Create Your Own Facebook

It might be a bit of stretch to build a community of 400 million people, but building your own niche social networking site in the style of Facebook is totally achievable. This is something you should seriously consider; social networking has revolutionized the manner in which businesses can market their products and services online. Continue reading Create Your Own Facebook

Write A Review Post That Gets You Sales

Joel’s note: This is a guest post by Krizia the co-creator of The Blog Income for Women Blueprint. if you want to write a guest post for BTG please contact me here.

I think by now most of us understand that there are three types of blogs:

1) Personal blogs
2) Magazine type blogs
3) Review blogs

The first type of blog is really about pure expression and creativity and most people who operate personal blogs aren’t in it for the money.

Magazine type blogs usually are driven by ad revenues. Because they have a lot of content, they are able to drive a large number of readers each month and they are therefore able to get a lot of money from advertisers and sponsors.

Review blogs are fueled by affiliate commissions. A review blog is a blog where you write a clever review which you link to an affiliate product and then you do tones of marketing in order to get as many people as possible to your page in order to convert them to your affiliate offer.

Most newbies to blogging will find that the experience of blogging without revenues is nothing more than a hobby and if they are looking for additional revenues, the idea is really to learn how to write reviews on their blog that will convert into blog income.

Writing reviews might seems a bit daunting at first, but there are some simple rules you can follow to ensure you write the type of review that grabs readers’ attention and most importantly, get your readers to take action.

=> If you’re new at writing review posts, the follow tips should seriously boost your conversions:

1) Your title is important: If you are reviewing a product, you’ll want to be sure to add the product name in the title. Cute titles are cute, but if you want conversions, people NEED to know what you are featuring.

2) Repeat the name of the product you are reviewing: You’ll also want to make sure to repeat the brand name of the product you are reviewing at least two to three times in the body of your review. This will make it a lot easier for the search engines to rank your review.

3) Do research: You’ll want to spend some time doing research online to see what others are writing about the product you want to review. This is a great way of gathering insightful tidbits that you can use in your own reviews!

4) Include testimonials: If you do research, you’ll undoubtedly find testimonials on the product you want to review. Adding a few testimonials is a great way to enhance your review.

5) User photos: Photos are very important when writing review posts. If you are writing a product review that you got from an affiliate program, chances are that you’ll already have access to a bank of photos or banners.

5) End your review with a call to action: A good review post would not be complete without a call to action. If you want conversions (aka readers clicking on your affiliate link), you’ll need to tell readers exactly what to do and that’s exactly what a “call to action” does. If you’re not familiar with what a call to action should look like, the following example should help:

“Click here to find out more about this product: [Name of product you are reviewing]”.

Becoming proficient at writing review posts can seriously pay off in the long run because a good review post can become extremely profitable.

When it comes to blogging, you’ll want to figure out early on what type of blogger you want to become. I know if my case, it took me a long time to realize that being a review blogger was far easier and more profitable than operating a magazine blog. Unless you have serious traffic, advertisement won’t really pay off for you, but a review post only requires targeted content that will attract the right type of visitors looking for the products you are featuring!

In my experience, I’ve managed to write review posts that pulled several thousands of dollars over a couple of weeks. In a few minutes, you can craft the type of post that keeps bringing in some interesting blog income … it’s a matter of knowing how to write a good review post and having the right formula to market your post!

About the Author:

Krizia is the co-creator of The Blog Income for Women Blueprint which teaches women how to turn their blogging efforts into blog income. You can watch a free video tutorial and download a free report here: http://blogincomeforwomen.com/

More Income Blogging Guide Feedback

As I’m sure a lot of you know by now, Andrew and I run a blogging course called Income Blogging Guide. You can read some previous feedback on this site and on We Build Your Blog, but here are some further reviews.

