13 Steps to Successful Blogging

Blogs can be a very marketable and very profitable tool if used correctly. Profiting from blogs is just a matter of grabbing the attention of an audience and not doing any actual salesmen selling. Here you will learn the 13 most essential steps to successful blogging.

1) Where to start?

You should begin your blog with a free blog hosting service such as Journal Home. I don’t say that because I’m the owner, but a free blog host is very rewarding for a new blog.  Starting with a free blog hosting service allows you to begin blogging instantly without having any advance knowledge of scripts, hosting, or programming. It allows you to build an audience and buzz for your blog.  It allows you to focus on your content and not the internal maintenance of the blog. The best benefit of starting with a free service, is in the case your blog doesn’t become successful you do not lose any money or are you left holding the bill. The great thing about a blog is that they are organized in chronological order, your latest entry is displayed first. When your blog traffic grows greatly and you are ready to upgrade to your own domain then you can simply make your last blog entry the announcement of your “move”.  Simply add a last entry stating that your blog has “moved” and type the new blog URL address. Which directs visitors to your new blog site, keeping your following, without a major inconvenience to anyone. Upgrade as you need to…but only when you need to!

2) Niche

A niche is a targeted product, service, or topic. You should first decide on a product, service, or topic which interest you. Choose an area which you can enthusiastically write about on a daily basis. You can use keyword research services like Google Zeitgeist or Yahoo! Buzz Index to find popular searched topics. It does NOT matter if your topic is popular as long as there is a audience for your topic and the topic is precisely focused then your blog should be successful. Anything can be considered a niche as long as it has a target audience no matter how large or how small the audience is. A blog about your cat can be a niche or a blog about the species of the cat family can be a larger niche market, if there are people who are interested in hearing about your cat or the species of the cat family, then you have a niche…you can even choose to build your audience for a market which an audience does not exist, but first you must build your blog.

3) Update Daily

This step is a must and not a suggestion. Updating your blog daily not only keeps your blog more interesting to readers, but it also gives your blog fresh content on a day to day making it more appealing to search engines. Not updating your blog on an occasional holiday or one day here and there is understandable to most, but missing days at a time or weeks is unacceptable and will most likely result in your blog being unsuccessful. To keep your blog traffic and retain your visitors interest it is a must to update your blog daily with multiple entries. Though, I am seeing a growing trend of successful blogs that are not being updated daily, but they are successful and have a stable audience who continue to visit their blog daily.  Regardless, these blogs are still updated weekly with multiple entries.  Until you have a steady audience you should try to update your blog everyday with at least 3 or more daily entries. The best way to accomplish this is to set aside 1-2 hours a day for tending to your blog and adding new entries. It may even be wise to schedule a set time which you dedicate to your blog each day. Give yourself work hours and treat your blog as a job, what happens if you don’t come to work for days or weeks, you lose money or worse you get fired! Same applies here, if you don’t update your blog for days or weeks you’ll lose visitors.

4) Traffic

It’s no secret. You must have traffic to profit from blogs. There are numerous ways to build traffic. Paid advertising, free advertising, viral marketing, search engine marketing, RSS/XML feeds, and word-of-mouth. You should always use your blog URL address in the signature of your email, forum discussions, message boards, or any other communication media. You should submit your blog URL address to search engines and blog directories. You should submit your RSS/XML URL feed to blog ping services like Technorati, Ping-O-Matic, and Blogdigger. You should confidently share your blog with family, friends, co-workers, associates, and business professionals when it relates. Many blogs can be considered as a collection of articles, for this purpose you should submit your blog entries (those that are valuable and lengthy articles) to content syndicators like GoArticles.com or ZapContent.com. Once submitted your articles can be picked up and published by others. The trick is to make sure you include your Blog URL address in the “About the Author” passage. What this does is create link popularity and backlinks for your blog, when someone picks up your article from the syndication then publish the article on their website the “About the Author” passage is included with each publication and the link you included is followed, crawled, and indexed by search engines. Imagine if your article is popular enough or controversial enough to produce 10,000 publications across the web. The search engines is bound to find your blog in no time with that many publications and credit you a authority on the topic, in return increasing your rank on search engines. The small effort of writing a well written article is rewarding. You should try to write at least 1 full length article every week for syndication and submit your article to at least 10 article syndicators.

