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!

 

5 Content Publishing Models For Your Blog — Which One Are You?

Maybe you love to write. Maybe you hate it…

Or maybe you are brand new to blogging and you feel like you lack credibility.

Whatever your situation, the truth is that it’s still possible for you to build a wildly successful blog.

Let me explain…

By focusing on the right publishing model, you may feel reborn with passion to finally share your voice with the world.

This article will show you how to identify the right publishing model for you and why this is a critical part of your blog strategy.

A publishing model is the format you use to produce your blog content.

And not all formats are created equal. These different models show you that there are many ways to create content.

It can be done yourself, by others, co-created, ghostwritten, or even “borrowed” for free from others.

Whatever the path you take, there is a model for you.

So, let’s dive into the 5 publishing models…

 

The Journal

The journal model is pretty straight forward.

It is primarily a way to express yourself and/or document your journey.

You could already be successful or you could just be getting started, and the topics may be all over the board.

Self-expression and inspiration trumps blogging for business or to make money.

Example of the journal blog Unfiltered.me by Brian Gardner

I admit. I should journal more.

When I am consistent with it, I have exceptional clarity and achieve more of my goals since they are in writing.

Even when it comes to problem solving.

I just open to a blank page and write. Usually by the time my hand gets tired, the solution appears to me.

But, what is even more powerful about the journal model, is the self awareness it brings from public accountability.

Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight.

By openly sharing your goals and documenting the process, you become a source of inspiration for your readers. They are there to support you, hold you accountable, and celebrate your victories.

I truly believe when you have nothing to hide, you become more committed to the process.

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ― John Wooden

This can be a great way to start collecting content to one day publish a book. Or, how Crossfit gyms post the workout of the day for their clients.

You probably fit the journal model if…

  • You share random thoughts and maybe you are just doing it as a hobby
  • Your motivations are purely self expression
  • You want to document experiences and thoughts in your life
  • You are not as concerned in monetizing your blog
  • You may be building your email list, but you use it just to update your readers
  • Most of all the thoughts come from you and you don’t care to have guest bloggers

Examples: Unfiltered.me, Mark Cuban, Crossfit Defined

 

The Expert

The expert model differs from the journal when money becomes the motivator.

In fact, many blogs that start out as journal blogs evolve into expert blogs when they realize they can easily monetize their efforts.

But, being an “expert” can be a controversial topic.

If you have kids or you pay any attention to pop culture, Macklemore is responsible for making it cool for your kids to shop at the thrift shop.

Macklemore recorded a song entitled “Ten Thousand Hours”, where he sings about is journey to success as an artist. One verse from the song that always hits me is where he says, “10,000 hours, I’m so damn close I can taste it”.

The song continues…

I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot

The whole song is based on a theory by Malcolm Gladwell from the book Outliers, where it takes 10,000 hours invested into a subject to become an “expert”.

Countless times I have held back at expressing my opinions because of a internal dialog of not knowing enough; worrisome of being judged and criticized by other “industry leaders”.

What helps me move past that every time is my intention. I’m not writing for them; I don’t care what they think and I don’t care to be a thought leader of my industry.

I’m writing this for you in hopes that this helps you and that is all that matters.

If Macklemore was paralyzed with fear of judgement from other rappers, he would not have changed the face of hip-hop with his positive music; voicing his opinions on topics of gay marriage, materialism, addiction and religion.

So, before you say “well, I am not an expert in anything”, realize that you likely already know more than your readers about a subject.

And in any scenario vulnerability will beat the “fake it until you make it” experts any day. And it brings you closer to your readers because they feel they can relate to you.

This means you don’t need 10,000 hour level mastery in order to build around the expert model.

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. ― Denis Waitley

You can become that “thought leader” of your niche by being the guinea pig much like Tim Ferriss does.

