The Downside To Shotgun Blogging

Have you ever fired a shotgun before?  Even if you haven’t you are probably aware of the differences between a shotgun and a rifle.  While a rifle fires a single shot that can be accurate at long distances a shotgun fires multiple shots in a spray pattern that gets bigger as it travels further.  It is easy to compare this pattern to blogs as well.

Many bloggers, myself included, have “sprayed” content out from their blogs that imitates a shotgun pattern.  Having no clear focus or plan, the material being presented becomes somewhat broad and erratic.  While a shotgun approach can be effective for short range goals (just like a real shotgun), it becomes less and less effective for long range goals (also like a shotgun).

A shotgun approach can easily blast away at your short term blogging goals, but long range goals require something with more of a rifle like precision.  The way to blog with accuracy is to have a clear blogging plan with goals.

What are your goals with blogging?  Are you after more traffic or higher rankings?  Are you looking to connect with people on a different level?

Whatever your goals are with blogging you have to have a clear and concise plan of attack.  If your goal is to bring about more exposure to your main site through your blog then you have to plot out the steps you want to take to acheive this.  Some of the steps you take may include keyword targeted posts that provide relevant information, outbound links to your site, and possibly information on how your business compares with the alternatives.

Whatever your reasons for blogging, you will be able to target your goals a lot better if you use a rifle instead of a shotgun.  Keep your focus on your blogging goals and soon you will become a blogging marksman!

Blogging Pays The Bills

Tarpon Springs, Florida – 2-year-old Jenna Williams is laying down the tracks for a toy train while her mommy Tina Williams taps, twits, and posts — turning Jenna’s playtime into e-commerce.

“We all need a plan B in this economy, and that plan B could be blogging,” said Williams.

The 44-year-old mother of four has been creating sites online for several years, but found her blogging niche in response to some negative feedback from a woman who called her daughter Jenna a “change of life baby” and also called Williams a “new old mom.”

“I was really upset, almost in tears that she called me a new old mom. I didn’t feel that old and I am not that old,” she said.

Now she embraces the title, by creating a blog “The New Old Moms Club” for moms over 40. She earns extra money from advertising on her site and also from product reviews.

“The very most important thing in my mind is the K-L-T factor: Know-Like-Trust. Because the people who come to your blog, reading your blog are going to need to know you, like you and trust you. You have to give them good content because you are going to be building a community.”

That community is nurtured on sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, and then driven to the blog.

“Getting involved with like-minded people who blog and are blogging to is a great way to learn, grow and bring traffic to your blogs.” That traffic, or number of visitors to your sites, increases your influence and will attract advertisers.

“The more they come back to your blog, the more they like and trust and they will click those links and they will buy from you.”

Blogs are free, but buying a domain may cost you a few dollars.

Williams says branding and owning a digital identity is essential to making money on the web. Godaddy.com is a place to buy a domain name.

Social Media Power

Two years ago, when I started my affiliate marketing business I have set up my website and in the first month I had three visitors to my site, and I must say that those too came unintentionally.

After I started to understand how the system works, I have submitted my site to website directories. I have set up my blogs and I start posting. I wrote articles and I have submitted them to article directories. I have created accounts to the main social networking sites and I have bookmarked all my pages to the social bookmarking directories.

The result was 1500 visitors daily to my site in less than three months, my list start growing with about 20 visitors daily and I started to make sales.

It is the result of one month of research and tests, but it proved to be very beneficial for me, and I am sure that will have the same result for you and for any affiliate marketer. It is a time proven and tested method not only by me.

Right now, I am into Facebook. I love the traffic I get from Facebook. Why? One word….quality. Generally, Facebook traffic is converting twice as good compared to other form of PPC such as the Big G. Facebook sells ads all over their site but it is not yet a crowded place. Facebook is an affiliate’s friend.

Fact is, I’m ticked at Google right now and if I can help Facebook to kick their butt and help you in the process…I will be happy. Most Facebook ads are targeted so that the stuff  they see is stuff they are interested in, that’s what makes their customers so great. It is targeting.

Plus, yours is the only ad they will see at a time so it can be considered as a “virgin” traffic or marketing in a vacuum.

Sharks Have The Best Blogs

Earlier today I found myself in a doctor’s waiting room.  Having nothing else to do I did what most people do; read their magazines.  I was reading an interesting article on sharks and how they are able to locate their prey with these “super” sensors that are capable of sensing minute electrical charges.  These electrical sensors that are located on their head are so powerful that their perception was likened to dropping a AA battery in the ocean in New Jersey and sensing the electrical charge in Florida.  That is one intense sixth sense!

The article reminded me of how some of the most successful blogs are created.  Unless you have a monopoly in your market, you will have other people competing for the same business (or visitors, readers, etc.) that you are.  The most successful bloggers are the ones who can “sniff” out what others can’t.