—-
Income Blogging Guide

Howard Harkness (owner of Celtic Fiddler) was the winner of our free Ipod contest and says, “The iPod arrived Wednesday. So now I can not only vouch for the ebook, but I can vouch for the fact that they really did give away a new 8Gb iPod Nano like they said they would. I see that they are indeed practicing exactly what they preach in their ebook (which I went back and read again, this time much more thoroughly, and came away even more impressed than before), and I think that they deserve success in their Internet marketing efforts.”
You can Howard’s full blog post about our free blogging guide (and his Ipod win) here: Freebie Blogging Information

—-

Mike Verdicchio (owner of Confidence and Joy) said, “Particularly helpful is their step-by-step guide, with images, of  ‘must-have’ plugin that you need to install on your blog, plus the necessary tweaks for those plugins.”

You can Mike’s full blog post about our free blogging guide here: Are You Blogging?

Disclaimer: Mike is also a client of mine for my blog solutions.

—-

The Professor (owner of scripts for your website) says, “I’ve seen lots of so-called “blogging guides” that tell you what you should do, but don’t give you any clue as to HOW to go about doing it. There’s a new one out, and I just got a copy for review the other day. So I took a look at it — it’s got all the details. If you’re a newbie, you’ll love this.”

You can read The Professor’s full blog post about our free guide here: Everything You Need To Know About Blogging

—-

Martin Henking (owner of iminternetgeldverdienen) says, “If you are looking for an ebook that explains them in understandable terms , how to make money with a blog , then I can highly recommend blogging income.”
You can Martin’s full blog post about our free guide here: Income Blogging

—-

Scott Moody (owner of Soccer Fit Academy) says, “Over this time our blog has grown from 2-3 readers per day to over 300 readers per day! One of the resources that helped us out during this transition to social media was Andrew and Joel’s Blog Blueprint to Blogging Guide.”

You can Scott’s full blog post about our free guide here: Thinking of Starting a Blog?

—-

Jack Heape (owner of web marketing local) says, “This blogging guide is laid out in an extremely detailed step-by-step fashion. They make it very easy for a neophyte to find their way through the intricacies of setting up a WordPress blog.”
You can Jack’s full blog post about our free guide here: Income Blogging Guide Blueprint Review

—-

Iroko Akinola (owner of 15klaptops) says, “For me, this is like the ultimate blogging blueprint, it takes blogging from the scratch to the height of it…”
You can Iroko’s full blog post about our free blogging guide here: Building A Successful Blog: The Income Blogging Guide Blueprint Approach

—-

Bob McCluskey (owner of Going Strong Seniors) says, “If you don’t understand all of the jargon…don’t worry, they will be completely explained and you will learn some very interesting things about Internet marketing.”
You can Bob’s full blog post about our free blogging guide here: Product Review: How to Make Money from a “Granny Blog”

Fixing View Comments in Disqus Plugin

I’ve made no secret of the fact I love the Disqus commenting system plugin. However each time I upgrade it I have to go through the same rigmarole of changing the plugin due to one specific problem. So this will explain how I fix the View Comments problem in the Disqus plugin for WordPress.

Update #1: This is fixed to show how to do it in WordPress 3.1 and the current version of Disqus 2.61

Update #2: Please see the comment below from Rutgur for the latest fix

The Problem

On my Blog page the comment count works fine, as you can see in this picture:

The 44 text is displaying perfectly on the Blog, category and archive pages. However on the single post page by default instead of the comment count it says View Comments and is cut off, as you can see below.

So to fix this (or at least change it to the way I prefer, as some people may prefer it saying View Comments), inside the wp-content/plugins/disqus-comment-system folder you need to edit the disqus.php file. For those not comfortable doing this, make a backup or you can always re-install a new copy of the plugin if things go wrong. On line 697 you will see this section of code:

function dsq_comments_text($comment_text) {
global $post;
 
if ( dsq_can_replace() ) {
return 'View Comments';
} else {
return $comment_text;
}
}

It’s the View Comments wording here that is displaying. Luckily we can easily change this to show the correct number of comments:

function dsq_comments_text($comment_text) {
global $post;
$number_of_comments = get_comments_number();
return $number_of_comments;
}

So once done, my single post page now looks correct, displaying the number of comments:

There, looks lovely again. This isn’t really a bug as it’s designed to say View Comments there, however in the default WordPress comment system this would show the number of comments here, so we are simply re-creating that functionality.