5) Track Your Blog

How do you know if your blog has traffic? Just because no one is leaving comments doesn’t mean your blog isn’t growing. Many visitors do not leave comments but they are returning visitors. I know it sounds crazy but with blogs people are more interested in what you have to say! Many visitors do not comment their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time. Some do not comment at all, but are active daily visitors.

Tracking your blog does not have to be overly sophisticated usually a simple free page counter like StatCounter.com or Active Meter will do the trick. Install (copy/paste) the code into the html of your blog template and start tracking your visitors. Its better to use a service which gives you advanced traffic analysis, such as keyword tracking information, referral information, and search engine information. Visitors, returning visitors, and unique visitors should be standard for any page counter service you choose.

6) Listen to Your Audience

When using the proper page counter you should begin to see how others are finding your blog and if through search engines then which keywords are being used to find your blog. If constantly your blog is being found by 1 or more keywords then focus your blog around those keywords to make it even more powerful. When writing entry titles and entries use the keywords as often as possible while keeping the blog legible and interesting.

7) Multiple blogs

Use multiple blogging accounts (free) to attract more people. This means you should have a blog with JournalHome.com and others. The more blog accounts the better (be sure to read and adhere to the Terms of Service for each site). You can copy/paste from 1 blog to all others. Having different blog accounts is like having a publication in different newspapers. This enables you to attract more visitors and this also increases the chance that 1 of your blogs will be in the search engine results for your focused keywords.

8) Short & Concise

Aside from the lengthy article a week for syndication and publication your blog entries should be short & concise (if you can help it). Sometimes there are exceptions to the rule and you have no choice but to blog lengthy entries, but try to avoid this as much as possible. You do not want your blog entries to become hours of reading. Visitors like to easily find information and skim through your entries. It is good to be detailed and provide useful information, but do not include useless information or run away sentences that veer away from your topic.  Stay keyword-focused.

9) Digital Art

Try to include non-advertising graphics, pictures, photos, and art in your blog entries. Not too much. Once a week is fine. Graphics can sometimes bring your blog to life. Of course, the content of the blog is the most important aspect and you do not want to overshadow your content with graphics, but displaying graphics can add a bit of spice to the blog. Be choosy about your graphics and make sure they fit your entry topic. You should add content with the graphic, at least a caption. Original graphics, photos, pictures, and art is recommended.

10) Keep it Personal

A blog is most successful when it is kept personal. Try to include personal experiences which relates to the topic of your blog entry. Stay away from the business style of writing. Write with a more personal style and use first-person narratives. Do not write any of your entries as sales letters, instead share product reviews and personal endeavors.

11) Interact With Your Visitors

You now have the traffic you deserve. You should begin interacting with your visitors. Create a regular theme such as: “Monday Money Tip” or “Picture of the Week” which entices your readers to look forward to each week.

Give your readers advance notice about a product, service, or topic which you are going to review and then talk about later. If the President was scheduled to give a speech then in your blog you should state that you “will discuss the speech and give your opinion after the speech airs. Comments will be appreciated”.

Try your best to find exclusive information that not many have. Do not disclose any confidential or secret information which is deemed illegal or can potentially get you into trouble, but try to get the scoop before everyone else does. Such as: If your blog was about Paris Hilton (the socialite) and you had a blog entry about “Paris Hilton Getting Married” then it would be interesting to your readers if you had a actual picture of Paris Hilton engagement ring. Give your best effort to dig and search the internet for exclusive information and you will possibly come up with something useful. Your readers will appreciate this and they show their appreciation through word-of-mouth referrals. Imagine how many readers will tell their friends, family, and others about information they only can find at your blog.

12) Make Money

Once your blog has gained some real momentum and your blog traffic is increasing then it is time to start thinking about turning your traffic into profit. You should use contextual advertising, like Google Adsense or Chitika. Contextual advertising is usually text links which use the content of your blog to publish targeted ads on your blog. The payout is usually based on a pay-per-click model, meaning for ever click an ad receives you are paid a small percentage of the profits. In addition to contextual advertising it is good to also use graphical advertising such as: BlogAds.com, Amazon.com, MammaMedia, or General Sponsored Advertising.

13) You are a Professional

You’re a professional now! What are you still doing with that free blog hosting service? It is time to upgrade to a domain hosted solution. You need to get a web host and choose a domain name for your blog then check its availability. Select the blogging software you wish to use, such as: Squarespace.com, WordPress.org, MovableType.org, TypePad, etc. When you have your new blog domain setup and ready for traffic then it is time for you to announce your move on all your previous blog accounts. Your last entry to the blog should be a “move” announcement. The title should be “Moved” and the blog entry should state something like “I have a new home for my blog, please bookmark and follow the link: http://www.YourNewBlogDomainName.com”. This way all returning visitors and new readers should not have any problem finding your new blog domain.  Plus, search engines can easily index and crawl your new blog, since your old blog should already be popular with the search engines.

