform like Blogspot to setting up a full-fledged self-hosted blogging site on CMS like WordPress, blogging for sure has come a long way.

So, what does it take to set up a professional looking blog that you can call your own in the real sense and take with you from one webhost to another, whenever you feel like? Well, the answer is – nothing much. All you need is a domain name for your website and a hosting service to keep it live 24×7. The installation process is no rocket science either. If you are comfortable running a PC, you are good enough to set up your own blog.

In the tutorial below, we walk you step by step through the process of setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Step 1: Register a domain name

Before you begin setting up a blog, you need to decide upon an address with which people can access it from their web browser. It is called domain name and it forms a major part of your blog URL. For example, in the URL http://learntoblog.com, learntoblog.com is the domain name.

You can buy a domain name from a domain name registrar for a particular period of time (usually a year and in multiples thereof) and then continue to renew it so long you intend to keep it with you. There are a lot of domain registrars you can register a domain name with; here is how you can do it with Godaddy, one of the popular domain registrars:

domain-search

  • Visit their website: godaddy.com
  • Using the search box on the homepage, check out the availability of the domain name you want. You can check for different extensions but .com, .net and .org are among the most popular domain extensions, in that order.
  • Once the domain name you want to go with is available, add it to the shopping cart and click on Continue
  • They will try to cross-sell various other products/services along with the domain name, but you can ignore all of them and Continue to Cart
  • This will take you to the order review page. Once you are sure of the order summary, you can Proceed to Checkout
  • If you have not registered with them earlier, click on New Customer and fill in all the details. You will also have to select a payment method and enter the necessary details. Once ready click on Continue.
  • Once the payment is processed successfully, the domain will be in your account. You can login to your Godaddy account using your username and password, and manage your domain.

Step 2: Buy a web hosting account

Next you will require a web server where you can install the blogging software and upload your blog files. But you don’t have to buy yourself a physical server for this. There are a number of webhosts that offer this service. So, all you have to do is buy a web hosting service from some reliable provider like HostGator:

  • Click on View Web Hosting Plans

view-webhosting-plans

  • Select the plan you want to go with and click on Order Now. For beginners intending to set up only 1 blog, Hatchling Plan should be sufficient. If however, you want to set up multiple blogs, then you should go with the Baby Plan.
  • In the order form that comes next, select the radio button I already own this domain (since you will have already bought a domain name in Step 1). Now enter your domain name in the box just below that. Remember, it’s just the domain name (without http:// or www).

already-own-domain

  • Fill up the rest of the form with your desired Username, Security Pin (password), Billing Information, Payment Information and other details.
  • See the Hosting Addons section in the form carefully. If some items are checked and you don’t need them, just uncheck them.
  • Below the Hosting Addons section, you will see a box to enter a Coupon Code. Enter the code: LearnToBlog1 to get a discount of 25%. If there is already some default code in the box, you can replace that with this code and you’ll see your total due amount come down substantially.

hostgator-coupon-code

  • Check the terms and conditions acknowledgement check box and click on CREATE ACCOUNT.
  • Now the system will start processing your payment and on successful processing, you will receive your hosting account details at the email address that you mentioned in the order form. Don’t forget to check your junk or spam folder if you don’t see it in your inbox.

Step 3: Point the domain to your nameservers

Now that you have a domain name and a hosting account, the next step is to link these two. This too is fairly easy:

  • Check the account information mail that you received from your webhost (HostGator). Note down the nameservers. There will be 2 nameservers and you’ll need both of them. It will look something like this: ns3167.hostgator.com and ns3168.hostgator.com
  • Now login to your domain account (Godaddy)
  • Hover on: Products > Domains and click on Manage Now. You will see a list of all the domains in your account.

manage-domain

  • Click on the domain name you want to set up your blog on.
  • You will see the default nameservers under the settings tab which would be something like: NS67.DOMAINCONTROL.COM and NS68.DOMAINCONTROL.COM. Just below that, you will see a link to Manage your nameservers. Click on it and a small Nameserver Settings window will pop up.

manage-dns

  • Select the Custom radio button and click on Enter custom nameservers. Enter both the nameservers that you got from your hosting provider, one each in a box. Click on OK and Save the settings.

add-nameservers

This will link your domain name with your hosting account. But remember, the settings will not come into effect immediately since they will have to spread all over the World Wide Web. This process of domain name server (DNS) propagation usually happens in a few hours but can take as long as 72 hours to complete.

