WordPress Beginner Cheat Sheet

The good folks over at WPUniversity have released a handy cheat sheet for those new to WordPress. It’s a great two page document going through logging in, the settings, and working with Posts and Pages in a simple easy to understand way. If you’re new to working with WordPress or just want a handy reminder, it’s a very useful document.

WPUniversity

Your Blogging Plan for 2013: Plan For Blogging Success

This is a guest post written by Angela Booth. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

The year’s end is a great time to take stock of your blog. What’s working for you this year? What do you need to do more of?

Once you’ve reviewed your activities for this year, focus on creating a plan for blogging activities in 2013. Once you’ve created plan, you’ll feel more confident, because you’re building your success.

Here’s how to get started.
Checklist
1. Revisit Your Dreams for Your Blog: What’s Changed?

Cast your mind back to the days when you were planning your blog. You had goals: to promote your business, to sell affiliate products, or perhaps to create a personal blog.

While those goals may not have changed, your methods for achieving them may have. The Web changes every year. Things which once worked well — methods of getting traffic for example — may no longer work as well as they did.

Perhaps your own emphasis has changed. For example, if you started the year blogging for your business, perhaps you’re now emphasizing Twitter, or Facebook.

2. Identify Your Audience’s Needs in 2013

Your blog has an audience. Think about what will be important for them in the new year. Think about your business too, and how you can align your business’s goals with that of your audience.

3. Identify Sources of Blogging Income

Everyone blogs for a reason. It’s time to think about income sources in 2013. Make a list of what brought income in 2012, and decide to continue those sources if they work for you, or to find new income sources.

Most bloggers spend a lot of time checking out income sources, or trying to get advertisers.

4. Choose Keywords and Topics

If you keep an eye on keywords, you know that they’re constantly changing, in every industry. A search term which brought great traffic no longer does. New terms have become popular.

Keyword tools are historical. This means that there’s no guarantee that they will send you traffic just because they once did.

Rather than studying tools, study news sources, and social media sites like Twitter to make your keyword lists. Spend some time brainstorming too. You may well find that they keywords you brainstorm out-perform keywords from a tool.

5. Brainstorm Blog Titles for January

By the time you’ve completed the four steps above, you should have a good idea of which blog topics you want to emphasize in January.

Keeping your keywords in mind, brainstorm some blog post topics and titles for January and February.

With your blogging plan in hand, you’re well on the way to a profitable 2013. Happy New Year!

About the author

Angela Booth is a copywriter and blogging enthusiast. Contact her via @angee on Twitter if you need writing or blogging help. Alternatively, visit her Creativity Factory Blog, where she’s starting a new series: “Make Writing Easy” for writers and non-writers too.

8 Ways to Promote and Gain Visibility to your Blog

This is a guest post written by Brianne Walter who is a freelance blogger who is passionate about writing. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Managing a blog requires lots of effort. Business blogs are more challenging to manage since you see multiple participating contributors and groups. The basic steps to start and manage a blog is same for any group of people including individual bloggers, start up businessmen or big business groups. Promoting your blog to get proper visibility are two sides of the same coin. Promoting your blog means letting people know about your blog posts over the internet. The below are eight important methods to promote and gain visibility to your blog.

1). Create compelling content

Content is considered to be the most vital thing for the blogs. While creating content, it is important to write for your target audience by making it interesting and relevant to them. Producing quality content makes your blog more trustworthy among your target audience. This means you get more amounts of readers for your blog. Also, search engines like Google love blogs carrying quality content, this means your blog would become more visible over search engines.

2). Employ search engine optimization

SEO is very effective and simple method to make your blog visible over different research engine results. Optimization begins with finding out relevant and popular keywords relevant to your niche area and using them effectively in your content, title and Meta tags. SEO is a vast topic which covers different areas of your blog; hence it is important to cover all the basics including the load time of your web pages, simple navigation, quality outbound links, meaningful file names and competent titles for your pages.

3). Frequency of content

Posting frequent content over your blog is considered to be an important element. Here there is no magic number for this rule, however, it is recommended to post three to five times a week in your initial days of blogging. You are not supposed to overwhelm yourself; rather you can restrict to three times a week and then gradually can move on for a higher frequency. Unless you’re running a news site, blogging isn’t a news providing thing, hence no one expects from you to update your blog multiple times a day.

