We all strive to improve ourselves. In our personal lives and in our business lives it is always a goal to get on to bigger and better things. However when you are a blogger it can really seem like an uphill battle. Everything you do, every update you create, can seem like the same old thing over and over again.
How can you fight against the stream? How can you improve your blog and make better use of your time? Well, here are some tips to make you a better blogger:
Work smarter, not harder
We have all heard the old saying, “work smarter, not harder”. That is good advice, no matter what you are talking about. It is always a good idea to conserve energy where you can so you have some to spare for other parts of life. Just like the idea that you do not want to stay out all night with your friends so you have energy to work the next day, so you also do not want to spend all day every day working your brains out so you never have the time or energy for fun.
Pick the tasks that have to be done every day and make sure they get done. Then organize the rest of the tasks in order of importance. If you get to them today then great, but if not they can wait until tomorrow. That way you do not waste your time with the things that can wait and then have to work longer trying to finish the things that can’t wait.
It is also a good idea to do the hardest things first and get them over with. As a friend of mine says, if the biggest thing kills you at least you won’t be alive to do the rest. If it does not kill you then everything else seems easy in comparison. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
This is a no brainer to many of you, but regular updates are the bread and butter of a successful blog. No one follows a blog that updates twice a week then once a month and then every day. It is just too many changes.
Keep it consistent and update regularly. Every day, three times a week, once a week, whatever works for your blog’s niche. More often is usually better, but do not post so much that you bug your readers or run out of stuff to blog about. If you have more than one topic for your blog then it is okay to post more frequently but try to keep it down to a manageable level that balances audience appeal and your health and mental capabilities!
Keep it short
This is another way to avoid burnout for yourself and your readers. Keep your blog posts short. Around 500 words is usually good but under 2000 is a necessity. No one wants to read pages and pages of text. Yes, I know sometimes you are giving directions or a how to or telling a complex story, but even books are divided into chapters.
Break up long posts into a series of posts. That way you do not overwhelm readers and it looks like you have more content, which is a great way to use your time intelligently! You should also work on keeping your paragraphs on the short side. Do not make a blog post that is one big hunk of text. Break it into smaller pieces for easier reading, even when it falls in the 500 word category.
That way readers will not get distracted and bored and you will look like a better writer. Yes, it is that simple.
Take a break
Like I said, being a better blogger is all about being balanced. Know your limitations and when you need to take a break to be at your best. I have days where I can sit at my desk all day and type like a mad person and get tons done. Other days I can sit there for hours and not write a sentence. There are just times that it pays off to take a break.
Take a walk, go out to lunch, take a jog up the stairs, look at Facebook or watch a television show. Them when you are done come back to work. That way you do not get blocked up and upset and you still have the opportunity to get something done. If you just sit there then your brain will go into revolt and you will waste a whole day. Better thirty minutes wasted then eight hours, right?
Break it up
Beyond just making your blog posts shorter, you should also break up your text into manageable hunks. This is easy to do with headers or bullets. Bullets offer the advantages of a list without having to be quite as descriptive. They also stand out and your reader’s eyes are drawn to them. That can be a great way to highlight important points.
Using headers is also a way to break up the text without using a list. Headers allow readers to know the topic of each section before they read it so that they can have the proper mindset and outlook. Headers are easy to create in all blogging platforms, even manual html. It is best if they are bolded or off center or both to help them stand out and catch reader’s eyes.
Watch for distractions
When you are blogging it is easy to get distracted. Music, phone calls, surfing the net or checking social media, text messages, coworkers and more are all sources of distraction. When you are working it is best to set aside an area as free from distraction as you can get. Try to go for a corner or a room that is off the beaten path.
If you have a door you can shut that is a good idea too. You should also try to limit the noise around you. If you can’t limit it, then drown it out with instrumental music or nature sounds. Music without lyrics is best to blog with so that you do not accidentally start typing the lyrics!
One thing to remember when blogging is that readers like consistency. That does not mean you can’t be creative, but try not to go too far all at once. If you typically blog around 1000 words do not jump to 2000 or drop to 250. If you post a lot of picture do not suddenly go to all text, or vice versa. You should also keep your blog topic the same.
If you want to gradually work your way into a more varied niche then that is fine, but try to do it a little at a time. People will be confused if you suddenly jump from a music blogger to a tech blogger, but if you gradually transition by using stereo equipment and music apps it can be done without losing too many readers. The goal is not to shock and scare away the readers you already have.