You probably fit the expert model if…

  • You prefer to write everything yourself
  • You are a wealth of information
  • You can talk about a topic all day long
  • You get fired up about teaching others
  • You enjoy the spotlight and telling your story
  • You want to turn what you know into a business

Examples: Kris Carr, Chris Mccombs, Tim Ferriss

 

The Host

On February 17th 2014, Jimmy Fallon ended Jay Leno’s 22 season run at the Tonight Show. Many including myself feel he knocked it out of the park with his humble opening monologue.

But, I want you to just put yourself in Jimmy’s shoes for a moment.

Imagine YOU are the one sitting behind that desk. Imagine it were YOU interviewing some of the most talented, dedicated and successful people in the world. Imagine it were YOU bringing laughter and inspiration to the world.

If you had the Tonight Show as your “platform”, what kind of connections and opportunities would open up for you?

The possibilities are endless, right?

Well, this is exactly what the host model is…

You get to leverage talented people for content by doing interviews like you would if you had your own talk show.

Sure, at first you must gain traction and credibility with your site, but once you do it will be a privilege to get on your show because who doesn’t want more exposure?

One of our Learn To Blog Insider students, Navid Moazzez, decided when starting his blog that the host model was right for him. He went from nothing to producing tons of traffic-pulling interviews with the top names of his industry in less than one year.

Example of the host model

Here’s what Navid told me about choosing the host model:

“I started doing interviews with successful entrepreneurs because I wanted to connect and become friends with the influencers in my field. It’s also a fantastic way to build your brand by association, since you’re surrounding yourself with many successful people. I’ve found it’s one of the most powerful ways to build authority when you are starting out with no experience.”

The host model is a great way for you to create a lot of content fast.

Let’s say you decide to do use the host model. You can do a video interview, post the video on YouTube, create a transcript for a blog post, and strip the audio for a podcast.

This gives you three different traffic sources for your blog; all without having to be the expert on any topic.

You probably fit the host model if…

  • You are great at interacting with people
  • You are great at listening and asking questions
  • You are genuinely interested in other people
  • You enjoy spotlight, but don’t really need it
  • You prefer to showcase others talents

Examples: Entrepreneur On Fire, Mixergy, Navid Moazzez

 

The Publisher

When you have others writing for you like a magazine, you are in a publishing model.

This is easiest achieved if one already has an audience or traffic. Since you are the “distribution channel”, the main motivation for people wanting to write for you is exposure and credibility.

The publisher model is one that is more scalable than the previous two if done correctly.

After six years of blogging, I have seen many blogs evolve. I have seen some evolve from journal to expert. Then from expert to publisher. Then even from publisher back to an expert model.

Miscues of the publisher model

In the publishing model (and every other model for that matter), quality trumps quantity. There’s so much content on the web for people to filter through, that you are much better off focusing on fewer higher quality, research driven posts.

Rather than having a cattle call for guest writers, consider cherry picking writers by reaching out to them and telling them an idea of a article you are interested in, why they are perfect for it, and what’s in it for them.

You know what your readers want…

So, when you do your research on a guest writer, it’s much easier to get a response from someone when you plant the idea in their head, rather than making them think of the idea of an article that is going to fit your audience.

Your intent is to get a response like “oh, I could totally crush that topic”.

But, not all people do the publishing model right correctly.

I’m sure at some point you’ve asked Dr. Google about a health related topic and chances are that you’ve run across an article on the Livestrong blog.

You know, the little yellow bracelets from Lance Armstrong?

I don’t support a lot of the decisions he has made, but I do love the mans courage and ability to overcome adversity.

Sadly, he went from being the face of his sport to the black eye of it when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, was stripped of 7 Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life.

The whole Livestrong brand has become another dent in his image as it has become greedy content farm.

Their goal is to publish articles that rank for every health term possible, so that they can get tons of traffic and and ad revenue.

But, if you actually read the articles you will see the are lackluster at best. There’s a reason that the articles have no comments on them.

This is a perfect example on what not to do with the publisher model.

The smart move is to post fewer articles of higher quality and spending more of your time marketing those articles.