Step 4. Install WordPress

Ok, now the real action begins. We will start installing WordPress, the most popular blogging software, on our server. Here we go:

4.1 Uploading and extracting of files:

  • Go to wordpress.org
  • Download WordPress. You will get the option of downloading it as .zip or .tar.gz compressed file; the choice is yours.
  • Now login to your webhosting control panel (cPanel) using the username and password you got from your web hosting provider. Your cPanel login URL would be: http://domainname.com/cpanel where you need to replace domainname with your actual domain name. But if your DNS has not yet resolved (not propagated on the web), this URL will not work. In such case, use the temporary cPanel URL that your webhost has provided.
  • Click on File Manager under the ‘Files’ section. In the ‘File Manager Directory Selection’ popup that appears, select the radio button for Web Root (public_html/www) and click on Go. This will take you to your root directory public_html.

file-manager

  • Now upload the WordPress compressed file to your root directory. For this, click on the Upload button from the menu at the top, and choose the file to be uploaded. You can see the upload progress in the bottom right corner. Once the upload is complete, you can come back to your root directory by clicking on the link that appears in the center of the upload page. If however you want to install your blog in a subdirectory instead of the root directory, then you should create a new folder first and upload the WordPress file in that folder. The name of that folder will become a part of your blog URL. For example, if it is named ‘blog’, then your blog URL would be similar to: http://domainname.com/blog

upload-button

upload-files

  • Since we have uploaded a compressed file, the next step would be to extract it. For this, select the compressed file and click on Extract from the top menu. Select the path as the root directory (/public_html) or the subdirectory (/public_html/blog, etc.) depending upon where you want to install the blog, and then click on Extract File(s).
  • Now if you observe properly, you will see that a new folder called ‘wordpress’ is created and all the extracted files are placed inside that folder. We need to bring the content of this folder directly under the root directly or the subdirectory where we want to install the blog. So, go to this ‘wordpress’ folder and select all the content of this folder using shift key and mouse. Files being selected, click on the Move File icon in the top menu. Select the correct destination path in the pop-up and click on the Move File(s) button. This should make the ‘wordpress’ folder empty which may now be deleted.

4.2 Creating a database and user:

WordPress installation runs on a MySQL database. So, let’s get creating one:

  • Close the File Manager (to avoid any likely confusion) and come back to the cPanel homepage.
  • Under the Databases category, click on MySQL Database Wizard.

mysql-database-wizard

  • You will see that your cPanel username is prefixed to your database name by default. Complete your database name by adding up preferably 6-7 characters in the box provided, and head on to Next Step, which is to create a database user.

database-name

  • Just like the database name, fill up the box for username as well in order to create a database user. For ease of identification, you can keep it same as your database name. But remember, you can enter only upto 7 characters.

database-user

  • Use the Password Generator to generate a strong and safe password. Make note of the password; we will need it soon. Now, check the checkbox to acknowledge that you have copied the password and then click on Use Password.
  • Everything filled in, click on Create User.
  • Next is the step for adding the user to the database. But before this, note down the complete name of the database as well as the user. Now check the checkbox for ALL PRIVILEGES and hit on Next Step.

db-user-privileges

With this, we have created a database, a database user, and added the user to the database too.

4.3 Editing the wp-config.php file:

For the database to become functional, we’ll have to link it to WordPress. Here is how we do this:

  • Once again, go to the File Manager and look out for a file named wp-config-sample.php. Rename it to wp-config.php (double clicking on the file name will change it to edit-mode).
  • Now start editing the renamed wp-config.php file. You can do this by selecting the file and clicking on the Edit icon in the top menu.
  • Enter your database name, database username and database password.

editing-wp-config-file

  • Save Changes and close the file.

4.4 Running the installation script:

Almost there! Just one more step to go:

  • Open your blog URL in a web browser. It would be similar to: http://domainname.com or http://domainname.com/blog depending upon where you installed WordPress.

wp-install-script

  • Fill up the installation form with your desired details like site title, username, password, email ID, etc. Don’t forget to check the checkbox saying Allow search engines to index this site unless and until you want your blog to be a secret affair hidden from Google and other search engines. As a final step, click on Install WordPress. That’s it. Your blog is ready to rock!