Last but not least is my favorite. Edit later. That means when you write just write. Ignore all those red and green squiggles under your misspelled words and comma errors. Yes, they are annoying but if you stop and fix them then you will lose your train of thought. I know that the faster I type the more mistakes I make but the better ideas I have. So, take the time to edit when you are finished and ignore the glaring errors for now. That is why typing on a computer is so great; you can always fix things later with no problems.
These are just a few of the suggestions that have helped me to become a better blogger. Some of them may seem simple and obvious to you, but they can be lifesavers to others. Remember to work smarter, not harder and always take time for a break when you need it. After all, a burnt out blogger is no fun to read and even less fun to be around in real life!
Know Your Guest Author:
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need; instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.
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This is a guest post by Ashlee on some useful Blogging Tools For Android. You can read the guidelines for guest posting at our guest posting guidelines page.
Theoretically, it has been possible to “blog” from a smartphone for many years now. You could awkwardly tap posts, perhaps, and maybe upload a terrible quality phone photo, if you were lucky.
Today, however, smartphones offer ubiquitous Internet, modern browsers, excellent screens and cameras, and a robust selection of apps. With all these factors together, you can indeed perform advanced blogging functions, and go beyond words to create and upload photos and videos.
For this blog post, I will focus on a handful of high quality Android apps that allow you create content and manage your blog on the go.
WordPress: This excellent, free app may just offer all the tools you need to manage your WordPress blog. Creating new posts, managing comments, uploading multimedia, and viewing visitor statistics can all be done through the app. (Free)
QuickOffice: If you like writing content in Microsoft Word before converting it to HTML (or simply pasting it), I recommend QuickOffice. Built with connections to both Dropbox, Google Docs, and other popular online document services, you’ll find an excellent option for accessing and editing your rich documents. ($14.99)
Writer: For those that may find an “office” app too unwieldy, I can recommend the simple, free plain text editor Writer. Unlike many other mobile text editors, this one is stripped of formatting features and all distracting buttons and options. Just sit down and let your thoughts flow with this. (Free)
DroidEdit Pro: I know I’m going heavy on the text editors, but I promise this one’s worth it. DroidEdit Pro offers about as good an environment for writing and editing HTML as you’ll find on a smartphone. Power users will love features like syntax-based color-coding, keyboard shortcuts, HTML previews, and connections to Dropbox. ($1.69)
FX Photo Editor: Image editing has never been an ideal task for smartphones. I find, however, that FX Photo Editor does an admirable job on my Samsung Galaxy from T-Mobile. You’ll find options for simple commands like resizing images to more complex operations such as color corrections and adding powerful filters. ($3.99)
Photoshop Touch: If you have an Android tablet, you can’t go wrong with Photoshop Touch. Take advantage of your screen size and capabilities to use incorporate features like layers and blending. ($9.99)
Analytics and Social Media
gAnalytics: Both free and powerful, gAnalytics offers a user-friendly atmosphere for viewing your Google Analytics website statistics. (Free)
Hootsuite: For sharing your blog posts and following social media, I recommend Hootsuite. Made with professionals in mind, this social media management dashboard offers the ability to add multiple accounts for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The app includes a URL shorter and tracks clicks to your links, which is vital data for understanding what works and what doesn’t in social media. (Free)
Explorer + File Manager Pro: For accessing files directly on your Android phone, I recommend this robust file explorer. ($3.99)
FTP Café: Most of you won’t need an FTP manager, but if you do, FTP Café offers a good blend of features and convenience. ($3.99)
Dropbox: You may have already seen this file storage service mentioned several times already. I recommend Dropbox because it plugs into so many other apps, and its dead-simple to use. (Free)
Notes and Reading
gReader Pro: Keep up with your favorite blogs with this excellent Google Reader client. Stories look great and are easy-to-access on this popular app. ($5.99)
Evernote: For researching my blog posts, I love cloud-based notes service Evernote. On this web, Windows, and phone app, I can keep lists of links I might refer to, outlines of possible posts, and even just brainstorm ideas. (Free)
About the Author:
Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for ApronAddicts.com, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology and self-improvement.
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This is a guest post by Adam on improving blogging efficiency. You can check out the guidelines for guest posting on our write for us page.
You can’t escape it.
No matter how passionate you are about your blog, if you’re looking to drive traffic and actually make money from the process, there will be things that feel like “work”.
Probably because it is.
But fear not, because you’re about to discover seven tools which free up your time to do what you love: create more quality content and thus improve overall blogging efficiency.
Ready? Then let’s roll…
Link Assistant is a God-send. It lets you quickly compile a list of authoritative sites in your market. Then, you can send an email to each website (Link Assistant automatically stores contact info). It even tracks responses, and lets you track your status with each.