You probably fit the publisher model if…

  • You are a networker and connector
  • You like working “behind the scenes”
  • You put experts to teach on your platform
  • You have great ideas for content that spreads
  • You’d rather promote guest writers
  • Traffic generation comes easy to you

Examples: TechCrunch, Copyblogger, Young and Raw

 

The Curator

Picture this…

You are scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed.

You are curiously stopped in your tracks by a post shared by one of your friends.

The catchy headline reads something like, “This guy was cut off in traffic and you won’t believe what he does next…”.

It’s accompanied by an irresistible image that makes it too compelling not to click on.

Greeting you on the other side is a two-minute video that provides immediate gratification to your curiosity.

You, my friend, just experienced the curation model.

Curation is finding content that is freely available around the web and repurposing that content for your site. This model has flourished with the popularity of video sites like YouTube.

For example, you find a video on YouTube, embed it on your site and write a quick review on them.

So, is it a sketchy way to get traffic or is curation a legitimate model?

Pawan Deshpande from the Huffington Post says that “curators are subject matter experts who have a knack for finding, organizing, and sharing the best and most relevant content on a given topic.”

Curation is not anything new. Deshpande says that “museums and art galleries have been doing it for centuries”.

But, the barrier to entry is just so low for anyone to start publishing content online.

With so much noise out there, it is hard to cut through it all to find what really matters. So, naturally there will be more of a demand for curators as more content is published online.

Recently, our team at Learn To Blog have been testing this model as a experiment by launching Riseable. The goal is to help small business owners cut through the fluff and find the best free content online that will help them grow their business.

Riseable

With only a few hours invested into the project, we generated 17 new email subscribers who joined the list for updates.

It’s nothing to scream about from atop the mountains, but the only cost was the purchase of a premium theme. We are growing our email list from free content and free social traffic.

We’re documenting the process of growing this site, so I encourage you to follow along so that you can learn from the experience.

You probably fit the curator model if…

  • You are good at finding great content
  • You want to quickly build a brand
  • You are okay with not “owning the content”
  • You are a great copywriter
  • Traffic generation comes easy to you

Examples: Upworthy, GodVine, Book Cover Archive

 

So, Which Publishing Model Are You?

Now, if you made it this far, I can predict exactly what you are thinking right now.

“Do I have to choose just one model?”

Absolutely not.

The goal of this article is to help you pick a path that you feel inspired by, not be limited by a box.

I suggest that if you are going to combine models, that you focus on a primary model and compliment it with a secondary model.

For example, most of your content is expert and every once in a while you sprinkle on an interview under the host model.

Like I mentioned before, many blogs also evolve over time. Maybe you want to start with a journal model and crossover to the expert and eventually to a publisher model.

It all depends on the vision for your blog. The canvas is blank and ready for you to create your masterpiece.

But, I’m very curious of your thoughts on this topic.

1. What publishing model do you fall into?

and secondly…

2. Why did you choose that direction?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The 10 Best Secrets to Blog Post Titles that Attract Readers and Get Noticed

With so many blogs existing in the world, you have a very short amount of time to catch the attention of your valued readers. Your title is what most readers will see first – in an RSS feed, in Google or Bing or embedded in an email. If your title is clunky, too long or plain lackluster, your blog post will likely be lost, forgotten and just plain not seen. With so much pressure to perform, you may find your title writing skills flagging when it matters most. If your goal is to create blog post titles that attract readers, whip their heads your way, and click on your latest blog posts with fervor, here are the ten most well-kept secrets for optimizing your blog titles that every blogger should know.

Enticing Blog Subject Matter

If you are stuck on what to write about, these three title categories are sure to lure new readers to your blog in droves.

  1. Provide a Benefit: Titles that get clicked on the most promise a clear benefit to the reader. They solve a pressing problem, they offer advice from luminaries in the field and they generally seek to improve readers in one way or another.