WordPress Visual History

I thought I would take a look at how WordPress has changed over the years. For no reason, except because sometimes I can be an incredibly boring man. Over 5,500 files and 13 major releases of WordPress later, I’ve put together a video and some images of the changes to the WordPress login screen and initial page once logged in (now the Dashboard, but used to be the Write screen).

I was only unable to get version 1.2 working, though I didn’t try very hard to be honest.

A brief summary of the different versions of WordPress are listed below.

Version
Jazz Musician Date of Release
Zip Size
0.7
Unnamed Tuesday, May 27, 2003
224KB
1
Miles Davis Saturday, January 03, 2004
271KB
1.2
Charles Mingus Saturday, May 22, 2004
310KB
1.5
Billy Strayhorn Thursday, February 17, 2005
346KB
2
Duke Ellington Saturday, December 31, 2005
589KB
2.1
Ella Fitzgerald Monday, January 22, 2007
829KB
2.2
Stan Getz Wednesday, May 16, 2007
953KB
2.3
Dexter Gordon Monday, September 24, 2007
0.99MB
2.5
Michael Brecker Saturday, March 29, 2008
1.3MB
2.6
McCoy Tyner Tuesday, July 15, 2008
1.44MB
2.7
John Coltrane Wednesday, December 10, 2008
1.76MB
2.8
Chet Baker Thursday, June 11, 2009
2.23MB
2.9
Carmen McRae Friday, December 18, 2009
2.39MB

[Some info from the WordPress Roadmap]

I’ve also put together a couple of images showing the changes to the WordPress login screen and dashboard. Click on the images to enlarge, and depending on your browser you may have to click again to see it full screen:

All WordPress Logins All WordPress Dashboards

To all geeks like me, enjoy!

Blog Comment Tools For The Talkative Blogger

Blog comments are often described as the life-blood of a blog. After all, a discussion is half the point of having a blog and interacting with people is one of the most enjoyable parts (see my post on Why You Should Leave Blog Comments to read more about this part of commenting).

Blog Comment Systems

These systems essentially take over the whole commenting section of WordPress, replacing it with their own features and style. Often they can be a little tricky to get looking the way you want them but offer features and enhancements that you can’t get through the standard WordPress system.

Disqus

Disqus

Probably the best known and most widely used (including on this site) blog comments system, Disqus allows your readers to login to your site using Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID or just leave a comment the usual way. If they sign up for a Disqus account, the beauty is that they will be logged in to any website that uses Disqus. So it saves the pain of having to type your name, email and URL each time you comment on a new site, as your login details are carried over.

You can even set it to update the comments list in real-time, though I don’t have that feature at the moment.

I love how you can set it to auto-tweet out your comment with a link back, so people who are not part of the conversation can join in. It can also send to your Facebook updates, and you get email notifications when someone replies. I like how I can manage them like normal inside my WordPress dashboard, without going to another site (though it technically is loading an external site, it saves me going elsewhere). You can also customize it pretty easily if you know CSS.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. Some people have had problems with it loading correctly, often people can be confused by the new system, and I had problems of my own regarding email notifications when there was a system wide problem with Disqus.

Intense Debate

Intense Debate

Intense Debate is similar to Disqus but it is run by the folks who created WordPress. I used it for a short time but found that not many other sites used it. As it also allows you to be automatically logged in to other sites using the same system, like Disqus, I only found one other site I commented on that used Intense Debate. This massively negated the benefit of the system, and one Disqus has a big advantage with from the sheer number of sites using it.

It actually works very nicely and is easy-ish to customize and integrates very nicely with WordPress. But it won’t get more users until it has more users to make it worthwhile. If that makes sense.
[Just announced: Intense Debate users will be automatically logged in to comment on WordPress.com blogs. That’s one way to suddenly get logged into 10 million blogs…]

Echo

Echo

I actually had Echo (formerly called JS Kit Echo) installed for a while. At first I liked it and then I wrote a post about the ways I thought Echo could be improved. The system has many advantages, it pulls in blog comments and mentions from Twitter and Facebook (so do Disqus and Intense Debate), though it does this in real time without refreshing the page. You can include HTML, photos and even video in comments which is very nice, however it has some major flaws.