Think about that for a minute.  If you are trying to promote your business online you can be certain that most of your competitors are doing the same.  And chances are that most of these people are doing similar things with their blogs to gain visitors.  So what does a “blogging shark” do?

The answer is as simple as it is vague: they can sniff out what non-sharks can’t smell.  Their blogs offer people something a little different or maybe they’re offering just a little more value.  The sharks can see when certain waters are unproductive so they head out in a different direction.

Any blogger would be wise to study the blogging methods of the sharks in their field.  What are they doing with their blog that you aren’t?  What are they doing different?  And most importantly, can you apply their successful techniques to your blog?

Not every tool that a blogging shark uses may be applicable to your blog, but you’ll probably find that most of them are.  By applying their tricks to what you’re doing, your blog will improve and become an even better addition to your business.

3 Things I Want To Know About Blog Visitors

With any blog that I own or operate there are just a few things I want to know about the people who come to visit.  There are many, many different items of statistical data that I could analyze about blog visitors, but for the most part it really boils down to just 3 questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you looking at?
  • How did you get here?

That’s it.  That’s all I really want to know.  I think you’ll find that these 3 questions cover the most important areas of visitor tracking and they also provide a good ruler to measure how well your blog is doing.

Let me break down these questions and explain what they mean to me:

  • Who are you? – When I ask this I’m not after a visitor’s name or what they do for a living.  I want to know if you are a new visitor, a returning visitor, a search engine spider, etc.  User agents, IP addresses and browser cookies do a pretty good job of separating this info out, and this info can then be broken down into their individual parts.
  • What are you looking at? – When someone is browsing through a blog of mine, I am interested in knowing which post they are reading.  Tracking this data for enough time will tell me what posts are more valuable or relevant to what people want.
  • How did you get here? – I am always interested in knowing how people found their way to my blog.  Did they run a search on Google?  Direct visit?  Click on a link at another site?  Did someone email a post? This kind of information is invaluable in determining where my blog is being mentioned and how well known it is.

These 3 questions tell me almost everything I want to know that can help me provide a better blog for my visitors.  If I know how many visitors, what they’re looking for and where they’re finding me, I can better prepare my blog to provide blog visitors with what they’re looking for.

If you look at the answers to these questions for a while you will probably start looking into another important area, and that is why your visitors are leaving your site.  Looking at exit pages and the duration of visits can also be vital information in determining the health of your blog.

What things do you want to know about your blog visitors?  What do you use to help keep track of this information?

Brand Your Blog To Your Business

I’ve mentioned blog themes a few times already and I can’t really overemphasize the importance of using the right theme for your blog.  How you present your blog to others is much the same as how you would present a brick and mortar store to your public; appearances mean a lot.

Many businesses invest in a quality layout and design for their commerce websites but leave little consideration for their blogs.  They may just grab any free theme available that catches their eye.  Sometimes the color schemes match up with their business site, but most often they don’t.

What these business bloggers may not realize is that almost every website design can be converted into a blog theme for use by WordPress.  For someone who knows a little web coding, it’s not too difficult to create a WordPress theme that mirrors the look of your business site.  Some designers charge more than others, so it pays to shop around for this kind of service.  (Feel free to contact me for a quote if you’re in the market for a custom blog theme.)

I don’t know about you, but every time I’m on a nice looking website and click to their onsite blog and see the “Kubrick” theme I die a little on the inside.  When they mix up the site and blog themes like that they lose the overall seamless nature their website once had.

Even if your blog is hosted on a separate domain I would push for it to be branded with the same theme as the main site.  This creates continuity between related business sites and lessens the chance of any visitor not knowing who you are.

When it comes to your business blog, don’t settle for a theme that doesn’t match your company; get a theme that brands your blog to your business.

Using Twitter To Bring Visitors To Your Blog

I know that there are a lot of blogs that are started that focus on very competitive topics.  Getting noticed in a field of thousands of other blogs or websites can be a very daunting task, especially if your blog is brand new to the field.  So what can a person do to help get a little exposure? Try using social media, particularly Twitter.  Twitter is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of social media out there and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it became the social media leader in the very near future.

Using this blog as an example, if it weren’t for using services such as Twitter then the amount of visitors would be drastically reduced.  This site is centered on blogging with a focus on business blogging.  There are many, many other sites out there that are geared towards this topic.  These industry giants dominate the search engine results and so I would have to pursue ways other than search engines to attract visitors.  I chose Twitter.

Posting a blog update with a link in your Twitter stream can do wonders for your blog traffic.  Your new blog may be invisible in Google, but you can get the word out easily in the “twittersphere”.  As an added bonus, if other people like what you published, they may “retweet” your link which exposes your blog to even more people.

I have to add a word of caution to this: Don’t overdo it!  Promoting your website occasionally through Twitter is fine, but it turns people off when someone is tooting their own horn a bit too much.  Keep it in moderation and you should be fine.