Whether readers are trying to improve conversions, lose weight or train their dogs to sit and play fetch, get to the heart of their passions, desires, apprehensions and fears and craft blog titles that speak to your readers and promise results; and make those results fast if possible. A good example of this is the blog title How to Eradicate a Zit in a Single Evening.

This will require extensive research in order to accurately analyze the psyches of your reader base, but today’s social networks and popular forums make that research easier than ever before.

  1. Spread the News: Some of the most popular blog titles are those that strive to keep your audience informed of updates and happenings as they relate to your niche. Scour the news, read the latest press-releases in your industry and write blog titles that keep your readers on the up-and-up. A good example of a title for an IT blog might be Ten Industry Updates All IT Professionals Should Know. 
  1. Pique the Curiosity: Attempt to write blog titles that are different than everyone else’s and that resonate with your audience. Use odd but relevant word choices, personal experiences, funny anecdotes and quirky subjects that no one else is using. Your readers won’t be able to help themselves but click and read. An example of a title for a construction blog might be Hammers and Hamburgers: A Day in the Life of a Construction Worker.

Proper Title Construction

Use the following tips to develop titles that drive traffic and attract comments.

  1. Set Expectations and Tease: Your blog title should let readers know exactly what they will get out of reading your blog in its entirety. For best results, tickle your readers with a hint of what’s to come and force them to commit to experience the true payoff.

Consider this title for a weight loss blog: See What Happens when Weight Loss Happens Too Quickly. Notice how the title doesn’t say what happens, it just urges readers to continue reading and pay attention.

  1. Concise is Nice: The shorter your title happens to be, the better. Remember, you only have a very short window to reach your audience. Not only that, but your readers will typically have very short attention spans. Long, drawn out titles get ignored more often than shorter ones. A short and sweet title for a gardening blog might read 7 Plant Watering Secrets.
  1. Optimize for Search: Use your primary keyword very early on if you want to beat out competitors that are optimizing for that same term. For example, if you are writing for a cosmetics blog and your keyword is ‘eye shadow’, your title might read Eye Shadow Tips from the World’s Top Makeup Experts. While not a sure way of improving rankings, there is always the chance that this technique will give you an edge against other bloggers that are using the same term keyword term a little later on in their titles; so this tip is always worth considering. 
  1. Beat Competitors: Once you get a good idea of the title you would like to create, get online and start searching for others who are writing about the same subject. Take their titles in, process them and then use what’s available to make yours even better. 
  1. Use Active Language: Stay away from passive verbs and instead use plenty of action words to get your readers’ hearts racing. Instead of the title How the Best Athletes are Running and Jumping Today, it would be better to use the title Run Faster and Jump Higher Just Like Today’s Best Athletes. 
  1. Lists Bring the Clicks: Blogs that contain numbered or bulleted lists tend to always perform well. Readers prefer blogs that contain easily digestible content, and lists provide exactly that. For instance, 10 Mistakes All New Police Recruits Should Avoid. 
  1. A Strong Title Never Lies: Your titles should always come through on the promises you make. In other words, if your blog title promises to help readers Change a Car Tire Quickly, Even in the Rain, make sure you provide exactly that advice. If your readers are ever made to feel misled, you may lose those readers forever.

Test Your Titles for Better Results

The above advice should help you develop titles that get results, but don’t stop there. Keep testing your titles, feeling your audience out and start looking for patterns of most-read blog posts by studying your analytics data. If you notice that some titles get more clicks than others, replicate your results for even more blog conversions.

They say that your choice of title can make or break every blog post you write. With these ten tips, your posts are sure to strike a nerve with every reader you target.

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!

Design Elements that Kill a Blog & How to Fix Them

The death of a blog is a sad thing to witness. Strangled by pervasive advertisements, bludgeoned by the overuse of pop-ups, and drowned in huge blocks of text, too many good blogs are found wanting.

Many bloggers believe incredible content overshadows design, but it’s actually quite opposite–bad design overshadows good content, every time.