4). Email your blog posts

This may sound an unnecessary thing; however, you are supposed to bring your content before your target group. They may not be visiting your blog on a daily basis; hence emailing them content can bring the post before your readers. Relying on any competent email service with consistency is the key of getting your desire result. For instance, if you follow a Tuesdays as your mailing day and Fridays as your roundup of the week, then stick to this schedule.

5). Guest blogging

This can help you in building a better authority of your blog among your target audience. At this point of time, you can find blogs and sites in your niche area and think of trying guest blogging at these places. While posting your different articles, it is recommended to produce quality content which can attract new readers at your blog. You can incorporate a back link over your guest posts carrying your blog name in the anchor text.

6). Press releases

PR or press releases are effective way to spread your word over internet. You may think that your business do not have any newsworthy thing, however the fact is there are many things which keep on happening around your products or services. You just need to cover all these things including new products, announcements, project completions, new business associates, awards, interviews, industry whitepapers etc.

7). Social media

It’s a boom time for social media sites, hence you can think of using these for your blog promotion. The social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, MySpace etc. give you enough opportunities to promote your blog. You are required to grow and nurture your communities. By simply posting content on these sites will not fetch you a good result, however, you are required to remain active over these places via different community participation.

8). Syndication

Syndication is still considered to be an underutilized idea. To begin with, simply find out the top ten publishers known to deal in your niche area which focuses on your target groups. You can then contact them to find out the ways of building a relationship with your content.

Blogs are really simple to create; however, managing them is a tricky business. For a successful blog, you need to have good reader base, trying the above discussed eight tips about blog promotion can really make it visible before your target audience.

About the Author: – Brianne Walter is a freelance blogger who is passionate about writing. She frequently writes on SEO, marketing and social media related topics. Her favorite sites are Cellphonebeat and Gizmowatch, which she also happens to work for.

How To Get Your First Blog Visitors

This is a guest post by Sam who is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Every new blogger starts out at the same place: with a website, a dream and no traffic. Most blog failures occur before a single visitor views the website, so although this can be a time of experimentation, it’s also a time of urgency. Getting over that most difficult hump and drawing in your first visitors through Google can take months, but you can build your readership much more quickly by taking things into your own hands and spreading the word yourself.

Focus on Quality


When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to publish a hundred different posts on bland, keyword-targeted subjects meant to bring in search engine traffic. Unfortunately, if your website is new you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. Google places a certain priority on the age of a website, meaning you’re unlikely to rank highly for any keyword for at least a month. In the meantime, you’ll have a blog that’s dry, boring and clearly commercialized.

Because of this, the first few weeks after a blog goes live should be spent attracting visitors by word of mouth. Many readers hesitate to subscribe to a new blog because so many shut down a month or two after starting up. In order to combat this, your blog needs to be jam-packed with exciting, fresh content that will have others dying to share it. Post regularly, but not so often that you burn yourself out. As time goes on, you’ll settle into the blogging schedule and voice that works for you.

What is good content? Nobody wants to read an encyclopedia entry on every little topic in your niche. If they did, they’d read an encyclopedia. Blogging is a platform for expressing yourself and helping others. Even a business blog will have a personal style and tone to it. Write like you care about the subject, which you should, and are personally interested in it, and readers will pick up on your enthusiasm.

Get Involved in the Community

Once your blog has several good posts ready to share, it’s time to find some readers! The best place to start is on blogs similar to your own. These blogs have readers that are interested in your niche, and bloggers generally encourage discussion and sharing in their comment sections. Leaving your name and URL in a comment will alert readers to your blog’s presence, and you’re sure to get a few curious clicks.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to pick up a bad reputation than it is to earn a good one. Always leave full, relevant responses to blog posts, and take the time to read others. Planting a link is only one benefit of interacting with the community, and getting involved in discussions can help you establish yourself as a dedicated and knowledgeable blogger.

