How To Backup WordPress

A few months ago I launched a backup and update service in order to help you keep your themes, plugins and WordPress itself up to date as well as making backups in case of disaster.

With the recent news of massive hacking attempts against WordPress sites, having the latest versions of plugins and themes and also backups is more important than ever.

I’m currently protecting over 60 WordPress powered sites with weekly updates and backups (or monthly if you prefer). So if you want to join them and put your mind at ease then you can sign up below from only $7 per month.

The BTG Backup and Update Service, or “BTG BUS” is a service that keeps regular backups of your WordPress powered websites, keeps WordPress, plugins and themes up to date, and provides the opportunity to restore your sites to an earlier version if there are any problems. With no hassle for you, just set up and forget!

Go to the full page for details on pricing, FAQs, comparisons with other services and much more.

How To Build An Email List

One of the most common questions I get is how to build an email list or how to get more email subscribers. I do this a few different ways.

Choose an Email Newsletter/Autoresponder Service

Of course, before you can do anything you need to choose an email service to add subscribers too. I use AWeber, and while there are many other competitors out there, AWeber is my favorite due to ease of use and functionality for internet marketers.

1) & 2) Permanent opt-in forms

1) I have one opt-in subscription form at the top of every page. It’s large, you can’t missed it at the top of every page. This form has different backgrounds that randomly show so it looks different each time the page loads.

2) I have a simple form at the bottom on every single blog post page. The position and color of this doesn’t change, it’s a small form for convenience. Click the image below for a larger view.

3) Pop-up form

I use a plugin called Pippity to control my “nice” pop-up forms on the site. At the moment I have three variations that I am testing with different designs. They pop up after a certain amount of time on the site and when closed do not reappear for 8 days even if the visitor returns. I do this to reduce the annoyance of the pop-ups to regular visitors. There is another popular plugin called Popup Domination, but I prefer Pippity because of it’s ease of use and analytics capabilities.

For example I can tell which forms are used the most by new subscribers, how long the pop-ups are displayed for before being closed and make variations of the same design to test timing options.

4) Contact form

Another plugin that is brilliant is Gravity Forms. I use this for my Contact page, where it asks a series of questions to the visitor, with the final one being whether they would like to subscribe to my newsletter or not. It uses the AWeber form add-on to add any person automatically to my newsletter who selects they would like to be added to my list.

My opt-in rate for people who contact me (I get a lot per day!) is over 80%, so if you have a lot of people emailing you for support or asking you questions, Gravity Forms can be a great way to add relevant subscribers.

5) Subscribe Page

This subscribe page is for search engine visitors, searchers on my own site or if I need to provide a direct link via email to someone.

6) Paypal integration

AWeber has a great “app” that allows you to add anyone who pays you via Paypal to your email list. So whenever anyone buys one of my services, such as my Complete Blog Setup, they are asked via email if they want to subscribe to my newsletter.

Summary

There are multiple areas of opportunity and “touch points” with readers and clients that you can use to offer your email subscription list. However, as I’ve talked about before (How Much Does An Email Subscriber Cost You?), it’s what you do once you have them that is very important, as an email list, and the methods used to gather subscribers, cost money.

There are a couple of ways I can name now that I don’t use, but what are the ways you use to gain email subscribers?

The tools I use to build my email list are:
a) AWeber
b) Pippity
c) Gravity Forms

The Pitfalls Of Early Adoption

Anyone who works in the fields of marketing or technology will have come across the term ‘Early Adopter’ at some point in their career. An early adopter is someone who seizes on a new idea or gadget, hell bent on being the first person or company to present it to their customers. On a personal level, early adopters can be those people who queue up outside the flagship Apple store for the latest iPad or phone, or hover nervously around online auctions desperate to get their hands on the latest games console or model of car.

Early adopters are a blessing for everyone else out there. They seize on the newest model of gadget or latest trend in the ideas market, and religiously review their new find with the enthusiasm of a kid at Christmas. Because of these fabulous people, the more cautious among us can sit back and wait, watching the reviews come in, before making a decision about what we want to purchase, or the ideas we want to take on board for our business.
Old Phone
There is something fantastic about being one of the first in line to try a new concept or piece of technology. You get to talk about it to your colleagues and customers, add your voice to the review blogosphere, and try out all the features of the new concept before they are made widely available.