Does this mean you must create or invest in a dazzling web design? Not necessarily. I find that the best design is often quiet usability, where your blog design anticipates the reader’s needs and quickly serves them. The main function of content is serving readers. This is also true for design elements like search boxes, about me pages, and footer navigation. Creating a clean and usable blog will do three things: highlight your content, keep readers on your site longer, and prop you up as a professional.

Let’s take a look at how to improve your blog with design elements. First, we’ll look at what to avoid:

What to Avoid

1. Too Many Fonts

I’m a fontophile, and feel about fonts how most women feel about shoes. I understand how easy it is to get carried away with fonts, but it’s important to restrain yourself. Using too many fonts in your design will cause eye fatigue. When visitors tire of adjusting to each font on your page, they’ll simply click away.

Instead, utilize two fonts on your page, maybe three, if you include a specialized logo. Find web-safe fonts that are quickly loaded on every browser. Stay away from scripts or handwriting fonts, though. Large type is preferable–stick for size 14 or even larger. No one should be squinting to read your blog.

2. Too many ads

Advertisements fuel a lot of blogs, but there must be a delicate balance in your monetization. You rely on readers clicking your ads, but you don’t want to bombard them with too many ads. In my very humble opinion, in-text advertising is unadulterated evil. An ad-heavy blog comes across as scammy.

Instead, be choosy about the ads you sell on your blog. Don’t attach ads to every element on your blog, like text or images. Rather, place ads on the sidebar, but not both sidebars. Choose one, preferably the right side.

3. Big Blocks of Text

Big Block Of Text

It’s a sad fact that many readers will not hang on to your every word. Because of this, blog posts should be scannable. Break up texts into digestible bites. Forget the rules of grammar–it’s okay to have only two sentences in a paragraph. (I’m sorry, Mrs. Anderson.)

To further improve readability, incorporate bullets or numbered lists.

4. Pop-Ups!

Few things are more annoying than pop-ups. Pop-ups were almost beaten into submission a few years ago, only to make a roaring resurgence in 2013. Although everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that you should do it. Readers are immediately turned off by pop-ups.

But, how do you inform visitors of your wonderful, resourceful newsletter? There are better ways; we’ll cover this in the second half of this article.

5. Auto-Play Music

Autoplay Music

Yes. This is still a thing. Auto-Play music is akin to a person who, while hiding from a crazed murderer, accidentally coughs. That murderer will hunt down said person. I feel that way when a site I’ve just opened automatically starts playing music. There’s no greater satisfaction than closing down that tab.

6. Captcha

The use of captcha has killed more blogs than the prior 5 elements combined. Captcha does an excellent job of keeping bots away, but it has the same effect on humans. Captchas are difficult to decode (or maybe I’m the only one who must re-attempt a minimum of 5 fives). Whenever I see a captcha as a comment requirement, I just skip the comment. Avoid this happening to your blog. Comments breathe life into blogs.

What to Include

1. Responsive Design

Mobile Responsive Design

Is your blog easily readable by mobile devices? If not, that’s your most important mission. With almost a billion smartphones in service, a sixth of the world’s population has mobile access to your blog. How will you serve them?

By implementing a responsive design that works on whatever platform used by your blog visitors, you will improve your usability and visitor retention.

2. A Tagline

tagline

Not everyone who arrives on your blog will know what it’s about. This is your opportunity to evangelize your brand. A tagline defines what your blog is about in one simple sentence. It should go underneath or close to your logo.

3. Start Here Page

starthere

When a first-time visitor arrives at your site, disillusioned and scared, don’t let them wander around aimlessly, hoping that they find what they’re looking for. A “Start Here” page guides visitors to your best blog posts, and informs them of how awesome you are.

Closely associated to the “Start Here” page is the “Top Posts” in the sidebar widget. Do both for maximum benefit. Showcasing your best, or most popular blog posts will only increase their popularity.

4. About Me Page

about

An “About Me” page is crucial to any design. It may be difficult to write your own bio, but it’s important to put a personal touch on what is often an impersonal experience. On your “About Me” page, share who you are, why you blog, and where you can be reached. Be sure to include your email or a contact form (even if you have a contact me page), as well as your social media links.