There are other ways to get your blog out there, most notably social media websites. Services such as StumbleUpon can bring sharp spikes of traffic, but are usually poor for driving in a dedicated readership. Twitter, on the other hand, can be a valuable tool if used properly. You may want to start a new account for the blog, or share it on an established Twitter account. Don’t just tweet a URL to your latest posts; instead, spend time responding to tweets and following others. Facebook automatically shares blog updates to interested friends and family, who can in turn share it with their circle of contacts. However, you should focus most of your efforts on targeted readers, which can be difficult to accomplish on a social website like Facebook.

If you write quality content and successfully draw in a small group of returning readers, your blog will be well on its way to success. You can’t expect to have 500 blog visitors in your first month, but with patience and dedication there’s no limit to what you can achieve with nothing more than the internet, a computer and your own wits.

About the author: Sam is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout, one of the leading marketing agencies. He takes a particular interest in topics pertaining to social media trends and SEO techniques.

Making WordPress Searchable

How many times have you visited a site, only to become frustrated with the navigation system, trawling from page to page in an effort to find what you need? These days, we expect to find exactly what we’re looking for in a couple of mouse clicks, and our attention spans are shortening in line with enhanced search functions and improved site navigation. If we can’t locate exactly what we need almost instantly, we’re short enough on time and demanding enough with our expectations to leave a site in order to find what we are looking for elsewhere.

InternetWorldStats.com statistics suggest that there are over 190 million sites online, so the chances are that you have hundreds of competitors focusing upon your industry, prepared to scoop up your customers if they decide to look elsewhere for what they need. This means that it is more important than ever before to ensure that you have a great search facility on your business site, so that people can find what they need and stick around. The longer your customers stay browsing your site, the greater the likelihood that you’ll receive repeat visits, and brand loyalty will encourage them to part with their money as you become a trusted source of information.

If you haven’t already implemented a sound search strategy for your site, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your blog with the eyes of your customers. What do they predominantly come to your business to find? Can they find it? Web “best practice” advocates that no information should take more than two or three clicks to reach; does this apply to your site, or do people have to hunt around aimlessly in an attempt to find something useful? Take some time to consider your site with a fresh viewpoint, working out how it functions from your customer’s perspective. If it’s not really giving them what they need quickly, it’s time to revamp the site and make it more accessible and easily navigable.

Basic Searchability

Blogs that make customers have to think too hard are not good websites. Your customers need to be able to browse your site effortlessly, without having to battle an invasive or obtrusive layout that detracts from their visitor experience. The following tips provide an overview of search best practice for your site:

• Every page on your site needs to have at least basic navigation aids.
• Your navigation needs to indicate the current page that your visitors are on.
• Each link needs to be clearly marked as to where it leads.
• Each link should be unique and, if it is repeated, make this clear to the customer.
• Link categories need to relate to products and services, rather than your business information.

Including a comprehensive sitemap is great practice as it allows your visitors to easily locate a single page that has everything they need to access the pages they’re looking for.

Enhanced Searchability

The majority of WordPress themes already have an integral search bar as part of the basic setup, but if your blog doesn’t already have one, you can put a search widget into your side bar pretty easily. If you know PHP, just key in the following:

<?php get_search_form(); ?>

Although this works, the functionality is fairly limited, and there are a number of things you can do to enhance it to make things easier for your customers.

The Search Everything plugin works to improve your default search by also searching tags, categories, pages, comments, and much more that the default WordPress search doesn’t. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t require anything else other than just activating it, and then choosing what you would like to be included in the search.

You could also try the Search Meter plugin. This records what people are searching for, and can provide invaluable insights into the topics people are trying to find on your site, allowing you to appropriately tailor your site content.

The Google Custom Search also adds additional functionality to your blog. You can add it in manually (www.google.com/cse/) or via a plugin. The Google plugin doesn’t override the WordPress search, but you can replace it easily enough to make the Google application the primary tool. This allows you to use the power of Google to make your site searchable and also allows you to monetize the search results page by adding your Adsense ID to the adverts that Google automatically includes.

Finally, consider adding the Lijit search plugin to your site; it takes over the default WordPress search box, so requires no additional coding. It allows you to monetize search results and adds great features such as image thumbnails in your search results, and searching of your social networks. This means that you can bring back relevant tweets, YouTube videos, photos from Flickr and more.