However, in business, early adoption is not the best idea. Admittedly, a new concept can be a real draw for your customers, when they see you are right at the forefront of your game. Bit what happens when you begin to use a new idea or piece of software, only to realize it is in Beta stage and is so full of glitches it can’t function properly? This is the downside of taking on new ideas too quickly – you are effectively being used as a guinea pig, testing out the idea or gadget for the manufacturer or inventor, without giving it a chance to bed down and be refined.

In business, one of the best things you can do is sit still and watch the market, as the story of your new concept or gadget unfolds. Think of the glitches people found with the iPhone, which wouldn’t ever get a good reception at first unless it was held in a certain way, or the uproar that accompanies each new release of Microsoft software, as people see that the product is riddled with flaws that make us susceptible to hackers and viruses.

As business owners, we have a responsibility to ‘look before we leap’ – this means keeping a very close eye on new developments, but being wary before we jump in and purchase them for ourselves and our customers. The next time you are tempted to spend a few hundred dollars on the latest trend to sweep the market, sit back a while and let other people find all the flaws for you!

Using Digg To Enhance Your Online Success

As a blogger, I know it’s important for me to keep abreast of technologies which can support me in making my blog more effective. A number of people have been getting in touch with me recently asking how to best use Digg to promote their blog, so I thought I’d take a few moments to give you an overview of Digg, and how to best use it to make the most of your blog.

This is a follow-up to my previous post of Do Your Digg It?

A good scenario for any blogger is to have a lot of hits, a number of subscribers, and a huge amount of comments and feedback. To achieve the maximum success in terms of these measurable benefits, it’s worth harnessing the power of Digg to lend weight to your online marketing.

What exactly is Digg?

Digg describes itself as “a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users.” In essence, Digg is an online popularity contest for good web content. If someone likes a news item or article that has been published anywhere online, they can rate it on Digg and share it with other online readers.

The more people that ‘Digg’ an article (rate it positively), the more popular the article gets. This means that hitting the front page of the Digg popularity rankings could potentially bring you and your blog a phenomenal amount of exposure and traffic.

How to use Digg to your blog’s advantage

  • Use Digg as an enhanced RSS feed, which keeps you updated every minute about what is going on, online. Find trends, and match them on your own site to increase traffic.
  • Get ideas from articles on Digg when it comes to generating your blog articles. You can then share them on other platforms.
  • Connect with people through Digg, by identifying networks which share the same interest as you. If people rate your article on Digg, take a moment to find out who they are, check out their site and see if there is anything you can do in return.
  • Put some of your more important links on Digg, and add friends so they can make the most of the page as a hub for your business information.
  • Advertise your articles, once in a while. If you do this too often, you risk being dismissed as a spammer on the site, but it doesn’t hurt now and then to Digg your own writing.

If used well, Digg can really help you as a blogger both through the site itself, and search engines that pull up highly-ranked Digg articles. By writing a snappy headline, producing high-quality articles and carefully selecting keywords, you can start to make Digg work for you. Ask friends and colleagues to Digg on your behalf, and also make the most of social sites such as Twitter and Plurk to promote your content. When used effectively, the site can bring you more readers, more connections, and higher online visibility.

Further reading: How To Get A Story To The Digg Front Page.

How Do You Measure Success?

I’ve been thinking a lot about blog analytics and measuring progress and success. There are lots of measures and measurers (not a real word) out there and it can be consuming what stats to believe. Here’s what I look at (I’m excluding revenue and income and any other financial measures):



Blog Stats
RSS Subscribers
Email Signups
Email Subscribers
# of Comments

Ranks
Google Page Rank
Alexa Rank
Compete Rank
Quantcast Rank

Search Engines
Google Indexed Pages
Yahoo Inlinks
Bing Results

Social Media
Twitter Followers
# of ReTweets
Delicious Bookmarks
StumbleUpon articles
# of posts Dugg (Digg)

Google Analytics
Pageviews
Unique visitors
Pages per visit
Bounce rate
Top content
Top referrers

Plus there are other analytic services out there, like Woopra, PostRank, Clicky and WordPress.com stats. Some services like Klout focus on specific services (in this case Twitter). The list goes on and on.