At the level of a professional blogger you may want to team up with 1 or more other bloggers. This will create a more interesting and more powerful blog. The old saying “two heads is better than one”, more authors mean more advertising and exposure because each author will have a vested interest in the blog. The idea of a team blog is to make it profitable and rewarding for all authors, while continuing to target the blog topic and keeping the blog interesting for visitors.

Following these blogging techniques should make your blogging experience much more rewarding. There is no guarantee that your blog will become popular or a household name, but the effort should at least put you one step closer. Making money online is not an overnight experience like many may think, but making money online is definitely a foreseeable possibility. As well, growing popularity on the web is not an overnight experience, but through time, dedication, and persistence you will be rewarded with all the royalties of blogging.

Affiliate Cloaking – What is it and why you should be using it if you are an affiliate marketer

Affiliate Cloaking – What is it and are you using it?

This question applies to everyone who actively promotes other company’s products and/or services as an affiliate or is considering it because you could be losing big bucks from your hard earned affiliate commissions because of those ugly long affiliate URLs that scream out “I am an affiliate” and scare your visitors and/or potential customers away.

People are very funny this way online when it comes to first impressions.

As an example, which would you rather do business with?

A business with a URL like…

http://www.corys-cbmall.com

or…

http://wetrack.it/eza/af.cgi?aid=3509&ent=25

Now that I have planted that seed in your head lets move on to what ‘Affiliate Cloaking‘ is and how it will help convert more of your visitors into sales!

Affiliate Cloaking‘ sounds pretty obvious and it really is because all your doing is replacing that ugly long affiliate URL with a nice cloaked (forwarded inside an invisible frame), professional domain name like the one I listed in the above example that remains ‘Sticky’.

What do I mean by ‘Sticky’?

I simply mean that the URL remains the domain name you choose once your visitor clicked on it and doesn’t redirect back to the ugly long affiliate URL you started with, giving you, the affiliate, a professional look in the eyes of your visitors and/or potential customers.

Simply put, they wouldn’t know if you were the affiliate or the actual owner of that website.

How is all this possible?

I’ll give you three words… “Advanced Domain Forwarding”.

There are many services online that offer this. Simply go to Google and do a Google search.

Now, if your a serious affiliate marketer and/or are just starting out online with affiliate programs then this is something you’ll definitely want to look into.

Not only will you look professional in the eyes of your visitors and/or potential customers you’ll also be safe-guarding your hard earned affiliate commissions.

Remember, first impressions matter, especially when your doing business online.

3 Essentials Before You Submit To Article Directories

One of the oldest yet still more effective techniques in driving targeted prospects to websites and converting them into buyers is information-based marketing. This is why article writing, submissions and publications are at an all-time high.

There are many tools that you can use to make the process of distributing your articles easier. However, although this is invaluable in getting your article exposed to more sites, there are common mistakes that some people make before submitting their articles to directories.

Let us take a look at the more common mistakes made in 3 key areas:

1) Confusing the reason to promote articles with the reason to write them.

In article writing, the main benefits of you promoting them is branding, lead generation and promotion, which are all part of your optimization efforts.

However, there is one reason why you write articles, and that is to inform your audience about a subject. It is greatly important that your article is based upon this fact, or else you stand to fail in the promotional benefits as outlined above.

Of course, it is also highly important that you figure out how to get people to read you article, and then to click on your site link in the resource box. I have produced a couple of articles that cover these areas so please check them out.

2) Failing to realize and maximize the promotional opportunities of article marketing.

You will more than likely already know that your article can generate links back to your site from the article directories themselves, and also from any sites who publish your article from these directories.  However, did you know that you can attract more visitors and better search engine results from the same article?

The first step to achieving this is to provide relevant keywords at strategic places in the article. However, do not overdo this.  A good benchmark is to aim for between a ten to fifteen percent keyword density. I won’t go further into this here as I’ve discussed this in other articles but if you would like to find out more, look out for more of my article marketing articles.

You shouldn’t just aim for your article to be accepted by article directories, but should ultimately aim for it to be used by publishers who scour the directories for website content. You should not underestimate the potential that this can have on your promotional efforts, as many of these publishers may have hundreds or thousands of regular visitors who could then view your article.