The Art of Translation

The World Wide Web is a bigger place than ever before. Whereas once we all ran our blogs and business sites secure in the knowledge that we were probably catering for a local demographic, now it is evident that we are writing for a truly global audience. Things are changing for the better, and one of the ways you can tell is that the comments folder on your blog is often full of spam in a host of different languages!

This leads us to a new responsibility as bloggers. For those of us who are writing without a specific location in mind, it seems that it is time to turn our focus upon the art of translation in the world of blogging. Whether we hail from a country where English is not our first language, or we are choosing to cater for a truly multi-national audience, we need to begin to think with more of a global reach to ensure our blogs are easily accessible to the widest possible audience.

According to the National Virtual Translation Center, there are over seven thousand official languages in the world. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language puts that figure closer to ten thousand. Although it would be patently impossible to cater for each native speaker for all of these languages, there are things that we can do to broaden the scope of our blogs and accommodate as many as possible.

In the early days of the Internet, everyone seemed to be focused upon learning the basics, such as HTML for formatting our pages, and that meant that US English was hailed as the standard language for the Web. Since then, as more and more countries begin to regard online access as a fundamental human right, we are more conscious than ever before of the requirement to accommodate as broad a spectrum of demographics as possible.

Widening Your Scope

InternetWorldStats.com statistics suggest that there are an estimated 6,845,609,960 people online, across all of our continents. The Chinese language is the most widely spoken, followed by Hindi, English, Spanish, and Arabic. As Chinese is purported to be one of the toughest languages for non-native speakers to learn, it leads us to wonder how we can ever hope to access a truly multi-lingual community online.

As ever, WordPress comes to the rescue. There are resources available for people wishing to use the dashboard in their preferred language, and also translate their blog content into different languages. Until the days when the Babel Fish translation service from the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is available for us to translate languages automatically, the following steps can act as an interim procedure to make things a little more accessible.

Translating Your WordPress Admin

If you would prefer to use the WordPress admin panel in a different language to the standard English, it’s pretty easy to translate the backend of your blog. Luckily, most languages already feature in the WordPress translations service, and you can install a new language quickly. Follow this link to find the code you need, to move over to a new language in a matter of minutes.

If the language you are looking for is not readily available on the list of options, you also have the opportunity to produce your own translation. The following article shouws you how to support a bespoke translation.

Translating Your WordPress Theme

Some WordPress themes feature custom text, and this means that the translation for this needs to be undertaken separately to the admin areas. While a number of Premium themes may have a translation function built in to the code, the majority of WordPress users will find that they have to resort to manual editing of their theme to get the desired language to feature throughout their site. This is not as arduous or difficult as it sounds – it’s simply a question of accessing the relevant area and tinkering with it until you are happy with the result.

Translating Your Content

One of the most valuable things you can do in terms of making your blog more accessible is to translate the content into different languages. If you are fortunate enough to be bilingual, this is an exercise which you can undertake yourself to attract readers from different countries. However, the majority of us do not have a strong enough grasp of a second or third language to make this a viable option when it comes to keeping our blog updated.

Although automated translation services will never be as effective as human translators, who have the ability to understand the nuances and shades of language, there are still functions available for WordPress that provide an adequate basic service. There is a great plugin called Google Ajax that you can use to enable your customers to translate the content of your blog; however, any automatic translation runs the risk of misinterpreting the material that you have written and producing a translated page that makes little sense to your readers!

As the global popularity of both blogging and the World Wide Web becomes stronger, so the facilities and services for translating your site should gradually improve to cater for the need to reach a broader audience in different languages. For now, we must be content with using what is out there, and modifying the way we write to make it simpler, both for our readers in different languages, and the automated translation services that attempt to do a great job on our behalf.

Spring Cleaning Your Blog

Have you unnoticed when the season changes, your thoughts immediately turn to having a clear out of everything? We are drawn to sorting through cupboards, cleaning everything thoroughly, and having garage sales to reduce the amount of things we seem to have collected over the winter months. Carpets cry out to be cleaned, wardrobes beg for a sort-out to move from one season to the next, and we’re seized with the drive to get everything cleared as the weather improves.