How often do you check these stats? Daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? It’s not easy to know what to follow, what is important and what to measure and even remember to keep track of it all. So how do you do it? I don’t know is the answer! Some people do it manually by simply remembering, some use spreadsheets, some get reports emailed to them, some have their assistants compile info for them, some have complicated systems involving gathering pieces of information ad-hoc and automatically from various places.

Most of us I guess just check them when we remember and have the time. Do you? What else do you measure? Ad-clicks? New acquaintances? Backlinks?

Do you Digg it?

It can be a bit confusing to know what social networking sites to target to improve your blog readership. One of the most popular sites to use to generate hits on your own site is Digg. Digg has been going since around 2005, and has grown steadily in popularity so that its website traffic was ranked 100th by Alexa.com in April 2010.

What’s it all about?

Digg is a site that allows people to find and share content from anywhere on the web. It operates without editing, as a truly social site. All the content is placed on there by normal people who simply read something they like, and then ‘Digg’ it to let other people know about it.

Basically, it’s a big online popularity contest for good content. Material is ranked in order of popularity and value, and any site, however small or mighty, can be included in the lists. At a time when we are flooded with web pages from all over the world, it can be incredibly useful to have an index of content which is rated by normal readers with no ulterior motive than to share good stuff with other people.

The ‘America’s Got Talent’ of web content

Just like a reality TV show where people are voted on or off according to the entertainment value of what they do, so Digg allows pages to move up or down the scale depending on how good they are. ‘Good’ content could be funny, informative, useful or just plain silly, but it must have something catchy and relevant about it to hit the top spots.

Once a submission to Digg gets enough ratings from people, it hits the front page of the site where millions of visitors can see it. This is like winning America’s Got Talent and hitting the jackpot of popularity – a great goal for anyone who makes a living through online writing or video.

Digg includes images, music, news, video and articles, so it covers the whole spectrum of available web content in its rankings.

Supported by an online community

Digg also offers a community service, where people can discuss items and share them, passing on other pages of interest. Digg’s philosophy is to promote content in an unbiased way, which means that anyone can get on the front page if their material is interesting. It doesn’t make any difference how big or small your site is – it’s the content, and how people respond to it that counts.

In reality, these days it can be incredibly difficult to get onto the front page due to the power users who dominate the site. I’ve been on the front page twice (not with this site as I deliberately only have Twitter on here for reasons I can talk about another time) and can vouch for the massive increase in traffic, but just getting a small amount of traffic from many articles is often worthwhile.

Adding Digg to your blog

It’s pretty easy to use the Digg plug-in to get it on your WordPress site, and start to benefit from sharing your content with other people. There is now an updated application that builds on the previous Digg buttons and widgets, making it straightforward for you to engage Digg on your blog. You can also use a plugin like Share This, Sociable or Sexy Bookmarks.

If you have visitors to your site who like what you do, they can ‘Digg’ your content and start you off on the great global popularity contest of social computing – it’s well worth getting this on to your blog, if only to encourage people to share what you do with the rest of the world!

More Easy Blogging Tools For You

After my previous post on little known blogging tools, there are some more tools that may not be directly related to pressing Publish, but can certainly help with your blogging life.

WebMii is related to the previously mentioned Social Mention and Addictomatic, but rather than looking at your brand reputation (though you can do that too), WebMii searches the web for your first name and last name. It’s pretty cool actually, especially if you name is your brand, but of course, unlike your brand, your name is often not unique so you can find out some interesting namesakes!

Gliffy is a cool online diagram drawing tool. I often use PowerPoint or something but it’s actually a very useful tool that you can try for free to draw quick and easy diagrams or flowcharts for your posts that need them. And they look great too.

Another diagram tool is Cacoo, which is similar in principle but also allows online collaboration. You have to sign up to try it, and the graphics are more cartoony than Gliffy but it’s a pretty neat too.

If you have any great blogging tools you use then please let me know, I always like to hear of tools that make your blogging lives easier.

Little Known Blogging Tools That Rock!

There are thousands of plugins and addons that people can use to make their blogging easier and better. However there are some lesser known ones that may help you in certain aspects of your blogging.