Which sites responded? Who is interested in your offer? Who requires followup? Link Assistant lets you know all these detail in its simple interface.
I routinely use Link Assistant for blogger outreach, hiring contractors (developers, designers, writers, etc.) and offering strategic alliances. In other words, I use Link Assistant for everything but link prospecting (which it’s designed for).
Here’s an example: let’s say you’ve created a DYNAMITE eBook for your subscribers. Using Link Assistant, you can contact authoritative websites in your market and let them give it away to their subscribers, too. This helps build your brand, and will drive tons of free traffic to your site.
And speaking of traffic…
Sure, Google Analytics will show you what keywords are sending you traffic. But what about keywords which could send you traffic – and lots of it – if your site moved from page 3 to page 1 in Google?
Enter Rank Tracker. Simply enter keywords into the program, and it routinely checks the search engines to see where your site appears. It even graphs your progress over time.
And if you’re not certain about which keywords to enter, go to the Google Keyword Tool and enter your website URL. It then spits out 300 (or more) keywords related to your site. Then download them into Excel and paste them into Rank Tracker. Boom. Instant overview of your site’s performance in the search engines.
The next step is to build links to those pages that already appear high in the search engines, but not quite high enough.
SENuke is an incredibly powerful, misunderstood and abused piece of software. Powerful, because it automates many link building tasks; misunderstood and abused because people use it to spam the Internet.
Here’s how it works: you write a piece of content. Then, using SENuke, you can quickly distribute it to dozens of article directories and social network sites like Blogger and Hubpages. It even submits videos to 30+ video sharing sites like YouTube.
But that’s just the beginning. Because once that content is distributed, SENuke lets you bookmark each of those pages, then take the RSS feeds from each bookmark and submit those to over 30 RSS feed directories.
Whew. That’s a lot of links!
Now you can see why people use it to create spam. But here’s the thing: used properly , it’s a very powerful tool. The key is to create valuable content, and use SENuke as a launchpad for getting it noticed.
Used this way, you can quickly build your site’s authority.
My Blog Guest – Unique Blogging Efficiency tool
MyBlogGuest is a brilliant idea for bloggers. Basically, you upload a post, and website owners request exclusive rights to publish it on their site. It’s a win-win: they get free, unique content, and you get links and traffic to your site.
But how do you decide which website to give your content to? For that, you need the…
The SEOMoz Toolbar lets you tell at a glance how authoritative a website is based on a scale of 1 – 100. It’s logarithmic, which means going from 20 to 30 is much easier than going from 70 to 80.
Authority counts for a lot in SEO. Higher authority links will increase your own authority, which in turn increases your rankings for keywords.
Aweber is an autoresponder. It lets you capture visitors email address, and send them unlimited follow up messages at pre-determined intervals. For example, you could create a 7 day training course, where subscribers receive one lesson each day for seven days.
There’s another feature called “broadcasting”, which allows you to send an email to everyone on your list, no matter when they signed up. This is usually reserved for product launches or special time-sensitive announcements (e.g. 48 hour discounts, live events, webinars, etc.)
Crazy Egg is my favorite analytics tool. It records people visiting your site, then displays their interaction via heatmaps.
This is essential for optimizing your website’s use experience, sales funnel and other conversion factors.
For example, how many people even see your opt-in form? Crazy Egg shows you where people are focused on your site, which lets you put premium content, ads or buy now buttons right in front of them.
If you use WordPress, this heat map plugin is a cheaper, limited alternative (but still worth it; I own this plugin myself).
So there you have it: seven simple tools to improve blogging efficiency and make your blogging life easier. Now get to work!
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Do you see how fast my blog loads?
I have had the problem of slow loading for quite some time and was unable to figure out a solution to it. My Google Analytics report shocked me, when I saw about 60% bounce rate on my blog. The average time spent on my blog gave me a fair idea that the bounce could primarily be because of the slow load time. My blog took a pathetic 20 seconds to load.
It was too much time. If I were the visitor to such a blog, I would obviously browse away, if the blog doesn’t load in the first 5-7 seconds. No wonder I had such a high bounce rate.
I had to spend some time to analyze the reason for the slow page load. One of the resources that helped me a lot in this was http://www.whichloadsfaster.com. They allow for a comparison between 2 sites and analyzes the reasons for the slow page load.