A lovely bonus is having a picture of yourself. It lends credibility to your site. Even better, include an introductory video of yourself. It really makes you appear trustworthy.

5. Footer Navigation

footer

After I’ve scrolled through your posts, the last thing I want to do is scroll back up to find your menu navigation. Add navigation to your footer, as well.

You can also add a contact form to your footer, as an easy way to reach you, without forcing the visitor to take extra clicks.

6. White Space

whitespace

You need a lot of white space. And white space is not necessarily “white.” It can be any color, as long as it’s devoid of words and pictures. The emptiness of white space gives respite to the eyes.

7. Call-to-Action

call-to-action

In Things to Avoid, we briefly discussed the evil that is pop-up advertisements. Now, we discuss what to use instead: header calls-to-action. If you are advertising your eBook or newsletter, the most unobtrusive, yet effective way to do that is by placing an opt-in header at the top of your blog. It’s infinitely better than pop-ups–I immediately click away a pop-up, without even reading it. I will linger at the top of the page to read any important updates. It’s prime real-estate.

Another great place to put a call-to-action is at the footer, to remind readers who have just finished reading your content.

8. Search Box

search-box

Search boxes are necessary, and should be prominently displayed near the top of your blog. Readers want to be able to track down information quickly and effectively. If you do not have a search box, it’s hurting your usability.

9. Amazing Images

photo

Approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. This means your blog must include something to stimulate the optical nerves. Fortunately, great resources abound; many of them are free. Allow pictures to craft your story.

10. Use Thumbnail Links Whenever Possible

links

It is always possible. In conjunction with the above, use thumbnail links to related topics at the end of your blog posts. Readers are very likely to click these links, enticed by the related material and the pretty pictures.

In Summary

Good design is about what you include and also what you exclude. It takes effort to avoid the minefields that many bloggers have fallen victim to. Creating a balanced design that’s classic, but also fresh, starts by treating readers as king, content as faithful servants, and design as the castle.

What are your least favorite design elements?

20 Ways to Start a Blog Comment Feeding Frenzy

The Internet is awash in a sea of blogs – 31 million to be exact – with every blogger vying to be first; the first to be read, the first to be ranked by the search engines and the first to receive a slew of blog comments. It’s the latter that you should be concerned with. A blog that has a list of strong comments in the comments section will always be seen as the more popular one among readers. After all, the average reader can’t tell at a single glance how much traffic you’re generating or how extensive your social reach happens to be. They can only determine popularity by the amounts of quality blog comments you receive. If you can think of the blogosphere as an ocean, you’re about to learn how to go hunting for sharks. Sharks, in this case, indicate strong commenters that actually have something to say and that actually add value to your blog. When you write a blog and proverbially cast your line into the deep abyss of blog readership, you shouldn’t be satisfied with a nibble or even a bite. Oh, no. When you want blog domination, you should only be content by starting a blog comment feeding frenzy with every blog you write. Here are 20 ways to do just that.

Run a Tight Ship

Before you can hope to attract a herd of voracious sharks to your blog, tighten up your ship. In other words, optimize your blog to make the chances of a blog comment feeding frenzy more likely to occur.

  1. Engaging Titles: Get in the habit of crafting titles that cause your readers to whip their heads in your direction. Be concise, use keywords where appropriate and use powerful language that effectively steals readers from your competitors.
  2. Fresh & Regular Content: Tom Demers, founder of Measured SEM, recommends that you post at least two to three blogs per week for best results. The more posts you have under your belt, the more comments you are likely to receive with each post.
  3. Make it Easy to Comment: Test your blog out by leaving a comment of your own. If you encounter obstacles, fix them now before you hinder any strong commenters in the near future.
  4. Provide Excellent & Sometimes Weird Content:  Your blogs should have something to say, they should have a clear direction and should seek to inform, educate or at least entertain with every post. Whatever you do, strive to be different. Don’t be a cookie cutter blogger. Stand out and the comments will come.
  5. Set Comment Alerts: Modify your blog settings so that you are notified whenever a new comment comes in. We will get to why in a moment.
  6. Have a Good Time: Srinivas Rao, co-founder of BlogcastFM, says that you should always strive to have fun when you blog. The more fun you have, the more your blogs will resonate with your audience and the more comments you are sure to receive.