1) HTML COLOR CODES

When altering the design of your site or even adding a sidebar widget box, it is very useful to know the hex value of a color for use in CSS or HTML code. This is where HTML color codes comes in, giving you the most web-friendly color codes in which to design your site. You can even buy them on a mousemat or poster for handy references! If you have Firefox you can also use the Colorzilla dropper tool extension to find out your the hex code of colors you like.

 

2) COLOR COMBINATIONS

When designing a site it’s often hard to know which colors compliment each other, and will look good on your site. Color Combos is a site that has a large selection of palettes and complimentary colors. You can type in your hex code(s) or simply the name of a color and get back a list of palettes that have colors that look good together. You can even test and tweak the combinations to see how they look side-by-side. One thing I don’t like about the site is the number of adverts plastered everywhere.

 

3) BLOG ICONS

Every blogger needs icons, whether it’s for Twitter or Facebook, or for various projects. There are plenty of icon sites out there but I like some of the icon search sites that are out there. Find Icons and Icon Finder have 287,194 and 158,179 icons respectively. Of course some will be duplicates but the great thing is they are all there at your fingertips to compare side-by-side and download. Icons often come in icon sets, so if you like the style you can usually get similar ones to match.

 

4) ONLINE REPUTATION

If you run a business you usually like to know what is being said about you. Google Alerts are very useful for that, and you can also set up Twitter searches, but it would be nice to find everything in one place. This is where Social Mention and Addictomatic come in. They search various sites to see if your name is mentioned (be sure to wrap your name or brans in quotes in order to find an exact match, like “blog tech guy”). Social mention actually searches 97 places, like Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, even the BBC. They also provide some metrics, like strength, sentiment, passion and reach, though I need to look up how they’re calculated. Addictomatic comes back with a personalized page made up of widgets from some of the most popular sites showing the results for your search term. You can bookmark this page and check often. Invaluable stuff.

I’ll be covering some more tools in future posts, but have you used these and found them useful? Are there any other tools you find indispensable?

Three Resources To Get More Traffic To Your Blog

Another video for you this week. There are numerous free reports released every week it seems, but there is some great stuff in the middle of it all. The quick (just over 2 minutes) video below covers:

  • Blog Traffic Fisher is a new free 5 day course to help you get more traffic for your blog quickly. Very good stuff.
  • Nathan Hangen has grouped two years of expert posts into a free ebook, you don’t even need to sign up to get it. There is a premium version available for purchase too.
  • Income Blogging Guide Blueprint – The course has closed but our free 95 page report is still available, so if you haven’t got a copy it’s free and contains no affiliate links.

Oh and apologies for the brief cut at the end, my camera battery died halfway through the next sentence so I clipped it early.

How To Add Subscribers Name Or Email To Your Thank You Page

For a few clients I have set up their AWeber email subscription thank you page to show the subscribers name and, if they want, email address.

Now this is something I actually don’t do myself on my own blog as I use my thank you page in a variety of different ways, but it’s a pretty neat way of customizing/personalizing your thank you page, or even your confirmation page.

STEP 1:

For Thank You Page: When creating a web form, make sure you check the box that says
“Post CGI Variables to the thank you page?”
This essentially allows the Name and Email information (plus any other custom fields) to be sent to your thank you page.

For Confirmation Page: Go to My Lists > Confirmed Opt-in and under Confirmation Success Page, as well as entering a URL, check the box that says “Pass Subscriber Info?”.

STEP 2:

In the <head> section of your thank you and/or confirmation page, place the following javascript.


var formData = function() {
    var query_string = (location.search) ? ((location.search.indexOf('#') != -1) ? location.search.substring(1, location.search.indexOf('#')) : location.search.substring(1)) : '';
    var elements = [];
    if(query_string) {
       var pairs = query_string.split("&");
       for(i in pairs) {
          var tmp = pairs[i].split("=");
          elements[unescape(tmp[0])] = unescape(tmp[1]);
       }
    }
    return {
        display: function(key) {
            if(elements[key]) {
              document.write(elements[key]);
            } else {
              document.write("");
            }
        }
    }
}();

STEP 3

It’s easy now. When writing your message on the page, put:

<script type="text/javascript">formData.display("name")</script>

where you want the name to appear. Change the word name to from to display the email address. Hopefully it all works!

You can find all the official resources on AWeber, here, here, and here.