So if you’re swimming in a sea of anonymity, look into using forms of social media like Twitter to get a little attention.

Blogs have fabulous growth potential

The fascination for all-things blog grows from the same plant that makes pyramid sales schemes so attractive – the explosive growth potential.

Myth or not, dreams of profit from pyramid selling, and its slightly more reputable multi-level cousin, are beguiling. It seems so simple, so without hitch and so possible. Anybody can recruit a few dozen disciples and then sit back while they each recruit their own posse and the earnings flow up the pyramid like lightening climbing a rod.

Except, of course, lightening doesn’t climb. No matter, it doesn’t stop millions of people being electrified by pyramid schemes each year.

Blogging is similar – or to be more exact, getting readers to a website is similar. The more inbound links you have, the more readers you get from Google. Inbound links are what traffic is all about.

But for any given subject, there is already a top-of-the-pyramid site, the site that all others refer to. For making money out of blogs – problogging – the top site is Darren Rowse’s www.problogger.net. Nobody else comes close and all refer to him like some omnipresent being.

The reason pyramids schemes fail, is because  they run out of people at the bottom. The disciples end up paying the cash to join, but make nothing.

So it is becoming with blogging. You start a blog and set up loads of out-bound links to people like Darren, but everyone else is so busy focusing on the top dogs you can never get your own inlinks.

It’s a tragedy, because, as reported in Wired, an article on the viability of blogging for a living, “at the bare minimum, a lone blogger will likely need to attract high four- to five-figure daily visitor figures to even attempt a blog-based livable wage.”

How To Choose a Free Blogger Template

Blogs and the activity of blogging became popular in the late 1990s. Many blogging platforms exist today with each one offering different characteristics and cost. Blogger is a free blogging platform owned by Google which allows a user to set up a free blogging account. From this account, a blogger can create one or more blogs.

A blog can be tailored to meet a user’s needs both in functionality and overall design. The blog content’s physical arrangement and display are controlled by a template. The template is the HTML code which controls how information will be displayed on the blog.

Users with strong technical skills can edit this code or write entirely new code. For users with less technical skill, many Blogger templates exist. Before downloading a free Blogger template, there are several considerations that should be reviewed.

How To Pick A New Blogger Template

Before selecting a Blogger template, consider the type of content and focus of the blog. Understanding how the blog will be used and the image it should portray will be important in deciding which blog template is best.

  • Visual Look of Blog – A blog’s aesthetic or visual look will determine how readers respond to it. If a blog’s design features dark colors and anime-inspired graphics, it may harshly contrast and not work well for someone who seeks to write about parenting and child development. Consider appropriate colors, graphics, and overall design which closely match the content of a blog.
  • Layout and Content Arrangement – A blog’s physical arrangement of content is also a top consideration. Blog templates now come in a wide array of formats typically ranging from one to four columns. The blog posts are usually in the largest column but can be arranged to the left, center, or right depending on the design. Identifying what other types of content will appear on the blog will help to understand how many extra columns are necessary.
  • Supported Functionality – Blogger provides a list of functionality that can be added to any blog. Some blog templates provide additional custom functionality or creates spaces for specific content to appear. A blogger seeking to display advertising may seek a Blogger template which comes prepared with areas pre-specified for standard advertising units to display.

One of the most important and often overlooked considerations is from where the Blogger template is coming. Blogger provides a basic set of free templates but many more templates are available through searching online. While these templates may seem like a bargain, it’s best to consider templates which have a specified owner who will provide support for questions on installing and updating the template. When using an anonymous free template, it may not function correctly or may require updates at some point in the future.

Blogger provides a set of free templates which can be used. Once an account is created with Blogger, a user is given access to a dashboard allowing for customization of the blog. To select a different Blogger template at any time, a user can do so by selecting the “Layout” dashboard tab, then selecting “Pick New Template” from the sub-menu (see Figure 1 below).

From the Pick New Template menu, a user can select from 16 blog designs with a variety of color schemes and layouts. The desired template is selected and then the “Save Template” button is selected. The new blog template will now power the blog.

How To Upload A Custom Blogger Template

Once a custom Blogger template is identified on the interest, it should be downloaded to the user’s computer. Before uploading it to Blogger, make sure to first download the existing template being used in case it is needed in the future.

Select the “Layout” dashboard tab, then select “Edit HTML.” From this sub-menu, select the link “Download Full Template” (see Figure 2 below).

Once the existing template is safely downloaded, the “Browse” button shown on the sub-menu page is used to search the user’s computer for the new Blogger template that will be used. Once selected, the “Upload” button is clicked to import the new template design. The new template will now power the blog.

Easy To Change A Blogger Template

Blogger provides an easy to use dashboard which allows a user to quickly change from one template to another. Whether using a Blogger provided template or seeking to use a free template, consider first the function and overall design the blog should portray. By following the steps above, a new template that perfectly matches the blog content can be changed in a matter of minutes.