Start out by having a plan of what you want achieved and make sure that you reach your targets. It is important to do this so that you can reap the maximum benefits of every article that you write.

3) Creating articles with content that does not help your readers.

Maybe your only plan is to create an article and get links back from article directories, and that any visitor that you may get from this is fine.

Well you may need to think again. Many article directoriesclamp down on the amount of articles that they accept that are simply not up to standard. And even if a poorly written, uninformative article does make it into the article sites, then the potential of being picked up by webmasters seeking quality content is certainly lost.

The benefits of one publisher with a hundred thousand website visitors picking up your article should be enough incentive for you to write an informative article. This is by no means impossible, and you may find that this value is conservative in what you may achieve from a number of publishers running your article on their site.

Researching into a topic that is sought after is important. There may be many readers of this article who will feel that this information is all well and good but feel that they cannot write an article well, or may not know enough about a certain subject to write an article. This is by no means a dead-end. There are many places where you can research into a topic, or hiring a writer might be an option worth considering.

The choice really is yours on how dedicated you are in increasing the exposure of your article, and consequently your website. On a basic level you can choose to gain a few backlinks from article directories, or with a little more effort you can enjoy massive exposure from providing quality content.

10 ways to get more visitors to your website

If your website traffic has suddenly come to a stand-still, you may need to give your website a marketing jump start. Here are a few ways to get your traffic flowing again.

1.Buy hits for your website. Pay for targeted hits to your web site. You can do what is called “pay per click” advertising. This is where you pay search engines  every tine some one clicks on your link for your web site. A great advantage to this is it gets you visitors almost instantly.

2.You can also send out a promotional email to the opt-in email list you should be creating by offering free reports or bonuses to your visitors.

3.Pay your competition a flat fee to email your promotional offer to their lists. This is a great way to build relationships with your competitors.

4.You can do what is referred to as a Joint Venture. This is when you pay someone a commission on sales when they email your promotional offer to their email lists.

5.You can pay for advertising on someone else’s website by paying a flat fee up front to put an ad, banner or link on the site.

6.You can pay for advertising by offering a commission to your competition or anyone on sales when they put your ad, banner or link on their site.

7.You can submit your website to search engines with your keywords and website description.

8.You can submit your link to other websites, and in return, add them to yours.

9.You can write a free report or course to give away to other websites in your market and allow them to put an affiliate link inside (so they have an incentive to give it away), and give that away for free. If it is good information, it will spread like a virus. This marketing concept is known as “viral marketing”.

10.If you have good material you can have a nice marketing edge because people will share the website because the enjoyed it. You can also offer affiliate programs so your customers can earn commissions when they refer some one to buy your product .

10 Quick Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

Do you know what you can do to work on Search Engine Optimization? Actually, I have put together a list of 10 quick things you can do that will help you move a little higher in your search engine results.

1. Get listed in more search engines. There are tons of them out there. There are also many free services that will help you get listed. Or just set aside some time to get it done yourself. Here is a free search engine submission site that will let you cycle through the top 100 search engines and get your site submitted.

2. Get listed in more directories. Again, there are a lot of them out there. Look for higher pagerank directories. Improvingrank.com has some listed by pagerank. Look on the left side of the homepage.

3. Clean up your HTML and check your links. You want the bots to have smooth sailing through your site. Use the tools on W3c.org and have a real person check them over too.

4. Get a few more links to your site. Make them relevant and at least the same pagerank as you.

5. Make your page filenames descriptive and keyword rich. Naming your page new_page_1.html is wasting an opportunity to do some SEO. Use names that describe the content and keep the keywords flowing.

6. Check your title tags. You can use 90 – 100 characters in the title, so add some keywords. We know Google looks at them, and so do many other search engines.

7. Check your ALT tags. Searchbots can’t see pictures. Make sure you have ALT tags on all of your pictures, and make sure they are descriptive and keyword rich.

8. Rewrite your URL (anchor) tags. Good anchor tags (the text between the http: and /a tags) reinforce the message and keywords of your site.

9. Go post in a few forums and put your website in your signature. Forums are a great place to put one way links. And you can help somebody out at the same time.

10. Put together a text based sitemap and put it on your site. There are a lot of navigation that spiders can’t understand, such as flash, forms, java and javascripts. Putting together a text-based sitemap gives the bots a way to navigate around the site.

Just 15 minutes every day will make a huge difference in getting your rank higher.