– Converting your old comments to the system is not quick, easy or perfect.
– You cannot manage them inside WordPress.
– You cannot edit them. Not even your own!
– You cannot separate trackbacks.
– You cannot have more than one level of threading.
– You cannot disable comments on an individual post or page.

These are hardly earth shattering features and most are ones already built into WordPress so it seems odd to take that functionality away. So it’s not recommended for the lack of basic features.

Overall
Disqus is my favorite choice and has some great improvements over the standard WordPress commenting system. However there are ways to “pimp” that system using plugins, that I’ll take a look at below.

Blog Comment Plugins

While the above are also plugins, they take over the whole commenting system of WordPress. If you’re using the in-built WordPress system then there are some plugins that will enhance your commentators experience. Akismet is the default anti-spam plugin that comes with WordPress, but below I’ll concentrate on functionality changes.

Action Comments

The first option in the image above is a great paid-for plugin called Action Comments (affiliate link so be wary of “upsell” offers on the page to try to bundle in other products you may not need). It’s pretty cheap and easy to install and set up. If the box is checked it will sign the person up for your email list (usually AWeber) and, if you have your list autoresponder set up, send them your free guide. This makes it easy for people to be added to your list, and provides a thank you to first time commentators.

Comment Luv

You may have seen the second item in the above image on many sites, where a Comment Luv check box and logo appears. It will automatically display the latest post from the URL you enter in the Website field of the comment form for other readers to see and potentially click on. There are even versions for Intense Debate and Echo (but not Disqus as far as I could tell).

Subscribe to Comments

One of the best plugins ever, Subscribe to Comments adds a checkbox underneath the comment box that allows the commentator to get emails when new comments are added (the bottom box on the above image). Bear in mind that if you’re logged in to your blog as the admin, you will not see this checkbox on your single post pages, more likely a message saying “You are the author of this entry. Manage Subscriptions”. Brilliant and indispensable.

Do Follow

If you want commentators to receive a backlink from your site as a thank you for leaving a comment, then the Sem DoFollow plugin will remove the default NoFollow attribute applied to links in comments. This may increase the number of messages you get, but also possibly increase the number of spam messages you get too as people comment only in order to gain a backlink.

AJAX Comments

If you feel your visitors will benefit from previewing their comment before submitting, then AJAX Comments Preview is a nice way of doing it without reloading the page. There is also AJAX Edit Comments, that goes even further, adding lots of inline editing options, but the latest version is paid-for.

Comment Timeout

One way of preventing spam on older posts is to close comments after a certain amount of time. Comment Timeout allows you to close them on old posts, but keep them open if they have had recently approved comments and are still popular with readers.

Extended Comment Options

If you feel you need more options for comments, such as editing settings for posts in bulk or automating closure of comments (similar to Comment Timeout), then try Extended Comment Options. It may not work on the latest version of WordPress. It did for me when testing but it’s not officially compatible yet.

Comment Rating

If you would like your readers to rate comments and help moderate them by flagging inappropriate messages, then Comment Rating allows you to allow them to do just that.

Simple CAPTCHA

Some people like to add a CAPTCHA verification form to the bottom of their comments form if they’re having trouble with spam that other plugins aren’t catching. The Simple CAPTCHA plugin easily adds one of these to your site, though beware, it could put people off from commenting. Again, it worked for me when testing but is not officially working for the latest WordPress version.

Blog Comment Hacks

Sometimes plugins aren’t enough, and you need to get dirty with the code to make the comments do what you would like. Don’t worry though, some of these are much easier than you would think!

Change Your Blog Comment Wording

Are you sick of seeing “0 Comments” and want to change it to be something more encouraging? Then follow my guide to changing default WordPress comment wording.

php code

Threaded Comments

Previously a plugin, now it is built in to WordPress (check it’s enabled under Settings > Discussion). Some themes still don’t support this, but you can easily add it with some know how. Kim has a great guide for how to add threaded comments to a theme here.