Just as we spring clean our house, we also need to make sure we apply the same kind of rigor to our blogs. Blogs are friendly beasts – they rumble on without us happily, bringing new custom and working for us while we focus on other things. Because they are so amiable, we can often overlook the fact that they need a bit of a helping hand from time to time, to make sure they are working at optimum.
Cleaning supplies
Blogs are a bit like a well-behaved dog. We only really take notice of their inner workings when something goes wrong. We give our dogs flea treatment if they scratch, walk them every day and give them affection, but it’s only when something changes – for example if they go off their food, or seem upset, that we take them to the vet for a check-up. Blogs are the same – we do certain tasks with them each day (answering comments and posting up articles), but we don’t consider the platform unless a glitch makes us sit up and take notice that all is not as it should be.

Your blog benefits from a bit of a spring clean every now and then. Basics such as emptying your spam folder can free up your site to run more effectively, and using an image re-sizer can make sure that your pictures don’t take up valuable loading time. When new software comes out on your blog platform, it’s worth spring cleaning and uploading the latest technology to benefit from the changes and enhancements that your service provider has developed. Another great spring cleaning exercise you can do is to consider a re-brand, waking your site up and giving you a good reason to contact your clients, get feedback and re-launch with a new look and feel.

So, the next time you’re taken over by the urge to clean the house and get the garden set up ready for summer, why not make the most of the feeling and apply the same kind of energies to your blog? It will thank you for it, making life easier, running more effectively and staying clean, neat and organized.

The Top Tips For Finding Blogging Happiness

It’s tough, being a blogger. It’s hard because we have to commit to publishing a certain amount of material each week, keep ahead of key trends, and have faith that what we are doing is really helping us to enhance our business success and generate more revenue by supporting our customers. If you’re currently in a blogging rut, follow these tips to help you get back to blogging happiness and keep your online marketing strategy on track.
monkey smile

  • Choose subjects to blog about that you feel passionate about and you’ll find easy to write about with knowledge and enthusiasm
  • Build blogging in to your daily routine, in the same way as you brush your teeth each day or load the dishwasher – this makes it easier to stick to regular posts
  • Invite people to comment on your posts regularly, so you know you’re on the right track with what you are writing about
  • Keep up to date with all your feedback, answering comments and thanking people for responding to your posts
  • If you ever feel disheartened about your blogging prowess, look back to the metrics from when you first started out and compare them with your current results
  • Ask people you like and respect to guest blog to ease the burden of ongoing blog publishing, and introduce new perspectives and topics to your site
  • Tweet your posts so more people can access what you have written and your message gets circulated for more comments, and new readers
  • Try out new styles of communicating through your blog, like podcasting and video blogging (vlogging)
  • Revamp your site for a quick fix of freshness, having fun with choosing new themes and layouts
  • Consider outsourcing some of your writing from time to time if other pressures are getting in the way of your blog writing responsibilities
  • Check out new technologies – plugins and widgets – designed to make your blogging life easier and enhance your metrics and benchmarking
  • Gain access to a great image resource site so you can experiment with different types of graphics – I use http://sxc.hu or http://www.morguefile.com for royalty-free images
  • Consider blogging a series – twelve posts all geared towards a single help topic, which you could then go on to produce as a product such as an e-book or download giveaway
  • Learn new angles to blog about by researching your industry online, reading up on the latest developments, and sparking off a wealth of new ideas to write about
  • Take time out. Everyone needs a break sometimes, so manage your postings, publish them in draft and stick them on a timer so you can go on vacation, have a long weekend or settle down to catch up on all that television you’ve been missing because of work!

Muscle Building For The Mind

Every day, millions of us across the world spend hours of our day working hard on exercising our bodies to create the perfect shape and look. Toning arms, strengthening legs and shaping torsos is all part of the daily routine, for many people. But, what about the most powerful and under-utilised muscle in the human body? How much time do we spend exercising that? Is it about time that exercising our mind became part of the daily routine too?

Experts estimate that we use only ten percent of the brain’s capacity in day-to-day life. Simply by exercising the brain, in the same way as we exercise the rest of the body, it will gain strength and become powerful. Similarly, if we don’t exercise the brain, it becomes lazy, unresponsive and slow just like our physical bodies when we neglect them.