4.5 Installation using auto-install script, Fantastico:

If you don’t want to go through the manual installation process of uploading files, creating database, editing wp-config.php file and all, there is an easier alternative available. The auto-install script called Fantastico can do it for you:

  • Go to your cPanel homepage and click on Fantastico De Luxe under the Software/Services category.
  • Click on WordPress from navigation menu on the left side and then on New Installation.

fantastico-auto-install

  • Fill in the details and hit the Install WordPress button.

That’s all you got to do. Everything else will be taken care of by the auto-install script.

4.6 Logging in to your WordPress site:

You can login to your WordPress site using the login URL which would be like: http://domainname.com/wp-admin

wordpress-login-screen

It will ask for your username and password. These would be the ones that you used while running the WordPress installation script or the ones you filled up in Fantastico, as the case may be. Note that your domain login credentials, cPanel login credentials and MySQL database credentials have NOTHING TO DO HERE.

4.7 Adding www. in the URL:

By default, your blog URL would be like: http://domainname.com

What if you want to add www. to it in order to make it look like: http://www.domainname.com

No worries, this part is easy too:

change-wordpress-url

  • Login to your WordPress site
  • Go to Settings > General
  • Add www. in the WordPress Address (URL) as well as in the Site Address (URL). Click on Save Changes and you are done. As you save this, you will be automatically logged out of your site. Don’t worry, it just happens because your URL is changed. You can login again using the new URL with www.

Step 5. Install a suitable theme

Design and looks of your blog depends upon the template that you use. A WordPress template is popularly known as a theme. The WordPress blog you install comes with a default theme. You can change this theme anytime you want to change the looks of your site; and you can do this without affecting the content of your site.

5.1 Installing a free theme from WordPress repository:

WordPress has a huge collection of free themes to choose from. You can see them all here: wordpress.org/themes

You can access and install any of these themes directly from your admin panel:

install-theme

  • Login to your site
  • Go to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.
  • You will be taken to an interface where you can search for a theme either using a keyword or a specific set of features. You can also get the list of Featured, Newest and Recently Updated themes.
  • Click on the theme that you like. This will give you preview of the theme as well as an option to install it. Click on the Install button if you like the preview and want to proceed with installation. Now the theme is added to your blog’s collection but remember – it is not live yet.
  • To make your theme live, click on Activate. Or before doing that if you want to see how it looks on your site, click on Live Preview.

While browsing through WordPress themes repository, if you happen to like a theme, you can download and install it by following the below method as well.

5.2 Installing a theme from outside WordPress repository:

Sometimes, you may want to go with a premium theme. Or it may be just that you found a great theme from somewhere outside the WordPress repository and want to install it. Well, even that’s possible; just see to it that the theme is a WordPress theme and follow the below process:

upload-theme

  • Download the theme that you want to install. This should be a compressed, .zip file.
  • Login to your site
  • Go to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.
  • Click on Upload
  • Choose the file (theme in .zip format) and click on Install Now.
  • Click on Activate and there you are!

All the themes that you upload or install will be available in Appearance > Themes. You can activate any of them any time you like.

Step 6. Start writing your blog post

Now that you have installed your blog, you are ready to begin writing your first blog post; or should I say, you’ve already done that! Yes, your default ‘Hello world’ post goes live as soon as you install a blog. You can choose to edit it, ignore it or delete it.

add-new-post

  • Login to your site and click on Posts in the left panel. This will take you to the list of existing posts.
  • Hover over the default post and you will see the options to edit or trash it.
  • If you want to add a new post, click on Add New button either at the top or in the left panel under ‘Posts’
  • Add the post title at the top and write the post in the main body.
  • Should you need to add any image, click on Add Media, upload the image file and then click on Insert into post. When you upload an image, you also get to choose its alignment, link it to a URL and optimize it by means of Alt Text, Description, etc.
  • You will also need to select a category for your post. Since the only category by default would be uncategorized, you may want to add a new category. You can easily do this by clicking on + Add New Category.
  • You can also add some tags to the post if you feel like.
  • If you want to see how it would look when the post goes live, you’ve got a preview button for that.
  • Once everything ready, hit the Publish button and your post is live. If you want to leave the post half way for now and continue with it later, you can save it as draft.
  • For scheduling a post to a future date, click on the small Edit button just beside ‘Publish immediately’. Enter the date and time you want to schedule for and click on OK. This will change the Publish button to Schedule button. Now click on that as a final step.

Once you set up your blog and continue to write more blog posts, you will keep learning more things. Writing static pages, inserting videos, adding plugins, creating users for co-blogging… there are loads of other features and options to explore. We will be covering them separately on our blog, stay tuned!