Reason for the slow page load
A few of the reasons I noted for the slow page load were -
- Hosting Bandwidth
- Social Media buttons
- Other external scripts
Plugins – I had close to 17 different plugins installed on my blog. All of these plugins were extremely important for my blog and I couldn’t do away with them. The loading time for a few of these were extremely high. But I had to make that decision. I prioritized the plugins based on their criticality and deactivated and uninstalled a few of the plugins. In order to further reduce the page load time, I used a content delivery network about which I will discuss later.
Images – Another major reason for the slow page load was the images on my blog. There were a lot of advertisements that had the image hosted on the advertisers hosting and in order to pull the images and load it, it took a lot of time. I downloaded these images and hosted them on my hosting and this reduced the page loading time considerably.
Hosting Bandwidth – The hosting bandwidth plays a very important role in you page load time. My hosting with Hostgator has not given me any problems but it was a shared hosting and I had quite a lot of blogs installed on the same shared hosting. This problem was resolved by using a content delivery network.
Social Media Buttons – Social Media buttons on your blog could increase you page load time considerably. Facebook buttons in particular are the major culprit. You can resolve this problem by using techniques which can ensure that these buttons load only after everything else on the page has loaded.
Other external scripts – If you have a lot of scripts on your blog that are called from a different server, it could also lead to slow page loads. For eg: Mybloglog badges, blog catalog badges etc. call scripts externally and increases the page load time. I removed all such widgets and it considerably improved my page load time.
Using Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network is a network of servers from around the world that stores a copy of your website data. Since your website is delivered from different servers it gives you the advantage of a larger bandwidth which in turn reduces page load times. Whenever there is no dynamic content involved, a CDN delivers a cached page of your website thus further reducing the page load time.
In case your blog has readers from around the world, using a CDN is the best option because it will make the website available to the visitor from a server that is closest to his location. All of these together helps reduce the page load time of your blog.
Normally CDNs charge you a monthly charge and you have to make a few changes in your domain’s DNS. But one service that I found extremely useful and was free of cost was Cloudflare. You might want to check out their services.
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WordPress can never be difficult. Even the newest of bloggers jumping onto the WordPress platform would agree with me. Everything is so user friendly that in a day or two, you would start to feel as if you have complete control over your blog or, your website. WordPress as a Content Management Solution is far superior and user friendly from any other CMS platforms.
I once wanted to check out the alternative solutions for my websites and decided to go about using Jhoomla. The installation itself was so painful that I felt I would abandon it midway. After installation came the pain with customization. I might be sounding a bit harsh here because these CMS platforms are “blessings” for a lot of developers and users and it is possible that since I am a novice in developing, it appears this difficult to me. But the only point that I wanted to make was that WordPress is a CMS platform for anyone and with any objective. The extendability of WordPress including the various themes like affiliate themes and stores themes help you set up a website in minutes. Add to it the thousands of plugins available and you have a “magical lamp” in your hand.
Plugins can be a confusion at times. There are thousands of plugins for the same purpose and at times choosing the most appropriate one can be difficult. But since installing and uninstalling plugins are not difficult, the easiest option of testing is to install one of these and evaluate its performance.
I am mentioning a few of the under-rated WordPress plugins, that are on the contrary very useful and required for your WordPress blogs.
- Akismet – Comment and trackback spams are one of the biggest pain areas in blogging. Protecting your blog from these could be one of the difficult tasks and if you choose the option of not approving all comments before they appear in your blog, then your life would be a hell. Akismet protects you blog from such spams and come in very handy is all such situations. You require a WordPress API key to activate this plugin which can be obtained from WordPress.com, free of cost.
- Post-teaser – Search engines love blogs and at the same time these search engines hate repeated contents. This is a reason for a lot of blogs not making it to the search engines. Blogs normally would have a mainpage with the latest posts. The same posts would then be there in your archives page, categories page, tags page and the search results page. So the content is repeated in 4-5 different places. Search engine spiders get irritated with these repeated contents and push your blogs to the bottom. This is why all major and successful blogs have only excerpts in their main page. Post teaser helps you do this nicely and neatly.
- All in One Adsense and YPN - What is the primary objective of your blog? Is it, making money online? If yes then this plugin is for you. Google Adsense and the Yahoo performance network are two of the biggest ad-serving methods available to bloggers. If you are looking at monetization methods, then you would not want to ignore Google Adsense or, Yahoo ads. But generating codes and inserting then into your blogs sidebars and posts could be a herculean task. All in one Adsense relieves you of the pain involved in doing this.
- GoCodes – Affiliate marketing is one the biggest ways of making money online. Every blog that claims to be earning a fortune promotes some or, the other products that they believe in, as an affiliate. But affiliate marketing can also be very difficult especially when there are vultures out these waiting to snatch your catch. New affiliate marketers never realize this until it is very late. The answer to this is “Link Cloaking”. And GoCodes can help you with link cloaking.