Cast a Strong Line

Your blog is now optimized and you have the proper bait in place. Now it’s time to cast your line and hope for the best.

  1. Leave Something for Readers to Add: When you write your blogs, don’t be so thorough that your readers have nothing to add to the conversation. Purposefully leave a void that your readership can fill.
  2. Ask a Question or For Readers’ Opinions: The blogs that receive the most comments tend to be the ones that actually ask for them. Urge your readers to participate and they most likely will.
  3. Share the Comment-Wealth: You’ve heard of the commonwealth? Well, this is the comment-wealth. Pass it around. Find other bloggers in your field and leave meaningful comments that are sure to get noticed by the blogger and his/her loyal readers. The more comments you leave, the higher the likelihood of you receiving comments in return.

Clean Up the Water

To attract more sharks, you need to keep the water spotless.

  1. Cut the Spam: Use plugins like Akismet or other means to keep spam to a minimum. The less spam you have, the more quality comments you will receive.
  2. Don’t Restrict Comments, Monitor Them: The more restrictions you place on your commenting system and the more hoops you force your readers to jump through to add to the conversation, the fewer comments you are likely to receive. Instead of restricting comments, monitor them (here is where blog alerts come in handy) to get rid of any useless comments that aren’t detected by the anti-spam system you have in place.

Add Some Chum

Now it’s time to add some delectable morsels to the water to really draw the sharks in.

  1. Extend Your Social Reach: Use as many social networks as possible to advertise your blog. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and even YouTube are all possibilities. The Internet is vast and only social networking will help you reach all four corners of it.
  2. Email Marketing: Start an email list so that you can blast out notifications of your blogs with every post you publish online.
  3. Friends, Family & Associates: Ask those within your immediate network to leave the first comments to start things off and get the party started.

The Smell of Blood

Here’s how to add a drop or two of blood to the water, which they say sharks can detect from up to a mile away.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of Controversy: Don’t always try to agree with everyone, as that makes for a very boring blog. Instead, look forward to opportunities that have you going against public opinion. You may appreciate the outcomes.
  2. Reply to the Best Comments: Blog commenters like to know that their comments are making a difference. Respond to the best comments you receive and let your readers know that you value their viewpoints.
  3. Ask Questions in Your Replies: While you’re responding to comments, ask questions and encourage more readers to relay their thoughts on the subject at hand.
  4. Make Posts About the Best Comments: Reward your best commenters by crafting entire blog posts based on their views. This will encourage more commenters to participate as they all vie to be the next one to act as inspiration for a future release.
  5. Polls & Contests: Most everyone on this planet has two things in common: they love to give their opinions and they love to win free stuff. Use human nature to your advantage by using two of the best comment enticers – polls and contests – whenever possible.
  6. Show & Tell: John Chow, blogger and entrepreneur, says that, “Blogging is about forming relationships.” To attract more comments to your blog and to start a feeding frenzy, really get to know your readers in the comments section. Share your stories and encourage your readers to do the same. The more can you make your blog seem like a one-on-one conversation between you and your readers, the more loyal your readers will become and the more comments they will leave behind.

Are You Prepared for a Blog Comment Feeding Frenzy?

You could put all the above tips into practice and your blog still might fizzle out if you’re not keeping on top of all the quality comments that come in. On the other hand, if you do all of the above, if you optimize your blog, cast a strong line, add some chum to the water and a little drop of blood here and there; you are sure to experience a blog comment feeding frenzy the likes you’ve never seen. When that happens, to paraphrase the words of police chief Martin Brody in the movie Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger blog.”