Change Author Comment Appearance

Often bloggers want to change how their own comments appear on their own blog so they stand out and can be noticed easily. This is now very simple in WordPress, just add a new CSS class and color for the author style. See this short guide on highlighting author comments.

Separate Comments and Trackbacks

I don’t like those nice trackbacks appearing as if they were a normal comment. To separate simply follow this guide to separating trackbacks from comments. Not for those who feel faint when viewing code, but it’s very easy.

Should I bother changing my blog comments?

It’s entirely up to you of course. Check our other people’s blogs, see what they do and see if you like it. Read Antti’s great post on how to get more blog comments and discussion, and then decide if you need to do something that makes it better and easier for you and your readers to get to know each other.

Have I missed any systems? Any other great blog plugins you know of? Are there any other useful hacks I haven’t mentioned?

Blog Changes On BTG

After my visit to BlogWorldExpo in Vegas a week or two back I was impressed with a couple of different blog applications, and so have installed them on my Blog, and thought I’d mention them.

JS Kit Echo Comments

JS Kit

You may have noticed that all my blog posts had 0 comments for a few days. This was while the team at JS Kit imported my old comments into their system. Used by sites such as Technorati and Guy Kawasaki it essentially pulls in other places where your blog post is being talked about into your blog posts comments. This keeps your blog as the central hub for your online activity, which appeals to my sense of neatness adn order!

So Twitter tweets that mention your post, Diggs, or Friendfeed updates are added to your post comments. Facebook doesn’t seem to be on there yet but I’m hoping that will be added soon.

Give it a try below in the comments and see what you think. I’m still playing with it but it looks good so far. It costs $12 per year to use, and I was a little disappointed in how long it took for them to import my comments – 6 days. I did provide them with the wrong URL to login (oops), but over 24 hours for each email reply and no reply over a weekend is frustrating for a new customer.

Lijit Search

lijit

The second addition is the lijit search. I had a great demo from Perry Quinn at Blog World, their plugin essentially replaces the standard WordPress search sidebar widget. The search results are similar in a way to JS Kit in that they also show results from my extended network. So Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and various other sites are also searched and relevant results displayed in a Content tab on the results page. It’s at the top right of each blog post page so give it a go and see if the results work for you. I’m not 100% it’s all working yet.

Although I would turn them off if I could, the ads that appear on the results page are part of a revenue share, so if you’re looking at earning some money on your blog it may be worth giving lijit a try.

As always, I’m interested in your comments so please let me know what you think below.

Affiliate Program Now Open!

A long requested feature from my clients is an affiliate scheme. Well with the launch of my video WordPress lessons, you can also see a new menu link on my site called Affiliates.

Currently I have two “products” that you can earn an affiliate commission on. My complete Blog Setup that is listed on the homepage, and of course the WordPress Training Videos. Both earn a $50 commission paid after 30 days (minimum of $100), and I’ve just added some new banners such as the one below that you can get easily from the Banners section of the Marketing Materials.

There is also a 300×250, and 125×125 ads, or of course you can use a text link too. Just let me know if you need any more!

You can sign-up or login here.

Yes, I Set Up Membership Sites

A common question I’ve been getting after the release of the Membership Site Masterplan, is whether I set up Membership sites. Actually I’ve been doing this for a while using the technique Yaro suggests, it’s simply a slightly customized WordPress installation and I can do it as part of my usual packages, just let me know when you contact me.

Are You Scared of WordPress 2.7?

Yes, the interface to WordPress “just” changed and very soon it will be changing again. However I personally believe they have done the right thing – the myth of the ease of blogging is gradually becoming a reality. The WordPress team have released a new video (embedded below – click here if you can’t see it) very quickly showing you a fraction of the new features (many of which have been available via plugins for a while) many of which I’m excited about. The new menu feature is worth it alone.

Weblog Tools Collection has further details and a great list of links to answer more of your questions. You can also check here to see if you host can run WordPress 2.7.