- Tweetmeme – Twitter is turning out to the a traffic monster. The more tweets your posts receive the more traffic you get. I am not a huge promoter of my blog posts on twitter and I personally do not spend a lot of time at Twitter. But if you are just starting up, you might want to consider Twitter to build you traffic. Add the “tweetme” button to your blog posts the easy way using this plugin.
- What would Seth Godin do – RSS subscriptions are what will increase your readership base. Offering subscription options to your visitors depending upon, if they are first time visitors or, returning visitors is what this plugin does and it actually improves your subscription rates to a great extent.
These plugins can come in very handy if you are dedicated towards building a business out of your blog. You may want to check out our blog start-up help options in case you are new to blogging and WordPress.
If you are serious about making money from your blog, then learn the art from the person who makes a living out of his blog. Check out Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind
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The best thing about using WordPress for your blog is its extendability. Unlike Blogger where you have to hand-code the HTML in case you wished to make changes to a feature in the blog, WordPress has thousands of add-ons called as plug-ins which help you to add functionality and features to your blog. This feature of WordPress is what has made it the most desirable blogging platform ever.
So when you start your blog on WordPress, you would be awed at the huge scope of extendability that you get. Add to it the numerous self-styled preachers out there professing the usage of this and that and you have a real recipe for mess. After a coupdl of days you would be in a situation where you either don’t like your blog because something about it is not right or, you have messed up things to an extent of irrepairability.
So that you do not end of as one of these people I mentioned above, I thought I would be very precise when I tell you what is right for your blog. We are into blogging to make some money, right? Even if the blog is your portrait you are into it for money. If that is the case then the features that we include or, extend our blog on should be the onese that help us in our objective of making money online blogging.
These are the 6 most desirable plugins that you would need for your WordPress blog, in case your objective is similar to what I have mentioned above -
- All-in-One SEO pack : SEO is something that just cannot be avoided. You want your blogs to be indexed in the search engines and SEO is what will help you do that. This plugin adds the options of inserting meta tags like keywords, description and title to all you posts individually and to the blog as a whole. A bit of careful research on the niche for the blog will get you the keywords that you would want to use for the blogs. After you blog is set-up research the keywords that you want to use for you blog-posts and you have everything in place. The rest of the work will be done by All-in-One SEO pack.
- FasterIM Optin: If your blog has the objective of making money then you would want subscribers and subscribers means list. And a list is what will get you business. FaterIM Optin is an plugin for WordPress which will enable a pop-up optin form on you WordPress blog getting your subscribers to sign up, if you have something valuable to offer.
- ShareThis: This is a plugin that adds the feature of book-marking on your blog. You would want your readers to be bookmarking you to the various social networking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit etc. This feature enables that on your blog this giving your readers the option to share your blog posts on all such networking sites.
- WP Tags to Technorati : The name of the plugin itself would have given you an idea of what it means. Technorati has a unique syntax to the tags that it identifies and promotes. It is possible to manually code these tags into each of your blog posts. But would you want to do it? I will not, for sure because of the tediousness. This plugins makes this job easy for you. There is nothing that you have to do except activating the plugin.
- WP Google analytics: If you are serious about blogging then you would want to see a report of your blog including the number of visitors, sources of traffic, bounce rates etc. All of this information can be provided by Google Analytics. But you have to insert a tracking code from Anaytics into you blog to track the statistics. Coding and messing with the code in my blog is the last thing that I want to do. This plugin helps you do away with all this messing around.
- Google XML Sitemaps: Google provides a very useful service called as Webmaster tools that help you submit your websites to Google and also helps you get you site indexed. One pre-requisite for this tool is a sitemap in XML format. You have to submit this sitemap to Google in order for your to get indexed. Generating and submitting this sitemap is otherwise a pain, but this plugin does all of that you. It generates the sitemap and places it there in your blog folder. All that you have to do is create an account with Google Webmaster tools and enter the link to your sitemap there.
These plugins will help you in more than one ways in your objective to earn money from your blog.
How to install these plugins:-
WordPress 2.7 has quite a few handy features which make blog maintenance very easy. In case you wish to install any of these plugins, just enter the name of the plugin in the “Add New” options in Plugins and the plugins would be there. All you have to do is click on install.
(You can also choose from among the many blog installation and maintenance packages available with us. Check it out here)
You can write into me in case you are unable to find any of these plugins or, need help with resolving some problems with these. Just put inÂ comment and I will respond to you.
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