Our daily lives bring us in to contact with many opportunities to either strengthen or weaken the mind. One of the most popular brain busters is the television. So many shows, so much choice but lots of trash TV and very little to challenge and enhance the brain. Is daily TV watching as bad for the brain as junk food is for the body?
brain
A daily routine for the mind can be the most important, productive and valuable exercise workout you can do. Here are some tips to incorporate strengthening the number one muscle in the body into your daily routine…

Morning exercise

Starting the day with some mind building exercise is the one of the best and most satisfying ways to ensure the day starts well and continues on the same path. Personal development guru Anthony Robbins references the ‘Hour of Power’ in his book Awaken the Giant Within. Robbins says physical exercise, meditation and learning are the most effective way to start each and every day. The full hour isn’t always necessary, thirty minutes is all it takes. If this time can’t be squeezed into the morning routine you currently have, then set the alarm earlier…it really is that simple, and very productive.

Exercise in the car

This isn’t necessarily all about having to find more time in your day, it is about using your time more productively – and your daily journeys in the car could be the answer. There are so many CDs and audio books available now that the radio can be replaced by a daily mind exercise routine. Whether it’s on the motorway, on the school run or simply on errands, for ten minutes or the full three hour traffic jam, it’s a brilliant way to make the most of your daily travel.

Evening exercise

If watching a lot of TV on a daily basis is reducing mind capacity, just thirty minutes per night, every night of mind building activity will make a significant difference. The options for how to fill that time are vast; reading a personal development book, watching a mind exercising DVD or listening to one of the CDs from the car. The daily routine creates the discipline, which in turn creates the long lasting positive effect.

Combining the physical and the mind exercise

How about combining the two forms of exercise in to one? Both are important, and if your schedule doesn’t allow both in separate forms, then doing both at the same time can be the perfect compromise. Replacing the accompanying music during your physical exercise with personal development audio provides the mind with exercise, as well as the body.

The Art of Good Writing

Do you enjoy writing for your blog, or does the thought of opening your laptop to craft yet another article fill you with dread? Like any other aspect of running an online business, your writing needs to be of a great standard to make sure you bring your customers what they need and support them to find the information they are looking for when they visit your site. All that is well and good, but how do you make sure your writing is of a great standard? And if you don’t like writing much, what can you do to ensure that what you actually do right hits the mark when people come to your blog?

Good writing is not as difficult as many people think. By following a few simple rules, you can sharpen up the quality of your writing, and probably begin to be a lot happier with what you produce along the way. Check out these tips for good writing on your blog.
Pen and paper

Stick to what you know

The best bloggers out there write with an easy style that makes it obvious they know what they are on about. This is a great trait for good blog writing, as people naturally listen to experts in every field of industry. If you write your articles about things which are naturally interesting to you, that you feel super-confident about, this confidence and interest will shine through in your blog and kindle enthusiasm in your readers. Some of the most interesting posts I have ever read are written from the heart, by people who absolutely love their subject. Stick to what you know on your blog, and this confidence will keep your readers on the page until the very last word.

Keep it professional

Have you ever visited a blog only to find a number of things on it that switch you off? The basics like good grammar, a lack of typos and other errors are much more important than you may think at first. Would you trust someone who had errors on their blog? Or would you think, actually if this guy can’t be bothered to read through what he has written, I wonder what he’s like to do business with? Similarly, your business blog is not meant to showcase any radical personal opinions or draw attention to contentious stuff that you wouldn’t discuss with your customers. Unless you have a deliberately contentious blog, and you publish content which is designed to be inflammatory as your job. In which case, go for it!

Keep it relatively short

No-one wants to read ‘War and Peace’ on your blog unless you are offering a free download of ‘War and Peace’ on your blog. People tend to lose interest if you have page after page of text, no matter how great your writing is. Keep things quite short (under 1,000 words per article) unless you want your readers to drift off and go somewhere else for their information!
Keep it fresh and current

I know you know this. Keep your blog content relevant, lively and current to make your readers happy and give them what they need. Link in to things which they want to know, share your experiences where you can, and publish articles that answer their needs, staying fresh and interesting. Tap in to current affairs, or mention things which are happening in your industry right now to make your blog post as relevant as it can be. That reminds me, have you been following ‘America’s Got The X Factor Idol’ recently?